ICC begins probe into alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters – Newstrends
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ICC begins probe into alleged shooting of #EndSARS protesters

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  • UN rights experts say govt has questions to answer

The International Criminal Court says it has commenced a preliminary investigation into the recent #EndSARS protests in Nigeria.

This is coming as UN human rights experts have insisted that Nigerian government must set up a credible, independent inquiry into the reported illegal killing of peaceful protesters by soldiers.

A report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Wednesday quoted the ICC as saying this in a statement, adding its prosecutor had earlier confirmed receiving information on alleged crime.

The examination will “assess whether the legal criteria for opening an investigation under the Rome Statute are met.”

It recalled crowds of peaceful protesters had gathered on streets in major towns of the country demonstrating against police brutality, leading to a crackdown.

Amnesty International said security forces opened fire on protesters, killing and injuring a number of people. Both the police and the army have rejected Amnesty’s allegation.

The ICC said it would make findings of the preliminary examination public.

The development is coming after a number of civil society organisations (CSO) threatened to report some heads of security agencies to the ICC over the conduct of their personnel during the demonstrations, popularly called #EndSARS protests.

However, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has since dismissed the threats to report him and some heads of security agencies to the ICC and other international authorities.

“They have continually threatened to report the NA to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families,” Buratai had said.

“Criminal elements are threatening us with travel ban but we are not worried because we must remain in this country to make it better.”

Meanwhile, some UN human rights experts have said, “Since 2005, UN Special Rapporteurs have repeatedly raised the issue of police killings and impunity with the Nigerian government,” the experts said.

They also said, “We have had 15 years of government promises, but nothing has changed. Governments come and go, but police brutality is as intractable as ever. Nigerians need justice.”

The experts noted that excessive use of force during peaceful assemblies was unacceptable, adding that the shootings at Lekki toll plaza in Lagos on 20 October were “especially disturbing because demonstrators were precisely calling for accountability for previous police brutality.”

“What is particularly disturbing is that the authorities said they had disbanded the SARS and agreed to the protestors other demands, including investigations,” the experts said. “But they immediately announced the formation of another similar unit and have not ended the excessive use of force.”

They recalled that protesters were met with water cannons, tear gas and live ammunition.

The fact that in the Lekki toll plaza incident CCTV cameras and lights were apparently switched off shortly before soldiers opened fire on the peaceful protestors indicates “a disturbing level of premeditation,” the experts said.

Systematic police brutality and use of excessive force against peaceful protesters must be independently and impartially investigated and the perpetrators brought to the justice, the human rights experts said.

In addition to setting up an independent inquiry, authorities must clarify why the military was deployed and who gave the order, the experts said. “Any investigation must aim to identify lines of responsibility, deliver accountability and justice, provide remedies and reparations, and recommend structural and systemic changes,” they said.

The experts also called on the government to release the reports of previous investigations into human rights violations by the security forces. These include the 2019 report by the National Human Rights Commission report on SARS and the 2018 report by the Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement.

They stated, “The authorities have promised for years to address human rights violations by the security forces,” said the experts.

“Hundreds of victims and relatives of those who died have testified and sent petitions, but they never received any remedy, not even the acknowledgement that their rights were violated. It is crucial that the government releases all these reports to the public before they start new investigations.”

The experts have written directly to the Nigerian government, stressing that “it is high time that concrete action is taken to properly look into all incidents and that structural changes be made to prevent any re-occurrence.”

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FCTA denies increasing school fees in public boarding schools

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FCTA denies increasing school fees in public boarding schools

The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) says there is no increment of school fees in public boarding schools in the federal capital.

The Mandate Secretary, Education Secretariat, FCTA, Dr Danlami Hayyo, disclosed this in an interview on Thursday in Abuja.

Recall that some parents had claimed that the FCT Administration increased school fees for students in FCT public boarding schools.

They claimed that the fee was increased from between N29,000 and N32,000 to N47,000, a development they claimed had forced some parents to withdraw their children from boarding schools to day schools.

“The Minister of FCT, Mr Nyesom Wike, had even approved the increase in the feeding allowances for boarding schools due to rising cost of food items.

“Look at the situation, how much is a bag of rice in the last two years and how much is a bag or rice currently? He asked.”

The mandate secretary also denied the claim that some parents have withdrawn their children from public boarding schools in the FCT.

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According to him, FCT public boarding schools are positioned to provide quality education at affordable cost and within the means of parents.

“I don’t think there is someone that will remove his children or his son from public school as a result of the feeding cost; I doubt much.”

He added that the quality of education in public schools was very encouraging, stressing that the best student in the 2023 West African Examination Council was from a public school.

He also said that students from public schools won more trophies from debates, quizzes and other academic and sports competitions in 2023 than private schools.

“In fact, in Abuja, so many parents are removing their children from private schools to public schools because of the quality of education the public schools provide.

“There is a high number of enrolments in public schools in Abuja currently and we are trying to bridge the infrastructural gap to accommodate more pupils and students,” he said.

Hayyo said that FCTA has concluded plans to inaugurate the schools recently rehabilitated, while plans are underway for the construction of new ones.

FCTA denies increasing school fees in public boarding schools

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FG bans export of cooking gas to crash prices

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FG bans export of cooking gas to crash prices

The Federal Government has banned the exportation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) also known as cooking gas in order to increase the volume of supply and crash the prices across the country.

This was made known to journalists by the Minister of Petroleum (Gas), Ekperikpe Ekpo, at the ‘Internal Stakeholders’ workshop on Thursday, February 22, 2024, in Abuja.

The minister who spoke at the sideline of the event stated that the LPG producers had been told to stop exporting the commodity out of Nigeria, following the recent jump in the cost of cooking gas.

The theme of the workshop is “Harnessing Nigeria’s Proven Gas Reserves for Economic Growth and Development.”

FG discussing with stakeholders

When asked what the government has done to control the rising cost of domestic gas, Ekpo said the ministry is discussing constantly with critical stakeholders like the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority and operators such as Mobil, Chevron, and Shell to address the issue.

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He explained that once there is a stoppage of the export of locally produced domestic gas, there will be more volume for the domestic market which will automatically reduce the price of the product.

  • He said, “We are interacting with critical stakeholders to ensure that there is no exportation of LPG.
  • “All LPG produced within the country will have to be domesticated. And when this is done, the volume will increase and of course, the price will automatically crash.
  • With the issue of gas, you have seen the demonstration of the Federal Government by withdrawing all taxes and levies from the importation of gas-related equipment. It is a big incentive.
  • “On the issue of LPG (cooking gas), we are interacting with the critical sectors to ensure that there is no exportation of LPG. All LPG produced within the country will have to be domesticated. And when this is done, the volume will increase and, of course, the price will automatically crash.
  • “I’m in contact with the regulator, NMDPRA, we have meetings almost daily with the producers of the gas like Mobil, Chevron and Shell. So there is that hope that things will turn around.
  • “And that is also why we are having this engagement to know exactly what the problems are so that we can address them once and for all.”

What you should know

  • There have been reports of escalating prices of cooking gas in major cities across the country with the prices hovering between N17,000 and N18,000, as against the N9,000 the product was selling around November last year.
  • Earlier in September 2023, gas retailers under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers warned that the price of a 12.5kg cooking gas cylinder could surge to N18,000 by December 2023 if the Federal Government does not intervene to regulate the actions of terminal owners.
  • The president of the association, Olatunbosun Oladapo, attributed this unjustifiable price hike to terminal owners who, he alleged, are exploiting the excuse of a high foreign exchange rate to increase prices, causing significant hardship to the general population.

FG bans export of cooking gas to crash prices

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Military warns against calls for coup over economic hardship

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Military warns against calls for coup over economic hardship

Those calling for coup don’t mean well for Nigeria’

The military has warned those calling for a forceful takeover of government through a coup due to the rising cost of living in Nigeria.

It said on Thursday that it would come down hard on people inviting the military to truncate Nigeria’s democracy, noting that they do not mean well for the country.

Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, said this on Thursday, saying those calling a coup did not mean well for the country.

Musa said the Armed Forces would continue to protect the country’s democracy.

He spoke while responding to questions from newsmen shortly after he commissioned the main entrance of the 6 Division, Nigerian Army and Officers Transit Accommodation, both at the Division Headquarters in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.

Although he admitted the country was experiencing some challenges, he said coup calls were improper because nations would achieve more and develop faster under a democracy.

“Whoever is making that the call (coup) does not love Nigeria. We want to make it very clear that the Armed Forces of Nigeria are here to protect democracy.

“We all want democracy and we do better under democracy. And so we will continue to support democracy. And any of those ones that are calling for anything other than democracy are evil people and I think they don’t mean well for Nigeria.

“And they should be very careful because the law will come after them. We can see that with democracy a lot of things are happening in Nigeria. Yes we are going through trying periods, I mean in life nothing is hundred percent.”

He also stated, “Everybody goes through a trying period in life, and it is what you do with them. You can see the government putting efforts to ensure that we come out better.

“And it is when you go through difficulties and come out better you will really appreciate what it is to build a nation. And so we are going through our trying period, but I can assure Nigerians that it will get better.

“All we need is for all of us to put our hands together to ensure that we defeat those enemies of the government; those enemies of this country that don’t want us to succeed. We will surely succeed and the Armed Forces are here to support the government in ensuring that we develop; we succeed and to see that there is peace in Nigeria.”

 

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