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I will Soon Quit Acting…Ramsey Nuoah

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Read Time:4 Minute, 20 Second

Actor, Ramsey Nouah needs little or no introduction to many people in Nigerian.

Many qualities have distinguished the mulatto, whose maternal grandmother christened Adetokunbo. One thing that has continually stood him out of the lot is his boyishly, handsome looks and undeniable acting skills.

Nouah was grew up on the streets of Ebute Metta, Lagos, where his Ondo-born mother lived, might not be staying too long on the screen if his plans work out.

Ramsey is already contemplating to leave the screen for a seat at the background, where he intends to show his expertise as a movie director.

“As an actor, I think I’ve gotten to a point where I’m satisfied with what I am and what I’ve become and been able to achieve.

“But as a director, no. I want to direct movies. I want to make impressions, like Mel Gibson did with Passion of The Christ.

He’s an actor and now he’s directing and he’s a great director.

“I want to take a back seat soon and direct good movies that would stun Nigerians and people outside the country,” he concluded.

According to him, “It feels good to have everything. But sometimes, it’s usually not always good to have everything. Trust me, if you walk a mile in my shoes, you’d probably give me back my shoes.

“I wish that I could have my privacy back without the fame. I wish so. I don’t know. Somehow, I’m not enjoying the life of stardom. And this is simply because you have no life. You live for the people. You live for everybody, nobody thinks about you. Nobody cares about you. They just want from you.

“Some people might enjoy it, I mean some of my colleagues might like it, but for me, it’s not really rosy. I just wish I was an ordinary person. Maybe a businessman, a pilot, engineer, whatever; but one who does his work, gets his salary, has his family, and lives a normal life without the fame,” the 36-year-old father said.

Maintaining that his passion for the arts, especially acting and singing, has kept him going in the industry. He said the industry is growing but still needs some attention as regards the technical aspect.

“The passion for what I do has kept me on the scene for this long and I love being in front of the camera and doing those things people and viewers love me for.

“However, the industry needs to be reformed and I’m talking about the technical aspect of the industry. We have talents and quite talented actors and actresses in the industry but we need those at the technical arm to step up the game because this actually tells much about what is viewed by the international communities,” Ramsey stated.

An encounter with Ramsey isn’t complete without the question about how he copes with the many ladies and obsessed fans, who are willing and would do anything to have him.

“If I had the money, I would actually marry all my fans. But I do have a wife and her name is Emelia Philips-Nouah. And a son, Quincy Camil Nouah. I do have a wife, her name is Emelia Philips-Nouah. And a son, Quincy Camil Nouah. I’m sorry I’m not available,” Ramsey said laughing.

Speaking on his most challenging roles since his incursion into Nollywood in 1990, Ramsey said none could be as challenging as his role in the Tade Ogidan produced Dangerous Twins.

“So far, no movie role has been as challenging as my roles in Dangerous Twins. I still can’t believe I scaled through the rigour and if you know Tade Ogidan very well, you’d know that he does his flicks to taste.

“I think it is still the most challenging because I have not gotten any challenging role like that. I mean, it is work playing a perfect role let alone playing two perfect roles in one flick and believe me, it wasn’t easy but I am happy about the end product and I am happy I was the actor chosen,” Ramsey said.

Unknown to many, before gaining prominence or even going into Nollywood, Ramsey had been a hip-hop singer working with other acts like Pat Attah, whom he was said to have brought into moviedom.

Little wonder, he performed brilliantly well in the music video of the compilation of songs done by stars for Tade Ogidan. He carried himself like one familiar with the microphone and he convinced many of his fans that he not only has the immense acting talent but he’s also imbued with musical talent, which was once again brought to the fore by Tade Ogidan in the OGD All Stars.

How does he survive in the country if all he does is act without getting himself involved in any other business?”It’s funny but I don’t do any other thing aside acting. I act and I get paid and since I started acting in 1990, I have lived my life with the proceeds I get from acting. I don’t do any other thing, it’s strictly acting and when I’m off, I live on the proceeds that I have saved for days.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Chelsea Clinton’s wedding: An instant guide

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Read Time:6 Minute, 35 Second

Bill and Hillary’s only child is getting wed (for real, this time). Here’s what’s known about the feverishly anticipated ceremony

Neither Chelsea Clinton nor her fiancé, Marc Mezvinsky, are speaking publicly about their plans to wed this weekend, and Chelsea’s tabloid-savvy parents have offered few clues. Yet, America being America, the internet has been abuzz with questions and rumors about Chelsea’s upcoming nuptials — and the first glimpse of her “sizable” engagement ring on April 25 (not to mention reports that Bill’s dieting) have only fueled the speculation. Here’s what’s been reported to date:

 When is the wedding?
This Saturday, July 31, according to multiple sources.

Where will the nuptials take place?
According the Hudson Valley News, the wedding will take place under a tent at the former estate of John Jacob Astor IV in Rhinebeck, N.Y. The mansion dates back to 1902 and boasts an indoor tennis court and white marble swimming pool, according to a release. The property is now owned by Kathleen Hammer, a contributor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential and Senate bids. Although the delivery of wedding gifts there last week and the building of tents there last weekend all but confirmed it as the location, the rumors were verified by the arrival of former president Bill Clinton in Rhinebeck on Friday.

Who’s catering the affair? What about flowers?
The catering job will be shared by Blue Ribbon Restaurants, St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, and Olivier Cheng Catering and Events, according to a Wall Street Journal source. “Chelsea is a vegan. The food will include vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes, but there will also be grass-fed organic beef on the menu,” according to a source in Life & Style magazine, as quoted in Ecorazzi. It’ll reportedly be gluten-free complete with a vegan wedding cake. Both Boston-based Winston Flowers and Four Seasons Hotels’ floral designer Jeff Leatham will be contributing blooms.

Sounds expensive.
It is. ABC News estimates the total cost for the affair could reach $2 million, and other reports say that it could cost as much as $5 million. The flowers alone could cost $250,000. (Watch a CNN report about the wedding costs)

Hold on. Didn’t Chelsea already get married last August?
No. The persistent, decidedly false wedding rumors that flooded the media last summer (and also centered on Martha’s Vineyard) drove the Clintons to distraction. As The New York Times reported, “It got to the point where spokesmen for the Clintons even offered to bet any journalist’s source $1,000 that there would be no wedding (a wager no one took).”

Who’s the lucky groom?
Marc Mezvinsky, 32, is a Goldman Sachs banker (a Private Wealth Management associate, according to a listing in the Spoke directory). He’s known Chelsea since their teens. They met in Washington, D.C., and both went on to attend Stanford University. Mezvinsky is the son of two former congressmembers.

What’s Bill Clinton think about his future son-in-law?
He seems sanguine: “My daughter is happy. I like and admire my future son-in-law, so I couldn’t be happier about it,” he told CNN’s Candy Crowley in a January interview.

Is Bill helping mastermind the nuptials?
Yes, to a limited degree. Though Clinton told Ryan Seacrest in March that his role was limited to walking Chelsea down the aisle “and [paying] the bills,” as of April 19, he was telling NBC that his daughter had opted to tap his world-leader expertise: “Chelsea has been good enough to include me in the decisions…so I love that.” Still, Bill is making sure to keep the focus on the bride. “I am going to try not to cry because this isn’t about me, it’s about her. And if I am crying then it becomes partly about me and I don’t even want to be mentioned in the story except that I didn’t stumble walking down the aisle. So I am going to try but I may not be able to do it,” he said at June’s Fortune/Time/CNN global forum.

How have Chelsea’s parents been dealing otherwise?
As of April, Chelsea had put her father on a diet to shed 15 pounds and ensure he “looks good,” according to the New York Post. As for Hillary, when CNN’s Crowley asked her which is harder — negotiating Middle East peace or planning this wedding — Hillary replied with a smile, “Well, I’d probably call it a draw.”

Will the Clintons’ political supporters be present?
Only those who are also close personal friends, reports New York. With the invite list limited to 500 names, Chelsea has apparently “instituted a strict no-strangers policy: She must personally know every invitee.” Two people who definitely won’t attend? Al and Tipper Gore. “The Gores are not attending the wedding,” a spokeswoman said in a statement, quoted in the New York Daily News.

What celebrities will be attending?
Reports say
that Oprah Winfrey, Barbra Streisand, Steven Spielberg, and Ted Turner are among the 500 guests. Originally, it was believed that President Obama would attend, but he reveals he wasn’t invited. Also attending will be various members of the Clinton “inner circle,” including former British Prime Minister John Major, former deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes, former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Democratic donor Denise Rich.

Are there photos of the engagement ring online?
Only a few members of Chelsea’s inner circle had seen the ring until April 25, when she flashed her “sizable diamond ring” at the opening night of Broadway’s “Promises, Promises.” The media duly disseminated photos of the bejeweled bride-to-be on crutches.

Crutches? What happened?
Chelsea broke her heel, claiming she has no idea how it happened; a source tells People that she’ll recover in time for her wedding.

Who designed Chelsea’s dress?
It’s a debate. “If family ties have anything to do with it, then all signs point to Oscar de la Renta,” says Jessica Flint in Vanity Fair. He’s Hillary’s favorite, and also a close personal friend of the Clintons. However, reports in June indicated that Chelsea may have selected a Vera Wang dress instead.

What did Hillary Clinton wear on her 1975 wedding day?
“A beige muslin-y, linen Jessica McClintock number” that Hillary bought off the rack at Dillard’s the day before her wedding, according to VF‘s Flint.

Will the ceremony be religious?
This is apparently a matter of debate. While Hillary is Methodist, Bill is Southern Baptist. Yet there’s Mezvinsky’s Jewish faith to consider. “The bride and groom have a range of choices, including conversion or a melding of their two traditions into one ceremony,” reports the Associated Press. After all, Chelsea was spotted last year attending Yom Kippur services with Mezvinsky in New York.

Has there been any fallout over the high-profile event?
Yes. A Brooklyn teacher is angry because her wedding coincides with the date and location of Chelsea’s wedding, making for traffic woes and security fears in the small town. “I know she’s not doing it on purpose,” Emm Haddad-Friedman told Yahoo’s Shine blog. “But Chelsea Clinton has taken what was supposed to be a special day for me and turned it into hell.” Security has already proven a problem as two Norweigan journalists were arrested and charged with trespassing for snapping photos at the estate’s gate. As a measure to ward off paparazzi photographers, Federal authorities ordered the closure of airspace over the estate this weekend.

Sources: CNN (2), The New York Times, Huffington Post, People (2), New York Post (2), Vanity Fair, Associated Press (2) (3), New York, Styleite, CBS, New York Daily News, Newser, Wall Street Journal, Radar Online, ABC News (2), Yahoo! Shine, Hudson Valley News, Ecorazzi, AFP, The Hill

Note: This story, originally published on April 27, 2010, was updated on July 30.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria: ‘Preventing President Jonathan Would Create Crisis’

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Read Time:2 Minute, 55 Second

Abuja — Organisers of the Northern Political Summit under the aegis of Chief Solomon Lar-led G20 (19 northern states and Abuja) yesterday warned that the country risked being thrown into a deeper socio-political crisis if the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) used zoning to prevent President Goodluck Jonathan from contesting the presidency in the 2011 elections.

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, chairman of the group and former minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana, warned that the country must not allow other considerations to play down the threat the exclusion of Jonathan could pose to the country’s security and stability.

According to him, the northern political summit was of the opinion that “the subsisting zoning that produced the presidency of late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan must be regarded as an inseparable ticket and the demise of one member of ticket does not invalidate the privileges of the remaining beneficiary.”

Gana said in adopting this strategy, “The north would have once more provided a pragmatic solution to a fundamental cause of crisis in the Niger Delta, arising from years of neglect.

“Since by divine providence a son of the Niger Delta has become president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, any attempt to use zoning to hinder the fulfilment of a perceived God-given opportunity to lead Nigeria would only lead the nation into deeper crisis. We must not allow other considerations to trivialise this threat to national security and stability,” Prof. Gana warned.

Gana who was flanked by the former minister of the federal capital territory, Engr. Abba Gana; Senator Isa Maina, former minister of environment, Col. Bala Mande, minister of state for interior, Humphrey Abba as well as other prominent northern political leaders traced the genesis of the zoning arrangement in the PDP and pointed out that it was adopted “primarily as a strategy for resolving a national crisis arising from the annulment of the June 12 presidential elections.”

He added, “Now that another challenge has arisen following the sad death of our former president, wisdom demands that fresh options be assessed and considered on the basis of prevailing national exigencies.”

While reiterating the position adopted by the northern political leaders summit in Kaduna, Gana said, it was the opinion of the leaders that “a logical application of the zoning formula lacks both the profundity and efficacy to resolve the complex problems created by the death of our former president and therefore resolved to appeal to the PDP leadership to allow the superior provisions of the Nigerian constitution to guide the party in producing the guidelines and regulations for the conduct of party primaries to elect its presidential candidate.

According to him, “In the circumstances, the summit recommends that the most viable option was to ensure the conduct of free, fair and credible primaries, so as to allow the emergence of the very best candidate for the office of the president.”

The former minister of Information further stated that even in the struggle for political power in the country, ‘the people of the Niger Delta have always stood by the north when it mattered most. It is on record that they supported the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC) to form the federal government during the first republic. It is also on record that the cooperation they gave the NPN gave the party victory in 1979. At an even deeper level, when the unity of the federal republic of Nigeria was most threatened, the people of the Niger Delta stood for national unity.

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria:19 northern governors endorsed Jonathan bid for President 2011

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Read Time:1 Minute, 59 Second

Goodluck Jonathan gets (slight) nod for Nigeria presidential run – Governors from 19 northern states in Nigeria issued a statement Wednesday acknowledging southerner Goodluck Jonathan’s right to run for president in January elections. It’s potentially a big step in the racially divided country.

Powerbrokers in Nigeria’s north may have flashed a faint green light for Goodluck Jonathon to run in January’s presidential election, despite an unwritten agreement in their political party to rotate the presidency back to a northern-born candidate.

Governors in 19 northern states on Wednesday issued their most substantial collective statement to date concerning the future of Nigeria‘s acting president and probable top candidate.

“The [governor’s] forum acknowledges the right of President Goodluck Jonathan and indeed any other Nigerian to legitimately and constitutionally contest for the office of the president,” they said in what was seen as a tepid endorsement.

Mr. Jonathan’s People’s Democratic Party has dominated Nigeria’s Fourth Republic since 1999, in part by following an unwritten rule that the presidency should rotate every two terms between southern and northern candidates.

Next year was supposed to be the North’s second term. That presumption fell to shambles when President Umaru Yar’Adua, a northern-born Muslim, died in May, bequeathing the nine months left in his term to Jonathon, a southerner who turned out to be more ambitious than one might expect from an accidental president.

“He’s fairly new to politics and has been presenting himself as quite a reformist,” says Elizabeth Donnelly, Africa Program Manager at the London-based think tank Chatham House. “He came onto the scene with confidence and a sense of purpose that you wouldn’t expect.”

The opposition has yet to put forward a striking candidate for the vote, making it a convoluted question as to whether Nigeria’s would-be transformational president can win over, buy out, or do without Nigeria’s northern governors in order to secure a second term.

But Ms. Donnelly says Jonathan’s political career is a sign that “politically, things are really shifting” in the country where the most telling divides aren’t necessarily between north and south.”

“There’s a new, reform-minded younger generation coming up, causing tension between them and the old guard, which is mostly based around the north,” she says.

But one might be naive, she cautions, to safely count Jonathon in that vanguard generation lobbying for change.

“It’s difficult to say,” she says. “Everybody owes somebody.”

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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INEC, Adequate Time and Credible 2011 Elections in Nigeria

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Read Time:6 Minute, 51 Second
President Goodluck Jonathan has promised Nigerians free, fair and credible general elections by next year. I believe he means business. Furthermore, he has appointed as the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega, a man associated with activism and integrity. Among the newly appointed Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs), there appears to be some persons who may also be branded activists. Can Jega and his team repeat Prof. Humphrey Nwosu’s feat and thereby assist Mr. President to deliver on his promise?

For some reasons, I do not envy Prof. Jega and the RECs who share his traits of activism and integrity. Owing to their antecedents, Nigerians expect a lot from them. The litmus test for any social critic is not how unrelenting his criticisms are but how he practises his precepts when given the opportunity of public service. No doubt, much difference exists between the ideal world of the critic and the real world of the target of criticism. History informed us of Plato’s failure to find his theorized “philosopher-king” when given the chance on the Island of Syracuse. A day before the first set of new RECs were sworn in by Mr. President, I met one of them, an activist, in Maitama Abuja and told him so.

Some previous Nigerian rulers were fond of giving political appointments to critics and activists. In most cases, such appointments were not informed by any genuine desire to tap from their knowledge or wisdom but to subject them to tight and compromising positions which disabled them from practising their preaching. Eventually, some of them were disgraced and rubbished in the eyes of the public. We all know what happened to Drs. Tai Solarin, Olu Onagoruwa and Stanley Macebuh who had stints as political appointees. Only a few of them, if any, left their political appointments unscathed. There are indications that President Jonathan is of a distinct streak and genuinely needs patriotic Nigerians who will join him to turn things around for good.

On the other hand, there are many self-acclaimed critics and activists who indulge in criticism and activism for the sake of gaining cheap popularity and attention. While doing this, they angle themselves for possible notice and eventual appointments by the rulers. One Nigerian lawyer from the South-South once confessed to a friend of mine that this solely informed his venture into human rights activism! Really, many of these people have reaped bountifully from this practice. Some fair-weather critics, like Uba Sani and Femi Fani-Kayode, upon securing political appointments, turn around to take on their former “comrades” and brand them enemies of the state.

Again, I do not envy the INEC leadership owing to its obligation to conduct free, fair and credible general elections in 2011 within a very short time. This task is very Herculean mindful of what it entails to prepare and do so in Nigeria. And the adoption of our usual fire-brigade approach towards this will surely be counter-productive. Prof. Jega and his team have a lot of challenges they must overcome in order to conduct free, fair and credible elections by next year. One of such is the need to clean the Augean stable left behind by Prof. Maurice Iwu.

As things stand now, the first step towards having a credible election is for INEC to discard the Voters Register prepared by Prof. Iwu. No matter the cost of producing a new Voters Register, it is all-important for INEC to give Nigerians a new one. We cannot have a credible election with a Voters Register that is replete with the names of dead Nigerians, foreigners and non-existent persons. To get a reliable new Voters Register incorporating all eligible Nigerian voters will take INEC quite some time. Enough time must be given for Nigerians to cross-check their names, correct cases of wrong entries and non-entries of names, etc in the Voters Register.

It seems necessary for INEC to stagger the entire 2011 general elections, guided by Nigeria’s geo-political zones. Hitherto, the electoral body’s failure to conduct credible elections has been blamed partly on the vast size of the country. Many Nigerians attribute the success of the recent Anambra governorship election in part to the fact that only one state was involved. Thus, staggered elections may be another step towards ensuring credible general elections in 2011.

There are provisions in the 1999 Constitution and Electoral Act 2006 which specify the time frame between elections and handover dates, the length of notice INEC is required to give prior to elections, etc. The National Assembly claims to have reduced these time frames via the on-going amendment of the 1999 Constitution and Electoral Act 2006. As this process of amendment is still on-going, the amended provisions are yet inapplicable. Instead, the laws now in force and regulating INEC and the electoral process are the relevant provisions of the extant 1999 Constitution and Electoral Act 2006. This poses a big challenge to INEC regarding time.

As I commenced writing this piece, I heard over AIT Television that a forum has advocated for the postponement of next year’s general elections to April 2011. Regardless of what persons opposed to this view may say I subscribe to the idea of postponing the elections. If we go ahead to conduct the elections as scheduled, I doubt if they would be credible. The foundations for credible 2011 elections cannot be firmly laid between now and January 2011. Prof. Jega has confessed that the time available to INEC to do a good job is rather inadequate, but the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has a different view. I agree with Jega because “he who wears the shoe knows where it pinches”.

I sympathize with the new INEC leadership because there exist within INEC and throughout Nigeria persons who are irrevocably and unrepentantly sworn to electoral malpractices. This is a monstrous challenge to President Jonathan, Prof. Jega and well-meaning Nigerians who earnestly desire a breath of fresh electoral air. It is perhaps the greatest amongst all the hurdles to credible elections in the country. The average Nigerian politician openly and noisily theorizes on and canvasses for free and fair elections while secretly espousing and practising electoral malpractices. Unfortunately, there are many Nigerians with similar mentality in the employ of INEC who will always connive with such politicians. These two groups of Nigerians will do everything to frustrate Jega and his team, and they stand to gain from any hurriedly conducted election. INEC leadership needs time to plan, in order to take the wind out of the sails of the exponents of electoral malpractices.

Let me ask this question: is the May 29 handover date sacrosanct and immutable? Humbly speaking, I do not think so. In 1999, General Abdulsalam Abubakar altered the political calendar of Nigeria when he gave us a new handover date of May 29 – the so-called Democracy Day. He probably did so in good faith, out of a commitment to his undertaking made upon assumption of office, after Abacha’s death, not to exceed one year in office as Head of State before handing over to civilians. Amidst the euphoria to see the back of the khaki boys, Nigerians were not bothered about the new handover date. But for that singular decision, we would still have our conventional, historical handover date of 1st October.

I understand the government’s indisposition to postponing the election and handover dates. Such an action will surely be misinterpreted by some persons. However, in my humble view, their postponement appears necessary if we must have credible, free and fair elections next year. Thus, I suggest we defer the election and handover dates to April and 1st October 2011, respectively. It is better to do so and have credible polls than have railroaded elections that are fraught with recurring irregularities. Moreover, the period between April and October 2011 may afford reasonable time for Elections Petition Tribunals to dispose of petitions arising from the elections.

 

Ikechukwu A. Ogu, a legal practitioner, writes from Central Business District, Abuja. Email: ikechukwuogu@yahoo.com

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Early strike proves a winner for Nigeria -Women’s World Cup

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Read Time:3 Minute, 2 Second

Nigeria became the first African team to reach the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup final as they overcame Columbia with a 2nd-minute goal in Bielefeld. They now face Germany in the same stadium on Sunday, the host nation easing past Korea Republic to give themsleves a chance to lift the trophy for the second time.

The South American team gave their all as rain fell and made conditions difficult. They were restricted to few opportunitites by the powerful Falconets who seized on their early chance and then produced a solid, organised performance to delight their tuneful band of supporters who gradually drowned out both the Colombian cheerleaders and also a rival German band.

There was an amazing start to the game as Nigeria scored wthin the first two minutes. It began with what was no more than a hopeful punt upfield from captain Joy Jegede, standing just inside the opposition half. The ball landed in the penalty area where the high bounce took it over goalkeeper Paula Forero and against the bar. Only Ebere Orji was alive to the possibilities and she scored easily and without pressure.

Stung into action, Colombia looked for an immediate reply. Yorely Rincon, their most important performer in the absence through suspension of Lady Andrade, tried her luck from outside the area while Daniela Montoya was no closer as she took aim a little later.

A better chance for the South Americans came as a corner was flicked on and fell to captain Natalia Gaitan at the far post. By the time she had the ball under control the angle was tight however and with several defenders standing in the way the shot was deflected and fell kindly to a Nigeria player.

More pressure followed as Colombia worked the ball neatly to their front players. This time Rincon’s shot rose inches over the bar. Then suddenly the pacy west African were striding away on the counter-attack. Esther Sunday’s pass invited Desire Oparanozie to chase and she just got to the ball ahead of the goalkeeper. Natalia Gaitan was back to cover but didn’t get her clearance away and that put Oparanozie back in charge with the goal gaping before she tumbled over Gaitan and fell to the ground. No penalty was awarded.

It remained an even struggle in the second half with both teams struggling to carve out clear opportunities. Nigeria threatened through Desire Oparanozie who muscled her way through and saw a dangerous cross earn a corner. Orji, an impressive performer from first to last, worked a crossing chance which Natalia Ariza missed but Oparanozie could not take advantage.

As the half wore on however Colombia grew in belief and succeeded in pegging their opponents back. In the 73rd minute substitute Katerin Castro, who had proved an effective substitute, shot and the Nigeria goalkeeper struggled to field it cleanly.

That was followed by an outstanding drive from Rincon some way from goal. Alaba Jonathan was beaten but the ball came back off the bar with no one on hand to profit from the rebound.

The game ended with chances at both ends, Orji forcing the ball over from Oparanozie’s pull-back while Jonathan was grateful to hold onto a cross with Colombia‘s forwards waiting to take advantage.   Courtesy FiFA.com

Match

Date – Time

Venue 

Results

32

01/08 15:00

Bielefeld

Germany

Nigeria

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Condemned to die, destined to live -all the way from death row

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Read Time:11 Minute, 54 Second
ONE by one they led them out. Faces covered in black. Handcuffed. Their last seconds of life. Last moments of reflection. The last breath of this world. No time to even say goodbye. One by one their names were called. The other five had already gone – gone for ever – gone to the gallows. A cold sweat broke out on his brow. He was next in line. This was it. The end. The grand finale. The next few seconds would be the last he would ever spend in life…

The tale of Chuks Olisemeka is block-buster material. It could well pass for a best-selling fiction thriller. But this is no fiction. It’s the real story of a young man who came from condemnation to salvation, in both the literal and spiritual sense. The story of a man who came face to face with death in a way few people could ever imagine. The story of redemption amidst retribution.

From a humble home in Delta to wild parties in Lagos, dangerous dealings in cannabis in Tunisia and gun-training for armed robbery in the Saharan desert, from a condemned cell in Tunis’ maximum security prison to a Nigerian church he had never heard of before, here is Chuks’ incredible journey, in his own words:

“My name is Chuks Olisemeka and I come from Delta State. When my mother was pregnant with me, she separated from my father. Later in 1991, my mother died of sickness. From there my grandmother took care of me. I never knew my father and hardly knew my mum, Mrs Josephine. In the year 2000 after finishing secondary school, I came to Lagos. I didn’t know anybody in Lagos. What made me come is that some friends came from Lagos every December with flashy flashy things, spending money. When I asked them, they said they went to Victoria Island.  One day I just decided by myself to come to Lagos, though I didn’t know anyone there and had no money.  I was only 20. Some people dropped me in Ojota. At that time I still smoked so I bought a cigar and began smoking. I saw one guy like me who now bought a cigarette. We got talking and he now asked me some questions. When I introduced myself to him, the guy said he would help me for accommodation. We bought Indian hemp together and he then took me to his house.

“Every night we went to the clubs and enjoyed ourselves. I was helping in his brother’s electronics business in Alaba. One day we met some guys who came from Tunisia. Those guys gave us the guidelines about Tunisia that time, but we never said we wanted to travel as we were enjoying in Lagos. Some months later, my close friend Chima suggested we both go to Tunisia and I agreed. We went by road through the desert. We entered from Libya, through Tripoli. Those guys we met gave us the address of their place in Tunisia. We met some guys there and a Nigerian guy now introduced us to one man who was dealing in drugs. He had some boys working for him. Every night he would give you 200 or 300 grams and you would go to the club and hawk drugs. Cocaine. At the end of the day he would give you $300. From there he introduced us to the business. We were moving with guys who were into it before and from there we got our own customers.

“After about eight months in the business, I met Jack, an Italian man. Every time the man would normally come to me and buy drugs; he would buy in quantity. He was a big man, and always came with his boys. My friend called me and said let us travel to Morocco and from there to Spain. But already that Jack said he would introduce me to his business, so I was not interested in going to Spain. After about two weeks, Jack introduced me to his business – robbery business.

“I didn’t know how to shoot a gun, so every morning he took me to the desert with some guys and taught me how to use a gun. We started going on operations. We go with information. Some people will come from Europe and land in Tunisia, and stay in a hotel – so the manager of the hotel would give us information, and we would go there and rob. After robbing, he would give me $5000. It was not only in Tunisia we robbed, but also in Libya – because they share a border together. We were based in Tunis. On one operation in a company, we got $800,000 – so Jack now gave me $20,000. I know tomorrow I would see more money, so I would go to the clubs, gamble, buy expensive wears and move with high-class babes. Then something happened in 2004.

“This hotel manager now brought information that one woman came from Holland who brought big money for a contract, and the woman lodged in his hotel. Our boss called us and said we should go to this hotel. We reached there around 10am. We were five – four boys and one Algerian girl. We met the woman and collected the money. Two of our members were down and three went up – it was a five storey building. On the way down, we just heard guns from nowhere. Two of our members were shot. They died there instantly. They now shot the girl, but we didn’t know the place where the bullets were coming from. We used one woman as a human shield to cover us saying – if you shoot again, we will shoot her – and we now managed to drag ourselves out and enter our car. As we started the engine, they started shooting again. We saw almost five jeeps pursuing us, police vehicles – blowing sirens. We got to a bend at the traffic lights. We were supposed to wait but because of the pressure, we moved on. One lorry coming from the other side collided full-on with our vehicle. It somersaulted. That is why I have these scars. At that time, I never knew that my friend who was driving was already dead.

“The policemen came, and rushed me to hospital. I was in serious pain – blood covered everywhere and I couldn’t even open my eyes. The following day, they put POP all over me. Three men came and started interviewing me, and I opened up for them. They wrote everything down. The following day, they took me to our building – Jack was no more there, because he heard the information. They searched everywhere. They saw some drugs and carried them, including three vehicles. They padlocked the building, and took me back to hospital.

“The following day, they took me to court. I still had POP all over, and they had to carry me. When I reached court, the magistrate looked at my condition and said they should carry me back to hospital. I spent seven months in hospital. After seven months they took me back to court, and tried the case. After that, they took me to prison. From prison, I still went to the court. In August 2007 my final judgement came. After the judgement, they sentenced me to death by hanging. I had already given my life to Christ in prison. This guy Mr Charles normally shared the Word of God with me. But after the sentence they didn’t take me back to the same prison again. They took me to another prison where they put those who are condemned to death. We were five inside the prison room. I started praying there.

“On 15th August, I dreamt and saw myself in this big church with someone saying, ‘Welcome to Synagogue Church, Emmanuel!’ When I woke up, I didn’t understand the dream. I’d never heard of Synagogue Church before. On 19th August, some men came with a lady. They started calling names. When they had called the name, they would put a mask to cover the person and handcuff him. They now carried him outside to be hanged. I had already said today is the day I would die, but I still had this hope that God would do a miracle. When it got to my turn, the woman asked – ‘Where is this boy’s paper?’ They started searching and finally said they could not see it. So she said they should go and find my case file, that if they didn’t find the case file, they should not take me anywhere. The men carried the other five for hanging. Only me was left in that place. A week, two weeks, a month went by and nobody talked to me. It was only me in the cell. Some men now came and took me back to the other prison.

“It was 2008, February. One day the warden called me and said they wanted to hand me over to the Nigerian embassy to send me back to my country. I saw about three men, wearing suits who asked me for my name. They now signed all these documents and told me to carry my load. They took me to the airport and one man followed me down to Nigeria. After about three hours, we arrived. They now handed me over to some men who ushered me inside a motor. A few hours later, I saw myself in Ikoyi prison. They searched me and then took me to the prison cell. I was still praying to God.

“Another year passed in prison. It was July 2009 and I dreamed again – Welcome to Synagogue Church – Emmanuel! It was exactly the same dream I had seen in the prison in Tunisia. But this time, I saw rain fall on me as I entered inside the church, and I rejoiced with people inside. But I never knew the place. I had never heard of Prophet T.B. Joshua. Two weeks later, one of the wardens called me. He said they brought some papers yesterday and that I didn’t have a case to answer, that I should be released. I was just surprised, shocked. He gave me one paper, and told me I should carry my load. I didn’t have anything to carry.

“As I left the gate, I asked God: where shall I go? Direct me – I don’t know where to go. Rain was falling and suddenly that dream came to me – welcome to Synagogue Church – Emmanuel. I asked the warden – where is Synagogue? He said it’s far, in Ikotun. I asked where is Ikotun. God has directed me there. He looked at me and asked if I had money. The man gave me N500 and told me how to get to the church. It was a Friday.

“I finally found the church. I met one man and asked him – how can I see the pastor here? He looked at me and asked where I was from. I told him from a very far place. He said I should come back to church early on Sunday. I was still wearing the clothes I had in prison. It was Sunday. As I entered the church that morning, I recognised it from the dream. Everything was the same as I had seen it in that dream. I prayed that God should direct the man of God to where I am. God finally directed him to me in the second service. After prophesying to about four people, he touched me and said you are a murderer – and not in this country but another country.  I had never met him before, but he knew me. He prayed and I found myself down on the floor. As he touched me, I believed all my problems had gone. That day I became a new person in life. The church now took care of me, gave me new clothes and a place to stay. God is really using that man (T.B. Joshua). Nobody in Nigeria can do that thing – you don’t know a person before and after praying for you – he puts you in his house, gives you money for clothes and feeding and treats you as one of his own. He is a real man of God.

“There are many things people can learn from me. God created everybody for a purpose. Instead of pursuing fast money which makes you go into crime in which you may die or find yourself in prison, you should follow Christ. Those who travel outside Nigeria and don’t know where they are going to or anybody there, there is no way they will not take to crime when they get there. It’s either you take to robbery or drug business or go into 419 – and after everything you will find yourself in bigger trouble.

“I regret a lot, because I wasted so many years in prison. If not the flashy things of this life, I would not go into all of that crime. If I had calmed down and given my life to Christ that time, by now I am supposed to know where I am going in life. But now – if God could give me another chance,  I will worship Him, praise Him all my days. I believe God really has something for me in this life. He has a purpose for my living.

Following Chuk’s arrival in the church straight from prison, he remained there for almost two months for a period of rehabilitation and reformation, receiving the message of salvation and learning about the ways of God. He was then given N120, 000, three bags of rice and a Holy Bible to start his life afresh.

 

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Press Release: Uche Jombo, Desmond Elliot and Emem Isong reunite again

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Read Time:2 Minute, 23 Second

Holding Hope and Bursting Out from premier in August

…we want to make people cry and laugh-Uche Jombo

 

First, from Royal Arts Academy Productions were Guilty Pleasure and Nollywood Hustlers starring notable stars such as Ramsey Nouah, Majid Micheal, Nse Ikpe Etim, Uche Jombo, Susan Peters, Charles Inojie, Monalisa Chinda and many others.

 

Now, it is Holding Hope and Bursting Out from the movie cooking pots of Emem Isong, Desmond Elliot and Uche Jombo. The trio who seem to have mastered the art of giving double treats as premiere are toeing same path they did last year when they showed two movies, Guilty Pleasure and Nollywood Hustlers to selected crowd amidst pomp and pageantry.

 

Holding Hope and Bursting Out will be premiered on Sunday, August 8 at Silverbird Galleria, Lagos before doing rounds at ‘community cinema houses’ across the country.

 

Holding Hope is the story of Mrs. Badmus and her wayward son. It is the story which springs complexity out of simple plot. For Sidney to inherit his mother’s wealth who is dying of cancer there is a hurdle he must cross and that hurdle isn’t an easy one. The story was written by     Uche Jombo, Emem Isong, and Uduak Emem Oguwamalam. With impressive cast such as Uche Jombo, Desmond Elliot, Nadia Buhari, Biola Williams, Ngozi Nwosu, Rukky Sanda and many others one can only imagine what to expect.

 

Bursting Out is the story of a lady ripe for marriage and family wants her to get married to the many suitable suitors but she delays, as time goes on she decides to close her eyes and jump, a decision of faith that comes with consequences. Star actress, Genevieve Nnaji and

Majid Michael reunites in the movie that has directorial hands of Desmond Elliot and Daniel Adenimokan to create electrifying masterpiece. Emem Isong is the producer of the flick.

 

Speaking on the movie, Uche said they want to make people cry, laugh and perhaps pause and think at the same time. ‘It’s a movie that we intend and want people to see in the cinema, and be moved by it, cry about it, and at the same time, laugh.  Really, life is too short, as there are things you can change in life, but there are also things you cannot change”.

 

Come Sunday August 8, Emem, Desmond and Uche will try to out-do their first outing and prove to all and sundry that the success of their first outing was not a fluke.

 

 

 PRESS RELEASE FROM BIGSAM MEDIA

Signed

Bigsam Media

Lagos| Nigeria

For enquiries, interviews, photo, clarifications, please contact bigsammedia@aol.com or 007@bigsammedia.com. Phone: 08028302862. Website: (under construction) www.bigsammedia.com  in collaboration with Codewit.com

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Malawi: The Forgotten of Africa, Wasting Away in Jails Without Trial

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Read Time:1 Minute, 31 Second

LILONGWE, Malawi – Since Nov. 10, 1999, Lackson Sikayenera has been incarcerated in Maula Prison, a dozen iron-roofed barracks set on yellow dirt and hemmed by barbed wire just outside Malawi’s capital city.

At Muala Prison in Malawi, the prisoners sleep on the floor, so tightly packed they cannot turn except en masse. Some cells hold 160 prisoners.

Prisoners take in the sun after being let out of their cells in the morning.

He eats one meal of porridge daily. He spends 14 hours each day in a cell with 160 other men, packed on the concrete floor, unable even to move. The water is dirty; the toilets foul. Disease is rife.

But the worst part may be that in the case of Mr. Sikayenera, who is accused of killing his brother, the charges against him have not yet even reached a court. Almost certainly, they never will. For sometime after November 1999, justice officials lost his case file. His guards know where he is. But for all Malawi’s courts know, he does not exist.

“Why is it that my file is missing?” he asked, his voice a mix of rage and desperation. “Who took my file? Why do I suffer like this? Should I keep on staying in prison just because my file is not found? For how long should I stay in prison? For how long?”

This is life in Malawi’s high-security prisons, Dickens in the tropics, places of cruel, but hardly unusual punishment. Prosecutors, judges, even prison wardens agree that conditions are unbearable, confinements intolerably long, justice scandalously uneven.

But by African standards, Malawi is not the worst place to do time. For many of Africa’s one million prison inmates, conditions are equally unspeakable – or more so. click for full story

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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Nigeria: We Are All Prisoners

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Read Time:22 Minute, 18 Second

Dick Cheney, the immediate past Vice President of the United States once said, ‘it is easy to take liberty for granted when you have never had it taken from you.’ Yet liberty and freedom is regularly denied Nigerians and because we are not the ones behind bars in anyone of the nation’s 228 prisons, we do not give a hoot. Additionally, police stations across the land are holding unknown number of Nigerians, many of whom their only crime was that they were unlucky to be outdoor the day the giant money making broom of the police swept through streets and cities, raking off scores, even hundreds to their stations where they have to pay to secure their ‘bail’ and freedom. If you are unable to pay or blinked at the wrong time, argued too much or an officer felt your eyes lingered too long on his name tag or service number, your situation rapidly deteriorates just to teach the unfortunate a lesson. This happens somewhere every day.

During my undergraduate days, I was involved in a motor accident in which I broke my thigh bone and was consequently confined to a bed for three months. The world became so small because all I could see every day for the three months through the same window was the same patch of sky. Even though I was surrounded by family and friends and eating what I wanted, the confinement was not fun.

Imagine then being suddenly and violently as is the arrest method here,  unjustly swept off into dungeons that pass for prisons for years on end, watching your life in slow motion at best, or on pause at worst like an out of body experience. Some are paraded before television cameras with weapons retrieved fifteen years ago from another generation of criminals. Sometimes, inmates as they are called remain in prison unknown to relatives. Father Jacob Adeyemi, the Chaplain of the Catholic Prison Chaplaincy of the Archdiocese of Lagos, a veteran of ten years and still counting told the story of someone who was held in Badagry prison for years, his where about unknown to his family. They had conducted a search without success and declared him dead. He was mourned and consigned to the dark regions of memory where unpleasant experiences are stored. When this prisoner’s residence was eventually traced by the Church, it was difficult to convince the parents their son who they had mourned was alive but wasting away in prison. Father Adeyemi lamented that many people remain behind bars because they could not provide N10, 000 to ‘secure’ their release. The fact that the investigating police officers routinely do not try to find and locate the parents of those they arrested and held for years, speaks volumes of the quality of their investigation.

Across Nigeria’s 228 prisons, there are 49,000 prisoners, confined in hopelessly overcrowded spaces that seemed designed by the creeping failure of government to physically and mentally destroy inmates by instalments. Out of this number, Father Adeyemi disclosed that about 29,000 inmates are awaiting trial, some for as long as ten years! Ikoyi prisons in Lagos illustrate the twin horrors of congestion and awaiting trial. Built to handle 800 inmates, it has a population of 1,659, out of which less than 200 are convicts. Father Adeyemi explained that the number of those awaiting trial is the major reason for the congestion. Hunkered down in the trenches, he expects the situation to worsen as soon as Nigerian prisoners in British jails are returned to Nigeria to complete their prison terms. This arrangement between the Nigerian and British governments led to the construction of a unit at the Medium Security Prison at Kirikiri at British government expense. More convicted Nigerians are also expected from Thailand to complete their terms here in Nigeria. He hoisted the problem of those awaiting trial on the police, the prison service and judiciary, insisting vehemently that those who should be in prison namely the politicians who have failed Nigeria are walking free.  His words: ‘Our politicians, those who embezzle money, those who award and receive contracts that are not executed are not in prison. Those who made it to trial by EFCC have had their cases stalled or suspended because of political connections. How many of them slept in the prisons for one week?’ In a nutshell, most real criminals do not end up in prison. Their formidable war chests are more than sufficient to buy them freedom.

Every step of the way from arrest to trial is booby trapped. First of all, if you can bribe your way at the police station you go home. If you cannot, you move down the conveyor belt of misery to prison to await trial after surviving horrifying torture to extract ‘confession’. The judiciary receives the baton here.  Father Adeyemi narrated the story of one Chidinma Nnekwe whose file went missing for three years. A Catholic Church lawyer, Barrister Mary went to investigate. She was told that for N5, 000 the file would be found. She told them she had only N3, 000 which they took and after a few minutes produced the file that had been missing for three years. But they told her they will hold on to it to shake off accumulated dust while waiting for the balance of N2, 000, the final portion of grease that will after three years turn the wheels of justice! Chidinma’s dilemma is common place, clogging the wheels of justice, bringing them close to a halt.

In a paper titled ‘A Great Need For Prison Rehabilitation,’ presented by Sister Elma Mary Ekewuba who is director of Port Harcourt based Justice Development and Peace Commission/Caritas (JDPCC), she said that some of the congestion is due to the activities of some prison staff who ask for tips from inmates due to appear in court before they are allowed to go to court. ‘Inmates who are unable to meet this demand are kept away from court.’

Getting inmates to court is also riddled with other unbelievable failures and excuses, of which the most cited are lack of, insufficient number or broken down vehicles.  Available statistics indicate up to 45 percent of inmates have never been taken to court. Lucas Diapak, the officer in charge of Ikoyi prisons during the quarterly visit in October 2009 of the Directorate of Citizens Rights (DCR), an agency of Lagos State Ministry of Justice told The Guardian that because Ikoyi prisons serves 17 courts, sometimes for as many as 100 inmates a day, many inmates arrive the courts after the judges have ended the day’s session. According to Diapak, ‘these vehicles go to drop some and return to carry others. Before they can go and come back from a place like Ikeja for example, the judge would have finished sitting… Sometimes one vehicle services seven courts…’ It is easy to picture inmates waiting endlessly year after year to have their day in court. It is also easy to see how this contributes to the congestion even when the solution is to get more vehicles to take inmates to court.

The director of DCR Mrs Omotilewa Ibirogba also told The Guardian that ‘Some of those inmates are in for minor offences and sometimes when they are picked up, their families do not know where they are…’ The Lagos state Comptroller of Prisons, Mr Kayode Benjamin Boguntokun is worried about the number of people arrested for environmental offences brought to prison. But since it is outside his control, he can only voice out his concerns and expect the relevant agencies of government to act accordingly. Mrs Funke Tella of the Directorate’s human rights desk subsequently highlighted alternative ways of punishing minor offenders, which include community service, non custodial sentencing, suspended sentencing and other forms of punishment  that preclude confinement in prison. As good as these alternatives are, the question is, who and when will they be implemented?

During the 2009 Christmas visit to Maximum Security Prisons, Kirikiri of His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, the Archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of Lagos, the Catechist, Chigozie Anthony in his address pointed out a catalogue of issues that keep inmates awaiting trial for up to eleven years. They include, ‘denial of bail by the judiciary; granting of difficult bail conditions such as providing sureties with landed properties with certificates of occupancy of Lagos state; refundable cash deposits in the court that poor defendants cannot afford to provide.’ What Chigozie did not add is that many inmates are more often than not tortured by the police to extract false confession that they use as evidence against them in court.

Father Adeyemi’s voice rose when he talked of one William who was arrested in 1983 and released 26 years later in 2009, declared innocent of the charges of armed robbery. The second man arrested with him was released in 1996 through a well connected brother during General Abacha’s regime.  How do you give back to such a man one day talk less of twenty six years of his life? According to Chigozie even when defendants are found guilty, the considerable number of years they stayed while awaiting trial is not often taken into consideration, so sentences start running from the day of conviction or judgement.

What happens if a person is found guilty for a crime that attracts a six month sentence and sentenced as such but had spent five years awaiting trial? Is the state not guilty of crimes against her citizens, against humanity? There has to be a way to penalise government for this kind of negligence even for the guilty who spent interminable years beyond what would normally be his prison term but more so for those wrongfully imprisoned. We can take a cue from the advanced nations of the world, where anyone who served time on account of wrongful conviction is compensated financially and in other ways as a way of atonement. How can we get the government of Nigeria to atone for arresting and wrongfully convicting fellow Nigerians? The National Assembly should rise up and enact laws that will compensate such citizens and hold everyone including those involved in investigation and the judiciary responsible for subverting the course of justice.

Nigerian prisons are certified dungeons not fit for animals. The so called prison reforms delivered nothing except perhaps extending the National Open University to prisons. Sometimes prisoners are served garri to drink as a meal while warders and wardresses sell sugar and groundnut within the walls of the prisons to them. Father Adeyemi averred that as far as he knows the constitution or any criminal code did not prescribe denial of food as part of punishment for crimes.

Prisons are so congested inmates practically sleep on top of each other on bare floors, breathing in the bacteria and viruses of each other and spreading diseases including tuberculosis. Prisoners’ body odour is better imagined than smelt, an indication that bathing is a luxury. He recounted observing prisoners use a bar of soap and a small bowl of water to create soap lather they rubbed on their bodies as body cream. Father Adeyemi sees the provision of basic amenities, water and electricity, food for prisoners and liveable wages for warders and wardresses as not negotiable in a genuine prison reform. That will be the beginning of turning prisons from a choking punishment environment to reform centres.

In a Thisday newspaper editorial on prison congestion published on October 28, 2009, they wrote, ‘…appalled by the deplorable condition of  Nigerian prisons following an extensive audit in 2005, Ojo, the then Attorney General and Minister of Justice, inter alia, made the following recommendations to the Federal Government: that the then Federal Executive Council should declare the issue of Awaiting Trial Persons in Nigerian prisons a matter of urgent  national importance and further, that the Federal Executive Council should appoint an independent Chief Inspector of Prisons in Nigeria and to report his finding to the President. Ojo also told the House of Representatives in 2005 that his office had drafted and sent to the House, the Prisons Bill clearly defining prisoner’s rights and the minimum standards for all aspects of prison life in Nigeria. He also told the lawmakers that his office had completed work on the Administration of Criminal Justice and improving the general criminal justice system. Unfortunately, four years on, these initiatives of the former Attorney General are yet to come to fruition. We are pained by the large number of prisoners awaiting trial because it is possible from the way the police easily arrest people and hurl them into prisons that there are many innocent people among them.’ In lamentation at the lack of progress in addressing the issues Thisday quipped: ‘Really, prison decongestion should not be a task beyond the intelligence and capacity of our police, judicial officers and political office holders.’

Perhaps in recognition of what seems to be beyond our political and mental capacities to solve, Thisday fired off another editorial less than seven months later on April 9, 2010. Taking it from another angle, it reads in part as follows; ‘Some of the problems of criminal  justice system in Nigeria include, torture and inhuman treatment of suspects at police stations and prisons; delay in charging suspects to court; incompetence of police prosecutors; corrupt judiciary and so forth. Many of our police stations are dungeons of torture and extra judicial killings. The recent Amnesty International Report on Nigeria was quite revealing about the reality of police extra judicial killings and brutality in Nigeria. Worse, crime investigation drags on endlessly in Nigeria. Criminal suspects are hardly brought to court. And when they are eventually arraigned in court, the trial is marred by endless and frivolous adjournments mostly at the instance of the police for lack of vital evidence to prosecute the suspects. More importantly, Nigerian prisons are over-congested and hope of de-congestion seems not to be in sight. Also detainees’ rights are regularly violated.’ When it comes to investigating ‘juicy’ cases the police usually swing into action.  While we fumble and wobble, hell on earth grows everyday in our prisons.

The new Attorney General of Nigeria and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, less than two weeks after his appointment constituted a nine member committee to look into the Prisons Decongestion Programme of his ministry. Headed by the Solicitor –General/Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Alhaji Abdullahi A.Yola, is supposed to aggressively and without exception deal with every component of justice administration in Nigeria. This new initiative came a few days before the attempted jailbreak of the Kaduna Prisons during which between two and ten inmates were said to have being killed by security forces. The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Prison Service, Mr Olusola Ogundipe said the reason for the attempt by awaiting trial inmates was predictably overcrowded condition of the prison built to take 524 prisoner but housing 797 inmates out of which 539 are awaiting trial. He acknowledged that the congestion has overstretched the facilities, adding to the misery of inmates. Out of the convicted 258 inmates, 139 are on death row awaiting execution.

Even the new Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho after a visit to Kuje Prisons in Abuja was on record to have vowed that the vexed issue of overcrowded prisons will be history by the end of his tenure in about twelve months from when he made the promise.  Because there have been a lot of gap between  promises and reality, very few will expect anything positive out of this new effort by the new Attorney General of the Federation. Only time will tell if both ministers will live up to their promises or not.

Olawale Fapohunda, who was secretary to the National Study Group on death penalty set up in 2005 by former President Obasanjo, through his piece in Thisday raised fresh alarms based on the thinking of government officials on how to decongest prisons across the nation. The governor of Abia state, Theodore Orji speaking  for all the governors created the impression that executing the less than 1,000 prisoners on death row will somehow, in the words of Fapohunda relieve ‘the unenviable state of our prisons including congestion…’ With the shoddy way investigations are carried out, ‘confessions’ extracted through torture, how many of those to be executed are really guilty of the crimes they were tried for? During the attempted jail break in Kaduna, newspapers had reported that none of the death row inmates took part in the attempt. This simplistic solution for governors to urgently sign death warrants that will authorise their execution across the nation will solve nothing given the fact that the government knows that the real reason for congestion is the huge number of awaiting trial persons, which is more than half of the 49,000 inmates in the nation, aided and abetted by the consistent and worsening failure of the police, the judiciary and the prisons service.

Fapohunda’s call for a legal audit of all awaiting trial inmates across the nation should point the way to any government, its ministers and governors serious about ending congestion. In his words, ‘the purpose of this audit will be to determine those inmates who should not be in prison including inmates who are unable to pay fines, meet bail conditions or those whose case files are lost. In all, consideration should be given to the release of awaiting trial inmates who have spent upwards of ten years in prison. Any prosecutor that cannot obtain the conviction of an inmate in ten years is not likely to be in a position to do so.’ If in a rare moment of clarity government agrees to a prison audit, they must guide against what will quickly become a lost files racket designed to get all categories of criminals out for a fee, the bigger the crime the higher the fee.

The question we must begin to ask is why the House of Representatives has done nothing about the bills sent to them to pass into laws. Is their lack of interest because this largely affects the poor and the unprotected? Is it because their friends can easily buy and talk their way out of any crime and out of prison?

The time has come to pressure the United Nations to declare conditions of prisons in Nigeria and the reluctance of officials and agencies of government and the national assembly to do something about them as crimes against humanity for which nations such as Nigeria will be named and shamed during the annual United Nations General Assembly. Additionally, government officials responsible for observed failures and lapses should be banned from travelling abroad and tried at The Hague even in absentia. Perhaps this threat will penetrate the calloused consciences of government officials and compel them to do the right things and treat prisoners like human beings and not like animals. From their harrowing experience, it is obvious that even guilty inmates wish that the state is as forgiving as the Almighty God.

Those who commit crimes should be punished for their crimes. And the one sure way to reduce crime in Nigeria is for government to rise up to its responsibilities and create jobs. An idle hand is the devil’s workshop and the number of idle hands is multiplying daily. They resort to vices like prostitution and crimes such as armed robbery, assassination and kidnapping. This vast army of the unemployed represent very serious security risk which is the direct result of neglect spanning fifty years. Father Adeyemi wants government to provide business friendly environment and pay particular attention to education and arrest the shameful falling standards. Referring to the recently announced 98% failure rate in NECO examination Father Adeyemi shook his head ruefully and said, ‘You are talking about very massive failure. The blame goes to government. No light to read. Books are expensive. Teachers are not paid. Strikes last for too long during which students are not taught. The examination boards do not care whether the syllabuses were covered or not. This is why private schools are emerging everyday and I do not support it. There were no private schools thirty years ago when the standards were high.’

Father Adeyemi who exhibits the kind of rugged spirit required for taking on hide bound bureaucracy and officials interested only in feathering their own nests spoke of other challenges. Recently someone tried to smuggle into one of the prisons 34 wraps of Indian hemp concealed in what looked like a giant water melon.  Investigations then revealed there were three sellers of Indian hemp but the arrested man did not pay the ‘required’ money and was rumbled. There was also another attempt to smuggle in 42 bottles of undiluted local gin in one litre water bottles with an estimated prison community value of N859, 000. These attempts have the potential to undermine the spiritual work done by churches to change the mind set of inmates and prepare them for life after prison.

The Catholic Church has a programme for helping ex inmates settle down after their release. They used to have a transit camp for that purpose in Yaba which became too small and was abused. They have acquired a large parcel of land at Alakuko to build a customised facility for rehabilitating ex prisoners. For now the church is actively involved in reconnecting them with their families to make integration easier. They also prefer that they stay outside Lagos to reduce the temptation of returning to crime. This effort according to Father Adeyemi has not always been successful with recorded incidences of ex prisoners returning to prison. Another herculean battle is to prevent hardened criminals indoctrinating those brought in for minor offences and upon their release sending them to meet their gang members and contacts and into higher levels of crime.

If the truth is to be said, we are all prisoners either behind physical prison walls or unseen walls known only to us, but no less as deadly. A first time visitor from advanced nations will assume there are many prisons in Nigeria, easily mistaking the high walls of our homes topped by razor wire as prisons, not knowing the walls and razor wire are not desired to prevent break out but break in! The wife of a former military governor was burnt to death because of a fire outbreak. Hemmed in by the fire, she could still have gotten away if not that the windows of her residence were heavily fortified with iron bars.

We are all invisible prisoners of our minds, our past, our fears, unforgiving spirit, and compulsive behaviours like alcohol addiction, drug addiction, fornication, gossiping, lying and so many others. For instance, the fear of previous failures stops us from daring again, effectively making us prisoners of the past. We cannot navigate our way past the past because we allow them to force themselves into the present.

As a nation, we are held captive by failed policies, ethnic loyalties, unconscionable politicians, the smallness of our politics, religious bigotry etc. These have bred unemployment the scale of which is now extremely dangerous. Our idle young men gravitate to crime and are called by evil men to kill in the name of God. Young girls and increasingly married women so easily take to prostitution, operating out of homes, university campuses and offices to make ends meet, taking unbelievable risks in the process. The man who cannot travel home because of robbers and kidnappers is a prisoner of the fear of insecurity across the land. The failed school system is the prisoner of mindless incompetence. Joblessness is a prisoner of failed economic policies and lack of political will. We are all prisoners of a nation that has continually failed its citizens.

Overcoming these self imposed prisons is as daunting as reforming the physical prisons but it can be done. We start by liberating our nation from evil politicians by demanding and getting the electoral reform bill passed, getting a trusted person to chair INEC and making sure our individual votes count. This is the only way we can remove from positions of authority the sick minds who have made the physical prisons a living hell, the demented minds that have cornered our common wealth meant for roads, hospitals, well equipped schools that are not there. It is the only way to throw out corrupt politicians who according to Transparency International have built the second highest walls of corruption in the world, protecting each other because as they say dogs do not eat dogs. They created the mess and cannot be part of the solution. Everyone who serves only himself or ethnic group, who is a member of the consortium of corruption, should be thrown out so that for once leaders will be accountable to those who elected them. For once we can become deserving beneficiaries of policies that will work to our common good making the economy to grow, creating jobs and reducing criminality. Prosperity will feed on prosperity until we are able to climb out of the deep ditch corrupt politicians dug for us. With our huge population, amazing mineral deposits, vast agricultural potential, Nigeria can within a generation become a first world nation. Singapore, South Korea and Malaysia did it in one generation and none of them has one quarter of our endowments. We too can. Good men in office and good policies are the twins that will bring in investors desirous of tapping into our domestic market on the one hand and as a launch pad for export on the other. Good policies and incentives will compel them to tap into our massive resource base to export significantly value added products such that rules of origin will confer on such products the made in Nigeria tag. That is how employment will be created.  It is in our hands to demand leadership through service and liberate ourselves from the huge prison Nigeria has become. We do not have to wait till the next election. Now is the time to start or remain prisoners in our nation. So help us God!

Okechukwu Peter Nwobu

okechukwunwobu@yahoo.co.uk

About Post Author

Anthony Claret

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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