■ NASS crucial to resolving national challenges –SGF
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Federal Government has disclosed its plans to go after religious leaders using their pulpits to propagate hate speeches, and to also incite the people either against one another or against the government. The government statement disclosed that the Police and other security agencies would soon go after such religious and community leaders some of whom command massive and high loyalty and followership.
Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, who disclosed the information at the third quarterly meeting of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in Abuja, called on such clerics to be cautious when they talk, given the level of influence such clerics have on the psyche of millions of their followers, online and offline.
“As religious and community leaders, we must be careful with our utterances, and we must consider, in our actions, that life is sacred and must be preserved. We must promote comments and actions that would bring succour the people,” he remarked.
Admitting that it is the responsibility of the government to provide security for the people as well as improve their well-being, he added that the President, Muhammadu Buhari, has been doing just that in the past six years.
President, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), in his remarks, accused the President of being biased in his approach to the issues of insecurity in Nigeria, hence the impression that he was in support of people of one region against the others. Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, in his remarks, disabused the minds of the people that the crisis in Plateau was religious or political, insisting that it was purely criminal act that would be punished soon.
Senator Iroegbu and Godsgift Onyedinefu with Agency
Facebook has busted an Isreali-led campaign to sway elections in Nigeria as well as targeted countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The social media giant on Thursday said it had removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages, groups and events linked to an Israel-based firm due to what it called “inauthentic behaviour” targeting users in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.
The move is part of wider efforts by Facebook to address concerns over privacy lapses and hate speech in social media.
Facebook said the “inauthentic” activity originated in Israel and focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia as well as in Latin America and Southeast Asia.
“The people behind this network used fake accounts to run pages, disseminate their content and artificially increase engagement,” Nathaniel , head of cyber security policy at Facebook said in a statement.
He identified Israel’s Archimedes Group as the source of some of the activity.
“This organisation and all its subsidiaries are now banned from Facebook, and it has been issued a cease and desist letter,” said Gleicher.
Archimedes was not immediately available for comment
Gleicher said Archimedes had 65 Facebook accounts, 161 pages, 12 events and four Instagram accounts. Some 2.8 million accounts followed one or more of these pages.
He said that the individuals involved also represented themselves as locals, including local news organisations, and published allegedly leaked information about politicians.
“The page administrators and account owners frequently posted about political news, including topics like elections in various countries, candidate views and criticism of political opponents,” Gleicher said.
“We’re taking down these pages and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they posted.”
He added that around 812,000 dollars was spent for advertisements on Facebook paid for in Brazilian reals, Israeli shekels and US dollars with the first ad running in 2013 2012 and the most recent last month, Gleicher said.
“We have shared information about our analysis with industry partners and policymakers,” he said.
Similarly, Amnesty International on Thursday called for Israel’s government to ensure that an Israeli company, whose spyware has been linked to a WhatsApp breach that may have targeted human rights groups, be held accountable for the way its software is used.
Amnesty on Tuesday filed a petition in Israel seeking the revocation of NSO Group’s export licence and said that it was up to the government to take a firmer stance against export licenses that have “resulted in human rights abuses.”
Israel’s Ministry of Defence declined to comment.
WhatsApp, a unit of Facebook, said on Tuesday that a security breach on its messaging app may have targeted human rights groups.
According to Eva Galperin, Director of cybersecurity at San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, WhatsApp told human rights groups it believed the spyware used was developed by Israel’s NSO.
A second person familiar with the matter also identified spyware from NSO.
Amnesty said in an emailed statement that NSO has “again and again demonstrated their intent to avoid responsibility for the way their software is used,” and that only government intervention would change that.
NSO has not commented on any specific attacks, but following the WhatsApp breach it said it would investigate any “credible allegations of misuse” of its technology which “is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies”.
NSO’s biggest shareholder, Novalpina Capital, said in a statement that it intends to bring NSO’s governance into alignment with UN principles and will seek insights from Amnesty and other groups “into how best to achieve this important goal.”
WhatsApp, one of the world’s most popular messaging tools which are used by 1.5 billion people monthly, said it had notified the U.S. Department of Justice to help with an investigation into the breach.
And it encouraged its users to update to the latest version of the app, where the breach had been fixed.
One target of the new WhatsApp exploit was a United Kingdom-based human rights lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
The United Kingdom-based human rights lawyer is helping a Saudi dissident and several Mexican journalists mount civil cases against NSO for its alleged role in selling hacking tools to the Saudi and Mexican governments, which they alleged were used to hack into their phones.
NSO says it sells only to law enforcement and intelligence agencies pursuing legitimate targets, such as terrorists and criminals.
Novalpina, in a May 15 letter to Amnesty signed by founding partner Stephen Peel, said Novalpina was “determined to do whatever is necessary to ensure that NSO technology is used for the purpose for which it is intended.
“The prevention of harm to fundamental human rights arising from terrorism and serious crime – and not abused in a manner that undermines other equally fundamental human rights.”
Credits| Reuters, NAN
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The Nigeria Police Force on Tuesday grilled a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, over a three-part essay titled, ‘Five Useful Idiots and the Spirit of the Accursed Slave’.
Fani-Kayode, it was learnt, was grilled for about an hour and then asked to return on another day for more interrogation.
Confirming his interrogation to our correspondent on the telephone, the former minister said the quizzing was cordial.
Fani-Kayode, however, said he would continue to write more of such articles.
He said, “I had a cordial interview with the policemen. The police were courteous and professional.
“I was invited because of my essay titled “Five Useful Idiots and the Spirit Of the Accursed Slave” which was about Fulani hegemony and terrorism together with other write-ups. No regrets. I will hit harder and write more.”
In the essay which was published in March, the former minister lambasted the Governor of Plateau State, Solomon Lalong, for blaming the herdsmen attacks on Governor Samuel Ortom’s refusal to scrap the anti-grazing law.
Fani-Kayode also lambasted the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, for describing the herdsmen attacks in Kogi State as a family affair among Kogi indigenes.
He also knocked a former Minister of Information and current chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Prince Tony Momoh, for saying the Fulani herdsmen were victims of tribal politics.
The former minister said in the article that the herdsmen attacks were part of a larger scheme to dominate and recolonise Nigeria. (Punch)
Following the outrage generated in the social media by a hateful remark by one Mr Alaba Ajibola, who claims to be a staff of the prestigious private university, Babcock University has distanced itself from the said fellow.
The remark on his Facebook wall that ” the Igbo should have been wiped out during the Biafra-Nigeria civil war” caused outrage that went viral on the social media and attracted the attention of the university and they had to make a disclaimer.
The only serious issue still pondering many readers is that the young man in question still has on his social media accounts profile that he is still the staff of Babcock University.
The attention of Babcock University has been drawn to a story titled”Babcock University staff goes on a rant; Says Igbos Should Have Been Wiped Out During the Biafran War”.
The story is credited to one Alaba Ajibola.
This is to inform the public that the said Ajibola is neither a staff of Babcock University nor does he represent the University in any way whatsoever. The said Ajibola was once a staff of the Institution but his engagement with the University in that capacity ceased long ago. There is no longer any relationship, whether imagined or real, between the said Ajibola and Babcock University. Therefore, the University dissociates itself from him and his comments.
Babcock University’s pride is in its diversity of people and cultures. It is a global institution, and accommodates people, without bias, from every continent of the world. This confers upon the University its mark of uniqueness and identity as a global brand. The Institution celebrates the diversity of humanity because it gives a sense of beauty, and an acknowledgement of the power of God, the creator of all.
Babcock University values every and all persons irrespective of creed, culture, race, religion, and political persuasions.
The noble achievements of the University have been made possible by the contributions of the exceptionally gifted and immensely great individuals from the different parts of this country, and those from other nations of the world, who have found joy working in the University.
Whereas Babcock University believes in freedom of expression, and places premium on autonomy and responsibility, it is never supportive and does not wish to accede to any divisive tendencies intentionally or unintentionally couched, and are capable of inflaming the embers of discord or potentially devised to dismember the nation.
The University wishes to thank members of the public for their continued faith in the Institution, and for believing in it as socially responsible.
The University will continue to promote love, unity, excellence, integrity and accountability in all it does.
Director, Communication and Marketing, Babcock University, Ogun State, Nigeria.
A pro-democracy and good governance group, Concerned Nigerians, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to order the immediate arrest of Professor Ango Abdullahi, a former vice-chancellor, over his recent comment on herdsmen that sparked outrage and drew condemnation, especially from the Southern leaders.
In an exclusive interview with Sunday Vanguard last week, Prof. Abdullahi had said that the kidnap of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Chief Olu Falae, was nothing extraordinary, even as he accused Southern leaders of a covert plot to split the unity of the north.
Adeyanju However, in a statement issued by its Convener, Deji Adeyanju on Tuesday, the group said it was surprised and disappointed in what it described as Professor Abdullahi’s brazen justification of the wanton killings of innocent Nigerians by herdsmen.
It said the Department of states Services, DSS, should invite the professor for questioning, maintaining that Abdullahi’s statement was hate speech capable of shattering the unity of the country.
According to the statement, “We have read Prof Ango Abdullahi’s alarming interview with the Vanguard Newspaper and are appalled that someone of his age, stature, education and professional qualification would provide brazen justification for the wanton and senseless murders of thousands of Nigerians by herdsmen.
“In his interview, Prof Abdullahi likened the killings of Nigerians by Fulani Herdsmen to a politically motivated ruse by “… the South…” to destroy the political unity of the North. He also made several other comments that are too incendiary to repeat here. “It is distressing that there are people who continue to politicise these senseless killings and who continually provide justification, and nuance, for them.
“It is also distressing that the political elite in the parts of the country continue to refer to colonial era grazing routes that involved the forceful acquisition and ceding of the ancestral homes and lands of the Nigerians in parts of the country, to cattle herders for use as grazing routes and continue to use such colonial-era machinations as justification for the disregard and disrespect for the constitution and laws of an independent Federal Republic of Nigeria and the human rights of her citizens.
“Shielding this brazen disregard for the property rights of whole peoples in intellectual garb is dangerous and provides a distressing setting for continued killings.
“In fact, Prof Abdullahi’s condemnable comments indicate more than just a passing knowledge of the killings, its organizers and what their objectives are. They indeed indicate a deep-rooted knowledge of these unfortunate events.
“We call on the Directorate of State Security (DSS) to invite Prof Abdullahi to reveal the extent of his knowledge behind the rationale for the killings. This is in keeping with similar invitations extended to others by the DSS to explain comments perceived by the DSS to be hate speech. “You will recall that the DSS even invited the spokesperson to a former military ruler, Ibrahim Babangida, for issuing a statement on behalf of his boss. “
Anything less will prove the fear expressed by many people across the country that there is institutional support for herdsmen to be true,” the statement concluded. (New Telegraph)
Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, yesterday, explained why the military cannot dabble into enforcement of Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention ETC) Act, 2015, which the executive has categorised as “hate speech” in social media.
The IGP said enforcement of the law is not within the military’s purview.
He also disclosed that offenders risk 10 years jail time and N25 million fine, on conviction.
Idris reiterated that it is the responsibility of the police to maintain law and order in a democratic society, hence, the Armed Forces should not be allowed to arrest alleged purveyors of hate speeches.
Speaking at a roundtable organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA), in Abujafor bloggers, online publishers, social media influencers and the traditional media, on the dangers of the current spate of hate speeches in the country, the police boss urged Nigerians to be mindful of Sections 24 and 26 of the Act.
Idris, who was represented by Mr London Joseph, reminded social media operators that an offender, on conviction risk imprisonment for 10 years and/or a minimum fine of 25m.
“For the avoidance of doubt, section 4 of the Police Act has empowered the Nigeria Police Force to arrest and prosecute criminal suspects in the country.
“However, section 47 (1) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention ETC) Act provides that law enforcement agencies shall have the power to prosecute offences under this Act while section 58 thereof defines law enforcement agencies to include “any agency for the time being responsible for implementation and enforcement of the provisions of this Act.”Continuing, he added that, “as the Nigerian Army is not one of the law enforcement agencies envisaged by the Act and other penal laws, it should not be permitted to enforce any of the laws against hate speeches.”
Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche had recently explained that the military’s monitoring of the media was only to get information for threat analysis, which had nothing to do with monitoring hate speech on social media.
In his remarks, NOA Director General, Dr Garba Abari, noted that the vibrancy of every democracy was measured by the freedom the media enjoyed.
Abari said the emergence and activities of new news media have thrown up great concerns within the social space, hence the imperative of reasoning together, to “appreciate the dangers of conflict insensitive communication and possibly stimulate bloggers and social media enthusiasts to evolve a Code of Ethics, in order to self-regulate their practice.”
He also disclosed that the NOA had, in a bid to stem the dangerous tide, commenced a process of engaging bloggers and social med The programme has taken place in four geo-political zones of the country. They are North-Central, North West, South West and South South. (The Sun)
Following the UN experts’ report, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination held its 93rd session between July 31 and August 25, 2017. Acting under its “Early Warning and Urgent Action Procedure,” the Committee said it was deeply concerned “by the rise of racist hate speech and incitement to violence against the Igbo people, including through the recording and wide distribution of a song and audio message in Hausa language which describe the Igbos in hateful and derogatory terms.” It added that the Committee was “Alarmed by the public ultimatum issued by a number of northern youth groups, forums, and coalitions on 6 June 2017 calling all Igbos in northern Nigeria to leave their homes by 1 October 2017,” noting that the ultimatum “may have been recently withdrawn.”
The Committee decried “reports that other local elders and leaders have endorsed the ultimatum and expressed their support for such racist hate speech targeting and threatening the Igbos,” adding that it was “deeply worried by the information that some Igbo families have already started moving out from their villages and homes in northern Nigeria to avoid any possible harm to their personal integrity.”
The UN body drew attention to Nigeria’s membership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and of the African Union as well as a State party to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. It stated that Nigeria must “increase its efforts in systematically rejecting and condemning, including by high-level and local public officials and leaders, any form of racist hate speech, incitement to hatred and violence, and the dissemination of ideas of ethnic superiority.”
The UN body recommended that Nigeria “take immediate action to stop and prevent the continued circulation and dissemination of the hateful song and audio message mentioned above,” and “to exercise due diligence to halt, prevent and investigate acts of racist hate speech and incitement to hatred and violence against the Igbo people, in accordance with international human rights standards, with a view to bringing perpetrators to justice, punishing them adequately if convicted, and compensating victims.”
The UN Committee urged Nigeria to “ensure the protection of all its citizens from ethnic hatred, and take effective measures to ensure that Igbo people can fully exercise their rights stipulated in the Convention, including the right to security of person and protection against violence or bodily harm, the right to freedom of movement and residence, and the right to own property.”
It finally called on “all local and national authorities in Nigeria to promptly and firmly address the underlying causes of the ethnic tensions in Nigeria, with a view to avoiding repeated ethnic-based violence, and to promote intercultural dialogue between different ethnic groups based on diversity, respect, and inclusiveness.”
According to the Committee, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights had been mandated “to draw the attention of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union to the human rights situation of the Igbo in northern Nigeria.”
The Presidency on Wednesday advised opinion leaders in the country to exercise restraint in their choice of words as they criticise Buhari based on his position on restructuring.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, gave the advice in a statement.
Shehu said the restraint was necessary to avoid heating up the polity and causing acrimony across the country.
He noted that while Nigerians are free to express themselves, they should “exercise such liberty with restraint and a sense of responsibility.”
The presidential spokesman said calling Buhari an enemy of Nigeria was in “extremely bad taste.”
He added that nothing in the President’s service record would justify “such scurrilous language.”
Shehu said he was satisfied that majority of Nigerians welcomed Buhari’s broadcast.
He, however, said it was off the mark to criticise him for not responding to calls for restructuring.
“To criticise the President for not imposing a restructuring on the country – whatever that means – is completely off the mark,” he said.
Shehu said Buhari had no power to impose a restructuring on the country by military fiat.
He said National Assembly members were the elected representatives of the people who can handle agitations for restructuring and other constitutional changes.
He explained that the President is constitutionally bound to work with the National Assembly to deal with such issues, reminding critics that the President would not exercise arbitrary powers or bypass the legislature in taking fundamental decisions.
He added, “Changes don’t happen on a whim in a democracy. The ‘immediate effect’ military mentality cannot work under a democratic order.
“Since the President has sworn to defend the Constitution, he would remain faithful to that oath by working with the legislature in taking major decisions on the future of Nigeria’s federal system.
“The country’s parliament is ready and willing to discuss all issues but the pundits are more interested in TV and newspaper headlines.
“Threats don’t work in a democracy. Democracy requires planning and proper process. Issues are resolved through established processes, not by abuses, insults or irresponsible statements.”
The Federal and state governments have agreed to designate special courts for the purposes of prosecuting purveyors of hate speeches as well as suspected terrorists and kidnappers.
According to a statement in Abuja on Sunday by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, the decision was reached at a one-day National Security Retreat organised by the National Economic Council on Thursday.
The council, which is chaired by the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has the 36 states governors, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria as members.
Akande said the retreat discussed concerns about the delay in the nation’s criminal justice system and NEC members concluded that prompt action by law enforcement agencies was imperative.
In arriving at special courts for purveyors of hate speeches as well as suspected terrorists and kidnappers, he said it was resolved that the Federal Government would help states to develop a template for such courts.
He said, “NEC members urged prompt action in the arrest and prosecution of perpetrators of terrorist acts, kidnappings and purveyors of hate speeches.
“To facilitate this, the designation of special courts was also advocated and the consensus was that the judiciary and executive arms of the Federal and state governments will be working together to establish such courts.
“The Federal Government will also be helping states to develop a template on how such special courts would be established and managed.”
On the clamour for the state police, Akande said the conclusion was that policing the country and the entire law enforcement generally, could not effectively continue without devolving policing and law enforcement out to the states.
He, however, said it was noted that while the idea of state police required constitutional amendments, the Community Policing Model must be enforced now.
“We must enforce a model that democratises security in such a way as to include everyone in the process of protecting themselves, securing their own lives and the lives of people in their community.
“The simple advantage of the arrangement is that it would involve the ordinary citizen in ensuring his security and that of his community.
“It must involve all local leaders, all structures of civil society. And on every street, the police ought to have one or two persons who can contact the police at short notice,” Akande quoted Osinbajo as saying at the retreat held behind closed doors.
He explained that the roll-out of the Community Policing Programme was intended to enhance crime prevention and control, improve intelligence-gathering capabilities of the police and deliver quality and people-oriented policing.
He said the programme would involve the community partnering with the police to uncover and solve crimes through a process involving town hall meetings to assess security situation and security priorities of the communities, the performance of the police and the nature of the support the communities could provide to improve the quality of policing.
Akande said the issues about funding of security agencies and provision of equipment also featured in the discussion while NEC members agreed that funding was essential.
“It was however added that defence budget and funding for other security agencies of government always form some of the biggest components of the budget. Calls for greater accountability of the resources released were also made,” he said.
He disclosed that the council members also recognised the fact that herdsmen and farmers’ clashes were being caused by the problem of land use, which he noted, had taken ethnic and religious dimensions.
Akande said it was agreed that both the Federal and state governments should properly define the problems and shun the ethnoreligious construction of what was otherwise an economic challenge.
“NEC members stated that it would be useful to bring the different groups together — herdsmen and the farmers — to meet and discuss, and also work out some of the issues that concern them,” he added.
On agitations in parts of the country, he quoted Osinbajo as saying that notwithstanding Nigerians’ right to freedom of expression, the constitution could not be compromised.
“With respect to the ethnoreligious crisis and agitations, what we all seem to agree on is that while people have the right to express their views, those views must not compromise democracy and must not compromise the integrity of our nation.
“However a person chooses to express his views, the constitution cannot be compromised. That is why I have made a point about hate speech and that our national unity is important, it is crucial.
“Without national unity and territorial integrity of our nation, we won’t even be here let alone talking about it,” Osinbajo reportedly said.
Despite the security challenges in parts of the country, the Vice-President was also quoted as commending the nation’s security agencies. (Punchng.com)
Some youths under the aegis of the North East Unity Forum (NEUF) have warned the leader of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu against inflammatory statements against northerners and their leaders.
Chairman of the Forum, Comrade Alkassim Nuhu Abdulkadir, disclosed this while addressing a press conference at late Sir Abubakar Tafawa tomb, Bauchi, on Tuesday, saying they stand by agitation of Patriotic
A coalition of Northern groups.
Abdulkadir said: “We hereby reaffirm an unflinching support for the
the patriotic coalition of Northern groups and advise Nnamdi Kanu and his
rowdy crowd to desist from making further inflammatory remarks against our people and our leaders”
According to him, unruly crowd in the south eastern part of this
the country led by Kanu had for quite a long been disturbing the peace of
the nation with the greater emphasis on northerners whom they call
“baboons in zoo” and other derogatory names which “we are not ready to tolerate it any longer”
He continued, “That is why we feel duty bound to break the silence
on the unhealthy development introduced into the country by some self-seeking unpatriotic elements who preach hates, incitement and violence in the name of agitation for an independent Biafran nation”
He said the Northeast Unity Forum condemned Dr. Usman Bugaje’s hostility towards the Patriotic Coalition, stressing that “more pronounced in its hostility to the patriotic Northern Coalition is the contraption fronted by certain Usman Bugaje, which persisted in muscling the coalition in to partisanship in favour of presidential aspiration of a north east politician with an open preference for the Igbo at the expense of Northern interest.”
Abdulkadir stressed that the Forum sees Dr Usman Bugaje moves through the lens “to cowardly sabotage” and wishes to “advice him to shed the cloak of intrigue and come into the open to test his popularity against the overwhelming interest of Majority northerners.”
He, however, urged Northerners to continue to support the peaceful pursuit of a united and prosperous Nigeria as championed by the coalition of Patriotic Northern groups to disregard the anti-North schemes of Dr Bugaje and his fellow conspirators. (The Sun)