Nigerian Helmsmen And Slave Trade

First published August 2, 2016

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A number of helmsmen in the states of the Federation are already subjecting the people to slavery comparable to the slave trade of precolonial times.

In the name of Public Private Partnerships(PPP), the states have rendered civil and public servants redundant, while ensuring that governance becomes a subject of mockery.

Interestingly, events during the reign of the Kings of Lagos, are similar to the intrigues and  conflicts that characterize politics and governance in modern Nigeria.

King Dosumu and Helmsmen of Modern Nigeria

The British assisted Akitoye to regain the throne,  even though the scheming and rancour over the throne continued unabated. In 1853, when King Akitoye joined his ancestors, his son Dosumu succeeded him, while Kosoko made futile attempts to regain the throne.

The British pitched their tent with Dosumu, knowing quite well that their support for Dosumu would guarantee their unhindered control of Lagos.

Wars and conflicts, however, continued around Lagos. This negatively affected trade, just as strikes and industrial action by workers continue to affect the unrealistic policies of government. The British were not comfortable, although they were in control of all the trade in Lagos.

In no time the British requested  Dosumu to sign a treaty with them, ceding Lagos to the Queen of England.

Although Dosumu made attempts to avoid signing the treaty, they resorted to blackmail and subterfuge by the British, left Dosumu with no option, but to do their bidding.

With the threat to use force, Dosumu and four of his chiefs put their thumbs to the agreement which ceded Lagos to the British, on 6 August, 1861.

After this, Dosumu no longer ruled, but was put on a pension of 1, 030 pounds, annually.

Indeed, a number of state Governors in Nigeria today, might also be in Dosumu’s shoes, implementing to the letter, contents of Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) signed with their benefactors. Their benefactors, could be self centered, selfish and money oriented. Perhaps.

But sadly, this has been to the disadvantage and detriment of the well being of the people, who voted them into power. The unabating debate, all over the Geo-Political zones presently is ”Are the votes of the people really what brought the helmsmen to power ? The debate continues.


Vladimir Putin’s Campaign to Seduce, Subvert and Screw Over Western Democracies—Including Ours

The Kremlin has the message and the cash to sweet talk every segment of the Western population, and we’re falling for it.

Christopher Dickey

Erin Zaleski


PARIS—The golden domes would look at home on Moscow’s Red Square. There are five of them, onion-shaped and glistening in the sun, each one bearing a cross—potent symbols of the Russian Orthodox Church. But here in front of them flows the Seine River. Behind them rises the Eiffel Tower. Down the street is the French foreign ministry, known as the Quai d’Orsay.

That much you can see.

What French and other Western intelligence agencies have been concerned about as they watched the building go up over the last six years is what you don’t see when you look at the just-inaugurated Holy Trinity Cathedral and Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center.

French journalist Nicolas Hénin in his new book La France Russe notes that the building abuts an apartment used (at least until recently) by the French Secretary General of Defense and National Security, as well as the mail service of the French presidential palace.

An inter-ministerial note on the state of France’s intelligence agencies cited by Hénin observed that the cathedral domes, made of composite materials, could hide sophisticated listening devices, and since the “cultural center” enjoys diplomatic immunity, there’s no obvious way to get inside to look.

According to other sources, the French are now employing active countermeasures, just in case, and several Western embassies and enterprises have checked to make sure there is no line of sight contact between them and the domes.

It’s a strange spectacle, an obvious outpost of Mother Russia, even if all its aspects are benign, which was assumed to be the case when then-President Nicolas Sarkozy approved its construction in 2010. But since then, “benign” has become a word hard to associate with the Kremlin. So when Russian President Vladimir Putin was supposed to open the center here this month, the current French president, François Hollande, said he wouldn’t attend, and if he talked to Putin at all, his office declared, it would be about war crimes in Syria. Putin decided to postpone his visit more or less indefinitely.

Perhaps this seems like crazy neo-Cold War paranoia. High-tech spookery hiding behind onion domes on the Left Bank? Yet almost anything seems possible at a time when Putin has been using every conceivable means at his disposal to extend Russian influence and disrupt or discredit Western democracy in Europe, and, indeed, in the United States.

If there is a new cold war chill, it’s coming from the east. Putin, faced with a badly flagging economy and potential domestic discontent, is actively preparing his people for nuclear Armageddon, while in the United States, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, an avowed admirer of Putin’s “leadership,” warns that Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s talk about standing up to him will lead to “World War III.”

As The Economist pointed out last week, inside Russia,“The two main pillars of the Soviet state, propaganda and the threat of repression, have been restored.” The infamous KGB, which was humiliated and broken up 25 years ago, “has been rebuilt as the main vehicle for political and economic power.” Meanwhile, “reactionary restoration at home has led to aggression abroad,” with hybrid warfare against Georgia and Ukraine, and intimidation of the little Baltic states. All this even as Moscow has “attempted to undermine Euro-Atlantic institutions, backed right-wing parties in Europe,” and, as the The Economist, too, avers, “tried to meddle in America’s presidential elections.”

If Putin’s aggressive stratagems are a fairly recent revelation to Americans (or, at least, those Americans willing to pay attention), the basic tactics are old news in France and much of the rest of Europe, where Moscow has been active for a long time helping to underwrite with money and propaganda the wave of populism sweeping the Continent.

For nearly a decade, Russia has established ties with far-right parties in Eastern Europe, including Hungary’s Jobbik, Bulgaria’s anti-EU Attack movement, and Slovakia’s far-right People’s party.

The Eastern European far-right parties have returned the love, whether by supporting the 2008 Russian war against Georgia or by vocalizing support for Putin, as the Bulgarian Attack party has. In 2012, Attack’s leader, Volen Siderov, even popped over to Moscow to ring in Putin’s 60th birthday. Siderov also threatened to withdraw his party’s support from the coalition government if it supported further sanctions against Russia, following Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

However, in recent years Russian influence has been moving west. In a 2014 report, the Budapest-based research institute Political Capital argued that Russia’s meddling in political affairs of the European far right has become a “phenomenon seen all over Europe.” And earlier this year, The Telegraph reported that American intelligence agencies were planning a review of secret Russian funding of several European political parties. The specific parties weren’t named, but it is believed that European far-right groups such as Jobbik, the Northern League in Italy, and Greece’s Golden Dawn are among those to be investigated for having received Russian cash.

Most conspicuously, in 2014, after Russia took the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and fueled a wider war in the east of that country, provoking heavy international sanctions, one prominent member of Marine Le Pen’s National Front went as an observer of the dubious Russian-Crimean referendum and pronounced it “legitimate.” A few months later, a Kremlin-controlled bank found €9 million ($10 million) to loan the cash-strapped Front, and at the beginning of this year the party treasurer admitted he was looking for another €27 million from the movement’s friends in Moscow.

Considering all this, one senior Western intelligence official told Hénin the idea that the domes of the new Russian Orthodox cathedral on the Seine are covers for electronic eavesdropping is “the stuff of fantasy!” But that’s only because the Russians have so many tools at their disposal in France and the West. The cathedral complex “is much more symbolic,” said the official. The Russians would have to be “absolutely stupid to install a listening capacity there,” he said.

And “absolutely stupid” they absolutely are not.


Nicolas Hénin, the author of La France Russe, is not just another hardworking journalist. The 40-year-old Frenchman has spent much of his career covering the Middle East and had an especially close view of totalitarian brutality when the so-called Islamic State held him hostage for 10 months in 2013 and 2014. Among his fellow captives was American journalist James Foley, the first U.S. hostage to die by the ISIS knife. Hénin’s book Jihad Academy tells the story.

When we talked last week about Russian actions in France, Europe, and the United States, the horrors of ISIS-land were in the background, but relevant still, since the infamy of ISIS is exploited by the Russians as a tool for their own ends. But more about that a bit later.

We met at Hénin’s request in Place de la République beneath the huge statue of Marianne. This was probably just a matter of convenience for Hénin, but literally and figuratively we talked in the shadow of the symbol of the French Republic where so many huge demonstrations against terror and oppression have gathered in recent years.

For more than an hour, we drank cappuccinos on the edge of the square in a café called Fluctuat Nec Mergitur, “storm-tossed but not sunk,” the ancient Latin motto of the city of Paris that became the watchwords of resistance to terror after the horrific attacks here on Nov. 13 last year. So there was a certain irony in our discussion of Putin’s twisted but often effective messages to the West.

“The key is to say we are declining countries because we don’t have moral values anymore,” Hénin explained. The message the Russians bring—a message they insinuate anywhere they can—is that “we are too open to ‘foreign’ influences”: too much immigration, too much Islam, too many LGBT rights, too much America. And not enough Russia, it would seem.

The story in France has its own particularities, but anyone who has watched the Trump campaign—which was once managed by Russian-crony-funded consultant Paul Manafort and continues to exploit Russian-hacked intelligence about the Democratic Party, including very probably the drips out of WikiLeaks—must see some striking similarities.

“In France, the Russians have a multi-faceted approach,” said Hénin. “If you are leftist, they will play on your anti-Americanism. If you are a businessman, they will attract you with the promise of huge contracts. If you are military, they will say, ‘We are the only ones in the modern world who know what it means to show muscle.’ If you are Christian, they will say, ‘We are sharing your fight against the secularism of the world.’”

Thus a figure like Marine Le Pen fits admirably into the Russian strategy. She may well be sincere when she says, as she did in an interview in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, “Strategically there is no reason not to deepen relations with Russia. The only reason we don’t is because the Americans forbid it.” But then again, it seems she wasn’t asked about the money from Moscow. When she has been, she blames the French government for making it impossible for her to get loans in her own country.

In any case the Russian criteria for supporting politicians in Europe and the United States, whether with money or propaganda or both, is not ideological in the old communist sense. It is, rather, based on the much older and more basic techniques of what used to be called “rabble-rousing.”

“A populist,” says Hénin, “has no political program as such. Their only approach is to say, ‘You are angry and you should be even more angry and I am the boss of the party of angry people. We will fire you up and once you are extremely angry you will vote for me because… I am the boss of the angry people.’”

The fury of the masses then disrupts and discredits the whole democratic system. Thus, Le Pen herself may never win the presidency of France, says Hénin, but “she is dictating the agenda to the old right, and to the moderate right.” Indeed, one now hears even Socialist President François Hollande and Prime Minister Manuel Valls starting to parrot National Front positions.


If one is to understand the Russian game in the West, it’s important to understand the way Putin tells his people they’ve been gamed by the West, feeding their fury and resentments. Presenting himself as the boss of the angry people in his own country, he has heightened hysteria and pared away freedoms to the point where Russia “has long since ceased to live by the rule of law,” as French academic Cécile Vaissié noted in her recent book, Les Réseaux du Kremlin en France.

Putin saw his own power and the power of his allies in the old Soviet bloc challenged by the Orange Revolution in Ukraine and other “color revolutions” over the last quarter century, and concluded these were not the work of popular discontent and a desire for Western economic and political freedoms, but conspiracies by the American and European secret services.

Likewise, while we have heard a great deal recently about Russian hacking—most likely Russian government-supported hacking—of emails and other communications, we’ve heard rather less about the hacking of high-level Russian communications by ill-defined groups like Anonymous International and a collective that calls itself Shaltai Boltai, or Humpty Dumpty in Russian.

Much of the information about Marine Le Pen’s National Front getting Russian money as a seeming quid pro quo for supporting the Crimea invasion in 2014 came from this group, for instance. It also carried out impish attacks like the hacking of Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev’s Twitter account in August 2014, when his 2.5 million followers thought they saw him tweet: “I’m resigning. I’m ashamed of this government’s actions. Forgive me.”

Again, it’s very unlikely that Putin thinks this is just the work of anarchic folks working out of their basements. He knows he has set up vast “troll farms” and cyber war operations ready to play dirty tricks on his rivals. He would assume the Americans and their allies have done just the same.

President Barack Obama, not to put too fine a point on it, warned Putin face to face at a summit in September that the United States had a greater defensive and offensive capacity in cyberspace than Russia could command, and would use it.

But Hénin argues against an illusion of equivalency. As he put it, “Putin will do shit and try to make people believe ‘the shit we do is because you do shit, too.’”

Thus if the Americans talk about the atrocities in Syria, Putin will bring up atrocities in Yemen to try to minimize his own crimes. And a lot of people buy that. “So, now,” says Hénin, in the French press you see, ‘Mosul will be another Aleppo,’” suggesting the American-supported offensive against ISIS in its Iraqi stronghold will be as savage as the Russian-backed Syrian offensive in a city where ISIS has virtually no presence.

That just isn’t so. “It is different when you systematically try to wipe out a population or force them into exile by destroying infrastructure, starting with hospitals,” says Hénin, who knows the situation on the ground all too well.


What direct lessons are there for Americans in the French and European experience with Russia?

“They want to use us against you,” says Hénin. “They want to use some of your own people against you. They want to identify the weaknesses inside.”

According to Hénin, the Russian leadership does not believe there is such a thing as a “civil society”—government of the people, by the people, and for the people. “But they believe that societies can be manipulated.” They focus on certain groups they think are easily swayed.

“They don’t believe in public opinion, they only believe in public manipulation,” says Hénin. “In the U.S. the group they mainly work on is angry white men.”

And then, added to the question of anger, there is the matter of terror.

Looking at the alleged Russian involvement with the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and the WikiLeaks drips, one might think the Kremlin has just about reached the bottom of its bag of dirty tricks. But the French know firsthand that’s far from the case.

On April 8, 2015, a devastating cyber attack targeted the French international television network TV5 Monde. All of its channels suddenly showed black screens and on the network’s social media accounts viewers found a message from the “CyberCaliphate.”

This was just three months after the French people had responded to the horrific terror attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by proclaiming, “Je suis Charlie,” I am Charlie. Now the supposed CyberCaliphate proclaimed beneath the image of a man whose face was wrapped in a keffiyeh, “Je suIS IS”—I am the Islamic State (mixing French with English acronyms).

French government agencies were at first reluctant to attribute the attack, but by June of last year private cyber security firms had linked it to a group known by several different names: Pawn Storm, APT28, Sofacy, Sednit, and Fancy Bear—the same group identified hacking into the Democratic National Committee.

“Analysis of the data showed proof that the lines of code were written on Cyrillic keyboards, mainly during Moscow office hours,” writes Hénin.

One can imagine those cubicles and computer screens, and the click of the keyboards. All very 21st century. All very anonymous. But back in the 1940s, the British author Graham Greene had an appropriate name for such a place. He called it “The Ministry of Fear.”

One might think of that now, even here in Paris, looking at the golden domes and high walls of the Russian Orthodox Spiritual and Cultural Center.

Source : The Daily Beast

Nigeria: Officials Abusing Displaced Women, Girls

Press release


Abuja — Government officials and other authorities in Nigeria have raped and sexually exploited women and girls displaced by the conflict with Boko Haram. The government is not doing enough to protect displaced women and girls and ensure that they have access to basic rights and services or to sanction the abusers, who include camp leaders, vigilante groups, policemen, and soldiers.

In late July, 2016, Human Rights Watch documented sexual abuse, including rape and exploitation, of 43 women and girls living in seven internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital. The victims had been displaced from several Borno towns and villages, including Abadam, Bama, Baga, Damasak, Dikwa, Gamboru Ngala, Gwoza, Kukawa, and Walassa. In some cases, the victims had arrived in the under-served Maiduguri camps, where their movement is severely restricted after spending months in military screening camps.

“It is bad enough that these women and girls are not getting much-needed support for the horrific trauma they suffered at the hands of Boko Haram,” said Mausi Segun, senior Nigeria researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It is disgraceful and outrageous that people who should protect these women and girls are attacking and abusing them.”

Four of the victims told Human Rights Watch that they were drugged and raped, while 37 were coerced into sex through false marriage promises and material and financial assistance. Many of those coerced into sex said they were abandoned if they became pregnant. They and their children have suffered discrimination, abuse, and stigmatization from other camp residents. Eight of the victims said they were previously abducted by Boko Haram fighters and forced into marriage before they escaped to Maiduguri.

A situational assessment of IDPs in the northeast in July 2016 by NOI Polls, a Nigerian research organization, reported that 66 percent of 400 displaced people in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states said that camp officials sexually abuse the displaced women and girls.

Women and girls abused by members of the security forces and vigilante groups – civilian self-defense groups working with government forces in their fight against Boko Haram – told Human Rights Watch they feel powerless and fear retaliation if they report the abuse. A 17-year-old girl said that just over a year after she fled the frequent Boko Haram attacks in Dikwa, a town 56 miles west of Maiduguri, a policeman approached her for “friendship” in the camp, and then he raped her.

“One day he demanded to have sex with me,” she said. “I refused but he forced me. It happened just that one time, but soon I realized I was pregnant. When I informed him about my condition, he threatened to shoot and kill me if I told anyone else. So I was too afraid to report him.”

The Boko Haram conflict has led to more than 10,000 civilian deaths since 2009; the abductions of at least 2,000 people, mostly women and children and large groups of students, including from Chibok and Damasak; the forced recruitment of hundreds of men; and the displacement of about 2.5 million people in northeast Nigeria.

Irregular supplies of food, clothing, medicine, and other essentials, along with restricted movement in the IDP camps in Maiduguri, compounds the vulnerability of victims – many of them widowed women and unaccompanied orphaned girls – to rape and sexual exploitation by camp officials, soldiers, police, members of civilian vigilante groups, and other Maiduguri residents. Residents of the Arabic Teachers Village camp, Pompomari, told Human Rights Watch in July that the camp had not received any food or medicines since late May, just before the start of the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan.

Restricted movement in the camps is contrary to Principle 14.2 of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which provides that internally displaced people have “the right to move freely in and out of camps and other settlements.”

In some cases, men used their positions of authority and gifts of desperately needed food or other items to have sex with women. A woman in a Dalori camp said residents get only one meal a day. She said she accepted the advances of a soldier who proposed marriage because she needed help in feeding her four children. He disappeared five months later when she told him she was pregnant.

Victims of rape and sexual exploitation may be less likely to seek health care, including psychological counselling, due to the shame they feel. Fewer than five of the 43 women and girls interviewed said they had received any formal counseling after they were raped or sexually exploited. A medical health worker in one of the camps, which has 10,000 residents, said that the number of people requiring treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections has risen sharply, from about 200 cases when the camp clinic was established in 2014 to more than 500 in July 2016. The health worker said she believed that many more women could be infected but were ashamed to go to the clinic, and are likely to be suffering in silence without treatment.

The Borno State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) has direct responsibility for distributing aid, including food, medicine, clothes, and bedding, as well as managing the camps. Its national counterpart, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), supplies raw food and other materials for internally displaced people to the state agency under a memorandum of understanding.

Aid workers have warned since early 2016 that displaced women have been forced to exchange sex for basic necessities and that various elements, including members of the security forces in northeast Nigeria, have been subjecting some of them to sexual and gender-based violence. A Rapid Protection Assessment Report published in May by the Borno State Protection Sector Working Group, made up of national and international aid providers, identified sexual exploitation, rape, and other sexual abuse as major concerns in nearly all 13 camps and several local communities hosting displaced people in and around Maiduguri.

Following his visit to Nigeria in August, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, said Nigeria’s government had “a tendency to downplay the problem of sexual violence and abuse” of internally displaced people. He expressed concern that this tendency “constitutes a hidden crisis of abuse with fear, stigma and cultural factors as well as impunity for perpetrators leading to under-reporting of abuse to the relevant authorities.”

Human Rights Watch wrote to several Nigerian authorities in August requesting comment on the research findings. The minister of women affairs and social development, Senator Aisha Jumai Alhassan, promised in a meeting with Human Rights Watch on September 5 to investigate the allegations and then respond. Her response has not yet been received at time of writing.

“Failure to respond to these widely reported abuses amounts to severe negligence or worse by Nigerian authorities,” Segun said. “Authorities should provide adequate aid in the camps, ensure freedom of movement for all displaced people, safe and confidential health care for survivors, and punish the abusers.”

Victims’ Accounts

Movement Restrictions, Food Shortages Fuel Sexual Abuse

Most of the victims interviewed lived in camps for displaced people. While victims living at the Arabic Teachers’ Village camp said they were allowed to leave the camp for about eight hours daily, victims from other camps said that their movement was severely restricted. The women and girls became victims of rape and sexual exploitation when they accepted offers of friendship or marriage from men in positions of authority.


A 16-year-old girl who fled a brutal Boko Haram attack on Baga, near the shores of Lake Chad, northern Borno in January 2015, said she was drugged and raped in May 2015 by a vigilante group member in charge of distributing aid in the camp:

He knew my parents were dead, because he is also from Baga. He would bring me food items like rice and spaghetti so I believed he really wanted to marry me. But he was also asking me for sex. I always told him I was too small [young]. The day he raped me, he offered me a drink in a cup. As soon as I drank it, I slept off. It was in his camp room.

I knew something was wrong when I woke up. I was in pain, and blood was coming out of my private part. I felt weak and could not walk well. I did not tell anyone because I was afraid. When my menstrual period did not come, I knew I was pregnant and just wanted to die to join my dead mother. I was too ashamed to even go to the clinic for pregnancy care. I am so young! The man ran away from the camp when he heard I delivered a baby six months ago. I just feel sorry for the baby because I have no food or love to give him. I think he might die.

An 18-year-old girl from Kukawa, a Borno town 112 miles from Maiduguri, the state capital, said that a member of Civilian Joint Task Force – a self-defense vigilante group working with government forces in their fight against Boko Haram – initially gave her privileges, including passes that allowed her to leave the camp, but then raped her:

The man started with preaching, telling me to be a good Muslim girl and not to join bad groups in the camp. He then sent his mother to propose to me, which convinced me that he was serious. He allowed me to go outside the camp when necessary. When he asked me to visit his newly allocated room in the camp, I didn’t see any reason not to go because I felt safe with him. He gave me a bottle of Zobo [locally brewed non-alcoholic drink] and I immediately felt dizzy and slept off. I don’t know what happened thereafter but when I woke up he was gone and I was in pain and felt wet between my legs. For three days I could not walk properly.

Some weeks later I fell very ill, and was told at the hospital that I was pregnant. Then everyone turned away from me: [He] refused to help me, and my step-mother who I lived with in camp pushed me out, saying I was a disgrace. I reported [him] to the police in camp several times but they have not done anything to him because they work together. Whenever I see him, I wish something terrible will happen to him. It is because of him that I have lost everything. I don’t even think the baby will last because she is always crying and I can’t cope. I pray that God will forgive me for neglecting the baby but I am helpless.

Sexual Exploitation

A 30-year-old woman from Walassa, near Bama, about 43 miles west of Maiduguri, said that she fled into a nearby wooded area after Boko Haram fighters killed her husband and abducted her daughters, ages 12 and 9. She stayed there for three months, hoping to find a way to rescue her daughters, until Nigerian government soldiers arrived in the area and the fighters escaped with their captives:

A few weeks after soldiers transported us to the camp, near Maiduguri, one of the soldiers guarding us approached me for marriage. He used to bring food and clothes for me and my remaining four children, so I allowed him to have sex with me. He is a Hausa man from Gwoza. That is all I know about him. Two months later he just stopped coming. Then I realized I was pregnant. I feel so angry with him for deceiving me. When he was pretending to woo me he used to provide for me, but as soon as I agreed and we began having sex, his gifts began to reduce until he abandoned me. Now my situation is worse as the pregnancy makes me sick, and I have no one to help me care for my children.

A woman from Bama living at the same camp said:

The soldier showed his interest by bringing me food and clothes. He used to wear the green army uniform and carried a gun. I accepted him because I needed help to take care of me and my four children. Feeding in the camp is only once a day so you have to accept any help that comes. We started having sex in my camp tent – my sister who was sharing it with me left – or at night in the open field where soldiers stay in the camp. Five months later when I realized I was pregnant and told him, he stopped coming. I have not seen him since then. I feel so ashamed because my neighbors talk and stare at me. I cry whenever I think about him. I delivered the baby two months ago but he is also suffering – I eat once a day so [am] not producing enough milk to breast feed him well. Things are so bad in the camp, there is not enough water or food.

An 18-year old girl from Baga said when she met a member of the Civilian Joint Task Force in the camp, she felt she could trust him because he is also from Baga:

He took me from the camp to a house on Baga Road so we could meet freely. I stayed with him in that house for about one month. Then I fell ill, and went to a clinic. The people at the clinic asked for the person I was living with, and invited him. That was when they told him I was pregnant, and he accepted the pregnancy. But immediately [when] we came out of the clinic he took me to a man to abort the pregnancy. I refused and he said if I would not abort we should separate. Then I moved to the camp. I gave birth almost a year ago but the man has refused to take responsibility. Some months ago he followed the military to catch Boko Haram far from Maiduguri. Even when he visits his two wives in the camp he never asks for me and my baby. I go outside the camp to beg so that we can survive.

A 25-year-old woman at from Dikwa said that when she fled Boko Haram’s attack on the town, she lived with her brother in a rented apartment in Maiduguri. When he was no longer able to feed her and her three children, he took her to the camp where he handed her over to camp elders. One of these elders, a local government employee – who are often financially better off than most displaced people because they receive salaries – proposed marriage and regularly brought her food and money. But the marriage did not materialize, and he began to shun her when she became pregnant. He continued to ignore her when she delivered twins and asked him for money to pay for her midwife. The woman said:

If I have a gun, I will shoot him. It is because of him that people call me and my babies names. I am so ashamed that I cannot participate in camp activities and keep to myself because of the jeers.

A 17-year-old girl said that a young man she knew took her home to his grandmother when she arrived Maiduguri from Dikwa in mid-2014:

He told me he wanted to marry me, and his grandmother referred to me as her grandson’s wife. I lived with them, cooking and cleaning the house, until a month later when he disappeared for weeks. The grandmother asked me to leave, promising to come to the wedding… It was a lie. I did not know it but I was already pregnant. Maybe she already saw the pregnancy signs and I was too young to understand. I heard the grandson fled the town because he heard I have given birth. Now I have been left alone to fend for the baby. I don’t know if any other member of my family survived the Boko Haram attack on Dikwa.

Restricted Movement

A 32-year-old woman from the Damasak said:

Life is terrible here in this camp. For the past three days we have not eaten because there is no firewood to cook the food. To make it worse, they will not even allow us to go out to fend for ourselves. Most times you have to beg the camp officials to intervene with the guards before they will give you the pass to go out. Why will you refuse if any of those people ask you for marriage? You have to survive.

Another camp resident, a 47-year-old mother of eight from Abadam, a northern Borno town, said:

We used to get food at least twice a day when I first arrived at the camp in 2014. But now, sometimes we get nothing at all. We can’t even buy food ourselves because they will not let us go out. My relatives in the town have to plead with camp officials for hours before the officials will agree to let them give us some money or foodstuff from the little they have.

A 20-year-old widowed mother of one at a camp for displaced people said:

I have been refusing marriage proposals from the men in camp because I see how they are deceiving others. I am just not sure how long I can remain in this situation. The last time I ate was four days ago when the one cup of maize I was given finished. I am suffering because I have no husband or anyone else to assist me.

A 16-year-old single mother of one in the same camp said:

Life is difficult in the camp, hardly enough to eat. There is food but whoever gets it, gets it. We are not allowed to go out to find work or get extra food. Sometimes I go to the kitchen to scrape pots to get something to eat. They distribute tickets, some get tickets and some don’t get. If you don’t get a ticket you get no food. The IDP elders distribute the tickets, so they distribute amongst themselves, they make sure their families get first. Usually distribution of tickets take place at odd times such as at midnight.

If you are not married, you hardly get anything that comes in. Women who have husbands insult us: “If you want to eat in [this camp], you should get married in [the camp] so husbands can get food for you.”

Military Screening Centers

Displaced women from several communities re-captured from Boko Haram by the Nigerian army, including Baga, Bama, and Gwoza, told Human Rights Watch in Maiduguri that the Nigerian military operated screening centers where they interrogated local people to determine how much involvement they had with militants. While some women are screened in a few days, others are interrogated daily for months before being released to a camp. Witnesses said the interviewees were separated by gender, but that male soldiers interrogated everyone.

A woman who escaped her Boko Haram abductors in Sambisa with her three children while four months pregnant described their reception after an eight-hour trek back to her home town of Bama, then under government control:

Soldiers were already back in Bama when we arrived. They took us to a primary healthcare center near the entrance into Bama to search and question us. We thought they would soon let us go, but they locked us with other women (about 20 people) for more than three months. They bring us out one by one every day to ask whether we joined Boko Haram freely or they forced us. Many of us were naked or in rags until about one month later soldiers took us to town to search for clothes among the burnt ruins of houses in the town. I was very ill because of the pregnancy. After the third month passed they drove us in lorries to Maiduguri, and dropped off sick ones like me in the hospital.

A 20-year-old woman who was abducted in Gwoza by Boko Haram, and then escaped, said:

I was three months pregnant from the Boko Haram fighter that raped me when I escaped Gwoza with my three children. Our relief on arriving at Maiduguri after a two-day trek was crushed when soldiers arrested us. They took us to Giwa barracks, where we saw up to 300 other women and children. Soldiers used to question us every day until my children and I were released four months later.

There appears to be at least one other screening center around Maiduguri, Human Rights Watch found. A 17-year-old girl from Dikwa was held in a place she described as “a compound with about five buildings just before you enter Maiduguri proper.” She was allowed to receive visitors for the month she was there before being cleared by the military to enter Maiduguri.

Lack of Mental Health Support for Victims

Many of the women and girls interviewed said that their experiences affected their psychological well-being. Some said they had difficulty sleeping, and deliberately isolated themselves to avoid insults and slurs. Many also said they felt constantly angry with their abusers, wishing they could harm them in retaliation. None said they had professional counselling.

A 30-year-old woman from Gwoza said:

I feel sad all the time. I am always thinking about all the bad things that have happened to me. Sometimes I cry; at other times I try to resign to my fate. But it is hard. My neighbors in the camp encourage me to pray. That is all I can do, pray.

A 16-year-old rape survivor said she was always thinking about death, and wished she had the courage to kill herself:

Nobody comes to this camp to talk to us. We IDPs only have one another, but even that is hard because you do not know who to trust. If you tell them your secret pain or shame, they can use it to mock you later.

A 28-year-old woman who survived rape and became pregnant by a Boko Haram insurgent said she developed hypertension from constantly thinking about her ordeal and imagining ways she could take revenge on him. Doctors have told her during hospital visits outside the camp to stop thinking about the past so she can get better. She was not referred to a counselor.

Source : Human Rights Watch

Alternative communication techniques as a precondition for freedom of expression


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ARTICLE 19 is currently organising consultations on the Principles on Freedom of Expression and Persons with disabilities. During the consultation period, we are running a series of blogs exploring the issues addressed in the draft Principles in a greater detail. The first guest blogger is by Janos Fiala-Butora, Director of the Central Europe Program of Harvard Law School Project on Disability.  If you are interested in writing a guest blog, please do get in touch!

Guest Blog by János Fiala-Butora, Harvard Law School Project on Disability, 

The experiences of persons with severe cognitive disabilities shows that the ability to express ourselves is a fundamental precondition of personal autonomy. Since non-disabled persons are rarely lacking this attribute, they often take it for granted. However, if somebody is in need of assistance to conduct basic communication, denying that assistance can have far-reaching consequences. It can undermine someone’s ability to make decisions, legally erasing them from the circle of “competent” individuals, with far-reaching implications for their ability to enjoy a wide range of fundamental rights, beyond free expression.

Some persons with disabilities have difficulties communicating in a conventional way and need assistance in expressing themselves. A range of communication techniques and tools have been developed to address their needs, such as tactile communication and augmentative communication. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), adopted in 2006, requires states parties to make these communication techniques and tools available for persons with disabilities in fulfilment of their right to free expression. But for persons with disabilities, access to communication tools and technology is important not only to develop and maintain social contacts. For some, it is crucial to exercise their personal autonomy, to be legally allowed to make decisions on their own behalf. Lack of access to communication tools and technology can result in total social exclusion sanctioned by law, with implications for a range of fundamental rights.

To understand the importance of communication as both a right in itself, and a crucial enabling right, we have to understand the workings of legal capacity laws. “Legal capacity” is a person’s right to make decisions on his or her own behalf. All adults have legal capacity, except those whose legal capacity has been limited by a court decision. For them, the court appoints a guardian to make decisions on their behalf. Guardianship can typically be imposed on the basis of cognitive and psycho-social impairments, such as intellectual disability, dementia, brain injury or mental illness. It rests on the assumption that some persons with disabilities are unable to make rational decisions, therefore others need to decide what is in their best interests.

Guardianship is a severe interference with the person’s autonomy. A guardian can make all kinds of decisions on behalf of a represented person: manage their property, consent to medical treatment (including invasive and non-reversible treatments), decide where the person will live, whom they will maintain contacts with, etc. The person’s own will loses its legal relevance on these matters: it is purely the guardian’s will which has any legal effect. That is why guardianship can have serious implications for a range of fundamental rights from freedom from torture to the right to property and the right to respect for one’s private life. While guardianship regimes vary across jurisdictions, and abuses and safeguards vary as well, all countries of the world utilize some forms of guardianship, making abuses possible.

Guardianship has been criticized by disability rights advocates and human rights bodies for several years, and some have asked for its complete abolition. While there certainly are situations when some persons with disabilities are unable to make decisions, that does not mean that guardianship is the right solution for them. It is possible to use alternative interventions, such as supported decision-making, which would allow people with cognitive difficulties to express their will in a legally valid form, without being placed under guardianship.

As disability advocates have been arguing for some time, and researchers confirmed recently, communication difficulties are one of the reasons for the overuse of guardianship. Persons with cognitive difficulties can have difficulties expressing themselves. Some have blurred speech, or communicate non-verbally. In the case of persons with psycho-social disabilities, blurred speech can also be a side effect of psychiatric medication.

Persons who have difficulties in communicating and expressing themselves are often prejudicially stereotyped as being unable to make rational decisions. Blurred speech can be interpreted as a sign of incompetence in the courtroom and outside of it as well. A person’s intellectual impairment can be assessed to be more severe than it in fact is, and can lead to being placed under guardianship even where it is unwarranted. It is not unheard of for persons without any cognitive impairment at all to end up under guardianship, purely on the basis of their communication difficulties. Persons with cerebral palsy, deafness and deaf-blindness, for example, have been legally incapacitated because the courts were unable to satisfy themselves that they were capable of making rational decisions.

While in theory expert assessments should be able to separate communication difficulties from cognitive impairments, this is often not the case in practice. Prejudice against persons with disabilities affects both the judicial system and its experts. That is why disability advocates often stress that guardianship reform should expressly recognize the principle that communication difficulties should not lead to declarations of incompetence. Some newer guardianship laws have indeed adopted such provisions.

The situation of persons with severe intellectual disabilities is especially precarious. Some of them are communicating using alternative communication techniques and tools which can be interpreted only by trained experts. In the past, such communication difficulties have often automatically led to legal incapacitation. Recently, the spread of new ways of communication went hand in hand with the recognition that persons with severe disabilities are also able to make decisions regarding their lives, if they are given adequate support, including information in a format they can understand and a means to communicate their decision.

Whether all persons with severe disabilities can make their own decisions is one of the most controversial and hotly debated questions of the CRPD. Some scholars argue that no one should be placed under guardianship, but be provided with support instead. Others claim that some persons with very high support needs will never be able to make their own decisions, and therefore guardianship should be retained as a measure of last resort for them. However, both sides agree that the potential of persons with severe disabilities has been seriously underestimated by the courts, and many persons who are currently under guardianship could make their own decisions if given the chance.

It follows that the development of better communication techniques and their application in practice should lead to more and more persons with severe disabilities retaining their legal capacity and avoiding guardianship. For some, this will be possible because having the opportunity to make decisions will in fact result in improved cognitive skills – it has an educational effect. If a person with a severe disability is never asked for their opinion on anything, they will never develop the skills necessary to form an opinion. For others, they might already possess the necessary cognitive skills, but in the absence of accessible forms of communication, they would be unable to convince the outside world about either their abilities or their viewpoints. Newer forms of communication can unblock the obstacles persons with severe disability are currently facing and will allow them to make their own decisions.

We do not know whether technology allowing persons with the most severe disabilities to communicate and make decisions will ever be invented. However, we can expect that a significant proportion of persons considered uncommunicative today will be able to make themselves understood in the future with the help of new technologies. We also know for sure that there already are communication techniques and technologies available which could help a large number of persons to communicate, but they do not have access to them. As a result, they are considered “incompetent,” and they are denied the opportunity to express themselves, instead guardians are appointed to make decisions on their behalf. It is, therefore, essential to expressly recognise states’ obligation to make alternative communication techniques available and accessible for all persons with disabilities.

It is also vital that states make efforts to combat harmful stereotypes of persons with disabilities, and/or communication difficulties, as incapable of comprehension, expression, or rational decision-making. For persons with disabilities, the ability to communicate and be heard does not simply facilitate the development of social interactions, but is also a precondition for enjoying their personal autonomy, and being legally recognized as full and equal members of society.

Source : Article 19

Rwanda: Yes, Corruption is a Human Rights Violation and Must Be Treated as Such

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Jean Nepo Mbonyumuvunyi, the Commissioner for Inspectorate of Police Services and Ethics in Rwanda National Police, this week said that, in Rwanda, corruption is treated as a human rights violation.

Corruption is one of the biggest challenges to socio-economic transformation of societies. It fuels injustice, breeds inequality, encourages discrimination, deprives vulnerable people of income, and prevents people from fulfilling their political, civil, social, cultural and economic rights.

However, many would be confused if corruption was considered a human rights violation. But a deeper mirror of the grotesque impact of corruption on society and the nation as a whole would change such an opinion. Human rights violations are any action that violates the personal freedom and rights of a human being.

The government has the obligation to respect, protect and fulfill human rights. When corruption interferes with these obligations, it blights efforts to protect human rights such as delivery of an array of services, including health, educational and welfare services, which are essential for the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.

Corruption creates discrimination in access to public services in favour of those able to influence authorities to act in their interests, including by offering bribes.

Given Rwanda government’s zero tolerance to corruption, it makes sense that the approach of human rights violation is used in handling graft. This is because if corruption occurs where there is inclination and opportunity, a human rights approach could go a long way in helping to minimise opportunities for corrupt behaviour and make it more likely that the corrupt are caught and appropriately sanctioned.

A human rights approach also focuses attention on people who are particularly at risk, provides a gender perspective, and offers elements of guidance for the design and implementation of anti-corruption policies.

If corruption is shown to violate human rights, it will influence public attitudes. When people become more aware of the damage corruption does to public and individual interests, and the harm that even minor corruption can cause, they are more likely to support campaigns and programmes to prevent it.

Source : The New Times(Kigali)

Ibadan Court Dissolves 12 year old Wedlock Over Allegations of Attempted Ritual

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A customary court in Ibadan, Oyo state , Nigeria has dissolved a 12 year old marriage over allegations of attempted ritual.

According  to Sekinat an Ibadan based businesswoman, her husband, Raufu sent are out of their matrimonial home with the intent to use their  11 year old child for ritual purposes.

”My lord, after Raufu, had sent me packing from his home more than a year ago, I came across our 11 year-old child recently and I saw multiple razor mutilation all over his body.

“It was a gory site to behold and I immediately became apprehensive of what my two children were undergoing in my absence with Raufu.

“Then, the child told me that his father, Raufu took him to a ritualist, who compelled him to carry some sacrificial objects at 1:00 a.m. after designing his body parts with razor mutilation.

“The boy further said that his father, Raufu, had alleged that he was trying to prevent him from further stealing and that was the reason for the sacrifice.

“My lord, the fundamental questions at this point is that Raufu is an Alfa with strong Islamic background, what is his association with an herbalist and making a child at that tender age to undergo such a midnight exercise.

“Before sending me out of his house, Raufu had subjected me to such dehumanizing experiences such as regular battery and inadequate care for I and the two children.

“I have all along been responsible for the welfare of the children and I want to have custody of all the children because he might use them for ritual”, Sekinat told the court.

Although her husband did not object to the dissolution of the marriage, he admitted taking the boy to an herbalist, in a bid to cure him of the ”spirit of stealing”.

The President of the court, Mr Ademola Odunade, dissolved the marriage, attributing it to the fact that Sekinat and Raufu had made up their minds, while  awarding  custody of the two children produced by the union to Sekinat for proper motherly care.

Odunade ordered Raufu to pay a monthly   allowance of N3,000 for the upkeep of each of the two children in addition to been responsible for their education and  among other responsibilities .

Colin Powell Picks Hillary Clinton Over ‘National Disgrace’ Donald Trump


The former secretary of state endorsed Clinton on Tuesday, saying Trump was ‘selling people a bill of goods’ and not qualified to be president.

Tim Mak

Tim Mak

Colin Powell apparently doesn’t hold a grudge.

The Bush-era Secretary of State said Tuesday afternoon that he would be voting for Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that she had tried to use him as an excuse for setting up her infamous private email server.

At a luncheon in Long Island, Powell gave an unreserved endorsement to his fellow former top diplomat, according to Newsday reporter Robert Brodsky, saying that she would serve with distinction and has the experience to be president. Powell added that Trump, on the other hand, is “selling people a bill of goods,” is not qualified, and “insults us every day.”

He could be forgiven if there had been some hard feelings. Facing an email scandal that threatened her campaign for the White House, Clinton had thrown Powell under the bus, telling the F.B.I. that Powell’s had told her to use a personal email account.

The revelation that she had possibly threatened national security with this arrangement, and the ensuing controversy around the FBI’s decision not to prosecute her, continues to define her image and the American public’s view of her trustworthiness.

“Her people have been trying to pin it on me,” Powell told People magazine at an event in the Hamptons in New York this past summer. “The truth is, she was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did.”

Powell had been in the public spotlight for decades, serving mainly in Republican administrations — and even mentioned as a possible presidential contender over the past decade.

He was a national security adviser to Ronald Reagan, served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the George H.W. Bush administration, and continued in that position for less than a year under Clinton’s administration. He later served as Secretary of State for four years under President George W. Bush.

In 2008 Powell diverged from his party to support Barack Obama despite having been friends with Republican presidential candidate John McCain for decades.

“I think he is a transformational figure.  He is a new generation coming into the world — onto the world stage, onto the American stage, and for that reason I’ll be voting for Senator Barack Obama,” Powell said at the time, adding that he found the McCain’s focus on Obama’s ties to former militant William Ayers to be distasteful.

But this cycle, he has resisted declaring his support for either candidate, instead chiding Trump as a “national disgrace.”

In hacked emails, released to the public last month, Powell was also seen bashing Clinton, of whom he said: “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.” He savaged her as “greedy, not transformational,” and added: “I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect.”

But at the Long Island Association fall luncheon on Tuesday, all this private sentiment melted away into what Brodsky called a “full throated” public endorsement — just the latest twist in a campaign full of them.

Source : The Daily Beast

Judicial Officers In Nigeria Should Emulate the Virtues of Late Justice Ige-Prof. Olagoke


Founder and Spiritual Head of Shafaudeen Worldwide, Professor  Sabitu Olagoke describes the late Jusitce Olagoke Ige as an embodiement of what the Judicairy in Nigeria is supposed to be rather than what it is presently. Excerpts :

The honourble Justice Olagoke Ige  happened to be an icon that epitomised wht the Judiciary is supposed to be. During his liftime, he could be described as an all encompassing gift to the Yorubaland, to Oyo state, to Nigeria and the people of the bench. He happened to be a reliable Father and a personality that would never discriminate, he mixed very easily with the poor, the rich, the young and the elderly ones, not to talk of his colleagues. When you review his activities down memory lane, you will appreciate him for one thing, even when he was an actin g Chief Judge, during the political turbulence in  Oyo state, he stood out and without fear of contradiction, I will dclare him as incorruptible Judge, he was till he died and he remained like that.  He happened to be evrything the Judicairy is supposed to be, incorrupitble, fair and just. He will remain an icon in the annals of history in the Judiciary. Till he died, because we worked together for almost 10 years, he continued to write and lamented on the kind of  virus of corruption in the Judiciary and he fought it till he died. He evn wrote a memoir about himslef, which revealed the kind of trials he had gone through, the kind of people he had met and those he worked with. With the denise of peole like Hon. Justice Ige, there is already a gap in the areas of achieving, for the Judiciary, independence as well as incorrutibility

Central Bank Loan- Real Farmers Did not register in Oyo-Farmers Association


Farmers in Oyo state, Nigeria have described as a charade the recently concluded registration execrise involving farmers in the 33 Local Government areas of the state, for the purpose of accessing loans, facilitated by the Centyral Bnak of Nigeria(CBN).

The farmers made their position known through the Chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria(AFAN)Oyo state chapter, Engr. Olumide Ayinla, in a chat with Federationews2day.

”This is the problem we have being having with farmers and the Government, when you allow Local Governments to oversee the registeration of farmers for loans, the Local Government Chairman will amrry his people with the farmers to come and register, so you now have to differentiate between the real farmers and the political farmers, when it comes to Local Govermenment affairs. So, as the Chairman of AFAN, I also have to go to my Local Government council,South west, to register, because we know our farmers and our farmers know us. When it comes to the Local Government, there is always a mix up.  A larger number of farmers in the villages did not hear about the registeration exercise because they don’t have access to radio or any other means of information . The Government ought to take registeration to the villages, where the farmers live, they don’t farm in the city, they farm in the villages”.

The Chairman lamented that, his members heard of the  registeration exercise when it was about to close.

”We heard about the registeration very late, we alos heard that then registeration will close toady(21st October, 2016), and by Monady they will take the names to Abuja. And we heard about the registeration exercise just onTuesday(18th October, 2016). And the exercise has been going on for the past three weeks and we, the real farmers did not know about it. I do not know what we will do, since the exercise is over, there is nothing we can do”, Engr. Ayinla concluded.