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By the People's Bishop Kenneth Obi.

The arrest and re-arrest of the activist and publisher of Sahara reporters an online Newspaper, Mr. Sowore has continued to generate a lot of controversial comments from Nigerians and even international communities. Sowore and his friend Bakare were in Department of State Security (DSS) custody for over 150 day on the alleged treason charges. 

The presidency is accusing him of mobilising people against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, other charges include alliance with proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and planned to mislead public to violently change the government through `#RevolutionNow` protest.

The Sowore`s case has since taken different dimension which seems there may be hidden agenda by the present administration to silence the critics and making the civic space uncomfortable for the upcoming young ones. The pro democrats will surely agree with me that freedom of expression is the only way to enjoy genuine democracy. Though, Nigerian politicians have been paying lips service on the concept of democracy and its entrenchment, in reality it has remained hoax.

Progressive democracies do not disregard court orders or turning their heads against the application of the rule of law. One of the cardinal principles of constitutional democracy is the respect of the freedom of speech and the total adherence to constitution. It seems the present administration has their own way of defining democracy which is more authoritative. It is not a surprise for Nigerians to witness the muzzling or brazen rape of this cardinal principle of democracy under the watch of so-called democrats.

The December 6 melodrama that led the DSS to invade court in commando style is a national disgrace. Why would the DSS disrupt court proceeding? Despite the fact that the law simply asserts that- no arrest can be effected in a courtroom, it is a sanctuary of some sort because the civil process act defines the precinct of the court as anywhere between the gate to the courtroom.

Instead for our president or minister of justice to condemn the act and quickly call them to order, he keeps silent. Though the Presidency and DSS denied the incidence at the first place but it later apologized to the judge and also the Sowore`s lawyer, Femi Falana, for their unprofessional conduct.

Recalled, two competent court’s ruled or demanded that DSS should release Sowore but they confidently disobeyed the order. Why would DSS refuse to obey court order? If they can be granted an access to suspect or even allowed to keep suspect in their custody, why should they act differently when the same court orders the release of the suspect?

Whosoever is advising the presidency or Department of State Security (DSS) to disregard court orders and break the laws of the land by neglecting the rule of law is the true enemy of our democracy. Agreed, they have right to deny anyone his freedom especially in a situation where such freedom will be an issue to public disorder, security or immorality but the Sowore`s case can be easily resolved through obeying the court orders by both parties. It will be good for DSS to allow court to decide on the case or pass their judgment than continue detaining him in their custody. This unjustifiable treatment meted on Sowore or disobeying of court order will create sympathy for the victims and make our democracy a laughing stock in the comity of nations.

Regardless of the situation, President Buhari is one of the highly respected African leader not only in Nigeria but across the globe. He shouldn’t allow his image to be tarnished because of the interest of the few. The president has said it in various fora that he will uphold the rule of law. The doctrine of separation of power should be properly adhered to by the three arms of government. We are not in military junta in which laws are not obeyed. We are in constitutional democracy.

The Department of Security Service (DSS) should be called to order and respect the rulings of the court. Nigeria is above everyone, and the country is indeed need of peaceful coexistence and freedom not agitations and unnecessary chaos!

Following the burial of Mr. Corruption March 23rd, 2019 by Citizens for Righteousness and Social Justice. CRJ is calling on Nigerians to wake up from slumbering for a better Nigeria.

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By the People's Bishop Kenneth Obi

The Nigerian leaders have remained corrupt because the people have refused to take the right action. If Nigeria had people who are conscious enough and daring, organized corruption would have ceased. Corruption is like an atomic bomb – it is capable of destroying everything that has contact with it as well as wreak transgenerational havoc if not stopped. Little wonder why the roads are in disrepair, the public schools have become warehouses, the general hospitals are a no go area for anyone who wants to live long and why the entire system appears to have collapsed.

While there is extreme poverty, hunger and hardship in the country, President Buhari has allegedly approved ₦37 billion for the renovation of the National Assembly that was said to be built for ₦7 billion. Even if Nigeria had experience recession in the past and even if inflation had hit the market between when the building was erected and now, ₦37 billion just for renovation is a scam. Are they building a new one? Even at that, ₦37 billion is surreal except the building materials will be gold.

Anyway, the new development does not surprise me because I am already used to the character of Nigerian political leaders. They are “kleptocrats” and it will take 50 years of deliverance to successfully exorcise the spirit of greed that is at work in them. However, I am surprised that Nigerians have reduced themselves to parrots and barking bulldogs on social media since the news was broken –when by now, they should have organized themselves and peacefully converge at the presidential villa or National Assembly until Buhari withdraws the approval. If something similar happened in saner climes, by now, the people would have come out in large numbers to hold those culpable accountable. And not to keep whining on Tweeter.

Meanwhile, I do not challenge the fact that Social Media can be a useful advocacy tool especially if those targeted are directly active in any of the platforms –like Donald Trump who manages his Tweeter account himself– but beyond rants that will only end on Tweeter and Facebook, Nigerians need to take action. It may not even immediately be a well-organized peaceful protest because the leaders have developed a “steel skin” that will not allow them to shift their position. In other words, no amount of protest will change the heart of President Buhari and his allies except if it is fashioned after the one that compelled Hosni Mubarak to step down. It will take 130 million conscious Nigerians to do this kind of regime-sacking protest.

But since the number of conscious people in the country is not up to this and any protest now may not cause a great impact, Nigerians have the right to bottle up their anger and keep it safe somewhere until the day of elections. There is no right action that is greater than punishing failed leaders at the polling booths. This beats ranting on the Social Media and ineffective protest any day.

Unfortunately, this is not the first that the leaders are taken Nigerians for granted. But because they only react on Social Media, the leaders have now made it a habit to take them for granted. If Nigerians had taken action against the jumbo pay of the Senate or the riotous living of some of the leaders before now, President Buhari would have thought twice before he gave his approval.

Funnily enough, many of the people ranting now on Social Media will forget about the ₦37 billion “scam” before the next election. They will even be the ones to defend their oppressors and attack those that intend to liberate them. This kind of let us just talk or rant attitude on Social Media will never produce any significant change in Nigeria. Serious change can only be done through the ballot box –which means Nigerians must be ready to put aside sentiment and vote for the right candidates in the next election. Otherwise, they will continue to rant on Social Media and nothing will happen, while the leaders will continue to enjoy.

Following the burial of Mr. Corruption March 23rd 2019 by members of Citizens for Righteousness and Social Justice, Nigerians are called to wake up from Slumbering for a Better Nigeria.

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By the People's Bishop Kenneth Obi

Pension packages for former governors of Nigerian states have long been a controversial subject. But because the figures have always been shrouded in secrecy, many Nigerians thought it shouldn’t be high enough to raise eyebrows.

Just recently, the immediate past governor of Zamfara State, Abdulaziz Yari, opened the veil on the amount. He was expressing his displeasure over the refusal of Bello Matawalle, his successor, to pay his outstanding allowance and pension.

In a letter dated October 17, 2019 addressed to the governor, Yari said he is entitled to N10 million monthly as an upkeep allowance, but that he has only been paid twice since he left the office.

Yari’s letter reads, “I wish to humbly draw your attention to the provision of the law on the above subject matter which was amended and assented to on the 23rd of March 2019,” he said.

“The law provides, among other entitlements of the Former Governor, a monthly upkeep allowance of Ten Million Naira (N10,000,000) only and a pension equivalent to the salary he was receiving while in office.

“Accordingly, you may wish to be informed that since the expiration of my tenure on the 29th of May, 2019. I was only paid the upkeep allowance twice June and July while my pension for the other months has not been paid.

“As the law provides, the pension and upkeep allowance is not in the category of privileges that can be truncated without any justifiable reason, hence, the need to request you to kindly direct the settlement of the total backlog of the pension and upkeep as provided by the law.

Looking beyond the surface of the grievance expressed in Yari’s letter, there’s an urgent need to review the financial responsibilities of states to former governors. In the case of Zamfara, which has had four governors since its establishment in 1996, this figure means that the state pays each of the past Governor's N120 million annually for upkeep. That is aside from their basic salaries, which would be about N2 million.

And for states like Rivers, which was established in 1967, and have 16 former Governor's, that would be billions of naira in obligated payments every year. It is just too much that, after taking complete care of political leaders while in office, we still have to spend huge public funds on them after leaving the office.

Yes, as ex-governors, they deserve a pension, but there’s no justification for the high amounts. Pension is completely different from a salary, in the labor world, and it should be the same way in government too.

We can only hope that our legislators will stand up to this, and stop this obvious misappropriation of public funds. Such funds could be easily channeled to other projects beneficial to the people. It’s a cycle that is unjust to citizens, and we mustn’t allow it to continue.

Following the burial of Mr Corruption March 23rd, 2019 let's pull the oxygen keeping Mr Corruption to be permanently dead for a Better Nigeria.

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The People's Bishop Kenneth Obi, Edo COGIC Prelate and Chairman, Citizens for Righteousness and Social Justice (CRJ), Imo State.
By the People's Bishop Kenneth Obi

The National Assembly and the Presidency have been working on a bill to criminalize hate speech across the country. This came barely a week after the Senate introduced another bill to regulate social media. One can only wonder if these leaders want to completely erode our freedom.

While people should truly not allow hate-filled conversations fueled by tribal or political sentiments, the Federal Government’s definition of hate speech has always been about ‘opposition or dissent.’ So, this bill means that whatever contradicts or criticizes the government may be considered hate speech.

The bill is backed by those who do not like to hear the inconvenient truth because it breaches Nigerians’ right to freedom of information.

The contemplation of such laws is in itself not just hate speech, but an abuse of the legislative process that will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech.

More interesting is the fact that one of the senators sponsoring the social media bill, Elisha Abbo, was dragged over the internet this year after a video showing him assaulting a woman for no reason was made public online.

It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests. We must prioritize our challenges ahead of the whims and caprices of those who do not like to hear the inconvenient truth. Stop this folly and focus on issues that matter to Nigerians.

There are more important issues affecting the population. Police brutality; corruption, wrongful or false arrests; poor laws governing electricity use; vague or weak labour laws, especially in the private sector amongst other challenges affect the average Nigerian more than what is said on social media.

Instead of our legislators to aggressively chase a law that can toss us back into the military era, a better bill to sponsor and discuss would be the one that would protect the rights of the average Nigerian and improve the quality of his life.

Such legislation like the social media bill only make Nigeria a laughing stock in front of the world. We can’t boast to be in a democracy or a place where there is rule of law, with all these anomalies in place. If the National Assembly continues its anti-people legislation at this pace, we may end up as a fascist nation by 2023.

The lawmakers have to put a stop to these actions that only make a joke of our democracy. Nigerians don’t want an authoritarian government, not before, and definitely, not now.

Following the burial of Mr Corruption March 23rd, 2019 by Citizens for Righteousness and Social Justice (CRJ) which is the Best Way to Go fighting injustices and raising Anti Corruption Crusaders, pulling out the oxygen keeping Mr Corruption permanently dead for a Better Nigeria by enacting a bill that will make Corruption to carry death penalty in Nigeria and not a hate speech.

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The People's Bishop Kenneth Obi, Edo COGIC Prelate. Advocate of Humanity and Social Justice.

The People's Bishop Kenneth Obi, Edo COGIC Prelate and Chairman, Citizens for Righteousness and Social Justice (CRJ) Imo State._