Tag Archives: Edo

The Edo State Drama And Misuse Of Federal Might, Kalu Expresses Worry

The National Coordinator, People’s Democratic Party Coalition, Chief Dr Emeka Kalu, a mobilization and good governance advocacy group under PDP, has frowned at what he discribed as worrisome development in Edo State activities.

In a statement he issued to the press, Chief Kalu said that it is pertinent to note that the issue of political thuggery and desperate disposition of the APC, if not checked, may plunge Edo State into deep political chaos too catastrophic to contain.

It reeks of direct misuse of power for the opposition to take law into their hands by standing against majority decision in open confrontation that had been displayed by APC in the past few days. I suggest that we as Nigerians should carefully watch what is happening in Edo currently where 19 lawmakers impeached the Speaker in a private house business while in contravention of this legal process, police took over the Assembly complex at the instance of one man.

Whatever the plan of the opposition and lawmakers loyal to Oshiomhole want to achieve by forcefully moving into the Assembly Complex, I assure you, will not be in the interest of peace and may further plunge the precarious peace into more trained resolve ahead of the election. This is what every good statesman should never wish for his people no matter the desperation.

“I am calling on President Mohammed Buhari and the APC leadership to as a matter of urgency and national interest in protection of the people of Edo State, call Adams Oshiomhole and his followers to order. Power is given by God and can never be forced on the people.

“I am certain that any attempt to force any leader on the people will meet a stiff resistance, I assure you” he said.

Chief Kalu also called on the National Electoral Commission to as a matter of duty ensure they organize a free and fair election that will reflect the choice of the people rather than conform with the desperate nature of “Federal Might” that is being abused in Edo State.

Simple Agenda Promises A Secure Edo With Novel Social Welfare Package

By Don Osehobo Ofure

Mr. Godwin Obaseki as Edo State governor sits on a security vote of N900million monthly (N10.8billion Annually), according to the Wikipedia.

It is one of the highest security votes by s

tates in Nigeria. Yet for many residents and even visitors passing by the state, Mr. Godwin Obaseki should be blamed for the very high level of insecurity the state is experiencing today. The state of insecurity is visible, as all parts of the state including the capital, Benin City, Edo north and Edo Central are deeply affected.

Although, relevant sections of the Constitution recognize the Nigeria Police Force as the agency responsible for the provision of security in the states of the federation, Edo is one of many states in the country which can set up organizations to complement the efforts of the police and ensure safety of lives and properties.

After almost three years in office and following public outcry over the spate of violent crimes ravaging the state, Mr. Obaseki said that the government he heads has created new state security architecture he called ‘Operation Wabaizighan’. He said the idea will complement the efforts of the regular police force in the area of combating kidnapping, cult killings, armed robbery, as well as herdsmen/farmers clashes. The organization was designed to be funded under the State Security Trust Fund, with the state government committing N2 billion as seed fund in 2019.

He had listed the components of the architecture to include 50 special security cars fitted with modern communication and security gadgets, 30 Toyota Hilux patrol vans, 30 patrol motor bikes and three Armored Personnel Carriers APC, three ambulances, Integrated Command and Control Centre and five special security check points, to be manned at all the entry and exit points in the state. Others he said are Special Patrol Units (land and waterways); Integrated Electronic City Surveillance Unit, Establishment of a Special Force unit/anti-kidnapping squad, establishment of K-9 unit, establishment of paramedics unit, establishment of the Public Works Volunteers (PUWOV) scheme with 3000 trained and kitted workforce and a community police radio network.

There are also indications that Mr. Obaseki was privy to a strategic document titled, “Contemporary security challenges facing Edo state, Nigeria”, authored by A.B. Jatto et al. In the paper released, the authors undertook an analysis of Nigerian security issues specifically evaluating Edo State, deriving from structured deliberations around the issue of security challenges in Edo State held in London in 2015 involving key stakeholders.

In their findings they said that the State faces serious security challenges arising from natural disasters and climate change, and the rise of sea levels resulting in floods and erosion. In the economic sphere, they said Edo state experiences high unemployment rate due to the absence of key industries and lack of investment and inappropriate models of education. In addition they also identified as an immediate concern, is herdsmen, whilst political security has remained unabated due to the rising numbers of political assassinations in the state. The paper advanced a number of recommendations to address many of these problems, none of which has been applied by Mr. Obaseki.

Many residents of Edo state insist however that it is the responsibility of a responsible government everywhere in the world to protect the lives and property of all its citizens, irrespective of age, faith, sex or vocation, lamenting the state of insecurity in the state. They say Edo people are not safe in their homes and they no longer sleep with their two eyes closed. Their conclusion is that it is a misnomer to hear, daily news of violent crimes, sometimes in broad day light by youths, who should be gainfully employed to help build Edo state. Their verdict, Obaseki has failed!

Worried by the trend, some residents and communities across Edo state have resorted to self-help to check insecurity. From Edo South, citizens have expressed concerns that their relatives abroad even before Covid19 stopped visiting home since Obaseki took office in 2016. They blame the unabated kidnapping, cult-related killings and rape in Edo, is alarming. They repeatedly called on the state government and security agents to intensify efforts at solving the problems to no avail. As one respondent said, “We are concerned about this insecurity, because of the fact that our children living abroad who would love to travel with their parents to Benin City, to experience or fraternize with their relatives and friends are increasingly discouraged”.

It’s the same story in Edo Central where citizens formed a Vigilante to help protect against destruction of lives and properties, farmlands, cash crops and other legitimate means of livelihood in various communities in the locality. They rationalized the vigilance group and said it will be involved in community policing and assisting security agencies to ensure the safety of lives and properties in the area. They also said they will be collaborating with security agencies to address incessant killings, kidnappings, assassinations, armed banditry, raping and destruction of lives and property in the area.

The All Progressive Congress (APC) governorship candidate in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, has a plan to address the insecurity in Edo state, so citizens can sleep with their two eyes closed and news of violent crimes will be left for the past. He has said that even with the huge sum Mr. Obaseki receives monthly, he, “…has not been able to show commitment to security funding. Every month, the governor collects over N600 million as security vote and gives the police N5 million, not even enough to fuel vehicles”.

He says when he gets elected as Edo state Governor in September; his government will show sincerity in combating crime and make adequate investments in technology to combat crime. This is because Security and Social welfare is the first plank of his covenant with Edo people, he calls SIMPLE AGENDA. The other part is Social Welfare. There is no doubt that the potentials of Edo state are huge in terms of its ability to attract tourists, investments and quality jobs but the current security situation in the state makes the realization of these potentials unrealistic and unattainable.

Many in Diaspora have demonstrated willingness to come home and invest their skills and material resources for the state’s development, given proper incentives, but unfortunately, the current level of insecurity in the state makes the realization of its full economic potentials a pipe dream. In cases where some of the few some braved the odds and came home to explore some investment opportunities, they have fallen victims to either abduction or other violent crimes. But all that will change under the coming APC government led by Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu. The government will provide an enabling environment for Edo people so that they can channel investments back to the state.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s plan for securing lives and properties in Edo is a global best practice approach to security delivery, involving all stakeholders in our communities and the use of well-trained and motivated personnel, empowered with cutting edge technology for combating crime, will be adopted to make Edolites sleep with their two eyes closed once again. It will feature a new security architecture that is intelligence-driven, and an integrated state security system that collects information with relevant data from all security agencies and is able to analyze and use it to identify security threats and take appropriate and timely action to deal with them proactively and decisively. Best practice decision making procedures will also be put in place to enhance the rapid response of the security outfit to emerging threats without the usual bureaucratic delays.

The Simple Agenda’s other panacea to finding a lasting and effective solution to the security challenge in Edo, is the important role of the individual and the community. The fears people have about reporting crime because of their personal safety as they do not trust that the people they are reporting to may be complicit in the crime, will be eliminated. In this regard, a functional emergency system as part of the security architecture in the State with an emergency system like 911 will be put in the state. This will be achieved by the relevant state and telecommunication companies, working together.

The Simple Agenda also promise adequate provision of materials and institutional support for the Police and other security agencies in the state, including but not limited to operational vehicles and trucks as well as ultra-modern communication crime-detection and crime-prevention equipment such as the tracking device to detect the location of kidnappers and their hapless victims.

On the Edo State Security Trust Fund, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu will overhaul it in a manner that it will be function as a special purpose vehicle to mobilize adequate funding for security agencies on a sustainable basis. And it plans the Community policing Program involving Neighborhood watch and Vigilante groups in rural and urban areas. Under this plan the state government will partner with all Edo state traditional rulers, village heads, school authorities, civil society and religious organizations in the quest to find a pragmatic and lasting solution to insecurity because safety of lives and property is an ingredient for the state to move forward.

On Social Welfare, it draws from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which Article 22 says that as a member of any society, citizens have the right to Social Security. Social Security has been described as any government scheme that provides monetary or other forms of assistance to people with an inadequate or no income. The article adds that citizens are also entitled to its realization, through deliberate government effort and in accordance with the resources of each state. This is to ensure that he/she enjoys the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for human dignity and the free development of their personality.

Globally, Social security proponents argue that the society in which a person live should help them to develop and to make the most of all the advantages (culture, work, social welfare) which are offered to them. In more sublime climes, Social security also refer to the action programs of the state intended to promote the welfare of the population through assistance measures guaranteeing access to sufficient resources for food, water and shelter and to promote health and well-being for the population at large and potentially vulnerable segments such as children, widows, persons with disability, the elderly, the sick and the unemployed.

This is what the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate in the Edo governorship election, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu has in mind for Edo state in his Manifesto of Hope called Simple Agenda, which he has promised to, implement, when he gets elected as State governor. As a matter of fact under the very difficult conditions Covid19 imposed on the world, including Edo state such as limitations of movements, loss of jobs, hunger and shortage of food, water and access to healthcare, Pastor Ize-Iyamu earlier this year gave Edo people a glimpse of what to expect with his Social Security Scheme. This was when he unfolded palliatives for vulnerable people across Edo state in the wake of the pandemic. With the lockdown due to restriction of movement of persons across the state as part of measures to reduce the spread of the dreaded Corona virus, he said he acted because of a compelling need to do so.

Covid19 Information, Education and Communication, IEC materials were put on TV and Radio as jingles, in addition to enlightenment leaflets, handbills and flyers sponsored by Pastor Ize-Iyamu, his wife, Professor Idia and their friends. In addition, they distributed Lorry loads of branded Hand Sanitizers and followed it up with foodstuff like Beans, Rice, Salt Garri and even water to the most vulnerable across the 192 wards in the 18 local government areas that make up Edo State. Pastor Ize-Iyamu had made public two emergency phone numbers as help lines for people in dire need of food and water within the state but could not come out. He took the palliative to their homes. The initial target of 4000 families was exceeded, so much that that an uncountable number of families in every part of the state, in every ward and unit became beneficiaries.

It is against this backdrop that Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s plan is to develop a comprehensive Social Security Scheme that will make social welfare programs work for all citizens can be understood. To actualize this he plans to establish a data bank where every resident of Edo State will be allotted a personalized life-time Social Security Number. With this, government will have ready information to enable it plan and provide the social security for children, widows, persons with disability, the elderly, the sick and the unemployed. And as a deliberate state policy to protect vulnerable persons from discrimination and exploitation, the coming Edo state government led by Pastor Ize-Iyamu hopes to facilitate the enactment of appropriate legislation as well implement initiatives to this effect.

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s Simple Agenda, also plans the establishment of Social welfare offices to handle matrimonial problems and help resolve them through family counseling and mediating services. These will be set up for each of the three senatorial districts across Edo state and backed with the relevant enabling legislation. His policies will protect widows and children of the deceased from harmful traditional practices, harassment and intimidation are also in this lofty package. Also relevant provisions will be made to ensure that widows and children in Edo state have easier access to the Estate, retirement benefits, pension and other assets of their deceased husbands or parents as the case maybe.

A vigorous and proper enlightenment campaign of the provisions of the Child Protection Law of Edo state is also on the cards of the Social Welfare policy of the APC candidate. This will be pursued as a vital step against Child Labor and its twin evil, Child Abuse; not only to discourage its violation but to ensure its enforcement. And for a man who has high regard for Senior citizens like pensioners, who have served the state in various capacities as civil servants, Pastor Ize-Iyamu’s concern for their welfare can be better imagined. This is why his template for the care of pensioners is one of a kind.

Lastly, with a growing population of the qualified but unemployed, especially restive youths, and the failed promise by the current government to create 200,000 jobs since 2016, the Simple Agenda’s solution can better be appreciated. With the creation of the Edo State Employment Bureau (ESEB), responsible for identifying the unemployed and employable in Edo state, and capturing them in a database with their qualifications, the Bureau should be able to make available and at convenient notices, opportunities for employment.

Osehobo is Edo APC Media Council Scribe on Traditional Media in Benin City.

EDO: Campaigns have been authorised since June 21, says INEC

THE Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has lifted the ban on campaigns by parties ahead of the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.

INEC Head of Voter Education Mr. Timidi Wariowei told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin on Monday that the campaigns officially began on June 21.

He said: “Campaigns have officially started in the state. Campaign starts 90 days to election and it started on June 21.”ariowei said the office had taken delivery of some non-sensitive materials and distributed same to the 18 local governments.

“We distributed materials early because the office we are occupying has a small storage capacity.

“The storage facility cannot accommodate all the materials. So, as the materials come, we dispatch to our local government offices.

“The non-sensitive materials we have received so far are not complete, so as they come in batches we distribute because of lack of space to keep them,” he said.

Wariowei said the total registered voters as at 2019 was 2,210,534, while uncollected PVCs stood at 483,868.

NAN reports that INEC has cleared and displayed list of candidates of 14 registered parties, including the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party, being the major contenders, ahead of the election.

Akeredolu to win again, become Senator, God says he will humiliate those who  oppose Governor Obaseki of Edo, says Ebonyi prophet

The general overseer of King of Kings Deliverance Ministry has said Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State will defeat all opposition, despite the conspiracies gathering against him.

The Gbonum Upale Ntezi, Ishielu Ebonyi-born prophet in a telephone interview, told Jungle Journalist Media Limited that Mr Obaseki has been handed over an eight year leadership of Edo by the Almighty God, and that Comrade Adams Oshiomole’s efforts to change him would fail.

Hear his words “I am seeing the battle against Godwin Obaseki, because Oshiomole has vowed that Obaseki can never return as Governor of Edo State again.

“I want you to send this message to Oshiomole, that the God of heaven stand with Obaseki. God of heaven stands with Obaseki. I know that Oshiomole knows all the people in Abuja and he is using that manipulation to gain one or two favours, but I have said it before that if Oshiomole likes, let him fly to the sky, the Word of the Lord will come to pass. Edo State has been committed into the hands of Obaseki. Oshiomole and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu are just beating about the bush.

“It doesn’t matter which party he belongs, that is what God has revealed to me. Whatever the party, Obaseki will complete his eight years as Edo State Governor. God will humiliate those who oppose him.

On Ondo, Emmanuel Chukwudi said:
“The incumbent governor is going on unopposed. I see a lot of conspiracy against him but it will not work.

“In fact, I am seeing that man, after completing his governorship position in Ondo, I am seeing him in the Senate. He will win his second term, and he is in Senate already.

On March 5th, Chukwudi had said, concerning Edo:

“I have a great prophecy about Edo. In 2016, I spoke about Edo when God shower me President Buhari in black. I said back then that Obaseki must win the election, no matter the manipulation of the PDP. I also said that Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu will not go anywhere and that Obaseki will emerge winner.

“Now hear the Lord again concerning Edo- I see in the spirit realm that the battle in Edo, against Governor Godwin Obaseki will turn out a blessing for him. Who Hod has chosen, no man can stop. If Oshiomhole likes, let him fly to the sky, Obaseki must emerge victorious.

“The almighty God whom I serve, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has chosen Obaseki to rule Edo State for eight years, and no matter what the enemy might manipulate, no matter what Oshiomhole may plan, he and his manipulations will fail.

“God has ordained Obaseki to govern the good people of Edo State for eight good years.

“Oshiomhole is Mr Nobody now in Edo politics, and as far as God is concerned, the state is in the hands of Obaseki for the next four years”.

Read the full story of his prophecy on March 5, 2020 here:

https://jungle-journalist.com/2020/03/05/ebonyi-prophet-speaks-on-chekwas-okorie-atiku-igbo-presidency-biafra-trump-ghana-obaseki-others/

Lawyers must represent killers of their colleague – Eholor

Social Crusader and President of One Love Foundation, a not for profit organization, Patrick Eholor, has disagreed with the members of the Nigeria Bar Association(NBA) Benin branch on their stand not to give the suspected killers of one of their members, Osobase Omo Iyoha, legal representation during their trial.

Reacting to the decision, Eholor said: “I disagree with them. I think it is unethical. They have sworn an oath to defend the week, the strong, the poor etc. So, morally they cannot pass a law not to defend the suspects.

“Constitutionally they cannot do it. Let me refer to the case of Ted Kaczynski, a union bomber in America. He was killing his victims with letter bombs. He was represented during his trial. The worst case in American history before George Floyd, Rodney King, the police had representatives.

“The Nigeria Bar Association are planning all these because they are pained. It makes us look uncivilised. I sympathize with the deceased. I demand justice for him. But the suspects have a right for legal counsel. It would be unethical for the NBA to do otherwise. The association has no right to take that decision.”

On the spate of raping and killings all over the country, Eholor stated: “We have such characters all over the world. That’s why we must be careful who we leave our children with. Take the case of Uwaila Omozuwa, who was viciously murdered in a church in Benin. Those who committed the heinous crime should not go unpunished.

“Are we progressing or retrogressing? I remember while growing up that we used to have a forensic and fingerprint section at Alagbon Close, Lagos. We use to have A Division in Benin. When you commit a crime they will take your fingerprint and find you. We also use to have photoshoot called Mug. When you commit a crime they will take your picture so that when you commit another crime they will know that you’re a familiar face to the police.

“What happened to these things? In the advanced world they have surpassed DNA. We don’t have a DNA laboratory in Nigeria. Yet you put a lot of money on security vote. What are they doing with the security vote?

“We are a failed state. If we were not a failed state there should be progression. The police are very fast to find a suspect when a murder occurs. But they are not fast enough to prevent a murder from happening.

“My concern is that the Nigeria Police are inefficient. What they do is to harass people, collect bribe and kill innocent people. That must stop. We must tell the police to do the right thing. The federal government must give the police proper funding, retrain them and equip them with modern gadgets. We must flush out corruption in the police. Police collecting bribes at roadblocks and making returns to DPOs, CPs and IGP should be stopped.”

Eholor took a swipe at Tom Obaseki, who is handling the World Bank flooding project, a continuation of the Benin Water Storm Project, threatening to report him to anti-corruption agencies.

“Before the World Bank takes over your land they must adequately compensate you so that a job is done without disruption. However, Tom Obaseki wants to take us (land owners) for granted by coming up with some frivolous excuses that one Pedro Elamah has interest in the same land that he has promised over a year ago to pay us compensation.

“I have started doing the needful by writing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission(ICPC) and the World Bank to expose his nepotism and favouritism. That he is making interest with our money that he is supposed to pay us.

“I am not the only one affected but I am a mouthpiece to all of us affected. Under the World Bank guideline Tom has erred. This is what the elites do to the poor. Tom has made a mistake thinking that we are all collectively stupid. But he has got it wrong. I am going to expose him, we are going to use every legal means to demand justice for all of us.”

Group petitions Finance Minister, World Bank, CBN, EFCC over alleged fraud in Edo Agric loans

A socio-political Organization, Safe Edo Movement, has petitioned the Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, the World Bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over alleged diversion of funds meant to jumpstart agricultural revolution in Edo state.

In the petition signed by its President, Mr. Chris Oshokha Ethuakhor and made available to newsmen, the group said “ever since the year 2018, various interventionist initiatives and policies, backed by funds from Nigeria’s prime economic institution, the Central Bank, and the global World Bank, have been pumped into Edo State. These policies, initiatives, and funds, although channeled towards agriculture, have all gone largely unaccounted for and totally incomplete.

The group said, “of major concerns to us is that loans obtained under the guise of boosting agricultural productivity do not end up in the hands of farmers who are in severe need of support, rather, and sadly too, they go missing or end up in the pockets of private hijackers.

“It is the ambition of this petition to call the attention of the World Bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Federal Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning to this series of unresolved cases pointing towards corruption. We hope that a team of competent investigators made up of Civil Society Organizations, Public Officers, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate the misappropriation of loans given to Edo State between 2017 and 2020”.

According to Chris Oshokha, establishing a tentative link to corrupt practices, the method and process of obtaining these loans were shrouded in secrecy, but we have listed some of these initiatives that beg transparency and account and having not enjoyed both, warrants investigation.

“In 2017, the Central Bank of Nigeria gave 2billion Naira loan to Edo State for the production of maize, under the Agripreneur program. The last known and traceable activity with this fund is that the Edo State Government transferred it to SARO Agro Sciences Limited to cultivate and, as well, manage the 5,000 hectares maize farm at SOBE on behalf of the State Government. After this known activity, the whole initiative has disappeared into thin air, and to this date, nothing has been heard of it. We implore the CBN to spearhead a thorough investigation that will inform Nigerians how the fund was spent.

“In 2019, the CBN gave Edo State a loan of an undisclosed amount, urging that the fund be spent in support of the state’s Agripreneur program through the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk-Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL). This fund, the CBN conceived, should aid the cultivation of the 5,000 hectares of rice farms in Agenegbode, Warrake, Iguomon, Illushi, and Iguoriakhi.

“However, at the start of the farming season which began July 2019, each farmer was tentatively given the sum of 1.3 million naira which was distributed and held in accounts at Sterling Bank and can only be accessed by NIRSAL.

“Yet, even though this rice was cultivated and later harvested the same year’s October, the farmers are, to date, still to receive their monies lodged in the Sterling Bank accounts. The last probing that was answered had the Edo State Ministry of Agriculture stating that the rice paddings were from Agenegbode to Abakiliki in Ebonyi State for processing because Edo State does not have a rice processing mill (despite all the agricultural investment in the state).

“In the same 2019, the CBN approved the sum of ₦65 Billion naira for the Edo State Oil Palm Program (ESOPP), which would definitely be used to support Ellah Lakes PLC, managed by Mr. Chuka Mordi, who fronted for Governor Godwin Obaseki. Already the Governor has ceded State-owned lands in Igwelaba Community to the company. Yet, this date, no tangible progress has been made on the project, neither is there a public update to that effect.

“In what appears to be a reinforcement of existing progress, in the year 2020, an additional 5 Billion Naira loan was approved by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the Agripreneur program. This wouldn’t have drawn the ire of the public except that there is no ongoing activity or progress on the said Agripreneur program. This draws curiosity on the seeming bottomlessness of this program that fails provable evidence and refuses completion.

“Having studied the transactions, we are convinced that the records and history of the handling of these funds are not impressive. Put mildly, the continued loan approvals even in the face of obvious misappropriation, amounts to insult of the intelligence of Edo people.

“It is imperative to note that, besides mere speeches given at the impulse of the moment on political occasions, there is still practically nothing to show for loans granted. Edo people are asking why the CBN continues to give loans to Edo State Government, when it is clear that these loans end up in private pockets, except that some vested interests benefit from the mismanagement of these loans, despicably, to the detriment of Edo citizens.

“All of us at the Safe Edo Movement, therefore, by our devotion to the advocacy of the good of the common Edo people, feel obligated to bring the grumblings and dissatisfaction of the people to the notice of the Central Bank Governor, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning. It will serve the utmost purpose of social justice and restoring public confidence in the concerned institutions if, as we requested, you investigate all loans given by the CBN to Edo State Government from 2017 till date, and objectively inform the public of its findings.

“In line with best practices, we strongly recommend that for now, while the investigation lasts, further disbursement of loans to this suspicious state government should be paused. This will ensure that there are no further complications and/or further avenue for enjoying what the government has been indicted and suspected of, which is unmitigated fraud.”

Covid-19: Expect more cases, Edo warns

The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Patrick Okundia, has warned that cases of coronavirus disease will continue to increase, as the state ramps up testing for the virus.

He gave the warning on Tuesday in Benin, the state capital, while briefing journalists.

Recall that the State House of Assembly Speaker, Mr. Frank Okiye, was announced as the index case in the state on March 25.

Okundia said no fewer that 254 persons have so far been screened for coronavirus disease in Edo state, out of which 29 tested positive for the virus.

According to him, results for 31 samples are pending, adding that there are 326 Persons of Interest (PoI) in the state and out of this number, 105 have exited follow-up; 420 contacts have been line-listed, and 300 have exited monitoring.

He said “197 of the suspected cases were confirmed negative, representing 76.4 percent. Out of the 29 confirmed cases, we have recorded 3 deaths and discharged eight patients.

“Total active cases in the state currently undergoing treatment are 18. These persons are distributed across three isolation centres in the state.”

Also speaking, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Coordinator in the State, Mrs. Faith Ireye, said from the 29 confirmed cases, the state has completed line-listing for 25 persons, which resulted to 420 contacts from which 300 exited, while 120 are being followed up.

She said, “Our team is in the field currently line-listing contact for the four new cases and at the end of today, we would have more contacts. As at today, 17 of the 18 LGAs have reported suspected cases; this is made possible by our strong contact tracing team in all the LGAs.”

Meanwhile, the State Focal Person for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Mrs. Ifueko Alufokhai, said data of the needy and vulnerable persons in the state are being collated.

Alufokhai added that a call centre is being set up to verify persons who will benefit from the mobile wallet package in partnership with Access Bank.

“We are coordinating the welfare package for the poor and vulnerable persons in Edo State. We are to also develop a long-term plan for proper targeting and employment of vulnerable persons in the state,” she said.

Driver remanded for allegedly overtaking mobile policeman regains freedom

The Chief Judge of Edo State, Hon. Justice Esther Edigin has ordered the unconditional release of a 24-year-old commercial bus driver, Lucky Elum, from the Benin Custodial Centre of Nigerian Correctional Service.

She gave the order on Tuesday when she visited the Custodial Centre as part of activities to decongest Correctional Centres in the State.

It was gathered that Elum who was among five inmates of the facility granted unconditional release, was charged for overtaking a one-star mobile police officer, along Sapele road, Benin.

It was however not stated when the alleged offence was committed.

“I don’t know or understand when overtaking has become an offense. The defendant is hereby released unconditionally and his vehicle released to him. The O/C legal present here shall supervise the release of his vehicle within the next 24 hours,” Justice Edigin said.

Other inmates released unconditionally were ThankGod Eneji, Samson Mbuko, Joshua Oziegbe Ebo and Emmanuel Idahosa.

They are charged for dangerous driving, with no cases against them, unlawful possession of a tiger generator, breach of peace and unlawful possession of firearm.

Justice Edigin noted that their release is part of measures taken by all stakeholders, especially in the Administration of Criminal Justice System, to ensure speedy decongestion of correctional centres, in view to the ravaging global COVID-19 pandemic.

She noted that the categories of inmates to consider for release are those awaiting trial, persons who have spent six years and above in custody or who have no cases against them.

Others are aged and/or terminally ill inmates, inmates with very serious health issues, low risk offenders, inmates convicted for minor offences with or without option of fines and inmates who have less than three years left to serve, having served a substantial term of their jail terms for offences that attract five years and above.

It would be recalled that the Edo Chief Judge also freed 11 prisoners on Monday from the Oko Medium Security Correctional Centre, in Benin.

Covid-19 Palliatives: Block diversion of reliefs by middlemen, officials, Ize-Iyamu urges Edo Govt

The leading aspirant of Edo APC, Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu has called on the state government to investigate claims of diversion of relief items meant for distribution to the people to cushion the effect of COVID-19 restrictions by its officials and other distributors engaged in the exercise.

Immediately after the state-wide distribution exercise embarked on by Pastor Ize-Iyamu Support Organization that saw thousands of families get donations of food staples and other essentials in a rancor-free process across the 18 LGAs of Edo state, the state government followed suit with its own food distribution efforts. However, there have been several allegations of diversions and embezzlement of the items by government officials and other assigned political actors placed in charge of the distribution.

In a live broadcast livestream via his Facebook page in Benin City today, Pastor Ize-Iyamu urged the government to design a better distribution process that eliminates middlemen and ensures that the items reach the people in need of them directly.

He said: “We recognize that the state government has taken some steps to alleviate the consequences of disruptions caused by the pandemic even though we believe more can be done to ensure that the distributed relief items reach the very poor in need of them. At the moment, the state government’s effort is bedeviled by enduring accusations of middlemen who divert items and prevent them from achieving intended objectives – this must be addressed.”

Suggesting measures the government could adopt to keep the state’s economy alive, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu called for tax breaks and government patronize of farmers and other indigenous producers of essentials needed in the fight against the coronavirus disease.

He continued “As a further measure to defeat the virus, we urge the government to initiate and encourage the mass production of protective gears and sanitary products such as face masks, protective gloves, and hand sanitizers. The Ize-Iyamu Support Organization and other well-spirited persons have reached out to local tailors and seamstresses to mass-produce face masks using our local fabrics to be freely distributed across the state. This and other suggested measures will yield multiplier effects by increasing cash flow within the state thereby re-energizing the state’s economy which is already suffering from the negative effect of the pandemic.”

“An important measure which must attract the state government attention at this point, more than ever before, is the agricultural sector of the state. We urge government to articulate an aggressive policy response to ensure that with the onset of the raining season farmers in the state are encouraged, through fiscal intervention and agricultural extension services, to increase food-crop and animal production across the entire state. In this regard, we urge the government to reach out to all stakeholders in the agricultural sector with a view to quickly formulating the necessary policy intervention in the agricultural sector of the state in response to the pandemic. The overall objective is to ensure wide-spread availability of food during and after these anxious times.”

Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu also recommended to the government to increase its testing capacity to quickly discover and isolate infected persons, and the need to embrace honesty and transparency in communications surrounding the disease and government expenditures after claims by the governor that the state had spent over a billion naira generated controversy and spurred allegations of fraud.

Suggesting measures the government could adopt to keep the state’s economy alive, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu called for tax breaks and government patronize of farmers and other indigenous producers of essentials needed in the fight against the coronavirus disease.

Pastor Ize-Iyamu recommends wider testing, support for local farmers, artisans, other measures to fight COVID-19 in Edo

The frontline aspirant of the All Progressives Congress in Edo state, Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu, has called on the Edo state government to halt the taxation of businesses in the informal sector and offer fiscal support to farmers in the state against the onset of the rains to ensure food availability and derived income as part of the measures he presented in a live broadcast to aid the government in the fight against COVID-19.

Speaking via his social media platforms, Pastor Ize Iyamu says the state government can do more to offer relief to residents who are feeling the pinch of the restrictions imposed in the state to halt the spread of the disease.

He urged the government to relax its lockdown restrictions to breathe life to the local economy and instead carry out wider testing for quick identification and isolation of infected persons, maintain social distancing in crowded public spaces such as markets to prevent spread, and support health institutions in the state for effective management of the situation.

He said: “We also urge the government to increase the state’s testing capacity by embarking on widespread testing across the state. In this regard, the government needs to follow the example of Lagos State and follow through in its promise to increase testing capacity by opening more testing centres across the state’s three senatorial districts. At present, information available to us show that there is no testing going on in Edo North Senatorial Zone of the state. Even in the Capital city of Benin, no tests have been carried out several weeks after the confirmation of the first case of COVID-19. This is worrisome because without sufficient and widespread testing, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to discover asymptomatic cases of the virus and ensure that positive cases are effectively separated from virus-free people. This step is crucial to flattening the curve and obtaining data that could guide the government’s deployment of resources instead of using a scattered approach based on speculations”.

“As a further measure to ameliorate the negative impact of the pandemic, we urge the state government to suspend daily taxation of business owners in the informal sector, through-out the period of the pandemic. Apart from helping to cushion the effect of the pandemic for such business owners, the freeze on taxation will leave small businesses with enough cash-flow to continue in business in these difficult times. This will have positive multiplier effect on the state’s informal economy, which as we have identified, is the mainstay of our people.”

“We urge the government to articulate an aggressive policy response to ensure that with the onset of the raining season farmers in the state are encouraged, through fiscal intervention and agricultural extension services, to increase food-crop and animal production across the entire state. In this regard, we urge the government to reach out to all stakeholders in the agricultural sector with a view to quickly formulating the necessary policy intervention in the agricultural sector of the state in response to the pandemic. The overall objective is to ensure wide-spread availability of food during and after these anxious times.”

Pastor Osagie Ize Iyamu also urged the government “to initiate and encourage the mass production of protective gears and sanitary products such as face masks, protective gloves, and hand sanitizers” by patronizing local tailors and businesses in the state as this, according to him, will “yield multiplier effects by increasing cash flow within the state thereby re-energizing the state’s economy which is already suffering from the negative effect of the pandemic.”

Recounting the efforts of his Support Organization in the mass-production of the aforementioned items in collaboration with tailors and local fabrics sellers in Edo, Pastor Ize Iyamu advised Edo state government to shun propaganda and concealment of information, and instead communicate plainly and truthfully to the Edo people particularly in the areas of expenditures on palliatives and other efforts, part of which the governor claimed to have cost over a billion naira.