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Damning Verdict! We will now address Buhari as Major General, his administration as a regime, Punch newspaper declares

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General Buhari Presidency

The Punch Newspaper says it has taken a stand against the regime of General Muhammadu Buhari following the government’s brazen disregard for the rule of law and cour of orders.

The Punch in its Editorial published on Wednesday condemned last Friday saga at the Federal High Court in Abuja where operatives of the Department of State Service (DSS) invaded the court to re-arrest Omoyele Sowore despite court orders asking it to release the #RevolutionNow convener.

In protest against the autocracy and military-style repression of the Buhari administration, Punch declared that it has taken a stand to henceforth “prefix Buhari’s name with his rank as a military dictator in the 80s, Major General, and refer to his administration as a regime, until they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law.”

 

See full editorial:

Buhari’s lawlessness: Our stand

The entire country and a global audience are rightly scandalised by the unfolding saga over Omoyele Sowore and the unruliness of the SSS and the government; but it is only a pattern, a reflection of the serial disregard of the Buhari regime for human rights and its battering of other arms of government and our democratic institutions. PUNCH views this tendency and its recent escalation with serious concern, knowing as the great thinker, Edmund Burke, said that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Nigeria had trod a path, a veritable obstacle course, where repression, especially under military jackboots, was a malignant presence and this attracted heroic resistance by ordinary people, civil society groups and the press. But Nigerians have lately become lethargic, divided by ethnic and sectarian sentiments and weakened by widespread poverty brought on by a rapacious political class and bad governance.

PUNCH will not adopt the self-defeating attitude of many Nigerians looking the other way after each violation of rights and attacks on the citizens, the courts, the press and civic society, including self-determination groups lawfully exercising their inalienable rights to peaceful dissent. This regime’s actions and assaults on the courts, disobedience of court orders and arbitrary detention of citizens reflect its true character of the martial culture. Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd) ran a ham-fisted military junta in 1984/85 and old habits obviously run deep.  Until he and his repressive regime purge themselves of their martial tendency therefore, PUNCH will not be a party to falsely adorning it with a democratic robe, hence our decision to label it for what it is – an autocratic military-style regime run by Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).

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Sowore’s travails are symptomatic: having ignored court orders granting him bail, the SSS, after much pressure following 125 days in captivity, released him only to stage a GESTAPO-style raid on the court where the journalist was standing trial. The leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim el-Zakzakky and his wife have spent over three years in detention in violation of court orders granting them bail and ordering their release. A former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, has been held in detention since 2015 in defiance of several court orders, including one by the ECOWAS appellate court that declared his continued incarceration illegal. Under Buhari, the SSS has become a monstrous and repressive secret police, acting often with impunity. Buhari bears responsibility for the state of repression because, as president, he can stop it today.

But the SSS is not alone. The Nigeria Police, whose notoriety predates Buhari’s second coming, has continued its serial abuse of human rights and is ever available to officials who routinely deploy police officers from the mundane abuse of sirens in traffic to arbitrary arrest and torture of victims. The police and military fail to understand that peaceful agitation and the right to associate are fundamental rights.

This situation is eerily familiar: as military head of state, Buhari’s appointee who headed the National Security Organisation, as the SSS was then known, Lawal Rafindadi, unleashed a reign of terror on Nigerians, featuring arbitrary arrests and torture in cells described by inmates as chambers of horror. Under the infamous Decree 2, agents had pre-signed detention papers, court orders were ignored and ouster clauses were inserted in decrees, while the press was specifically targeted with the infamous Decree 4 under which Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor were jailed.

Returning as an elected president, Buhari has followed the same template, appointing Lawal Daura as Director-General of the SSS, who re-enacted the Rafindadi playbook by his treatment of Dasuki and el-Zakzakky, among others, raided the homes of judges and twice deployed armed SSS heavies to foil the arrest of two former security chiefs by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Nigerian Navy authorities similarly ignored court orders to release Navy Captain Dada Labinjo, who they detained for over a year until his recent release on bail; Nigerian Army too detains suspects interminably on the grounds of being terrorism suspects.

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Some governors have borrowed from this nefarious model, deploying security agents and perverting the law to punish critics and journalists. Critics, Dadiyata Idris and Stephen Kefas, have been arrested and arraigned. Agba Jalingo is facing a treason charge for offending the Cross River State Government. Jones Abiri, a local publisher in Bayelsa State, has been charged with terrorism while, in Delta State, two journalists are facing criminal defamation charges.

The regime’s Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed, forgetting how, as opposition spokesman in 2014, he was harassed by the SSS and accused of “loitering,” has been vigorously pressing for anti-hate speech laws to restrict the social media. Abdullahi Sabi, a senator, along with others, has re-presented a hate-speech bill: their sole purpose is to insulate officials from criticism and compel unquestioned acceptance of Buhari’s draconian misrule.

Under the law, suspects cannot be held beyond 48 hours except by a court order. But the regime observes this in the breach. Yet, Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and other treaties guaranteeing fundamental rights. The 1999 Constitution also spells out basic rights. But the regime chooses which rights or court orders to respect or obey. This is unacceptable. Critical segments of the society have been assaulted, silenced or compromised. It is time, as a Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has strongly advocated, for civil society to rejuvenate itself and send the message to Buhari to “rein in his wild dogs of disobedience.” From the United States has come a message from the Department of State, two senators and Congress telling the Buhari regime to stop its shocking affront to the rule of law, reminding the General that “respect for the rule of law, judicial independence, political and media freedom, and due process are key tenets of democracy.”

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Nigeria has had more than its fair share of draconian rulers, whether in military or civil garb, but none has succeeded in breaking our resilience and irrepressible spirit. This regime will not prove to be an exception. Nigeria, and Nigerians, will overcome. The strong desire of our people to enjoy the unfettered freedoms guaranteed by the constitution and the rule of law, including the freedom to speak freely and assemble peacefully, will again outlive, outlast and crush the spirit of despotism.

Buhari can still redeem himself and his out-of-control security agents and reclaim his past facade of tolerance. When Daura brazenly inserted himself in politics by recklessly sending armed masked SSS enforcers to besiege the National Assembly, as acting President, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo promptly sacked him and had him arrested. Buhari should similarly distance himself and his regime from the lawlessness and impunity of the current SSS DG, Yusuf Bichi, by dismissing him, ordering the release of all victims of illegal detention and compelling obedience to court orders. The SSS has not been efficient in the war against terror; it should perform its primary duty to safeguard the country. As a product of statute, its loyalty should be to the country, not to temporary occupiers of public office.

The regime’s repression cannot succeed but will further polarise the society and weaken national cohesion.  The Nigerian Bar Association has vowed to defend the sanctity of judicial authority, while Soyinka has warned that disregard for court orders could beget desperation and civil disobedience. Nigerians need to stop their supine acquiescence to oppression and learn to stand up for their rights as many are doing around the world, using all peaceful and legal means, including the right to protest and of peaceful assembly. It is Dasuki, el-Zakzakky, Sowore and others today, who knows who is next if repression is not resisted?

As a symbolic demonstration of our protest against autocracy and military-style repression, PUNCH (all our print newspapers, The PUNCH, Saturday PUNCH, Sunday PUNCH, PUNCH Sports Extra, and digital platforms, most especially Punchng.com) will henceforth prefix Buhari’s name with his rank as a military dictator in the 80s, Major General, and refer to his administration as a regime, until they purge themselves of their insufferable contempt for the rule of law.

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Matters arising from Chief Obasanjo’s condolence letter BY Femi Falana

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Femi Falana

Some people have said that it is against the African culture to speak ill of the dead. That is far from the truth. In the past, Africans spoke ill of the dead and exposed the dead if they were found to have engaged in abominable activities that brought shame to a community. In fact, the bodies of dead men and women who were found to have brought pestilence to a community were buried in the bush.

Therefore, Chief Obasanjo has not abused the African culture by attacking the late Senator Buruji Kashamu for allegedly manipulating the law to escape justice at home and abroad. However, it is the hypocrisy of his message that should be criticised because it is against the African culture to aid and abet a criminal suspect in his lifetime only to turn round to attack him in his grave.

In 1999, the British Government had initiated moves for the extradition of Kashamu to the United States for trial for drug-related offences. But the evidence given in favour of Kashamu in 2003 by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration cleared the suspect of drug charges. Consequently, the British Court rejected the request to extradite Kashamu on grounds of uncertainty about his identity and freed him after 5 years in jail. Thereafter, Kashamu returned to the country as a free man and was admitted to the PDP as a full-fledged member. He funded the party and became a political leader.

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The national leadership of the party acknowledged Kashamu’s immense financial contributions to the PDP. In 2014, as a result of political disagreements in the Ogun State chapter of the PDP, former President Obasanjo asked the national leadership of the PDP to stop extolling Kashamu as a political leader because he was “a habitual criminal wanted abroad to face criminal charges levelled against him…” But following the resolution of the intraparty feud, Chief Obasanjo mounted the rostrum in Ogun State, extolled Kashamu as a political leader and prayed to the Almighty God to reward him for his generosity.

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In 2015, due to renewed pressure from the Government of the United States, the Federal Government filed proceedings at the Federal High Court for Kashamu’s extradition for trial in the United States. But the Federal High Court dismissed the extradition proceedings based on the clean bill of health which the NDLEA had given Kashamu in 2003. Dissatisfied with the judgment of the Federal High Court the Federal Government appealed to the Court of Appeal. In May 2018, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and set aside the several orders of the Federal High Court which had stopped his extradition. Kashamu’s appeal against the order of the Court of Appeal for his extradition is still pending at the Supreme Court.

Upon Kashamu’s sudden demise last weekend due to complications arising from COVID-19 attack, Chief Obasanjo sent a sarcastic condolence letter to Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State. While praying for the repose of the soul of the deceased Chief Obasanjo said that in his lifetime he had manoeuvred “law and politics to escape from facing justice on alleged criminal offence in Nigeria and outside Nigeria. But no legal, political, cultural, social or even medical manoeuvre could stop the cold hands of death when the Creator of all of us decides that the time is up.”

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In defending his condolence message Chief Obasanjo recalled that: “When I was growing up, in our community, when anyone known with bad character died, we usually only mourn him and bury him. No eulogy. No praise-singing.” Since Chief Obasanjo believes that “The life and history of lifetime of the departed have lessons for those of us on this side of the veil” the political leaders who frustrated his extradition from the United Kingdom, welcomed him back home and used him to build political structures should stop insulting the collective intelligence of the Nigerian people.

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Shifting consumer habits demand fresh focus to fight fraud BY Aribidesi Lawal 

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Nearly every part of daily life has changed as the world continues to fight back against COVID-19. Most observers agree that the increased focus on digital commerce by consumers and merchants will likely remain even after a vaccine is found and the economy rebounds.

As the pandemic and its economic impact extend into 2021 and beyond, these new habits will likely crystalize. It is important for merchants and financial institutions to adapt now to support consumer behavior through safe, reliable digital commerce.

A shift to online channels by consumers and fraudsters

Globally, consumers are shopping more online. Just look at the numbers.

  • In Nigeria, more consumers turned to online shopping for the first time with 42% of shoppers starting to purchase food via eCommerce platforms.
  • In South Africa, in-store physical activity greatly dwindled, with 63% consumers visiting physical grocery stores less often.
  • In Kenya, consumers’ preference for digital solutions is fast increasing as customers turned online for shopping. 43% of consumers started purchasing from pharmacies online
  • In the U.S., Visa credentials active in spending on eCommerce channels, excluding travel, were over 12% higher in June than in January. Moreover, when you examine the active credentials who tend to be more significantly engaged in eCommerce, the spend per active credential increased by over 25%.
  • In the U.K., active eCommerce credentials increased 16% while spend per active credential increased 3%.

Where consumers go, fraudsters follow and Visa’s Payment Fraud Disruption (PFD) team has seen a similar shift in fraudulent activities/fraud attempts from in-store to online.

Between March and April 2020, there was a rise in fraudsters establishing short-term “COVID”-named merchants and using these fraudulent merchants to perform account testing and enumeration. This is where fraudsters use merchants or financial institutions to guess account numbers, expiration dates and CVV2/security codes through automated testing. This activity is often marked by high volumes of low-dollar declines.

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Our Visa team also saw an increase in ecommerce skimming attacks, where fraudsters inject malicious JavaScript code into the websites of merchants and service providers to digitally harvest payment information such as billing address, account number, expiration date, and CVV2 from the checkout forms on ecommerce pages. In April 2020 alone, PFD identified 90 merchant websites compromised by multiple variants of ecommerce skimmers.

Fortunately, fraud prevention capabilities such as Visa Account Attack Intelligence, which prevents account testing, and Visa eCommerce Threat Disruption, which prevents online skimming, are free of charge and are among the many fraud prevention layers and security benefits available to Visa clients.

Visa, financial institutions, and payment providers work hard to keep consumers’ payments safe – using multiple layers of security to prevent fraud, protect data, and help them get their money back if someone uses their card without permission. Yet, fraudsters are counting on consumers to be distracted and let their guard down, so they can trick them into handing over their personal or financial information.

This is why we believe consumer education is key in the fight against fraud and we have been helping consumers understand how to spot fraudulent activity and how to protect their sensitive information, particularly now, when most of our payments have shifted to digital.

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Here are three simple steps every consumer can follow to stay safe when shopping online:

  • Pay securely online – When paying online, use Visa Checkout that offers an extra layer of protection and always check the URL to ensure it begins with “https://”. The “s” at the end confirms a secure connection.
  • Pay securely in-app – Update your passwords with a strong password unique to each account or better yet, switch to fingerprint or facial recognition for account login and/or payments if it’s an option.
  • Beware of phishing scams – Be careful of unsolicited and suspicious emails, SMS or phone calls. They may try to steal personal information like your account number, username and password. If in doubt, do not click on any links or download files.

Additionally, we implement a rule-based  authentication service called Visa Cardholder Authentication Service (VCAS) that combines risk intelligence and targeted rules strategy to help reduce customer friction as well as provide seamless payment experiences.

The need for contactless payment acceptance in Nigeria

While online commerce has increased, in-store purchases have not gone away. Essential workers still have to go into the office and re-fuel for their commute and some goods simply cannot be purchased online and delivered to consumers. In these situations, embracing contactless card payments can offer peace of mind. Visa data shows that consumers are increasingly embracing contactless across the world, and as Main Streets and High Streets reopen, consumers are asking for more touchless options to pay.

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Touchless, or contactless payments, where one can tap to pay with a card or smart phone, enables a safe and secure experience without the need for consumers to touch the checkout terminal and early indications show usage is high among grocery stores and pharmacies around the world. A few other trends include:

  • Nearly 50 countries improved tap to pay penetration by more than 5% and over 10 countries increase by 10% or more from fiscal year Q2 to Q3.
  • Visa helped more than 55 countries increase the tap to pay limits, reducing the share of transactions that require consumer contact by more than 40% in several of those countries.
  • In the U.S., more than 80M contactless Visa payment cards were added in the first 6 months of the calendar year as financial institutions accelerated their issuance schedules.

Despite the increase in penetration and card issuance, the fraud rate for contactless payments is significantly lower than the overall card present fraud rate, which illustrates the security of tapping to pay.

Although there may be some regression back to the norm after the pandemic, it is not a leap to think some habits will remain. The shift to buying online is here to stay. For merchants and financial institutions, adapting to new consumer habits not only means meeting customer preference, but it is also an investment into the future of digital payments. It is time for Nigeria to embrace the convenience and security of tapping to pay in-store.

Aribidesi Lawal is the Risk Manager, Visa West Africa

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Quo vadis Nigeria? BY Cheta Nwanze

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In a 1992 lecture, American political scientist Sam Huntington theorised a ‘Clash of Civilisations’ and argued that future wars would be fought not between countries, but between cultures.

He expanded this in a 1996 book and named Nigeria as one of the battleground countries

There was a lot of argument, as naturally happens in the (social) sciences, but three decades on, and it appears that Huntington was indeed on to something, and today’s Sharia court ruling in Kano calls for a serious and unsentimental discussion.

Looking at the current state of play in global geopolitics, it appears that the man was correct, probably with the exception of #Poland which appears to be headed back into the orbit of #Russia (even if the Poles themselves will strongly disagree with that).

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As per his prediction, #Sudan has broken up. #Turkey has abandoned its quest to be accepted into Europe and is beating a path back into the Islamic world.

The #US has ensured that Latin America is for generations to come seen as distinct.

It begs the question: what is #Nigeria’s future?

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One of our ‘founding fathers’ said, “Nigeria is a mere geographical expression.”

Another referred to “the mistake of 1914.”

If those men asked those questions, then who are we to avoid them?

We have knocked our heads together for so long, but it is clear that #Nigeria isn’t working.

It is clear that the worldview of the man in Gusau is completely different from that of the man in Uyo.

Are we mature enough to have differing worldviews but make a country work?

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Personally, I maintain the opinion that we can be much more than what we are. BUT, for that to happen, there must be honesty about who we are, where we are, and where we each want to go.

Again, just our geography and our geopolitical realities mean that a split will be awful.

Is it not much better for us to find a way out of this entanglement than to endure another century of mutual suspicion, distrust and bloodshed?

Note: Quo vadis means Whither goest thou

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