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Convicted Soldiers Cry Out To Buhari For Forgiveness

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Soldiers serving jail terms at the Kirikiri Medium and Maximum Security Prisons have cried out to President Muhammadu Buhari to forgive them whatever wrongdoing they had committed and grant them pardon for the sake of their families.

The soldiers are those sentenced to death by a military court martial in 2014 for demanding weapons before going to confront Boko Haram terrorists, but whose cases were later reviewed and commuted to 10 years imprisonment by the Chief of Army Staff..

They include the 12 soldiers convicted in September 2014 and sentenced to death by a court martial for demanding for weapons when the General Officer Commanding the 7th Division of the Nigerian Army visited a military camp in Maiduguri, and the 58 others sentenced to death in December by another court martial for similar offence.

ICIR met the soldiers during an undercover visit to the prisons last week and interviewed them on how they’re faring and the conditions in the prisons.

The soldiers revealed that some Boko Haram suspects brought into the prisons had all regained freedom while they have continued languishing in jail.

A corporal, who acted as their spokesman, said: “The people we risked our lives fighting in Sambisa Forest who were brought here are being released one by one while we remain in jail. This is traumatic for all of us and we are begging our commander-in-chief to grant us pardon for the sake of God and our families.”

The soldiers also disclosed that the military authorities had stopped their salaries and their families had become impoverished.

“Most of us are the breadwinners of our families but we are in jail and our families have no one to take care of them. Our children have dropped out of school and we can’t help them,” said another soldier, as the others all nodded their heads in agreement.

They pointed at a soldier whose daughter was to write WAEC this year but had to drop out of school for lack of money.

But even life in the prison has been hectic and traumatic. The soldiers all complained about the exploitation by prison officials from the security men to the top.

They alleged that food ration in the prison was pathetic and that any prisoner who wanted to eat decent food had to prepare his own food or request his family to bring food to the prison.

“Prison officials request money from people who bring us food right from the gate to inside the prison. Sometimes a visitor who brings food pays as much as N3,000 each time they bring food into the prison otherwise they would not be allowed in. For God’s sake, how can we cope with this?” a soldier asked with anger on his face.

But corruption in the prison does not end there. According to the soldiers, prison officials sell food stuffs and soup ingredients provided by government and NGOs to prisoners. The soldiers pointed at a store behind the prison entrance gate where the reporter saw onions, salt, yams and other food items being packaged.

“They will parcel the food stuffs from the store and give to the prison traders who help them sell to us,” the soldiers alleged.

When the ICIR confronted the prison officials with these allegations, they denied all. Abdulrasheed Ogundare, the prison Welfare Officer who thought he was speaking to a human rights lawyer, denied all the allegations.

On the release of Boko Haram suspects from the prison, he said there was nothing like that. “Those that were released were suspects raided from Lagos and brought to the prison, not the Boko Haram from Sambisa. Those ones are still in our custody. We don’t even allow them go out like the other prisoners.”

He called a prisoner to confirm whether Boko Haram suspects in the prison were being released, but the prisoner neither confirmed nor denied. “I don’t know; I’m not sure,” he responded, squeezing his face and walking away.

“Don’t mind the soldiers, we didn’t release any Boko Haram,” the Welfare Officer repeated to the reporter.

On prisoners’ feeding he said they were well-fed and that the caterers were graduates of catering. “If you’re in prison you cannot expect to feed as if you’re at home,” he said in response to allegation of poor meals. He however said most of the prisoners were “self-feeders”, meaning they arranged their own feeding.

He also denied that prison officials were exploit the prisoners, saying such allegations had not been brought to the notice of prison officials. “We are doing our best to take care of the prisoners and if you look at them very well you will see that they are feeding very well.”

Sani Usman, a Brigadier General and Director of Army Public Relations, refused to be drawn into any discussion on the issue, saying the case was of the soldiers was still in court.

“You’re aware that Femi Falana is in court over the case of the soldiers, so why do you want me to comment on a case that is in court?” he asked.

Femi Falana, Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), appealed the jail terms given to the soldiers by the Chief of Army Staff.

He said although the soldiers were charged with mutiny, “the only allegation proven against them at the courts-martial was that they protested the refusal of the military authorities to provide weapons to fight insurgency”.

Falana, as well as many other Nigerians, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to grant pardon to soldiers in view of the circumstances under which they committed the alleged infractions.

They also argued that unlike many soldiers who deserted the army, the convicts were ready to defend the territorial integrity of the country, but had only made a legitimate demand for equipment to fight the insurgents who were better equipped and motivated.

Source: ICIR

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BBC To Cut 500 Jobs As It Attempts To Save £200m For ‘Transformation’ Of The Corporation

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The BBC has announced plans to cut 500 jobs as it attempts to save £200 million to drive the “transformation” of the corporation.

Chief operating adviser, Leigh Tavaziva said it is making the changes to improve its premium video offering and digital capabilities.

It comes as the BBC is already attempting to save £500 million as part of a plan announced two years ago.

Tavaziva said “significant activity” is already underway to make the corporation “more flexible”.

She said: “In March this year we announced a requirement for an additional £200 million of savings and reinvestment plans to drive the continued transformation of the BBC.

“This will support greater investment into premium video content and further develop our digital capabilities.”

She added: “To further build our digital capabilities, whilst targeting efficiencies, over the next two years we will continue to close and transfer roles in some areas and create new roles in growth areas.

“This will result in a forecast net reduction of 500 roles in the public service by March 26, with further growth in targeted areas planned in our commercial group.

“To support these changes we will today be launching a new voluntary redundancy scheme for staff.

“Our priority remains to protect and champion the BBC’s fighting role as the UK’s public service broadcaster, for all our audiences both local and global.

“I would like to thank all colleagues for their continued efforts and commitments over the past 12 months.

“I am immensely proud of the exceptional content creativity, delivery, and innovation that our teams both provide and support every day.”

The BBC announced in March 2023 that it was to cut 1,000 hours of TV in order to save money, with half of that coming from sport.

In the same year, the corporation announced it was scrapping its in-house chamber choir, the BBC Singers, and reducing salaried orchestral posts across the BBC English Orchestras by around 20%.

In December 2022 it said that it was making £11m worth of cuts in local radio, which saw its 39 stations required to share content and broadcast less localised content.

Back in 2016, the BBC said it needed to cut £800m worth of costs, with £80m of that coming from news.

The move saw the Andrew Neil Show axed in 2020, along with 450 jobs in English regional TV news and current affairs, local radio and online news.

 

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I Have No Blending Plant Outside Nigeria, NNPC Boss Kyari Replies Dangote

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The Group Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, Mele Kyari has said he does not own a blending plant outside Nigeria.

Kyari stated this on Tuesday, July 23, while reacting to claims that some officials of the NNPC have blending plants in Malta.

Reacting in a post on his X handle (formerly Twitter), Kyari said he had been inundated with calls from family members and friends, asking if he truly owns a blending plant in Malta.

Kyari stated that he does not own or operate any business directly or by proxy anywhere in the world except a local mini-agricultural venture.

He also said he is not aware of any employee of the NNPC that owns or operates a blending plant in Malta or anywhere else in the world.

“I am inundated by enquiries from family members, friends and associates on the public declaration by the President of Dangote Group that some NNPC workers have established a blending plant in Malta thereby impeding procurements from local production of Petroleum products.

“To clarify the allegations regarding the blending plant, I do not own or operate any business directly or by proxy anywhere in the world with the exception of a local mini Agric venture, neither am I aware of any employee of the NNPC, that owns or operates a blending plant in Malta or anywhere else in the world.

“A blending plant in Malta or any part of the world has no influence over NNPC’s business operations and strategic actions.”

The NNPC boss threatened to sanction any official of the NNPC involved in such acts if they truly exist.

 

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Just In: Shelve Planned Protest -Tinubu Begs Nigerians

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President Bola Tinubu has appealed to Nigerians to shelve planned protests against bad governance in the country, slated for next month.

The appeal was made known by Information Minister Mohammed Idris, who briefed State House correspondents after a meeting with the President on Tuesday.

Idris said Tinubu urged the organisers of the protest to shelve the plan and await the President’s response to their complaints.

“The issue of the planned protest, Mr President does not see any need for that. He’s asked them to shelve that plan. He’s asked them to await the government’s response to all their pleas,” the minister said.

The protest against economic hardship, which is gaining traction on social media, has been scheduled to hold across all states of the Federation as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, starting from August 1.

JomogNews reports that the prices of food and basic commodities have gone through the roof in the last months.

Many Nigerians currently are battling one of the country’s worst inflation and economic crisis sparked by the government’s twin policies of petrol subsidy removal and unification of forex windows.

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