Tracking to ensure Accountability on Great Green Wall project in Jeke in Jigawa State

Hamzat Lawal May 27, 2016 0

Tracking of the  GGW project in Dutse the State Capital of jigawa

The team reached Jeke community and met with Jeke ward heads in his compound together with some of Jeke Community Families

However, things have  change compared to the last visit by the team to Jeke community.  Although the community  is demanding the Wind Mill be converted to solar owing to the fact that Wind only blows in season and not on a daily.

They also urged the concerning bodies to look over some certain issues which some haven mentioned by the ward head and community group of Jeke District Development Association.

Interactive Section between CODE and Jeke community


GGW is one of the must important national projects that Jeke district ever benefited from in history, due to its Environmental protection methods’ on Agriculture and Clean Water Aiding to our Community, but I will like to remind the concerning bodies that; Still this project have some certain challenges ware I hope GGW will put this challenges in to serious considerations for the success and sustaining the GGW project, which are:-

  1. Compensations of the farmlands, Still the landlords of the farm Land are waiting for the Compensations, nothing have been given to them and raining Season have stated in the area. They are telling us that they must plant their farms because they still haven’t earn the farmland compensations’ and the working is moving so slowly.
  2. Vegetable session is not complete, some of the water pipes have been laid in the farm land and nothing is going on the the last two years until now.
  3. Terminations of the forest guard Assignment, All the forest guards Assignments of GGW project in Jeke have been terminated by the responsible bodies.



Our must importantly needed on this projects are:-

  1. To achieve the desired goals of this project and to benefits from.
  2. To settle and compensate the farm landlords for the successful implementations of the project.
  • To re-employ the forest guards or to renew the previous offers in order to sustain the project and to achieve better results.
  1. To complete the uncompleted session of the project more especially a vegetables session in other to achieve the project goals and to benefits from the vegetable session of the project.


In recent times, water problems have reduced due to the rotation of wind turbine of GGW water project, consider to the act that the  raining season wind is now available in the area and  many people are fetching water, our animals watered from and must of our water problems are solved through GGW water project, but I will like to remind you that when there is no wind in the area means no water, because wind turbine can stop rotating for up to two weeks, we need GGW to provide another alternative of water source in Jeke.

Presently we have nine hand pumps in Jeke but only two are working, we also have one MDGs overhead tank which has its  own issues, so presently we are managing the MDGs water source and GGW water project due to the wind condition (availability of wind and rotation of wind turbine) Jeke’s main water source is GGW water plan, and we hope GGW Authority will look over our needs concerning project in Jeke and take all the serious/necessary action on all what they hear from Jeke community.


Muhammad Hussaini (chairman Jeke District Development Association)

Honestly speaking, things have stated moving but very slowly, I will like to add more on what our district head have just said, concerning the organization roles in the in a view of sustaining the project we will like to put more concern about the promises that have been made to the organization concerning GGW project so as to uplift the development of the project as well as Jeke community.


Having said that, water is very essential in our everyday life. And this community  are still very hopeful that more wind mills are provided to them  by the government, not just more but be converted to solar.



5 ways to prevent LEAD poison

Hamzat Lawal May 20, 2016 0

Earlier, we talked about what LEAD poison is and ways one could get in contact with it. This week I will be talking about the ways in which it could be prevented. As the saying goes “prevention is better than cure,” the essence of this is to ensure that we are all aware of the deadly disease and strife to end it. Additionally, to lend a helping hand to victims across the world. It is noteworthy to bear in mind that it is easier to prevent LEAD poisoning infections than to reverse its consequences;

1.  Ensure your Homes are Clean – Remember in the previous edition I noted that LEAD could be found in paints of old houses, therefore houses mostly those with over 20 years record of construction should at all times be kept clean by dusting regularly, mop as often as possible.

2. Always Wash your Hands  – Many people find it more stressful or tiring to wash their hands as expected. I have met lots of people who would “ abeg I don bath in the morning watin i wash again, abeg I no get sopa to waste.”  Most importantly it’s advisable to teach children to always wash their hands after playing before eating.

3. Use Cold instead of Hot Water – For many homes with access to water heater, it is highly advisable to use cold rather than hot water especially homes with old plumbing system.

4. Buy LEAD Free-products – Many Nigerians for instance are found of buying old things, popularly known as second hand products. Try to avoid old or products that have no label to guide you on their uses.

5. Conduct regular Blood test – It is advisable to always have a regular blood test and check-up to ensure physical fitness and free from not just LEAD contamination, but any other possible disease.

8 things to know about LEAD Poison

Hamzat Lawal May 13, 2016 0

Many Nigerians only hear about LEAD Poison and how it is affecting children in most of the mining states in Northern part of Nigeria. But careless of how its been contacted or passed on.

Many people have that tiny voice in their head that tells them (any way, wetin concern me, na village people na, dem get the sickness,dirty people, farmers dem).

Many of us already have a nonchalant attitude towards the disease, not knowing the mode of transmission, causes, symptoms or even how deadly it is. I am so sure i just spoke your mind. Not to worry i will give you an insight to it.

Let me start by explaining what LEAD Poison is?

According to research carried out by scientists, LEAD Poison is a very serious and highly fatal condition which only occurs when it builds in the body system. Aside from that, it is also a highly toxic metal and very lethal poison.

From that definition, one would know that in one way or the other we touch or hold metal which simply means it affects us all. Having said all of that, here are eight (8) things you need to know about LEAD poison.

1) It is found in lead based paints (Paints on the walls of old houses); Ever since we all heard about the poison, all we hear is, the farmers from one community went into illegal mining and as a result of that came in contact the poison. But here it is, go to urban areas; you would find old houses with paints falling out.

2) It is also found in toys; Let me ask, how many villagers buy toys for their kids? I am sure your answer is none. Ninety percent (90%) of our kids today all have toys with which they play with it. For instance, it could be seen in old toys or imported toys. It gets to them while making them in the factories.

3) Pregnant women are at a high risk of getting it; All over the world today, from villages, to communities, to town to city, we have women who get pregnant and also give births on a daily basis. They are at higher risks of getting it.

4) Drinking water also can be contaminated by the poison; It is often said that “Water is life” and we all drink water, but ironically LEAD poison can be found in water. This happens through metal corrosion or the wearing away of pluming materials in the water system and households.

5) It also breeds in soil; Do you know that soil and walkways around industrial areas may contain LEAD. It could get contaminated through past use of LEAD in gasoline.

6) Children are also at risk; Children below the age of six (6) can contact the poison because their brain and nervous system are still developing, and they often play with soil, aside from that pregnant mother could pass it on from the womb through the intestine.

7) If discovered early, it could be treated but if not it cannot be reversed; Once it’s detected early enough, it can be treated with Chelation therapy and EDTA , but in  cases where it leads to severe damages, it cannot be reversed. Chelation therapy is a series of intravenous infusions containing disodium EDTA and various other substances. It is sometimes done by swallowing EDTA or other agents in pill form.

8) Basic symptoms of LEAD poison; This is a list symptoms of patience with Lead Poison; i. Abdominal Pain, ii. Abdominal Cramps, iii. Aggressive Behavior, iv. Constipation, v. Sleeping Problems, vi. Headaches, vii. Irritability, viii. Loss of Developmental Skills in Children, ix. Loss of appetite, x. Fatigue, xi. High Blood Pressure, xii. Numbness or Tingling in the extremities, xiii. Memory Loss, xiv. Anemia, xv. Kidney Dysfunction.

One would realize that LEAD poison is not only restricted to the people from the mining states. Yes, they might have one way or the other gotten exposed to the poison due to ignorance and lack of job by going into illegal mining. But anyone could be a victim of Lead Poison.

Let’s give a helping hand to the affected victims, as it is often said “Health is Wealth”.

Next episode promises to be interesting as we talk about prevention of the LEAD poison.


Communique for the Abuja Anti Corruption Summit

Hamzat Lawal May 13, 2016 0


(5th May, 2016) Corruption undermines growth, erodes trust in governments, fuels support for extremism and hinders the fight against poverty and inequality. Governments have a special responsibility to prevent, detect and punish corruption.

The basis of Nigeria’s fight against corruption lies in its domestic legal and policy instruments such as the Code of Conduct for Public Officers which include Asset Declaration and Verification, the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission Act, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act, Advance Fee Fraud Act and Money Laundering Prohibition Act, the Public Procurement Act setting up the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI). In Decemebr 2003, Nigeria ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption which commits Nigeria to taking necessary steps in the fight against corruption as shown by the various domestic laws enacted.

We, the representatives of the government of Nigeria, representatives of civil society and the media met on 5th May 2016 in Abuja and are committing to implement critical measures that will ensure that the space for corruption to flourish will be curtailed.

  1. Cross Cutting Issues

Flowing from the presentations and discussions, the need to address a number of gaps relating to the present effort at fighting corruption was highlighted. The gaps include:

  • The present effort at fighting corruption should not only pay attention to legal and institutional issues but also to the sociological issues which are the root cause of corruption.
  • There is need to approach the fight with a greater sense of urgency, including creating an effective partnership between the government, business and civil society.
  • Defining an overarching vision and strategy for the anti-corruption fight that takes into account the importance of society wide attitudinal change as a way to ensuring the sustainability of the fight.
  • Devising effective means of communicating this vision and strategy to the citizens, including those in the rural communities. This is to ensure that citizens are not disconnected from government efforts, thereby securing their continued support.
  • The need to fast-track efforts at legal and institutional reforms, including the enactment of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Repeal Bill, 2016 and the Mutual Assistance in Legal Matters Bill, 2016, which seeks to ensure effective prosecution of corruption, financial crime, kidnapping, trafficking in persons and trafficking in drugs, kidnapping, oil theft cases and all other forms of crimes referred to as “Predicate Offences” as long as it has a financial implication and that it eventually leads to the laundering of the stolen funds.
  • The need to strengthen anti corruption institutions and make them independent and less prone to political manipulation.
  • The role of the Auditor General of the AGF and the Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly should be more proactive in generating reports of the financial dealings of the government in a timely manner and making these reports publicly accessible to enable citizens interrogate the financial dealings of the government.


  1. Stolen Asset Recovery

People who benefit from corruption need somewhere to put the money. All too often they want to spend that money in global cities – making use of secrecy in the global financial system to do so with impunity. We need robust steps to assist in the recovery of corrupt assets. Countries where these assets are held should expedite the process of repatriating these assets, without penalties, where they originate in low or middle income countries. There is also need to address the high legal cost of recovering and repatriating these assets. The countries to where these assets are being returned could commit to invest these assets in, among other things, healthcare, basic education, etc. To do this we should:

  • Support the enactment of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Center (NFIC) Bill, 2016 and the Proceeds of Crime (POC) Bill. The NFIC bill seeks to empower the FIU currently located within the EFCC with additional powers of receipt, analysis and dissemination of intelligence to all law enforcement and security agencies.
  • Identify priorities for spending on public goods and ensure this spending is made transparent.
  • At the London Summit on 12 May 2016 , to commit to increase transparency in the management of returned stolen assets, to ensure ease of access in the recovery of stolen assets, to ensure that “illicit enrichment” or non-explainable wealth can be used as the basis for recovery of stolen public assets.
  • Support the President of the federal republic of Nigeria’s commitment to hosting a Global Forum on Asset Recovery in May 2017.
  1. Requiring companies to disclose who owns and profits from them

Anonymous companies, trusts and similar legal instruments play a central role in money laundering, concealing the identity of corrupt individuals and irresponsible businesses involved in activities including the trafficking of arms, drugs and people, the theft of public funds, and tax evasion. This robs governments of resources that could otherwise be invested in improving public services and stimulating inclusive economic growth. Public disclosure of beneficial ownership information would enable law enforcement, journalists, and citizens to easily access and use this information to follow the money and root out corruption and would help businesses know who they are trading with. To do this we should:

  • Support the passage of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Repeal Bill, 2016 and the Mutual Assistance in Legal Matters Bill, 2016 which has incorporated the definition of ‘beneficial owner’ that captures the natural person(s) that ultimately own(s) or control(s) a company or trust.
  • Implement publicly accessible central registries of beneficial ownership of legal entities including bulk access to open data.
  • As a first step this should be taken forward for the extractives sector as already committed under EITI.
  • Advance these issues at the London Summit, including securing a commitment from Prime Minister Cameroon to enforce Public Registers for the Beneficial Ownership of companies throughout UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.
  1. Ensuring budgets are available for anyone to view in a way that is easy to read and re-use, so that citizens can see how public funds are spent

Budget transparency is critical for enabling citizens to hold their governments to account for the use of public resources in order to ensure that funds are managed efficiently and effectively on things that citizens want and need, such as quality health care, education, infrastructure and social services. We will work to ensure that budgets are publicly available and easily accessible so that citizens can see how public funds are being allocated and spent. To do this we will:

  • Support the publication of key budget documents in standard open data formats and creating accessible interfaces to display budget information, including but not limited to the Executive’s budget proposal, the enacted budget, a year-end report on budget outcomes including all off-budget revenues and expenditures, and an end-year audit report.
  • Work to link budget, project planning, procurement and spending data.
  • Increase public participation in budget formulation and execution, including holding public hearings during the budget process.
  • Work to disclose budget data at the federal, state and Local government level.
  1. Opening government public procurement and contracting and publishing contracts

Public procurement is critical to economic growth and development. It is also government’s number one corruption risk. It sits at the nexus of revenue generation, budget planning, resource management and delivery of public goods. Openness in contracting also encourages entrepreneurship, a fairer business environment, and a thriving small business sector. We will ensure that all our public contracts are awarded and managed openly and fairly, supporting business & civic oversight and providing open data on public contracting activities.  To do this, we will:

  • Support the disclosure of information across the entire chain of government contracting and procurement from planning to tender, to award and to the contract itself (including publishing contracts by default) to implementation to closure.
  • In particular, disclose all existing oil and mining sector contracts between the government and companies, including those governing exploration and production activities as well as other important deals, e.g. the crude oil for product swaps.
  • Share all this information as open data with unique identifiers to aid analysis, sharing, reuse and interoperability (using the Open Contracting Data Standard).
  • Adopt tools and methodologies for market analysis and monitoring to fix problems and ensure better solutions for public problems, across government, business and civil society and throughout the contract cycle.
  • Require that the beneficial owners of companies bidding or receiving government contracts be publicly disclosed.
  • Work together to establish common information set for contract debarment.


  1. Extractive Industry Transparency

In Nigeria, it is estimated that over $400 billion has been lost to ‘oil thieves’ since the country gained independence in 1960. All-too-often, opacity enables corrupt actors to divert these funds away from development promoting activities. Transparency of payments would enable citizens to hold governments accountable for the effective use of natural resource revenues. Commodity trading contributes substantially to state revenues. In recent years, up to 70% of Nigeria’s total government revenues came from sales from the state oil company, largely to oil traders. To remedy this situation, we will:

  • Seek to improve transparency and oversight in the sales of crude oil by the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) by publishing sale-by-sale data.


  1. Follow up and international cooperation: The Open Government Partnership
    • Strongly urge the Nigerian Government to follow through with its publicly declared commitment to join the Open Government Partnership without further delay. Joining the OGP will help Nigeria improve transparency in the management of natural resources, and public funds as well as citizen participation in governance.

Insitutional Participants:

Government Institutions

  • Federal Ministry of Justice
  • Office Of The Head Of The Civil Service Of The Federation
  • Min Of Finance
  • Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency
  • Securities And Exchange Commission
  • Central Bank Of Nigeria
  • Bureau For Public Procurement
  • Nigeria Extractives Industries Transparency Initiatives
  • Code of Conduct Bureau
  • Office Of The Vice President – Rule Of Law
  • Ministry Of Foreign Affairs
  • Of Budget & National Planning
  • Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption

International Partners and Embassies

  • Department For International Development – Nigeria
  • African Development Bank
  • European Union
  • The World Bank
  • Ghana High Commission.
  • High Comm. Of Canada
  • Australian High Com.
  • Us Embassy – INL Office

Civil Society Organizations

  • BudgIT
  • ONE
  • Open Society Initiatives Of West Africa (OSIWA)
  • Freedom Of Information Coalition, Nigeria
  • Natural Resource Governance Institute
  • Socio Economic Rights Initiative
  • Centre For Public Private Cooperation
  • Human Rights Writers Association
  • Federal Public Administration Reforms
  • Centre For Leadership And Strategic Development
  • Publish What You Pay, Nigeria
  • Civil Society Network Against Corruption
  • West Africa Non Government Organization Network (WANGONET)
  • Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ)
  • Enough Is Enough, Nigeria
  • Amplified Radio
  • Afri-Dev
  • Fenrad
  • Trust-Inc
  • West Africa Civil Society Forum
  • Center For Social Justice
  • Center For Women And Children
  • Amplified Radio
  • Public Private Development Center
  • Connected Development
  • Trust Africa
  • Center For Democracy And Development
  • Open Society Justice Initiative
  • Say No Campaign/YIAGA
  • Action Aid, Nigeria

From skylines to timelines, Earth Hour shines a light on climate action across West Africa

Hamzat Lawal March 17, 2016 6

[ABUJA, Nigeria] — Following a landmark year for climate, World Wide Fund’s [WWF]  Earth Hour coordinated by Connected Development [CODE] in Nigeria, and Young Volunteers for the Environment in collaboration with the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change in seven West African countries is calling on people around West Africa and the world to continue the charge and be a part of the global momentum to help change climate change. This follows the countdown to Earth Hour, a global yearly event celebrated on March 19, between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. local time.

2015 was the hottest year on record and it was also the year countries came together to work against climate change at the historic summit in Paris. With the world at a climate crossroads, Earth Hour 2016 is our time to shine a light on climate and environment action and build the foundation for a better future for our planet and future generations.

2016 marks the tenth lights out event since Earth Hour’s debut in Sydney, Australia in 2007. In the past nine years, WWF and Earth Hour teams around the world have harnessed the power of the movement to raise support and funds for access to renewable energy, protection of wildlife and their habitats, building sustainable livelihoods and driving climate-friendly legislation and policy.

In Nigeria, Earth Hour 2016 will join to drive petition to save the last forest in Calabar, Cross River State, with the #CrossRiverSuperway hashtag while activists and businesses will come together in Lagos, Abuja, Cross River, Taraba and Benue States to learn and share how they create a low carbon economy with several of their initiatives. “Earth Hour serves a platform not just to raise awareness about environmental issues, the event also serves as a platform for entrepreneurs who are involved in activities that protect Earth to showcase their work and network as we engage people during the time frame of the event at night” said Oludotun Babayemi, the West Africa Regional Director for Earth Hour.

Babayemi also highlighted other West African countries joining the movement, “This year, we would have Nigér, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Bénin, Togo, Ghana and Gambia joining actions mobilizing millions of people across the continent to inspire actions and inform policy decisions as we collectively implement the outcomes of Paris COP21 and countries INDCs”.

“In 2016, Earth Hour will continue to power grassroots efforts to change climate change including driving a petition to Save the Ekuri Forest, protecting forests and biodiversity in the Sahel of Africa and helping devise a comprehensive solution to waste management persistent crisis by working with governments, businesses and civil society simultaneously on sustainable waste management” stressed Hamzat Lawal, the Chief Executive of Connected development, CODE.

In addition, as Nigeria’s most iconic landmarks – Lekki Conservation Centre, Lagos, Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, Le Meridien, Ogeyi Place, Port Harcourt, Kwararafa University, Wukari, Taraba and Pauline Makka Women Development Center, Makurdi, Benue, prepare to switch off their lights for Earth Hour; supporters are also invited to take a stand for climate action using Social media. Users of social media can donate their Facebook feeds to spread climate awareness and action in a few clicks on In addition, using custom-made Earth Hour filters to Facebook and Twitter profile pictures, users can show their friends and followers they care about the planet.

Ms Luttah Annette of JVE International remarked at the importance of the event and the involvement of youth in climate matters “This event is a trend setter that brings great awareness to communities and various stakeholders with a message that, it does not take much to contribute towards sustainable development. This is a wakeup call for all actors to join forces to make a significant impact towards reversing climate change and to improve the livelihoods of the poor in our communities” .

Earth Hour 2016 will be celebrated on Saturday, 19 March 2016 between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. local time. Log on to  for more stories and articles on teams using the Earth Hour movement to shine a light on climate action. This is our time to change climate change.

Link to the official Earth Hour 2016 music video:

Link to photos on Earth Hour activities in Nigeria:


For media inquiries or requests for press interviews, please contact: 

Abdulmalik, Abdulmalik  – Earth Hour Nigeria; +234 09 291 7545

Attegoua Marcelline – JVE International Secretariat; +228 22200112

About Earth Hour:

Earth Hour is WWF’s global environmental movement. Born in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has grown to become the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment, inspiring individuals, communities, businesses and organizations in over 170 countries and territories to take tangible climate action. Celebrating the tenth edition of its signature lights out event in March 2016, the Earth Hour movement continues to harness the power of its millions of supporters to shine a light on climate action and the power of the individual to change climate change.

About Connected Development [CODE]:

CODE is a non-government organization whose mission is to improve access to information and empower local communities in Africa. We strengthen local communities by creating platforms for dialogue, enabling informed debate, and building capacities of marginalized communities which ensure social and economic progress while promoting transparency and accountability.

#NoToSocialMediaBill – A Public Hearing to throw out a Frivolous Petition Bill

Hamzat Lawal March 9, 2016 7

In a hall that could conveniently sit 250 persons, as at 15 minutes past 10 AM, the total number of people in the Senate Conference Hall, room 0.22 of the Nigerian National Assembly were 22 [not excluding caterers and housekeeping] – Oh! None of the “high-table” members were present either.

By the time the hearing oragnised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters commenced at 11:45 AM, the audience were no more than 70 thereabouts, mostly made up of news reporters, which is a shame really especially for civil society who champion their opinions and call for action using social media. The committee was chaired by Senator David Umaru

Let’s press the history tab, to acquaint ourselves with the Frivolous Petition Bill 2015 (SB. 143) –  before proceeding to the Public Hearing.

The bill, introduced by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, is officially called “An act to prohibit frivolous petitions; and other matters connected therewith,” and has been nicknamed “Social Media Bill” by concerned citizens. The bill requires any person submitting a petition to the government to have an accompanying affidavit. However, the bill goes much further as we see in Section 3(4):

“Where any person through text message, tweets, WhatsApp or through any social media post any abusive statement knowing same to be false with intent to set the public against any person and / or group of persons, an institution of government or such other bodies established by law shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction shall be liable to an imprisonment for 2 years or a fine of N2,000,000 or both such fine and imprisonment.”

The Senate Committee had in attendance Senator David Umaru, Senator Godswill Akpabio, Senator Chukwuka Otazie, Senator Bababjide Omoworare, Senator James Manager, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege and Senator Joshua Lidani; on the other end, the audience was composed of delegates who had made submissions to the committee on the Bill, social media champions, members of civil society, law practioners, news agents, national assembly staff and concerned citizens.

However, the absence of some key MDAs such as the Public Complaints Commission [PCC], The Nigeria Police, State Security Service, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC], Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission [ICPC], Voice Of Nigeria [VON], Nigerian Communication Commission [NCC], Nigerian Bar Association [NBA], Federal Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who will clearly be affected by the passage of the bill came as a huge surprise. It also begs the question, are these agencies working in the interest of the citizens or for a selected few?

In the course of the hearing, we were informed that the IG of police supported the bill.

In his opening statement, Senator Umaru cited Section 4(2) of the 1999 constitution, adding that the public hearing underscores the importance of the senate and citizenry in enriching legislative actions with the aim of ensuring peace of the Federation of Nigeria.

On behalf of the special guest of honour, Senate President Bukola Saraki who was absent due to other pressing matters, Senator Akpabio reiterated the intentions of the bill to make having an affidavit compulsory following claims made in the media space. He expressed concern on the anxiety of Nigerians over the bill and said that Legislature is here to defend the rights of Nigerians and not pass bills that will gag the media.

When Justice Clara Ogunbiyi of the Supreme Court made her presentation on behalf of the Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, it raised a lot of eyebrows! The CJN supported the bill! “This is because by the very use of the word frivolous, it connotes unseriousness, ill-motivation and suggestive of bad faith which is not within the contemplation of the constitutional provision of freedom of expression.” – Justice Mahmud Mohammed. Continuing, Justice Ogunbiyi went on to read out some recommendations of the CJN which included writing any petition as a formal complaint (idenetifying WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW), the use of personal home addresses and the inclusion of a time frame of 6 months for such complaints and grievances. On a side note, it is imperative to note how she kept hammering on the fact that about how peoples’ destiny and integrity had been affected by posts in the media sphere.

In a welcome contrast to the CJN, the Law Reform Council and Federal Ministry of Justice represented by Mr. P.C. Okorie and Mr. Francis Oyong respectively said the said the passage of the controversial bill will adversely affect media freedom and freedom of expression.

Mr Okorie noticed how “fluidly” the words petition, statement, complaints, inquiry and investigation are used, saying the bill was too open ended. He identified the other issues such as high illiteracy rate in Nigeria and the low number of high courts in localities as well as the current capacity of the judiciary.

“If such bill is passed, it would hamper internal investigations in MDAs” he said, noting that it would be impossible for staff to lodge complaints on issues in their offices, as the process would be more bureaucratic. Okorie added that if the senate saw a need to address excesses for petitions sent to law enforcement agencies, then the operating systems of the agencies should be reviewed, not necessarily proposing a bill.

Furthermore, addressing Section 3(3) of the Frivolous Bill, Okorie noted that various section in the Criminal Code [Section 60, 373] and the Penal Code [Section 391, 392] of the Nigerian Constitution had already covered the subject.

Mr. Francis Oyong representing the views of the Attorney General of Nigeria, Justice Abubakar Malami, said that laws are not made to be exclusive instead they are made in the interest of the citizens of a nation. Reading part of the AJNs submission to the committee, Oyong noted that Section 1 of the intended Frivolous Bill does not create a crime as there was no provision in the statement.

Mr. Oyong posed a critical question to the Senate committee on the issue of the affidavit – “Does an affidavit make a statement to be true?” As the general understanding of an affidavit, is that it’s a document made in the belief of the person swearing it. The proposed bill also violates the constitution & other treaties Nigeria is a signatory to.

The general consensus of both legal parties was that the passage of the bill will be an impediment to the current administration of President Buhari’s drive to expunge corruption as whistleblowing was integral and freedom of expression is key to democracy especially in Nigeria.

This bill seeks to threaten freedom of expression in a country said to practicing democracy – by the way, democracy is characterised by free speech and its objective to say that law as it is, where Divine or man-made, are subject to human interpretation]. Nigeria has 15 million Facebook users, the third most active African country on Twitter [2012] and over 97 million mobile internet subscriptions, a sizeable contribution to the technology sector. If passed as it is, the bill will only hamper further development of Nigeria’s internet and communication system.

Also, the feedback mechanism that is essential in communication would become non-existent as there would be an increase in lack of faith of law enforcement agencies in helping the populace. In a time where audiences are encouraged to send in eye-witness reports to news agencies, how would this law support information dissemination?

Senator Omo-Agege citied an instance of a false Avatar on Facebook posting that a candidate has withdrawn from election, on the eve on going to the polls and asked if the existing laws treat this?

It seems to be that certain individuals in the Nigerian society would rather not be talked about and so on, but with such ostentatious lifestyles in the midst of hunger and need in Nigeria, will questions and allegations not be raised?

A sentiment that was somewhat expressed once the floor was opened for civil society – the senate committee was barraged [well they had it coming *chuckles*]

Popular Twitter champion and Editor-In-Chief, 15 Past 8 Media Group @MrAyeDee identifies fragile egos and that the bill should be discarded ingloriously in the dustbin of history. He added that the dynamics of engagement on social media is quite different from physical human interaction, “People tend to gravitate towards known persons [people with identities] on social media and most times people do not the heed faceless”, adding that people could sue for libel and defamation as made available through the Nigerian constitution.

Gbenga Sesan @gbengasesan Executive Director, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria did not mince words in expressing disappointment with the CJN and Supreme Court’s stance on the Frivolous Bill. He said the passage of the bill would be licence the death of whistleblowers in a country that hasn’t brought the killers of late Bola Ige, the Attorney General of the Federation since 2001! Sesan also called to note that anonymity cannot be removed from information sharing as its essential.

Yemi Adamolekun of Enough is Enough Nigeria addressed the erroneous impression that calling for Public Hearing is a favour to citizens, rather a responsibility of the Senate reacting to Senator Omoworare’s @jideomoworare comment that the Senate is not mandated to hold a public hearing. EiENigeria is currently running a campaign calling on Nigerians to add their voices and votes to stop the passage of the Frivolous Bill [You can get involved by calling 014408464]

Aisha Yesufu, @AishaYesufu who describes herself as an aggrieved mother of the kidnapped Chibok Girls’ who have been missing for over 600 days said if not for social media, where else would the agitation for the release of the girls come from? She identified some recent successes of social media #FreeEseOruru and #BringBackOurGirls. In buttressing Yemi’s point on the public hearing, Yesufu had these words: “As a citizen, I’m the highest office holder in the land & our senators are responsible to me.”

From the body language of the senators, it was obvious that they had a supportive stance on the bill even though both Senator Omo-Agege and Senator Lidani said that the public hearing is purposely for the collection of public opinion as Senator Omo-Agege said he was expecting comments on the issue of responsibility of persons on social media.

Only last month at the Social Media Week 2016 held in Lagos, the issue of the regulation of social media was brought up in a debate #BBCAfricaDebate [You can listen to the views here]

We say #NoToSocialMediaBill as it’s not only freedom of expression and leadership that are on the line in Nigeria, but the very essence of democracy which social media has helped to shape. We will not be strangled of our oxygen!

CODE receives grant from The Indigo Trust

Hamzat Lawal February 29, 2016 0

The following blog post is reproduced from the Indigo Trust website. The original post can be found here 👇👇👇

Visitors to the Indigo site may already be familiar with the work of CODE in Nigeria (formerly Follow the Money). CODE, which uses data, social media and offline campaigning to press for more accountable and effective government, has previously received funding from us and has grown from a small start-up organisation into a much more ambitious and financially sound organisation over the last couple of years. It’s for that reason that we have awarded them with a grant of £37,492 towards core costs, including salaries and rent. We recognise the importance of supporting organisations’ core costs, realising that to do so frees them up from the day-to-day problems of covering next month’s rent and instead lets them focus on their programmes and just getting on with things.

Tighten Your Belt!

Hamzat Lawal February 15, 2016 0

As the winds of austerity blows, Nigerians eagerly await the 2016 Budget Approval

February brings with it arguably the most celebrated day of love, Valentines, but that love might not be extended to the federal government of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration as many Nigerians are soured at the current state of affairs.

February 15, counts 262 days i.e. 10 months since a new government came into power for Africa’s most populous nation, 10 months, that many argue hasn’t transpired to “change”.

The current increase in electricity tariffs [45%], a possible increase in VAT, declining oil prices, the exchange rate of the naira on the forex and most importantly, the 2016 budget that is yet to be approved, has the masses wondering where the country is heading.

We present to you a timeline of some events shaping Nigerians reactions and Buhari’s tenure: –

Well, it is necessary to note and give credit to the National Assembly for spotting errors in Nigeria’s 2016 budget as seen below:

  • Lai Mohammed, Minister for Culture flatly rejected any knowledge of N368 Million in the budget item of the Ministry of Information for the procurement of computers;
  • Ministry of Solid Minerals To Update Website With N795 Million;

Some other funny [well suspicious] figures most Nigerians will be watching to see if they get approved include: –

  • The State House Rent – N30.8 million [is the Aso Rock for rent?]
  • Office Furniture for Ministry of Power, Works & Housing HQ – N1.2 billion
  • Purchase of Photocopying Machine by APCON – N6.5 million

Whether it’s the revised version, Minister’s version or Budget Mafia’s version that is finally approved, we do hope for immediate action as many local communities who most likely would not read this post live in abject poverty. Families are living a hand to mouth existence, with no electricity, water, nor adequate health facilities.

If 10,000 Primary Health Centres are provided …

Hamzat Lawal February 5, 2016 0

If the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, and his Ministry complete the building and upgrading of at least 10,000 Primary Health Care Centres [PHCs] across the entire 774 local government areas of Nigeria in the next one year, millions of Nigerians living in communities will reduce approaching secondary and tertiary health institutions with common ailments like headache, malaria, cough and catarrh.

If the supporting announcement by the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, for the ambitious project across Nigeria ensures its achievement, then overcrowding at the tertiary hospitals would reduce.

Ehanire said that the architectural plan of healthcare in Nigeria were 4: Preventive, Promotional, Curative and Rehabilitation.

The preventive aspect entails safe water, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition and immunisation which many local communities lack and existing infrastructure are not working.

Getting down to it …

The Total Proposed Health Budget stands at 257.7 billion naira from 221.7 billion [a 16% increase]

Out of which the total proposed for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency [NPHCDA] is 17.7 billion naira [It is the assumption of the author of this article that the NPHCDA would be have a major stake in this project]

Well, according to the budget for the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, there is no proposed spending for the upgrading and building of the PHCs as capital spending revolves arounds developing a national logistics supply; and procurement of vaccines and devices.

Visiting the website of the agency [], reveals no information about Primary Health Centres, which should raise a few eyebrows given that the project is supposed to be completed within the year 2016.

So I return to where I began this post “If

Also, if the funds are eventually released [from who knows where] and you want to probably get involved to support the completion of the project, you could activate us to track spending.


For Further Reading

2016 Appropriation Bill – Budget Office of the Federation

News article – FG to build 10,000 PHCs in 774 councils – Minister

How Nigeria lost 3.3 billion dollars through tax exempts: The ActionAid report

Hamzat Lawal January 20, 2016 0

It was apparent that everyone sitted in the Acacia Room of the Ladi Kwali Hall in Sheraton Hotels & Towers, Abuja were interested in the reason for the event – Nigeria had lost 3.3 billion dollars from tax holidays given to the NLNG consortium made up of Shell, Total, Eni and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation [NNPC].

How did this oil rich nation lose so much from tax, when 70% of all its previous budgets were financed from the profits of crude export?

Honourable Herman Hembe, representing Vandeikya/Konshisha federal constituency, Benue State noted that with the global crises arising from falling oil prices, it was time that executive and national assembly revisited policies and laws that granted corporate bodies tax exemptions in Nigeria

In her welcome address, Ms. Ojobo Atuluku, Country Director, ActionAid Nigeria pointed out that tax incentives in developing countries was costing 138 billion dollars yearly. Citing the current research undertaken by the organisation, Nigeria’s current loss of 3.3 billion dollars was equivalent to twice the national education budget and thrice the healthcare budget in 2015.

More statistics shared showed that 10 million children were not schooling and 15 out of 100 children die before turning 5; the leakages in the system could have been put to better use to uplift the citizenry.

She challenged the federal government of Nigeria on the current tax culture and calling for collaboration of the country with other countries to end harmful regional tax completion.

The launch of the report also featured a panel discussion between ActionAid Nigeria, government officials in the Federal Revenue Inland Service [FIRS] and staff from the Ministry of Finance.

You can Download the Report here