COVID-19: New Jos Catholic Archbishop to be installed in televised ceremony

The Catholic Archdiocese of Jos will Tuesday install its new Archbishop, Most Rev. Dr. Matthew Ishaya Audu, in a small ceremony of 50 live audience.

The event holding at St. Fatima Cathedral, in the Plateau State capital will be transmitted live on local radio and TV, while streaming live on Facebook for others to witness.

The restriction of guests is in compliance with government guidelines on the control of COVID-19, officials say.

A larger celebration of the installation might however be held when the global medical crisis subsides, MK learns.

COVID-19: Battle-ready teams activated in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State

Jos, Plateau State: Authorities in Central Nigeria's Barkin Ladi Local Government Area, Monday set up a special committee for the prevention of COVID-19.

This comes barely a week after the LGA banned public gatherings of more than 50 persons, market and mining activities among others to guard against the disease.

The committee comprises Awareness and Advocacy, Enforcement, Medical facilities and Health services as well as Secretariat and Logistics subdivisions.

The team is to ensure strict adherence to approved standards for prevention, as well as proper public sensitisation on the dissase.

It is also expected to liaise with relevant Government agencies for the procurement of necessary equipment for the management of the virus.

Mr Ezekiel Mandyau, the Chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Government at the inauguration of the committees sought for public partnership in the fight against the disease.

No case has been recorded in Plateau State yet, but all efforts at preserving public health must be proactive, said the Chairman.

Mandyau, who is the Chairman of the Central Planning Committee, said, “Coronavirus is a dangerous and deadly disease that we must all take seriously and prevent it from surfacing here in Barkin-Ladi.”

Responding on behalf of members of the newly commissioned committees, the Local Government Council Secretary, Capt. Dusu Nyam (rtd), pledged to explore all options to meet the LGC’s expectations.

COVID-19: Soldiers beat up Doctor, others during Church elders' meeting in Jos

Rev. Charles Dah

Central Nigeria: Military personnel supposedly enforcing government guidelines on the control of COVID-19, Thursday “brutalized” civilian members of a Church’s compliance team in Jos, the capital of Plateau State.

The operatives of the Special Military Task Force on a decades-long Peacekeeping mission, stormed ECWA Goodnews Church, near the terminal station of the city, evening, supposedly on government’s directives.

A State Government press statement earlier in the day had banned gatherings of more than 50 persons, with a compulsory 2meters sitting interval.

The meeting, however, had not more than 30 elders, Pastors, medical professionals and zonal leaders, discussing the restructuring of the Church’s programs to suit government guidelines, Senior Pastor of the ECWA Goodnews Church, Rev. Charles Dah told Journalists on Sunday.

A Medical Doctor attending the meeting, Rev. Dah said was wounded and briefly detained during the assault.

“What was their crime? They were found right within the Church premises and the total number of members present did not exceed 30 when the team of security officers from Operation Safe Haven stormed the Church premises,” said the Pastor.

The “selective and biased” enforcement of the Government directives suggests “the Church is being unduly targeted by overzealous security personnel,” Dah said.

The Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Danladi Atu, Saturday acknowledged that “some individuals and groups had mobilised their followers to disobey Government orders” on social distancing.

Several videos had Friday appeared on social media of a popular Islamic cleric in Jos, preaching against the order, in a large compacted gathering of worshippers.

“Government has asked Security agencies to take the necessary measures on such persons,” said the SSG, Prof. Atu in a press conference at the State Government House, but no arrest has been reported yet.

The leadership of the ECWA Goodnews Church is demanding an apology from the State Officials, and a restraining order on securities “to avoid the violation of the fundamental rights of law abiding citizens.”

COVID-19: Plateau peace expert, Chris Kwaja launches first private media campaign

Chris Kwaja

A Nigerian University Don, Dr. Chris Kwaja has launched a media campaign against COVID-19.

The jingle in Nigerian pidgin English describes, in simple terms, ways to prevent the disease.

Circulated on traditional and online media, the jingle is the first so far from a private individual in Central Nigeria.

Elected Chairperson, Rapporteur United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on Mercenaries in July 2019, the Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Centre for Peace and Security Studies, Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria is an Advisor, United States Institute for Peace (USIP).

Kwaja has in the past sponsored several projects on peace and community development.

Coronavirus: Plateau citizens might get relief for inconveniences

Prof. Danladi Atu, Secretary to the Government of Plateau State

The Plateau State Government has set up a “COVID-19 Eradication Fund” to care for the “vulnerable” and ease “social challenges” caused by the virus.

The “organised private sector and well-spirited members of the public” are expected to contribute to the fund once launched.

Secretary to the Government of Plateau State, Prof. Danladi Abok Atu on Saturday hinted about the fund in a press conference in Jos but did not give details.

Among the referred social challenges is likely to be traffic restrictions announced by the SGF, beginning from Sunday 29th March 2020.

“There will be prohibition of vehicular movement into Plateau State from all border entry routes from 6pm to 7am.

“All people coming into Plateau
State should note and take note of t his and prepare their trips to avoid unnecessary inconveniences,” Prof. Atu said.

Township shuttles according to him will also be restricted to one passenger per tricycle and four passengers per taxi.

Prof. Atu, restated government’s readiness to enforced its earlier announced ban on markets, festivals, public gatherings more than 50 people as well as night clubs and pubs.

He said, “As of yesterday Friday 27th March 2020, there was substantial compliance and the Government commends the good and peace loving citizens of Plateau State who have adhered to the directives.

“However, the government takes exception to the nonchalance and flagrant disregard of the directives by some individuals and groups who have remained recalcitrant. They
have also mobilised their followers to disobey the orders of Government, which is meant to protect the lives of the people.

“Let me categorically make it clear that nobody is above the law and government is taking necessary action
line with the directive of Government for full implementation of compliance, the Governor has asked Security agencies to take the necessary measures on such

The SGF stated that all restrictions are to prevent any outbreak of the disease in the State.

He confirmed that the State has yet to record any case of the virus since it was first confirmed in Nigeria in February 2020.

COVID-19: Fuel price cut, right or favour?

Jos, Plateau State: Last week, Nigeria slashed local fuel prices by 13%, a major cut in five years, supposedly to ease economic tensions caused by the Coronavirus disease. At the time the cuts were announced, crude oil, the country’s main export product had crashed from $65USD per barrel, to $25USD per barrel.

This implied a 45% revenue shortfall for the oil-dependent West African nation. At the time, many creditors had withdrawn, and local businesses shut, dimming the country’s hopes of financing its nearly $30bn budget for 2020, anchored mainly on oil sales, taxation and borrowing . The country should have perhaps inflated prices of the refined crude, to cover existing revenue gaps.

However, the local fuel prices do not affect government earnings, says a local Oil and Gas businessman, Mr. Moses Shipi.

“Nigerian Crude Oil made of Bonny Light, Forcados and Aqua Light is owned by the Federal Government.

“Slump or fall in the prices of any of these can affect the nation’s income and budget, since it is the primary source of funding revenue.

“Refined crude – Premium Motor Spirit, Automotive Gas Oil and Dual Purpose Kerosene is imported by independent marketers and therefore has no direct effect on national income or budget,” Shipi said in an online discussion forum, Plateau Our Heritage.

Inevitably, the fallen crude oil prices, according to a former Central Bank Official, Sunday Akun, caused decrease in “some cost components that make up the domestic pump price of petroleum products.”

In Akuns’ words, “The key sources of oil revenues in Nigeria are crude oil export proceeds, taxes on domestic sales of petroleum products, petroleum profit tax, signature bonus and sundry sources from gas sales. Oil and gas revenues contribute a significant proportion of budget funds in Nigeria.

“In general, a fall in the price of crude oil in the international market will result to a decrease in some of the cost components that make up the domestic pump price of petroleum products; such cost components include purchase price of crude oil, refining margin, product shipping cost, domestic distribution cum marketing cost and finally, government tax. This simply explains the current reduction in the pump price of PMS from N145 to N125 per liter.”

Fuel price slash however, Akun said is a microeconomic strategy aimed at reducing cost of local goods.

“The benefit of a reduced pump price of PMS are: likely increase in energy consumption by consumers and reduction in the cost of energy as a component of economic production cost. Bearing the sticky nature of prices of goods and services and also market imperfections, these two above could lead to lower prices of goods and services.

“In the long run, the reduced cost of energy in the production process could lead to increase in firm profit, which ordinarily is an incentive for business to expand production and/or make new investments, leading to more employment of labour.”

A former Director General of the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI), Prof. Danladi Matawal however said the fuel prices should not have been hiked from N65 to N145 per litre in 2016.

Prof. Matawal said, “It is an indictment that the former pump prices were simply intuitively and haphazardly fixed to dupe and intimidate Nigerians and make our lives uncomfortable.

“Old pump prices had no logical justification but were arbitrary changed at the whims and caprices of the powers that be.

“We welcome the new pump prices and urge that they should be lowered further to ease the suffering of the masses.

“The only consideration that may stand against us is if our refined products are pumped out of the filling stations and transported to neighboring countries because of relative cost advantage.”

The Nigerian government has not confirmed paying subsidy on the imported fuel to arrive at the new price.

Any subsidy however, perhaps might further overstretch the country’s already fragile treasury, thus depriving other sectors of funds.

COVID-19: Jos community drops Chieftaincy anniversary celebration to back government

Central Nigeria: The persisting coronavirus disease has forced the suspension of a planned palace anniversary celebration in Plateau State.

The 60th anniversary celebration of the Dagwom Rwey (Community Chief) stool of Jos South Local Government Area was to hold this weekend.

A press statement from head of media of the event planning committee, Mr. Ayuba Pam however says the event could not hold due to new government restrictions on public gatherings.

“The decision to shift the event to a later date followed the need to comply with the State Government’s ban on public gatherings to curb the spread of the deadly Coronavirus disease,” the statement quotes Chairman of the event’s Central Planning Committee, Mr. Gideon Dandereng as saying.

Dandereng in the statement calls citizens in the locality to support government’s efforts at curbing the virus by observing personal hygiene and social distancing.

Plateau Government, Online media in new alliance to fight coronavirus

Central Nigeria: Online media outfits in Plateau State are currently tracking to refute fake information on the novel Coronavirus disease, MK gathers.

The online media union made of journalists and bloggers have formed a new alliance with government to fight the disease, it is learnt.

“We want to ensure that people are well informed about the disease – providing accurate data and feedback for a successful fight,” said an Official of the union, Mr. Friday Bako in a press statement on Wednesday.

Bako advised citizens to observe all government provided guidelines to guarantee public safety.

The State had closed all markets and nonfood/nonmedical stores in the bid to contain the virus.

Night clubs, pubs and all social gatherings, as well as public transportation have also been restricted.

The State has however not recorded any case of the coronavirus disease yet.

Coronavirus: Plateau halts minimum wage, slashes officials' allowances

Plateau Officials

Central Nigeria’s Plateau State is slashing its spendings by 40 percent to cope with revenue cuts caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

This affects all recurrent expenditures other than salaries and pensions, the Governor of the State, Simon Lalong on Tuesday.

Specifically, allowances of government officials will be cut by 50%, Mr. Lalong in a State broadcast said.

The State’s monthly revenue allocation from the Federation Account, has fallen “drastically” by over 51 percent, said the Governor.

The Federal Budget had last week been slashed by N1.5 Trillion naira to cope with the over 50% oil price drop.

In adjusting to these changes, “necessary sacrifices” must be made, said Lalong.

“We must brace up for the harsh economic realities and be ready to make necessary sacrifices in the coming weeks and months.

“Many development projects and programmes will have to be reviewed in accordance to the emerging realities.

“The processes of fresh employment; implementation of the new minimum wage; funding of on-going projects among others, will be affected in the interim,” said the Governor.

Nigeria: Why Plateau hasn’t recorded coronavirus case

Gov. Simon Lalong, right

Plateau is among Nigerian States that have yet to record a case of coronavirus disease. This is because the Governor Simon Lalong administration has remained “proactive” in dealing with the disease from the onset.

In the early days of the disease, when some Chinese nationals came to the State, Government immediately isolated and investigated their health statuses. Since then, the State has maintained surveillance and networks to track and tackle the disease. Top among these efforts is the activation of a Public Health Emergency Operation Centre to monitor and receive up-to-date information from all 17 Local Government Areas in the State.

As the Nigerian cases increased, Government provided isolation facilities in urban and suburban hospitals with ventilators for treatment. This it did as it closed all schools from pre-primary to tertiary level in the State to prevent pupils and students from contracting and/or spreading the virus.

An isolation centre in Jos

While increasing media sensitization, an enlightenment meeting of government officials and religious, traditional and community leaders, civil society, non-governmental organisations as well as health experts was held.

As part of agreements reached at the meeting, Government suspended all festivals and anniversaries. It also directed all worship centres and important public events to reduce congregation to not more than 50 persons with a 2-metre sitting interval. This they were directed to do while providing running water and soap for hand washing and sanitizers for public use.

Though there were few cases of resistance in some areas, the move relatively kept the State safe from the disease in spite of its links to other States that have recorded cases. The battle is still on and the State is not relaxing its guard.

Effective from Wednesday 25th March 2020, all public servants in the State from Grade levels 12 and below have been directed to work from home. Only workers offering essential services such as security, health, media, street cleaners and water supply and energy are exempted.

Also, government directed all markets to close effective 25th March 2020. Only traders selling food items, pharmaceuticals and cooking gas were allowed to open. All street trading, street hawking, and begging were equally prohibited. Social joints, Nightclubs and pubs have also been asked to also close while restaurants are advised to prepare takeaway for their customers to avoid crowding.

Furthermore, motor parks have been directed to capture and keep data including contacts of all passengers as well as observe social distancing and hygiene. All entry points into the State by land and air have also been referred for medical screening.

Gov. Lalong (front middle) and medical officials

These are measures backed by constitution to ensure public safety. However, they are painful as they imply shutting down means of livelihood for many citizens. The Government might not provide any palliative to this aside from the Federal cut in pump price of Premium Motor Spirit from N145 per litre to N125 per litre. The coronavirus pandemic has crashed prices of crude oil, Nigeria’s main revenue source, resulting in at least 50% revenue cuts for the State.

The shortfall has forced a cut in allowances of public officials by 50%. General recurrent expenditures excluding salaries and pensions have also been slashed by 40%. Capital projects and programs, the new minimum wage implementation and all recruitment exercises have also been halted. “We must be ready to brace up for the challenges and make necessary sacrifices,” said the Governor of the State, Simon Lalong in a State broadcast.

Decisive as the measures are however, if tests are not readily available for citizens when needed, the disease might spread. In other States where the disease has grown, not lack of prevention but diagnosis posed challenge. It is essential therefore for the State and Federal authorities to make screening and treatment accessible to citizens, and not just claim to have done so.

Coronavirus: COCIN shuts all Church activities in Nigeria

COCIN HQ Church, Jos

Jos, Nigeria: The Church of Christ in Nations (CICIN) has suspended all church activities, Sunday services included, to guard against the dreaded coronavirus disease.

A circular issued by the Secretary General of the Church, Rev. Dr. Amos Mohzo to all Churches and Secretariat staff on Monday directs all Sunday services to be held at Zonal Fellowship Centers or Prayer Houses and cells, with not more than 50 people in attendance.

The circular reads in part:

“Headquarters will run essential services within the period that has been announced by the Government.

“Finance Department will run skeletal Services, Church Security and Hospitals will be at their duty posts.

“Sunday Services will be carried out at Zonal Fellowship Centers or Prayer Houses and cells, where you have more than 50 members at the prayer house and cells, it should be split into more cells.

“All Services (Bible Studies, Midweek Prayers) shall be supervised and coordinated by the Pastors and Ordained Pastors/Elders.

“Churches should make provision for hand sanitizers at strategic places within church premises.

“All major gathering by Church Groups are hereby suspended.

“Both Pastors and members should avoid unnecessary travel for now.

“All Pastors should work with their medical Committees in Education, Prevention and identifying/referring members who may show symptoms of the disease.

“In an event that there is no medical committee, this should be constituted.”

The circular solicits prayers for government and those sick with the disease.

COVID-19: Plateau places sanctions on public gatherings

A traffic-free street in Jos, Nigeria

Central Nigeria: The Plateau State Government says it will henceforth sanction anyone who violates its restrictions on public gatherings.

The Government had discussed with “critical stakeholders” and restricted banned social gatherings, restricting religious events to 50 persons towards containing the spread of COVID-19.

Many of such gatherings however held without observing the guidelines in the last weekend, angering the State authorities.

“The State Government has noticed the flagrant disregard and disrespect of the measures by some individuals and groups in the state.

“Of particular note is the non-compliance of the outright suspension of anniversaries and cultural festivals,” said a press statement on Sunday by the State Commissioner of Information, Mr. Dan Manjang.

“Government, Mr. Manjang said “frowns at this attitude, and calls on such groups and individuals to desist from disrespecting constituted authorities and comply forthwith.”

Failure to do so, according to him will attract “appropriate sanctions”.

Government in the words of the Commissioner is aware of the rights of people to assemble.

However, such rights, he warned “may not be exercised in view of the danger it posses to the generality of the people”.

New Foundation to rehabilitate, empower drug addicts opens in Jos

Violet Yelong, Founder, Zishiya Empowerment

Jos, Nigeria: A nongovernmental organization, ZISHIYA Empowerment Foundation has been launched to find, rehabilitate and train Nigerian drug addicts in business.

The Foundation, independently established by a female Activist, Mrs. Violet Adama Kaburuk opened in Jos, the capital of Plateau State on Thursday to “salvage the growing population of youths prone to substance abuse and dependence."

Its strategies according to the Plateau-born Activist will be to use workshops, seminars, training, counseling and social interventions for a “better life and society free of drugs,” she said.

The NGO according to Kaburuk, a mother of three aims “To educate, promote and bring awareness of substance abuse to communities, youths, organizations, schools and general public.

“To train personnel, volunteers in areas of substance abuse prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

“To help young people find direction in area of their God-given purpose.

“To support anti-substance abuse policies and practices which make optimal use of environmental resources, respect the sociocultural authenticity of communities.

“To help abusers quit drugs and become better people contributing to building the society they find themselves.”

COVID-19: Experts fear crime rise, seek multi-stakeholder approach

Jos, Plateau State: Experts in peace-building, security and good governance have warned that the growing institutional shutdown as a result of the deadly coronavirus disease could lead to rise in violent crimes.

Since the virus was declared a global emergency in February by the World Health Organization, there have been massive shutdown of businesses, schools and other public institutions globally.

This has caused general shortages in food and other household products.

It is a normal response to emergences, says a Nigerian Mercy Corps official, Mr. Clement Adole.

However, if not curbed, this could lead to looting and other crimes, said Adole on Thursday in Jos, the capital of Plateau State.

“If the scorch continues, eventually it might lead to closure of some security infrastructures as well.

“When that happens, individuals and groups might take advantage of the loopholes created to stock up their stores to survive the coronavirus and that’s one important impact of the virus to security,” Adole stated at a workshop on “Collaborative Problem-Solving” organized by a coalition of Civil Societies under a US-funded project, Building Civic Participation and Good Governance in Plateau State (BCP-GGP).

Grounded dialogues

Security might not necessarily closedown for fear of the virus, because as an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Saleh Ibrahim puts it, “it might further complicate the situation.”

However, if people cannot freely associate, peace dialogues and information sharing between stakeholders especially as it affects security might be hindered, said Ibrahim at the BCP-GGP workshop.

Ibrahim, a lead implementing partner in the BCP-GGP project said, “In every society, dialogue is more effective than the use of Force in conflict resolution. Dialogue brings more results than the barrel of the gun and that is what the BCP-GGP project is trying to promote.

“This program is aimed at encouraging communities, civilian groups and associations as well as civil societies to work with the police and vise versa to mitigate crime which if left unattended could breed armed conflicts.

“But if the current fears caused by the coronavirus persist, no one will want to come out to participate and when that happens, it is a setback to security and peace building.”

To avert this, an Officer of the Plateau State Police Command, CSP Victor Elias suggests, modern communication technology should be effectively utilized to build “stronger interactions and community relations.”

Joint solutions

The search for a lasting solution to crime and violence is a collective task, says another BCP-GGP partner, Mr. Wilson Iyamu.

“The Police cannot do it alone. Government cannot, the community itself cannot solve it. That’s why we need to come together to work out possible solutions. We have all it takes to make a safer society,” Iyamu said at the workshop.

This according to him is the main goal of the project.

“We are trying to look at the way we can bring communities, organizations, civil societies, government actors, security agencies and others to come together and work collaboratively for sustainable development.

“We discovered that the gap between government and the people is much.

“Many people do not have confidence in the security within their community. That is why they find it difficult to relate with them because they fear that when they give confidential information, they will be exposed.

“The police are also saying that the community is not willing to give information without which they cannot work, which is true. That is why we are trying to bridge that gap.

“The last program we had – “Building Trust”, we brought in government officials. The government should work with the people even in its program and policy design. You don’t just go to a community and execute a project you like. Instead, ask the people and give them what they need at that time. That way there will be lasting impact.”

The project which also has Mrs. Esther Ibanga, the Executive Director, Women Without Walls Initiative (WoWWI) started in October 2019 and will be rounded-off in September, 2020.

It features monthly meetings and trainings on different sociopolitical issues, involving government officials, civil society organizations, community leaders, women and youth groups among others.

First Plateau Assembly Speaker Dies in India

Late Prof. Dakum Shon

Jos, Nigeria: The first Speaker of the Plateau State House of Assembly, Prof. Dakum Shon is dead.

Mr. Shon died on Tuesday at an Indian hospital where he’d been admitted, family sources say.

The exact nature of the illness has not been revealed, but sources say the renowned politician battled it for long.

No official statement has been released by his family, but the Mupun Development Association, his tribal group has confirmed the incident.

Plateau: "We proposed land control law against land-grab" - Lalong

Gov. Lalong

Central Nigeria: The Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong has warned “land grabbers” to desist or face sanctions.

Government, Lalong said will not “fold its arms and watch lawlessness” being perpetrated.

The Plateau State Executive Council has, in the Governor’s words, forwarded a bill to the House of Assembly against land grabbing.

Once it is passed into law, “offenders will be prosecuted and jailed”, said Lalong last Friday at the Convocation ceremony of the Gindiri College of Education.

The Governor did not clearly define the “land grabbers” but was specific on reports of encroachment into land belonging to the College by “land grabbers”.

“We do not want the situation with the encroachment of land belonging to the University of Jos to repeat itself here,” he said.

Villages Annexed

More than 50 native villages are said to have been sacked and taken over by armed attacking herdsmen over the past 10 years.

None of the lands has been recovered, but the State has been listed among pilot states for a proposed federal livestock project, Ruga.

Ruga, a Fulani name for rural settlement, is defined as “Rural Grazing Area” by officials, a program to be implemented under an agric program called National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP).

The program which was previously rejected at Parliament as Grazing Reserve in 2012, Grazing Reserve and Ranches in 2015, Cattle Colony in 2016 and Ruga in 2019 has been criticised as seeking to give foreign herders legitimate rights to native lands.

The proposed law coming few weeks after the Governor signed a memorandum of understanding with two foreign companies to develop and upgrade existing government lands in the state for the takeoff of the program has aggravated public fears.

Powers of the Governor

Part II of the proposed “Land Administration” law reads:

“(1) Pursuant to the provisions of the Land Use Act, the Governor shall in respect of Land in the State whether or not the Land is located in an Urban Area have power to:

“(a) grant Statutory Rights of Occupancy to any person for all purposes;

“(b) grant Easements, Appurtenants and Statutory Rights of Occupancy;

“(c) demand Rental for any such Land granted to any person;

“(d) revise the said Rental:

“(i) at such intervals as may be specified in the Certificate of Occupancy; or

“(ii) where no intervals are specified in the Certificate of Occupancy at any time during the term of the Statutory Rights of Occupancy;

“(e) impose a Penal Rent for a breach of any covenant in a Certificate of Occupancy requiring the Holder to develop or effect improvements on the Land subject of the Certificate of Occupancy and to revise such Penal Rents as provided in Clause 70 of this Bill;

“(f) impose a Penal Rent for breach of any condition, express or implied, which precludes the Holder of a Statutory Right of Occupancy from alienating the right of or any part thereof by Sale, Mortgage, Transfer or Possession, Sub-under Lease, Request or otherwise howsoever without the prior Consent of the Governor;

“(g) waive, wholly or partially, except as otherwise prescribed, all or any of the Covenants or Conditions of which a Statutory Rights of Occupancy are subject where owing to special circumstances, compliance therewith would be impossible or great hardship would be imposed upon the Holder; and

“(h) extend, except as otherwise prescribed, the time to the Holder of a Statutory Right of Occupancy for performing any of the conditions of the Right of Occupancy upon such terms and conditions as he may think fit.

“(2) Upon the grant of a Statutory Right of Occupancy under the provisions of sub-clause(1) of this Clause, all existing Rights to the use and occupation of the Land which is the subject of the Statutory Right of Occupancy shall be extinguished.”

Only 10% registered land owned by indigenes

The Governor had in 2017 signed and issued over 3000 Certificates of Occupancy to land owners in the State.

Official sources however say of the over 600,000 houses in Jos, the Plateau State capital, only about 60,000 are registered with indigenes having less than 10% of the total number.

The proposed law is therefore feared to legitimize the annexing of lands and the gradual domination of local communities by outsiders since it does not specify what qualifies a legitimate land owner.

Another criticism against the law is that it seeks to negate the existing federal Land Use Act which only gives State Governments Powers over urban lands.

Rural lands according to the Act are under Local Government administration.

The State Lands and Survey Commissioner, Yakubu Datti however says the bill is open to public criticism and suggestions.

“That is why it is a bill, for people to criticize and make inputs before it is passed into law or rejected at the Assembly,” Datti said in a telephone interview.

The State House of Assembly made of majority members of the ruling All Progressives Congress however might not decline to pass the bill.

But whether or not the bill will be subjected to public hearing before passing, only time will tell.

COCIN Karl Kumm University sets to takeoff, shops for VC

Central Nigeria: The Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN) headquartered in Jos, Plateau State might have fulfilled all requirements for the licensing of its proposed Karl Kumm University.

The Church hosted officials from the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Tertiary Education Trust Fund on February 8, 2020 on verification exercise.

Two weeks later, the Church began shopping for a Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor and a Prochancellor for the immediate takeoff of the 20year-old University.

Search committee at a seating

The Chancellor Search Committee comprising five professors and the Director of Education in the COCIN Headquarters, Rev. Shiwe Deshi listed 22 serving Professors of COCIN background for the post of the Vice Chancellor and five others for the post of Prochancellor.

The Committee is expected to identify and contact suitably qualified candidates for all the available positions and recommend same to the COCIN Executive Council for selection.

Among qualities sought for the VC post are at least 10 years professorial experience with local and international publications, varsity development and administrative experience among others.

The Prochancellor according to the committee’s official records is expected to be a “respected Christian leader” with “good education” and varsity administrative experience.

No date has been given for the official takeoff of the university but officials say admission will commence soon as the final verification is done by the NUC.

Entrance of the proposed university
Exterior view of lecture halls
A view of lecture halls
Admin block
Admin building/lecture halls
Boys hostel

From official documents, once ongoing male and female hostels, cafeteria, administrative building and road network are completed, the university would be okayed to start.

The ongoing projects, most of which are at least 90% completed add to over 10 projects already furnished and ready for use in the university.

Any man who cannot serve his wife will go to hell - Pastor

Rev. Paul Gabriel Datiri

Jos, Plateau: A Pastor of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), Rev. Paul Datiri says men risk eternal judgment by maltreating their wives.

Any man who cannot serve his wife, Datiri said, Sunday, is "sentenced to hell".

In a Sermon at COCIN Local Church Council Zarmaganda, Jos, Datiri said, "Faithful service isn't done with pride and dominion or with authority and power but exemplary humility.

"An exemplary father ensures his family is happy, satisfied and secured.

"Fail on this and you will miss a good testimony here on earth and possibly miss eternal rest.

"Abraham died over 30years after Sarah his wife, but most men nowadays die before their wives due to the judgment they have incurred on themselves by failing on their responsibilities."

Datiri who analyzed "Faithfulness" with reference to 1 Corinthians 4:2, Matthew 20:25-28, Luke 12:40-50 and among others, James 5:4 charged men to care for their families as service to God.

Experts seek more tech knowledge for Nigerian girls

Participants at the "Girl for Girl" Event

Rights Activists on Saturday met in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja to discuss ways to increase the knowledge and application of technology among girls.

TechHer Nigeria and Plan International, both West Africa based nongovernmental organizations advocating women and girls’ rights hosted the dialogue to “bridge the digital divide and transferring technical skills across advocacy, politics/power, business, and personal branding/security.”

“It is a play on traditional and cultural stereotypes, creating spaces for young women (experts) to transfer knowledge to young girls between the ages of 14 -24 (secondary school students, PWD, etc),” officials say.

The dialogue focused on “demystifying” digital knowledge for young girls “across the facets of their lives in which its reduced application is most glaring.”

Global statistics showing tech knowledge and application residing more with men than women as evident in the Global South inspired the dialogue, Official records indicate.

Plateau: ‘Traumatized’ IDPs to undergo medical check in B/Ladi

Some IDPs in Plateau State

Central Nigeria: Authorities in Plateau State will today screen survivors of ‘herdsmen’ attacks in Barkin Ladi Local Government, the epicenter of the violence, for medical needs.

At least 1000 of them, most of whom are women and children will be shortlisted for surgeries and other medical actions after the screening, it was learnt.

Funded by Barkin Ladi Local Government and an unnamed private organization, the screening and subsequent treatments will be done for free, officials say.

“These are traumatized people who need all the help they can get.

“Their means of livelihood have been taken away by the conflicts and they are merely living on donations from outside,” said Chairman of Barkin Ladi Local Government, Ezekiel Mandyau.

All humanitarian assistance, as Mandyau puts it, must address the IDPs’ medical needs to be complete.

“We want to make sure that they are cared for holistically to enable them pick up and rebuild,” Mandyau told Journalists, Friday.

The exercise he said would prepare the IDPs for the coming farming season.

Ezekiel Mandyau

“Without good health, they will not be able to cultivate their farms and earn from them,” said the LG boss

The LGA currently earns monthly revenue of N500,000 ($1,368USD), less than the average salary of a State Commissioner.

Mandyau however believes the figure could quadruple if the villagers who are mostly farmers return to their abandoned trade.

“N500,000 is on the average our weekly revenue capacity so the farmers returning to their business will greatly improve our income for increased infrastructural intervention,” he said.

Senator Gyang, others demand special intervention for Middle-belt

Gov. Lalong, Sen. ID Gyang

Nigeria might soon get a Commission to rebuild its Middle-Belt from the ruins of recent violent attacks and other disasters in its communities.

The Bill for the establishment of the North Central Development Commission was passed on second reading by Senate on Thursday.

The Bill jointly sponsored by Senators Abba Moro of Benue South, Gabriel Suswan of Benue North and Istifanus Gyang of Plateau North seeks to fix the region’s infrastructure, agricultural and mineral resources as well as rehabilitate communities affected by violence.

Specifically, the bill, as Senator Gyang puts it, will, “Target development of agriculture and agro allied industries and the development of the mining industry.”

It will, in Gyang’s words, facilitate the construction of a railway linking Jos-Akwanga-Abuja and other “critical” infrastructure.

Similarly, the proposed commission, Gyang says will undertake the rebuilding, reconstruction and reintegration of displaced communities.

It will equally undertake the rehabilitation of victims of violence through skills acquisition, scholarships and business grants especially for widows and orphans.

The region comprising States of Kwara, Niger, Kogi, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau and the Federal capital has the highest number of ethnic minorities, it is believed.

It is also thought to be the most agriculturally viable region with the largest exports of exotic fruits, tuber and cash crops.

The zone is said to equally house the country's highest concentration of solid minerals that have yet to be exploited due to lack of resources and security.

The proposed North Central Development Commission is expected to function like the Northeast and Niger Delta Development Commissions.

"Quack Teachers" get quit notice in Plateau

Gov. Lalong

The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong on Friday said poorly grained teachers are a threat to society.

Teachers who lack the right quality of education, specifically pose “serious” danger to the younger generation, said Lalong at the at the 28th – 33rd combined convocation ceremony of the College of Education Gindiri, Central Plateau State.

This group, Lalong said “put the whole society in jeopardy by transferring half-knowledge and corrupted ideas.”

Lalong however believes the College of Education Gindiri has invested much into the training of quality teachers.

“It is one Institution that our Rescue Administration considers very crucial. This is because it is saddled with the huge task of training teachers who are to shape and mould the minds of our children.

“That is why I am excited that we are graduating many trained teachers here today and releasing them into the teaching profession to take over from those are not sufficiently qualified to be in the classroom as Teachers,” Lalong said.

Nigeria's Naval Chief mourns Plateau-born Officer, Garba Matyek

Jos, Plateau: Nigeria's Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas on Thursday said Plateau-born Navy Commander Garba Matyek was an asset to the nation's military.

Matyek, 64, retired from the Navy in 2006, but his impact in the Force could still be felt, Ibas said at the funeral of the late Officer in his home village, Tarek, Butura in Bokkos Local Government Area.

"He was a gentleman to the core. His loss is not just to his family but to the Navy and Nigeria as a whole," the Naval Chief stated through Commander S.S. Garba, an Official of the Nigerian Naval Headquarters, Abuja.

Born in Butura, Bokkos Local Government Area, Late Commander Matyek joined the Nigerian Navy in 1985 as a Project Quantity Surveyor through Short Service Commission.

He was posted to various Naval Base Commands nationwide (Ministry of Defence, Lagos, the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna
and Naval Commands at Lagos, Port Harcourt and Calabar.

While in the Navy, he attended several trainings and seminars Such as the Commanders and Staff College, Jaji, Zaria in 1995 for his Junior Pass Staff Course Certificate and in 2003 he returned to
Jaji for his Senior Pass Staff Course Certificate.

After his retirement in 2006, he worked as a consultant and contractor to the Nigerian Navy, the Plateau State Government and the Kaduna State Government among others.

Surrounded by his family, the late Cdr. Matyek passed on at Dee Medical Centre, Jos, on 4th March 2020 at about 5:45pm, after falling ill.

Health Minister tests positive for Coronavirus

PunchBritish MP Nadine Dorries, a minister in the health department, has tested positive for coronavirus, she said in a statement on Tuesday, raising concerns about whether senior government figures have been infected.

“I can confirm I have tested positive for coronavirus… and have been self-isolating at home,” said the Conservative MP.

Health officials are now trying to trace where she contracted the virus and who she has been in contact with, she added.

Six people have died in Britain from the virus, with more than 370 confirmed cases.

Dorries, who helped craft the legislation to fight the bug, is the first British politician to be diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Times reported that she had been in touch with hundreds of people, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

She fell unwell on Friday while signing the document that declared coronavirus a notifiable disease, meaning companies could obtain insurance cover, said the paper, adding she was now believed to be on the road to recovery.

“I would like to thank… the wonderful NHS staff who have provided me with advice and support,” she said, referring to Britain’s National Health Service.

The shock news is likely to increase calls to suspend parliament, despite the government’s reluctance to do so in the middle of a health crisis.

Her boss Matt Hancock, who is leading Britain’s response, tweeted that he was “sorry to hear Nadine has tested positive for coronavirus.

“She has done the right thing by self isolating at home, and both NHS and PHE staff have been brilliant. We all wish her well as she recovers,” he added. PHE refers to Public Health England.

UK health minister Dorries

“We will do all we can to keep people safe, based on the best possible science.”

Finance minister Rishi Sunak will on Wednesday unveil the government’s first post-Brexit budget, with all eyes on emergency government measures to ease the economic pain from the coronavirus outbreak.

He is expected to give the state-run National Health Service whatever it needs to help combat the virus and promise temporary support for businesses hit by cash flow issues.

The Bank of England’s incoming chief Andrew Bailey last week said UK-based companies would need help in the face of disruption to supplies caused by the virus.

Budget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet said they will cancel all Italian flights until early April after the government ordered the entire country locked down because of the virus, leaving thousands of people unable to return home.

“I'll create films to end violent attacks on my people” – Female Plateau UNESCO film winner

Uren Makut

Female filmmakers are taking the world by storm. Dozens of them have been there making remarkable exploits since the beginning of filmmaking.

From 1943’s “Meshes of the Afternoon” Directed Maya Deren, to the electrifying “The Matrix” Directed by Lilly and Lana Wachowski, both women in 1999 and a host of others, women have shown that they are equally a resourceful, if not better than their male counterparts in filmmaking.

The media might not often report their success stories. But women in filmmaking are by no chance relenting in changing the world using the power of the lens.

Recently, the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, and Japanese filmmaker Naomi Kawase listed ten African women to contribute to a necessary global dialogue for peace, culture and development.

UN Officials announce Nara-film winners

The selected winners of the UNESCO-Nara Residency for Young African Female Filmmakers, will be coached by Ms Kawase and Senegalese female filmmaker Fatou Kandé Senghor in Tawara, in Nara Prefecture, from 29 March to 12 April 2020.

During the program, the female filmmakers will develop film projects which will be presented at the next Nara International Film Festival holding 18-22 September 2020 in Japan.

One of the only two Nigerian winners of the Residency, Miss Uren Makut, an experienced cinematographer and Director wants to use the chance to advance her passion to end violent conflicts which have plagued her home State, Plateau for over two decades.

“I want to use the power of the lens, to bring communities together – to inspire peaceful resolution of the deadly farmer-herder conflicts that have bedevilled us for years, through digital story telling,” said Uren.

Her vision is to inspire positive change in the whole of Nigeria, but as she told Government officials last week, “Charity begins at home, and Plateau State is a miniature Nigeria. I believe whatever ideas we can develop at this level will be beneficial to the entire country.”

Uren has experienced violence even while carrying out her film passion.

In June 2016, she was assaulted by government securities while filming a peaceful protest over the murder of a Paramount Chief in Jos, the capital of the Central Nigerian State, Plateau.

In May 2018, she narrowly survived a deadly ambush while filming for a documentary in an attacked village in Central Plateau State.

Uren fleeing violent assault by Police

This is aside losing relations to violence especially farmer-herder conflicts.

But instead of using the Residency and networks it might provide to escape to safe haven, Uren counts it a “rare opportunity to give back to the State by making its interest the centre of presentation.”

“Incomplete peace”

A gender activist, Kawthar Ahmed says conflict resolution processes cannot be complete without the active involvement of women.

Kawthar, also a female filmmaker and Project Manager of TechHer, a gender related nongovernmental organization believes women and men experience conflicts differently and should therefore jointly contribute to peace processes to provide holistic solutions.

But securing opportunities to participate in key decision making processes requires a demonstration of capacity, says news Nigerian Editor, Elizabeth Salami.

By committing to conflict resolution, Uren might be proving that women are equally capable of providing solutions to critical societal problems as men.

This could pave the way for the involvement of more women in peace processes especially in the Central Nigerian region currently battling farmer-herder conflicts.

Photos: Lalong commissions NAF projects in Plateau

Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State on Tuesday inaugurated projects executed by the Nigerian Airforce and the Airforce Military boys and girls schools in Jos.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar joined Governor Lalong in the inauguration.

The Governor was impressed by the quality of work and the intervention of the Air Force management to improve learning environment and standards of education. 

Photo credit: Josiah Jenvulu

Photos: Lalong commissions NAF projects in Plateau

Governor Simon Bako Lalong of Plateau State on Tuesday inaugurated projects executed by the Nigerian Airforce and the Airforce Military boys and girls schools in Jos.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Baba Abubakar joined Governor Lalong in the inauguration.

The Governor was impressed by the quality of work and the intervention of the Air Force management to improve learning environment and standards of education. 

Photo credit: Josiah Jenvulu

Senator Slams new "Land Takeover" Bill in Plateau

Sen. Gyang and wife at Dogo Nahawa memorial mass, Sunday

Nigerian Senator, Istifanus Gyang has warned the Plateau State government against a Bill to takeover private lands at will.

The Bill at the State House of Assembly which has passed second reading seeks to empower the Governor to exercise “absolute and discretionary powers” on all lands in the State, says Gyang.

It is an extension of the Federal Land Use Act, 1978 which only empowers State Governors over urban lands within the state.

The power to adjudicate over rural lands according to the Act lies in Local Governments.

The new land Bill is simply a “Land takeover Bill and is not welcomed as it has the possibility of disinheriting people of their ancestral lands,” Gyang said on Sunday at a memorial mass for 500 women and children killed in Dogo Nahawa, Jos South LGA in March 2010.

The “Bill for a law to make provision for the administration of lands in Plateau State and for other matters connected to 2019” came up last week at the State Assembly.

Punch reports that the bill, sponsored by an All Progressives Congress lawmaker representing Pankshin North Constituency, Mr. Dasun Peter, passed second reading on March 3, and is expected to pass the third reading on March 25 when the state lawmakers reconvene.

Part of the bill according to a Punch report reads, “Pursuant to the provision of the Land Use Act, the governor shall in respect of land in the state, whether or not the land is located in an urban area, has powers to grant statutory rights of occupancy to any person for all purposes.”

If passed, the bill might further threaten women and child development in the State.

The State with a population of about 3.3 million people according to 2006 census has Males 1,598,998, Females 1,607,533 and children 0-10years old 1,030,393.

The World Bank estimates that about 70% of Nigeria’s population live in rural and semi-urban areas where farming is the main occupation.

Although the bill has not been linked to any specific intent, observers fear it aims to forcefully takeover and use private lands for the implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan.

The NLTP, widely criticized as a reviewed version of the earlier trashed Grazing Reserve, Ranching and Cattle Colony Bills was approved for execution in the State last month.

See Gov. Simon Lalong signs deal to upgrade grazing reserves

Officials after signing MoU to implement NLTP

The Plateau State Government on 4th February, 2020 signed a deal to start the National Livestock Transformation Program (NLTP) in the State.

The deal with two foreign companies – Sahel Consulting Agriculture and Nutrition Ltd. and Integrated Diaries is for the start-off of the program in existing grazing reserves in Kanam and Wase Local Government Areas.

The NLTP, a Federal livestock business program introduced in 2018 was previously resisted due to “misinformation,” the Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong said.

Erroneously misrepresented’

The Governor said, “When the NLTP was initiated, it was erroneously misinterpreted by those who wanted to play politics and discredit it.

“I told my people that as their Governor, I can never bring anything that will cause them pain and poverty.

“I was in the NLTP Committee, I understood clearly that Plateau State will not only benefit from it, but will use it to create jobs and address the farmer herder attacks which almost destroyed the peace of our peace “.

The Governor said those who had “taken over” most grazing reserves in the State were behind the “incitement and lies” against the program.

The takeoff of the program follows “wide consultations” and enlightenment, Lalong said.

“After the engagement with stakeholders, people embraced it because it is business.

“It has nothing to do with ethnicity, religion or tribe.”

Plateau which is among five selected pilot States will benefit from a N15billion fund earmarked for the program.

"Women paving way for new generation," says Julz Changing Faces Initiative

Officials of JCFI & staff/students of Girl Child Education Centre, Jos

Jos, Plateau: A Central Nigerian nongovernmental organization, Julz Changing Faces Initiative, Sunday marked the 2020 international women’s day with calls for women to “stand tall”.

“The more you develop yourself, the more valuable you become in the market,” said the founder of the NGO, Juliana Ali in a press statement.

Juliana Ali, Chief Executive, Julz Changing Faces Initiative

Women in her words are “those who stand strong and faithful when needed, those who quietly move on, those who build empires, move mountains, push boundaries, raise babies, make memories and refuse to take no for an answer.”

Officials of JCFI & staff/students of Girl Child Education Centre, Jos

“You are the ones paving the way for the new generation…stand tall and proud for all that you are,” Ms. Ali said.

The NGO in marking the day organized road walk and school rally to raise awareness for a “gender-equal world”.

The staff and students of Girl Child Education Center, Gada Biu, Jos where the rally held shared experiences and ideas on how to improve gender response in the society.

Nigerian NGO coaches Journalists in gender-sensitive reporting

Kawthar Ahmed at the GRFP workshop in Abuja

Experts in Nigeria are currently training local journalists in gender-sensitive reporting.

TechHer, a nongovernmental organization concerned about improving the quality of lives of women believes social biases against women is partly linked to lack of capacity to ‘broadly’ report issues about women and children.

The Gender Reporting for media Professionals workshop holding in Abuja, is to tackle barriers to “effectively reporting gender-based stories in Nigeria,” an Official of TechHer, Kawthar Ahmed said, Friday.

Ahmed said, “The objectives of the workshop are to create and mobilize demand for the fair and balanced portrayal of women in Nigeria;

“Train at least 60 media professionals in gender-balanced communication across the country;

“Transform social commentary around gender-based issues by simulating gender balanced news reports; and

“Contribute to gender equality and women’s empowerment in Nigeria.”

The training, in collaboration with Premium Times, Ford Foundation and British Council started Friday, and ends Saturday with a gender-reporting tool-kit to be produced by participants.