In this piece, MOJEED ALABI concludes his report on the violent crushing of hundreds of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), otherwise called ‘Shi’ites’
According to him, the presence of El-Zakyzaky in the neighbourhood is a mixed bag for the residents, saying apart from increased sales for shop owners, the constant harassment by members of the Movement constituted security threat.
He explained; “There were checkpoints mounted almost every kilometre in the neighbourhood and people are subjected to checks of all kinds. Commercial motorcyclists don’t always like to bring passengers to the area, and whenever they do, they drop us off long distance to our homes.
Ahmad, however, condemns the violent attack on the group, saying no soul created by God deserved such ‘inhuman’ treatment the members of the group had experienced.
In a similar development, Mrs. Funmilayo Olowookere, a Yoruba from southwestern part of Nigeria, is a Christian and member of The Apostolic Faith Church, Zaria. She is a cleaner with the ABU Teaching Hospital and was familiar with the activities of the IMN.
According to Olowookere, it is understandable that once or twice in a year, the IMN members embark on procession in the town, and on Fridays, they move from Gyallesu to Hussainiyya, during which some parts of the roads are blocked. She, however, said apart from the usual skirmishes with commuters, the group over the years had been known for its activities and the people plan their activities to avoid traffic they may cause on such days.
Mrs. Ziri Amala, the Women Ministries Director of the Northern Nigerian Union Conference of Seventh Day Adventist Church, who hails from Borno State, married to a man from Abia State, and lives in Zaria, does not see El-Zakyzaky and his organisation as threat to peace in Zaria,
Mrs. Amala said; “The interesting thing is that as long as you do not disturb them, they would always make a way for you to pass, but they have no respect for rules and regulations.
“However, I must say that we were not happy about the massacre. No human being with the faith of Christ in him will like bloodshed. But our prayer is that there should be no retaliation because the whole place now, I mean their prayer ground at the Polo Ground, has been completely destroyed and fenced off. But we are at peace now and we don’t pray for crisis anywhere in Nigeria again.”
Meanwhile, Suleiman Idris, a photographer, is one of those affected by the attack on the IMN as his business has been badly affected.
According to him, the situation had forced him to relocate from Gyallesu Area to an undisclosed location, saying he wasn’t sure he could ever make the kind of money he used to make through the organisation.
“I cannot disclose where I stay now because the soldiers are still everywhere looking for people to pounce on. But I feel the attack had more to it than just what we knew. The military must have been sent by some powerful people who might be feeling offended by the truths being preached by Sheik (El-Zakyzaky),” Suleiman told New Telegraph.
Kaduna State’s intervention
Following the massacre, the Government of Kaduna State immediately waded in, and through its Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KASUPDA), it completed the demolition and cleared the rubbles and debris at the various sites of the IMN.
Also, on January 11, 2016, deriving his power from Section 2 (1) of the Commission of Inquiry Law, Cap 34, Laws of Kaduna State, 1991, the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai issued an order, creating the Hon. Justice Mohammed Lawal Garba-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry to investigate both the immediate and remote causes of the massacre and recommend lasting solutions.
IMN declines participation at investigative panels
Relying on the condition that its leader, Ibrahim El-Zakyzaky, be set free before it could participate in the activities of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, the IMN leadership refused to take part, insisting that no one shaves the head of another man in his absence.
Investigations by New Telegraph revealed that the lead Counsel to the IMN, Mr. Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, who had sought permission to meet with the detained leader for adequate briefing before his representation before the Commission, was denied access to his client for many weeks, and so later opted out.
For similar reason, the group advanced for pulling out from its participation at a probe panel set up by the National Human Rights Commission. The NHRC had set up the panel based on a petition by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, who had accused the IMN of attempting to assassinate him.
Inquiry Commission submits report
On April 26, 2016, the Commission of Inquiry submitted its report to Governor Nasir el-Rufai, giving its obsevations and recommendations.
The Commission’s report had read in part; “Considering the nature and organizational structure of the IMN, where the leader has the total control over the members, Sheikh Ibraheem EI-Zakzaky should be personally held responsible for all the acts of commission and omission of the entire membership of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in its clashes with the Nigerian Army for refusing to call his members to order when required to do so.
“The Commission is of the view that the use of excessive force by the Nigerian Army, which led to the heavy casualties recorded in the Cordon and Search Operation, is an act of commission for which the NA is directly responsible. The Commission, therefore, recommends that steps should immediately be taken to identify the members of the NA who participated in the killings of December 12th – 14th 2015 incident with a view to prosecuting them.”
It is important to note that the Commission faulted the Nigerian Army for what it described as its failure to observe its own Rule of Engagement, insisting that only the President is constitutionally empowered to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces, “but may, under general or specific directives, delegate his responsibility for day-to-day operational use.”
The report noted; “It shall be the duty of the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff, as the case may be, to comply with any directive given to them by the President under sub-section 1 of the Section. And in this Section, “Operational use of the Armed Forces” includes the operational use of the Armed Forces in Nigeria for the purpose of maintaining and securing public safety and public order.
“There is no evidence before the Commission that the order for the Cordon and Search Operation deploying members of the Armed Forces for the alleged purpose of maintaining and securing public safety and peace, was derived from any delegation of authority by the President and/or the Chief of Army Staff, as provided by these provisions. In addition, Section 218(1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) vests power to determine the operational use of the Armed Forces of the Federation, in the President and the discretion to, by directions in writing, delegate such power to any member of the armed forces relating to the operational use of the armed forces. There was no evidence that there was the requisite delegation by the President to the Officer who issued the oral order for the deployment of the Officers and Men of the Nigerian Army (N.A) for the Cordon and Search operation.”
Court orders El-Zakyzaky’s release
After almost one year of court sitting over the case filed by Ibraheem El-Zakyzaky through his Counsel, Mr. Femi Falana, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, December 2, 2016, ordered that the plaintiff be freed within 45 days.
Justice Kolawole had rejected the submission of the counsel to the State Security Service, Tijjani Gazali, that Mr. El-Zakzaky was kept in protective custody of the SSS, ruling that the decision to hold El-Zakyzaky and his wife, Zeenat, for their safety was not based on law.
“I have not been shown any incident report or any complaint lodged by residents around the neighbourhood that the applicant has become a nuisance to his neigbourhood,” said the judge, adding that the decision of the government to hold the applicant for so long amounted to great danger.
He cited the death of former leader of the Boko Haram leader, Mohammed Yusuf, who reportedly died in police custody as an example, saying; “If the applicant dies in custody, which I do not pray for, it could result in many needless deaths.”
Justice Kolawole said the government should, within 45 days, release the applicant and his family to the police, who shall, within 24 hours, take them, guarded by escort, to a safe place. He added that the SSS should pay a fine of N25 million each to El-Zakzaky and his wife, making N50 million fine.
Kaduna State Government declares IMN a terrorist group
Rather than working to ensure that the concerned government institutions respect the order of the court, Governor Nasir el-Rufai, few days after the court order, released the White Paper on the report of the Commission of Inquiry and finally labelled IMN a terrorist group, banning its activities in the state.
The government also announced the takeover of all properties belonging to IMN and declared war against anyone who claims to be members of the group.
The White Paper acknowledges that the Nigerian Army abided by its Rules of Engagement and further observed that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry failed to take into account the years during which the activities of the IMN in Gyallesu had threatened peace and security; “thus for all intent and purpose, the IMN is an insurgent group and ought to be treated as such.”
When contacted, the Special Adviser to Governor el-Rufai on Media, Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye, says the gazette declaring the IMN an unlawful society clearly cites the legal provisions on which the action is based. Adekeye insisted that no known law of the land was breached in the governor’s action.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s stand
Shortly after the military attack on IMN in 2014, many dignitaries across the country, including the incumbent Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai; the Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari; Immediate past Caretaker Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ahmed Makarfi, among others, had paid condolence visit to El-Zakzaky in solidarity with the group.
Considering the governor’s current stance against the group, many, who spoke to New Telegraph on condition of anonymity, accused Mallam el-Rufai, of hypocrisy, saying when the governor needed votes, ahead of his gubernatorial ambition in 2015, he curried the group’s favour, forgetting the ‘danger’ it posed to the society.
When asked what could have happened to the governor’s relationship with the group within just one year in office, Adekeye deliberately refused to answer the question.
Perceived foreign influences on the crisis
Many people, including the Chairman of a Kaduna-based non-governmental organisation, Centrum Initiative for Development and Fundamental Rights Advocacy (CEDRA), Dr. John Danfulani, has identified the diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Iran as a possible factor fueling the IMN massacre in Nigeria.
The Sunni-Shi’ite crisis, which began at the moment of Prophet Muhammad’s death, was as a result of the divided opinions on who should lead Islam following the death of Muhammad. The Shi’ites, who today are in the minority among the Muslim population globally, held the belief that without sons surviving the founder of the religion, and without leaving a clear will, his closest male relative and his cousin and son-in-law, Ali, was to be the leader.
On the other hand, the Sunnis, who are in the majority and constituting more than 80 per cent of global Muslim population, believed that the caliphate should go to whoever would be best equipped politically to lead the religion. They eventually opted for Muhammad’s father-in-law, Abu Bakr.
Though Abu Bakr was named the first caliphate, Ali also assumed the throne for 25 years after, but he was assassinated. His death, coupled with the massacre of his son, Hassan and his family, contributed significantly to the war of attrition between the Shi’ites and Sunnis, the two dominant Muslim factions, till date.
Therefore, like many others, Danfulani holds the belief that the standoff between the Sunni populated Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite populated Iran is already impacting the country, saying the crushing of the IMN members by the military might not be unconnected with an expression of Nigeria’s loyalty to Saudi Arabia.
At a media briefing held at the University of Lagos in 2016, Danfulani told New Telegraph, that IMN might be suffering the consequences of the crisis between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
This view may have been affirmed by the reported phone call to Nigeria’s President Mohammadu Buhari by the Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani who was quoted by the IRNA, just two days after the incident, telling Buhari to ensure that “minor disputes must not be allowed to turn into deep differences.”
Rouhani was quoted thus; “Under such conditions that terrorism is a serious threat against many Muslim countries’ security, the Muslims need to unite and not permit trivial differences of opinion to lead to acute disputes, since safeguarding the Muslims’ lives is our major and public responsibility.
“The Islamic world is more than ever before in need of peace and peaceful resolution of its existing problems. We expect the Nigerian government to relieve the entire bereaved families and injured victims of that disaster and to issue strict orders to prevent the occurrence of any further unrests.”
On his part, President Buhari reportedly appreciated the effort of his Iranian counterpart, emphasizing that he realises his responsibility in safeguarding the lives of Nigerian Muslims.
“We will also do our best to restore security in our country and will act against those who have disturbed it,” Buhari reportedly told his counterpart.
However, investigations by New Telegraph revealed that the Federal Government had seen the phone call as interference in its local affairs. This belief may be reinforced by the government’s decision not to obey its own court order as regards the release El-Zakyzaky, against court order.
Muslim groups intervene
Though, text messages sent to the Secretary General of the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Prof. Is-haq Oloyede, over the matter were not replied as at the time of filing this report, investigations by New Telegraph revealed the efforts of the leadership of the Islamic body to resolve the crisis amicably. However, New Telegraph learnt that the organisation had soft-pedalled when it saw signs of no regret from the Presidency.
Meanwhile, the President of the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), an Islamic based non-governmental organisation, Prof. Ishaq Akintola, told New Telegraph that though it had rushed to condemn the actions of the government shortly after the crisis, he would prefer that a middle ground is reached between the warring factions.
According to Akintola, excesses in the name of religion such as blockade of roads and carrying of arms, among others, should not be tolerated by government, but at the same time, two wrongs can never make a right.
“So MURIC will appreciate that those concerned come to a round table to resolve all the contradictions and that laws of the land should be obeyed by parties involved,” Akintola said.
Activists, right groups react
Apart from condemning the massacre, the Human Rights Monitoring Agenda (HURMA) has also faulted the Federal Government’s disobedience of its own court order.
According to the Executive Director of the group, Comrade Isiak Buna, the disregard for court is a call for anarchy.
Buna said: “Whenever there is dispute, either between two individuals or between government and individual, it is only the court of law that has the final say, as a reliable forum to settle dispute in a Democratic environment where the rule of law prevails.
Buna said; “The present position of the Federal Government as regards the continued detention of Ibrahim El-Zakyzaky is not in line with democratic tenets. It is a complete violation of court order and can qualify as nothing, but contempt of court.
“So, as a human rights organisation that advocates the rule of law, the HURMA, without any reservation, enjoins the Federal Government to obey court order in order to protect the democratic integrity of the nation. A deliberate violation of such constitutional provision is, indeed, an act of corruption and does not befit a government praised by all in championing the fight against corruption.”
Similarly, a human rights lawyer, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, described the killings of the IMN members by men of the Nigerian Army as a pogrom, saying there could be no basis for such dastardly act.
According to Ogunye, every known law on human rights forbids impunity, and that fundamental rights to life, liberty and freedom of associations are all rights guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution.
Jiti, however, cautions against lawlessness on the part of any individual organisation, but also warned security operatives against reckless use of arms, saying their primary responsibilities was first to protect the people, “and not to crush the same people.”
“It is still strange how just before our very eyes the Nigerian Army will descend on fellow Nigerians it is meant to protect. I want to believe, and very strongly too, that if the Chief of Army Staff had avoided the route occupied by IMN, it would not have demeaned the institution. In fact, the same Army could now approach the court to seek an order restraining such procession in future, and if that was now done, and the order, if granted, is now flouted, then the consequences could be meted.
“And these consequences cannot also be in a savagery way as we have witnessed, but in a more civil and orderly way. This is democracy, for God’s sake. I don’t think we need to be reminded of Decree 4 of 1984 which granted absolute power of arrest to the military.”
It must also be noted that similar position was held by the National Human Rights Commission, an agency of the Federal Government, which after it concluded its findings on the matter, advised the warring factions and particularly the Federal Government on ways to achieve everlasting peace.
According to an official of the agency, who craved anonymity, the NHRC had written the Office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, advising it to respect the order of the Federal High Court, which ordered El-Zakyzaky’s release or appeal the ruling.
“But till date, the Minister has neither communicated us on his intention to obey the order nor appealed the ruling. We have not also seen in practice the implementation of other contents of our recommendations, and this to a large extent, is an embarrassment to the country.”
Amnesty International’s position
In a similar development, the Amnesty International, in its report of investigations carried out on the matter, identified excesses on the part of IMN, but condemned the excessive force used by the military to quell the presumed provocation.
The report by the group states in part; “It is not clear why the army launched such a “military operation” in response to a law and order situation which could and should have been dealt with by the police, and why the military resorted to using live fire against mostly unarmed protesters without any attempt to use non-lethal crowd-control means. The Kaduna State Police Commissioner told Amnesty International he had no information about the incident, which he said had been a “purely military matter.”
“All available information, including consistent accounts from witnesses and survivors from the confrontations at the two locations investigated by Amnesty International, indicates that the military used unlawful and excessive force against IMN supporters, unlawfully killing hundreds of unarmed men and women who posed no threat to their lives or to the lives of others.”
El-Zakyzaky’s brother speaks
The immediate younger brother to El-Zakyzaky, who lives in Jushi Area of the ancient Zaria City, Mallam Badamosi Yako, was moved to tears when narrating his experience during his last visit to his brother in detention, saying the sect’s leader has lost an eye and that the other one requires urgent surgery.
He said after much pressure, the security operatives now allow only blood relations of El-Zakyzaky to see him, and that he goes to Abuja to see him once in a while, adding that the experience of his brother in detention isn’t appealing to encourage constant visit.
He said: “What is the need in visiting someone whose condition has degenerated, yet you cannot help. He was shot in the eye and the only one that he tries to use is even in need of surgery. Yet, the security won’t allow him to see doctors.
“The case of his wife is worse; she still has a bullet stuck to her spinal cord which has not been removed to avoid paralysis. All other bullets are removed, but she is in pains. It is a serious problem, but we believe God will never forsake his own people. We call on Nigerians and international communities to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to free my brother. What else do they want? Our sister was burnt alive, our mother’s grave was desecrated and many other atrocities were committed just because of right of way.”
Palace declines comment
On a visit to the Palace of the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, the Chief Protocol and Information Officer, Alhaji Abubakar Ladan, said it was a matter strictly between the Military and the IMN members and so would not be interested in making any comment.
Any likely retaliation from IMN?
Abdullahi Danladi is a Professor of Polymer Composite and Deputy Dean, Faculty of Physical Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University. He is a personal driver to El-Zakyzaky and one of the leaders of thought of the Islamic organisation in Nigeria.
Danladi also has his two children – Mohammed Abdullahi Danladi (eldest son) and a Masters student in Project Management at ABU, and his second son, Ibrahim Abdullahi Danladi of the International Relations Department in ABU, languishing in detention in the last two years.
But regardless of the situation, he does not believe, and said emphatically that IMN does not believe in violence “and we will never retaliate violently.”
He said: “No one fights the course of Allah for Him, because He knows all. But I can assure you that someday, somewhere; the perpetrators of this heinous crime will pay for it. But that our members will carry weapons is far from our ways of life.”
Danladi says the new twist of events whereby the IMN is being attributed to violence is strange, saying the same El-Zakyzaky was once bestowed with the Kaduna State Man of Peace Award by former Governor Ahmed Makarfi.
He, however, agreed that some youth members of the group have been found to carry items such as knives, catapults and machetes, saying their actions could not be dissociated from the constant attacks the organisation receives from the security agents.
Security threats against New Telegraph’s reporter
Following the proscription order placed on IMN by the Kaduna State Government, it is not only the perceived IMN members that are trailed in Kaduna, but also anyone with any link with the group. Our correspondent (this writer), who visited the state in pursuit of the story was also not spared.
On Wednesday, July 19, 2017 our reporter visited all the three scenes of the violence, including the Hussainiya, Gyallesu and film village, but on returning to his hideout, one of his fixers called around 12 midnight to announce a raid on the people, asking for the reporter who visited during the day.
To further confirm the information, by 9a.m. the following day, Thursday July 20, 2017 the military was on hand at the Hussainiya ground to supervise bricklayers who were busy constructing fence around the whole land space.
Exposed! Nigeria’s Deputy Speaker in N1.1bn water contract scam (II)
In conclusion of this two-part story, MOJEED ALABI reports the details of the contract scandal involving the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Lasun Yusuff, who secures contract award from the same government he serves
Exposed! Nigeria’s Deputy Speaker in N1.1bn water contract scam
Communities cry over shoddy projects
After about four months of investigations, New Telegraph’s reporter, MOJEED ALABI, exposes the corrupt practices in the execution of controversial N1.7 billion mini-water schemes in three communities in Osun State by members of the National Assembly, including the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Lasun Yusuff
On Friday, January 5, the sun was fierce and scorching in Ife-Odan, a nascent community in the West Senatorial District of Osun State.
Ileri-Oluwa Oloyede, an SS 2 student of Faith Foundation College, Ife-Odan, had just returned from market where she had helped her mother in her palm oil business. But the 16-year-old girl still had one more chore to do; to fetch water for the urgent need of the household.
Considering the stress she had gone through at the market, Ileri-Oluwa’s parents advised her to wait till sundown. But the longer she waited, the more difficult her chances of getting water became and the longer it would take the family to prepare dinner.
“If I wait for the sun to go down, many more people will be at the well, and that would worsen the situation. And if the crowd becomes uncontrollable, the landlord may lock his gate and drive us out,” she said.
Thus, while the sun was yet to finally recede, Ileri-Oluwa and her younger sister, Florence, hit the road for a three-kilometre trek in search of clean water at the nearest well.
It is the same story for Michael Adeoba, who was also on the road, almost at the same time, with his father’s motorcycle to fetch water into some 20-litre jerrycans.
Adeoba, who had battled to get the motorcycle started, apparently due to some mechanical faults, decided to push it to a nearby mechanic workshop for a quick fix before going for the water.
He said: “This is what I go through every other day. Whenever I am on holiday, I always dread this experience. In fact, it is more of punishment than chore.”
The experiences of both Ileri-Oluwa and Adeoba reflect the pains and pangs of the people of Ife-Odan in their efforts to access clean water.
The situation is similar in many communities in the agrarian state, particularly during dry season when many wells and streams are dried up and public water supply is scarce due largely to poor electricity supply.
Addressing this perennial challenge was the concern of 12 parliamentarians, who represented the state in the National Assembly between 2011 and 2015, comprising three senators and nine House of Representatives’ members.
The federal lawmakers, who were elected on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) before the party merged with others to form the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), had pursued common agenda, apparently towards fulfilling their party’s campaign promises.
One of them and now the Chief Whip of the eighth Senate, Prof. Sola Adeyeye, representing Osun Central Senatorial District, told New Telegraph that the senators and the nine members of the green chamber had agreed to facilitate the execution of joint projects in the state, through the National Assembly’s Zonal Intervention Projects (ZIP), otherwise known as “constituency projects.”
Therefore, when the 2012 budget was being prepared in 2011, they agreed to jointly facilitate the construction of a mini-water scheme in each senatorial district.
But Adeyeye’s original plan for his district, he claimed, was the reconstruction of the narrow Ojutu Bridge in Ilobu, headquarters of Irepodun Local Government Area. However, this position was overruled by Governor Rauf Aregbesola, “who said we should do water.”
“But none of us could singlehandedly fix water, so we decided to have three mini-water schemes across the three senatorial districts,” Adeyeye added.
After a careful study, Ife-Odan was chosen as the beneficiary community in Osun West; Ipetu-Ijesha in Osun East, and Ila-Orangun in Osun Central Senatorial District, for the construction of the mini-water schemes.
As captured in the 2012 Appropriation Act and contained in the South West Geo-Political Zone Mapping of Capital Projects by the National Assembly Budget and Research Office (NABRO), a total sum of N1,666,666,668 was budgeted for the projects at the rate of N555,555,556 for each.
But according to Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA), the contract supervising agency, it eventually awarded the Ife-Odan scheme at the sum of N538,412,653.06; Ila-Orangun at the rate of N539,128,429.13 while N541,193,861.23 was approved for Ipetu-Ijesha project. Thus the new total sum released for the project stood at N1,618,734,943.47.
There was also additional budgetary allocation of N100 million each for the three mini-water schemes in the 2013 budget proposal but there was no evidence that the money was released.
Projects excite communities
When the beneficiary communities received the news of their selection for the location of the projects, they heaved a sigh of relief that potable water would no longer be a luxury.
According to the Risapetu and Regent of Ipetu-Ijesha, High Chief Ayodele Olayinka, some government representatives had approached the community’s palace on a Sunday in 2012, and demanded a parcel of land for the location of the project.
“We told them to wait till Monday but they insisted they needed to start that same Monday. Though Kabiyesi was still alive then, he was already very old. So, with two other chiefs, we went there, and gave them the site. We were very elated and anxious to see the project commenced,” the chief explained.
He said true to their words, the contractor resumed to the location on the appointed Monday and began with the clearing of the bush.
“We were then visiting the site on a regular basis, at least, to show solidarity and support,” the chief added.
The experience was more exciting in Ife-Odan, where the government’s dam, created many years ago from Sekunrebete stream, which supplies water to the community and its environs, had been facing a series of challenges, including theft of its generator.
According to an officer of the state Water Corporation and the dam’s Superintendent Officer, Mr. Adeyemi Oyekola, who reluctantly spoke to New Telegraph, apart from the power issue, the dam was enough to serve the community.
He said: “In fact, there is no point bringing up a new water scheme. What this place needs is just a good generator, and repair of some of the machines and the reticulation networks, then, the community will be good for it.
“The major challenge here is power because the voltage is always low and cannot power the pumping machines.”
Thus, the desire to see the water scarcity problem addressed and the prospect of job opportunities at the site for the youth of the community inspired a farmer, Mr. Azeez Moradesa, to donate about four plots of land for the project.
The parcel of land is part of Moradesa’s inheritance and located beside his house at Araromi area of the town, which is less than two kilometres to the crisis-ridden dam.
He said: “So when they started the construction, I was employed as the security guard by the contractor. They were paying me N20,000 every month.”
Similarly, a former student of the Osun State College of Education, Ila-Orangun, AbdulKadir Oladosu, who was in year one when the construction work started at the Ila-Orangun site in 2012, said the students, in particular, were excited, “due to the suffering we were going through to get water.”
Inauguration of uncompleted projects
Five years after the projects were initiated, in February 2017, the Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA), having allegedly certified the contractors for jobs well done, held a symbolic inauguration at the Ila-Orangun plant, and handed them over to the Osun State government, through its water corporation.
Though, the inauguration took place at Ila-Orangun, the documents and keys to the other two projects were also handed over to the state government. Thus, by this handover, New Telegraph learnt, it became the responsibility of the corporation to manage and operate the facilities for the benefit of the people.
Projects dead on arrival
Six years after people’s hope had been raised, New Telegraph’s investigations revealed that the projects have failed to ameliorate the water scarcity the communities face. In Ife-Odan the massive water plant erected by the contractor is yet to produce a drop of water.
When visited by our correspondent, the facility had already been overtaken by weeds and cobwebs, without anyone found in the compound.
The guard, Moradesa, who, apparently was disappointed by the turn of events, was not on hand to conduct our reporter round the facility. But his son, Joseph Moradesa, who did, was not impressed by the development.
When he eventually spoke to our correspondent, the guard expressed regret that six years after the project was initiated, there was yet to be water for the people at the plant.
Moradesa, who spoke in Yoruba language, said: “Even as the guard, since February 2017 when the place was transferred to Osun State Water Corporation, my salary has been reduced to N15,000 and I received the last one in October 2017. What pained me most is that this place is already abandoned and the purpose for which I donated the land may have been defeated.”
Also speaking, a palace chief, the Obajio of Ife-Odan, Chief Amoo Adegbite, expressed regret that the people’s hope had been dashed by the alleged poor handling of the project, saying the whole community was disappointed after so much expectation.
Adegbite said; “Many of us had thought what they wanted to do was to connect the dam and make the water supply easier. But we were surprised when they started digging borehole just few kilometres away from the dam, and we were worried that it might turn out to be a wasted effort due to our experiences with boreholes here.”
Son of a late traditional ruler of the community, Prince Gbade Morenikeji, who had visited the town for the New Year celebration, said one of the reasons the community voted against the return of one of the 12 representatives, Senator Mudashiru Hussein, was largely due to the abandoned water project.
Morenikeji, who works with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, noted that following the death of Senator Isiaka Adeleke, Hussein had been represented by the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), for the rerun election, “but because the water project he had facilitated to the community during his first term was seen as a scam, the people said, no way.”
Meanwhile, the superintendent at the community’s dam has revealed that with the construction of the water scheme, the pipes laid from the dam to the community had been destroyed by the contractor. He said: “Even if there is power supply it will be difficult to supply water because of the damage done to the pipes when they were laying their own pipes.”
In the same vein, at Iloro area of Ipetu-Ijesha, just a few metres away from Grammar School Road, location of the community’s own water plant, an ND I student of the Federal Polytechnic, Offa, Kwara State, Aduragbemi Idris, was guarding jealously a padlocked well.
She denied knowledge of any public water scheme in the neighbourhood, saying her uncle and owner of the house, reluctantly locked the well because of the pressure from the public.
Similarly, the Regent was livid with anger, as he showed our reporter his well within his own compound.
Chief Olayinka explained: “When they were laying the pipes, they fixed them in the wrong side and I told them that the side would not be good for the pipes due to the telegraphic poles. They didn’t take my advice, but after they had laid the pipes for about a month, they heeded my advice and moved to the other side. Later, we didn’t see them again.
“So, people are back to the streams as it was the practice in the olden days. We are just lucky that our people are not affected by water-borne diseases. Of course, it is now an abandoned project, and that is sad. This is because some of the ‘honourables’ (National Assembly members representing the state) who started the project are no longer in government. The new ones are now embarking on new projects individually, which are also already being abandoned.”
But when New Telegraph visited the plant at Ipetu-Ijesha, a security guard on duty, Mr. Adeleke Faleti, explained that the facility had been operational since 2016 till sometimes in November 2017, when it developed mechanical fault.
Faleti, who is an employee of Evermore Securities, a private security company, explained that apart from the challenges posed by erratic power supply and non-availability of diesel, the facility had served the few available ‘town tap points’ until it developed problems.
He said: “The engineer in charge is not on ground, and I am aware he has written to the state to complain about the mechanical faults developed by some machines.”
Also, a civil servant who lives in Ila-Orangun but craved anonymity, said apart from the four tap points sited at the water plant, there was no other public tap point within the vicinity that he was aware of.
The plant, which is located at the College High School area, in the community, serves only the people living within the neighbourhood.
“I cannot even attempt to fetch from the well in my house because it is too deep, and can take five minutes to get a single bowl of water. So, I have to drive to the water plant to fetch into jerrycans, at least every two days,” the source explained.
Osun State Water Corporation kicks, rejects projects
Embittered by the poor work done allegedly by the contractor, the state Water Corporation rejected the projects at Ila-Orangun and Ife-Odan. It said the water yields at the two sites were grossly inadequate due to the shoddy jobs done.
The corporation’s Deputy General Manager, Operations and Production, Mr. Ademola Odejide, an engineer, said the three projects were handed over to the corporation in February 2017, but after a careful study, those located at Ila-Orangun and Ife-Odan were returned to the agency for correction of all identified defects.
Odejide said: “Immediately we received the projects we wrote down our observations and recommendations, but our memo did not get to the governor on time because he was not around.
“But as soon as we received the go-ahead, only the Ipetu-Ijesha got our approval, so we sent back all the documents handed over to us for Ila-Orangun and Ife-Odan with the instruction that they should go and correct all the defects. We recommended a better industrial borehole for Ila-Orangun and raw water supply at Ife-Odan because the boreholes sunk could hardly yield 20 per cent.”
According to Odejide, the Ila-Orangun scheme is later provided with the required industrial borehole but the Ife-Odan project was now being linked to the dam, which hasn’t been completed.
But another officer of the corporation, who craved anonymity, explained that the problem with the project is that both the OORBDA and the contractors failed to do their due diligence. According to him, researches have shown that borehole water in a basement complex terrain like Osun State cannot yield the required volume of water to serve a whole community.
“You know, in engineering, when something is not in your field, you can hardly know it; OORBDA is only known for dam, not for water supply. In fact, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources carried out a survey on water projects, which indicates that there are so many boreholes being drilled across the state especially in our own area, which are not yielding desired results because of the differences between the basement complex terrain and sedimentary basin.
“In Lagos, and parts of Ogun, borehole can easily yield required volume of water because it is a sedimentary basin. But these contractors don’t like to hear this. In fact, the contractors had in the past threatened to eliminate some of us, saying we are running them down. When the National Assembly invited some of our officers for explanation on the matter, because we explained all this, the contractor, which we later learnt is a federal lawmaker, threatened to ‘waste’ us.
“The current Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly owns the company that handled the Ila-Orangun and Ife-Odan projects. It is a secret arrangement between him and the contract awarding agency because it is against the law. Even, most of his colleagues who facilitated the projects didn’t know this until more than three years after, when the projects began to constitute problems,” the source said.
Search for contractors begins
Apart from the Ipetu-Ijesha project where the carcass of a billboard indicating the contractor’s name and other details could be found standing filthily on the wall of the plant’s fence, there is nothing to link the Ila-Orangun and Ife-Odan projects to their handlers. This informed New Telegraph to approach the OORBDA, as the contract supervising agency, for the details of the projects.
Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority (OORBDA) responds
At a brief meeting held in January with our correspondent at the office of its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Olufemi Odumosu, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, the Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority suggested to formalise its response to New Telegraph’s enquiries, saying further communication could be established afterwards.
Thus, in a tersely-worded letter, dated January 18, 2018, and addressed to New Telegraph, it explained that after competitive bidding processes, two companies were awarded the contracts in 2012. They are Sabbyn Nigeria Limited, an oil and gas company, and Nur and Company Nigeria Limited, an engineering company.
The letter, which was signed by Odumosu, also stated the locations awarded to each of the two firms and the amount approved for each of the projects, adding that the duration for the execution of the projects was 12 months.
It said the Ipetu-Ijesha project was handled by Sabbyn Nigeria Limited while the ones located at Ife-Odan and Ila-Orangun were awarded to Nur and Company Nigeria Limited.
The letter reads in part: “The contract award process was in line with the provisions of the Procurement Act 2007.”
However, the agency failed to supply other vital information including the details of the bidding processes, registration numbers of the selected companies, how money was paid to the contractors, reasons for the alleged abandonment of the projects, allegation of poor productivity, among others.
The agency had initially claimed its officers could no longer lay their hands on the projects’ documents because “it was a long time it worked on the files,” but following unrelenting requests from our correspondent, on January 31, 2018, the agency’s Public Relations Officer, Mr. Saliu Adeniyi, sent the registration numbers and the addresses of the two companies via text messages.
CAC links Deputy Speaker to Nur & Company Nigeria Limited
Unlike the Sabbyn Nigeria Limited, which details were easily accessed on the internet, the details of Nur and Company Nigeria Limited, which executed both the Ife-Odan and Ila-Orangun projects, seemed to have been shrouded in secrecy, as the name could not be traced anywhere. It has no website, contact details, or even a social media account.
Its address at Plot 8, Impressive Close, off Dosumu Street, Agidingbi, Ikeja, Lagos, as reportedly quoted on its application document for the bidding exercise, belongs to a different owner entirely. The issue of this address alone caused more controversies than could be imagined, leading to the death of an octogenarian over the fraudulent acts of some alleged individuals.
But the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) helped in no small measure to unravel the mystery surrounding the owners of the companies, including the Nur and Company Nigeria Limited, which is owned by Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Lasun Yusuff.
The deputy speaker, according to our findings, used his personal company to secure the two projects, even as investigations also revealed that the high ranking parliamentarian failed to execute these projects as specified by the awarding agency.
Deputy Speaker keeps mum
The series of New Telegraph’s enquiries sent to the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Lasun Yusuff, through his media aides, including his Special Adviser (Media), Mrs. Lara Owoeye-Wyse, were unanswered.
However, upon receiving New Telegraph’s letter, which was submitted to Owoeye-Wyse on January 9, the deputy speaker’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Wole Oladimeji, called our reporter on Thursday, January 11, on behalf of his boss to deny any knowledge of the projects. But when asked whether he had raised the matter with his boss before giving defence, Oladimeji said no, and promised to revert. He has since not got back to New Telegraph till date.
Meanwhile, in the second part of this report, many interesting twists about the whole issue will be revealed.
Sabbyn Nigeria Limited found
Locating Sabbyn Nigeria Limited, which handled the Ipetu-Ijesha mini-water scheme, wasn’t a difficult task. A simple search on the internet revealed the company’s website, its owner, and contact details. Its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Abayomi Collins, an engineer, had represented Ifo/Ewekoro Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives between 1999 and 2007. He was Chairman, House Committees on Petroleum Resources, National Planning and Economy, and Water Resources.
Collins took time to explain his own side of the story, insisting that his company executed the project to specifications and that all rules were followed to the letter.
He said: “This project was handed over, inaugurated and was operational. We have certificates to prove this. When you complete such a project you are first given a mechanical completion certificate. Every system, generator, water and other things were certified okay. And it was handed over to Osun State Water Corporation because it is the end beneficiary.
“We completed the project in 2015 and men of the Osun State Water Corporation came to the site to understudy the situation. But officially, it was taken over in June 2016, which was even pretty long. People in the town can confirm that as far back as 2015, they were receiving water far away, where we terminated the pipeline at the Osun State University campus in the town, which is the remotest part of the reticulation network.”
Collins added that after the expiration of the six-month-defect-liability period, his company was discharged of any liability to the project.
“As a matter of fact, we were discharged completely in 2016, and since then we have been requesting for the payment of our own five per cent retention fee which was N26.7 million. Up till now, they have only paid marginally N8 million,” he said.
Asked why an oil and gas company would be awarded a water project, Collins explained that his company provided services to oil and gas, and that water service was also one of them. “So, it is part of the services we render. The company is registered with CAC. I am ready to open books for you on this.”
Collins also responded to the delay in the execution of the project. “This is typical of government projects. Projects progress as funding is made available in yearly budgets. We have several government projects with Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Ogun-Oshun River Basin Development Authority, which have not been funded in the last four years. We will only be able to continue when they are funded.”
•This is the first part of an investigative budget tracking report with the support of Macarthur Foundation and the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR)
Banks’ contract staff: Slaving for peanuts
To cut cost in the face of dwindling economy and stiff competition, financial institutions hire contract staff who earn peanuts. But this has jacked up fraud in the banking industry, reports TONY CHUKWUNYEM
Until January 31, Chinyere Amadi was a contract worker with one of Nigeria’s tier one banks.
Nowadays, she sits at home, taking care of her 11-month-old baby and thinking of what job to apply for or what business to do to support her husband who, according to her, is finding it increasingly difficult relying on his meagre monthly salary to take care of his young family.
“Given my husband’s situation, I sometimes feel that, perhaps, I should not have resigned from the bank. But I had reached a point where I could no longer continue working as ‘a contract staff ’ in that organisation.
“Despite the fact that my husband is finding it difficult to support us with his poor salary, he fully backed my decision to quit,” she said.
Chinyere attributed her departure from the bank to the fact that not only was her monthly salary of N64,000 hardly sufficient to relieve the burden on her husband, her job as a contract worker was so tasking that it had begun to negatively impact her ability to look after her baby.
Indeed, she said that she spent three weeks in the hospital last December as her baby was admitted for an ailment which had become quite serious because her work schedule made it impossible for her to detect the problem before it got complicated.
Slavery She said: “The job required that I leave home as early as 5.30a.m., to return sometimes as late as after 10p.m. We were also expected to be at work on Saturdays so there was very little time for us, especially nursing mothers, to spend with our families.”
The young mother, who graduated with a Second Class Upper degree in Economics from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, in 2010, disclosed that although she knew about the challenges of being a bank contract worker in this country, she had reluctantly taken up the appointment in 2014 when no other offer was forthcoming.
She said: “I did not initially want the job as it was common knowledge that despite having almost the same qualifications, contract staff earn far less than their colleagues who are employed on a permanent basis. But I had little choice because at that time, the most common opening for young graduates in the banking industry was being employed as a contract worker.
“However, it did not take me long to discover that the job was a form of slavery. We (contract staff) hardly have any breathing space; you cannot take or receive calls on your mobile phones while you are at work and getting permission to attend to urgent personal matters is a big problem.”
Amadi added that those who had permanent employment usually look down on the contract staff. “Apart from the tough work schedule, the insults and abuse that we frequently suffer in the hands of bosses who just wanted to show that they don’t have the same employment status with us can be so annoying that many people chose the option of quitting instead of being provoked into doing something rash.
“You can imagine that while the permanent staff who clearly don’t work as hard as contract workers earn about N150,000, we were paid N64,000.
Besides, while permanent staff are entitled to annual leave and leave allowance, its usually very difficult for contract staff to be granted leave and even then, they receive no allowance whatsoever,” she added.
Amadi emphasised that although she was yet to find another job and was having a tough time raising funds to start a business, she really did not regret resigning from the bank. 32,359 bank contract staff
However, it would seem that the likes of Amadi who have the courage to resign are quite few as data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in February shows that as at December 31, 2017, no fewer than 32,359 staff in the banking industry were employed on contract basis, accounting for 35.8 per cent of total bank staff, which stood at 90,453.
The NBS in its Selected Banking Sector Data for the fourth quarter of 2017 reveals that the number of contract staff in banks had consistently grown to 32,359 in the last quarter of last year.
Specifically, the report shows that banks had gradually increased their number of contract staff from 20,237 in the first quarter to 21,837 in the second quarter and 27,032 in the third quarter before increasing it by 19.71 per cent in the fourth quarter.
The report further shows that the number of executive staff of banks dropped from 197 in the third quarter to 188 by the end of last year, while the number of senior executives had dropped by 3,852 from 20,420 to 16,568 as at December 2017. Also, in the last three months of 2017, the number of executive and senior staff of banks declined by 4.57 per cent and 18.86 per cent respectively.
Cost cutting Analysts point out that banks began to increasingly employ contract staff and reducing hir-ing of executive and senior staff as part of aggressive cost cutting measures introduced in the wake of the crisis which hit the industry in the last decade.
The crises, which led the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to take over several lenders that were close to going under, resulted in massive job cuts in the industry with the departing staff being replaced with younger contract staff, who were ready to receive salaries that were less than half of what permanent employees were getting.
How it works New Telegraph findings show that banks adopted the strategy of outsourcing the hiring of contract staff to firms which usually have some form of close relationship with the lenders. For instance, the firms could be owned directly or indirectly by a relative/associate of a top shareholders or executive director of the bank.
Although the hired contract staff are seconded to the banks, these firms undertake all the processes required in the hiring of the contract staff, including advertising vacancies, conducting tests/interviews and issuing employment letters.
Also, in the event that the bank complains about the worker’s conduct, the person will not be sacked, but will be simply sent back to his or her employer. Industry sources said that while lenders pay outsourcing firms huge amounts for hiring contract staff, these companies pay the workers small salaries despite the challenging tasks they perform in the banks.
Rising fraud Interestingly, regulators have attributed the rising rate of fraud and forgery cases in the banking industry to the increasing number of contract staff employed by banks.
For instance, in the last few years, the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, has been repeatedly warning banks against the use of outsourced staff, pointing out that in 2015, over 75 per cent of fraud cases in the banking sector was traced to outsourced bank staff.
Last year, he revealed that bank examination reports indicated that the high incidence of fraud and forgeries in the banking system was linked to outsourced or contract staff.
The NDIC boss also stated that in as much as regulators appreciated the necessity for banks to cut costs, it was incumbent on all stakeholders to fashion out capacity building and other strategies to motivate all employees to contribute positively rather than engaging in criminal acts that impact adversely on the entire banking system.
Ibrahim told finance and business journalists in Ilorin in October 2015 that 64 per cent of fraudulent activities in the banking industry in 2014 were traced to temporary staff of banks.
Similarly, two years ago, the CBN Director, Banking and Payments System Department, Mr. Dipo Fatokun, disclosed that the apex bank had advised lenders to desist from giving sensitive banking roles to contract staff as they might not have a stake in the financial institution.
He said: “A temporary staff may not have a stake in the bank so to say. So, it is encouraged that if they have staff that are not permanent, they should not give them responsibilities or roles that will expose them to critical functions of a bank.
“If you are giving somebody an authority to approve transactions of high magnitude and he does not have a stake in your bank, then you are already exposing yourself. So, this has been going on and I believe many banks understand the need to rely on their key staff for major duties. That is one of the reasons the fraud attempts have been rising, but the value lost declining.”
However, findings by New Telegraph indicate that despite these warnings, banks not only continue to hire contract staff, but have started assigning these employees to sensitive roles that were previously reserved for full time or permanent staff.
An industry source attributed the development to the increasing need for banks to cut costs in the face of a tough economy and rising competition. The source said: “Before now, contract staff were not assigned to Automated Teller Machine (ATM) watch duties.
You will also hardly find them being told to perform customer service duties. But all that has changed. Also, in the past, most banks usually set a maximum value of between N200,000 and N500,000 as the limit for risky transactions that a contract staff can undertake, but these days, this limit has been raised to N1 million.”
According to fraud statistics contained in the latest Nigerian Electronic Fraud Report, which was prepared by the Banking and Systems Payment Department of CBN, the banking industry recorded 31,736 fraud cases involving N16.5 billion between January 2014 and December 2016.
The study shows that the frauds were perpetrated through various payment channels such as Across the Counter, ATMs, cheques and electronic-commerce platforms. Others are Internet banking, mobile banking, Point-of-Sale and web transactions.
The report states that in the last three years, there had been more attempts in the number of fraud cases, adding that the development could be linked to the tough economy. Commenting on the issue of banks’ hiring of contract staff, a management consultant, Mr. Dafe Edeki, blamed the situation on the country’s sluggish economy, which, according to him, continues to drive cost minimisation by companies. He said: “The banks are not exploiting the contract staff; it’s strictly business.
Any organisation that wants to stay competitive would take advantage of the demand and supply gap in the labour market by offering small salaries because there are millions of people who are ready to do that job for half the pay. Anyone who is not comfortable with the terms of employment should not sign the employment letter.”
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