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Kaduna centenary celebration: Keeping the North together

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Kaduna State Government recently celebrated the centenary of Kaduna city as the capital of Northern Nigeria, Correspondent BABA NEGEDU takes a look at the thrills, glamour of the once in a life time event.

 

Even the atmosphere of the day gave an indication of what was about to take place, the cloudy morning which latter gave rise to the sunny afternoon provided the enabling environment for the cultural and historical display that took place at the centenary celebration of Kaduna as a city. It was Mallam Muhammed Ibrahim in a chat with Saturday Telegraph at the Murtala Muhammad Square, venue of the durbar and cultural Fiesta, that tried to put a tag to the spectacles that was going on. He said: “Let me tell you the people you are seeing here (the crowd in their thousands) are not invited.

Mark my words and ask anybody, when it is durbar in the north here you don’t need to invite anyone. All you need is to send the information out and the people will assist you to propagate it. ”I can tell you that some of this people must have trekked over long distances to be here. But that is the type of recognition and love that we from this part of the world have for durbar, it is the culture of the people and cherished and I can tell you it would be cherished for a long time to come.”

This in a sense tries to explain the volume of persons and the perseverance of the scourging sun to witness the durbar and cultural display for the grand celebration of the Kaduna Centenary as a city. However any ardent participants will tell you that the array of display from 11 emirates in the north and an estimated 3000 horses had also made up for the heat of the day.

This aside the cultural troupes from the 19 Northern states and 23 local government areas of Kaduna State. It was no surprise then that people came from all over the country and beyond to witness the showpiece that many people described as unprecedented.

The event also drew traditional rulers from Borno, Kano, Zazzau, Katsina, Gombe, Bida, Bauchi, Hadejia, Misau and Keffi among others leading teams of horse riding warriors and displaying their different cultures. Declaring the durbar open, the Shehu of Borno, Garbai El-Kanemi, paid glowing tributes to the leaders of the region who had in one way or the other contributed to its growth and development. He specifically mentioned Sir Ahmadu Bello and Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa and called on the people to ensure that the sacrifice made by them and others for the north should not be allowed to be in vain. The durbar proper was led by the Emir of Kano Lamido Sanusi and the Shehu of Borno, with other emirs and their entourage following the long colorful and majestic procession showcasing the rich culture and costumes of the north.

The procession in itself is a beauty to behold as hundreds of fully dressed up horses, with district heads, warriors and snipers on top matching in columns to the applause of the spectators, the scene was also followed by palace guards. There was also a retinue of hunters in between as their bout of gunshots intermittently rent the air with their fierce and battle-ready attires all adding to the splendour of the occasion.

The event was a sight to behold no wonder dignitaries from all over the north made it a point to be present. Among those that were sighted at the event include, former Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo, Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, deputy governors of Zamfara, Bauchi and Plateau states.

From across the country also came personalities like the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of State for Budget and Planning, Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, among others. Even those that could not make it sent representatives like President Muhammadu Buhari who sent the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammad Musa Bello. Speaking through his representative, Buhari said Kaduna city is the melting point of Nigeria’s politics, a place where important decisions that shaped the nation had been taken. President Buhari also said the city is destined to play leading roles in Nigeria’s development in times to come.

The president also used the centenary celebration to address some pressing national issues, where he reiterated his administration’s resolve to solve the power problem among others issues bedevilling the country and its people. “I have noted with admiration that the state has achieved alot under Governor Nasir Ahmed el-Rufai who is a progressive governor as he has started implementing the vision he wants to see the state attain in the next 100 years”, the president said. According to him, many industries in Kaduna that are now comatose as well as other moribund companies across the country will be revived once the power challenge is solved.

Significantly, President Buhari underscored the relevance of the centenary celebrations, when he said that it was by no means a child’s play. In addition, the president tacitly endorsed el-Rufai by saying that the state has achieved a lot under him.

In his own address, el-Rufai gave an indication why the government and people of Kaduna state rolled out the drums to celebrate the city’s centenary as the administrative headquarters of the north. According to him, the centenary celebration was to showcase the rich history of Kaduna and the rich cultural heritage of the northern region. In addition, the event was also aimed at promoting tourism, boost the economy of northern states and promote unity and progress in diversity. El-Rufai further said that he was optimistic that Kaduna could be better and that the people were determined to regain its glory. The governor also paid glowing tribute to those who made Kaduna as a city.

He sais: ‘’We must make the next century one of peace, harmony and prosperity. We celebrate the first 100 years of Kaduna, not because they have been perfect. We celebrate, not because there have not been regrettable incidents in this city. “We celebrate because the promise of Kaduna endures. We celebrate because its residents are resilient.

We celebrate because there is a future, a chance to reclaim the glory, break new ground and make Kaduna an example of diversity and integration, a dynamo of progress and a model of development. We celebrate because the stains and losses of the past are not our destiny.

We celebrate because we know that we can be better, and Kaduna is ready to be great again”, the governor said. However the event proper started a day before with an exhibition of photographs depicting the actions of the past leaders and their contributions to the development of the region. Speaking at the exhibition, the state Deputy Governor, Bala Barnabas Bantex told journalists after going through the gallery that the significance of the exhibition was to ”look at the leaders of yesterday that had brought us to where we are today, leaders that were devoted to the development of the North, the younger generation do not know about them.”

“This is an opportunity for them to come here, because this is going to be a continuous exhibition for one week, for them to come and see how far we have come today”, he added. Bantex said looking at the pictures you can see clearly, see the element of commitment, humility in the leaders, It is also an opportunity to identify those that are associated with events in the country, events that led us to where we are today.” The deputy governor who spoke on the challenges between leaders of yesteryears and today, disclosed that before now we”had only three regions, the cost of governance was very low, much lower. We had gone into state creation. Even including states that are not viable at huge administrative costs to cater for and leaving very little amount to develop capital projects and so on.”

The deputy governor added:” I guess this is part of the reason why people said they did better because the cost of governance was relatively low compared to today. You can imagine 36 states, senators, governors, commissioners, that is why some of us are very cautious about this agitations for more states because it will increase the cost of governance”.

On his part, Chairman, Organising Committee of the Centenary celebration, Malam Balarabe Abbas Lawal, announced that December 2017 is Kaduna centenary month:”It is this spirit that the Centenary of Kaduna seeks to pay tribute to the people and communities that have built and upheld this city. The centenary seeks to review the first 100 years of Kaduna to learn lessons for the next 100 years”, he said.

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THE OREKOYA ABDUCTION: My wife gave herself up for me to escape –Suspected kidnapper

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After more than three years of running from the law, M.r Waheed Abubakar, an alleged kidnap kingpin finally ended his race in police custody. Abubakar was alleged to be the ringleader of a kidnap gang.

His wife, mother, brother and sister-in-law were alleged to be part of the gang members. The gang specialised in abducting children of rich parents. Abubakar’s wife, Fumilayo Adeyemi, alias Mary Akinloye, was the gang member that used to infiltrate homes of unsuspecting Nigerians, posing as a house help. Once she’s employed she would disappear with the children. The gang would later demand ransom in order to release the children.

The gang came to the attention of the world after Funmilayo, who was recruited through an online portal, OLX, disappeared with the three children of Mr. and Mrs. Leke Orekoya from their Surulere apartment, a day after she was employed. The three children were then 11-month-old Aderomola, Adedamola (four) and Ademola (six).

The distraught parents later received a call, asking them to pay N15million as ransom or they wouldn’t see their children ever again. The gang was also behind the abduction of two brothers, Michael and Rafael Esharegaran, from their home at Magodo, Lagos.

Funmilayo abducted the two boys after she was employed as a maid. The Esharegarans were said to have paid N10million as ransom, although the police denied knowledge of the payment.

Funmilayo was eventually tracked through a bank account where a ransom was deposited and had since been arraigned in court and remanded in prison custody. When the gang was smashed by operatives of the Special Intelligence Response Team (IRT), led by Mr Abba Kyari, only Funmilayo was arrested.

Other members escaped and went underground. Since 2015 that the incident happened, Kyari and his men had refused to beat a retreat in the investigations and had continued the hunt for Abubakar and other members of the gang. And just when many thought the trail had gone cold Abubakar was arrested.

A police source said: “It took IRT operatives three years to track down and locate Waheed Abubakar. He was tracked to Ikorodu, where he was operating as a motorcyclist. The IRT operatives followed up the case to know who were behind the kidnapping of babies in Lagos homes.

Immediately the operatives got the information about the suspect, they traced him to Abuja where he had earlier escaped to when the heat was much in Lagos. The suspect disappeared immediately his wife was arrested. He settled at Kubwa area in Abuja, where he worked as a tricycle operator.

When he realised that the police were still after him and were almost about to grab him, he ran back to Lagos and continued with his tricycle business at Ikorodu. “He was later tracked to his house; but the day operatives went to arrest him, they didn’t meet him.

The men left and went back to their station to re-strategize. They went after him again and found him at a motor park in Ikorodu. He confessed to the police that he was running around to avoid being arrested by the police.

He said that he had forgotten that IRT men were everywhere and that nobody could escape from them.” Abubakar was arrested after three years of being on the run and being a fugitive. Abubakar, who introduced himself as a tricycle rider said that he has two children, not four, as claimed by his wife. Indeed, in his confessions, Abubakar punctured many of Funmilayo’s confessions and allegations. One of the lies his wife told was allegation that his mother was involved in kidnapping, said Abubakar.

How my wife and I got involved in abduction

Recollecting how he and his wife got involved in kidnapping, Abubakar said: “I got involved in kidnapping through a friend, Hadiza Olawale. I knew him in Ibadan since 2013. He was living beside our house at Alakia area. We were friends then. After two years of losing contact, I ran into him at Egbeda in 2014.

I was returning from hospital where my wife had just gave birth to a baby. The name of my wife is Olayemi Adeyemi not Funmilayo “I was thinking of how to pay my wife’s medical bill on that day. My wife just had our second baby through a Caesarean Section in a private hospital. He was the first to sight me.

He shouted my name; I didn’t immediately recognize him because he had changed. He looked fresh compared to when he was in Ibadan. He asked me why I looked worried. I opened up to him; I told him what I was going through. I told him how much money I was looking for. He promised to assist me.

He asked me to follow him to his house around Shasha area. To my surprise, he gave me a bulging envelop. It contained money. When I counted it, it was N150, 000. The exact amount I needed to pay for the hospital bill.”According to Abubakar, after the naming ceremony, he and his wife went to Hadiza’s house to thank him. When they got to the Good Samaritan’s house, he told them that he was not happy with their financial situation. He said that he had a job for them.

Abduction of the Orekoya boys

Before Hadiza was through with the details of the job, Funmilayo allegedly jumped on it, saying she and her husband would do it. They were desperate for money. Abubakar recalled: “My wife jumped on the offer. She promised to do it in as much as the business would be yielding money.

We were given details of where my wife would go and work. She was also told how to escape with the abducted children in any home she went to work as nanny. He promised my wife and I that there wouldn’t be any problem and nobody would be arrested. “Unfortunately, when he was talking to my wife and I, we didn’t ask him what would be our own share of the proceeds.

He asked my wife if she could work as a nanny. Hadiza placed the advert on OLX. It was through the advert that the Orekoyas got in touch with us. Hadiza instructed Funmilayo to proceed to Lawanson, Surulere and work as nanny at the Orekoya’s house.

“When the Orekoyas went to work, my wife took the kids away. She put a call through to Hadiza. The man drove straight to where she waited for him. He collected the children from her and drove off. I was not really involved in the kidnapping. I got involved through my wife, who Hadiza was using.”

How my wife was arrested

Abubakar said that he remembered vividly how his wife allowed herself to be arrested by operatives of IRT, just so that he could escape. He said: “On the day my wife was arrested, she and I were together. When police arrested her, she gave me a signal, indicating that I should escape. I understood her reason; she wanted me to stay behind to take care of our children. We have two children; a boy and a girl. The girl, Fatima, is 13 years old, and the second is a boy, Ali. He’s just seven years old.

The policemen didn’t know me, so it was easy for me to escape. I immediately travelled to Abuja from Lagos. I settled at Kubwa where I started riding tricycle. I spent a year and half there. I only came back to Lagos to take care of my aged mother and check on my children. My mother is 62 years old.

She has just two of us; me and my sister. Nobody knows the whereabouts of my sister or if something has happened to her. When my mother heard of the kidnap incident, she insulted and slapped me.

For now, I’m her only child.” Asked to mention other homes that Funmilayo had gone to work as maid and later abducted children, Abubakar said: “I only know that Hadiza took my wife to two places; Surulere and Ikeja to work as a house help.” Abubakar denied that his mother, brother and sister-in-law were part of the kidnapping gang as earlier alleged by Funmilayo in 2015. He said: “It’s not true. I got involved in this problem through Hadiza.

I wanted to return the favour. He assisted me when I was in need and needed help. He was God sent at that time to my wife and I. After the abduction of the Orekoya children, Hadiza gave my wife just N15,000 and N3,000 to buy recharged cards.

He gave her the money after he dropped her off. He left with the children. “I heard in the news the following day that he demanded ransom from the kids’ parents. After the first operation, he called my wife that there was another job. My wife went to Ikeja, but didn’t succeed in the operation. When I saw the Orekoyas crying on television because of the abducted children, I felt bad.”

My wife and prison

Abubakar stated that he felt bad for not going to prison to visit his wife since her arrest. He said: “I can’t go to prison to visit her, but I do send money to her through her people. I also always pray for her. I regret all my actions in this abduction saga.

I pray that God will forgive me. Please also tell the Orekoyas and other families whose babies my wife kidnapped to forgive my wife and I. It was financial challenges that pushed us into such a crime.”

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‘I put my legs on Danfo buses while riding my unique bicycle’

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For many living in the Agege-Iyana Ipaja axis, Sarafa Odunlami perched on his unique bicycle like a bird resting comfortably in its nest has become a familiar sight. Not so much as a result of the young man but as a result of the ingenuity behind his very tall and one-of-a-kind bicycle.

An indigene of Imala, a town located after Abeokuta in Ogun State, the young man told Saturday Telegraph: “I reside in the Iyana Ipaja axis of Lagos State and I have been riding this bicycle since I finished it sometime last December.

“I was inspired to create this particular bicycle because I wanted something different, I have another bicycle that I was riding at the time. Instead of two wheels, one in front and another at the back; it has just one wheel with the seat on top of it.

The manufacturers abroad usually produce it small but I recreated it into a size 20 because it was too small for me so I made it big. As someone who also repairs bicycles, it was from there that I started thinking of something like this, finally getting it ready in December.”

On which vocation he set out for in life, Odunlami said he was not trained as a bicycle repairer but started training as a battery technician, better known in this part of the world as battery charger.

“The vocation I set out for, is that of a technician better known as Battery Charger but working as a bicycle repairer is what has provided me with a means of survival in the last few years. I am yet to hold the graduation ceremony from my master in the area of working I do repairs for now.

“I have been repairing bicycles since 2008 but I started learning to be a battery charger in 2007, rounding off my apprenticeship in 2011 and taking my leave. What is left now is just taking things to him and receiving his blessings. My master’s shop is right at the popular College roundabout in Ifako Ijaiye but I carry out my bicycle repairs at Iyana Ipaja where I reside.

Many people come to me to have their bicycle repaired, some companies even come with up to 40, 50 pieces for me to work on immediately they are offloaded from the container.” On his evolution as a boy fascinated by bicycles into one living his dream of creating exceptional ones, Odunlami said the bicycle is set apart as a result of its height, shape and size.

In fact, he says the bicycle is of the same height as the buses attached to the Bus Rapid Transport scheme of the Lagos State Government.

“When I am riding this bicycle, I can put my legs on Danfo buses while the bicycle itself is as tall as a BRT bus. I started with a one-roller bicycle as I said before and I have taught many people how to ride. I decided to improve on that with this one. “People are always enamoured with the bicycle no matter where I go.

In my area, many people would just start recording it as they drive past me. Some ask for my numbers which I usually give them. Politicians also call me to be a part of their rally, just as others call me for similar processions. I am currently building another bicycle that will be as tall, if not a bit taller than this one but it has three tyres at the back.

One tyre in front and it can carry three people conveniently. It can also carry five people but the speed will be limited with that but you won’t feel anything with three people on it.” According to the young man, who lost his mother as a two-year-old and his father four years ago, he currently works from home but is open to expanding his space if he gets the opportunity as he said he can work both as a battery charger and bicycle repairer if he is able to get some money to set up a workshop.

“My work space is in my residence, the house belongs to my paternal grandmother. My dad is late, he died four years ago while my mother died, as I learnt, when I was barely two years old. I am my mother’s only child but my father had other children, three in all with one of them older than I am but the other two are younger.

My mother was the first wife but my step-mother and her children now reside in my father’s house at Toll gate in Ota but I don’t go to my father’s house for obvious reasons tied to inheritance issues.” “My paternal grandmother is still alive, so I have a room in her house where I stay with my family.

I am married with two children to my wife who works as a hairdresser. Both are boys, with the first being a three-yearold while the second is around one,” he added. Without mincing words, Odunlami, who noted that most his work experience is tied to Lagos State here, with Oshodi and Surulere as the furthest locations he had gone to work, said: “This work, by the grace of Allah, can sustain me as I have realized in the last few years.

In addition, I plan to have a shop where I can combine the repair works with working as a battery charger.” The appeal of his bicycle does not end with civilians and everyday Nigerians; he said many privileged people have had to stop and talk to him in the past when they encounter him moving about. “People are in the habit of stopping me, including policemen who often make a show of their fascination with the bicycle, same with LASTMA officials and many others.

The Task Force officials at Oshodi were so taken with the bicycle that they stopped vehicles on a lane as they continued to record me riding it when I went to Oshodi not long ago,” he offered. With many bringing bicycles to him for fixing and remodeling, the Ogun State indigene is surely another Nigerian creating a pathway for himself using his skills while depending on no one but the attention of fellow Nigerians.

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Child abuse: The silent epidemic

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In Nigeria as is in many other African countries, a child is regarded as the property of the community. However, in recent times it appears the community is no longer able or willing to care for the well -being of their ‘property’ as every day children are being abused and broken. A slew of sexual predators keep emerging and are constantly launching attacks on the Nigerian child. BIWOM IKLAKI reports…

 

According to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2015, one in four girls and one in 10 boys in Nigerian had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18. But that was in 2015, we are made to understand that the numbers are not so low any more.

 

According to Christianah Akindole, a Child Safety Advocate and Founder of the Christianah Faith Foundation, which is an organisation that creates awareness and educates people on Child Abuse; the numbers are much higher.

 

“My team and I started with awareness and prevention nine years ago, but here we are doing crises response. It has been hectic for my organisation in the past three months; maybe these abusers have decided to go on rampage this year,” she said.

 

She cited many cases of child sexual abuse that her organisation has been called to work with and each is more pathetic than the last.

 

“First a father has been abusing his four-year-old daughter since last year. The sad thing is that the mother of the child is aware but the pastor had begged her to forgive him, she didn’t report and the abuse continued.

 

It took an observant teacher to report the case. Unfortunately, the child already has STD. Thankfully, the man is in prison now,” she added.

 

The Christianah Fate Foundation is one of a handful of NGOs like Child Protection Network of Nigeria, Mirabel Centre and others that are devoted to educating and being the first responders in these situations of child abuse. They approach the education holistically by organising workshops where they educate the parents on prevention, signs of abuse in their children or wards and how to identify predators.

 

They also train teachers in schools and churches because sometimes, the children are more open with them. They empower the children that no one should touch their private parts and what to do if this happens; because the adults may not always be with them and when they are alone is when they are most vulnerable.

 

In a workshop held recently by the Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) where issues of gender and sexual based violence were addressed, Director of the Directorate of Citizens’ Rights, Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Clara Ibirogba, who spoke about genderbased violence, child abuse as well as sexual assault, said all the issues are public health issues

 

“In Nigeria, there is a rise in cases of domestic violence and child abuse, not because there is an increase in the crime, but because more survivors are coming forward and there is more reporting (in the media) of such cases.” She explained some reasons for the reluctance of survivors to come forward as “associated stigma, confidentiality, privacy and fear of repercussions”.

 

The Deputy Superintendent of Police and former Police Public Relations Officer in Lagos State, Dolapo Badmus, who is a passionate advocate of the sexually abused, as is evident on her social media, was also a resource person. She took her lecture from the police angle.

 

She lamented the difficulty for survivors to report cases of violence and abuse because most of them are perpetrated by family members. In some cases, the survivors are coerced to pull back by things like cash, beverages and food items. Sometimes even parents of survivors tend to shield the perpetrators from the hand of the law because they do not want the family name to go to ruins.

 

So it is obvious that there are more cases out there than are reported even though the reported cases seem to be alarming lately. On best practices by the media, she cautioned on the need to report these cases with a sense of responsibility rather than seizing it as a chance to win awards.

 

Dr. Olive Ogedegbe, a Clinical Psychologist, spoke on the psychological aspect of Sexual Gender Based Violence which include but are not limited to emotional imbalance; in which case the child would be withdrawn, prone to violence, timid, low self-esteem and tend to internalise domestic violence as the best way to handle conflict. Mrs. Akindolie cited a teenage girl who was brought to her because she had slit her wrists attempting to commit suicide after going through harrowing experiences.

 

“The girl had suffered so much abuse and could no longer handle the physical and psychological trauma, she wanted to die.” On what may be responsible for the increase in cases of child abuse, Mrs. Akindolie opined: “Many parents don’t have time for children anymore due to economic demands and making ends meet. They delegate duties to relatives or domestic staff who often take advantage of the children.

 

“There was a case of a man who abused five children; three were his relatives. People are too unaware and trusting. It should not hurt to be a child.” Also, the trend of internet and pornography after watching these, predators would pounce on the children.

 

The five abused children said he showed them these videos before turning on them. Parents allowed their children to be too accessible. On the way forward, Mrs. Akindolie lamented that the job has been left for only NGOs. The government has not been too supportive except for Lagos State which is more pro-active in terms of enacting laws to fight the scourge.

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