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Death of teenage student, Kerem: HURIWA urges House of Reps to commence probe of alleged rape
 

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The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has decried the delay in commencement of the investigative public hearing in the House of Representatives to alleged rape and eventual death of 14 year old boarding student of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja (PALA)., Miss Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akphagher.
 
According to an alleged medical report from Queen Clinic where she died, Keren-Happuch died on the 22nd of June 2021 after the condom left inside her by a killer-rapist infected her with sepsis, which spiked her blood sugar, compromised her immunity, leading to her death by hyperglycemia. 
 
Specifically, following a motion presented by Hon. Mark Gbilah on the floor of the House of Representatives on 7th of December 2021, the House resolved to conduct an Investigative public hearing into the rape and death of Keren-Happuch. 
 
The House also reportedly directed the Inspector General of Police to conduct DNA test for all male staff of the said school in Lughbe Abuja and march it with the dead spermatozoa found in Keren’s urine. Premier Academy in Abuja where the victim was a boarding student has however denied allegations that the teenage student was raped by anyone within their school premises. 
 
However, over eight weeks after these far reaching resolutions were made, HURIWA, in a statement signed by its national coordinator,  Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko,  lamented that the House of Representatives seem to have developed cold feet about enforcing or implementing its own resolutions. 
 
The Rights Advocacy Group affirmed thus: “We appreciate the far-reaching resolutions of the House of Representatives to uncover the alleged rape and death of Keren-Happuch.

But the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) is concerned that eight weeks after these resolutions were made, the House of Representatives seem to have developed a cold feet. 

This is surely not good for the image of the green chambers. This seeming reluctance and delay can only achieve one thing – help the alleged killer-rapist to buy more time and evade justice”
 
“In case the import of their resolution to conduct investigative public hearing on the matter is lost on the lawmakers, HURIWA wishes to point out that a public hearing will go along way in reminding management of schools all across Nigeria and beyond  that they are accountable for whatever happens to a child entrusted in their care in line with the principle of in loco parentis. 
It will further clean up the aegean stable and the oozing odour in the global community that Nigeria as a Sovereign nation does not care about her Children. 
 
“The public investigative hearing by the House of Representatives will also demonstrate the resolve of the green chambers to help curtail the alarming rise in sexual violence and particularly child sexual abuse in Nigeria. They cannot afford to delay anymore as this will send a wrong message to the Nigerian people as to their seriousness to address this societal malaise.
 
HURIWA also calls on the House to urge the  Inspector General of Police to protect the Executive Director of Men Against Rape Foundation and Leader of the Coalition of Gender Based Violence Responders, Lemmy Ughegbe whose life has been under alleged threat for seeking justice for Keren-Happuch. 
 
“All security agencies and people of good will must continually support the work Ughegbe has been doing to address Sexual and Gender Based Violence generally and provide access to justice for victims, survivors and their families.”
 
As reported by the media, in their determined to fish out the alleged killer-rapists of 14 year old Keren-Happuch Aondodoo Akphagher, the House of Representatives has ordered the Inspector General of Police to conduct DNA on all staff of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja and march it with the dead spermatozoa found in her urine.
 
Keren died on the 22nd of June 2021 after contracting sepsis as a result of condom left inside her after being raped allegedly at Premiere Academy, Lugbe, where she was a boarding student. The School stridently denied the allegation. 
 
However after over five months after she died, the Ministers of the Federal Capital Territory, Women Affairs and Education, Pauline Tallen and Adamu Adamu, have neither spoken nor taken any action to ensure that the culprit is found, brought to book and the school is investigated over its complicity leading to Keren’s rape and death.
 
This prompted the Coalition of Gender Based Violence Responders led by the Executive Director of Men Against Rape Foundation (MARF), Lemmy Ughegbe to embark on a protest walk to the National Assmebly with Keren’s mother, Mrs Vivien Vihimga Akphagher and other family members.
 
Ughegbe accused the ministers of FCT, Education and Women Affairs of a conspiracy of silence and inaction, which he said “incentivises rape and pedophilia, emboldens rapists and pedophiles and make schools and the society unsafe for our children and the vulnerable.”
 
“When the grandson of a political elite was allegedly beaten to death by his teacher in a school in Kwali, all these indolent ministers picked up the story from social media within minutes and took some steps immediately, but 5 months after Keren died following health complications and despite our correspondence to them, they have been in a conspiracy of silence and inaction”, Ughegbe lamented.
 
He said by their inaction, they have shown that all they are interested in is servicing of the political elites and their families. They have acted as though Keren’s life doesn’t matter. But we shall continue to call them out for the ineffectual and hypocritical public officers that they are.
 
In his address to the protesters, the speaker of the House of Representatives who was represented by Hon. Mark Gbilah, said the entire parliament was pained by the sad circumstances leading to the death of Keren, declaring that no school was above the law.
 
According to Gbilah ”the house is in session, but when we were notified that you people were here on a peaceful protest, the speaker asked me to come and address you people. I am therefore here at his instance. Yesterday, I was able to table the motion on the floor of the house and I made very far-reaching demands and what you said about DNA test is specifically indicated as a requirement and the police have been mandated to initiate an investigation through Inspector General of Police on this matter.
 
“They have been told to carry out a DNA test on everybody in that school. They have informed me that the spermatozoa have been preserved so that we will know who is responsible for this act.
 
“Also we are going to have public investigative hearing and the Minister of Women Affairs, Minister of FCT, The Inspector General of Police, Minister of Education and the school authority will be invited.
 
“It is a shame that our children can no longer be safe and this is totally unacceptable. But let me assure you that for some of us, when we start something, we follow it to the end. So, please, we will need the news report where the police confirmed that Keren was raped. This will be useful for the investigative panel. I assure you justice shall be done and we will find the culprit.”
 
On Tuesday, December 7th, 2021, Hon Gbilah moved a motion to investigate the school, which was adopted by the House of Representatives.
 
The motion titled “Suspected Rape and Murder of 14–Years Old Miss Keren–Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher: Hon. Mark Terseer Gbillah: The House Notes the reported death of Miss Keren–Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher, a 14–year old SS1 boarding student of Premiere Academy, Lugbe, Abuja, who was allegedly raped and eventually died on 22 June 2021 from medical complications as a result of rape; Also notes that Keren was reported to have taken ill on 16 June 2021, without adequate medical care by Premiere Academy, until the mother took her to a hospital in Wuse Zone 6 Abuja on 19 June 2021 where she eventually died three days later; Worried that the Medical examination before her death revealed a condom lodged in her private part which had a milky effusion with the presence of dead spermatozoa within the fluid which had caused an infection that developed into sepsis; Alarmed at the unwillingness of Premiere Academy to uncover the truth behind Keren’s death and the management media denial of previous cases of sexual harassment of students in the institution contrary to documentary evidence; Also alarmed at the lack of proactive and thorough investigation by the Nigeria Police Force even after formal correspondence to the police by the deceased family’s lawyers and the allegations by Amnesty International of harassment and threat to the lives of Keren’s mother, Vivien Akpagher, her family and the leader of the Coalition of Gender–Based Violence Responders and his family over their public campaigns and advocacy demanding justice for Keren; Disturbed that while the world recently observed the United Nations International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November 2021 with the theme “Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now! which marked the launch of the 16–day campaign “Unite to End Violence against Women” from 25 November 2021 to 10 December 2021, Nigerian Authorities do not appear to recognize its obligation to adopt and implement appropriate measures to ensure women and girls are protected from all forms of violence including rape and sexual harassment considering the nation’s ratification of several Domestic, Regional And International Protocols and Charters on Women’s rights, ending Violence against Women and other Human rights laws including Section 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which guarantees that no Nigerian shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.
 
Resolves to: (i) Urge the Nigeria Police Force to thoroughly investigate mysteries surrounding the death of Keren, allegations of harassment and threat to the life of Keren’s family and the leader of a Coalition of Gender–Based Violence and his family and carry out a DNA test, recover spermatozoa and test Premiere Academy staff to identify anyone liable and bring him to justice; (ii) mandate the Committees on Woman Affairs, Human Rights and Police Affairs to invite stakeholders to investigate the following: (a) Circumstances surrounding the death of Keren–Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher; (b) allegations of the unwillingness of the Nigeria Police Force to initiate an investigation into the death of Keren; (c) allegations of harassment and threat to the life of Keren’s family and the leader of an NGO and his family; (d) Previous cases of sexual harassment at Premiere Academy Abuja; (e) Other incidents of Violence against Women in Nigeria; (f) probable lapses by other relevant agencies handling the incident and report back within six (6) weeks for further legislative action; (iii) observe a minute of silence in honour of Miss Keren–Happuch Aondodoo Akpagher and other victims of violence against women in Nigeria.”
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Senate to tell its own story as it births in-house magazine

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The Senate has officially unveilled its in-house publication, “10th Senate,” to the public as it expressed the believe that its story can’t be better told by the third party

Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Yemi Adaramodu who unveiled the magazine on the floor of the upper Chamber said the new publication”is an embodiment of the Senate’s commitment to open dialogue and effective communication with Nigerian people within and outside. “Within its pages, you will find a tapestry of stories, insights, and ideas that reflect the rich chronicle of our nation. It will serve as a platform for the Senate to share its legislative achievements, initiatives, and aspirations, while also providing a voice to the diverse voices of our citizenry. ”
“As we embark on this journey together, let us embrace the power of knowledge and dialogue. Let us seize this opportunity to strengthen the bond between the Senate and the people, as we work hand in hand towards a brighter future for our beloved nation. ”
Addressing newsmen shortly after plenary, Senator Adaramodu, who incidentally is the Editor-in-Chief of the magazine said the lawmakers are anxious to drive their own narrative in the public, conscious of the space constraints in the traditional media.
He said:” It will be a quarterly magazine to chronicle activities of the Senate which the traditional media may not give attention.
“Today, at the chamber, the Media Committee birthed a magazine to show the other areas that you our partners haven’t been able to showcase.
“We know that in the newsrooms there are deluge of news items fighting for space. You pick the ones that are immediate. That’s why we come up with this quarterly magazine , Tenth Senate.
Our story can’t be better told by the third party, we want to tell it ourselves
“We want the people of Nigeria to know that we are representing them adequately. We don’t want to restrict ourselves to just the hallowed chamber.”
Asked by journalists, if fund for publication of the magazine would be from public fund appropriated for the National Assembly, Adaramodu clarified that individual lawmakers would finance the publication.
“It is to be financed by Senators, we are contributing to run it to shore up our image, we aren’t going to take money either through Appropriation or other sources.”.

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Kogi Governor’s media adviser condemns attack on Akoni TV

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The Special Adviser on Media to Kogi State Governor, Ismaila Isah has expressed sympathy with the Chief Executive Officer of an online television channel in the state, Akoni TV, Deborah Agbonika, over the robbery attack and vandalisation of the Online Television Studio in Lokoja.
Some yet to be identified hoodlums were reported to have gained access to the property of Akoni TV by 200 unit housing estate junction in Lokoja on Sunday night, vandalized the studio and carted away equipments worth millions of Naira.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Lokoja, the Special Adviser to Governor Usman Ododo condemned the act describing it as an affront on journalism in the state.

He urged the management of the online TV channel not to be deterred by the incident as it is only a set back which is incapable of retarding its effort to disseminate factual and timely information to its audience and teeming followers within and outside the state

While calling on security agencies to investigate the attack and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice, the Media adviser restated that the administration of Governor Ododo would not condone criminal elements and their nefarious activities especially where it tramples on the symbol of freedom of expression any where in the state.

Ismaila assured that the organization would be given needed support to ameliorate immediate challenges faced as a result of the robbery and damage to its facilities.

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Olatunji’s release: IPI, NGE, NUJ vow to take action against CDS, CDI

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**ask Tinubu to Protect Free press, Nigeria’s democracy against military misconduct

As Mr.Segun Olatunji, Editor of FirstNews regained freedom after he was reportedly whisked away from his home situated at Iyana Odo, Abule Egba area of Lagos State, after 14 days, the Nigerian media community has indicated that it is not yet uhuru for his tormentors..
The International Press Institute (IPI), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), and the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) on Thursday said they shall consult further in the next few days on the actions to take against the CDS, the CDI, and the military regarding this matter.
They asked the Tinubu Led Federal Government to protect the Nigerian democracy against military misconduct.
Addressing a press conference at FCT Council of NUJ, Utako, Abuja, to update members of the public about the abduction of the Editor, FirstNews, Mr. Segun Olatunji they also demand protection of free press from the government.
Olatunji, who was abducted by 10 fully armed military men and believed to have been taken into custody by the Defence Intelligence Agency regained his freedom after he was detained for 14 days.

Several appeals were made by the Nigerian National Committee of the International Press Institute (IPI Nigeria), Nigeria Guild of Editors and other organisations to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to activate the powers of his office as Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces to direct the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa, to produce Segun Olatunji.

The secretary of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, Iyobosa Uwugiaren who addressed the press conference said the joint press conference was called to update members of the public on the ordeal of the Editor of FirstNews, Segun Olatunji, who armed people we earlier thought were non-state actors abducted from his home in Lagos on March 15.
He said, “In a statement issued by the management of FirstNews, Mr. Olatunji’s abduction was linked to a recent story published by the media organization titled, “Revealed: Defence Chief running office like family business Public Interest Lawyers.”

“Narrating the ugly incident, Mr. Olatunji’s wife, who witnessed the abduction of her husband, said the armed men stormed their residence a few minutes after 6 pm that day.
“She said on their arrival, the abductors immediately confiscated her husband’s telephone before shoving him into a van. She said she asked the abductors what her husband’s offence was and where they were taking him. The stern-looking men rebuffed her enquiries.

“For days, the Publisher of FirstNews, Mr. Daniel Iworiso-Markson, as well as Mr. Olatunji’s colleagues and family members, tried in vain to locate him. But those who abducted him ensured he was incommunicado. “They also ensured that no one knew his whereabouts, a development that further traumatised his family, employers and colleagues.

“For days, the leaderships of the IPI, the NGE and the NUJ frantically searched for Mr. Olatunji. We interacted with the presidency, the Nigeria Police Force (Lagos and Abuja), the Nigerian Army, the Defence Intelligence Agency, the Ministry of Interior, the Defence Headquarters, the Office of the National Security Adviser, the Ministry of Information and National Orientation, and the State Security Services (SSS). “Other security agencies were also contacted. But all the efforts failed until last night. The military claimed the journalist was not in their custody. They lied to us and top government officials whose interventions we sought.

“However, on Monday, IPI Nigeria was able to determine (without doubt) that the journalist was being detained and tortured by the Defence Intelligence Agency in Abuja.
“The IPI then informed the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Musa and the Chief of Defence Intelligence, Major General Emmanuel Undiandeye, of its finding and asked them to release our colleague immediately.
“We also provided that information to top government officials who also reached out to Generals Musa and Undiandeye. Again, they lied that the journalist was not in their custody. Yet our sources were telling us we needed to act fast to save our colleague from being killed.

“That was what culminated in the IPI Nigeria’s press statement of Wednesday, which clearly accused the DIA of abducting and detaining Mr. Olatunji.
“Once that statement circulated in the media, the anti-democratic officers became jittery. They became even more confused after they became aware that the NGE, the NUJ, and the IPI had scheduled a follow-up press conference for this morning. “Knowing the game was up. they admitted their crime last night. They confessed to the Honourable Minister of Information and National Orientation, Alhaji Mohammed Idris, that our colleague was in their custody and that they would release him immediately.

“At this point, we want to put on record the important role played by the Minister of Information and other top officials of government towards the resolution of this matter.
“These reckless and anti-media officers, who apparently have no respect for civilian authorities, lied to and disobeyed officials of the federal government who intervened.

“We are sure that many right-thinking members of society, including the international community, are both amazed and shocked by the lawlessness and fear-provoking action of the DIA – an agency under the command of Major General Undiandeye, who reports directly to the Chief of Defence Staff, General Musa.

“The DIA’s action makes us wonder about its real intention. Our suspicion is that they planned to secretly eliminate Mr. Olatunji so that members of the public could attribute his disappearance to unknown gunmen. But we are glad they failed.

“For us, this vicious, uncivilized, unlawful and criminal action of the DIA is unacceptable. The action is alien to Nigeria’s democratic space. It is now clear that there are some officers in our military who are still finding it difficult to subject themselves to civil authority 24 years after our country returned to representative governance.

“We do not think this kind of attitude should be condoned by President Bola Tinubu, particularly, and Nigerians, in general. If officers in a military institution like DIA could hack a journalist’s telephone, mishandle his wife, abduct him, detain him secretly for 12 days and disobey senior officials of the federal government, then our democracy cannot be said to be safe.

“Although our colleague has now been released, we are calling on President Tinubu to ensure that these officers are punished for their bad behaviour. By all standards, the actions of the DIA, General Musa and Major General Undiandeye are against the provisions of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution and other international instruments to which Nigeria is a signatory – which forbid the detention of any citizen or resident beyond 48 hours, except with a valid court order.

“More so, the DIA’s action is a direct attack on press freedom. One of the core missions of the free press is to serve as a watchdog on power. The press, as we all know, is the connection between the people and the government. If the press is not allowed to carry out its social and constitutional responsibilities but instead obligated to power, it simply serves as an extension of power.
“Without freedom of the press, our democracy is endangered. In the case of corruption, a free press is critical to exposing abuses of power. For sure, the media is not above the law, but in a democracy, the only way to determine wrong or right is through the legal process,

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