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Leah Sharibu: The Prisoner of Conscience

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Anikulapo Macmillan

 

Her story has been like the story of Daniel in the den of terror. In the face of captivity her captors kept her just because she refused to call another faith. She is the mercurial of her own conscience. One of the first in the history that never denies her religion and She is Leah; but powerful than her co-mate in the scripture.

Leah Sharibu is our daughter. One of the girls that have brought our country to her kneels. Not just a martyr of faith but a girl whose spirit has driven us all to her struggle since she was abducted in Dapchi. And that abduction was historic.

It is seemingly a thought of a cohesive expression to the government. I see her than the way Nigerians see her. She is the girl that has made us to understand that religion is fate and faith is faith— in time of obstacle. Someone who doesn’t compromise her principle rather beseech in the spirit of prayer. That voice of Leah begins to come to us than it echoes to her captors. Meanwhile, she is supposed to be in school.

While some of her colleagues are intensely studying for the school certificate exam but she is here dying to be rescued. And Prof. Wole Soyinka has compared her to the late apartheid fighter, Nelson Mandela. In Soyinka’s poem titled: ‘’ Mandela’s Earth’’ the poem has a conjectural meaning that Mandela reverted to those who jailed him. ‘’ NO! He said’’

These particular words came out to Leah Sharibu as well. When she said— No! And perhaps in Wole Soyinka’s poem: ‘’ I am the rock, this Island. I toiled’’ this is what our own Leah stands for. However, the poem says: ‘’ in and out of time wrap, I am that rock/ in the black hole of the sky’’ truly, Sharibu has become the rock of human.

She has made us to understand that her release is important to us. That her struggle is to end bigotry and fanaticism in our country and perhaps to let everybody has the right to believe in faith. To have been in captivity for this time is terribly bad for a sixteen years old girl in her own country.

Recently, she celebrated her sixteen years birthday. In the den of terror, just because she is not ready to deny her own faith— meanwhile, if Jesus were to be alive he would have seen that Leah Sharibu loves him than her own life. And this means a lot for sacrifice. To a girl who has hope for her beloved country.

Probably, had it been her mother knew that such would happen, she would have been like the character in Toni Morrison’s novel: ‘’ Beloved’’ where the mother kills her own daughter because she doesn’t want her to face racism. Is this not a religion manhunt? — For Leah’s mother to cry helplessly for her beloved daughter to be released.

And I believed that the day she was abducted in her school with her other abductors, she would have recited the national anthem and pledge. That she was serving Nigeria with all her strength and now; is Nigeria serving her back? Or has the government forgotten that Leah is a citizen?

This means her life matters to every single Nigeria. And it is the duty of President Buhari to let her come back to her parent. Still, her life is not enmeshed, with wrong faith rather she has been the quintessential girl that knows how to identify her own right. Her life means a lot to all of us. Not that she is just a mere girl child, she is our daughter.

Therefore, it is the ability of the government to provide for her needs in captivity. To rescue her is even the major concern of all Nigerians. What is the point to the military if she can’t be rescued? Is it that our military are scared to fight the insurgency? All I know is that if Leah Sharibu is not being rescued that means her parent will lose hope in Buhari’s Administration.

However, she is the prisoner of conscience. She is the prisoner that has not failed to know her God.  She has indeed believed in her faith like one of the character in James Joyce’s short story, Dubliners. And, still her colleagues were released but she was held back because she refused to deny her faith. This is a simple meaning of a cultured girl. And she strongly believes in the article of faith.

Leah is an affable girl that knows that her right is to be freed from the thraldom of dooms. In a society of ours, because what she has done do not deserve this kind of maltreatment she is receiving. If truly, we have a government that understands the people— the Leah Sharibu of our time won’t spend these hours and days in captivity.

To make the system function, let us all know that, what happens to Leah Sharibu, could affect anybody. And prior to her abduction, we knew the Chibok girls’ story. Yet, the government has not found measure to liaise with the insurgent. And what I expect the government should have done is to take the military serious than ever. And the military needs to deploy tactics and strategy because this is like a fratricide.

For every life, it matters to us that, we should never forget to know that Leah Sharibu is still a piquant subject that can never be forgotten. Thus, her abduction is cumbersome. Perhaps, I expect the government to know that Nigerians want Leah Sharibu alive.

Her parent has cried for too long; to the extent that, they talked like the English poet, Andrew Marvel, in his poem: To His Coy Mistress, which says: ‘’Had we but world enough and time/ this coyness, lady, were no crime.’’ With truism, she has no crime. But, if Buhari forgets to do the needful, Leah Sharibu’s spirit won’t make Nigeria rest just because she is innocent.

Let us know that a sixteen years old girl has decided to hold on to her faith; and this makes her to be the prisoner of conscience. Even with a conscience heart, we pray for release.

@Babatunde_Mac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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COLUMNISTS

THE MYTH AND VERACITY OF SEX OFFENDERS’ REGISTER IN OGUN

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By: Ademola Orunbon

A sex offenders’ registry is a system in which various countries designed to allow government authorities to keep track of the activities of sex offenders, including those who have completed their criminal sentences. In some jurisdictions, where sex offender registration can, registration is accompanied by residential address notification requirements. In many jurisdictions also, registered sex offenders are subject to additional restrictions, including housing. Those on parole or probation may also be subjected to restrictions that do not apply to other parolees or probationers.

Sometimes, these include (or have been proposed to include) restrictions on being in the presence of underage persons (under the age of majority), living in proximity to a school or day care centres, owning toys or items targeted towards children, or using the internet. Sex offender registries exist in many English speaking countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, South Africa, the United Kingdom, but the United States is the only country with a registry that is publicly accessible; all other countries in the English speaking world have sex offender registries only accessible by law enforcement.

In offence-based system, registration is required when a person is convicted (or, in some jurisdictions, adjudicated delinquent, found not guilty by reason of insanity, or found not criminal responsible), under one of the listed offences requiring registration. But, under normal circumstance, persons, registered are supposed to put into a tier programme based on their offense of conviction. Risk based system have been proposed but not implemented as of print.

The vast majority of sexual offense victims are known to the offenders – including friends, family or other trusted adults, such as teachers. This is also contrary to media depictions of stranger assaults or child molesters who kidnap children unknown to them. Thus, despite the public awareness of the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders, there has been little evidence to back the claim that mandatory registration has made society safer. In fact, only in the states/countries that utilize empirically derived risk assessment procedures and publicly identify only high risk offenders, has community notifications demonstrated some effectiveness. It must always show that residency restrictions increase offender’s recidivism rates by increasing offender homelessness and increasing instability in a sex offender’s life.

Although, sex offenders on parole or probation are generally subject to the same restriction as other parolees and probationers, even sex offenders who have completed probation or parole may also be subjected to restrictions above and beyond those of most felons.  In some jurisdiction, they cannot live within a certain distance of places children or families gather. Such places are usually schools, worship centres and parks, but could also include public venue (stadiums), airports, apartments, malls, major retail stores, college campuses and certain neighbourhoods (unless for essential business). In some states/countries, they may also be barred from voting after a sentence has been completed and at the federal level, barred from owning firearms, like all felons.

Now, given how deeply rooted misogyny and rape culture in Nigeria, it comes as no surprise that there has never been an official sexual offenders’ list in Nigeria. Indeed, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that 1 in 4 Nigerian girls are victims of sexual violence before they turn 18, and according to a National Survey carried out in 2014, only 38 percent of those who experienced sexual violence as children told someone about it, and only about 50 percent sought help. Also, the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in persons is the law enforcement agency charged with administering the provisions of the violence against persons (Prohibition) Act. Currently on the website, there are 7 incidents reported, 10 verified reported cases and 5 convicted cases. Although, this numbers do not represent the vast amount of underreported cases, it is a first step towards proper documentation and accountability.

Last summer, we all witnessed how young women in Nigeria took to social media to name and shame their abusers, with media personality, Busola Dakolo adopting the same approach when divulging her encounter with COZA Pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo. Social media has always been a useful tool that that women can use to make their voices heard in a society where the police and the government have turned a deaf ear. The advent of the list, although long overdue, but is extremely important to ending silence culture in Nigeria, and it’s good that we are finally having a permanent list that can be used to hold perpetrator in our society accountable.

Precisely, on Monday, November 25, 2019, Nigerian launched its online National Sexual Offenders’ Register to help members of the public and security agencies conduct background checks and identify sex offenders. Though, this is the first of its kind in Nigeria, indeed, the Executive Secretary of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP), Beatrice Jedy-Agba said, that it will enable bodies such as school and hospitals to conduct background check and it will also deter sex offenders, because they will know their names will be published, affecting their employment and role in society.

In 2015, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that one in four girls and one in ten boys had experienced sexual violence before the age of 18, and an estimate of at least 2 million girls in Nigeria reportedly experience sexual abuse every year. Unfortunately, the majority of these cases go unreported as a result of social stigmatization and victim blaming. This results in an increasing numbers of sexual abusers and repeat offenders. The new database aims to name and shame them.

Before the National register was launched, only two states in Nigeria, Lagos and Ekiti, kept registers of sex offenders. The register in Lagos state was opened in 2014 while a “Black Book” for sexual offenders was opened in Ekiti state in 2013. Unfortunately, these registers are not updated regularly, defeating their purpose. Hence, the need for a national registry that will be monitored and updated frequently is required for the country.

With the growth on the raping of minors which not scarcely to one state or the others but censored across the country, the Ogun state reckoned with federal government in opening the sex offenders’ register so as to bring the culprit to the book and stand as deterrent to others in society, that is why the Chief Judge of Ogun state, Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu hinted that the state will take a cue and open a sex offenders’ register, not just for fun but will stand as part of efforts to curtail the prevalence of sexual violence in the state.

She stated further that the names of sex offenders will be written in ‘black book’ upon conviction by the court and will be circulated on all Ogun state owned media, by making sure that the name and conviction of the convict is known to the general public, though in doing this it will not only promotes the safety of the general public, but also instill courage in victims and their family to come forward and access justice. Because, most of the victims shame of being stigmatized and felt that it was obvious disgrace to be raped, and also nobody is ready to fight for their course in the society but with the new trend in adoption of sex offenders register, it will abate the raping of minors in our society.

The number one judge in Ogun state made this submission at the public presentation and launch of a book, titled “The Law At Your Fingertips”, the book which aimed to be transcribed into Yoruba language and Pidgin language, so as to make it more understandable to common man, part was selected from the state laws which to be made possible and accessible to general public, which includes the State Child Rights Law 2003, that would address the rights of children in the state, though she promised to make transcription in Hausa and Igbo languages for other tribe living in the state. Then, nobody will be left unacquainted by the submission of the Chief Judge, everybody will have his/her ethnic copy of the book and study it well, in order to stand as a guide and direction for their children. This will also guide against ignorance of the breaking the laws which proliferating among the common man, that claims that they are not aware of the stipulated and certain laws of the state.

She added that the decision to simplify and transcribe the state violence against person (prohibition) law 2018, was informed by the high rates of violent rape and offence, spousal violence, murders and even sexual abuse of underage children. Indeed, it is rather frightening and pathetic to constantly wake up to the news of spousal murder; and society where spouses kill each other with impunity. It is even more frightening that our society does not raise an eyebrow at female circumcision or genital mutilation, or the practice of husbands forcefully ejecting wives out of matrimonial homes at the slightest provocation, or even denying spouses access to the home and children; when our laws clearly make such action an offence.

Though, the objective of the Child Rights Law 2003 is to ensure that the rights of children in Ogun state are protected. However, majority of the victims in this category are the downtrodden like housemaids, wards, orphans and the weak. But, the state is confident that the simplified and transcribed version of the Child Rights Law can easily be understood by any child with the exception of those who cannot read and write at all. The Law exposes the child at a young age, to his/her and responsibilities. It also exposes the parents to the issues relating to possession and custody of children.

So, as we all know that ignorance of the law is not an excuse of breaking it and as good citizens, we all have a collective responsibility to obey and abide by the rules of the law.

Orunbon, a journalist and public affairs analyst, wrote from Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria

Can be reached via; orunbonibrahimademola@gmail.com, or 08034493944 and 08029301122.

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COLUMNISTS

Christmas, MFM and the “Where is it in the Bible?” Christians

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Jude Ndukwe

I have just read the position of the General Overseer of Mountain of Fire & Miracles Ministries, Dr Daniel Olukoya, on Christmas, followed by an official statement from the church’s Public Relations Officer, one Mr Collins Edomaruse, strengthening that position, and wish to state that it is sad, painful and unfortunate that such a man held in otherwise high esteem among his followers as a “preacher” could exhibit such level of ignorance and hypocrisy.

But before I continue, let me reproduce the response of another Christian leader, Fada Chinenye Oluoma, concerning the issue as posted on his Facebook page:

“I wanted to pretend I didn’t read about the G. O who said ‘Christmas’ is not in the Bible and so shouldn’t be celebrated. It’s the same funny mentality of those who confuse terminology with theology. Easter as a term is not in the Bible but we celebrate Easter because it’s an event and a mystery recorded in Scripture. (It is the) same with Christmas, it’s not the term or calendar date we celebrate but the event and mystery. One day, someone will wake up tipsy on ‘anointing’ and tell me to tell him why I call myself a Catholic since that term doesn’t exist in the Bible. (The) same folly can be extended to all churches because no church has a name that’s used for a group of church members in the Bible. A Pentecostal church that says it doesn’t celebrate Christmas because the term doesn’t exist in the Bible but calls itself a Pentecostal church is just a comic contradiction. Pentecost means 50th day, it was an agricultural feast that had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit until that particular year that the Holy Spirit fell on the Apostles in Acts 2. Even after that there is no record in Scripture that the Holy Spirit fell on other people on Pentecost Day. If I wanted to be ‘an anointed idiot’ I would have been going round condemning Christians who identify (themselves) as Pentecostals, quizzing them to show me where it’s in the Bible that a group of believers were referred to as Pentecostals or to prove to me where any group of Christians celebrated Pentecost in the Bible. Yet, common sense dictates that it’s neither terminology nor semantics we identify as Pentecostal but the reality and mystery of the Holy Spirit.

“Whoever adjectivised SENSE with COMMON hasn’t experienced this generation of WHERE IS IT IN THE BIBLE intoxicated Christians. Common sense is very rare. The Bible is not a dictionary or history book, it’s more of a theology than terminology. When you want to use the Bible to validate or invalidate any religious practice, you look for the biblical theology about it, not the terminology. Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Children’s Day, etc are not in the Bible, but the Bible doesn’t have anything against their celebration. It’s only a religious ignoramus that will condemn those celebrations and get pious zombies to follow suit. If you care to know, there are many things we do in life that are not in the Bible and God isn’t angry (about them) at all. Traditional marriage, village meetings, Cross Over vigils (these ‘Show Me Where It’s In The Bible’ folks who are addicted to 31st December Cross over vigil don’t even know ‘it’s not in the Bible’ in their sense), birthday parties, wedding anniversaries etc are not in the Bible.
Finally, someone needs to tell Dr Olukoya that MFM has a football club, I’ve been searching for it in the Bible and couldn’t find it, abi no be MFM get that football club? Some nonsense must stop this 2019 o, let me come and be going”, he concluded in pidgin.

Need I add more?

But for the purpose of emphasis, and to break every heart of stone standing against the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ because they cannot find it in the Bible “in their own sense” as Fada Oluoma puts it, Dr Daniel Olukoya made that statement against the celebration of Christmas during his weekly “Manna Water” service. Excuse me Sir, where is it in the Bible that we should hold a weekly “Manna Water” service, whatever that means? O, so, Dr Olukoya finds it convenient to attempt to replace the celebration of Christmas with his Manna Water service or with whatever programme he chose just to prevent his members from partaking in what he termed “idolatory” celebration (Christmas) whose origin he traced to ancient Rome but sees no sense in replacing the same idolatory festival with Christmas so as to diminish that festival and make the lessons of Jesus’ birth more popular thereby spreading the Gospel through that means?

Does Dr Daniel Olukoya reckon that but for the celebration of Christmas on the symbolic date of 25th of December, that idolatory festival he said Christmas was replaced with could probably have been as popular as Christmas itself today, thereby restricting the knowledge about Jesus Christ compared to what it is now? The fact is that, if the Olukoyas or the MFMs are not trying to be clever by half, or even crusading against evangelization, they would have known that there is no other event in world history that has helped to spread the awareness about Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth like Christmas. From Communist China to Saudi Arabia, from North Korea to India, from Iran to Russia, from United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Pakistan, nearly everyone in the world has come to know one thing or the other about Jesus because of Christmas Day. No matter how Antichrist a nation is, it can never do business with the USA, for example, on Christmas Day, because such a nation would be told in no uncertain terms about the holidays declared to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ! It is the same with other nations where Christmas holidays are declared, and that is a plus for Christianity worldwide. But the Olukoyas are futilely attempting to diminish that mileage!

Lastly, where is it in the Bible that Jesus Christ asked us to pray that our enemies should die? Nowhere! But that is a cardinal prayer point of Olukoya’s MFM.

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

­—jrndukwe@yahoo.co.uk; Twitter: @StJudeNdukwe

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COLUMNISTS

SANWO-OLU MARKS BOXING DAY WITH PATIENTS AT LAGOS GENERAL HOSPITAL

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Thursday visited the Paediatric, emergency and orthopaedic wards of the Lagos Island General Hospital, Broad Street, to celebrate Christmas and boxing days with the in-patients battling various health conditions.

The Governor while at the hospital, chatted with the patients, cheering them up, encouraging them and also prayed for their recovery.

Sanwo-Olu also toured facilities of the oldest General Hospital in Nigeria to ascertain level of work done on the renovation of the Accident and Emergency ward building.

The Governor said his visit, which has been a tradition even before he came into political office was to share memorable moments with those in the hospital at a time when every other person is in joyous mood at home.

He said: “Christmas offers us an opportunity to spare a thought for the infirm. We need to share moments like this with them so that they also can feel the greatness of the season even though they are not entirely fit.”

“We must also remember that this season teaches us love, compassion and selflessness. While majority of us have our relatives and friends with us to mark the Christmas day, we need to understand that several families are in pain because their loved ones are battling various ailments at the hospital. So, it’s no Christmas for these people because they need to be with their ailing family members.

“On a day like this, I thought it necessary to identify with these families and celebrate with them. I believe this gesture will cheer them up and give them reasons to be happy. We hope that the little we have come to share with them today will strengthen them to get out of the sickbed quicker and better,”

The patients, who were excited to see the Governor, prayed for him and wellbeing of his family.

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