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Oro Worshippers, Church Members Clash Claims One Life



A clash between Oro traditional worshippers and worshippers at the Truth and The Spirit Prophetic Church has led to the death of a tailor, Akeem Adebisi, in the Oko-Oba area of Lagos State.

PUNCH Metro gathered that Akeem alongside other Oro worshippers were performing sacrament when they got to know that the church members were conducting a vigil.

The Oro worshippers, upon approaching the prophetess, Mercy Okocha, and her church members, reportedly instructed them to stop the vigil but they disagreed.

It was learnt that the disagreement caused an argument that degenerated into a clash between the Oro traditionalists and the church members who stood their ground on Tuesday.

During the clash, the church members allegedly stoned Akeem to death as some other persons involved in the fight sustained varying degrees of injury.

Our correspondent who visited the scene on Wednesday observed that the church had been deserted.

Property including fans, chairs, and instruments in the church were scattered.

Speaking with our correspondent, a resident, who gave her name simply as Alhaja Sariyu, said an announcement was made for the Oro procession.

She said, “After the announcement, we went indoors very early only to wake up the following day to discover that there was apprehension everywhere.

“The Oro procession has been on for years. So, nobody expected that this particular one was going to be bloody. As a matter of fact, the church has been there for close to five years.”

A trader in the area, who declined to mention her name for security reasons, said the church led by Okocha was fond of conducting vigil every day, adding that it must be “the reason why the confrontation happened.”

An eyewitness, Jamiu Issa, who participated in the procession, alleged that members of the church instigated a mob action against his colleagues on their way back.

Issa said, “We hold our procession every August 22. Before we started our procession that night, we saw some members of the church outside around 10pm, and Akeem went to meet the woman (prophetess) to suspend their programme and instruct her members to go inside.

“So, when we started at midnight, we saw them again and chased them inside the church. Around 1am on our way back, we saw them again and they started throwing stones, bottles and coconuts at us.

“The prophetess asked her female members to go inside, while she and the male members attacked us. They smashed a coconut on Akeem’s face; he collapsed and started bleeding on the spot.

“We rushed him to about three hospitals but he was rejected. We were told he had lost a lot of blood. He died around 4am on our way to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.”

Our correspondent also visited Akeem’s father, Wasiu Adebisi, who had been distraught over the death of his son, said he got to know about the attack at midnight.

The 62 year-old said, “Akeem is my first male child. He is the one who always announces the preparation of the Oro festival in the town. When the incident happened, his colleagues rushed to call me in the middle of the night, and when I got there, I was told that they hit his head with a coconut.

“If they actually threw it at him from a distance, the impact would not have been that much. It looked like they held him and broke the coconut on his head. I could not bear the sight of him when I got there, I just returned home while his colleagues took him to hospital. It was in the morning that they told me that he died.”

The Baale of Gbirinmi, Oko Oba, Razaq Alawode, while condemning the attack, demanded justice for the deceased victim, adding that the police were invited to restore normalcy in the community.

“Even when the police came to arrest her, they were scared to enter the church. I was the one that led them inside the church where we found some strange spiritual items. We want the police to ensure that justice is served,” Alawode said.

Efforts by our correspondents to speak with a member of the church proved abortive.

Contacted, the state Police Public Relations Officer, SP Benjamin Hundeyin, said the prophetess alongside nine members of the church had been arrested in connection to Akeem’s death.

“The prophetess, Mercy Okocha, 50, and nine other members of the church, have been arrested. The corpse was deposited in a mortuary for autopsy.  An investigation is ongoing,” Hundeyin said.

However, in his remark, a lecturer in the Department of Religious and Peace Studies, Lagos State University, Professor Kabiru Paramole, told one of our correspondents that the incident was avoidable.

He lamented that the clash happened though both religious groups were chasing a common good for society.

Paramole said, “Religiously, what the Oro people were doing, according to them, was nothing but religion. They were being religious because they wanted to fortify their city from several calamities, pains and negativity happening in the society.

“The Christians too were also having a vigil to achieve the same purpose the Oro worshippers were after. I’m very sure that before any Oro comes out, especially in Lagos State, the news is always everywhere; everyone must stay indoors.

“I don’t know if the same kind of news went around the city this time around. If truly the news went around and the Christians still went ahead to hold their vigil, to me as a scholar of religious studies, that’s a wrong step taken by the Christians because they knew people might come towards where they were having the vigil. A clash would be expected in this kind of case.”

Paramole, however, said the clash would have been avoided if the Oro worshippers and church members explored the option of peaceful engagement.

The Punch

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2023 Elections: INEC Deploys 707,384 Presiding Officers




The Independent National Electoral Commission will deploy 707,384 presiding officers for the general elections scheduled to commence on February 25.

The commission also said that since electoral education was important, there was a need to infuse it into the National Values Curriculum of primary schools in Nigeria.

INEC National Commissioner and Chairman of its Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye, stated these during the public presentation of the Electoral Education Curriculum and Teachers’ Guide for primary schools.

The curriculum which was developed by the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening  – Sustaining Electoral Engagement for Democracy project funded by USAID and FCDO and implemented by National Democratic Institute and IFES, was in partnership with the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council, INEC (through the Voter Education Department), National Orientation Agency, Civil Society Action Coalition on Education for All and academia from across the country.

Okoye said, “We believe that electoral education is important in the goals of our nation. Electoral education is a specialized area and that is why we have this curriculum being infused into the National Values Curriculum in our primary schools.

“For instance, for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, the commission will deploy a total of 707, 384 presiding officers and assistant presiding officers.

“These presiding officers will be drawn from the crop of young men and women doing their National Youth Service Corps, while the assistant presiding officers will be drawn from students from federal tertiary institutions.

“It is therefore important for us to understand the importance of electoral education in the development of our democracy.

“A national civic education curriculum and teachers’ guide with a specific focus on electoral education will prepare our children for the challenges ahead and also prepare them on how to respect other people’s races and also prepare them to assume leadership in future.”

The President of IFES, Anthony Banbury, said its contribution to the project was to strengthen Nigeria’s electoral process through effective teaching and learning of civic education in primary schools.

“To catch them young, the revised curriculum is a hallmark innovation that will introduce children and youth very early to the concept, processes, ethics, and values of democratic systems and governance.

“It will be essential for the young people’s orientation to initiate a shift from the existing norms. In the long term, it will increase civic participation and knowledge of democratic systems and values, as the children of today become the adults and the voters of tomorrow,” Banbury said.

The Executive Secretary of NERDC, Prof. Ismail Junaidu, said the aim was to strengthen the fabric of the nation’s democracy for sustainable growth and development.

According to him, since the return of democracy in 1999, citizens’ participation in elections and the electoral process had remained an issue of concern.

He also said that a known reason for this was the lack of adequate electoral knowledge.

“Hence, promoting democratic electoral culture and developing civic skills are therefore necessary for well-informed and responsible participation in elections and in the electoral process,” Junaidu said.

He said that the above informed the initiative of the NERDC in collaboration with IFES to develop the Electoral Education Curriculum for primary schools in Nigeria.

According to him, the curriculum, generally, is developed to expose young learners to the rudiments of democracy and inculcate in them the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for active citizens’ participation in the democratic process.

“Specifically, the curriculum is designed to achieve five key objectives, which are to: equip learners with basic knowledge of the concept of democracy, the role of elections in democracy and good governance.

He said the choice of primary school learners was hinged on the core principle of using education as an instrument of socialisation for the young to assume adult roles for the good of society.

“Thus, the teaching of electoral education at this level will ensure that when children reach voting age, they would have already understood the fundamentals of active participation in the political and electoral process,” Junaidu said.

While commending the management of NERDC for the initiative, the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, represented by his Senior Technical Assistant, Dr Claris Ujam, said the curriculum had become a dynamic process for sustainable national development.

He said, “Every time, there are changes or developments happening around the world, the school curricula are affected.

“Therefore, the inclusion of concepts and contents of electoral education under Civic Education is in line with the drive under the Ministry’s Education for Change: A Ministerial Strategic Plan.

“This is to enable the acquisition of citizenship values and skills through quality education. The electoral education curricular contents constitute a remarkable step to create positive change in the election landscape and political development.”

The Punch

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Pro, Anti Ekweremadu Protesters Storm UK Trial




The human trafficking case against a former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, and his wife, Beatrice, resumed in a London court on Tuesday.

However, anti- and pro-Ekweremadu protests were staged in front of the court ahead of the proceedings.

AFP reported that before court proceedings, there was a gathering of protesters, some of whom were in support of the lawmaker while others were against him.

The lawmaker was in June 2022 arrested alongside his wife at Heathrow Airport in London on the allegation that they flew a young man from Nigeria to the UK to harvest his organ.

The allegation added that the organ was meant for Ekweremadu’s daughter, Sonia, who is currently hospitalised with a kidney-related illness.

Some Nigerians had in October 2022 protested in Abuja against the continued detention of the lawmaker who has now spent 223 days in the custody of UK authorities.

Protesters, once again, gathered at the court on Tuesday to either support the embattled lawmaker or protest his continued detention in UK custody.

“I mean, this case is unbelievable,” one protester, Citizen Gbola, was quoted by AFP as saying.

“Where else in the world would you have a deputy senate president, who is still a serving senator, he’s still getting his regular wage?”

According to Daily Mail, Sonia couldn’t make it to court on Tuesday but sought permission with a psychological report by her team claiming she was not fit to stand trial.

She had pleaded not guilty to the allegation of trafficking a homeless man into the UK to harvest his organs for herself, when she appeared in court on November 7, 2022.

The young man, who levelled the allegation against the Ekweremadus, told Staines Police Station that he was made to undergo some medical tests, none of which he consented to.

A 50-year-old medical doctor from South London, Obinna Obeta, was also arrested in connection to the allegation.

During proceedings at the Old Bailey court, Ekweremadu who wore a grey tracksuit top only said “Yes, miss” when asked to confirm his name.

Seated beside the lawmaker in the dock and dressed in black was his wife who was granted bail in July 2022 while her husband was said to be a flight risk.

The Punch

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New Naira Notes: Emefiele Finally Appears Before House of Reps




The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has finally appeared before the House of Representatives which summoned him over the crisis caused by the redesign of some naira notes and the exchange of old naira notes with new ones by the populace.

Emefiele is appearing before the ad hoc committee set up by the House to investigate the crisis, which is chaired by Majority Leader, Alhassan Ado-Doguwa.

Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, was to issue a warrant for Emefiele’s arrest over his repeated failures to answer at least four summons from the House.

The House had shelved its plan to go on break for the presidential and National Assembly elections, which was to commence on Thursday, over the CBN governor’s failure to answer the last summons issued to him by the committee.

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