Friday, 11 October 2013

Photonews: Nigerian Registered Freight Forwarders' Association Appoints Chidi Anthony Opara Publicity Adviser

Article: Children Of Parents On Death Row

By United Nations Human Rights (Culled From

“My name is Tania. I was born in prison… and was delivered to my father the same day. Both my parents were political activists. In March 1984, when I was only one year old, the body of my 28 year old mother was delivered to our family and my father was sent into exile three days later. I have never experienced family life and as a young woman do not know what having a mother means… I personally urge all countries that have not yet ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to do so and I wish a day where no parents are executed and no child is left without the support of parents”. (Tania told her story at the Human Rights Council discussion on the human rights of children of parents sentenced to death or who have been executed, September 2013)

There are few studies available which describe the experience of children whose parents have been sentenced to death or who have had one or both parents executed. From the available information, however, it is clear that children who have lost parents because of lengthy prison sentences or executions suffer deep and lasting grief and trauma. The loss can be catastrophic because these children are often left without support of any kind: without a home, carers, or an education. These children and no one knows how many there are, frequently face humiliation and discrimination within their communities.

The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Flavia Pansieri in an address to the Human Rights Council’s panel discussion on the human rights of children of parents sentenced to death or executed, drew attention to the growing trend towards abolition of the death penalty. “More than 150 of 193 Member States of the United Nations have either abolished the death penalty or do not practice it, she said.

However, Pansieri said those States that continue to use the death penalty “need to consider how to address the consequences of its use on society at large, in particular on families of individuals sentenced to death or executed.”
A caseworker with the organisation “morning tears” which works in a number of countries with the children of parents who have been sentenced to death or to long prison terms describes the experience of the children in her care in a project in Zhengyhou, the capital of Henan Province in China. “Usually nobody wants them, even families and relatives – nobody really wants them and most of them come from poor families. Usually the kids who come here stay for at least one year but in plenty of cases, they remain for ten years or more.”

Marta Santos Pais, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, in remarks read on her behalf to the Council said, “The sentencing of a parent to the death penalty compromises the enjoyment of a wide spectrum of children’s rights. It is critical that the situation of children of parents facing the death penalty get the urgent attention and action required.”

The moderator of the discussion, Bertrand de Crombrugghe, Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations in Geneva, called for a ‘human rights approach” and said “children should not have to pay for what their parents have done.” States, he said, should take responsibility for the unintended consequences of their criminal justice systems.

The number of children whose parents face the death penalty is unknown, according to Associate Professor Sandra Jones from Rowan University but she said their experiences are ‘agonising’. These children feel terribly alone, she said, they tend to isolate themselves and suffer from internalized shame. Often these children feel they have to defend the parent in prison, and they live in fear waiting to hear they have been killed. These children typically have to deal with many psychological issues – depression, anxiety, behavioural problems and aggression, Jones said. Many of them go on to become offenders.

Wells for Hope, an NGO based in Uganda, assists children with a parent in prison by providing education and general welfare. According to Francis Ssuubi, the Executive Director of the organisation, although the last execution in Uganda was carried out in 1999, 408 people remain on death row. The children of death row inmates remain invisible, he said, and some people continue to believe the parent’s guilt should be shared with their children.

Ssuubi called on States to consider child-friendly criminal justice systems which allow contact between children and their parents in prison.
Nisreen Zerikat, from the National Human Rights Centre of Jordan, said national human rights institution can play an effective role in protecting the human rights of children of death row prisoners, in particular by facilitating visits to prisons.

Professor Jorge Cardona from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child emphasized that the best interests of the child have to be taken into account when a parent receives a death sentence. States which are parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child are legally obliged to make this assessment each time a decision concerning a child is taken, he said.
The plight of children who have parents on death row or whose parents have been executed is also addressed in the latest report from the UN Secretary General on the question of the death penalty. There is an urgent need, the report says, “to examine the effects of the capital punishment system in its entirety, including the social, economic and psychological impact on the children of those executed or under death sentence.”

On 10 October, World Day Against the Death Penalty, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, Christof Heyns and the Special Rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Ménedez have called on the international community to intensify global efforts to move States away from the death penalty for good.

“There are still a number of States where people continue to be executed in contravention of the standards imposed by international law,” the experts said, while expressing deep concern about the recent resumption of executions in a number of States, after long periods of observance of moratoriums.

Article: Ali Baba And His 27 Thieves In Imo State

Okorocha(r) And Uwajimogu

By Kenneth Uwadi

Ali Baba is a character from the medieval Arabic literature; Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. In the story Ali Baba encountered 40 thieves and later became their leader. Let me now talk about the Ali Baba of Imo State of Nigeria and his 27 thieves. The Governor of Imo State, Chief Rochas Okorocha is the  Ali Baba of Imo State  and Chief Benjamin Uwajumogu, the Speaker of Imo state House of Assembly and members of the Assembly  are the 27 thieves.

The 13 percent oil derivation fund of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta , funds accruing to the 27 LGA funds in Imo State and the 400 million naira flood money of Ohaji/Egbema/Oguta flood victims have been looted.

The Imo State House of Assembly has  connived with Ali Baba , aided and abetted gross financial impropriety in Imo state and that is why I am calling them the 27 thieves. Who doesn't know that the past government of Chief Ikedi Ohakim  left a total sum of N26.27billion in various bank accounts of the state namely: Balance of Imo bond proceeds in UBA Plc “ N13.3billion; SUBEB project accounts with Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank Ltd) “ N3billion; VAT account in Zenith Bank Plc “ N488million; Internally generated Revenue account with Zenith BANK Plc “ N450million; Local Government Joint project account with Bank PHB “N2.5Billion; Agric Loan Account with Access Bank Plc “ N500million; Fertilizer sales account with Oceanic Bank Plc “ N250million; JAAC Account with Bank PHB “ N3.6billion; MDG Projects accounts with Fidelity Bank Plc “ N500million; Education Trust Fund (ETF) with Zenith Bank “ N1billion and Imo Children Education Funds “ N670million. The Total sum isN26.27 billion  .

Where is the money? The entire N26.27billion has been criminally squandered by Chief Uwajumogu and Governor Okorocha. Suffice to say that this is a clear case of crass abuse of office, criminal conspiracy and outright stealing of public funds which should attract very serious sanctions yet the speakers media aide has the mouth to call me names. In a propaganda to paint "all is well" picture of Imo State, Governor RochasOkorocha of Imo State  is always on Africa Independent Television (AIT ) and Channel TV to buoy his  ego and selfish interests. The irony of this madness is that  our governor  who should cover his  face in shame for looting the resources  of Imo State  is  the one  dominating television stations  and  the pages of Newspapers  showing fake transformation in Imo State when nothing tangible is on ground in the 27 Local government of Imo State.

It is regrettable that rather than check the executive arm, the Imo state House of Assembly is criminally colluding with the executive in fraudulent diversion of billions of Imo people’s money. Who doesn’t know how  Okorocha and Chief Uwajumogu criminally shared  n45billion and n28billion loans illegally secured with Imo LGA’s allocations. In the past, LGA funds in Imo State was used to develop certain vital social services in the grass root like education, health care and key investments on infrastructures like water, electricity, roads, industries, etc, all which severally and collectively positively impacted on the living standard of the ordinary working masses in the grassroots areas .

In sharp contrast, the current Okorocha’s so-called government, acting under the dictates and or in concert with imperialism has completely jettisoned the idea of government using local government funds and resources to better the lots of the local councils Instead; it has adopted a whole scale capitalist, neo-liberal strategy of looting of council funds. Currently there are no single developments going on in the 27 LGA’s of the state. Lack of basic amenities have made these LGA’s a ghost environment. Thanks to Okorocha and Uwajumogu.

Uwajumogu’s media aide should know that we know the various schemes perfected by Okorocha and Uwajumogu to unwholesomely divert public funds and in fact share public funds among themselves as largesse. They also go through phantom award of road contracts without any contract documents. Many road projects in Imo state don’t have project design, no advertisement were placed, no bidding, no bills of quantities and specifications, no tender at all, no evidence of prequalification of contractor , no provision for the project in the State budget.

A breakdown of the allocation to states of the federation shows that Imo  State got over N127 billion between  2011 and 2013, this exclude  the  N135 billion accrued to  the 27 local governments area in Imo State  within the same period. This also exclude the N16 billion which is 13 percent Oil derivation fund for Imo State  oil producing areas within the same period.13 percent oil derivation to Imo oil areas is 500 million naira a month. Where are the monies? Yet some persons want us to keep quiet.

It is an open secret that the dishonorable speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly awarded  road construction contracts in the state and even installed his own Asphalt plant in Owerri from where almost all the asphalt used in the construction in the state are procured. Similarly, most of the dishonorable members of the Imo State House of Assembly abandoned their legitimate legislative duties and are in a mad rush to build hotels in Owerri such as the magnificent hotels being built by Honourable Mrs. Eudora Igwe, member, representing Ideato North State Constituency and Honourable Amuka (AKA Oshimiri), member, representing Ideato South state  constituency. Uwajumogu himself  has completed two hotels in Owerri and Lagos and renovated the one in Umuahia with Imo tax payers money.

The financial rot in Imo State is enormous. Most Imo state money yielding corporations have been sold or leased to the governor for little or nothing in contravention of the Imo State Investment Promotion Agency Law. Part of Imo Hotel leased to Okorocha, Ada Palm sold to Okorocha for N3.5Billion, 18 General Hospitals sold to Lantech Solutions, Imo Transport Corporation leased to Global Ginikana Ltd for N250 million, Both Concorde Hotel and Oguta Lake Motel  leased for 20 years to ABM Global Nigeria Ltd. Enough looting in the state.

Since the inauguration of  Chief Okorocha’s -led administration on the 29th of May, 2011, its  conducts and attitude towards the working people of  Imo State have clearly shown that his regime is  nothing but  a monumental waste.

First among the anti-workers actions of the Okorocha’s  government was the sack of 10,000 Imo Civil servants. Close to three years after Okorocha   wickedly sacked  10,000  Imo  workers in order not to pay wages, he  has  shamelessly launched   IMO YOUTHS MUST WORK programme, a programme  where he boast to  employ 11,000  Imo  youths under  a  slave-driving  casualization of workers  scheme. With the IMO YOUTHS MUST WORK programme ,he plans to place the employees as casual workers  and give them  a  poverty wage and not allow them  to join trade union. They are to be paid a ridiculous amount of N10,000 out of  which N2,000  will be allegedly deducted as tax. The height of the anti-worker disposition of  Chief Okorocha’s -led administration is the continued refusal to fully implement the paltry N18, 000 minimum wage which has been signed into law since March 25th, 2011 and the continuous refusal to absolve workers of Imo state that were sent home from Abia state civil service.

Here we are, almost three  years of this administration and we are seeing  unleashing of attacks on pay and conditions of workers, petty traders, road side mechanics, other artisans and unemployed youths are now groaning under brutal attack on their means of livelihood. In the name of beatification at strategic places while the interior and inner roads are deplorable, buildings mainly used for different purposes like churches, houses, and shops in many parts of Owerri are demolished without any provision of alternative.

Reminiscent of the inglorious era of military absolutism where culture of fear and intimidation is often imposed on the people, Chief Okorocha’s -led administration through the service of some gangs of uniformed thugs who masquerade as Government monitoring team has continued, under the guise of beautification and cleaning-up project, to use brute force to subject thousands of small traders and artisans at different areas of owerri to all forms of harassment and physical assault.

To intensify the attack on the living condition of the suffering masses, the government introduced different extorting policies through levy, tax, fees etc. In Owerri, heavy taxes are imposed on houses, banks, hotels and shops in the name of Physical Planning and Infrastructural Development Fund. Worse still, the government does not use its legitimate machinery to collect these fees. It rather employs the services of thugs who do not only intimidate people but also wreak havoc in the process. A sanitation fee is forcefully collected from people who dispose wastes themselves in the nearest bush but have never set their eyes on a government waste bin van. Yet, there has been nothing fundamentally to show for the infrastructure levy collected from the masses.

We call on workers, students, writers, bloggers, the youth, peasant farmers, artisans, professionals, traders and other sections of the working people of Imo State to join us as  we speak  out against the looting of Imo State treasury by the capitalist non performing military governor of Imo State in civilian clothing Chief Rochas  Okorocha .  Save us Oh God.

(Uwadi writes from Mmahu-Egbema, Imo State, Nigeria)