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Falana: NBC Lacks Power to Suspend Licences of Media Organisations

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Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) lacks the power to suspend licences of media organisation without an order from the court.

In a statement on Sunday, the senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said the regulator cannot also ban radio houses from playing records of artists or impose fines on alleged offenders without recourse to the court.

On Thursday, the NBC had suspended the licences of DAAR Communications Plc, owners of African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower over “breach of broadcasting code”.

Falana described the closure of media houses as a dangerous trend, advising the regulatory agency to act within the confines of the law if it wants to checkmate the excesses of any station.

“No doubt, NBC has been empowered by the NBC Act to regulate all broadcasting organisations in the country. But in exercising its wide powers NBC has to be made to appreciate that it can no longer operate outside the ambit of the Constitution as was the case under military rule,” he said.

“Since fundamental rights including freedom of expression can no longer be curtailed or abrogated except in a manner permitted by law, the NBC ought to realise that it cannot suspend licences of media houses, ban radio houses from playing records of artists or impose fines on alleged offenders without a court order.

“Alternatively, the NBC may request the Attorney-General to charge a media house for breaching the provisions of the NBC Act or penal statutes. Otherwise, the powers of the NBC may be arbitrarily exercised to the detriment of law and order in the society.”

He described the reopening of AIT and Raypower FM as a victory for democracy, calling on security agencies to withdraw their men from DAAR Communications, head office in Abuja.

“The NBC has just lifted the suspension of the licences of AIT and Raypower FM Radio stations in compliance with the ex parte order granted by the federal high court. It is hoped that the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force and State Security Service will withdraw the armed goons mounting siege in the compound of the AIT/Raypower FM stations without any delay,” he said.

“As far as democratic forces in the country are concerned, the battle for press freedom has been won, once again. But it is a temporary victory which should not be celebrated without caution.

“Even under the most vicious military junta in Nigeria, the courts ordered the reopening of the premises of the National Concord and Punch newspapers which were illegally closed down and occupied for months by armed troops. And the court orders were complied with by the military dictators.”

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Interview

Dr. Audu’s Abductors Are Not Communicating With Us Anymore, Says Wife of Kidnapped Medic.

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It was a sombre atmosphere when a crew of KWARARAFA TV sat with Mrs Benedict Audu, wife of kidnapped Dr. Audu at their modest home in Nyanya, Abuja on Monday. Popularly called “mummy”, Mrs. Audu mournfully narrated her ordeal so far in the hands of those who picked her husband ten weeks ago. Between sobs and sighs, Mrs Audu described the situation as worse than hell. She said it was mentally torturing to have your loved ones in the hands of kidnappers and not having a clue what may be happening to them. She said, “at least, we had respite when they were talking to us but to have gone completely mute on us in the past four weeks now is really torturing mentally. We are on the brink of despair.”
Describing her experience further, mummy said she now just stare at the television everyday. Her words: “all I do now is pray and just stare at the television to get even a sign of respite or rescue. I keep watching everything on the television. I’m worried beyond words. They have my husband and son with them in those bushes. I’m always thinking what could be happening to them. From what we hear from those who are freed, it is not easy staying in those bushes. My only consolation is in God as I keep praying.”
Mummy said her husband and son were picked on their way from the governorship and presidential elections in Takum, Taraba state. She said it was when they were returning that they were kidnapped by yet to be known assailants. “Daddy had asked us to travel to the village but I said no they should go. In fact, as if I knew, I almost stopped my son Ira from driving his dad. But nonetheless, they left. It was on their way back that they were captured. They were negotiating with us and we complied and cooperated fully. In fact, many well meaning Nigerians came to our aid because daddy is known to be a peaceful man and people pitied us. We were hoping our ordeal will follow the well known pattern of releasing captives after all the process.”
But even after paying ransom, Mrs Audu said, the abductors kept the hostages as new angles started creeping in. She made a passionate appeal to the governors of Benue and Taraba state to intervene in the matter, noting that she has reached her wits end in the matter. Her words (in-between tears): “I’m calling on the authorities at all levels to come to my aid, especially the state government of Benue and Taraba states. This thing happened between Katsina Ala and Takum. The leaders here should find a way to help us. We are pleading. Not just them but the federal government too as President Buhari is a father to all. Please, he should also come into the matter.”

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Zainab Aliyu: How I Survived 124 Days in Saudi Prison

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Zainab Aliyu, a Nigerian who was detained in Saudi Arabia for alleged drug trafficking, says she learnt “pure Arabic” and memorised half of the Qur’an during her 124-day stay in prison.

Aliyu was arrested on December 26 after tramadol, a drug prohibited in Saudi Arabia was found in her bag.

The 22-year-old student of the Maitama Sule University, Kano, had travelled to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj alongside her mother and sister.

She, was, however, arrested by Saudi authorities over allegations that the bag bearing her name tag contained tramadol.

In an interview with Daily Trust, she narrated her experience in detention, how she found it hard to trust people and eventually got close to an Ethiopian lady simply identified as Rehisty.

She explained that she suffered communication gap with Rehisty whom she said understands little English while she (Aliyu), knew just a bit of Arabic.

“I met several people. But I can assure you, it took me some days before I could trust some of the inmates. That’s because after realizing that I was actually framed, I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone. I did not trust anybody there, even among my roommates. The only person that I can say I trusted, is one Ethiopian lady with whom I was brought in,” Aliyu said.

“Yes, but only the Ethiopian lady I mentioned earlier, called Rehisty. When we were brought there, together, we found it difficult to communicate, because she could only understand a little English, and I understand only a little Arabic. So, it took us some time before we started communicating, in Arabic, which I picked up while in detention.

“I learnt pure Arabic. I also joined Tahfiuz school, and Alhamdulillah, I was able to memorize half of the Holy Qur’an during my stay in the prison. I also learnt how to live with people from different backgrounds.

Narrating her ordeal from when she was picked up in her hotel room till when she was released, Aliyu said it took about a week for her to come to terms that she was in prison.

She, however, said she and the other inmates were well taken care of, adding that she experienced no form of harassment or intimidation.

“I spent almost one week without knowing that I was in a prison, because I did not commit any offence,” she said.

“They treated us like human beings. Nobody humiliated or harassed anyone in there. And I spent 124 days there.”

Aliyu thanked the federal government and everyone who worked towards securing her release.

She cautioned that she is not on social media, raising the alarm that some people have opened social media accounts in her name.

“I thank President Muhammadu Buhari, Madam Abike Dabiri, and the Minister of Justice, Justice Malami, and all others who in one way or the other contributed to my release,” she said.

“I am also calling on some people who have created Instagram and Twitter handles, and even a Facebook account in my name, to please stop, because it is not good to deceive people. Honestly, I am not on social media, so the general public should take note.”

Aliyu was released from prison in April and returned to Nigeria on May 13.

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Sanusi Persecuted Me Thinking I Wanted His Job at CBN – Ibru

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Cecilia Ibru, former CEO of the defunct Oceanic Bank, says she was persecuted by Lamido Sanusi, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), because he thought she wanted his job.

In an interview with Saturday Punch, Ibru said Sanusi, the emir of Kano, also ordered for the withdrawal of her personal driver and security personnel.

In 2010, a federal high court in Lagos had convicted and sentenced Ibru to six months in prison on a three-count charge bordering on financial fraud.

The former bank CEO said she accepted the offer for plea bargain because she was fed up with the trial and wanted peace of mind.

“For me, they just wanted the banks. An envious fight does not end, but that is a big story that I would prefer to write about later. You find that when people knock you down, they don’t expect you to get up again. So, when you get up, they have mixed feelings,” Ibru said.

“I won’t say betrayal, including (Lamido) Sanusi (the then Governor of the Central Bank) himself, but people that I thought would come and help me did not do so. However, God raised other people to help me.

“He (Sanusi) thought I wanted his job but I didn’t. I was offered the position, but I said no.

“Remember I said I was planning to retire in March of the following year to go and stay with my husband. When he (Sanusi) was appointed, I congratulated him. He even told me at that time they had not given him a letter and I told him not to worry that it would come.

“Back then when I was in office, if I was at home, you wouldn’t find a parking space in my compound; it was always filled with cars and people who wanted one favour or the other from the bank. But after that episode, everywhere became empty.”

Ibru, however, reiterated that she has forgiven the people she helped while she was in office but deserted her when the corruption trial began.

The court had ordered the assets and shares worth N191 billion traced to Ibru be forfeited and managed by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

The former Oceanic bank CEO was reported to have bought shares in 298 unlisted and listed blue chip companies with depositors money including assets in Dubai, United Arab Emirate, the United States of America and some countries around the world.

Investigators had told the court of how Nanashettu Bedell, 51-year-old nanny of Cecilia also known as Nanashetu P. Abdulai, was used as a conduit through which the ex-CEO allegedly laundered N30 billion of depositors’ savings.

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