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Shock, disbelief as Benue IDPs camp records 200 new babies a month



IDPs in Benue

There is no gain in saying that Benue State is currently the hub of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in the country. With about 17 or more IDPs camps housing over 1.5 million IDPs, including those sheltering in the host communities, the state is no doubt facing a herculean task catering to the needs of these persons of concern.

The IDPs were forced out of their ancestral homes following repeated attacks and siege by armed herdsmen who are bent on defying the extant grazing law in the state.

From Guma to Agatu, Gwer West, Kwande, Makurdi, Logo, Apa, Okpokwu, Bururku, Otukpo and other local government areas, LGAs, it’s all tales of woes as the rural Benue farmers who are known for their prowess in food production have vacated their ancestral homes and taken refuge in IDPs camps.

Though the present administration has pledged to have them relocated back home, but while that move is still being awaited, the IDPs remain confined in these camps, living on the support they receive from the state government, kind-hearted individuals and organisations.

Given the dire condition in the camps the IDPs are faced with the challenges of inadequate food and drugs supply, including insufficient sleeping spaces and other challenges that make life unbearable for them.

But in the midst of these challenges one notable issue is the high rate of new child births being recorded in some of the camps.

Findings indicated that while the IDPs live in dire conditions amid insufficient sleeping space, they still make out space to make babies.

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Strange as it may sound, the reality is that new born babies are recorded in the camps in high numbers despite the living condition of the IDPs.


The development though, a reason for celebration for families in a normal living environment, is considered a source of concern in an IDPs camp as it puts a huge strain on the healthcare service there.

Besides, the new born are brought to a world of uncertainty in IDPs camps where access to proper health care services and feeding sometimes gets daunting leading to health challenges and even malnutrition as was the case recently at the Ortese IDPs camp in Guma LGA where cases of malnutrition were discovered among the children.

In fact, it was also discovered in that camp that over 200 new babies were given birth to in one month by displaced mothers taking refuge in that camp alone.

The alarming figure which left tongues wagging was indeed part of the findings of the Integrated Supportive Supervision, ISS, of the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the World Health Organisation, UNICEF/WHO Humanitarian Health Response, IDP, Outreach implemented by the Benue State Primary Healthcare Board, carried out at the Ortese and Ichwa IDPs camps in Guma and Makurdi local government areas, respectively.

It was discovered that the high figure was a function of the fact that in the midst of their distress, the IDPs find pleasure and happiness in sleeping with their spouses.

This was also alluded to by one of the IDPs, who identified himself as Anngu, and also claimed to be a father of two and resides in the camp with his family.

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According to him: “Though we live in the camp we find space to sleep with our wives. When we do that we are happy with each other and it helps us reduce the pains we are going through.

“So we cannot be asked to stop because we are living in camp. The only thing is that we must ensure that our wives protect themselves from being pregnant though some men don’t like the idea of their wives not giving birth.


“As for me I came to the camp about two years ago with my wife and two children and I sleep with my wife, but I ensure that she uses the family planning products that were given to her by the health care people. But the truth is that many are not using it.”

Speaking on the development, the Executive Secretary of the Benue State Primary Health Care Board, Mrs. Grace Wende, who visited the camp, said the number of new births was quite high and the government would need to do something about it.

According to her: “I saw a very interesting sight. I’ve been in these camps often as part of our coordination beat and as part of the main role of primary health care.

“We are part of the major leading partners in supporting the IDPs camps in terms of providing healthcare personnel who will be providing services to these various camps.

“Today I saw many pregnant women and young children and it seems that there is very high level of fertility and child birth within these camps.

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“Today alone we noticed that there are 200 new births per month. It is quite high, and government needs to do something about it.

“But from my discussion with them it seems that they are not utilising the family planning products that were given to them. So we need to intensify demand creation generation, especially among the men because they took the problem there. The women are willing but their husbands are resisting those family planning methods.

“The 200 births I am talking about is just in Ortese IDPs Camp. I am not talking about any other. So, 200 babies delivered in one camp in one month is huge. And we have not gotten the situation in other camps.


“Our findings indicated that the women there are helpless. Some women are remarrying within the camp, their husbands are not there; the husbands are also remarrying. They are also, sort of negotiating sex with the women within the camp. Those things are things that require that we intensify our advocacy and decision making within the camps.

“I have already talked with the State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, and the Camp Coordinators to see how we can go about it. We will target the advocacy on the men for now,” she added. (Vanguard)



Bill proposing return to regional govt to be presented to Tinubu Friday



Tinubu to receive bill on regional government next week
President Bola Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu will, on Friday, receive a draft bill seeking a return to a regional system of government for Nigeria.

The proposed legislation authored by a chieftain of the Yoruba socio-cultural association, Afenifere, Akin Fapohunda, and titled, “A Bill for an Act to substitute the annexure to Decree 24 of 1999 with New Governance Model for the Federal Republic of Nigeria’, seeks among others, new extant laws to be cited as “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria New Governance Model for Nigeria Act 2024.

The bill was disowned by the House of Representatives last week as its spokesman, Akin Rotimi, and the Chairman, Committee on Rules and Business said it has not been listed for deliberation in the ongoing moves to review the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

However, Fapohunda told our correspondent on Thursday that the bill would be transmitted to the President on Friday.

“I’m submitting my letter (draft bill) today but I will wait for seven days before releasing it to the public,” he told our correspondent.

Meanwhile, Fapohunda who also represents the Coalition of Indigenous Ethnic Nationalities told The PUNCH that the organisation is proposing the division of the country into eight geo-political regions with approximate interim boundaries.

The proposed regions. according to Fapohunda. include the southern region to be made up of Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, and Cross Rivers States and “Optional inclusions of the Annang, Effik, Ekoi, Ibibio, Oro Ohaji/Egbema in Southern Imo, the Adonia, Efemia, Ijaw, Ogoni, Bini, Ishan, Isoko, Urhobo and the Ijaw-speaking people in Northern Ondo State with land contiguity.”

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He continued, “The South Eastern region consists of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States. The Western region comprises Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, and Ekiti States, incorporating the Yoruba-speaking people in Kogi and the Igbomina people in Kwara State. Additional options would be the Itsekiri people of Delta State and Akoko-Edo people of Edo State to make their respective choices.”


Others include the Mid-Western Region “Made up of Edo and Delta States, possibly incorporating the Anioma people and the Eastern Middle Belt Region comprising Northern Cross River, Southern Kaduna, Southern Borno, Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba States.”

The Western Middle Belt Region comprises Southern Kebbi, parts of Kwara and Niger States while the North Eastern Region will be made up of parts of Borno, Gombe, Bauchi, Jigawa, and Yobe States.

The North Western Region, according to the Afenifere chieftain, comprises Kaduna, parts of Kebbi, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara States.

Fapohunda said the coalition envisaged a two-tier government, federal and regions, adding that the latter would be at liberty to manage her affairs, “Including the creation of sub-entities, based on the stipulations that are agreed upon and embedded in their respective constitutions.”

In its proposed governance stipulations, CIEN stated that “In the quest for re-configuration and downsizing, an option to consider might be to retain the present boundaries of the 36 States, as would have been adjusted, but to creatively downgrade the paraphernalia of political administration as follows:

“To introduce a new regional government framework with executive and legislative functions and bodies with the headship title of Premier.

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“In the new dispensation, the present States (for example the six in the Western region) would be converted to provinces. Governance at this level shall be by Provincial Councils that integrate executive and legislative functions, with Chairman and Support Specialist Administrative Officers. The regions shall be at liberty to create provinces, subject to viability and self-sustainability.

“The present Local Government Areas are to be transformed into divisions, with divisional managers and specialist administrative officers; to operate as socio-economic development institutions. The new provinces shall also be at liberty to create divisions, subject to viability and self-sustainability.”


The coalition also proposed a new constitution to embody novelties including freedom of the regions to “Create, merge and or re-configure their sub-political units and may adopt provinces, divisions or districts as may suit their circumstances without interference from any other authority.

“Regions and sub-regional entities are to be reconfigured such as would reduce the cost of public and civil service administration to less than 20 to 30 per cent of generated revenue.

“In drafting their Constitutions, the peoples of the respective regional territories will take a cue and also dismantle any arrangement or configuration that will favour the politicians and the political class; with a focus on freeing resources for true development.

“A uni-camera federal legislature comprising members that are elected at the discretion of the regions for which they would be representatives at Abuja.

“Decentralization of federal power in favour of not more than 10 regions on which there is a general national consensus, rather than the presently unwieldy number of 36 States. These old States are inconsequential indeed in being a viable unit of a truly federal system of government.”

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In all, the coalition proposes that the Federal Government “Shall comprise not more than nine Ministries and Ministers,” adding that “The very big United States has just 15 Cabinet Ministers, while Nigeria is not even up to just a State of Texas or New York.”

The group is also advocating a return to the parliamentary mode system of government “Built-in statutory rotation of headship among the regions.”

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Ex-Kogi Gov Bello’s trial for alleged N80.2Bn graft stalled again, to appear in court June 27



Follow AGF’s advice, submit to EFCC – Group tells Yahaya Bello
Former Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello

The arraignment of former Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello for alleged N80.2 billion fraud slated for Thursday was stalled again as the case was adjourned to June 27 based on requests from both counsels in the case.

Bello, who was expected in court on Thursday, before Justice Emeka Nwite at the Federal High Court Abuja on a 19-count charge, was absent.

According to the EFCC, through the counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), the court had previously adjourned the case on May 10 with the expectation that Bello would be present for arraignment today.

However, Bello’s lawyer, Adeola Adedipe (SAN), argued there was a misunderstanding.

He claimed the lead prosecutor, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), had suggested to his colleague, Aliyu AbdulWahab, of postponing the arraignment to June 27 for convenience sake during an informal meeting outside of court.

Adedipe stated that he was surprised to find EFCC lead counsel, absent from the court today.

“They (EFCC) agreed that junior counsel would be sent to court today to formally pick a date. And the registry can confirm this.

“Kemi Pinhero, SAN, has been calling us to say today is not convenient,” Adedipe said, accusing the prosecution of attempting to “ambush” him.


The EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo (SAN), countered by saying the defense team was misrepresenting the situation. He argued that holding an unofficial meeting was not a valid reason for Bello’s absence and called for an apology to the court.

“Assuming without conceding that there was a conversation between the counsel for Bello and the prosecution (outside the court), to have this matter adjourned, the fundamental issue today is compliance with the order of my lord; to with, the appearance of the defendant,” he said.

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According to Adedipe, Yahaya Bello was prepared to appear today as originally scheduled.

“Under 266 ACJA there are instances when defendants don’t need to come and this is one of them.

“We came here to pick a date. Of what use will the defendant coming here be? It is the prosecuting counsel that approached us, we did not approach them. We have nothing to hide,” Adedipe argued.

After hearing the arguments from both sides, the judge acknowledged the confusion and accepted the defense team’s apology.

“I am minded to take the apology on the ground that the defendant is making a fresh undertaking that the defendant (Bello) will be produced on June 27.

“The matter is adjourned to June 27 for arraignment,” the judge ruled.

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Alleged N80bn Fraud: Yahaya Bello to appear in court for trial today



Ex-Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello

After several months of hide-and-seek between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the former governor of Kogi state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, the ex-governor is expected to appear before the Federal High Court in Abuja on June 13 for arraignment on the corruption charge against him.

The former governor, through his lawyer, finally agreed to submit himself to the court at the last adjourned date.

Bello’s lead counsel, Abdulwahab Mohammed, gave the undertaking to Justice Emeka Nwite on May 10, shortly after the court rejected the defendant’s request for suspension of trial.

According to him, the former governor was not afraid of arraignment but of the safety of his life in the hands of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja.

He said the life of his client has been under consistent threats in Abuja, hence his decision to go underground for safety.

The agreement to submit to court trial was informed by Justice Nwite’s remarks that the EFCC, as a law-abiding body, would not do anything contrary to the provisions of the law.

The judge said Bello was not the first former governor to be merely invited by the anti-graft agency and would not be the last.

The judge also said that the charges are based on allegations that have not been proved, adding that the law presumes any accused person innocent until proven otherwise.


He advised the senior lawyer to prevail on his client to respect the law and order of the court as a law-abiding person.

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Bello’s lawyer, responding to the admonition, thanked the Judge for the hint, adding that, with the assurance that the EFCC would not do anything untoward, the former governor would be brought to court.

“All my client needs is just an assurance for the safety of his life, which has been under threat for some time in Abuja.”

The lawyer requested for four weeks to bring his client before the court.

He said Bello would, however, come to the court instead of the EFCC to take his plea in the charges.

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