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Governor Sanwo-Olu, Cabinet Members Inspect State-Funded Rail Projects

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The 2022 deadline set for the completion of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) projects being undertaken by the Lagos State Government remains sacrosanct, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu promised on Saturday.

The Governor defied the rain for a physical assessment of the progress made in the construction of both Blue and Red Lines, inspecting the rail corridors to evaluate the ongoing work.

The inspection came five months after Sanwo-Olu performed the groundbreaking ceremony to kick off the construction of the 37-kilometer-long Red Line, which starts from Agbado and terminates at Oyingbo.

The Blue Line project, which started in 2010, is currently at over 80 percent completion.

The rail projects are being undertaken by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), an agency under the Ministry of Transportation.

The Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladehinde, and other members of the State’s cabinet joined the Governor in the inspection that started at the Ikeja Terminal of the Red Line project.

Sanwo-Olu, visibly elated by the progress of work, said the take-off of the Red Line project represented a major breakthrough for his administration in its drive to deliver an integrated transportation model that would ease road congestion in the State.

He said: “We are excited about the ongoing rail projects being undertaken by the Lagos State Government and there is a huge number of jobs being provided to Nigerians engaged by the contractor at all stages of the construction work. There are over a thousand personnel working at the Marina Terminal alone. We are happy with the extent of work on both projects. What we have seen at the Ikeja Station, which is the second biggest station after the one being built at Marina, gives us so much hope that the projects are on course.

“Based on the physical assessment, we are believing that the timelines set for the completion of major engineering work are on track. We are also believing that our contractor is working on schedule. Although there are few hiccups, we believe we will be able to address and surmount them. By the last quarter of 2022, we hope that trains would move on both corridors. And by 2023, we expect to see the full operation of both Blue and Red Lines.”

Henceforth, Sanwo-Olu said there would be quarterly assessment and monitoring of the two projects. By doing this, he said the State Government would avoid the pitfalls that stalled the progress of the Blue Line prior to his administration.

There are six overpasses being constructed at strategic level crossing points along the Red Line corridor to eliminate interactions between the rail tracks, vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

The Governor also stopped at Yaba Terminal of the Red Line, assessing the work done. He later moved to the Oyingbo Train Terminus, where construction was at the third level toward completion.

There will be a stabling extension from Oyingbo to Iddo, which would be used as a parking lot for the train.

The Marina Terminus of the Blue Line, which will be an elevated station, would be a transportation hub that would offer intermodal transportation services.

“At Marina Station, not only are we building rail tracks, underneath we will have a bus station as well for the BRT and First-and-Last Mile buses. There will also be a ferry service at the Marina Station for those who want to travel through the waterways,” Sanwo-Olu said.

The Governor hailed the Chinese contractor for the speed of the construction but said there was a need for knowledge and skill transfer in order to retain the engineering skills brought into the projects by the Chinese contractor.

Sanwo-Olu directed engagement of engineering students at the State-owned Lagos State University (LASU), University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) through internship programme to enable them have practical knowledge of rail construction.

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Lawyer Warns FG To Produce Nnamdi Kanu In Court On Thursday

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Ifeanyi Ejiofor, Lead Counsel to Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on Wednesday said the Federal Government must produce his client in court on Thursday.

Ejiofor made the call while accusing the representatives of the Federal Government of attempting to delay the trial.

Kanu is billed to appear before Justice Binta Nyako-led Federal High Court on Thursday to continue his trial for treason.

Following Kanu’s rearrest in Kenya and repatriation, the Federal Government had amended the charges against the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB.

Addressing a world press conference on the latest developments regarding Kanu’s upcoming trials, Ejiofor accused the office of the Director of Public Prosecution of deliberately refusing to present any of its representatives to honour the invitation for an agreement on a convenient date for the trial to commence, despite several reminders.

The counsel also called on the Federal Government to ensure that security operatives deployed to the court are civil.

According to Ejiofor, security agents must not harass Kanu’s supporters.

However, Ejiofor said: “We, the members of Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s legal team ably led by my humble self, wish to bring to the attention of the public of interesting developments in this case, since our Client was abducted in Kenya on the 19th Day of June 2021, and consequently extraordinarily rendered to Nigeria. His subsequent secret appearance in Court on the 29th day of June 2021, and his non-production in Court on the 26th day of July 2021, as well as what we expect in Court on the 21st day of October 2021.

“This press briefing became compelling against the backdrop of the seven-count smokescreen Amended Charge filed against our Client last week Friday, after waiting for the over-advertised/hyped amendment for over three (3) months.

“You may recall that upon the abduction of our Client in Kenya on the 19th Day of June 2021, and his extraordinary rendition to Nigeria afterwards, he was secretly brought to Court on the 29th day of June 2021, without our knowledge.

“We, his lawyers were not notified of the proceedings of the 29th June 2021, hence, our unavoidable absence. The matter was consequently adjourned to the 26th day of July 2021, for commencement of the hearing.

“This matter then came up on the 26th day of July 2021, for commencement of hearing in the case, but our Client – Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu was not produced in Court, neither was there any plausible convincing reason(s) for his absence in court on that day. An action which was in flagrant violation of Court Order made by His Lordship – Hon. Justice Nyako, for him to be brought to Court on that 26th Day of July 2021.

“Furthermore, in view of the long adjournment of the case already on record, a decision which we believed may have been informed by the annual court’s vacation which commenced during the said period, and in view of the Court’s disposition to hear the matter during the vacation, we applied to the Hon. Chief Judge of the Federal High Court for issuance of a Fiat, to enable His Lordship to proceed with the hearing on the case.

“This application was considered on its merit, and the Honourable Chief Judge in his wisdom, consequently granted our application for Fiat.

“Approval of this request by the Honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court was communicated to all parties in the case, including the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation via the office of the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation.

“Despite being served with the approval for FIAT, and schedule for court’s sitting on the case during the period under reference, the office of the Director of Public Prosecution deliberately failed, neglected and/or refused to present any of his representatives to honour the invitation for an agreement on a convenient date for the trial to commence on the authority of the Fiat, even after several reminders.

“The hard fact we are compelled to swallow today is that despite the approval for Fiat duly given by the Honourable Chief Judge, and the readiness expressed by the court even in the open court, to proceed with the hearing once Fiat is granted, the Federal Government of Nigeria absconded from Court.

“As the world is now aware, tomorrow, being the 21st day of October 2021 is the date on record, collectively agreed in open Court by all parties for the commencement of hearing in our Client’s case, we, therefore, demand as follows;

“That tomorrow, being the 21st day of October 2021 should be sacrosanct. Our Client – Onyendu Mazi Nnamdi Kanu MUST and SHALL be produced in Court to face his trial. Thankfully, the Learned Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation, has though belatedly filed a 7-Count Amended Charge, along with an affidavit of completion of the investigation, so there is no excuse or place to hide whatsoever again to justify doing the contrary.

“That Security Agents ostensibly to be deployed to man the court and its environs, or detailed to provide security on this 21st day of October 2021, should be manifestly civil in their conduct towards the civilian populace who are expected to throng the Court in their numbers in solidarity.”

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Again, FG Maintains Stands, Says There Was No Killing At Lekki Toll Gate

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Nigerian government on Wednesday reiterated that there was no killing at the Lekki toll gate, this is against several reports that youths protesting against police brutality were shot by the military.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed maintained his stand that the said killing was a “phantom massacre”.

Mohammed, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, noted that despite ample opportunities for the families of those allegedly killed and those alleging a massacre to present evidence, no bodies, families, or convincing evidence has been shown.

Speaking on the one year memorial of the event, Mohammed said, “On Monday, the Judicial Panel of Inquiry that was set up by the Lagos State Government after the EndSARS protest wrapped up its sitting.

During the sitting, CNN was summoned but it never showed up, thus missing a great opportunity to prove its allegation of a massacre at the toll gate. Also, Amnesty International had a golden opportunity to convince the world, but it rather opted for issuing meaningless press releases.

“In its latest attempt to grasp at straws and redeem whatever is left of its battered credibility on this issue, CNN has continued with its baseless report that soldiers shot at protesters. In a report currently running on the network, CNN brazenly and unashamedly held on to its flawed narrative, relying on an unidentified mother whose son was reportedly shot dead at Lekki, but without convincing evidence of who shot him dead.

The same CNN that tweeted on Oct. 23rd 2020 that 38 people were shot dead at Lekki is now struggling to convince the world that one boy was killed at Lekki. What a shame!

The testimony of ballistic experts before the Judicial Panel of Inquiry in Lagos contradicts the tales by the moonlight by Amnesty International, CNN, a runaway DJ and their ilk.”

According to the minister, the ballistic experts, in their testimony, said: ”The Team finds that from the medical data examined, including the timeline of arrival at a medical facility and the nature of the injuries sustained by the victims, who were taken to the 5 medical facilities, that no military grade live ammunition (high-velocity) was fired at the protesters (emphasis mine) at Lekki Tollgate on 20th October 2020, within the timeframe of reference (18.30-20.34hrs).

“That the GSW (Gun Shot Wounds) injuries (4 in number between 19:05 and 19:45 hrs), which were examined by the Team, can be safely identified as being discharged by either low-velocity calibre and/or artisanal/12-gauge firearms (artisanal firearms are locally-fabricated weapons).

What is however certain is, had the military personnel deliberately fired military-grade live ammunition directly at the protesters; there would have been significantly more fatalities and catastrophic injuries recorded. This was not the case.”

Furthermore, Mohammed maintained that there was no killing at the Lekki Toll Gate saying, “The military did not shoot at protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate on Oct. 20th 2020, and there was no massacre at the toll gate. The only ‘massacre’ recorded was on social media, hence there were neither bodies nor blood.

“Amnesty International, CNN, a runaway DJ and others like them should apologize for misleading the world that there was a massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate and for portraying the Nigerian military, police and other security agencies in a bad light.

“CNN acted unprofessionally by relying on unverified, and possibly-doctored social media videos, as well as other open-source information, to conclude that a massacre took place at the toll gate.

“The Federal Government remains proud of the security agencies for acting professionally and showing utmost restraint all through the EndSARS protest and the ensuing violence, an action that saved lives and properties.”

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Buhari Government Still Protecting Officers Who Killed EndSARS Protesters – Amnesty International

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One year after peaceful #EndSARS protests ended in a brutal crackdown by Nigerian security forces in Abuja, Lagos and other parts of the country, no one has been brought to justice for the torture, violence, and killings of peaceful protesters, while reports of human rights violations by the police continue, Amnesty International has said.

An investigation by the organization found that Nigerian army and police killed at least 12 people on 20 October 2020 at Lekki toll gate and Alausa in Lagos.

Amnesty International was able to establish that pro-government supporters instigated violence at many of the demonstrations, providing cover for the police to use lethal force against peaceful protesters.

The organization also found that detained protesters were tortured and refused or denied immediate access to lawyers.

A year on, despite the gravity of these human rights violations, not a single member of the security forces has been prosecuted while judicial panels of inquiry set up to investigate abuses by officers have made little progress.

“President Muhammadu Buhari must fulfill his promise of reforming the police to end the reign of impunity Nigerians have been protesting against for many years.

Failure to bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for the torture and killings of #EndSARS protesters on 20 October 2020 is yet another indication that Nigerian authorities lack the political will to ensure accountability for these atrocities, and end police brutality,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“Under the pretext of restoring order, horrific injuries were inflicted on hundreds of people and at least 56 people were killed, among them dozens of young people lost their lives as Nigerian security forces used unnecessary and excessive force to disperse peaceful protesters across the country.

It is unacceptable that despite overwhelming evidence, the government continues to deny the use of live ammunition on protesters at Lekki toll gate exactly a year ago.”

Amnesty International had documented incidents at Lekki Toll Gate Lagos and other parts of Nigeria, showing the violent response of the Nigerian security forces to peaceful protests. The clear aim of the crackdown was to instill fear, discourage peaceful protests and punish those demanding an end to widespread human rights violations by the police.

While most of the #EndSARS protesters were peaceful, there was violence, mostly instigated by pro-government supporters. After reviewing videos and photos of the protest sites, Amnesty international found that in nearly 21 incidents where violence occurred between peaceful protesters and pro-government supporters, security forces not only failed to take preventive measures to avoid peaceful assemblies from being disrupted, but they also failed to protect protesters from violent attacks.

“In many instances, the police and other security agents watched as apparently government-backed armed thugs attacked peaceful protesters. In some cases, these thugs were brought to the protest sites in government vehicles. On at least two occasions, these attacks resulted in the death of protesters,” said Osai Ojigho.

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