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Former US First Lady Barbara Bush dies at 92

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Mrs Barbara Bush has died on Tuesday at the age of 92, Jim McGrath, spokesman for former president George HW Bush, said.

Mrs Bush was the wife of the former president, who served from 1989 to 1993, and also the mother of George W Bush – who was president from 2001 to 2009.

The family’s statement called her a “relentless proponent of family literacy”.

She was one of four children, born Barbara Pierce in the affluent New York suburb of Rye on 8 June 1925.

She was 16 when she met George HW Bush at a school dance and the two married three years later in 1945, while he was on leave from wartime service. Ther their 73-year marriage was the longest of any presidential couple.

 

 

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Aisha Buhari’s Akwa Ibom visit sparks row over senator’s vehicles

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Aisha Buhari’s Akwa Ibom visit sparks row over senator's vehicles

The Akwa Ibom state government has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state of “hijacking” the planned visit of the first lady, Aisha Buhari, to the state.

Mrs Buhari is visiting the Akwa Ibom this Friday to flag off her pet project, Future assured, a nongovernmental organisation advocating the wellbeing of women, children, and adolescents in Nigeria.

Ita Enang, an aide to President Muhammadu Buhari, while briefing reporters on Thursday, said the flag-off ceremony will take place at the Nsima Ekere Campaign Ground in Uyo.

He said about 10,000 youth in the state are expected to receive interest-free loans, grants, and various forms of training from the Future Assured, together with its partners, which include the National Directorate of Employment (NDE), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), and two senators from the state – Godswill Akpabio and Nelson Effiong.

The Akwa Ibom government said the APC was planning to “hijack” the protocols associated with Mrs Buhari’s visit in order to make political capital out of it.

The government specifically accused Mr Akpabio, a former governor of the state, of wanting to use the visit to blackmail the state government.

“The struggle for the soul of Akwa Ibom State come 2019 is becoming dirtier,” said a statement forwarded to PREMIUM TIMES, Friday, by the Commissioner for Information in the state Charles Udoh.

“The office of the First Lady had written to the State Government informing it of her visit to the state and the government is said to have made adequate arrangements befitting of her status and office.

“Suddenly, former governor, Senator Godswill Akpabio is alleged to have taken his personal vehicles to the DSS office in Uyo preparatory to the visit of the wife of the president.

“We have been rightly informed of this plan by Senator Goodwill Akpabio to deliberately blackmail the State Government by bungling the protocols of this visit, embarrass the State Government by creating a climate of odium and despair and thereafter rejoice over such failure,” the statement said.

“We will resist that,” it added.

The statement said the president’s wife, irrespective of what she was coming to do in the state, ought to be a guest of the state government and that it was customary for the state government to make arrangement for such a visit.

The statement said it was “ironic” for the State Security Services (SSS) to accept to use Mr Akpabio’s private vehicle to ferry the first lady.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted Mr Akpabio’s spokesperson, Anietie Ekong, he declined comment on the matter, saying it was a protocol matter between the presidential villa and the Akwa Ibom Government House.

The SSS director in the state, Malam Waziri, told PREMIUM TIMES, Friday morning, the claim by the state government was not true.

Mr Waziri said Mrs Buhari, while in Uyo, would be using two of her official vehicles brought in from Abuja.

He said the first lady is to be accompanied by the wives of three state governors. The governors’ wives, he said, have also sent in their vehicles in advance.

The SSS director said the Akwa Ibom government sent in vehicles too, which would be used in the first lady’s entourage.

“You will be able to verify what I am telling you if you will be present at the airport when the first lady lands in the state,” he said.

But a source who works as an aide of Mr Akpabio and is privy to the issues surrounding the visit confided in PREMIUM TIMES that Mrs Buhari would indeed be riding in Mr Akpabio’s private car – Mercedes S500 bulletproof – when her flight touches down in Uyo.

The aide, who did not want his name mentioned in the story because he did not have the permission to speak on the matter, said Mrs Buhari would visit the senator’s country home in Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area of the state, after the flag-off of the Future Assured project in Uyo.

“We have not hijacked the visit,” Mr Enang told PREMIUM TIMES, Friday morning while reacting to the state government’s allegation. “We are only providing an enabling environment to receive the wife of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

Mr Enang said the state government, having been “duly” informed, is obliged to receive Mrs Buhari and also be part of her programme in the state.

“APC has not done anything to prevent the governor, his wife, or the state government from receiving and hosting the first lady.”

Mr Enang said the flag-off ceremony is holding at Nsima Ekere Campaign Ground because the state government, according to him, refused to grant permission for the use of the Uyo Township Stadium. “They told us the stadium was being renovated,” he said.

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INEC denies planning Chad, Niger voting centres

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INEC denies planning Chad, Niger voting centres

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that there will be no diaspora or out-of-country voting in the 2019 general elections.

The commission said this in a statement by its national commissioner and chairman of Information and Voter Education Committee, Festus Okoye.

This followed a conference on Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) voting held by the commission on Wednesday.

At the conference, the commission had spelt out the procedure it would follow to accommodate internally displaced persons in the presidential election.

On Thursday, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) in a statement by its spokespersons, Ikenga Uguchinyere, alleged that INEC wanted to open polling units in Chad and Niger Republic with a view to adding five million votes to the tally of President Muhammadu Buhari in the presidential election.

“The attention of the CUPP has been drawn to credible intelligence and reports in the media of the opening of voting centres by the INEC in Niger and Chad under the pretext that the centres are for IDPs to vote. It was more worrisome that the report quoted the Chairman of INEC as having made this declaration in a public forum,” Mr Ugochinyere stated on Thursday.

“Following the report, the Intelligence Unit of the CUPP has since uncovered the massive mobilisation of Chadian, Nigerian and Sudanese citizens preparatory to their participating in the February 16th Presidential elections. We have also uncovered that the plot is targeted at generating nothing less than five million votes for President Buhari in the election.

“It has now become clearer to Nigerians and the entire world the reasons why President Buhari refused to assent to the Electoral Act Amendment Bill presented to him by the National Assembly which would have made the Card Reader the only means of accreditation of voters for the election. His only options now include allowing non-Nigerians to participate in an election to determine Nigeria’s President and without accreditation.

“We hereby urge the INEC Chairman to retrace his steps and stand with the Nigerian people in these trying times as our electoral laws till date prohibit diaspora voting as no elections for the purpose of electing any public office holder in Nigeria can be held outside the geographical boundaries of the country. If any electoral staff or materials have been deployed outside the country for the purpose of these illegal and unlawful voting points, they should be returned to the country without any further delay.

“Finally, we call on all Nigerians of goodwill to voice out now and condemn this act and caution the President that his disposition of do-or-die is heating up the polity and that he has the example of former President Goodluck Jonathan to guide him in his actions as the elections draw nearer.”

In an apparent effort to dispel such views, INEC in its statement by Mr Okoye said that only voters in Nigeria on election day will be eligible to participate in the elections.

“The Commission wishes to state unequivocally that there will be no Diaspora or Out-of-Country voting for any Nigerian,” the commission stated.

It said in accordance with extant provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1979 (as amended), only duly registered IDPs within Nigeria will be allowed to vote.

According to INEC, “the Framework and Regulations for IDP Voting were presented and validated by stakeholders at a conference held In Abuja on Wednesday, November 12.

In the INEC chairman’s speech and all the deliberation at the conference, which was reported by PREMIUM TIMES, there was no reference to diaspora voting.

The conference explained that IDPs currently residing in states where they registered can vote in all elections while those displaced from their states and are currently in states other than where they registered can only vote in the presidential election.

“INEC also said the validated framework is in consonance with the provisions of Section 26 (I) 0f the Electoral (Amendment Act 2015) which provides that “in the event of an emergency affecting an election, the Commission shall as far as possible ensure that persons displaced as the result of the emergency are not disenfranchised.”

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How I discovered my daughter Ochanya had been repeatedly raped by her uncle

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How I discovered my daughter Ochanya had been repeatedly raped by her uncle

The father of the late teenager, Ochanya, has narrated how he discovered that his teenage daughter had been repeatedly raped by her guardian.

Ochanya Ogbanje, 13, died of Vesicovaginal fistula (VVF) in October, eight years after she was in 2010 taken to live with Andrew Ogbuja whose wife, Felicia Ogbuja, is an aunt to the deceased. Her death followed a series of rape allegedly perpetrated by Mr Ogbuja and his son, Victor.

Narrating the sad events that resulted in his daughter’s death in an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Ochanya’s father, Michael Ogbanje, said he only got the clear picture of his daughter’s type of infection, after he decided against the plan of Mrs Ogbuja, and brought his daughter to a caregiver who took her for medical tests for the umpteenth time.

“We started the treatment at a local government clinic. From there, we were referred to Saint Mary’s hospital. In February, Mr Ogbuja’s wife, Felicia Ogbuja, came to me and told me that my daughter’s case had gone beyond what will be treated at Saint Mary’s.

“I gave them money, N16,000 and fuelled their car which was used in taking my daughter to the hospital that day. They were admitted till April. The entire hospital bills were paid by me. Yet Mrs Ogbuja made sure to keep the test results from us.

“We have been the ones paying her school fees. We even buy things and take to her occasionally,” Mr Ogbanje added.

The victim’s mother, Rose, who went with their daughter to the hospital, added that she made several demands for the details of the problem, but her requests were never granted.

“Each time I ask, they will tell me that my daughter will be well. Even when they discharged her, my daughter could not walk. When I enquired to know why she could not walk since they said she was better, they told me she would soon walk again,” the aged woman added, in pidgin English.

But days ran into weeks and nothing changed. Mr Ogbanje said he later asked his wife to question the girl when they noticed that she was passing out faeces and urinating uncontrollably.

“It was during that interrogation by her mother that my daughter confessed that she was sexually abused by Mr Ogbuja and his son.”

Mr Ogbanje’s immediate reaction was that of utter dismay and confusion, to the point of assuming his daughter was going mad.

“I was surprised when she told me who had raped her. I asked her, “are you mad?” but she insisted that she was telling the truth.

“I called her elder one and asked her to repeat what she had told me and she did so. Then the following day I took her, very early to Mr Ogbujah and asked that she narrates the story she had told us.”

Mr Ogbanje added that when Mr Ogbuja denied assaulting his daughter, the 13-year-old girl stated the places and the times when she was allegedly assaulted by the 51-year-old suspended lecturer and knight of the Catholic Church.

“But he insisted that only his son had an intimate meeting with my daughter. I then asked him what would happen next, given the state that my poor daughter was in and his wife told me that we should come back the following week so that they would go with us to the hospital and check to know if it is the incidence of rape that resulted in the problem my child is having.

“This happened on a Monday. But I thought to myself that I could not watch my daughter for another week without knowing how to help her. That was when I took Ochanya to the caregiver, Enuwa Soo, who went with my wife to run some tests at a hospital and all the results came out. That was the first time we knew what was really wrong with my daughter,” Mr Ogbanje said. “This was in June,” he added.

Mr Ogbanje further narrated that Mr Ogbuja later came with his wife, kneeling and begging them to avoid reporting the matter to relevant authorities.

“The first time he came, he was in the company of his wife and some men. They brought some kolanuts and knelt down, saying I should understand that the deed is already done. They offered to continue treating my daughter and refund the money I had spent on her treatment in exchange for my silence, but I refused,” Mr Ogbanje said.

Mrs Ogbuja was reportedly the first to discover the heinous crime perpetrated then, by her son, Victor. Rather than ensure it did not repeat itself, the Ogbuja’s family watched the menace continue till it caused the13-year-old her dear life, Mr Ogbanje said.

The death of Ochanya has attracted widespread condemnation, with many demanding a thorough prosecution of Mr Ogbuja and his son, Victor.

While Mr Ogbuja has been arrested and detained by the police, Victor is still at large months after the matter was reported to the police.

The spokesperson for the Benue State Police Command, Fatai Owoseni, did not respond to calls and text messages when contacted about an update on the whereabouts of Victor by this newspaper on Thursday evening.

The Catholic Church, in a statement issued in November by members of the Knight of Saint Molumba, suspended Mr Ogbuja from the order of Catholic Knights, pending the outcome of the matter.

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