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Lagos’ Demolition of Monkey Village, an Attack on the Poor, Children’s Education -CEE-HOPE

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A Non-Governmental Organisation, the Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE) has criticised the Lagos State Government for the demolition of Monkey Village, an informal housing settlement in the Opebi area of the state.

In the morning of December 31, 2020, truckloads of policemen, taskforce officers and thugs descended on the community and with the aid of graders and bulldozers, pulled down the houses, displacing more than 400 persons including children. Many of the residents who had gone out for the day had their homes totally demolished with their belongings inside.

Stranded residents

An ICT Centre and youth hub built in the community by CEE-HOPE was also pulled down with several computers, library and other gadgets intact in the building. Pleas by community members who had the key of the centre to retrieve the materials were ignored.

Monkey Village’s children savour the ICT centre donated by CEE-HOPE during the recent commisioning in their community
The ICT Centre after the demolition Dec. 31, 2020

CEE-HOPE’s water project in the community was also totally destroyed. Several members of the community were also brutalised by the government-sponsored thugs, according to community sources.

Water project for Monkey VIllage Community by CEE-HOPE before the demolition
The remains of the CEE-HOPE water project to the community

After several denials by the Lagos State Ministry of Environment, the Lagos State Task Force office and other official quarters, the Lagos State Ministry Of Physical Planning & Urban Development: came up with a statement on Sunday January 3, 2021 accepting responsibility for the demolition exercise carried out on December 31, 2020, in Monkey Village. They gave ‘reclamation of wetland’ as the reason for the forced eviction exercise.

But in a statement on January 4, CEE-HOPE faulted the action of the Lagos State Government which it described as ‘crude, autocratic and a gross violation of all known laws and guidelines guiding the handling of such matters world over’ which has not only displaced 400 persons (currently homeless) but also endangering the educational dream of more than 200 of the community’s children.

‘It is indeed a crying shame that the biggest news out of Lagos every single year would revolve around the savage treatment of the urban poor,’ said CEE-HOPE’s founder/Executive Director, Betty Abah. ‘From Maroko, Makoko, Badia East, Iluibirin to Otodo-Gbame, and now Monkey Village, it is the same pattern of the gross abuse of the human and shelter rights of the urban poor, when Lagos is not the only state in Nigeria and when Nigeria is not the only place where we have slum settlement or indeed where the urban poor exists. Yet, the most painful for us was the destruction of educational facilities funded by private individuals and for the most vulnerable of children, and in a country with the highest number of out-of-school children, at a time of a global pandemic and during a national recession,’ she added.

Monkey Village chidlren with damaged computers picked from the demolished CEE-HOPE’s ICT centre

According to CEE-HOPE, the latest statement from the government was part of the layers of lies bandied by the Lagos State Government in the last few days to cover up the atrocity committed against the poor residents of Monkey Village. From claiming it was a take-over of a land under contest in court, to saying it was a hoodlums’ hide-out, it has now framed a wetland narrative.

‘But whatever it is, how come there was no prior notice to the residents to at least take out their few belongings before they were crushed by the graders?

According to Abah, Monkey Village sits on about 10 plots of land which belongs to about seven individuals. The individuals then gave out the land to the residents pending when they are fully ready to develop the place and each land is overseen by some members of the community who are well known to the land owners. She stressed that the people are therefore not illegal occupants neither have they ever been served any evacuation notice.

Now that an agency of the Lagos State government has finally come out to admit culpability in the entire fiasco, CEE-HOPE is therefore demanding the following:

1.           An apology to the community members for the gross violation of their rights, including the failure to follow due process by duly serving them formal notice.

2.            Compensation of every one of the community members for lost personal and household belongings.

3.            A relocation of the victims of this arbitrary forced eviction as guaranteed by the UN provision on Housing Right.

4.           Compensation of CEE-HOPE for the complete destruction of its multi-million Naira ICT Centre/Youth Hub in the community and water project.

5.           A promise by the government to end all such arbitrary actions especially with regards to the urban poor in future engagements, commit to meaningful engagement of informal housing residents rather than the usual use of brute force, commit to upgrading of such settlements as is the current practice across the world rather than forced eviction which pushes the poor into worse levels of vulnerability.

6.           That the Lagos State House of Assembly institute hearings into the incident, with a view towards addressing the issue and unearthing the personalities and real reasons behind this reckless, inhuman and lawless action which has been ongoing in this state unhindered, and which exacerbates the suffering of the poor and is in violation of the state’s supposed duty as the hope of the poor and vulnerable.

Betty Abah

Founder/Executive Director

CEE-HOPE

January 4, 2021

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How Colin Powell, America’s First Black Secretary of State, Died

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Colin Powell, the first Black secretary of state in United States of America died on Monday. According to reports, the former statesman and military commander died of COVID-19-related complications at the age of 84.

The report says he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer that makes it difficult to fight infections.

Born April 5, 1937 to Jamaican immigrants in Harlem, Powell’s “American Journey” started in New York, where he grew up and earned a degree in geology. Powell served four U.S. presidents and rose to become the first African American and the youngest chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking military officer in the US. He died Monday at Walter Reed National Medical Center. His family said he was fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

General Powell

“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said in a statement on Facebook

Powell became very popular after engineering military victory in the 1991 Gulf War. He was so respected that he was considered a strong candidate to become the first ever Black US president. But he turned down such ambition of running for the White House and endorsed Barack Obama for the office.

Powell was also America’s first Black national security advisor under president Ronald Reagan.

Powell and George Bush

George W. Bush described Powell “an American hero, an American example, and a great American story” as he nominated the military man as his secretary of state in 2000.

“He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice,” Bush said on Monday.

“He was highly respected at home and abroad. And, most important, Colin was a family man and a friend. Laura and I send Alma and their children our sincere condolences as they remember the life of a great man.”

Powell had a reputation for bipartisanship, straight-talking and integrity, and was praised for his officer’s instincts of duty and honor.

US Defense Secretary Austin Powell told reporters Powell was among the “greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed,” lamenting the loss of “a tremendous personal friend and mentor.”

Powell and family

“It’s a blot… and will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now,” Powell said in a 2005 interview with ABC News.

Tributes nevertheless poured in from Congress, where Democratic Senator Mark Warner praised Powell as “a patriot and a public servant,” while House Republican Peter Meijer described him as a rarity in the modern age: “a true soldier statesman.”

“Today, the nation lost a man of undaunted courage and a champion of character,” added centrist Republican Senator Mitt Romney.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair, who stood firmly behind US actions in Iraq and gave military backing to the war effort, described Powell as a “towering figure in American military and political leadership.”

“He was wonderful to work with, he inspired loyalty and respect and was one of those leaders who always treated those under them with kindness and concern,” Blair said.

Powell and wife Alma in 1962

Powell earned a number of civilian honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom — twice from Bush Senior and Clinton.

He married his wife Alma in 1962. They had three children: Michael, Linda and Annemarie

Oche Onu writes with agency report

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Deontay Wilder Suspended from Boxing for Six-Months (see why)

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Following his recent fight with Tyson Fury and brutal defeat by same, Deontay Wilder will not be allowed to return to the ring until next April.

Wilder was stopped in the penultimate round of the trilogy fight having hit the canvas on three occasions as he lost to the Brit for the second successive time.

He was taken to hospital to be checked over before being discharged later on Saturday night with a broken finger and the Nevada State Athletic Commission will not permit him to fight until April 8 unless his finger is cleared by a doctor.

Fury has been given a standard 45-day ‘suspension’ following his efforts in retaining his heavyweight world title.

Fury’s victory brought a concussive end to a rivalry that had raged for almost three years but the Brit had to earn victory the hard way by twice climbing off the canvas in a pulsating fourth round.

He had dropped Wilder in the previous session before doing the same in the 10th and 11th rounds.

Fury returned to the UK on Tuesday to spend time with his extended family which includes his six children.

He will likely face British rival Dillian Whyte early next year assuming the Londoner beats Otto Wallin later this month.

Should he come through that, he will surely target the winner of Anthony Joshua’s rematch with Oleksandr Usyk which is set to take place in March.

Wilder faces a more uncertain future after suffering his second professional defeat as he prepares to have surgery on his hand.

His trainer Malik Scott wants his charge to take some time off – but insisted the former champion won’t retire.

“I really don’t want Deontay talking about boxing or doing anything to do with boxing for quite some time, I want him to get some rest after this.

“Even after the last fight he was so worked up he never really got to rest. He deserves a good rest and we’ll make sure he gets it. I’m going to head down to Tuscaloosa in a few days to spend some time with him.

“Deontay has set his family financially secure so he doesn’t have to fight to make a living.

“But retiring is not in his plans at all and not something we’ve discussed. He will be back in any form he wants to be; he’s a big-time fighter and he doesn’t belong down there with the other guys, he needs to be in high-level fights and main events.

“Deontay Wilder was great on Saturday, but Tyson Fury was even greater – it was a great night of boxing for the heavyweight division.

“You have to give Fury credit for having a good chin and getting up. Fury is a legend and one of the best in the heavyweight division in any era, and it’s the same about Deontay.”

One potential fight for Wilder is a mouthwatering, blink-and-you-miss-it clash with Anthony Joshua.

The Brit faces a revenge mission in his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk next year but if he loses will be in need of a dance partner.

Oche Onu writes with agency report.

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NGO MOBILISES LAGOS COMMUNITIES AGAINST GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE

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In a bid to fight Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in communities across Lagos, the Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection (CEE-HOPE), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) partnered with RiseUp, a women and girls’ rights group to mobilize community stakeholders as gatekeepers and to build better links with law enforcement agencies.The meeting at Otto-Ilogbo community, one of the most populous informal communities in Lagos was the first of three meetings targeting Otto-Ilogbo, Makoko and Bariga. It would bring together local stakeholders such as local chiefs, women leaders, youth leaders, heads of girls’ groups among others in a bid to reduce GBV particularly against teenage girls.

It would also ensure that the communities work more closely with government agencies, law enforcement agencies and other state actors as well establish community systems that would report sexual violations so that the perpetrators are brought to book and thereby help towards the reduction and indeed eradication of such crimes in those communities.The first meeting at Otto-Ilogbo held recently was fruitful as it provided a robust platform for the rubbing of minds among the community stakeholders.

Both the old and youth freely aired their concerns and observations and welcome the idea of a better working relationships with constitutionally appointed bodies and personnel to curb sexual violence in their community as in everywhere in the country especially with the COVID-19 pandemic and associated pressures and socioeconomic abnormalities.

Comrade Mushbau Ishola Agbdemu, an eminent community leader and activist at Otto-Ilogbo and the local organizer, welcome the idea and promised that the community would work closely with the CEE-HOPE team to ensure the success of the project.

Betty Abah, CEE-HOPE’s founder and Executive Director, expressed delight at the turn of the one-day event. “We are really impressed by the enthusiasm of the communities to collaborate with us and the others in focus and we hope that we have such good responses from the other communities as well. Our work with informal communities over the years proved that if given the opportunities and cooperation from constituted authorities, the community people would always leverage on their potentials and experiences to turn things around positively. We are positive that this will go well,’ she added.
The October 25 meeting at Otto-Ilogbo was preceded by another one-day meeting at Makoko constituting leaders and representatives from the three target communities including Makoko, Bariga and Otto-Ilogbo on September 11. 

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