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One Day in ‘June 12’

TOMMORROW, the 25th Commemoration of the annulled June 12 Presidential Elections, is to be recognised as ‘Democracy Day’ in Nigeria. That quasi recognition of the injustice meted out to the people by a conscienceless, kleptocratic  and brutal military dictatorship should not be just  about the elections, but the sustained, sometimes bloody struggles to force a historical and conservative state to recognise the electoral wish of  the people and bring murderers to book, even if it has to be done, a quarter of a century later.

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Living with fake people

ARKADY Babchenko, a veteran of the Chechen wars in Russia became a  Defence Correspondent working mainly for the Novaya Gazeta. For over a decade, he covered wars like those against Georgia and the on-going separatist conflict in Southeast Ukraine. He incurred public displeasure in December, 2016, when, following the crash of an airline carrying a 64-member military choir and other passengers to war-torn Syria, he wrote: “I have no sympathy, no pity.” He said death threats followed.

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Nigeria vs England

A bright future for Nigeria and how to get there

KUNLE  Ajibade who turned 60 on May 28 titled his prison memoirs: Jailed for Life. He was indeed sentenced to life imprisonment in 1995 by General Sani Abacha and his henchmen for alleged coup-plotting when all the weaponry he ever wielded was the pen. A number of our colleagues in the media; Mrs. Chris Anyanwu, Ben Charles-Obi and  George  Mbah received a similar treatment. Some, like Dapo Olorunyomi went abroad. One day, his wife, Ladi Olorunyomi, also a journalist, came to see me, all shaken. She informed that Gbolahan  Olalemi had just been seized from his home by Military Intelligence. She reasoned that if the very quiet Lemi who is virtually unknown having spent the last few years living in London, could be picked, I was in imminent danger and advised I go into exile. I told her I will think about it, and we went to the naming ceremony of Babafemi Ojudu’s child, just a street away. The next morning, I was woken with the news that soldiers had at 1.00 am  broken into the Olorunyomi’s home and taken Ladi to an undisclosed location. She was detained without trial a few more times, before she too fled the country with her children. Bayo Onanuga was also in exile.

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We’re first, human beings

MAMOUDOU Gassama, 22, left Mali, to seek a better life in Europe. For this, he was willing to stake his life. He undertook the perilous journey of travelling by road, boarding an unsafe boat across the Mediterranean Sea into Italy and arriving in France where he had an uncertain future. He was one of the tens of thousands who leave Africa on  the  suicidal journey to Europe, and was of course, just a number.

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Bang on, Justice Abang, bang on!

MY favourite judge, is 57-year old Justice Okon Effreti Abang of the Federal High Court. He is as tough a judge as they can come. He is a product of the University of Calabar, an institution reputed to produce tough persons, hence they are called Malabites (after the tough city of Malabo in Equitorial Guinea) while the ladies are called Malabress. Like me, he is from the Niger Delta; we are said to be tough people.

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Our Big Brother, who hath in Washington

THE United States, US,  on May 21, rolled out sanctions against Iran, a move that may  return the world to the nuclear race. On May 8, 2018, against pleadings from its European allies, peace ambassadors and people of goodwill across the globe, President Donald Trump had unilaterally abrogated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.

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Politics without values

THE spokesperson of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi and that of the main opposition People’s Democratic Party,  PDP,  Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, last week had a lively debate on television. Both were polite and civil, befitting the Gentlemen of the Press. The debates had little to do with principles, ideologies and programmes; perhaps because there are no fundamental differences. Rather, they   centred more on superficial differences such as, in the wake of the violent Ward Congresses of the APC, which party has a history of more violence? Was the invasion and destruction of the Rivers State courts a purely APC affair or was the opposition PDP also involved? There were also debates whether both parties were organically formed or established by different coalitions.

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Banning codeine in APC

FOLLOWING a codeine-propelled high drug addiction problem, the Federal Government in a swift reaction, banned the production and importation of codeine-containing cough syrup. The syrup usually taken by millions of youths who mix it with soft drinks,  alcohol or illegal drugs, leads to physical and mental reliance on the drug and can be fatal.

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Cubans: Poor people, living rich lives

ONLY a few songs had the kind of impact, Coat of Many Colours, the October, 1971 song by Dolly Paton, had on me. It talked about a poor kid whose parents could not afford  to buy her a  coat “way down in the fall’ and how her mother made her  a coat from a box of rags “sewing every piece with love” while telling her the Biblical coat of many colours Joseph wore. She sang that “Although we had no money, I was rich as I could be.”

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