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Indefinite Closure of Schools: Human Rights Lawyer Drags El-Rufai to Court

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Governor Nasir el-Rufai’s indefinite closures of schools in Kaduna state over Covid-19 infections has been challenged by a Kaduna based Human Rights lawyer in court.

In a case reference: Suit No.KDH/46/21 before High Court 8, Kaduna, presided by Justice Binta Zubairu, Barrister Desmond Dadu Tabakwot, also Public Interest Litigator, and father of two school pupils, said that el-Rufai has no powers to keep all private and public schools closed indefinitely because his executive order on the matter was an infringement on the constitutional rights of affected students.

Governor el-Rufai, who is the 1st Respondent is joined in the case with Kaduna State Attorney General and Kaduna State Commissioner of Education as the 2nd and 3rd Respondent respectively.

In arguing his submission, Tabakwot, who is suing on behalf of his two children, Mitchel and Mildred Tabakwot argued that:

“The Federal Government of Nigeria on Thursday, January, 14th 2021 in Abuja directed that all public and private schools across the country should resume on Monday, January, 18th, 2021, and the schools should adhere strictly to Covid-19 protocols.

“That pursuant to the directive of the Federal Government of Nigeria, as stated in paragraph 4 above, the Lagos State Government announced that all schools in the Southwest State are to reopen on Monday, January, 18, 2021.

“That similarly, schools in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory and Kano State have also resumed as directed by the Federal Government.

“That the Statement of the Government of Kaduna State and by extension the 1st Respondent above is a breach of the rights of students in the state enshrined under section 18 (1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“That other schools and institutions in other States like Lagos State the F.C.T. and Kano State have resumed full academic session with normal academics activities going on in compliance with the Federal Governments directives of adhering to Covid-19 protocols.

“In fact, other public places with higher risk of Covid-19 spread and contact such as Mosques, Churches and various markets within Kaduna metropolis, have been functioning optimally while complying with the Covid-19 protocols among others:

Tabkwot is therefore, seeking among Declarations that:

“That all the students (in every Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions) in Kaduna State are entitled to the enjoyment of the objectives set out under section 18 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

“That all the students (in every Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions) in Kaduna State are entitled to the enjoyment of the rights enshrined under Article 17 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“That the continuous closure of, and refusal to open the Schools in Kaduna State and the failure of the 1st Respondent to discharge his constitutional duties and responsibilities under section 18 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) amounts to a breach or violation of the right to education of all the students in Kaduna State enshrined and protected under Article 17 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap A9, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“That the continuous closure of, and refusal to open all the Schools in Kaduna State and the failure of the 1st Respondent to discharge his constitutional duties and responsibilities under section 18 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) amount to a breach or violation of the right to freedom from discrimination of all the students in Kaduna State enshrined and protected under section 42 (1) (a) of the same Constitution.

He then enjoined that court to make and Order compelling the Respondents to, “forthwith open the all the Schools (Nursery, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Institutions) in Kaduna State to enable normal academic activities to resume thereat.

He also sought any other reliefs that the court may deem just and fit to make in the circumstances of his application.

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Education

Poly students threaten Abuja airport operations over ASUP strike

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Polytechnic students, under the aegis of the National Association of Polytechnic Students, on Thursday called on the Federal Government to ensure an immediate end to the ongoing strike by the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic.

They made the call during a protest they staged in front of the Ministry of Education at the Federal Secretariat Complex in Abuja.

The association’s President, Sunday Asuku, called on both parties to reach a compromise or risk nationwide protest by students.

According to him, ASUP had been on strike for two months and nothing had been done about it.

He said, “We have written to them but they have declined. The Federal Government workers are being paid their salaries and allowances likewise our lecturers, so who is going to pay the students for time wastage?”

Asuku added that the students’ body had reached out to ASUP which had promised to shift ground if the government would yield to their 15 demands.

He added, “As a student body, we are interested in the government paying the lecturers their minimum wage which is accrued to two years.

“Other MDAs have received theirs since November 2019. Why holding our lecturers to ransom? If you can give them this, then we have the right to hold them accountable for not teaching.

“We want the government to call ASUP back to a round table and give them what belongs to them, or else by Monday, we will grind activities at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.”

However, the Minister of State for Education, Chukuemeka Nwajiuba, while addressing the students said everything that had to do with ASUP had been settled.

According to Nwajiuba, the decision to call off the strike now lies with the union.

The minister said, “Every one of us is pained by what is going on in the polytechnic sector of our education. Many of us spoke with ASUP at the time of their warning strike that we are not running an ad hoc government.

“Nothing ends today, even if I die today, Nigeria will continue and there is nothing that will stop Nigeria.

“When ASUP wanted to start this strike, we wrote them and said everything that ASUP requested for has been agreed upon, we do not have one area of disappointment.”

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Crime

We can’t raise N160m, parents of abducted Greenfield university students, staff cry out

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Photo source: Channels Television

Parents of the remaining 16 kidnapped students and three staff of Greenfield University, Kaduna on Friday gathered to pray for the safe release of their children.

This was even as they appealed to the Federal Government to urgently assist them in rescuing their children from the bandits.

According to them, the bandits are demanding N160 million cumulative ransom for them to release the remaining 16 students.

“We are worried about their safety. The innocent students had spent 24 days in the kidnappers’ den.

To this end, speaking on behalf of the parents, the Chairman of the parents’ forum, Marcus Zarmai, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to use his office to secure the release of the students before something sinister happens to them.

According to him, the kidnappers are demanding a sum of N10 million on each of the 16 students, making N160 million.

“Even after, we the parents have collectively paid them over N60 million ransom for the release of our children and they failed to release them.

Zarmai said, having exhausted all the money they have to pay as ransom, “We, the parents are appealing to the Federal Government to assist us to pay the ransom demanded or find any other way to ensure the safe return of our children.”

Recall, the man behind the abducted students had three weeks ago threatened to kill the 16 students if the ransom is not paid.

However, Sheikh Ahmed Gummi had come out to say they have reached out to the bandits and they have agreed not to kill the remaining students.

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Education

Unity Schools Teachers Groan Over Unpaid Salaries, Appeal To Buhari

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A letter addressed to the President by the affected teachers asks him to weigh-in to have their salary and a 28-day allowance paid to them to meet family needs, saying that they have been enduring a very abject situation for the past two years.

President Muhammadu Buhari with Education Minister Adamu Adamu

Their letter reads in full:

26th April, 2021

President Muhammadu Buhari

Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces

Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Your Excellency Sir,

OPEN LETTER ON UNPAID SALARIES AND ALLOWANCES OF NEWLY EMPLOYED TEACHERS OF UNITY

COLLEGES

We thank you for the approval of our employment under the 2018 Presidential Employment Waiver which gave us this rare opportunity to serve our dear country as civil servants (teachers).

We were employed in 2018 under the Ministry of Education as Teachers/Education Officers and deployed to the Unity Schools across the federation. It is really saddening that since our assumption of duty to date, our salaries and allowances have not been paid. We have worked for about 2 years plus without any remuneration whatsoever.

We have been muscled, left hungry and angry for working for our dear country. Our families have become weary of this penury occasioned by the delay in the payment of our salaries and allowances. What have we done wrong to deserve this suffering? We are resourceful, talented, energetic and progressive young Nigerians who want the best for this nation. Instead of being encouraged, we’re being discouraged and given this maltreatment for working hard to make this country great.

It has become so hard for us to keep working without any salary, allowance and accommodation. How can we be effective and productive, when we are left hungry and without resources to take care of ourselves and families?

Mr President, we know you have zero tolerance for any form of corruption and injustice. This is the very reason we write to inform you about this unfairness and wickedness being done to us.

We thus plead for an immediate action towards the payment of our salaries and allowances. A presidential directive to Ministry of Education, Civil Service Commission, Accountant General and others will assuage our distresses and maltreatment. We hold you on a very high esteem and would be very grateful if an urgent action is taken to take us out of this dungeon of suffering and unbearable condition.

We appeal for an immediate payment of our salary and its arrears of two years and first twenty eight days duty allowances. This is our humble plea. We would continue to work hard to support your government and help build this great nation. As teachers, we are known as nation builders and we want to assure you that we would not relent in contributing our quota in making this nation great and peaceful.

Thank you Your Excellency. God bless Nigerian teachers. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Yours Faithfully,

Newly Employed Teachers of Unity Schools.

newfgteachers@gmail.com

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