​Breaking: U.S. House passes historic bill to legalise marijuana

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill that seeks to decriminalise the use of marijuana at the federal level.

Initiated by Democrats, the Marijuana Opportunity, Re-investment and Expungement Act contains provisions for “re-assessment of prior marijuana-related convictions”.

It also seeks investments in services for people caught up in the country’s war on drugs, and opening up of funding by the Small Business Administration for legitimate cannabis-related businesses.

The historic bill sailed through with 228-164 votes, with just five Republicans voting in favor and six Democrats against.

Supporters described the proposal, which has a slim chance of approval by the Republican-controlled Senate, as a rejection of the country’s war on drugs.

Medical cannabis is legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia (DC), while 15 states and DC have legalised the substance for adult recreational use.

During debate on the bill, Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Mr Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, said the legislation would reverse “the failed policy of criminalising marijuana at the federal level”.

Nadler stated that it would also address the heavy toll “this policy has taken across the country, particularly on communities of color”.

He said: “For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health.

“Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven unwise and unjust.

“I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake, and the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color.”

But many Republicans, including Greg Murphy (North Carolina), opposed the bill on the ground that marijuana was responsible for increased traffic deaths and as a “gateway drug”.

“Marijuana is one of the most abused substances on this planet. Legalising weed would create revenue from taxes, but at what cost?

“Do we then start legalising cocaine? Marijuana is a gateway drug, make no mistake about that. It undoubtably leads to further and much more dangerous drug use,” he said.

Analysts say the passage of the bill by the House could influence President-elect Joe Biden’s policies on cannabis after he assumes duty in January.

While serving as a senator, Biden was tough on crimes, but soft pedaled in the run up to the Nov. 3 election.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is a strong supporter of marijuana legalisation in the Senate, and urged her colleagues to act to remove the “burden of marijuana convictions”. 


​Breaking: 15 Victims of Lekki Toll Gate shooting storm Lagos Panel

About 15 protesters who suffered gunshot wounds during the #EndSARS protests in Lagos today stormed the Lagos State Court of Arbitration and Mediation in Lekki, venue of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Enquiry and Restitution for Victims of SARS related abuses and other matters.

14 of them were said to have been shot at Lekki Toll Gate on October 20, after the announcement of curfew by the governor, while one was said to have been shot at Ojodu Berger.

One of the person that visited the venue of the panel is Mr Nathaniel Solomon, whose younger brother Abouta Solomon was said to have been shot dead at the toll gate. The deceased has since been buried in his hometown in Mubi Local Government Area of Adamawa State, and Aiyedun Olufunmi Grace, whose brother died at LASUTH after suffering gunshot wounds to the head.

Grace told Newsmen that after her brother’s death, the hospital authorities changed the story and said he died of COVID-19.

The Nigerian Army has denied allegations that it shot at peaceful protesters, saying it merely fired blanks into the air to disperse stone throwers.

More details later at Newswebexpress.com

​#EndSARS: Police withdraws suit against judicial probe panels

The Nigeria Police Force, NPF, on Friday, withdrew the suit it filed to stop various panels of enquiry that are probing allegations of impunity and rights abuses by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS.

The NPF withdrew the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1492/2020, two days after it was lodged before the Federal High Court in Abuja.

Though the court earlier slated December 18 to hear the matter, however, the Plaintiff, through another lawyer, Mr. Festus Ibude, filed a notice of discontinuance.

The notice, read: “Take notice that the plaintiff herein intends to and doth hereby wholly withdraws its suit against all the defendants.”

The Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had on Thursday, disowned the suit that was lodged on behalf of the Force by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. O. M. Atoyebi.

The IGP further queried the legal section big the Force over alleged role they played in the institution of the legal action.

He said the police remained committed to fulfilling all its obligations with regards to the disbandment of the defunct SARS, the ongoing proceedings of the judicial panels, and all other police reforms.

A statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, equally disclosed that officers that were involved in filing of the suit “may face further sanctions if found guilty of dereliction of duty”.

Specifically, the withdrawn suit had sought an order to restrain Attorneys-General of the 36 states of the federation and their various panels of enquiry, from going ahead with their investigations.

Among 104 Defendants listed in the suit included the Attorney-General of the Federation, National Human Rights Commission, Attorneys-General of the States, as well as Chairmen of panels that were recently set up by various States.

In the suit, Police, contended that decision by governors to set up panels of inquiry to investigate its activities and that of its officers in the conduct of their statutory duties, was in violation of Section 241(1)(2)(a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule to the Constitution and Section 21 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act.

The Plaintiff maintained that by virtue of the provisions of 241(1)(2)(a) and Item 45, Part 1, First Schedule to the Nigerian Constitution, only the Federal Government had exclusive power to organise, control and administer the Nigeria Police Force.

It argued that action of the state governors in setting up the panels to probe the NPF was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

Among other things, it sought a declaration that the establishment of panel of inquiries by the Governors of the various states of the Federation of Nigeria, to inquire into the activities of the Nigeria Police Force in relation to the discharge of her statutory duties is a gross violation of the provisions of Section 241 (1)(2) (a) and Item 45, Part 1, First schedule, 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Section 21 of the tribunals of inquiry Act, Cap.T21, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“A declaration that having regard to the circumstances of this case, the attitude of the governors of the various states of the Federation of Nigeria in this case is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

As well as, “An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 3rd to 38th defendants (the attorneys-general of the 36 states) from making or conducting any investigations, sittings and inquiries and/or from making or conducting any further investigations, sittings and inquiries in respect of matters affecting the Nigeria Police Force, and or further setting up any panel of inquiry in any state whatsoever in the country”.

Bauchi Gov Distributes Additional 655 Commercial Tricycles, 154 Buses

Bauchi State Governor, Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, has on Thursday distributed additional 655 units of commercial tricycles known as Keke Napep and 154 units of commercial motor vehicles under the second phase of his initiative, aimed at improving the transport system in the state.

Governor Mohamed during the distribution exercise in Bauchi, said that the gesture was part of his administration’s readiness to “give citizens the opportunity to participate in more viable economic activities for self-reliance.”

The governor who said the project was a continuation of his resolve to cushion the effects of the disbanded commercial motorcycles in Bauchi argued that the initiative will restore hope for the common man through viable economic empowerment.

“our decision to distribute these commercial motorcycles and buses on interest free loan is to reduce the hardship faced by the good people of Bauchi State and offer them the economic empowerment we have promised during the electioneering campaign”, the governor said.

Governor Mohammed said, under the programme, money in cash will also be released to the leadership of traders through the Ministry of Cooperatives to arrange, disburse and recover at an appropriate time.

He said the three components of the programme became necessary alternatives for the state government to initiate, create and open more avenues for the empowerment of unemployed youths in the state.

Governor Bala Mohammed who argued that the government cannot accommodate all graduates in the state into its work force, room for private sector driven initiatives needs to be expanded to accommodate the teeming youth.

In their separate remarks, the Speaker, Bauchi State House of Assembly, Abubakar Y Sulaiman and State Chairman of PDP, Alhaji Hamza Koshe Akuyam applauded Governor Bala Mohammed for fulfilling a substantial part of his campaign promises.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Cooperatives, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Alhaji Modibbo Ahmed expressed gratitude to the Governor for supporting the Ministry to come up with various empowerment initiatives for poverty reduction.

​#EndSARS: How hoodlums vandalised, looted my business, owner of Mr Biggs outlet in Gbagada laments

Several days after, many business owners are still bitterly counting their losses to hoodlums who hijacked the #EndSARS protest. One of the victims, Mr. Gabriel Eretchabor, who runs a Mr Biggs franchise in Gbagada, Lagos, is still tormented by the pain of that devastating experience as the vicious hoodlums vandalised and looted his business premises, leaving his once flourishing business in ruins. This is why he is presently pleading with Lagos State government for help.

According to him, the eatery that opened for business on January 31, 2015, lost over N21 million on account of the mayhem orchestrated by the hoodlums, stressing that while half of the 18 employees have been asked to stay home without pay, the remaining are on half salary.

According to him: “On the fateful day, Gbagada was in turmoil. We heard that some hoodlums had taken over the entire Diya Street where my shop is located in Gbagada. I tried to come from my house to probably see what was going on. I stopped by one of the gates at the Deeper Life end. There was fire everywhere; used tyres were burning everywhere. The boys from our street (Diya), and Sonobi Street came out and said they would not allow bad boys to enter the area.
Nobody could access the roads or dare to come down to where my shop is located to see what was happening. It was the next day that we came to see the devastation done to my shop. The entire shop, the entire glass wall, very toughened glass wall that served as a defence wall was shattered. If you watch the video clips, you will see a heavy pipe loaded with concrete which they must had uprooted from somewhere. They used it to hit the glass wall severally until they were able to shatter it to gain entry into the shop.

“When they entered the shop, they started breaking, and looting everything in sight. Our service counter, our television, our wash hand basin made of glass, our chairs, tables were carted away. Good a thing, our CCTV camera was on, and from the video footage, you could see the level of devastation; how it all started and how they looted my shop. You could see them carting away our chairs, cups, food and every other thing, bags of chicken, pastries, cake shelve loaded with cakes, they emptied everything. You could see them in the video footage destroying all that they could not cart away. They carted away our drinks and emptied everywhere.

“As you can see, we are trying to do a makeshift arrangement and look for funds to return to business. We have gone to some banks and our bankers are telling us they could only offer loans for about 20 to 26 percent interest rate. We heard about Access Bank giving interest free loans. We have filled their forms and submitted. But we have been told to get a police report which makes it very funny. On the fateful day, we called the police to report that on Diya Street, shops are being vandalised and looted. 

They said sorry, we cannot respond because we are having crises in our hands. We have video clips and pictures of the destruction and looting. The good news is that we have the CCTV footage and once we download it, you can it.

“In terms of cost, we have done initial estimate of N15 million loss, and if we look at our loss in sales, that is about N6 million. All together is N21million. If we can get about N15 million we should be back in full operation.”

“I did not insure the business. The building is not my property. But normal insurance for employees is in place. I am one individual that does not believe in the kind of insurance that is offered in Nigeria. Outside Nigeria, insurance is fine, but here, it is a charade and I can tell you that I do not regret not insuring the business.

For the Lagos State funds, yes, I got the information from a friend after the incident and I was able to fill the form online and did attach three pictures because it could not take more than three pictures. Two days later, I got a response from the state government that they have received my application and that they would send some representatives to assess the damage.

“About a week later, a representative came and brought a form. I took him round, he took some pictures and video clips that we recorded. He asked for us to do a little video recording where I appealed to the Lagos State government to come to our aid. Since then, we have been waiting to hear from them. To be fair to the representative from the state government, he told me that the exercise would last for one month. From the calculation, we took it that probably it would last up to the end of November. So, we are hoping that towards the end of November, we will hear from them.

“We are also using this medium to appeal to the Lagos State government to come to our aid. If they can assist us with all that is needed to bring us back to business, or augment what we are going to spend to return to full operation, we will appreciate it. I tried to be as straight forward as I can. Some people might be tempted to exaggerate their losses, but I only put the information I know as it is. The one I do not know, I estimated based on verifiable facts.

“We were lucky. The day when the government announced the curfew, we directed our staff to close shop by 3.00 pm so that they could get home before 4.00pm. We took out most of the cash we sold for a couple of days before that day; if not, it would have been really traumatic. Until that day, we used to have a certain amount we call ‘float’ which was kept in small denominations for giving change to customers.

“We go to the bank to get the float. Even when we do our cash remittance to the bank, float of N60,000 was always there. That float disappeared. I put in the form that the cash that they took was N60,000. I am not interested in exaggerating. I only want my shop back. I pay my tax, personal income tax is paid directly from my office. For the business tax, I also pay as at when due. We have direct staff of 18. Half of the staff have been asked to go home without pay, while those that are working are on half salaries.” He said.

​COVID-19 worsens Nigeria’s insecurity, others, says UN

United Nations, UN, has attributed Nigeria’s growing insecurity to the COVID-19, adding that the disease also impacted negatively on the socio-economic development of the West African subregion and the Sahel.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, who said this yesterday, in Abuja, at the National Institute for Security Studies, NISS, noted that the security situation in the entire region escalated due largely to low national response-ability caused by the disease.

According to him, the development further radicalized the extremist groups.

The UN Representative, who delivered the Graduation Lecture for Participants of the Executive Intelligence Management Course (EIMC13) tagged, “COVID-19: Myths, Really and Challenges to Economic Development and Security”, said besides the insecurity, the deadly virus has also impacted negatively on the socio-economic development of the region.

To this end, he called for a multi-government and multi-stakeholders’ approach to mitigating the far-reaching effects of the viral disease.

Participants of the EIMC 13 were drawn from military, security, para-military and law enforcement agencies in the country, the Gambia and Ghana, not below the deputy directorate cadre.

“It is not lost on lost on anyone’s mind that violent extremism perpetrated by non-state armed groups in parts of West Africa and the Sahel, is the current most pressing security dilemma in the region”, Chambas said.

He submitted further,that the attacks by Boko Haram and the ISWAP within the Lake Chad general area, as well as the Sahel in the month of March, had resulted in significant losses in the ranks of Defence and security forces of Nigeria, Chad and Niger republic.

He said this was “indicative of the fact that the pandemic is yet to have a deterrent effect on their (terrorists’) activities.

Chambas noted thus: “The overall security situation in the region grew in complexity due to exacerbation of conflicts by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected national response capacity to insecurity and further radicalized the narrative of extremist groups, who blamed governments for the impact of the health crisis on populations.

“On 9 March, at the onset of the virus in the region, Islamic State encouraged its fighters to increase attacks while governments are struggling to manage the pandemic.

“Additionally, militants’ have attempted to win over local populations by portraying the pandemic as punishment against non-believers going further to provide their version of psycho-social support to populations of cutting areas where they control in Lake Chad Basin and the tri-border areas of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.

“The terrorist groups in West Africa and the Sahel failed or refused to adhere to the appeal of the Secretary-General for a global cessation of hostilities, or ceasefire due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his address, the Director-General of the State Services (DG-SS), Mr. Yusuf Bichi, said the intelligence and security sector, like others, were gravely impacted by the novel coronavirus disease.