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Katagum, Tallen, Sanwo-Olu sues for gender equality



Three prominent women in government have advocated gender parity mechanisms across all spheres of human interactions as panacea for ending gender bias against women.

The trio, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Mariam Katagum, Minister, Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, Wife of the Governor of Lagos, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, spoke at the 2022 edition of the Bank of Industry (BoI) International Women’s Day celebration on Thursday in Lagos.

In her address, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Mariam Katagum, stated that research showed that US$28 trillion could be added to global annual GDP by 2025, if women participate in the workforce at the same rate as men.

The Minister stressed the need to break biases that limited women’s overall involvement in the workforce to accomplish the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development Goals 5, 8 and 10.

She noted that humans had the inclination to form opinions or prejudices about individuals or groups in a way that may be unfair.

Katagum said that the most common type of bias is gender bias, which represents subconscious or conscious attitudes that form the majority of perceptions about a specific gender, usually the female gender.

She noted that the biases hindered women’s progress and made it more difficult to create a level-playing field in whatever decision or career choice they make.

“Women are traditionally expected to be kind, nurturing, and communal, and as such, when a woman is assertive in the course of carrying out her duties, she is liked less and considered aggressive or even troublesome.

“Another operation of gender bias is in the deep-rooted and incorrect assumptions about men and women’s abilities.

“We tend to underestimate the abilities of women and overestimate the abilities of men, and we may also view qualified women as less competent than their male peers.

“Another common operation is in relation to motherhood and its interplay on other aspects of a woman’s life.

“Motherhood triggers false assumptions that women are less committed to their careers, and even in some instances, less competent.

“Our charge is to break the biases wherever identified and strive to achieve gender equality.

“Starting from the home, parents must play their role in raising our sons and daughters to understand that both genders are important and equal.

“And this must be reinforced in schools, places of worship, offices, government institutions, etc,” she said.

The minister pledged to diligently shine the light on biases faced by women in Nigeria, such as unequal opportunities in leadership positions, education and jobs, difficulty in accessing credit, gender pay gap, amongst others.

Katagum reiterated President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s commitment to balance the scale by promoting female entrepreneurship through the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) and many other initiatives.

Also speaking, Minister, Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Pauline Tallen, said that the new National Gender Policy 2021-2026 was presented and unanimously approved at the Federal Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.

She lauded women for keeping hope alive even in the face of intimidation and acknowledged their steadfastness at justice and human development.

She charged them to continue to break barriers in politics, business, entrepreneurship, medicine and many other spheres of engagements.

Wife of the Governor of Lagos, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu, reiterating Lagos’ stand against gender and sexual-based violence, said the state had done a lot of campaigns and advocacies in that regard.

She added that as a body, the Nigerian Governor’s Wives Forum had, in a year and a half, been able to capture 33 states against 12 states in their advocacies against gender-based violence and other abuses.

Sanwo-Olu said that empowerment is ongoing to support victims of these violent acts and called on women to come together to achieve more.

She also stressed the need to go back to the drawing board to engender more women participation and representation in the politics just as in the private sector.

“We must look at things that have been mentioned here about literacy and gender parity, and wake up to break the bias” she said.

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ECOWAS Court nullifies ECOWAS Commission staff’s dismissal



The ECOWAS Court of Justice has nullified the dismissal of Mr Momodu Cham, a former staff of the Commission, saying it breached Article 69 of the ECOWAS staff regulations.

Cham had filed the suit following his dismissal from his position as a Procurement Officer with the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency.

The applicant, a community citizen residing in Banjul, Gambia, had joined the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and its President, as first and second Respondents, respectively, in the suit challenging his sack.

Delivering judgment, Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur, held that the cessation of Cham’s salary by the Commission before the exhaustion of the appeal process was arbitrary, unlawful, null, and void.

According to Justice Atoki, the action of the Commission is contrary to Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Respondents to pay Cham his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021 to June 2021, as compensation.

It further ordered the Commission to pay Mr Cham’s salaries and emoluments from July to December 2021 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal.

“Requesting an on-the-spot response to charges without prior notice or an opportunity to prepare a defense violates procedural safeguards outlined in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The regulations are designed to ensure an Applicant’s rights are fully maintained until the Council’s final decision.

“Consequently, the summary dismissal of the Applicant by the 2nd Respondent breached Article 69 of the regulation.

“Therefore, the cessation of the Applicant’s salary and other emoluments after invoking the right of appeal is a violation of Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations,” Justice Atoki held.

The Court, however, declined to grant any orders for mandatory injunctions against the Commission and reinstatement of the applicant .

The Applicant had contended at the trial that he was suspended on July 11, 2019, following a forensic audit report by Ernst and Young UK, which implicated him in irregularities related to the purchase of IT equipment for GIABA.

He said that on Jan. 26, 2021, he was summarily dismissed, and his salaries and emoluments were withheld in violation of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

Cham had prayed the court to grant him several reliefs, including a declaration that his dismissal was arbitrary, null, and void.

He also sought an order setting aside his dismissal and the immediate payment of his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021.

The applicant had also prayed for his reinstatement to his position as a Procurement Officer and compensation for costs incurred in prosecuting the suit.

The Respondents, in their defense, had however, maintained that the applicant was properly suspended and later dismissed following a forensic audit report and a subsequent query.

They had also argued that the dismissal was appropriate due to the allegations of gross misconduct, embezzlement, theft, fraud, and abuse of trust.

The three-member panel also had Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and  Sengu Mohamed Koroma, as a member.

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Tinubu names National Theatre after Wole Soyinka



President Bola Tinubu has named the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, after Nobel Laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka.

Tinubu announced this in a tribute he wrote to celebrate Soyinka in commemoration of his 90th birthday.

The tribute dated “Professor Wole Soyinka at 90: Tribute to a national treasure and global icon,” was personally signed by the President and made available to journalists on Friday.

Tinubu expressed his delight to join admirers around the world in celebrating Soyinka, adding that July 13 would be the climax of the series of local and international activities held in his honour.

Tinubu wrote, “Professor Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Literature Prize in 1986, deserves all the accolades as he marks the milestone of 90 years on earth. Having beaten prostate cancer, this milestone is a fitting testament to his ruggedness as a person and the significance of his work.

“It is also fitting we celebrate this national treasure while he is still with us. I am, accordingly, delighted to announce the decision of the Federal Government to rename the National Theatre in Iganmu, Surulere, as the Wole Soyinka Centre for Culture and the Creative Arts.”

Tinubu stated that Nigeria not only celebrates Soyinka’s remarkable literary achievements, but also his unwavering dedication to the values of human dignity and justice.

When he turned 80, I struggled to find words to encapsulate his achievements because they were simply too vast. Since then, he has added to his corpus with his series of Interventions, which have been published in many volumes.

“Professor Soyinka is a colossus, a true renaissance person blessed with innumerable talents. He is a playwright, actor, poet, human rights and political activist, composer, and singer.

“He is a giant best riding not just the literary world but our nation, Africa, and the world,” he averred.

According to the President, Soyinka is one Nigerian whose influence transcends the Nigerian space and who inspires people around the world, explaining that since his youth, he has been a vocal critic of oppression and injustice wherever it exists, from apartheid in South Africa to racism in the United States.

“Beginning from his 20s, he took personal risks for the sake of our nation. His courage was evident when he attempted to broker peace at the start of the civil war in 1967. Detained for two years for his bravery, he narrated his experience in his prison memoir, ‘The Man Died.’

“Despite deprivation and solitary confinement, his resolve to speak truth to power and fight for the marginalised was further strengthened.

“Our paths crossed during our struggle for the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election,” Tinubu stated.

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Tinubu sympathises with victims of building collapse in Plateau



President Bola Tinubu receives the news of the tragic collapse of a school building, which resulted in multiple deaths and many surviving victims in Jos, Plateau, with profound grief.

His spokesman, Chief Ajuri Ngelale, in a statement on Friday, said the President described the incident as a huge loss to the nation, as well as a devastating development – too excruciating to imagine.

“The President condoles with the bereaved families, families of all the victims, and the people and Government of Plateau State.

“President Tinubu commends emergency responders, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), security agencies, and all citizens involved in the search, rescue, and resuscitation efforts.

“The President assures the people of Plateau State of his fervent support at this difficult time,” said the statement.

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