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#2013inReview: Top 10 controversies of 2013


#2013inReview: Top 10 controversies of 2013

by Osho Samuel

There’s never a dull moment in Nigeria. And 2013 did not disappoint. It has been a year of interesting controversies – some tragic, others comic. Here’s our pick of the Top 10 controversies that defined the public scene in 2013.

1. Lagos deportation saga: The assiduous efforts of Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola to have a presentable and serene environment in Lagos made him overreach himself when he deported 67 destitute persons back to Anambra state, dumping them at the Upper Iweka Bridge in Onitsha on July 24, 2013. The deportation led to criticisms from the Igbo leaders, and became the major cudgel used by the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) to bludgeon the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Anambra guber election.

Another key player during the saga was former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode who made matters worse with his tribalistic articles about the Igbos and why they should all leave Lagos. He made a further mess when he tried to clarify afterwards and subsequently made insinuations about having an affair with Bianca Ojukwu, Nigeria’s ambassador to Spain and wife of former Biafran warlord, Odumegwu Ojukwu. He was pilloried on every side for his gaffe – not that it deterred him though.

On September 27, 2013, Fashola apologized to the Igbos for his actions in a bid to get their forgiveness and blessings for the future. On October 16, 2013, the saga reached its climax when the deportees sued Lagos government for 1billion dollars and asked for a written apology to be tendered and published in three national dailies continuously for 30 days.

READ: BUSTED: 2011 Reports Show That Gov. Peter Obi Deported 29 Beggars To Their Home States

2. Child not bride: In July, word spread very rapidly in Nigeria through news websites, blogs and social networking sites that the Nigerian Senate had voted to legitimize child marriage. As part of its review of some sections of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Senate took a vote on July 16, 2013 concerning the removal of clause 29 (4)(b). The clause states that “any woman who is married shall be deemed to be of full age”, thus seemingly legitimizing child marriages because if a person married is deemed to be full age, and people younger than 18 are married off, they are automatically established to be of full age. Although the majority of the Senate for the removal of the clause (60 voting for removal and 35 voting for retention), the total fell short of the 73 votes required to change the Constitution.

The charge for the clause to be retained was led by Senator Ahmad Sani Yerima of Zamfara State. In fact the removal had gotten the required number of votes initially before a point of order raised by Yerima forced the senate to vote again, leading to its retention. Yerima argued that under Islamic law a woman is of age once she is married, and that Nigeria cannot legislate on marriages under Islamic rites. This action by the Senate raised a lot of vociferous criticisms which led to the creation of different groups with the sole goal of protesting against the move of the Senate. The public voices however petered out as quickly as they rose.

READ: BudgIT Infographic: Some Relevant Data On #ChildNotBride

READ: Egghead Odewale: On #ChildNotBride: Please Let’s Elevate This Discussion

READ: Abigail Anaba: #ChildNotBride: Are The Petitions In Vain?

READ: #ChildNotBride: Mark Says Senate Was Blackmailed As Maina, Ezekwesili, Anenih, Others Pay Visit

READ: Maryam Uwais: Senator Yerima’s Flawed Argument And The Underdevelopment Of The North

READ: We Have The Right To Marry When We Like: Asari Dokubo Speaks In Support Of Underage Marriage

3. Pardon of Alamieyeseigha Diepreye: On March 13, 2013, Nigerians heard about the pardon granted to Ex-Bayelsa State Governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha with shock. During his tenure as the governor of oil-producing Southern State, Bayelsa, he was arrested in London after more than $1 million in cash was found in his home there. He escaped British authorities as he reportedly disguised himself as a woman and fled to Nigeria. He was then impeached and charged in Nigeria with illegally operating foreign accounts. Investigators said he acquired property in Britain and Nigeria worth more than $10 million. He was eventually found guilty. The pardon granted him by Pres. Jonathan (his former deputy) implies that Alamieyeseigha is now free to run for any political post in Nigeria. The pardon sparked off reactions from different parts of the country as many were disgusted by the message Alamieyeseigha’s pardon was sending. However, men like Doyin Okupe and Reuben Abati, known to have been staunch critics of the former governor defended his pardon. Okupe said, “He was tried, jailed and dispossessed of his property. He has been remorseful,” while Abati said that critics of the pardon are displaying “sophisticated ignorance.”

READ: No Difference Between Awolowo’s Pardon And Alamieyeseigha’s, Says Okupe

READ: #InCaseYouMissedIt: Czech Senate Impeaches President Over State Pardon; Faces Treason Charge

READ: All You Need To Know About The Alamieyeseigha Loot In One Infographic (Look)

READ: A Pinch Of N(U)Ews: “I And Alamieyeseigha Are Like Siamese Twins” – GEJ Declares

READ: No Comments Today; But Here’s What Okonjo-Iweala Said About The Alams Saga In 2007 (Video)

READ: “His Excellency, The Executive Fugitive Of Bayelsa State”: What Abati Wrote About Alams In 2005

4. Chime’s incarceration of his wife: On November 5, 2013, the news about the wife of Enugu State governor, Clara Chime went viral in a rather melodramatic manner: Sullivan Chime incarcerates his wife by locking her up in her bedroom, without access to anybody for close to four months. Clara Chime appealed to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and lawyer Femi Falana to fight for her freedom from “illegal house arrest.” In a letter to the NHRC, Mrs. Chime described an abusive relationship which has led her to depression and her being suicidal. She lamented about the lack of sexual relationship with her husband for four years, deprived of responsibilities as a wife, prevented from bonding with her four-year-old son and barred from receiving visitors, whether family or friends. The case saw lots and lots of drama and denial. Eventually, Clara Chime left the Enugu Government House.

READ: Sam Omatseye: Is Clara Chime A Victim Of Love?

READ: Obinna Akwukwe: From Nwobodo To Chime: Enugu Govt House And The Cycle Of Wife Hostage And Wife Sacking

READ: “I Forced My Way Out Of That Place On Monday And Will Never Go Back There” – Clara Chime

READ: Chime Conspired With Police, SSS To Lock Up Wife For Four Months – Falana

READ: Yes I Placed Her Under House Arrest: Gov. Chime Addresses Press Conference With His Wife By His Side

5. #Stellagate: Nigeria’s Aviation Minister, Stella Oduah got herself in a mess she might regret for a long time. The House of Reps has recommended her sack over the issue of the two bullet-proof cars bought for her by an agency under her supervision, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), for N255 million, especially because there was no budgetary approval for the purchase. However, it appears Oduah would go scot-free as Pres. Jonathan’s body language since the news broke out doesn’t portray that of someone willing to make a statement on corruption with that incident.

READ: Stella Oduah: #Stellagate: This Is My Defence

READ: Minister Ole: How Twitter Reacted To #Stellagate

READ: “You Should Go Back To School”: Aviation Minister Blasts Journalist Who Asked About #Stellagate Report

6. Nigeria Governors Forum elections: The Nigerian political scene experienced a dramatic session on Friday, May 24, 2013 when thirty-five governors converged in Abuja for the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) elections. The incumbent Chairman of the Forum, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi polled 19 votes while Chief Jonah Jang of Plateau State garnered 16. Due to the clash between President Jonathan and Amaechi, majority of the other PDP governors were against the results as Akwa Ibom State governor, Obong Godswill Akpabio had come out of the meeting to declare Jonah Jang was their Chairman. And the questions on the lips of many Nigerians was: is 16 greater than 19? In the past, the governors have always chosen their chairmen by consensus and they served just one term. This was the first time they had to poll before they could get a leader because of the disunity among them. The NGF has since then been divided into the Jang faction and the Amaechi faction.

READ: How 35 Governors Freely Voted In NGF Elections And How Amaechi Won (Watch)

READ: Olusegun Adeniyi: The NGF Election And The Dangers Ahead

READ: Sam Omatseye: The NGF Election: A Coroner’s Inquest

7. OBJ letter, response and Iyabo’s supposed letter: No one was prepared for the December shock of an eighteen-page letter written by former President Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan. The letter dated December 2, 2013 was made a public document on December 11, 2013. It went viral and generated lots of reactions from Nigerians. The letter was titled “Before it is too late” and Obasanjo accused President Jonathan of ruling as a dictator, training a killer gang, driving the country to the brink by allowing corruption and clannishness, among others. Few days after Obasanjo’s letter rocked the media, a supposed letter by Obasanjo’s daughter, Iyabo Obasanjo written to her father made it into the national dailies. The letter contained insults catapulted against the former President. Up till now, Iyabo has neither openly accepted or rejected being the author. After several insinuations and suggestions of impeachment from opposition parties, President Goodluck Jonathan was forced to respond to Obasanjo’s letter. In a letter dated December 20, 2013 and addressed to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Jonathan denied the allegations leveled against him with strong points, although he sidestepped some other queries raised.

READ: Kayode Ogundamisi: Letter From The Pot To The Kettle: Jonathan’s ‘Killer Squad’ And Obasanjo’s Amnesia

READ: Iyabo’s Letter: “You Are A Bloody Idiot”: Obasanjo Tells Vanguard Reporter

READ: READ: Before It Is Too Late: Full Text Of Obasanjo’s Open Letter To Pres. Jonathan

READ: “Politicians Are Writing Letters They Ought Not To Write”: Pres. Jonathan Responds Again To OBJ During Christmas Service

READ: Sam Nda-Isaiah: Obasanjo And Jonathan: Who Is Worse?

READ: READ: Writer-In-Chief: Pres. Jonathan Finally Responds To Obasanjo

8. The release of Al Mustapha: Few months after the pardon of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, Nigerians were once again shocked by the verdict of the Lagos Court of Appeal panel headed by Justice Rita Pemu which discharged and acquitted Hamza Al-Mustapha over the murder of Late Kudirat Abiola. Immediately after Abacha’s death, he was arrested and tried for murder and attempted murder of Kudirat Abiola. A Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere convicted Major Hamza Al-Mustapha over the murder of Kudirat Abiola and he was sentenced to death by hanging. On July 12, 2013, the appellate court (Court of Appeal) said there was not enough evidence to incriminate Al-Mustapha in the murder of Kudirat Abiola. Al-Mustapha’s release was greeted by divergent and contrast reactions; the North was happy to get their son back while the South got irritated at the emancipation of an alleged criminal.

READ: Femi Falana: How Nigeria’s Defective Justice System Freed Al-Mustapha

READ: What’s Going On Here?: Hamza Al-Mustapha Visits Asari Dokubo (Photo)

READ: Mohammed Haruna: Al-Mustapha: Now That The Canary Is Free

READ: I Was The First Person He Remembered: Al-Mustapha Visits T.B. Joshua After Leaving Jail (Photo)

READ: Ayokunle Odekunle: The Devil’s Week Out

9. The controversy over rights to the acronym ‘APC’: As opposition parties plan to pull down the 15 year strongholds of PDP, the three prominent ones in the country decided to merge in a bid to have a common front against the ruling PDP. The merging parties were: Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and a faction of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). The proposed name submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was All Progressives Congress (APC). In March 2013, they ran into chaos when it was discovered that other opposition parties; African People’s Congress (APC) and All Patriotic Citizens (APC) also applied for INEC registration adopting APC as an acronym. There were speculations that those other parties were being sponsored by the PDP to discomfit the opposition, and going by how quiet those other parties have become since APC was registered, it seems there was some truth to the allegation. The case was resolved on July 31, 2013 as the party received approval from INEC and the operating licenses of the three previous merging parties; ACN, CPC and ANPP were withdrawn. The party has since then given the PDP a cause for serious headache through their different political reactions to key issues in Nigeria.

READ: 5 Things We Learnt About The African People’s Congress (APC) Yesterday

READ: #TheScoopLegal: Between The Contenders And Pretenders – Ayokunle Odekunle On ‘APC’ Acronym War

READ: #TheScoopLegal: What Has An Acronym Got To Do With It? – Nana Nwachukwu On ‘APC’ Acronym War

READ: “Can You Trust This Naive Party With Power?”: PDP Derives Mathematical Formula For The APC

10. The splitting of PDP: It was shocking and unprecedented and it played live as the country watched on TV. On September 1, 2013, seven governors and a former vice president walked out on the president and the PDP at the party’s special convention held at the Eagles Square. The lingering crisis rocking the PDP resulted in the formation of a ‘new PDP ‘ faction. The governors who made up the new PDP were Sule Lamido of Jigawa, Musa Kwankwaso of Kano, Aliyu Wammako of Sokoto, Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara and Babaginda Aliyu of Niger. The new PDP members stormed out of the venue of the convention and converged at the Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja where they unfolded the agenda and the names of the national officers of their faction. On November 26, 2013, after months of political play of power, five of the G7 governors defected to All Progressives Congress (APC) with the exception of Lamido of Jigawa and Aliyu of Niger State who remained in the PDP.

READ: The Umbrella Splits: Atiku, 7 Governors Form New PDP Faction

READ: Party In Despair: Only 2 Governors Wait With Pres. Jonathan Till End Of #PDPConvention

PS: You can also read up on the other pieces in our #2013inReview special below;

READ: #2013inReview: Ten Deaths That Shook The Nation (Plus One Extra)

READ: #2013inReview: 10 Government Policies That Got Us Talking In 2013

READ: #2013inReview: High-Flyer: The 21 Foreign Trips Of Pres. Jonathan In 2013

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