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Federal commission guards brutalise blind jobseekers, several hospitalised

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Members of the Association of Technology Inclined Visually Impaired Persons of Nigeria have accused security guards attached to the Federal Civil Service Commission, Abuja, of brutalising them during a peaceful protest.

Pictures and videos obtained by PUNCH Metro showed the moment the protesters were dragged by the guards and beaten.

Our correspondent gathered that members of the group held the demonstration to persuade the commission to heed their request for employment.

The President of the association, Tolulope Aluko, said they had been seeking employment from the commission since 2020.

He said the group also approached the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, which wrote a letter to the Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission on their behalf.

He said, “We visited the commission in July last year and we were told to come back. We came back again on April 11, but they didn’t answer us.

“When we came today (Tuesday), they said we should come back, but we refused to leave. We started protesting peacefully. The press came, but immediately they left, the security guards started beating us and destroyed our things.”

Aluko noted that among their members seeking employment were first degrees, masters, and PhD holders.

A victim, Akinyemi Akinola, told PUNCH Metro that they only wanted the government to help them due to their condition.

“We can’t drive commercial vehicles. What we can do is to get educated and see how we can contribute to the country. That’s what we came here to do only for them to wreak havoc on us. Some of us have been hospitalised. Our phones were smashed and taken away so we couldn’t record,” he added.

He said the security men shot three times into the air to scare them before picking the shells to erase any evidence.

“The operatives said they acted on the instruction given by the permanent secretary of the commission and the chairman. There was reinforcement, but when they saw that we were unarmed, they withdrew,” he added.

A university graduate, Daniel Showumi, who claimed to have also been brutalised, said they were hoping the commission would respond to them before the guards came.

He said, “We thought if they saw us with our condition, they would help us. Some who started this journey with us in 2020 have died because of hunger. So, we decided to come there today (Tuesday).

“The security came to drag me from where I stood and started hitting me against the floor until blood was coming from my head. I escaped and he followed me. They destroyed all our things, including the food we brought.”

In a press release on April 13, the commission had pledged five per cent of the jobs in the civil service to people living with disabilities.

Contacted for a reaction, the commission’s Deputy Director, Press & Public Relations, Alaba Balogun, said he did not have the authority to speak on the matter.

He said, “It is only the authorities that can speak on this matter.”

During a second call, Balogun said the person authorised to speak on the matter had travelled.

A lawyer, Festus Ogun, said the attack on the protesters was a gross violation of their rights.

Ogun said, “It is unthinkable and wicked for security operatives to unleash terror on visually impaired citizens who were exercising their fundamental rights. We should give special treatment to these people as stated in the Discrimination against Persons with Disability (Prohibition) Act, 2018. I urge the President to bring those officers to book and the protesters should seek redress in court.”

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Governor’s wife advises Jerusalem pilgrims on conduct

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The returnees who participated in the 2022 pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Jordan have held a thanksgiving service to appreciate God for the successful journey.

According to a statement issued by the state government, the service, held at Chapel of Christ The Light, Alausa, was graced by the wife of the Lagos State Governor, Dr Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

Represented by the wife of a former Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mrs Mayowa Ikuforiji, Sanwo-Olu advised the returnees to be true ambassadors of Christ and allow their encounters during the pilgrimage to strengthen their relationship with God and the people around them.

The governor’s wife said, “You cannot afford to go back to your old ways and lifestyles. As you have been described as the light and salt of the world in the Holy Book, it means that you have a lot of tasks ahead of you.”

Sanwo-Olu then thanked God on behalf of the pilgrims for the successful completion of the exercise and the journey mercies experienced.

She said, “We bless the Lord that there was no report of any negative eventuality. It is fitting at this point to state that we are indeed peculiar people with a deep sense of appreciation and we show this trait in praises and thanksgiving to God who specifically called us out of darkness into His marvellous light.”

In her remarks, the Secretary, Lagos State Christian Pilgrims Welfare Board, Mrs Yetunde Gbafe, said the thanksgiving service was in line with God’s injunction as recorded in Psalm 100 where believers were enjoined to come into His presence with praise and thanksgiving.

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up oil spills – Report

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Nigeria needs $12bn to clean up decades-old oil spills in southern Bayelsa State over a 12-year period, a new report revealed on Tuesday, as it singled out two international oil companies, Shell and Eni, for being responsible for most of the pollution.

Oil majors in Nigeria have long faced legal challenges over Niger Delta spills, which they mostly blame on sabotage and vandalism of pipelines and illegal refining.

The Bayelsa State Oil and Environmental Commission said in a report that it started an investigation in 2019 on the impact of spills and looked at evidence from forensic scientists, blood samples from people in affected areas and company data, according to Reuters.

The investigation discovered, among other findings, that toxic pollutants from spills and gas flaring were many times higher than the safe limits in samples of soil, water, air, and in the blood of local residents, the commission said.

“The report finds failures of strategy, prevention, response and remediation by oil companies,” it said.

Reuters stated that a spokesperson for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited said the oil firm was not privy to the final report and could not comment.

An Eni spokesperson said the oil spills were due to theft to feed illegal refineries as well as illegal exports and sabotage but the company undertook to remedy all spills.

Most of the gas produced from Eni’s Nigerian unit was converted into LNG and fed local power plants, the spokesperson said, adding that “Eni conducts its activities according to the sector’s international environmental best practices, without any distinction on a country basis.”

Toxins that cause burns, lung problems and risk of cancer were widespread while oil company-led clean-ups were often poorly executed and could further contaminate soil and groundwater, the commission’s report said.

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Experts advise marketers to leverage technology

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Experts have advised marketing professionals to take advantage of technology to revamp marketing tactics.

The marketers were admonished at the National Institute of Marketing of Nigeria Ikeja Chapter 3rd Annual Public Lecture held recently in Lagos.

Speakers at the event said due to the highly competitive marketing arena, marketers must be willing to adjust their approaches in response to shifting market trends and economic circumstances, to remain competitive and achieve success.

The Ikeja Chapter Chairman of NIMN and Chief Executive Officer of Procon Group, Adebayo Oke, noted that the conference was basically to review the position of things in the institute in the face of the country’s dynamic economy.

He said, “We all know that in terms of political economy, we are going to be having a change very soon. Where we are coming from, there are issues that have affected consumerism in terms of the power of a consumer, choices and whether it will get tougher or better that is why we are here. To also share knowledge among the top practitioners to floor it down.”

According to him, a lot of quacks are in the market and most companies believe marketing is anybody’s function.

“And going forward, we are going to be regulating the practice of marketing across all industries and in partnership with the international brands in the areas of marketing, including the Chartered Institute of Marketing UK, amongst others,” he stated.

He disclosed that the institute would be partnering with most companies to ensure that only certified marketer would be allowed to practice marketing, to enable the institute get rid of all the quacks.

The President and Chairman of Council for NIMN, Idorenyen Enang, in his keynote address, highlighted the significance of marketers harnessing the potential of technology while ensuring that they adhere to ethical principles of the profession.

He said, “The benefits of technology in streamlining operations are widely appreciated. However, concerns about job displacement due to AI have arisen. Marketers must strive for a harmonious implementation of these technologies, striking a balance that mitigates such disadvantages.”

He added that while automation greatly enhances efficiency, there is a potential loss of intellectual capacity as the current generation prioritises speed, brevity, and simplicity.

Also, the Head Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Media & Insights of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc, Ifeoluwa Obafemi, said, “In the phase of technological advancement and changes in consumer behaviour, as marketing professionals, we should set our organisation in a future forward mode. For businesses to maintain a competitive edge in the present-day business environment, undergoing a marketing transformation is a necessary process.”

On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of Axiom Intel Limited, Kolawole Oyeyemi, said, “Marketers should attract and retain their customers. Nowadays, customers are now more informed and know your business more than you do because they now compare your services to global best practices.

“There is a revolution in technology which has assisted in creating tools and devices and building platforms to allow customers to interact with companies across the world.”

According to him, it is a volatile environment and things one does not think will connect one’s business may connect from a very long distance.

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