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Entrepreneur Accused of “Religious Sacrilege” Cries For Protection

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Despite having positively impacted many lives through his spiritual devotion, job creation and philanthropic activities, Mr. Daniel (surname withheld) and his family are in grave danger and the battle of a lifetime, over threats by some people to exterminate him, his family and business, writes, Metro Daily Editor, MESHACK TONY IDEHEN.

As a devoted Christian committed to impacting the lives of those around him, Mr. Daniel believes in creating jobs in ways that sustainably sustain people and nature.

Born at Illushi, one of the remote villages of the Esan Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, Daniel is always a stickler for godliness and excellence since childhood. He eventually settled in Lagos, where he became an entrepreneur after venturing into real estate development and allied industry.

Before settling in Lagos however, young Daniel graduated from one of the Federal Universities in Eastern Nigeria, and he already had his sights set on his University of Liverpool UK, MBA degree in Entrepreneurship before his current travails.

After working hard, going through school and becoming an entrepreneur, Daniel went on to become a member of several relevant Professional bodies in Nigeria. He combines those activities with being a devoted family man, with a wife and their three children. He also functions as an Associate Pastor in one of the Pentecostal Churches in Lagos.

For this serial entrepreneur, devoted family man and committed philanthropist, his troubles: threats to his life/family and grave injury to his business interests began back in 2013, during the Ado-Odo ethnic crisis that led to the eventual deposing of the Oba of the Town, and the wanton destruction of lives and properties. Though peace has since returned to the Ado Odo community after the crisis, but the activities of those “agents of destruction” remains unabated.

Ado Odo is a town in the Ado Odo/Ota Local Government Area in the Ogun West Senatorial District of Ogun State. The Town and its environs are mainly inhabited by indigenes of three three sub-ethnic groups, which are the Eguns (Ogu), the Aworis and the Egbas.

Before the crisis in the Ado Odo Community, Daniel’s company (company name withheld for obvious security reasons) had purchased a large expanse of land (about 200 acres) in July 2010 from three families of the Egun (Ogu) sub-ethnic minority tribe in the Ado-Odo, Ogun State. His company did all that was legally possible to confirm the veracity of the three families’ claim to the ownership of the land, through the company’s solicitors. Upon receiving the green light, his company made a part payment for the land as agreed.

However, immediately after the payment and commencing the development of the land by deploying workers to site, threats messages began to emanate from a group that said the land they purchased did not belong to the above families, but to them, the Aworis, who are the native indigenes.

According to the worried entrepreneur who is now in hiding “On our inquiry to identify their mission and the people behind the threats, we discovered that they were group of land grabbers led by one notorious land grabber (name withheld). In local parlance, these land grabbers are referred to as “Omo-Oniles”. Their stock-in-trade is to dispossess people of their lands, and properties, unleash mayhem, and even kill their victims – all for the sake of land grabbing.

It was gathered by our reporters that the “Omo-Oniles” or “land grabbers” are a group of well-armed lawless miscreants that have, quite unfortunately, become a part of governance in states and local governments in Nigeria. They operate with some support from the Nigeria Police, traditional rulers, and other security agencies. The activities of these groups, it was further gathered, have led to maiming, wanton destruction of properties, and death of many. It was to curb their menace that the Lagos and Ogun State Governments passed the Anti – Land Grabbing Laws. But, investigations reveal that Lagos State appears to be doing more than Ogun State to nip the menace in the bud.

Sometime after the land transaction for the 200 acres, but before his troubles began, Mr. Daniel’s company was introduced to another 29 acres transaction. If only he had known what was to come and had refrained from consummating that transaction! Right in the middle of the 29 acres was a shrine – a fairly big tree with some items, most of which appeared new. The family that sold the land to his company (family name withheld) assures Mr. Daniel that they can easily relocate the shrine and even received N200,000 from him for that purpose. So, based on the family’s assurances, he brought in bulldozers and they cleared everything – including the shrine. To add insults to the injury of the ultra traditionalists, Mr. Daniel, the Pentecostal Pastor brought “Prayer Warriors” from his Church for 3 days prayers to “cleanse” the land.

It was these turn of events that the land grabbers latched upon to declare that Mr. Daniel was guilty of “religious sacrilege”, for which the punishment is death!

According to Mr. Daniel, an attempt to dialogue with the parties through their representatives, his company lawyer, and the land agent, a native of the Ado-Odo community, who connected him to the family, did not end well, as they were attacked by the hoodlums.

He said, “While our company lawyer, escaped death or serious injury by the whisker, the land agent (name withheld) was not as lucky. He was beaten to unconsciousness and had to be rushed to a hospital by sympathizers. Thank God that I heeded advice and did not go with them. The land grabbers hid under the canopy of the inter-tribal and religious tension to dispossess us of our lands and properties”.

He further lamented: “They have stripped us of our land, and I am about to lose my investments. But, those considerations pale in significance when compared to my safety and that of my family”

Daniel told our reporter, that it has become evident that these persecutors would stop at nothing until they carry out all their evil threat on him. He said, “They have accused me of religious sacrilege, an offence punishable by death. This is a ploy to get more sympathies from other Omo-Oniles, and the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC). And these made things worse for me, as I now have more enemies to contend with”.

After we thought every concern regarding the shrine has been settled, until on the 11th July 2015, when a group of men numbering about six vandalized my Lexus 300 SUV, when they broke into my compound at about 2: 45 AM apparently to enter my home to unleash mayhem on us, but for my neighbor, who raised alarm on sighting them through his window.

“When we reported to The Nigeria Police, we were told to get a court affidavit before they can commence investigation into the matter. We got the affidavit as required but the matter was never investigated as the officer-in-charge further requested that we give them money before they would do their job. A request which I turned down, because I reasoned it would be better for me to get my vehicle fixed by my Insurer than to go through the rigors of Police investigation which at the end would not yield any result”.

“Since both of our project sites had been engulfed with crisis, we decided to focus on our third project site which is in a different town far off from the two earlier sites, a 50-acre landed property; we acquired in March 2017. Somehow, they got wind of that fact and, armed with charms, bottles, machetes, and guns, the hoodlums came searching for me, chanting the name of their gods whom they claimed I desecrated. Fortunately for me, I had left the site just some minutes before they came. That was my saving grace”.

According to him, the attackers nonetheless, succeeded in driving out all the workers from the site, and threatened to kill him anywhere they could find him

He lamented that his attempt to move his family and business out of Ogun State to Lagos State did not achieve much result as the Omo-Oniles have boasted they would pursue him even to the end of the earth. “They made good their threat, when they sent their agents and field boys after me”.

When asked what he had done so far, he showed our reporters several acknowledged petitions he had either written or instructed his lawyers to write to several formations of the Police and other security agencies as well as the Ogun State Government, all to no avail. He is therefore calling on the government, human rights organization and the international community to come to his assistance as his life is no longer safe.

“Every day I look at my children and see this innocence in their eyes. For the past few years, I have been living my life in hiding with fear of attack from these desperadoes. My family has experienced the worst fears. We have suffered great losses. My family has been unsettled as we have changed residence several times in the past years, and my children have had to change schools more than a few times also, since protection from the Nigeria Police and government was no longer guaranteed”.

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Calamity awaits South Africa if land reform fails

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Ramaphosa: Roots for land reform as most of South Africa’s land in the hands of a few

Ramaphosa: Roots for land reform as most of South Africa’s land in the hands of a few


Land reform has been a focus of debate in South Africa in 2018, which saw the government accelerating its programme unprecedentedly.

The year has been characterised by divisive and acrimonious debates on the reform, particularly on the suggestion for land expropriation without compensation. Despite the government’s comprehensive land reform program, the country has not made sufficient progress in addressing this issue, because “most of the country’s land remains in the hands of the few,” as President Cyril Ramaphosa put it recently.

Even as Ramaphosa exhorted South Africans in his Dec. 16 Reconciliation Day message to accept land reform as the primary instrument to bringing about long-term and sustainable reconciliation in the country, some of the luminaries of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and analysts have warned of dire consequences if this issue is not urgently and effectively dealt with.

Some have accused the ANC of “bowing to the whims” of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Black First Land First (BLF). Both the EFF and BLF have vocally championed the land issue as part of radical economic transformation. They have argued that the failure to consolidate political will and to move to soberly address the very emotive land reform issue in South Africa could seriously impact the country and open the door to chaos and anarchy, with dire consequences for the southern African region and the continent. This is a critical question that raises the spectre of the unfinished transition from apartheid both in heated debates in the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, and the National Council of Provinces, the upper house, as well as in numerous volatile public consultation events on the proposed amendment to section 25 of the constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation.

Some have accused the ANC of “bowing to the whims” of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Black First Land First (BLF). Both the EFF and BLF have vocally championed the land issue as part of radical economic transformation. They have argued that the failure to consolidate political will and to move to soberly address the very emotive land reform issue in South Africa could seriously impact the country and open the door to chaos and anarchy, with dire consequences for the southern African region and the continent.

Ernst Roets, deputy CEO of Afriforum, which represents a large constituency of the country’s white farmers, declared in his submission on the proposed amendment that the process was driven by “an oversimplified, twisted perspective of history.” He stated that it was premised on a false “ideological viewpoint that centralisation of the power in the State will be to the benefit of the public.” Roets said the land reform initiative “was built on the false argument that the eroding of property rights and tampering with healthy market principles will lead to economic growth.”

The vote by both houses of parliament in November in favour of amending the constitution for land expropriation without compensation, therefore, has raised the stakes and threatens to unravel the tenuous peace that underwrote the South African transition to democracy, according to Roets. Opponents to land reform also argue that the ongoing process has also opened the wounds of the country’s disturbing past and fuelled a dangerous discourse that will deeply polarise the society, threaten food security, and undermine nation-building and efforts to develop the economy.

However, for the South African government and the ANC, the land issue is cardinal, and it was at the ANC’s most recent congress that the party resolved that land expropriation without compensation would be a central plank of its project to address the injustices of the past and to transform South Africa. Injustice and dispossession of land among blacks were inflicted by colonial conquests across the world, and continue to play a role in many modern conflicts, Ramaphosa said. The president calls for a more just and equitable land reform or redistribution regime. “The equitable distribution of land has been a consistent call of the overwhelming majority of South Africans,” he said. “Access to land is a fundamental right of citizenship.” “It doesn’t just empower communities and workers. It enhances food security, especially for the rural poor,” Ramaphosa said. Access to and ownership of land open significant opportunities for those who have been marginalised, because it “enables people to gain and develop productive assets, and to participate more meaningfully in the economy,” according to the president.

Ramaphosa echoed the view of land reform supporters who insist that land reform is inextricably tied to nation-building, is key to further reconciliation in the country and central to eliminating inequality in the society. They say that far from being a measure that will fuel tensions or set race relations back, accelerated land reform has the potential to improve goodwill between the races in South Africa.One of the voices calling for a more deeply-contemplated approach to land reform is ANC stalwart Ben Turok. As one of the framers of the ANC Freedom Charter, and one of the party’s longest serving representatives in the National Assembly until 2015, Turok has been one of the party’s most incisive thinkers on transforming the economy and society. He cautions against a cavalier approach in trying to resolve the land issue.

Currently director of the Institute for African Alternatives, Turok said the debate on land reform has been deployed by numerous forces to mobilise their constituencies in the run-up to the national elections, scheduled for early 2019. “It is an election year and everyone is looking for votes, and this matter of land reform is an emotional issue so the ANC and EFF are raising it sharply,” Turok told Xinhua in an interview. However, the ANC stalwart believes that the decision to make the call for the amendment of section 25 of the constitution was not properly considered, as the current statute holds significant power which is under-utilised. He also believes that there is oversimplification, and that the question of land reform has numerous components, each of which has to be dealt appropriately. “Nobody has clear answers, as the land question is a complex issue with many factors,” Turok said.

This includes traditional leaders and their abuse of land and the corruption that goes with it and then the agricultural issue and the land tenure issue, he explained. Turok stated that the problem is that “the debate has been so simplified” and had drawn reactions of anger and insecurity from some of the white farmers because “the lunatic fringe of the EFF and BLF are threatening land occupation.” Part of the problem, he said, is the lack of political will, and “after 25 years in Parliament the ANC has failed to take action on land reform.” “There is a lot that can be done such as utilising peri-urban land that needs to be farmed, but is being used for speculation,” he stated.

Turok also pointed to “a looming danger in failing to confront traditional leaders.” He said firm action is needed to address the question of land reform and that this will call for assertive action from the head of state. “Cyril Ramaphosa will see he has to act, because failing to act will create a lot of negativity,” Turok added. Former Minister of Arts and Culture Z. Pallo Jordan advised that the issue be tackled in a focused manner. Jordan said in the latest edition of New Agenda periodical that “since the adoption of a resolution by ANC’s elective conference in December 2017 to change the constitutional provision requiring equitable compensation for land expropriated by the state, the dialogue on the specific constitutional clause as well as on land distribution and ownership in this country appears trapped between the extremes of hyperbole and double talk.”

Search for solutions to the land question in South Africa calls for depth and understanding, he noted. “Calm, deliberative debate, based on an appreciation of our country’s history, pre- and post-1652, the immense societal changes wrought by industrialisation, urbanization and economic integration, is vitally important at this moment because the decisions and actions taken will be of great consequence not only for South Africa, but also for the region and the continent,” Jordan said.

Political commentator Sipho Seepe, who was former vice chancellor of Vista University, takes a different approach, arguing that “the intended process is meant to correct the historical injustice and change the economic landscape.” “The anti-colonial struggle was like any revolution based on land, and this means that the South African transition would be incomplete without addressing this historic injustice which has correctly been described as South Africa’s original sin,” Seepe told Xinhua. He explained that land represents many things. “It is a signifier of who matters and controls the country’s economy. It is all encompassing speaking to the social, the cultural and the economic. It is not an accident that those without land are poor and marginalised. Politically this is an affront if one considers that indigenous people have been reduced to trespassers in the country of their birth.”

The volatility of the debate, he said, is driven by real factors and “the reason the land reform issue has become explosive is because it threatens to upend the economic relationship in the country.” Seepe noted that what is reflected as a “strong opposition” to land reform is actually “a manufactured strong opposition.” He believes that “the main obstacle to the implementation will be ironically the ruling party. “The ANC suffers from the need to be affirmed. It wants to please all people and as a result it sends mixed messages which make implementation impossibly difficult,” Seepe said. When asked what will happen if the process fails, he said South Africa can expect more land invasions and in time the people will turn against the ruling party. “The ANC will succeed in becoming enemy of the people with South Africa becoming ungovernable,” Seepe warned.

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Refusal to obey court order is corruption – Emir

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Emir of Kano

Emir of Kano

The Emir of Gummi, Justice Lawal Hassan Gummi (retd.), says refusal to obey a court order is another form of corruption, noting that government must exemplify the change it promised before expecting citizens to follow suit.

He said disrespect for the rule of law, bad governance, disobedience to court orders, non-compliance with electoral regulations by political parties, godfathers hijacking the electoral process and dwindling confidence in the justice system posed threats to Nigeria’s democracy.

The monarch, who was the keynote speaker at the Barewa Old Boys Association annual lecture, held at the Umaru Ali Shinkafi Polytechnic, Sokoto, spoke on the topic, ‘The challenges of the judiciary to democracy: The Nigeria perspective.’

The 97-year old college, located in Kaduna State, is reputed for producing five out of Nigeria’s past leaders, including General Yakubu Gowon, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, late Umaru Yar’adua, late Gen. Murtala Mohammed and the late Abubakar Tafawa Balewa.

It has also produced three Chief Justices of Nigeria, three Inspectors-General of Police and four Secretaries to the Government of the Federation.

But in his address, Gummi described the judiciary as the watchdog of democracy, without which “reckless marauders will attack the society,” adding that an insecure judiciary is one of the greatest threats to democracy.

He said, “Orders of court are disobeyed at will in the name of fighting corruption. No one institution, no matter how highly placed, should flout the laws of the land, not even under the guise of fighting corruption. Refusing to obey an order of court is another form of corruption in itself.

“The executive cannot play the role of both the accuser and that of the judge at the same time. It is an aberration in a democracy. National security cannot take precedence over the rule of law; rather, it should be guided by the rule of law.

“Any democracy where the executive tries to intimidate and harass the legislature and/or the judiciary into doing its bidding is a democracy under threat. In the same vein, it is not right in a democracy for the National Assembly to make governance difficult for the executive for pecuniary reasons. “We all agree that we need change as promised by the government, but that change must first begin with them, then, you and me.”

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Marriott International’s Three Loyalty Programs Unify

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A new era is beginning for the more than 110 million members of Marriott International’s (www.Marriott.com) award-winning loyalty programs – Marriott Rewards, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). For the first time since Marriott International acquired Starwood Hotels and Resorts in 2016, the programs now operate under one set of unified benefits and one currency spanning the entire loyalty portfolio of 29 brands and more than 6,700 participating hotels in 130 countries and territories. Members are able to seamlessly earn and redeem across the entire loyalty portfolio and achieve Elite status faster with new Elite tiers. Members can now combine their separate program accounts into one at Marriott.com (www.Marriott.com) or SPG.com (www.Marriott.com/default.mi?program=spg&reset=true) to take advantage of everything Marriott International’s loyalty programs offer worldwide.

Together, the unified programs are richer. Members now earn on average 20 percent more points per dollar spent and have their Elite status recognized consistently at every hotel as they indulge in the elevated benefits they’ve earned. Additionally, members now have the added convenience to book stays throughout the portfolio on Marriott.com (www.Marriott.com), SPG.com(www.Marriott.com/default.mi?program=spg&reset=true), and the Marriott and SPG apps, or by contacting customer engagement centers.

“This is an exciting time for our loyalty members who now have endless inspiration to travel and experience the world to create memories that will last a lifetime,” said David Flueck, Senior Vice President, Global Loyalty, Marriott International. “We merged the incredible earning and redeeming power of Marriott Rewards with the phenomenal Elite benefits of SPG to create one of the richest travel loyalty programs with the most extraordinary global portfolio of hotels – from overwater bungalows, to mountainside ski resorts, to iconic urban landmarks.”

Earn Points and Achieve Elite Status Faster

As a result of the unified, single-currency programs, when members combine their accounts, their points balances will also combine, ending the need to transfer points between programs. For SPG members, their SPG points balance multiplied by three. All members earn 10 points for every dollar spent at all brands except Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element which earn five points per dollar spent and Marriott Executive Apartments and ExecuStay properties which earn 2.5 points per dollar spent. In addition, for 2018, nights earned at Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels will also combine, potentially helping members achieve Elite status faster. Under the unified programs, all SPG members receive a new account number to align with the Marriott Rewards system. Members with multiple program accounts can choose to combine under their preferred account. The Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) names will continue to live on until early 2019 until combining under a new brand name.

Under the unified programs, members now earn Silver Elite status after just ten nights annually, Gold Elite status after just 25 nights, Platinum Elite status after 50 nights and Platinum Premier Elite status after 75 nights. All Platinum Premier members surpassing 100 nights and $20,000 annual spend will enjoy the highest level of personalized service – the popular ambassador program – along with all the other benefits in that tier. Members who have achieved Lifetime status will continue to have their status recognized under the new Lifetime Elite tiers that will apply across the unified programs.

Redeem for Free Nights Easier

The unified programs introduce a new Free Night Award chart for redemptions across the entire loyalty portfolio. Nearly 70 percent of hotels now require the same or fewer points for a free stay than before. Further, members can save 25,000 points per night by redeeming for future category eight hotels priced in category seven until 2019, including coveted all-suites properties. The new Free Night Award chart launched with standard pricing, adding off-peak and peak pricing in 2019.

Earn Points and Access Benefits with Co-Brand Credit Card

With the new programs comes an array of refreshed benefits for co-branded credit cardholders that provide members with more benefits across the entire loyalty portfolio. Members of all three loyalty programs in the United Arab Emirates can take advantage of the Emirates NBD Starwood Preferred Guest® World MasterCard® with world-class banking partner Emirates NBD and new benefits offered within the region.

Experience rich rewards and best in class benefits with the Emirates NBD SPG® World MasterCard®. The ability to earn and redeem at our extraordinary collection of 6,700 hotels across 29 brands, an automatic upgrade to Gold Status, an annual anniversary Free Night Award Certificate upon renewal, and premium Wi-Fi are just a few of the exciting new opportunities that are now available to members.

With the Emirates NBD SPG® World MasterCard®, earn 6x points for each US dollar of eligible purchases made at participating SPG, Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards hotels, and 3x points for each US dollar of eligible purchases on your card. For more information, visit EmiratesNBD.com/spg.

More Travel Experiences

Marriott International’s loyalty programs offer members a holistic travel experience encompassing much more than hotel stays. Members have access to the wide collection of nearly 120,000 irresistible experiences in 1,000 global destinations on the company’s ever-expanding Moments platform – Marriott Moments, Marriott Rewards Moments and SPG Moments. These range from destination tours and day trips, to exclusive member-only events such as Super Fan Experiences during the Keith Urban Graffiti U World Tour, including autographed merchandise and backstage access, VIP access to sought after sporting events like the Super Bowl, music festivals like Coachella, and master classes with superstar chefs like Daniel Boulud in intimate settings.

More Benefits

In addition, other new benefits to highlight include:

All members now earn points for food and beverage, spa and other qualifying incidentals charged to their folio, rather than just the room rate.
Hotels throughout the loyalty portfolio now have no blackout dates for points redemptions.
Booking direct on any of Marriott International’s digital and mobile channels means members can take advantage of exclusive member-only rates and free Wi-Fi. In addition, both the Marriott and SPG apps offer mobile check-in and check-out and send members alerts when their room is ready. Members can also chat directly with hotel associates before, during, and after their stays using Mobile Requests, and use their smartphones as their room key at more than 1,000 hotels.

The information above represents a summary of certain features of Marriott International’s unified loyalty programs and is subject to the programs full terms and conditions.

To learn more about the unified programs and benefits, as well as combine accounts, please go to Marriott (www.Marriott.com) or SPG.com(https://www.marriott.com/default.mi?program=spg&reset=true).

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