Tuesday, 21 November 2017

NEWS AND STORIES

News & Stories

News & Stories (1604)

The Lagos State Police Command has arrested Peter Odion, the chef of a former Minister of Finance, Dr Kalu Idika, for his involvement in the robbery of his boss.

Odion lived with the ex-minister at 180A, Moshood Olugbani Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

He had allegedly put some sedatives into a cup of coffee he served the ex-minister on a Wednesday morning.

After Idika slept off, Odion was said to have led his gang members into the boss’ apartment, where they made away with a sum of N750,000, a Blackberry, a Samsung phone and other valuables estimated at about N10m.

Odion was paraded on Monday at the police command office in Ikeja along with four others identified as Samuel Ogana, Joy Omagu, Uboh Obi and Sunday Emmanuel.

The state Acting Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, said operatives of the State Intelligence Bureau, tracked down the suspects.

The CP said the gang members had wanted to adopt a similar method to rob one Mrs. Augustina Akhibi, when they met their Waterloo.

He said, “The syndicate is made up of six members who specialise in getting jobs as cooks or home helps and while in service, gain the trust of their principals and inject their food with drugs to make them sleep off. They thereafter cart away their principals’ belongings.

“The first victim, Dr Kalu Idika, was robbed of items worth N10,943,000 on September 20, 2017, while the second potential victim, Mrs. Akhibi, was used by the police as a bait to bust the syndicate.”

He added that drug substances like Diazepam Injection, ground nitrogen (morgodon) table, and a syringe filled with some substances, were recovered from the gang.”

The chef, Odion, who admitted to the crime, told PUNCH Metro that he was desperate to get a sum of N60,000 his boss allegedly owed him.

He said, “I started working with the man some months ago. The man owed me N60,000 and he refused to pay. I told my friend, Samuel (Ogana), and he gave me the drug to put in his tea. They came in when he was asleep and robbed him. I played along with them. Other workers in the house did not know I was involved. I got N100,000 from the proceeds.”

Twenty-year-old Omagu said Emmanuel acted as an agent and contracted her as a housemaid to Akhibi.

“He gave me some sedatives to make the woman sleep, but I had not used them when the police arrested me,” she added.

But 38-year-old Emmanuel denied that he gave the drugs to Omagu, noting that he had got a housemaid for the woman in the past.

He said, “I only told her (Omagu) that the woman was wicked and that she could do whatever she liked to her. I don’t know anything about the drugs.”

Posted On Tuesday, 21 November 2017 06:45 Written by

The Lagos State Police Command has arrested Peter Odion, the chef of a former Minister of Finance, Dr Kalu Idika, for his involvement in the robbery of his boss.

Odion lived with the ex-minister at 180A, Moshood Olugbani Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.

He had allegedly put some sedatives into a cup of coffee he served the ex-minister on a Wednesday morning.

After Idika slept off, Odion was said to have led his gang members into the boss’ apartment, where they made away with a sum of N750,000, a Blackberry, a Samsung phone and other valuables estimated at about N10m.

Odion was paraded on Monday at the police command office in Ikeja along with four others identified as Samuel Ogana, Joy Omagu, Uboh Obi and Sunday Emmanuel.

The state Acting Commissioner of Police, Edgal Imohimi, said operatives of the State Intelligence Bureau, tracked down the suspects.

The CP said the gang members had wanted to adopt a similar method to rob one Mrs. Augustina Akhibi, when they met their Waterloo.

He said, “The syndicate is made up of six members who specialise in getting jobs as cooks or home helps and while in service, gain the trust of their principals and inject their food with drugs to make them sleep off. They thereafter cart away their principals’ belongings.

“The first victim, Dr Kalu Idika, was robbed of items worth N10,943,000 on September 20, 2017, while the second potential victim, Mrs. Akhibi, was used by the police as a bait to bust the syndicate.”

He added that drug substances like Diazepam Injection, ground nitrogen (morgodon) table, and a syringe filled with some substances, were recovered from the gang.”

The chef, Odion, who admitted to the crime, told PUNCH Metro that he was desperate to get a sum of N60,000 his boss allegedly owed him.

He said, “I started working with the man some months ago. The man owed me N60,000 and he refused to pay. I told my friend, Samuel (Ogana), and he gave me the drug to put in his tea. They came in when he was asleep and robbed him. I played along with them. Other workers in the house did not know I was involved. I got N100,000 from the proceeds.”

Twenty-year-old Omagu said Emmanuel acted as an agent and contracted her as a housemaid to Akhibi.

“He gave me some sedatives to make the woman sleep, but I had not used them when the police arrested me,” she added.

But 38-year-old Emmanuel denied that he gave the drugs to Omagu, noting that he had got a housemaid for the woman in the past.

He said, “I only told her (Omagu) that the woman was wicked and that she could do whatever she liked to her. I don’t know anything about the drugs.”

Posted On Tuesday, 21 November 2017 06:45 Written by

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) yesterday said it had tendered 25 exhibits and called six witnesses against a former Governor of Zamfara State, Ahmed Sani Yerima, who is standing trial for allegedly mismanaging N464,820,189.24out of  N1billion loan meant for the repair of Gusau Dam in 2006.

The agency also said it had made its final submission before Justice Bello Tukur Gummi of Zamfara State High Court 5, sitting in Gusau.

A statement by the spokesperson of the ICPC, Mrs. Mrs Rasheedat A. Okoduwa (mni), said the ex-governor’s statement corroborated the charges preferred against him.

The statement said: “The commission’s prosecuting counsel led by Mrs. Christiana Onuogu, after calling six witnesses and tendering 25 exhibits made their final submission while the counsel for the ex-governor, Mahmud Magaji (SAN), tendered 8 exhibits.

“In her submission, Mrs. Onuogu argued that the prosecution had proved the essential elements of the offences with which the former governor was being charged, and that the principle of a no-case submission made by him failed where the defendant had explanations to make in response to the charges against him.

“She also averred that the defendant’s confessional statement that he had diverted part of the N1billion UBA loan to other projects and services corroborated the charges preferred against him.

“The action, according to her, was contrary to and punishable under Section 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

“Mrs. Onuogu, therefore, prayed the court to dismiss the no-case submission entered by the defence counsel.

“Having listened to the submissions made by both the defence and the prosecution, the trial judge adjourned the case to 5th December, 2017 for ruling on the no-case submission”.

It should be recalled that Senator Yerima had earlier been arraigned in 2016 by the ICPC before Justice Bello Shinkafi of High Court 4, Gusau, Zamfara State on a 19-count charge bordering on  the alleged diversion of N385.5million and other sums from the N1bn loan meant for the repair of a collapsed dam and rehabilitation of flood victims while he was governor.

The case was subsequently transferred to Justice Gummi with the agreement of both the defence and prosecuting counsel on account of several adjournments because of the judge’s ill-health.

Some of the  charges against Sani, popularly called Yerima Bakura, are as follows:  “That you Ahmed Rufai Sani on or about November 2006, whilst being the Governor of Zamfara State at Gusau within the jurisdiction of this court did commit an offence of spending money allocated for one project on another to wit: out of the N1billion additional budgetary allocation by the Zamfara State House of Assembly for the repair of collapsed Gusau Dam and settlement of the victims of the said dam which was obtained through a bank loan, you spent the sum of N20m purportedly on assistance to the INEC and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

“ On another to wit: out of the N1billion additional budgetary allocation by the Zamfara State House of Assembly for the repair of collapsed Gusau Dam and payment of compensation to the victims of the said dam which was obtained through a bank loan, you spent the sum of N10million purportedly on donation and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

“ Did commit an offence of spending money allocated for one project on another to wit: out of the N1billion additional budgetary allocation by the Zamfara State House of Assembly for the repair of collapsed Gusau Dam and payment of compensation to the victims of the said dam which was obtained through a bank loan, you spent N43,008,000 purportedly on surveillance of guests and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

“That you Ahmed Rufai Sani on or about November 2006, whilst being the Governor of Zamfara State at Gusau within the jurisdiction of this court did commit an offence of spending money allocated for one project on another to wit: out of the N1billion additional budgetary allocation by  the Zamfara State House of Assembly allocated for the repair of collapsed Gusau Dam and payment of compensation to the victims of the said dam which was obtained through a bank loan, you spent the sum of N21,450,000 purportedly on settlement of publication equipment and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 22 (5) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000”.

Posted On Saturday, 18 November 2017 02:10 Written by

To imagine that Banky W kept this battle away from the public until now.

The artist revealed that he has undergone three successful surgeries to remove tumours from his shoulder, the last of which was carried out in October.

He put up a post on Instagram showing pictures of his surgery scars. 

He wrote:

“A wise man once said this: “Scars. A sign that you had been hurt. A sign that you had been healed.” Scroll through the pictures to see mine.

I’m sharing these because they’re proof of what God has brought me through. And because somewhere out there, I know there’s someone who needs to hear this.

For those who’ve been wondering why I’ve been away so long..I had my 3rd surgery on a rare strain of skin cancer tumours in my shoulder last month. The first 2 times were over 10 yrs ago, then it recently resurfaced. But this isn’t a sad story as much as it is a reminder and a testimony.

A reminder that you should never take life for granted. You only get 1 shot. Some people went to sleep and never woke up. Many others have lost the battle to cancer and other illnesses. Many are still fighting. U never know when your time will be up so don’t waste another minute. It’s also a testimony about the goodness of God. I think I had to go through this again to remember how merciful God is to me; Lord knows I don’t deserve it but He saves me time and again anyway. I keep saying I need to write a book. I really, really do.

The past few weeks of recovery have been tough, but beautiful. I’m finally back on my feet, feeling stronger and ready to get back to life. I’m especially thankful to my Nurse Susu for loving me and being by my side every step of the way – I don’t deserve U ??, my parents & siblings, in-laws & close friends for the love, support and prayers, my Pastors – Pastor Tony Rapu & Pastor Del Balogun of TPH, Pastor Taiwo Odukoya and Pastor Bayo Adeyokunnu – for constantly praying with and for me. And of course to Dr Wodajo & Dr Miralli & their teams – who God used to operate on me successfully.

I’m thankful for life, provision and healing. Pls, don’t feel bad or msg me with any worries. God has done it, just thank Him for me.

The pain will eventually go away but the scar won’t – and I’m glad because it’s a reminder to me of what God has done, and evidence to you of what He CAN do. I’m not stronger or better than anyone. I’m just a living testimony that no matter what u face, U can survive & thrive, by God’s grace.

#TheBankStatements #nowplaying #BlessingMe”

Posted On Friday, 10 November 2017 01:55 Written by

Italian prosecutors are investigating the deaths of 26 Nigerian women – most of them teenagers – whose bodies were recovered at sea.

There are suspicions that they may have been sexually abused and murdered as they attempted to cross the Mediterranean.

Five migrants are being questioned in the southern port of Salerno.

A Spanish warship, Cantabria, docked there, carrying 375 migrants and the dead women, following several rescues.

Twenty-three of the dead women had been on a rubber boat with 64 other people.

Italian media report that the women’s bodies are being kept in a refrigerated section of the warship. Most of them were aged 14-18.

Most of the 375 survivors brought to Salerno were sub-Saharan Africans, from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, The Gambia and Sudan, the daily La Repubblica reports.

Among them were 90 women – eight of them pregnant – and 52 children.

There were also some Libyan men and women on board.

People-smuggling gangs charge each migrant about $6,000 (£4,578) to get to Italy, $4,000 of which is for the trans-Saharan journey to Libya, according to the Italian aid group L’Abbraccio.

Many migrants have reported violence, including torture and sexual abuse, by the gangs.

In the year to 1 November, 150,982 migrants arrived in southern Europe by boat from North Africa, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reports.

Of them, 111,552 (nearly 75%) came via the Central Mediterranean route to Italy. The number who died on that route was 2,639, the IOM says.

The others arrived in Greece, Cyprus or Spain. The total is less than half the 335,158 who arrived in the same period of 2016.

Last year the total for Greece was higher than that for Italy.

Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and the Diaspora Mrs Abike Dabiri said “it is tragic, unfortunate and heartbreaking”.

She said: “We need to step up sensitization and awareness on the dangers of such method of migration.

“The boats being used are now smaller and more dangerous and the people on the other end are not so eager to safe them anymore.

“Don’t forget also, that they pay as much as $4,000 to go on such trips.

“Even if they survive, they only end up as slaves wherever they end up.

“The President Muhammadu Buhari Administration has been working with IOM to bring back volutary returnees.

“About 5,000 were brought back in the last six months, full of regrets and tales of woe that they wished they were never deceived into such trips.

“I condoles with the families of the victims and appeal to our your to stop being victims. It is not worth it, either in the short or long term.”

Posted On Tuesday, 07 November 2017 00:09 Written by

Lagos lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to take action against officials involved in the controversial recall of former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms Abdulrasheed Maina.

In a statement issued yesterday titled: “President Buhari should act with dispatch on Mainagate”, the rights activist said “time is certainly not on the side of President Buhari”.

Although the Federal Government has promised not to sweep the Mainagate under the carpet, Falana contended that the handling of the scandal generated by Maina’s recall has eroded the credibility of the anti-corruption crusade of the Buhari administration.

He said: “Therefore, the sanctions, which the Federal Government will mete out to all the officials who conspired to expose the administration and the nation to such avoidable shame will make or mar the fight against corruption and impunity, which is the cornerstone of the domestic and foreign policy thrust of the administration.”

Falana’s advice was sequel to a statement credited to Maina’s family, accusing Buhari administration of official betrayal.

He noted that at a news conference in Kaduna two weeks ago, the spokesman for the Abdulrasheed Maina’s family, Mr. Aliyu Maina, had stated that “Abdulrasheed was in fact invited by this administration and he was promised security to come and clean up the mess and generate more revenue to the government by blocking leakages. He has been working with the DSS for quite some time and he was given necessary security. So, one wonders why all the agencies and various individuals responsible for his return are now denying”.

But Falana contended that those who recalled Maina, “deliberately set out to subvert the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration”.

He argued that through such demonstration of impunity, the officials involved have exposed the country to ridicule before the comity of nations.

“In view of the revelation of the family, which has not been denied, it is crystal clear that the highly placed officials of the Federal Government, who brought Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina back to the country, gave him a clean bill of health, provided him with “necessary security”, reinstated him, promoted him and paid his arrears of salaries and allowances totalling N22 million deliberately set out to subvert the anti-corruption policy of the Buhari administration,” the senior lawyer said.

Falana described the payment of N22 million to Maina as “the height of insensitivity to pay arrears of salaries to a fugitive at a time when hundreds of thousands of workers and pensioners are owed arrears of their legitimate emoluments”.

The senior advocate queried: “Having found Maina and exonerated him, why was Interpol not informed that he was no longer wanted to stand trial for his role in the unprecedented pension fraud?

“Since Mr. Maina’s ‘necessary security’ provided by the State Security Service has not been withdrawn, why is the Federal Government requesting the Interpol to declare him wanted again? Will Interpol believe that a man, who was provided with ‘necessary security’ cannot be found by the Federal Government? Why is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission asking Nigerians to assist in searching for the fugitive?”

 
Posted On Monday, 06 November 2017 01:52 Written by

President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the suspended secretary to the government of the federation Babachir Lawal and the director-general of the National Intelligence Agency Ayo Oke.

Lawal has been replaced by Mr Boss Gida Mustapha, said Buhari’s media adviser Femi Adesina. Until his appointment as SGF, Mustapha was the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).

Adesina did not state if anyone has been appointed to replace Oke.

Both men were suspended in April for their alleged complicit in separate corrupt practices.

A three-man committee comprising Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, National Security Adviser Mohammed Babagana Monguno and Attorney-General and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami was set up by President Buhari to investigate the allegations against the two men.

Lawal was grilled by the Osinbajo-led three-man Presidential panel over the N220 million meant for welfare of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in North-East, while Oke was suspended over the discovery of large amounts of foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, over which NIA made a claim.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected in 2015 on a promise to tackle corruption, has come under fire since taking office for targeting political opponents.

But the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party has accused him of a witch-hunt, as the overwhelming majority of those arrested and charged are PDP supporters or former ministers.

The Lawal and Oke cases have been seen as a litmus test of his commitment to prosecuting graft, regardless of political allegiances.

Buhari’s deputy, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, submitted a report into the claims in August.

The presidency has recently been embroiled in a scandal involving an indicted civil servant who went on the run after being accused of stealing two billion naira ($5.6 million).

The official managed to avoid arrest and return to Nigeria, where he was reappointed to the civil service. Buhari last week ordered his dismissal and arrest.

Posted On Monday, 30 October 2017 22:41 Written by

Nigeria has one of the least powerful passports in the world, a new ranking showed on Wednesday.

The Passport Index, done by Canada-based global consultancy Arton Capital, showed Nigerians can travel to 44 countries either without a visa at all or can have one issued on arrival.

According to the Index, Djibouti and Congo with visa-free to 45 countries; Algeria (46); Liberia, Angola, Equatorial Guinea, and Burundi and Cameroon (47) are African countries with a stronger passport than Nigeria.

Others are Central Africa Republic (48); Guinea-Bissau, Chad, Egypt (50); Comoros, Gabon, Mali, Madagascar (52); Togo, Niger, Mozambique (53); Rwanda (54); Senegal, Mauritania, Burkina Faso (55); Guinea, Ivory Coast (56); Sao Tome, Benin, Morocco (58); and Ghana, Sierra Leone (60).

Uganda and Zimbabwe rank higher with 61 and 62 visa-free countries respectively, while Cape Verde, Tunisia and Zambia are on 63; followed by Tanzania (65); Gambia (66); Namibia (67); and Kenya, Malawi (68).

Tiny Singapore now has the world’s most powerful passport, according to a new ranking, with its citizens able to travel to the greatest number of countries visa-free.

Passport Index, which keeps track of how usable such documents are, said the city-state grabbed the top spot after Paraguay removed restrictions for Singaporeans.

That means the approximately 3.4 million holders of Singaporean passports can now travel to 159 countries either without a visa at all, or can have one issued on arrival.

Germany came in second place, with its citizens able to visit 158 countries without a visa, while Sweden and South Korea tied for third.

The US passport was in sixth place, alongside Malaysia, Ireland and Canada.

Afghanistan came bottom of the list with visa-free access to just 22 countries.

Passport Index said the US passport’s usefulness has fallen since President Donald Trump took office, with Turkey and the Central African Republic becoming the most recent countries to revoke their visa-free entry for holders.

Passport Index ranks passports worldwide based on the cross-border access a holder has. It was developed by Canada-based global consultancy Arton Capital.

“For the first time ever, an Asian country has the most powerful passport in the world,” Philippe May, managing director of Arton Capital’s Singapore office, said in a statement.

“It is a testament of Singapore’s inclusive diplomatic relations and effective foreign policy.”

Posted On Wednesday, 25 October 2017 23:32 Written by

Mrs Winifred Oyo-Ita, Head of Civil Service of the Federation (HCSF) has debunked some media reports alleging that her office approved the reinstatement of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina and posted him to the Ministry of Interior.

Mr Mohammed Manga, Assistant Director Media Relations, OHCSF, refuted the reports in a statement he signed on Monday in Abuja.

“The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation wishes to inform the public that the reinstatement and posting of Alhaji Abdulrasheed Abdullahi Maina never emanated from the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.

“Consequently, the purported reinstatement and posting by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation is totally erroneous and misleading.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the immediate dismissal of Abdulrasheed Maina, a civil servant, who went missing for years after being declared, wanted for corruption.

The president said the circumstances of Maina’s return to the civil service must be investigated asking Oyo-Ita to submit the report of her investigation before the close of work on Monday.

The embattled Pension Reform Task Team, PRTT, Chairman, Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina, had fled the country to escape arrest by the police and other security agents on his trail but was allegedly reinstated to a higher post.

Posted On Monday, 23 October 2017 22:52 Written by

Mrs. Rakiya Zuberu was infected with HIV by her late husband. The mother of three, who now begs to survive, shares her ordeal with TOLUWANI ENIOLA

Tell us about yourself.

I am from the Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State. I am 35 years old. I got married at the age of 15. It was not that I desired to get married at that age. As a little girl, there was little I could do to stop the marriage. My father had the final say. Shortly after I was born, my mother parted ways with my father; so, she left me with my father. I lived with my father and my step-mother. I have three children. Two of them are HIV positive.

Did you attend school?

No, I didn’t. Nobody saw any need why I should go to school. None of my parents’ children attended any formal school. I don’t know what it means to go to school.

When did you discover you were HIV positive?

It all started with a strange sickness in 2008. I was rushed to a hospital. The doctor said an HIV test should be conducted on me when they could not understand what was wrong with me. Initially, when they did the test, it showed that I was HIV negative. But I was diagnosed with tuberculosis. So, I started taking drugs for TB for a period of six months. After that period, I felt better. Then I got pregnant with my second child. I didn’t have money to pay at the hospital. There was a health worker close to my hospital who helped me with the delivery of my child at home. But during the pregnancy, I was always falling sick. When the baby was about three months old, I fell sick again. I started coughing blood. I went to a local chemist where I was given drugs to heal the pains. I finished the medication and went to the chemist for more.

The chemist knew there was more to my illness so he told me to go to a hospital for assistance. It was at the hospital that another test was conducted which showed that I have HIV. At the hospital, I was asked to bring all my children for a test. The same day, the children all tested for HIV. My last two children have the virus. I was told to begin two-month treatment. I could not afford to buy the injection so I didn’t complete the treatment. That was in 2008.

How many wives did your husband have?

My husband was married before he took me in as his wife. But the first wife left him. After then, he didn’t marry any other person.

How did you get HIV?

In 2005, my husband fell sick. We took him to a hospital in Zaria, Kaduna State, where he was treated. He came back home feeling better. But after some time, the sickness returned. That was when he got tested for HIV and it showed he was positive. He said he didn’t believe he could be infected with HIV. Although he knew his status then, he didn’t tell me.

Later in 2008, I discovered I was HIV positive. I went to the hospital to get the anti-retroviral drugs. I realised that when I went to the hospital to collect my drugs, he would ask me to give him out of my own drugs which I did. At a point, his sickness worsened. Doctors said he had a kidney problem and that he needed to do a kidney transplant. He sold half of his plot of land. From Kaduna, he was referred to the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria. He was placed on oxygen. He got better but later went into a coma within five days. After he regained consciousness, he insisted that he did not want to stay any longer at the hospital. After five days at the hospital, we brought him back to Kaduna. He didn’t spend up to a month. He died at home.

What did he tell you before he died?

Before he died, I had suffered a lot. I was so exhausted after bringing him back home. He called me and sat me down. He told me he needed to tell me something important. He told me he knew he would die any moment from then. He said he needed to seek forgiveness from me on a matter. I was curious; so, I asked him to go ahead. He said, “Please forgive me for all I have put you through. I knew I had HIV but I am sorry I didn’t tell you.” I told him there was no need to beg me for forgiveness. I complained bitterly about my sufferings and what life would be for me if he dies. He said, “Anybody that comes to this world must definitely die.” When he died, I felt bad.

How have you been surviving since his death?

It has been continuous suffering for the past nine years. Most times, my children and I skip meals to survive. It’s becoming unbearable for my children. Most times, when I run into a crisis, I would start crying. Sometimes, I think about killing myself because the suffering is much. Sometimes, I ask myself the essence of my life. Sometimes I say, “Why don’t I just die?” But anytime I survive the crisis, I would become remorseful for thinking about killing myself. But most times, I feel death is the best way to end the problem.

My children are not in school. I would rather use the little money I get on the street to feed them than think of enrolling them in a school. Apart from not attending school, the children are malnourished. Sometimes, they stay for 10 days without bathing with soap. Sometimes, we stay for weeks without washing our clothes because rather than use the money to buy soap, we would rather use it to buy food. My daughter’s limb is paralysed as a result of complications from HIV.

Fatimah is about 13. Abdulazeez is over eight years. Fatima likes school and would like to go to school. The ARVs are free in the hospital but other drugs are not. Even though the ARV is free, sometimes, I don’t have the money to go to the hospital to get it. I used to go to a mosque in Tundun Wada and a market to beg for alms.

I want my children to be educated. But there is no money to do so. If there is any way my children can get help to go to school, I would be very grateful. Even if they cannot go to school, at least if I am able to feed them, I would be happy. I used to go to the villages before to buy maize and sweet potatoes for sale. But now things have been so hard that I can’t buy farm produce any longer.

Why didn’t you seek assistance from your family?

When I tested positive to HIV, I went to my father. I told him about my plight. He said I should ignore the diagnosis, that if I had HIV, I would have died immediately after contracting it. He simply told me there was nothing like HIV. Since then, I stopped going to him again. He killed my spirit.

Do you experience any stigma as a result of your situation?

One of my friends is HIV positive. At the hospital, they gave us one handbill with the inscription, “HIV does not kill.” She showed people her handbill and since then, people started running away from her. She was so sick that I was the only person going to visit her. The woman got better. I realised that if I disclosed my status, it would only worsen my problem as people would run away from me as well.

Why didn’t you remarry after your husband’s death?

After my husband died, some men showed interest in marrying me. I told them my children were still very small. Besides, I didn’t want to disclose my status. One particular man came and insisted he wanted to marry me. I told him he could not marry me. He wanted me to tell him my problem. I told him I was sick. He said no problem, that he would marry me despite the sickness. He insisted on knowing why I said I could not marry just any man. I refused to tell him. Then he started mentioning names of sicknesses one by one until he mentioned HIV. When he mentioned HIV, I said yes. Then he said, “No problem. I will marry you.” But from then, I never heard from him again. Nobody wants to marry an HIV positive person. Since then, nobody has come to ask for my hand in marriage. I will like to get married because I’m still young.

What lessons has your illness taught you as a mother?

I have gone through a lot in life. I wish my husband told me his HIV status and began treatment early enough. He wouldn’t have died. Also, we were told during the counselling sessions at the hospital that if more women knew their status, they could protect their children from contracting the virus when they are pregnant. I never knew all these. I gave birth to my children at home. I regret that my children have to live with the virus and go through the pain of taking drugs every day. I want to advise more women to know their HIV status. That way, they can protect their unborn children. There is still a lot of ignorance in Kaduna about HIV. The government has a lot to do. All I want in life is to see my children succeed and never to suffer. My prayer is to get a drug that will cure HIV. I appeal to people in government to help me.

Posted On Sunday, 22 October 2017 15:33 Written by
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