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Monday, July 12, 2010

More tears for Toun Oni in Nollywood

Ahead of her forthcoming burial , more Nollywood stars and stakeholders are still wailing and lamenting the irreparable loss of veteran actress, Toun Oni.

In an emotion-laden chat with us, top actress and producer, Stephanie Okereke said the sad news came to her as a rude shock, adding that she wept all day. “The sad news spoilt my whole day and completely devastated me. I’m not trying to question God for his actions, but why must it be her?” She queried. Miss Okereke, equally prayed God to give the Oni family, the fortitude to bear the loss.

Also speaking, the immediate past national president of the Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) Mr. Ejike Asiegbu, who’s currently in Australia for a movie related engagement, told us he read the news online and became emotionally shattered through out that day. “Just like I got the bad news of the fire incident that ravaged The Sun online, I also read the sad news of Mama T’’s death online here in Australia. On behalf of myself and family, I sincerely commiserate with the entire family and pray they find solace in the bosom of our God, for He alone gives and takes. The deceased was a fantastic actress and would remain so even in death. The entire Nigerian motion picture industry will miss her immense talent. Adieu Mama T,” Asiegbu lamented.

With a painful voice, the head honcho of O’Jez Entertainment Centre, Mr. Anayo Odobeatu, said his monthly Entertainment Forum, had penciled down the deceased for hosting, before the sad news shattered the wonderful plan. He regretted the fact that Oni would no longer be hosted by the forum. “The news of Toun Oni’s death was a big loss to the nation’s entertainment industry, especially the motion picture sector. We had already concluded plans to host her before the end of this year, for her giant contributions to the industry. In fact, the letter was ready; we were about sending it to her when the sad news reached us. Maybe, we might decide to honour her post humously in a very special way. With tears in my eyes, I sincerely sympathize with her entire family and pray that her soul rests in peace, because she was a role model that inspired many with her career,” Odobeatu posited.

Meanwhile, reliable information reaching us has it that the AGN, under the current leadership of Segun Arinze, said they would join the family in giving the deceased a befitting burial. In the words of Arinze, Toun Oni, lived a good and exemplary life as an outstanding actress and deserved to be celebrated, even in death. “We’ll do our best in collaboration with her family to ensure that Mama T, gets a befitting burial.”

Top producer, Donald Okoli, while lamenting regretted that the talented actress, would no longer be part of a production, he had earlier drafted her into, adding that she would be greatly missed by all.

It would be recalled that the first wife of Chief Fuji, in the hit comedy series, Fuji House of Commotion, died last Wednesday, after complaining of severe headache. As an accomplished thespian, she traversed both the stage and screen, in a memorable career that spanned close to four decades.

Meanwhile, in a related development, several Nollywood practitioners are raising concerns over the state of health of actor, Prince James Uche. Confirmed information at our disposal has it that the thespian, who once contested the presidency of AGN, is lying critically ill at a hospital in Surulere, Lagos, and has been on admission there for over a week.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nigerians in Indonesia, other parts of the world cry out over extra-judicial killings

Incessant reports of how Nigerian immigrants and businessmen are usually hounded and in most cases, killed or executed like common criminals in most parts of the world without regard to the rule of law, is increasing at an alarming rate.

And painfully, the silence or lukewarm attitude of the Nigerian government to the plight of these ‘unfortunate’ Nigerians, either dead or languishing in prisons abroad (most on death row), is quite disturbing, heartbreaking and urgently calls for national concern.
In fact, following the recent brutal killing of three Nigerian men who were on business trip to Jakarta, Indonesia, by security operatives, a pressure group, Save Nigerians Living Abroad (SNLA), has called on the Jonathan government to immediately put an end to the rampant extra-judicial killings and illegal detentions of innocent Nigerians residing or doing businesses in Indonesia and other parts of the world.

Daily Sun exclusively gathered that the three Nigerians, Oliver Uchechukwu Osondu, Chinedu Joseph Chukwurah and Onyebuchi Richard Maduakor, were randomly picked on the streets of Jakarta, while going for business meetings and killed, for simply being blacks and proudly carrying the Nigerian passports with pride.

Regrettably, the gruesome killings of Osondu and Chukwurah in broad day light were very pathetic and smacks of wickedness and hate, for Nigerians residing in Indonesia. Narrating the dastard act to Daily Sun, Mr. Okechi Chukwudi, the national coordinator of (SNLA), in an emotion-laden voice disclosed that a fellow Nigerian, who was arrested while eating in a restaurant, sent an SOS to Osondu. “Upon Osondu’s arrival, he was immediately arrested, killed and buried in the presence of the fellow he came to rescue, by security operatives.”

While Maduakor from Imo State, we were told was brutally killed because the security operatives scrolled and saw his phone number, which was the last dialed, in the handset of a fellow Nigerian that had earlier been picked on the street, while going for a business meeting with his papers intact.

In the case of Chukwurah, he was arrested on the street and shot at close range like a common criminal, after being tortured like the two others.

The brutality and bestiality of the Indonesian Police and other security agencies are the fears of all Nigerians living or coming regularly to transact business in the Asia country.

Daily Sun reliably gathered that out of the 20 Nigerians currently on death rows awaiting the hangman’s noose, two had already been executed, without fair trials, despite pleas from several Nigerians and Rights Groups. They were: Samuel Iwuchukwu Okoye and Tony Hassan.

Daily Sun further gathered that all the condemned men were hurriedly tried and sentenced to death in Kangaroo courts where only Indonesian language was used in passing judgments, thereby denying them the right to fair trials.

According to Chukwudi, the Jonathan government should help put an end to the wicked and extra-judicial killings of Nigerians, especially vulnerable businessmen in Indonesia. It’s also a pity that in 2009, this issue was brought to the notice of the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Maduekwe, but he could not do anything. “In fact, the Yar’Adua administration sent him to Indonesia over these incessant killings last year, but he achieved nothing. On behalf of SNLA, we are appealing with the new minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia to quickly revisit this matter and help save the lives of these 18 Nigerians already condemned to death in Indonesia. All these men condemned to death are bread winners of their respective families and the Nigerian government should not allow or watch them die like chickens or common criminals. Something must be done now to save these precious lives. We also have Indonesians living freely and doing businesses in Nigeria. Our security agencies have never illegally arrested or killed them for coming to Nigerian. So, why is our case different? It’s a shame that the world over Nigerians are being hounded and killed like common criminals, because they are always proud carrying the Nigerian passport. We have started the campaign that will help save the precious lives of Nigerians living or traveling abroad for works and businesses, and we are appealing to the government to support us in this campaign. An average Nigerian is hard-working, obedient, respectful and not a criminal?”

Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago, the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora headed by Hon. Abike Dabiri-Eruwa, demanded for justice on the murder of a Nigerian in Warsaw, Poland, by the Polish Police on May 23. Lamenting the death Eruwa said that as a nation, we must always demand fair and better treatment of our citizens abroad. “The death of another Nigerian in Poland indicates the pathetic treatment meted out to Nigerians abroad. We must take a holistic look at the incessant cases of deaths of Nigerians abroad and demand better treatment. The last time a Nigerian was killed by the Swiss Police, their ambassador in Nigeria only apologized and that was it”, she recalled bitterly.

Also speaking recently with journalists during the inauguration of a book entitled: Nigeria’s 50 Legislative Icons: The Story of a Transformative Legislature (1999 -2009) Hon. Eruwa raised another alarm on the fate of Nigerians residing abroad.

The former broadcaster turned lawmaker posited that except stringent steps were taken, many more Nigerians stand the risks of being executed abroad.

At the event, the lawmaker also faulted the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for its worrisome silence over the tragic matter, claiming that she receives text messages every-two hours from Nigerians languishing in foreign prisons.

She also kicked against the lukewarm attitude of the former Foreign Affairs Minister, Ojo Maduekwe, to the plight of Nigerians in prisons abroad.

Hon. Eruwa also joined the Socio-Economic Right and Accountability Project (SERAP), in condemning the recent execution of Nigerians in Libya, by the Ghaddafi government. Hear her again: “We raised an alarm that Nigerians were about to be executed in Liberia, the Foreign Affairs Minister then said it was not true ,but we persisted and got them back…So, this is another batch that has been executed and another batch would be executed. It’s like a quarterly thing if we do not do something. We need to bring back our Charge d’ Affairs in Libya, we need to go there and make strong presentations, because if we keep quiet more Nigerians will be executed.”
Still condemning the executions, SERAP also called on President Jonathan to put in place measures to help investigate the reported executions of Nigerians living abroad, especially those residents in Indonesia and Libya.

SERAP particularly urged Jonathan to call for an extraordinary session of the African Union Assembly to deliberate on the executions of Nigerians and nationals of other African countries in Libya, as a strategic way of addressing the recurring and very ugly incident.
“How can you hurriedly condemn to death, a man who do not have access to lawyers and do not understand the trials proceedings because they are not translated in the language he understands?” asked embittered Chukwudi.

Human rights campaign group, Amnesty International has also strongly condemned the reported execution of 18 foreigners, including some Nigerians in Libya recently. “Libya executes a disproportional large number of foreigners every year,” said Amnesty International.

Shockingly, the recent revelation by Mr. Fola Rahman, a UK based Legal Practitioner and immigration consultant that 20,000 Nigerians are currently languishing in various UK prisons, is another embarrassment and ugly tale that the Nigerian government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, should try and tackle urgently.