Friday 17 July 2020



I was the facilitator at the inaugural edition of the Online Policy Analysis (OPA) Project on the 16th of July, 2020. The Kaduna OPA (KOPA) was indeed a 'hybrid' meeting, with me at the office of the convener, Savannah Centre for Diplomacy, Democracy & Development (SCDDD) while participants joined from Kaduna and other parts of Nigeria. According to SCDDD, the OPA Forum is an online (virtual) 'bridge-the-gap' complementary activity to further aid the on-going policy analysis and policy tracking of contentious Policies, Bills and Laws under the Community Initiative to Promote Peace (CIPP) project which SCDDD is currently implementing. The project is supported by Mercy Corps, Nigeria.

Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa facilitating during the Kaduna Online Policy Analysis (KOPA) meeting. Sir Bola Abimbola (Snr. Programme Manager, SCDDD) & Ms. Tinuola Makinde (Programme Asistant, SCDDD) in the background.

The three rather controversial Bills dissected are:

*The National Grazing Routes & Reserve Commission Bill, 2016
*Kaduna State Policy on Indigeneity
*Kaduna State Religious Preaching Regulation Law, 2019

Some of the participants at the meeting are:

*Amb. Sani Bala -  Executive Director, SCDDD, Abuja
*Sir Bola Abimbola -  Senior Programme Manager, SCDDD, Abuja
*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa - Conflict Transformation Expert, Abuja
*Ekobay Benard - Programme Officer, SCDDD
*Ms. Tinuola Makinde - Programme Assistant, SCDDD
*Charles Ndukwe -  Programme Manager, IMC
*Oma Roberts - Mercy Corps
*Mohammed Munji Sanusi - Programme Officer, Pastoral Resolve (PARE)
*Dr. Usman Bugaje - Arewa Research Development Project (ARDP)
*Ndi Kato - CSO
*Nathaniel Bagudu - President, National Youth Council, Kaduna Chapter
*Obinna Ukaeje - Researcher, Dept. of Area & Regional Studies, National Defense College
*Ms. Priscilla Ankut - Executive Vice Chairman/CEO Kaduna Peace Commission
*Saudatu Mahdi - Women's Rights Advancement & Protection Alternative (WRAPA)
*Riskat Toyin Mohammed - Women with Disability Self-Reliance Foundation
*Abdujelil Atima Ibrahim - Religious Leader
*Izzatu Anoh - CSO
*Ibrahim Shehu Giwa - Kaduna State House of Assembly

      L-R: Sir Bola Abimbola & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa listening to an online participant

The National Grazing Routes & Reserve Commission Bill, 2016: Matters arising

*The in-elegant drafting of the Bill needs to be addressed.
*Authorises the compulsory acquisition of land.
*Land is acquired in whose interest?
*What is the nature of animal husbandry to be carried out in the grazing reserve?
*The issue of compensation needs to be properly addressed. See Sec. 44 of the 1999 Constitution.
*Right of affected individuals to seek Court intervention.
*Cost of setting up the Commission rather high - 38 members, etc.
*Commission to determine who enters grazing reserves. What constitutes 'unlawful' entry.
*Modalities for making grazing areas end up as ranches?
*Clause 29 says pastoralists not allowed to graze cattle outside grazing areas, except in 'exceptional circumstances'. This characterisation is nebulous.
*Clause 32 says any Commission member can be removed. Under what circumstances?

Kaduna State Policy on Indigeneity: Matters arising

*The term: 'indigene' is alien to the dictionary. It can pass for 'Nigerian English'.
*On the 6th of August 2015, Governor Nasir El-Rufai abolished indigeneship status in Kaduna state. He said: 'There is nothing like indigene/settlers in Kaduna state under this administration...We have abolished the settler-indigene dichotomy
*Has the abolition of the Indigeneity law engendered peace or conflict in Kaduna state?
*Many of Nigeria's worst conflicts pit the recognised 'original'/indigenous inhabitants against supposedly later settlers.
*States and local governments have a free rein to pick who is an indigene. There's usually abuse of the label.
*The indigene-settler distinction is explosive because it's reinforced by other identity-based divides, e.g. ethnicity, language, religion, culture, etc
*Poor law enforcement responses indicate official complicity.
*There is a 'citizen deficit' in Nigeria.
*There should be a more holistic understanding of justice. Planned interventions are necessary - Securitisation, criminal prosecution, victim compensation, mediation, dialogue, truth commission, public institutional reforms, etc
*National citizenship should not be subjugated to ethnicity and ancestry.
*Are the following necessary, although they are already in place? - Residents' registration agency/State residency card programme.
*What then is the special status of the 'autonomous' people of Kaduna state?
*If indigenes of other states lay claim to Kaduna state,would they then have 'dual indigeneship'?
*The concerns of 'minorities' should be taken into consideration.
*The indigeneity issue should not be politicised.
*A citizen is a person who, by either birth or naturalisation, is a member of apolitical community, owing allegiance to the community and being entitled to enjoy all the civil rights, protection and privileges.
*Citizenship is the legal status of being a citizen or the legal quality of a person's conduct as a member of a community.
*Nationality is conferred by birth.
*Residency refers to a person's visa status, where he/she is allowed to reside permanently in a country of which he's not a citizen.
*Section 25 of the Nigerian Constitution says a person can be a citizen and a national.
*Sections 26 & 27 say that a person can only be a citizen, but not a national. Citizenship for a foreigner can be revoked by the President.
*Citizenship can be changed, while nationality cannot be changed.
*There can be dual citizenship, but not dual nationality. 

Kaduna State Religious Preaching Regulation Law, 2019: Matters arising

*The issuance of 'bi-annual' license to religious organisations. What are the specific criteria for determining who is given a license and whose license is renewed/withdrawn?
*Two years jail for contravening the rules!
*Forfeiture/destruction of any vehicle, equipment, gadget carrying offensive message!
*Many of the participants believe self-regulation by the religious bodies themselves is the way to go,
rather than enforcement of the provisions of legislation. We should stop trying to solve every social problem with laws.

              Some of the participants @ the Online Policy Analysis (OPA) Zoom Meeting

The SCDDD secretariat would galvanise all the issues of concern and make them available to the relevant institutions. It was indeed an exhaustive online session. Lest I forget, I congratulate SCDDD on her brand new edifice in Utako, Abuja. The building has four floors with state of the art fittings in the conference rooms, board rooms, library, offices, kitchen, etc! It was my very first time at SCDDD's new office which was completed early this year, just before the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lock-down. I'm glad the there's now a beehive of activity in the complex to the extent that social distancing and other Covid-19 protocols would permit.

I also congratulate Prof. Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, Founder, SCDDD, fellow Political Scientist and senior colleague, on his recent appointment as Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari. His antecedents as Diplomat extraordinaire at the international level, including the UN, make me very confident that he would excel in his new assignment. On behalf of his numerous mentees all over the world, I wish Prof. Gambari resounding success! Congratulations once more, SCDDD - I actually keep seeing your edifice in my dream because I wish to own a corporate outfit like yours! Please wish me grace to achieve this desirable feat...

Related Links

*Placing Conflict: Religion & Politics in Kaduna State, Nigeria
*Re-thinking Nigeria's indigene-settler conflicts
*Terror, territoriality & the struggle for indigeneity & citizenship in Nigeria
*Nigeria: Indigeneity policies marginalise millions
*The abolition of indigeneship status in Kaduna state: A surreptitious decision 16_issue 2/A0620107.pdf
*Nigeria: El-Rufai's concept of equal citizenship
*The grazing Bill & right to property in Nigeria
*The logic of open grazing in Nigeria: Interrogating the effect on sustainable development
*HB 388: National Grazing Routes & Reserve Commission Bill 2016
*The politics of herdsmen's attacks & the grazing policy
*Facts about Kaduna State Religious Preaching (Regulation) law
*Is the Kaduna State Preaching Regulation Law of 2019 meant to frustrate Christians?
*Kaduna Assembly passes controversial Religious Regulatory Law 
*CAC implements CAMA Act 2020, introduces self-service portal - Registrar-General
*Nigerian teen jailed for blasphemy has sentence quashed
*Barber arrested in Kano for giving customers haircut that 'offended' Islam arrested, arraigned & remanded in custody
*'They were unjust to me' says teenager freed after blasphemy sentence quashed in Nigeria
*Kano Sharia enforcement agency, Hisbah, bans use of dummies/mannequins by tailors, boutiques, etc 

18th August, 2020
2nd Edition of the OPA Project

The second edition of the OPA meeting was held on the 18th of August, 2020. I facilitated at the virtual discourse. As usual, I was at SCDDD office in Abuja, while participants joined us from Kano and other parts of Nigeria. In line with the template for the inaugural session, three contentious documents were x-rayed viz;

*The National Grazing Route & Reserve Commission (Establishment) Bill, 2016
*Kano State Sharia Commission
*The Hisbah Law, 2003

Photo above: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa facilitating. Sir Bola Abimbola (Senior Programme Manager, SCDDD in the background)

    Photo above R-L: Amb. Sani Bala (Executive Director, SCDDD), Sir Bola Abimbola & Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

I identified the following:

*Amb.Sani Bala - Executive Director, SCDDD
*Sir Bola Abimbola - Senior Programme Manager, SCDDD
*Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa - Facilitator
*Oma Roberts - Senior Programme Officer, Mercy Corps
*Charles Ndukwe - Programme Manager, International Mediation Centre (IMC)
*Jite Phido - Programme Director, Africa Radio Drama Association (ARDA)
*Muhammad Sanusi - Programme Officer, Pastoral Resolve (PARE)
*Pastor James Wuye - Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC)
*Dr. Ruqayyah Yusuf Aliyu - Lecturer, Bayero University, Kano
*Abba Yunusa Kyari - CSO Chairman, Kano
*Rev. Mikailu Artemas Atiku - CAN Member
*Nura Sani Abdullahi - Youth for Human Rights
*Babangida Saidu Aminu - Secretary General, MSSN
*Barr.Nura Ahmad Mohammed - CSO
*Prof. Muhammad Babangida - Department of Islamic Studies, BUK
*Rev. Adeyemo Samuel - CAN

Executive Director, SCDDD, Amb Sani Bala welcomed participants while commending the achievements of the OPA Project so far. He identified with the work being done to prevent, mitigate and positively transform conflicts in Nigeria. Mercy Corps handles the field work, while SCDDD manages the policy aspect of the project. 

                                        Covid-19 era compliant Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

Ms. Tinu Makinde (Programme Assistant, SCDDD) sitting opposite Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa

The National Grazing Route & Reserve Bill 2016

The participants suggested that for the Bill to have the desired impact, a higher level of grassroots negotiation is required. This would foster mutual understanding. Besides, a more deliberate bottom-up approach would be more beneficial. There should be more public hearings in order to 'democratise' the contents of the Bill. Ethnic and religious undertone should be toned down. A review of the Bill should take cognisance of the following: desert encroachment, demographic movement, population explosion, etc.

There is some opposition to the Bill from Governors, who say the Bill is ascribing to them powers they already have under the Land Use Act to allocate Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and by extension, grazing routes reserves. The Gender dimension of the contents of the Bill needs to be reviewed so that both men and women are adequately provided for...

Kano State Sharia Commission

About 95% of the inhabitants of Kano are Muslims. The Sharia law is to make the inhabitants of Kano respect the tenets of their religion. Sharia law is for Muslims only. Every Muslim who errs deserves the requisite punishment. There was a note of caution, however, from participants: While sanctioning Muslims, it is necessary to take note of the context.

The Kano Sharia Court sentenced a Musician to death over his song which was allegedly against Prophet Mohammed ( Musician, Yahaya Sharif Aminu, a member of the Islamic Tijjaniya sect and Faidha group, was sentenced to death by hanging by the presiding Judge, Khadi Aliyu Mohammed Kani. Youths had earlier set Aminu's house ablaze.

Three weeks earlier, humanist, Mubarak Bala, was arrested in Kano and issued death threats over a Facebook post said to be blasphemous against Prophet Mohammed. Bala's whereabouts remain unknown, despite a court order mandating his release. 

Does the Sharia law infringe on fundamental human rights? Sharia law & the Constitution: Are they strange bed fellows? Sharia is in force in 12 out of the 19 northern states. Section 275 of the Constitution allows for the creation of the State Sharia Court of Appeals. There is discretion to the states to create their own Sharia Courts in the first instance. Is it constitutional to extend Sharia to the purview of criminal justice? Is constitutional amendment of Sharia law possible under the constitution? Sections 262(2) of The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria still restricts the jurisdiction of Sharia Court of Appeals to issues of Islamic Personal Law - Islamic marriage, family relationships, inheritance, guardianship and maintenance of infants/persons of unsound mind/physically and mentally infirm Muslims...

Hisba Law (Kano) 2003

Hisba is an Arabic word meaning any act performed for the good of the society. It's an Islamic religious concept that calls for 'enjoining' what is right and forbidding what is wrong for every Muslim. Hisba Corps is a religious Police Force in Kano state responsible for the enforcement of Sharia. Hisba Corps operates under the jurisdiction of a Hisba Board which comprises the following: government officials, secular Police Officers and religious leaders. The Hisba Board is decentralised with local units supervised by Committees composed of officials and citizens in the communities.

The Hisba Corps reports to the national Police, but the relationship has been acrimonious.Members of the Hisba Corps cannot arrest. But they perform the vital function of Mediation and Arbitration of disputes, verbal chastising, maintaining order at religious ceremonies and assisting with disaster response. Compared with Vigilante Groups and Civilian JTF, the Hisba Corps has no record of extra-judicial killings.

A question kept popping up during the online meeting: Is there gender bias in the Hisba Corps? The participants were of the opinion that there's no gender bias in the Corps. Both men and women are free to apply to join. The consensus at the meeting was that the Hisba Corps is doing a good job also in the care of Almajiri children and they need more material (funding) and human (personnel) capital to continue and indeed expand their reach.

It was suggested that more women should be trained as Mediators and encouraged to join the Hisba Corps. The Interfaith Mediation Centre (IMC), which has expertise in 'Islamic Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)', volunteered to train members of the Hisba Corps. Section 4, Sub-section 10 of Hisba Law on Mediation needs to be strengthened. A section should be added to the Hisba Law, which would empower the Hisba Corps to check the excesses of Sharia Court Judges...

The conversation continues on the corridors, in formal and indeed informal settings. The OPA meetings are for two hours only (11am-1pm), and we kept strictly to time. In view of the time constraint, so much ground was covered, analysing three controversial documents. Many thanks to the mature and knowledgeable participants and indefatigable organisers. SCDDD and Mercy Corps...keep up the good work!

                                     Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa @ work

Related Links

*Kano Sharia Court sentences Musician to death over song
*Hisba & Sharia enforcement in Metropolitan Kano
*Gender, Hisba & enforcement of morality in northern Nigeria
*Human Rights & Islamic Law in Northern Nigeria
*The case of Hisba brief 2.pdf
*Kano State Sharia Penal Code Law 2000
*Sharia Criminal Law in Northern Nigeria
*Sharia implementation in Kano

13th October, 2020

I facilitated at the BOPA meeting. The documents examined were:

*Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition & Ranching (Establishment) Law 2017
*Indigeneity Policy
*Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP) 2019

                    Photo above: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa facilitating @ the BOPA meeting

The consensus at the meeting was that the Benue State Open Grazing Prohibition & Ranching Establishment Law de-escalated the wave of killings due to farmer-herder clashes in Benue state. However it was noted that herders remain unhappy about the law. There were two schools of thought at the parley. Some felt the law was the result of extensive consultation, while others said in the review of the law, a more democratic, bottom-up approach should be adopted. It was also suggested that public enlightenment should be stepped up so that more citizens would understand the contents of the law. Besides, participants said the law should be translated to local languages for easier access. The major area of discontent was abuse during the implementation of the Open Grazing Prohibition Law. There was also concern about the exorbitant bail out fees for trespassers/offenders. Participants said the indigenous population has an edge in this regard.

The setting @ the Abuja office of SCDDD during the meeting. L-R: Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa, Sir Bola Abimbola, SCDDD Intern, Ms. Tinuola Makinde

The unwritten Indigeneity Policy was not seen as a major threat to peace stability in Benue state. Participants were of the view that indigenes and non-indigenes cohabit peacefully.

Many of the participants were not familiar with the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP) 2015. I therefore had to highlight major provisions of the law as it affects the citizens:

*VAPP prohibits all forms of violence against persons in private and public life. It provides protection and remedies for victims. VAPP also states punishment for offenders.

*The Bill was delayed for 12 years in the National Assembly (NASS).

*The VAPP Act is an amalgam of 9 different Bills at the NASS.

*Section 52 of the VAPP Act is about the VAPP Commission  and the provision for the Special Trust Fund for victims.

*There is emphsis on definition of offences and punishment for same.
-Rape attracts life imprisonment without option of fine.
-A rapist under 14 years of age is sentenced to 14 years imprisonment
-4 years imprisonment for or maximum fine of N200,000 or both for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
-Aiding & abetting of FGM attractsa 2-year jail term or N100,000 fine
-Forceful ejection of a spouse from marital home attracts 1-3 years imprisonment or option of fine.

                                              Dr. Dayo Oluyemi-Kusa speaking @ the parley

*6 ways the VAPP Law has changed the offense of rape in Nigeria:
-Who can be raped? Men and boys too can be raped.
-What qualifies as rape? Unlawful anal/oral sex can be rape, not just sexual assault.
-What can be used to rape? Not only the penis. It could be dildo, pens, pencils, candles, etc.
-What if there's more than one rapist? - Gang rape. Minimum of 20 years jail for each rapist when convicted.
-Minimum penalty for rape is 12 years imprisonment.

*Where is the VAPP Law applicable? Only in the FCT. But 17 states incliding the FCT have adopted the VAPP Law. To be sure, they are FCT, Kaduna, Anambra, Oyo, Benue, Ebonyin, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Osun, Ogun, Cross River, Lagos, Plateau, Bauchi, Akwa Ibom & Abia

*Marital Rape as rape
-Forced financial dependence: Economic abuse
-Forced isolation
-Emotional, Verbal & Psychological abuse
-Harmful widowhood practices
-Spousal battery: Domestic Violence (DV)

*Physical Injury (PI)
-PI on any person attracts maximum of 5 years imprisonment &/or N100,000 fine.
-False statement against any person: 12 months imprisonment &/or N200,000 fine.
-Inciting/Intimidation/Political Violence attracts 4 years imprisonment &/or N500,000 fine.

*Other provisions of the VAPP Law
-Financial compensation for victims.
-Details of reports in a 'Sex Offenders' Register (SOR) - In 2019, McArthur Foundation launched an SOR Online, which is still functional.

Many of the participants said the VAPP Law, though adopted in Benue state, remains ineffective. A participant gave an example of about 30 suspected rapists in the state. Only four had been brought to trial, devoid of diligent prosecution! She said because of the stigma attached to rape, many of the victims are reluctant to openly say they have been raped. Advocacy about the contents of the VAPP Law is key in this respect. 

Photo above: Some of the participants who joined us online from Benue state & other parts of Nigeria

There was a special feeling for me as facilitator at the online event for Benue state, because I had met many of the participants in person at the face-to-face Policy Analysis Forum held earlier in Makurdi, Benue state. The conversation continues off line...

Related Links

*The VAPP Act 2015
*5 ways the VAPP has changed the offense of rape in Nigeria
*5 years after VAPP Law, FGM  perpetrators still walk free
*VAPP Tracker
*Nigeria takes a stand against Sexual & GBV   






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