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Rights group, Ezekwesili condemn AIT shutdown

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Rights groups including Amnesty International and Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project as well as a former Minister of Education, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, have slammed the Federal Government for shutting down the Africa Independent Television and Raypower 100.5FM.

Daar Communications, owned by Peoples Democratic Party chieftain, Raymond Dokpesi, is the parent company of the radio and television stations.

The company had its broadcast licences suspended by the National Broadcasting Commission headed by Kawu Modibbo, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Kwara State.

However, the move has been condemned by a large section of Nigerians.

Amnesty International described the shutdown as an attempt to stifle free press.

It said in a tweet, “Amnesty International condemns suspension of AIT and Raypower by Nigerian authorities. This heavy-handed clampdown is clearly a ploy to undermine independent media and freedom of the press.”

Similarly, SERAP called on President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to intervene immediately.

SERAP posted on Twitter, “We have carefully reviewed the ‘grounds’ for suspending AIT and Raypower. We maintain that the indefinite suspension by NBC is arbitrary and blatantly illegal. The ban must be lifted immediately.

“The NBC must immediately reverse its arbitrary decision to suspend AIT, Raypower or face legal action. This is censorship. The move is a serious blow to freedom of expression and Nigerians’ right to information about critical developments in the country.”

In a similar development, former minister, Ezekwesili, described the ban as dictatorial.

She said, “There is nothing in that letter from NBC to AIT that reaches the threshold for withdrawal of license and shut down of a media house that we all know government perceives as an ‘opposition media’.

“Wisdom should have actually instructed the Federal Government against striking out at them.”

Ezekwesili said the fact that the Presidency was circulating the ban on AIT on its social media handles showed that there was a conspiracy against the media house.

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My hubby is not a rapist, says Omodele Fatoyinbo

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Wife of the Senior Pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, Pastor Omodele Fatoyinbo has denied claims of her husband, Biodun Fatoyinbo, raping Busola Dakolo.

According to her, it is impossible for her husband to be a rapist.

Mrs. Fatoyinbo speaking during the church service on Sunday said “My husband is not a rapist. Even if he was an unbeliever, he would not be a rapist.”

Her husband, however, took the microphone from her before she could finish her speech, and said: “the elders are handling the matter.”

No sermon was delivered during the service that rounded up one hour before the normal time service closes.

Busola Dakolo, wife of popular musician, Timi Dakolo, during the week accused Fatoyinbo of having carnal knowledge of her when she was sixteen years old, but the Pastor has since denied the allegation.

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JUST IN: Masked DSS operatives, police, army surround COZA

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Operatives of the Department of State Services wearing hooded masks,  the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police Force and officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps have surrounded the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly in Guzape, Abuja,  PUNCH reports

Our correspondent, who is currently at the scene,  observed at least 50 security operatives with patrol vehicles on either side of the road on Nasir el-Rufai crescent where the church is located.

It was gathered that although security officials are usually deployed in the church every Sunday, the number of operatives today is higher than usual.

The deployment of security operatives may not be unconnected with threats by several rights groups to protest at the church following allegations of rape levelled against COZA senior pastor, Abiodun Fatoyinbo.

Mrs. Busola Dakolo, the wife of popular musician, Timi Dakolo, had on Friday accused Fatoyinbo of raping her 20 years ago.

The allegation caused a storm over the weekend with groups calling for the arrest of Fatoyinbo while some of his supporters have stayed by his side.

The COZA founder has, however, denied all the allegations levelled against him.

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Fatoyinbo rape scandal: Groups plan to stage protest today

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A coalition of human rights groups will on Sunday (today) stage a protest to the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly to demand the stepping down of the church’s senior pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo, to allow a probe following a rape allegation against him by Busola, photographer and wife of musician, Timi Dakolo.

This is coming as the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria is set to meet that of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria over the matter.

A statement by the Special Assistant, Media and Communications, to the CAN President, Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, said the association would get to the root of the matter.

The statement read in part, “The Christian Association of Nigeria, as a body, condemns any case of rape in strong terms. It doesn’t matter who is involved. It is ungodly, wicked, and reprehensible. However, on the allegations against Pastor Abiodun Fatoyinbo, we have no details about the matter other than what we are reading on the social media. This is not reliable and credible evidence enough to jump into a conclusion.”

Convener of the planned protest, Dr Princess Olufemi-Kayode, said the pastor must step down to allow the allegations to be investigated.

The sexuality minister/sex and intimacy coach said the coalition would stage a protest at the Lagos and Abuja branches of the church.

She said, “We are planning a peaceful protest to the church as women advocates and citizens of Nigeria. It is necessary for the leadership of the church to take action. This is not the first person making such accusation against the man. It is only proper for him (Fatoyinbo) to step aside while the allegations are investigated. He was not the one that was supposed to sign the statement released by the church yesterday (Friday). That letter should have been signed by the chairperson of the governing board of the church, or the person next to him in hierarchy. We cannot just write this off as propaganda against the body of Christ. This is actually about a particular individual. We are not saying we are the judge and jury, but we want these allegations to be properly looked into.”

Also reacting to the issue, the president, Women Arise and rights activist, Dr Joe Okei-Odumakin, said it took courage to go public about such issues.

She stated, “Everyone who speaks up is a woman/man of courage no matter how long they have carried the heartache. We support all victims of domestic violence and rape is top on the list. We will do our best in this case alongside other well meaning professionals already doing a great job supporting the family. However, every case has three sides; my side, your side and the right side. Every accused deserves his right to be heard.”

Odumakin also said beyond the sensation of the current situation, all stakeholders must join hands to find a solution to the rape scourge, maintaining that her organisation and its allies would lead the conversations in the coming days and months.

However, a member of COZA and supporter of the embattled pastor, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said that the case would be resolved in court.

He said, “I have made my position on social media and I don’t want to say anything at this point. It is a legal matter which is already in court. Let’s see how it goes.”

A Senior of Advocate of Nigeria, Tayo Oyetibo, also stated the matter could still be pursued in court.

He said, “There is no statute of limitations in criminal law. She (the accuser) knows best. She knows the facts of the case. Whoever makes the allegation is the one that would provide the evidence.”

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