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Islam, IG Wala’s sentence and the indictment of Hajj Commission – By Abdulrazaq O. Hamzat

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Islam, IG Wala’s sentence and the indictment of Hajj Commission By Abdulrazaq O Hamzat
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“Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart [by hating it and feeling that it is wrong] – and that is the weakest of faith”

The above hadith by the noble prophet of Allah is a direct instruction to every one of us to always strive to correct the ills in our society in the manner convenient for us and to my understanding; this is what propelled the Human Rights Crusader, Ibrahim Garba Wala to embark on a mission to hold the National Hajj Commission accountable to the numerous corruption allegation leveled against the institution over the years. adsbygoogle || []).push({});

On the 16th of April 2019, an Abuja court sentenced Human Rights Activist Ibrahim Garba Wala popularly known as IG Wala to 7years imprisonment and since that fateful day, many opinion articles have flooded the media, both conventional and social.

Some of the op-eds are well thought out, others full of fabrications and some are outrightly sponsored. What is important here is that IG Wala has succeeded in achieving the first phase of his advocacy, which is to focus the searchlight on the National Hajj Commission, a government agency for Muslim pilgrims, alleged to be extorting the Muslim Community.

Before we all get carried away by the paparazzi of joining a popular narrative, let us pause and ask again, what was Wala’s crime? Like many before him, he was said to have uncovered monumental acts of corruption, running into billions of naira in National Hajj Commission (NAHCOM) against the Muslim Ummah of Nigeria and he took action to stop it.
Contrary to reports by several media agencies, IG Wala didn’t only go on the social media to accuse the Chairman of NAHCOM, that’s a false narrative. He actually petitioned the relevant agencies, which include but not limited to the Nigerian Senate, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and others and all pieces of evidence at his disposal was presented to these statuary agencies for further investigation. If i am not mistaken, it was a portion, from the petition submitted to these agencies that IG Wala posted on the social media.

For many years now, Nigeria has remained one of the most expensive places on earth to travel to hajj, even though the country is not among the most distant places to Saudi Arabia. Countries that are more distant than Nigeria to Saudi Arabia are said to be paying less and it continued to remain a misery, why Nigeria’s hajj fare is so exorbitant.

After the Nigerian Senate received IG Wala’s petition with all the supporting evidence, they set out to investigate the claims.

The Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Accommodation, Logistics and Feeding sent some delegations to Saudi Arabia to verify some of the claims in Wala’s petition and when they returned; they also held series of public hearings in which IG Wala and the Chairman of Hajj Commission were given an opportunity to present their case. Those who witnessed the public hearing gave accounts of what transpired.

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Consequently, having properly investigated the matter with both parties presenting what they have, the Senate established the facts and made its report public on 19th October 2018 and in Vanguard Newspaper, the headline screamed ‘’ Senate panel indicts NAHCON in hajj extortion, fee hike probe’’

In the report also carried by several national dailies, it was said that:

The Senate had on July 20, 2017, resolved to conduct the probe following the adoption of a motion moved by Senator Ibrahim Dambaba, titled, ‘Extortion of Monies from Nigerian Pilgrims by the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria.
The report partly read, “The committee has observed that the commission’s procurement processes on the annual hajj operations were marred by many contraventions and infractions as it flagrantly breached the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, the Public Procurement Act 2007, and the Federal Government’s Financial Rule and Regulations in the conduct of its role as mere regulator of hajj operations.

“Similarly, it was also observed that under the normal circumstances, Saudi Arabian authorities recognize two institutions as far as hajj is concerned: the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the (Nigerian) Civil Aviation Authority. The Foreign Affairs Ministry’s recognition was based on the international laws under the Vienna Convention on Consular Matters. The role of hajj commission is limited to national issues.

“However, NAHCON has usurped the responsibilities of these agencies and deals directly with Saudi Arabian authorities without recourse to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In fact, the committee has realized that the Nigerian Consular General in Saudi Arabia has been turned into an employee of NAHCON. This explains why there is a conflict of interest in almost all the offshore transactions engaged by NAHCON.” The committee also accused NAHCON of “over bloated charges,” onshore and offshore, saying, “The charges escalate the cost of pilgrimage,” it said.

NAHCON was further accused of short-changing and extorting Nigerian pilgrims, intending air carriers, and service providers “through spurious charges without regards to the Second Schedule of the Utilities and Charge Commission.
The committee added that “ the so-called revenues realized by the commission were not paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, contrary to Section 80(1) of the 1999 Constitution. “Just as in the same manner, the commission generates its revenues with total disregard to extant Acts, so it expends them without following the provisions of the Constitution. “Similarly, NAHCON often goes on spending spree from the said generated revenue, quite beyond the approval threshold of the Accounting Officer, which is a breach of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation’s circular with reference number SGF/OP/S.3/XI/894, dated 14th January, 2016.”

The above indictment against NAHCOM wasn’t done by IG Wala, but by the Nigerian Senate through evidence provided by IG Wala and subsequent investigation of the matter.

So, what I am driving at here is that, even if we remove IG Wala from the equation, the corruption allegation against NAHCOM is still very valid and it is only a matter of time before the NAHCOM chairman is prosecuted unless those in charge choose not to.

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However, rather than for our Muslim Ummah, whom IG Wala is trying to protect from extortion to see this as something worthy of attention and ask relevant questions, our leaders are looking the other way, as if IG Wala who made the Senate report possible has committed a crime by trying to protect the Muslim Ummah against possible extortion and make hajj more affordable.

One must then ask, where are the so-called Muslim organizations always claiming to be fighting for the interest of Muslims? Have they not seen the Senate indictment on NAHCOM about possible extortion of the Muslim Ummah? What has been their contribution in ensuring everything is corrected?

In all honesty, the judgment against IG Wala wasn’t strange to him. Long before now, Wala had revealed several times that he has been promised jail by hook or by crook and he vows never to back down, even if it means going to that jail. The first time he was sent to jail, he saw it as a learning opportunity and this will not be any different. However, he is certain that the truth, which he stands for will prevail, now or later.

Many had accused IG Wala of turning down out of court settlement, but what is there to settle really?

Will settlement between IG Wala and NAHCOM suddenly bring justice to NAHCOM over the senate indictment or will the settlement make NAHCOM chairman saint?

If you ask me, IG Wala’s case can be equated to that of Yusuf in the Holy Quran. In Suratul Yusuf, Prophet Yusuf prefers prison against the temptation of compromise.

In verse 33 of that chapter, Yusuf said, ‘My Lord! The prison is DEARER to me than that to which they invite me” and like Yusuf, IG Wala refused to negotiate if that negotiation would mean rejecting the truth.

Sometimes last year, a colleague narrated how he came in contact with an individual working in one of the anti-graft agencies and the hajj commission matter came up.

The gentleman narrated what he heard, which according to him was frightening, though cannot be verified.

According to the person he met, IG Wala made the biggest mistake of his life by trying to expose corruption in Hajj Commission. The person, who is not even a Muslim, pointed out that, even in his office, there are several petitions against hajj commission, but he dare not act on them. He said, rather than act, he will rather resign and walk away in peace than incur the wrath of the hajj commission cabals.

Curious to know why it is so, he said as an activist, you can fight corruption in NNPC and succeed, you can even fight corruption in CBN and succeed, but there are places you dare not go to fight corruption and one of such places is hajj commission. According to this information, if you dare do that, you will be dealt with and nobody can save you, not even the president. This revelation shocked many greatly, but the fellow isn’t done. He went on to explain that, when the cabals in hajj commission are ready to deal with anyone, they will get their own police that will arrest you, get their own judge that will sentence you and still get their own prison official that will ensure you are feeling the heat of the prison.

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This person asked those close to IG Wala to advise him to settle out of court no matter what.

IG Wala became aware of this information and he laughed it off. He made it clear that he knows the capability of those against him, he knows what they can do, but rather than negotiate with an evil prophet Muhammed asked us to reject, he decided to face the consequences of the truth, knowing fully well that no matter how fast falsehood runs, truth will eventually catch up with it.

Yes, IG Wala maybe arrogant, but his arrogance is usually against corruption and bad governance. He may be proud, but only against injustice and he may be accused of taking activism too personal, but that is because he personally feels the effect of lack of good governance.

Although, for IG Wala, activism is an act of worship to Allah. It is in furtherance to the observation of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammed (S.AW) and he is very convinced that even if he dies in the course of activism for a better society, Allah if not the society, will give him his reward.

Let me therefore conclude by saying that, IG Wala has been sentenced to prison for daring to fight corruption, not for stealing, not for committing any crime, but for observing the Sunnah of prophet Muhammed which says, “Whoever among you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart [by hating it and feeling that it is wrong] – and that is the weakest of faith”.

But according to Sheikh Adam Abdullahi Al-Ilori (May Allah continue to be pleased with him), when you are down, (like IG Wala is currently is), nothing worse can ever happen to you than rising up. I believe strongly that IG Wala shall rise again.

IStandWithIGWala

Abdulrazaq O Hamzat

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media, Information and Computer Technology Consultant. A quintessential Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist is based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.
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Preventing Fire Outbreak in Solar Power System Installation – Engr Ohida

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As the prevalent erratic power supply condition in the country worsen, many organisations, corporate and even governmental, households, individuals are now turning to solar power system installation as alternative power supply solution.





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Apart from it noiseless nature which makes it more attractive, solar power system has also been proven to be cost-effective, convenient, and a clean source of energy.

However, just like any other technology, there are also risks associated with this technology, especially when not properly installed or maintained.

An Abuja based Electrical Engineer, Engineer Maiyaki Ohida said solar power installation cannot cause fire outbreak as a result of heat if properly installed, adding that fire outbreak can only result when it is not properly installed or if there is maintenance issue.

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Engineer Ohida revealed this, while responding to a question of whether Solar Power System Installation can cause fire outbreak when heated up; a question posed by a member of a social media platform.

Ohida said, “Solar panels can’t cause fire as a result of Sun heat, as they are produced to withstand high temperature.”

“What causes fire outbreak in solar system is wrong connections, short circuit, bad cable sizing for the installation, too high voltage to the charge controller, mixing of different types of panels together in series connection which will result in the cable and panels being heated up and catch fire after some time of use.”

He further revealed that using low quality panels can also result in fire outbreak when one panels in series failed resulting to voltage pressure on those panels behind the failed one. This can create enormous heat as Direct Current, (DC) heat is more serious compared to Alternating Current, (AC).

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He said, “when you use low quality panels, one of them in series can fail and then there will be voltage pressure on those panels behind the failed one, creating heat (remember DC heat is more serious) and then fire”.

Therefore, avoid wrong connections, short circuit, bad cabling and sizing, high voltage to the charge controller, mixing of different types of panels in series connection when you are putting together your Solar System. Also imbibe good maintenance culture after the installation.


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Abdulrahman Obaje

Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media, Information and Computer Technology Consultant. A quintessential Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist is based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.
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Latest Report Reveals Oppo Smartphone Democratising Access To Professional-Grade Photography

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By Abdulrahman Obaje

Improvements related to camera have been a major factor driving smartphone evolution over the past decade and the telephoto lens technology is among the important factors that determines how far the camera system can go, hence an indication of a larger trend in consumer behaviour, showing a preference for smartphones with enhanced photographic capabilities. adsbygoogle || []).push({}); adsbygoogle || []).push({}); January 2024 report of a market research firm, Counterpoint Research shows that the penetration rate has increased over the years to more than 19 per cent in H1 2023, nearly 3 per cent higher than it was in H1 2022.

So, what separates you from becoming a professional photographer this days is insignificant compare to the old ways of photography. It is just a thin line with the advent and rise in popularity of telephoto lenses in smartphones. This is because the growing trend in consumers’ desire for telephoto photography, something that can only be found exclusively in professional cameras; telephoto lenses integration in smartphones is now the main stay in the industry, a trend that industry player said is just the beginning of a larger trend.

Reports by Counterpoint had shed more light on the evolving landscape of smartphone photography. According to Counterpoint Research’s most recent report, more than 200 million telephoto lens-equipped smartphones were sold globally in 2022, with that figure expected to rise even further by 2024.

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The telephoto lens feature was initially available exclusively on exceptional smartphones. However, the study has also found that mass-market adoption of telephoto lens is increasing, particularly among sub-$400 segments. The increasing popularity of telephoto lenses in affordable smartphones mirrors consumers’ inclination for advanced features without the accompanying high cost. In acknowledgment of this demand, smartphone manufacturers have promptly responded by enhancing their mid-tier line-ups with telephoto capabilities, enabling a broader audience to partake in upgraded photography experiences that were traditionally exclusive to high-end models.

Users can capture images that stand out for their precision and elegance. Apart from its ability to be able to capture a distant landscape, telephoto lens also stands out in shooting portrait as it can compress the subject and background, creating dramatic bokeh effect. The 50mm or 85mm equivalent focal length provides a field of view similar to human eyes with minimal distortions.

The report also revealed that these lenses are becoming increasingly integrated into smartphones around the globe. The ability to zoom without sacrificing image quality, combined with the unique visual effects a telephoto lens can produce, has made it a popular choice among smartphone users. The proportion of smartphones equipped with a telephoto camera has increased both internationally and in China, reaching 19.3% and 24.4%, respectively, demonstrating the importance of telephoto lenses in today’s mobile photography environment.

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The report further revealed that the newly launched OPPO’s Reno11 series, positioned as “The Portrait Expert”, has been instrumental in bringing high-end telephoto lens features to more affordable smartphone models with the innovative “Telephoto Portrait” feature saying that OPPO has been instrumental in making high-quality mobile photography accessible to a greater majority of the masses.

“This strategic move by OPPO has not only democratized access to professional-grade photography features but also underscored the brand’s position as a leader in mobile photography innovation. ”, it said

The Reno11 series boasts features such as a 32MP 2x optical zoom camera powered by Sony IMX709 flagship sensor, enabling users to capture sharp, detailed images from a distance. The series also integrates advanced AI algorithms to enhance image quality, especially in portrait photography, providing users with the tools to capture life’s moments with unparalleled clarity and creativity.

The report thereby anticipates a positive outlook for telephoto lenses, affirming their pivotal contribution to the progression of mobile photography.

The integration of telephoto lenses is just the beginning of a larger trend. The future of mobile photography is expected to see upward progression, with telephoto lenses playing a significant role in how consumers capture and engage with the world around them. This trend is poised to redefine the standards of mobile photography, pushing the boundaries of what smartphones can achieve.

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Abdulrahman Obaje is a Journalist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media, Information and Computer Technology Consultant. A quintessential Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist is based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.
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Why We Must Not Lose Guard About The Potential Risks Of AI – Part 1

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By Abdulrahman Obaje

The most globally talked about scientific discipline at present is AI, short form of Artificial Intelligence, garnering attentions from main stream media organisations such as CNN, BBC, Forbes, New York Times, Daily Trust newspaper and the kinds of them. adsbygoogle || []).push({}); adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Unfortunately this technology also poses the most threats to society and humanity at present.

AI is a scenario whereby a piece of an electronic device or software behaves as though it is digital human assistant. Some can make and take decisions that ordinarily may take time for human being to accomplish. AI-based device may be trained to even perform responsibilities that usually requires human intelligence to accomplish. Such tasks include solving complex mathematical problem, complex medical diagnosis, language translation, etc.

Example include Language translators, Facial recognition capabilities on mobile phones and other devices, Facebook’s language translation feature,  Google Assistant on Android, Siri on iPhones, friend suggestions on Facebook to mention but few. An AI-based system can actually act like a smart helpful digital friend.

AI serves as the foundation for transformative technologies like the much talked about ChatGPT with more than 18 million active users daily. Now, the GPTs store has been launched for business. Also, AI non-invasive device to read what a human is thinking in his mind, convert it to text and display the text on a screen. The research that has been conducted and pilot tested in the University of Sydney has a multifaceted benefit to the human. Anyone with speech impairment can use the device to communicate his or her thoughts and wants with people without talking.

As modern Artificial Intelligent-based systems are now being trained to learn from past experience; in the form of gathered information, making it able to adjust to new information that enable it to be independent in some areas to some extents, the voice of warning against the potential risks of AI is growing louder.

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The tech community has long debated the threats posed by artificial intelligence. Automation of jobs, the spread of fake news and a dangerous arms race of AI-powered weaponry have been mentioned as some of the biggest threats posed by AI.

There is also growing concerns that these things could get more intelligent than the humans and that they could one day decide to take over, and that there is why we need to worry about how we prevent that from happening.

A Computer Scientist, Geofrey Hinton also dubbed as the Godfather of Artificial Intelligence, a name he got from his foundational work on machine learning and neural network algorithm, in 2023 left his position at Google to talk about the risk of Artificial Intelligence, insinuating that a part of him even regrets his life’s work.

Hinton is not alone in this concerns. More than 20,000 tech leaders had in March 2023 persuaded in an open letter to put a pause on large AI experiments, citing that the technology can pose profound risk to society and humanity.

According to Wikipaedia, Pause Giant AI Experiments: An Open Letter is the title of a letter published by the Future of Life Institute in March 2023. The letter calls “all AI labs to immediately pause for at least 6 months the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4”, citing risks such as AI-generated propaganda, extreme automation of jobs, human obsolescence, and a society-wide loss of control. It received more than 20,000 signatures, including academic AI researchers and industry CEOs such as Yoshua Bengio, Stuart Russell, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak and Yuval Noah Harari.

One of the risks posed by AI system is the lack of AI transparency and explainability. This is as AI and deep learning models can be difficult to understand, even for those that are working directly with the technology. This leads to a lack of transparency for why and how Artificial Intelligence comes to its conclusions. This conclusion cannot be trusted one hundred percent of times because of lack of explanation for what data AI algorithms use, or why AI may make biased or unsafe decisions. These concerns explain the rise to the use of explainable AI, but there’s still a long way before transparent AI systems can become common practice.

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The second area of concern is job loss due to job automation. As AI-powered job automation is adopted in industries like marketing, manufacturing and healthcare. By 2030, tasks that account for up to 30 percent of hours currently being worked in the U.S. economy could be automated. According to McKinsey. Black and Hispanic employees especially is more vulnerable to the change while Goldman Sachs even states 300 million full-time jobs could be lost to AI automation.

“The reason we have a low unemployment rate, which doesn’t actually capture people that aren’t looking for work, is largely that lower-wage service sector jobs have been pretty robustly created by this economy,” futurist Martin Ford told Built In. With AI on the rise, though, “I don’t think that’s going to continue.”

As AI robots become smarter and more dexterous, the same tasks will require fewer humans. And while AI is estimated to create 97 million new jobs by 2025, many employees won’t have the skills needed for these technical roles and could get left behind if companies don’t upskill their workforces.

The third area of risks poses by AI is Social manipulation. This fear has become a reality as politicians rely on platforms to promote their viewpoints. For example Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., wielded a TikTok troll army to capture the votes of younger Filipinos during the Philippines’ 2022 election.

TikTok, which is one example of a social media platform that relies on AI algorithms, fills a user’s feed with content related to previous media they’ve viewed on the platform. Criticism of the app targets this process and the algorithm’s failure to filter out harmful and inaccurate content, raising concerns over TikTok’s ability to protect its users from misleading information.

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Online media and news have become even murkier in the wake of AI-generated content such as images and videos, AI voice changers as well as deepfakes infiltrating political and social spheres. These technologies make it easy to create realistic photos, videos, audio clips or replace the image of one figure with another in an existing picture or video. As a result, bad actors have another avenue for sharing misinformation and war propaganda, creating a nightmare scenario where it can be nearly impossible to distinguish between creditable and faulty news.

“No one knows what’s real and what’s not,” Ford said. “So it really leads to a situation where you literally cannot believe your own eyes and ears; you can’t rely on what, historically, we’ve considered to be the best possible evidence… That’s going to be a huge issue.”

Abdulrahman Obaje is a Journalist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist based in Abuja, Nigeria.

Author Profile

Abdulrahman Obaje
Abdulrahman Obaje
Prince Abdulrahman Obaje is a Media, Information and Computer Technology Consultant. A quintessential Journalist, online marketer, social media strategist, Mathematician and Computer Scientist is based in Abuja, Nigeria. He is the Founder and the Publisher of The Informavores!. You can reach me on +234 805 939 5252 or send i-witness report directly to me on news@informavores.com.ng.
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