Friday, August 26, 2011

President Jonathan Speak on Suicide Attack on UN Building

By today's attack, we are once again reminded of the international character of terrorism and its indiscriminate targeting of innocent civilians, I affirm Nigeria's determination to continue to play its part in the global effort to eradicate the scourge of terrorism in all its ramifications." - GEJ. #talktalk

Meanwhile, not to cause any panic o, but there's a broadcast I got that I feel I should share. We might have nothing to fear in Lagos, but just in case, let's all be security conscious. These animals can obviously strike at any time and any place. RIP to all those who lost their lives today.  Stay off the Third Mainland Bridge and surrounding areas.
"Lagosians are advised to stay off the Third Mainland Bridge and surrounding areas. Unconfirmed report says terrorists plan to bomb Lagos within 24 hours of bombing the UN building in Abuja. This information comes from 1st suspect arrested in connection with the Abuja blast. The law enforcement agencies are working to thwart the latest threat. Military roadblocks and other emergency and security measures might result in traffic congestion. The use of alternative routes is strongly advised." 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jonathan phones Obasanjo, Babangida to cease fire

President Goodluck Jonathan has intervened in the public feud between two of his predecessors, Olusegun Obasanjo and Ibrahim Babangida, asking them to bury the hatchet. Obasanjo and Babangida, both former heads of government and retired generals, had last week exchange words, calling each other fools.

On Sunday, a source in the Presidency told one of our correspondents that Jonathan, who was “embarrassed” by the conduct of the two former heads of state, had intervened on Saturday.

The source said Jonathan made separate telephone calls to Obasanjo and Babangida, who are also chieftains of his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, on Saturday.

The source said, “Nobody should expect the President to fold his arms and be watching. He has done the natural thing to do in a situation like this.

“He has called both Obasanjo and Babangida and appealed to them to sheathe their swords.

“He urged them not to make further comments on the issue and encouraged them to settle it between themselves as they are friends and have access to each other.

“He did not take sides with anybody; there is a disagreement between two big men here and the President is playing the role of a peacemaker.”

The source however could not say what the reactions of the two former leaders were.

Babangida had stirred the hornets-nest last Wednesday at a news conference to mark his 70th birthday in Minna, Niger State, when he said that Obasanjo’s eight year tenure was a huge waste. He said Obasanjo’s administration spent $16bn on electricity without result, adding that if his own regime had the enormous revenue available to the Obasanjo government, he would have given Nigeria power.

But Obasanjo thundered back on Thursday, calling Babagida a fool at 70.

He said, “If Babangida has decided, on becoming a septuagenarian, that he will be a fool, I think one should probably do what the Bible says in Proverb Chapter 26, versus 4. It says don’t answer a fool because you may also become like him.”

However, in a swift reaction through his spokesperson, IBB retorted, “One may excuse his (Obasanjo) present outburst as the effusions of a witless comedian.”

Obasanjo who was the president between 1999 and 2007 was also a military head of government from 1976 to 1979. Babangida was military president from 1985 to 1993 when he “stepped aside” from power following the popular protests that greeted the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential poll by him.

Many at the weekend lashed at the two former leaders for “washing their dirty linen” in the public.

A former military governor of the old Western region, Vice Admiral Akin Aduwo (retd.), said the duo of Obasanjo and Babangida should be court-martialled over what he described as their indiscretion. Aduwo, who spoke over the weekend, also said the warring generals should be banned from the National Council of States.

On Sunday, the Octogenarian leader of the Yoruba social and political organization, Afenifere, Pa. Reuben Fasoranti, described the feud as a “show of shame.”

Fasoranti, in a telephone interview with our correspondent in Akure, Ondo State, noted that the two leaders behaved like “kids”.

He said, “It is a pity that the two ex-heads of state decided to throw caution to the winds and behave the way they did. They should have exercised restraints. Their behaviour is unfortunate. They should not have lost their tempers. Only kids do such things.”

Fasoranti appealed to the two leaders to exercise great caution and control over their tempers, warning them to refrain from exchanging insults on the pages of newspapers.

Aduwo had described the public exchange of words by the former presidents as a ‘complete shame, completely out of character, an international disgrace, an embarrassment to Nigeria and the military that gave those two people prominence as heads of state.”

He said, “IBB is a subordinate to Obasanjo, at all levels of service to the nation, the military, government and politics. The superior officer remains the superior officer.

“They went through all sorts of military training in discipline, leadership, mood control, conduct control. I have never been so shocked. Whoever is your superior up till retirement from active service remains your superior.”
By Niyi Odebode, Fidelis Soriwei, Olusola Fabiyi and Sunday Aborisade

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Libyan rebels take most of Tripoli

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Euphoric Libyan rebels took control of most of Tripoli in a lightning advance Sunday, celebrating the victory in Green Square, the symbolic heart of Moammar Gadhafi's regime. Gadhafi's defenders quickly melted away as his 42-year rule crumbled, but the leader's whereabouts were unknown and pockets of resistance remained.
State TV broadcast Gadhafi's bitter pleas for Libyans to defend his regime. Opposition fighters captured his son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, who along with his father faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. Another son was under house arrest.

"It's over, frizz-head," chanted hundreds of jubilant men and women massed in Green Square, using a mocking nickname of the curly-haired Gadhafi. The revelers fired shots in the air, clapped and waved the rebels' tricolor flag. Some set fire to the green flag of Gadhafi's regime and shot holes in a poster with the leader's image.

The startling rebel breakthrough, after a long deadlock in Libya's 6-month-old civil war, was the culmination of a closely coordinated plan by rebels, NATO and anti-Gadhafi residents inside Tripoli, rebel leaders said. Rebel fighters from the west swept over 20 miles over a matter of hours Sunday, taking town after town and overwhelming a major military base as residents poured out to cheer them. At the same time, Tripoli residents secretly armed by rebels rose up.
When rebels reached the gates of Tripoli, the special battalion entrusted by Gadhafi with guarding the capital promptly surrendered. The reason: Its commander, whose brother had been executed by Gadhafi years ago, was secretly loyal to the rebellion, a senior rebel official Fathi al-Baja told The Associated Press.
Fathi al-Baja, the head of the rebels' political committee, said the rebels' National Transitional Council had been working on the offensive for the past three months, coordinating with NATO and rebels within Tripoli. Sleeper cells were set up in the capital, armed by rebel smugglers. On Thursday and Friday, NATO intensified strikes inside the capital, and on Saturday, the sleeper cells began to rise up.
President Barack Obama said Libya is "slipping from the grasp of a tyrant" and urged Gadhafi to relinquish power to prevent more bloodshed.
"The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people," Obama said in a statement from Martha's Vineyard, where he's vacationing. He promised to work closely with rebels.
By the early hours of Monday, rebels controlled most of the capital. The seizure of Green Square held profound symbolic value — the plaza was scene of pro-Gadhafi rallies organized by the regime almost every night, and Gadhafi delivered speeches to his loyalists from the historic Red Fort that overlooks the square. Rebels and Tripoli residents set up checkpoints around the city, though pockets of pro-Gadhafi fighters remained. In one area, AP reporters with the rebels were stopped and told to take a different route because of regime snipers nearby.
Abdel-Hakim Shugafa, a 26-year-old rebel fighter, said he was stunned by how easy it was. He saw only about 20 minutes of exchanges of fire as he and his fellow fighters pushed into the capital at nightfall.
"I expect Libya to be better," said Shugafa, part of a team guarding the National Bank near Green Square. "He (Gadhafi) oppressed everything in the country — health and education. Now we can build a better Libya."
In a series of angry and defiant audio messages broadcast on state television, Gadhafi called on his supporters to march in the streets of the capital and "purify it" of "the rats." He was not shown in the messages.
His defiance raised the possibility of a last-ditch fight over the capital, home to 2 million people. Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim claimed the regime has "thousands and thousands of fighters" and vowed: "We will fight. We have whole cities on our sides. They are coming en masse to protect Tripoli to join the fight."
But it seemed that significant parts of Gadhafi's regime and military were abandoning him. His prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi, fled to a hotel in the Tunisian city of Djerba, said Guma el-Gamaty, a London-based rebel spokesman.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Gadhafi's regime was "clearly crumbling" and that the time to create a new democratic Libya has arrived.
It was a stunning reversal for Gadhafi, who earlier this month had seemed to have a firm grip on his stronghold in the western part of Libya, despite months of NATO airstrikes on his military. Rebels had been unable to make any advances for weeks, bogged down on the main fronts with regime troops in the east and center of the country.
Gadhafi is the Arab world's longest-ruling, most erratic, most grimly fascinating leader — presiding for 42 years over this North African desert republic with vast oil reserves and just 6 million people. For years, he was an international pariah blamed for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. After years of denial, Gadhafi's Libya acknowledged responsibility, agreed to pay up to $10 million to relatives of each victim, and declared he would dismantle all weapons of mass destruction.
That eased him back into the international community.
But on February 22, days after the uprising against him began, Gadhafi gave a televised speech vowing to hunt down protesters "inch by inch, room by room, home by home, alleyway by alleyway." The speech caused a furor that fueled the armed rebellion against him and it has been since mocked in songs and spoofs across the Arab world.
As the rebel force advanced on Tripoli on Sunday, taking town after town, thousands of jubilant civilians rushed out of their homes to cheer the long convoys of pickup trucks packed with fighters shooting in the air. One man grabbed a rebel flag that had been draped over the hood of a slow-moving car and kissed it, overcome with emotion.
Akram Ammar, 26, fled his hometown of Tripoli in March and on Sunday he was among the rebel fighters pouring back in.
"It is a happiness you can't describe but also some fear. It will take us time to clear the entire city. I expect a long time for Libyans to get used to the new system and the new democracy," he said, dressed in camouflage pants and black shirt and sporting the long beard of a conservative Muslim. "But in the end it will be better."
The rebels' leadership council, based in the eastern city of Benghazi, sent out mobile text messages to Tripoli residents, proclaiming, "Long live Free Libya" and urging them to protect public property. Internet service returned to the capital for the first time in six months.
The day's first breakthrough came when hundreds of rebels fought their way into a major symbol of the Gadhafi regime — the base of the elite 32nd Brigade commanded by Gadhafi's son, Khamis. Fighters said they met with little resistance. They were 16 miles from the big prize, Tripoli.
Hundreds of rebels cheered wildly and danced as they took over the compound filled with eucalyptus trees, raising their tricolor from the front gate and tearing down a large billboard of Gadhafi. From a huge warehouse, they loaded their trucks with hundreds of crates of rockets, artillery shells and large-caliber ammunition.
One group started up a tank, drove it out of the gate, crushing the median of the main highway and driving off toward Tripoli.
The rebels also freed more than 300 prisoners from a regime lockup, most of them arrested during the heavy crackdown on the uprising in towns west of Tripoli. The fighters and the prisoners — many looking weak and dazed and showing scars and bruises from beatings — embraced and wept with joy.
"We were sitting in our cells when all of a sudden we heard lots of gunfire and people yelling 'God is great.' We didn't know what was happening, and then we saw rebels running in and saying 'We're on your side.' And they let us out," said 23-year-old Majid al-Hodeiri. He said he was captured four months ago by Gadhafi's forces crushing the uprising in his home city of Zawiya. He said he was beaten and tortured while under detention.
From the military base, the convoy sped toward the capital.
Mahmoud al-Ghwei, 20 and unarmed, said he had just came along with a friend for the ride .
"It's a great feeling. For all these years, we wanted freedom and Gadhafi kept it from us. Now we're going to get rid of Gadhafi and get our freedom," he said.
The uprising against Gadhafi broke out in mid-February, and anti-regime protests quickly spread. A brutal regime crackdown quickly transformed the protests into an armed rebellion. Rebels seized Libya's east, setting up an internationally recognized transitional government there, and two pockets in the west, the port city of Misrata and the Nafusa mountain range.
Gadhafi clung to the remaining territory, and for months neither side has been able to break the other.
In early August, however, rebels launched an offensive from the Nafusa mountains, intending to open a new, western front to break the deadlock. They fought their way down to the Mediterranean coastal plain, backed by NATO airstrikes, and captured the strategic city of Zawiya.
Rebel fighters who spoke to relatives in Tripoli by phone said hundreds rushed into the streets in anti-regime protests in several neighborhoods on Sunday.
"We received weapons by sea from Benghazi. They sent us weapons in boats," said Ibrahim Turki, a rebel in the Tripoli neighborhood of Tajoura, which saw heavy fighting the past two days. "Without their weapons, we would not have been able to stand in the face of the mighty power of Gadhafi forces."
Thousands celebrated in the streets of Benghazi, the rebels' de facto capital hundreds of miles to the east. Firing guns into the air and shooting fireworks, they cheered and waved the rebel tricolor flags, dancing and singing in the city's main square.
When rebels moved in, the regime unit guarding the capital, known as the Mohammed Megrayef battalion, surrendered and its commander ordered its troops to put down their arms. Al-Baja, the rebel official, said that the commander, Barani Eshkal, had secretly defected earlier to the rebels, embittered by the 1986 execution of his brother, who had joined a coup attempt against Gadhafi.
Eshkal also pointed out to the rebels the hiding place of Gadhafi's son Seif al-Islam in a hotel, al-Baja said. Rebel chief Mustafa Abdel-Jalil in Benghazi confirmed to the AP that the rebels captured Seif but refused to give details.
In the Netherlands, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said his office would talk to the rebels on Monday about Seif al-Islam's transfer for trial. "It is time for justice, not revenge," Moreno-Ocampo told the AP.
Seif al-Islam, his father and Libya's intelligence chief were indicted earlier this year for allegedly ordering, planning and participating in illegal attacks on civilians in the early days of the violent crackdown on anti-regime protesters.
Another son, Mohammed, was under house arrest. Mohammed, who is in charge of Libyan telecommunications, appeared on the Arabic satellite channel Al-Jazeera, saying his house was surrounded by armed rebels.
"They have guaranteed my safety. I have always wanted good for all Libyans and was always on the side of God," he said. Close to the end of the interview, there was the sound of heavy gunfire and Mohammed said rebels had entered his house before the phone line cut off.
Hadeel Al-Shalchi in Cairo contributed to this report.
Click photos to view more images. (AP/Alexandre Meneghini)
Click photos to view more images. (AP/Alexandre Meneghini)

Welcome to Nigeria News Blog: How Obasanjo and I fell apart - IBB

How Obasanjo and I fell apart - IBB: Fresh facts emerged yesterday that ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and former Military President Ibrahim Babangida are at daggers drawn sinc...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

IBB - I'll Re-Marry Soon Following The Demise Of My Wife Maryam

ABUJA- Former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida has given notice of his intention to marry a new wife following the demise of his wife, Dr. Maryam Babangida.

In an exclusive interview with Vanguard ahead of his 70th birthday today, Gen. Babangida debunked claims that he secretly married a wife about four months ago asserting such a marriage existed only in the imagination of some section of the media.
In the wide ranging interview, Babangida linked the military intervention led by Gen. Sani Abacha that sacked the interim government of Chief Ernest Shonekan to the agitation of civil society even as he justified his support for Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in the 1999 presidential election as the best decision at that time. He rated Obasanjo a success based on the fundamental parameter of unifying the country which he said informed his selection at that time.

On speculations that he had secretly married, "I have not re-married. You are not the only one who heard. A close friend of mine heard and came to the house to find out. I took him around to all the rooms a wife would have been if I re-married. It is the soft sell media that would like to make huge sales that come up with that type of story," he told Vanguard.

But in a session with selected newsmen in Minna yesterday Babangida gave notice of his readiness to marry.

"Yes, I will get a new wife, no name yet but I know what I want and who is coming into this house and one thing I cannot also tell you now is when exactly she is coming in."

Gen. Babangida who was full of life and radiating with smiles throughout the interactive session said he gives glory to God for successfully navigating the turbulence that characterized political office especially as a Military President.

He, however, ruled himself out from further partisan political pursuit saying:

"I am now 70 years. By 2015, I will be about 75 years so at that age, what would I still be looking for. Count me out. That time, I will be in Minna to attend to people who call on me for political and other consultations," the former military president said.

Recalling his saddest moments in life, Gen. Babangida said it was when he lost his bosom friend simply identified as Lt. Col Mohammed in 1974 who he said died in a crash and also the death of his wife, Maryam.

He, however, recounted his most joyful moments to be the day he got married and when he was appointed the military president for the country after a successful military coup.

Gen. Babangida described the public execution of his bosom friend and colleague, Gen. Vatsa following allegations of a coup plot as the most traumatizing decision ever taken in his life. He prayed never to find himself in such a position again.

According to him, "it was a military law which could not be amended. We all got caught up in the coup Decree of 1976 which gave no room for an alternative but only death through public execution. If I tell you that it was not traumatizing, I must be lying and I pray I will never find myself in such a situation again."

The former military president also touched on other National issues such as the amendment of the constitution of the country, the re-occurring June 12 issue and the way forward for the country.

Jonathan congratulates IBB

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday congratulated Babangida on the occasion of his 70th birthday which comes up today. A statement by Dr Reuben Abati, prayed God Almighty to bless him with "many more years of robust health, prosperity and continued distinguished service to our nation.”"Looking back over the past 70 years, I am sure that you, your family and indeed your larger family of associates and admirers do have cause to be grateful to Almighty God for having granted you a life of great accomplishment and abiding fulfillment."

"You did not only rise to the pinnacle of your chosen career in the military, you also rose to become President of Nigeria for eight years," President Jonathan wrote.

Gov Obi sympathises with Mikel’s family

John Mikel Obi

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The Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, has joined other Nigerians to sympathise with the
family of Super Eagles and Chelsea star, John Mikel Obi, whose father was abducted since last 
week in Jos, Plateau State.
In a statement issued in Awka on Thursday and signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the 

Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Valentine Obienyem, Obi stated that he was shocked by
the news of the kidnap of the senior Obi.
“I hasten to condemn the act as most barbaric, unpatriotic and shameful,” the governor said.

According to him, it is inconceivable that the father of someone who has brought joy to millions of his countrymen through the nation’s number one sport, football, or any Nigerian at all, can be kidnapped.

He stated that such an act had not only smeared Nigeria’s image abroad, but could dampen the morale

of other sportsmen and women in representing the country.

Obi urged the abductors to have a rethink and release the man without delay and unharmed to 

members of his family, just as he urged the family to remain steadfast in prayer and continue to believe 
God that their husband, father and relation would be returned hale and hearty.

Tension as carjacking cases rise in Lagos

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Suspects arrested for carjacking
Going by the number of stolen vehicles recovered each week by the Lagos State Police Command, it seems that there is security lapse as carjacking has become a thriving business among criminals in the state, writes Comfort Oseghale.

Every week, the Lagos State Police Command compiles a list of stolen vehicles recovered in the state. The minimum number is 15. On the average, about of 60 vehicles are recovered monthly across Lagos State. In the month of July 2011, a total of 72 vehicles were recovered by various police divisions.

Already for the month of August, the number of recovered vehicles has been put at 33. Every week, at least two vehicles are reported stolen at the Lagos State Police Command. That makes it an average of eight vehicles monthly. This does not include stolen vehicles documented at police divisions, which might never get reported at the Lagos Police Command.

These data are all a grim indication of the reality that car theft is on the rise daily. If the average number of stolen cars recovered monthly is put at 60, one can only imagine the number of stolen cars which are never found, especially those who find their way to other states and neighbouring countries, and are sold to new owners.

Though social analysts and psychologists may attribute this recent rise in crime to harsh economic conditions, a number of factors have also encouraged this trend.
The first is associated with traffic, as more often than not, Lagos residents are usually robbed of their cars during traffic congestion. Only last week, an employee of the PUNCH was robbed of her car at gunpoint at about 5.30 pm while she was stuck in traffic on Lateef Jakande Road, Agidingbi. This is just one of the numerous cases.

Yet, despite persistent reports of such cases, the Lagos State Police Command is yet to ensure that patrol vehicles are permanently stationed at such sensitive areas across the Lagos metropolis. Agindingbi is not the only place notorious for car snatching in Lagos. Miccom Bus Stop, Akowonjo, is another black spot when it comes to car snatching. Like what happens in many instances, the crime is usually carried out during traffic jam.

A resident who lives at Miccom told CRIME DIGEST that Odebunmi Street, just off Miccom Bus Stop, was usually the scene of such crimes. “This street is notorious for all manner of crimes and not just car theft; there are so many questionable characters: young unemployed men who live in around this environment. From upwards of 6 pm every day, they are always on the prowl.

“Usually, when there is traffic on Akowonjo Road, lots of motorists, especially private car owners, prefer to pass through Odebunmi Street to get to their destination. This street is a short cut to Iyana Ipaja because it is a link to Alaguntan Bus Stop at Iyana Ipaja. Those who live at Gowon Estate can also link Ponle from here; which is much faster than going down to Egbeda before turning off.

“While all these cars are driving past, the boys will be loitering around, waiting for an opportunity to rob a car at gunpoint,” the source said.

Miccom Bus Stop is just one of the several black spots in Lagos where car theft occurs on a weekly basis. There is Ogunlana Street at Egbeda, where armed robbers trail their victims on motorcycles before they are robbed of their cars either at home or any other convenient spot; Toyota and Cele bus stops on Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, and Fola Agoro Junction at Somolu. Abule-Egba, Alakuko, Alausa and all other areas close to the expressway which link Ogun State, are favourite spots for car robbers. In most of these cases, these car robbers station themselves where one is likely to get the highest number of choice cars. What better place is there than a route which leads to posh estates and where there is virtually no police presence?

A Somolu resident explains the reason for the rise in theft at Fola Agoro Junction to CRIME DIGEST. He says, “Fola Agoro Junction is a T-Junction and you know what that means. You cannot afford to drive on speed and so most of the time, car robbers usually strike at night while private car owners are negotiating the T-Junction. The junction is a link to Bariga and so many other residential areas. Another factor encouraging this is the total lack of police presence in the area despite the high crime rate.”

Another factor that ensures car robbers get away with their booty is that most car owners in Lagos fail to install security devices in their cars.

The CEO of Mega Guards, a security outfit, Mr. Richard Amuwa, stressed the importance of car tracking devices to CRIME DIGEST. “There is little one can do to prevent one’s car from being taken, especially if it is at gunpoint. The safest thing to do is to install a tracking device on your car. Apart from the fact that your car can be easily recovered whenever it is stolen, it also ensures that you don’t waste time complying with the robbers, thereby preserving your life. Car tracking devices can be easily obtained from any security firm. Car alarms are useful, but robbers have found a way of disabling car alarms, which makes it less effective than tracking devices,” Amuwa said.

He advised Lagos residents to be more conscious of their environment. “People have to be more conscious of their surroundings because there are incidents where people park their cars on the streets or any other public place. Before their return, their cars would have been stolen. In such a case, one just has to be observant and mindful of suspicious characters lurking around. Another thing is, never to drive so close to the next person whenever you are in traffic; it pays to leave some distance between you and the driver in front just in case you have to make a quick escape if you notice any shady character approaching you.”

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Samuel Jinadu, was not available for comments on the issue as he did not reply the calls made to his cell phone.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ex-Agagu aide killed in Lagos

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Special Assistant to former Governor Ondo State Olusegun Agaguon Multilateral Relations, Mr. Bode Obolo, was reportedly murdered by persons suspected to be assassinsat the Iju  Waterworks area of Lagos State in the early hours of Thursday.

The younger brother of the deceased, Idowu Obolo, who broke the news to journalists in Akure,

said Obolo arrived in the country during the week after two years of political exile and was to
visit his family at Okitipupa before the incident.

Idowu added that the assassins numbering about eight scaled through the fence of their house and

forcibly gained entry into the house.

He said, “When they entered the house, the assailants repeatedly asked after his elder brother who had hidden in one of the rooms in the building.

“The assassins, who later discovered the hideout of the deceased, shot him at the abdomen and on his right leg.

“He was later rushed to a nearby hospital for urgent medical treatment where he breathed his last.”

Meanwhile, friends and family members have besieged his house along Erinje Road, Okitipupa, to commiserate with the widow.

Obolo was said to have been banned from holding political office for a period of 10 years by the Ondo State House of Assembly.

His ban followed his alleged involvement in running a secret account in his capacity as the head of the multilateral unit of the governor’s office without the knowledge of the state government.

He was asked to appear before the House to clear his name concerning the scandal, but did not honour the invitation.

He reportedly fled the country at the heat of the problem which almost soiled his political career.

Spokesman for the Lagos State Police Command, Mr. Samuel Jinadu, said he was not aware of the incident.

Mikel’s family negotiating with kidnappers

The Sport Entertainment and Media Group – managers of Mikel Obi – have said that the family of the Super Eagles and Chelsea midfielder are negotiating with the kidnappers of Mr Michael Obi. They, however, dispute the amount being negotiated with the kidnappers released to the public by the media. The family had insisted the kidnappers had no contact with them.

The group said in a statement that reports in Nigeria of an £80,000 ($130,000) demand were inaccurate but that the sum requested was “sizeable” and that discussions had begun between the Nigeria international’s family and the kidnappers.

The full statement said, “SEM advises that reports from Nigeria of an £80,000 ransom demand for the return of John Obi Mikel’s father is not true.

“We confirm that Michael Obi has been abducted and that the kidnappers have been in touch with the family and representatives of the family and that discussions for Michael’s safe release have begun.

It added, “A sizeable demand has been made but for security reasons, we are unable to release details of the amount.

“Mikel would like to thank his family, friends, Chelsea FC and his agents for their support and at this time it is Mikel’s intention to play for Chelsea this weekend, encouraged by his family to do so.”

Chelsea Manager, Andre Villas-Boas, also confirmed that Mikel was available to face West Brom, despite the difficulties surrounding his father’s abduction in Nigeria.

Mikel played in last Sunday’s goalless draw at Stoke City, 48 hours after his father was kidnapped.

“As you know it is a very, very difficult situation,” said Villas-Boas. “He of course made himself available for the (Stoke) game and we are counting on him, if we decide he will play.”

Mikel had not had contact with the kidnappers when he made an appeal for his father’s safe return on Monday.

He told Sky Sports News in an interview, “Whoever has got my dad or knows where my dad is please contact me and hopefully he will be released. Please let him go – my dad is an old man and he hasn’t done any harm to anyone as far as I know and I don’t know why he has been taken.”

His father’s house in Jos was abandoned and the local police told Reuters they were investigating the disappearance. Mikel father’s transport company was also shut after the incident became public but THE PUNCH check at the firm on Tuesday confirmed that they had resumed operations.

This is the second kidnap case involving a family member of the national team players. Joseph Yobo’s brother was kidnapped in 2008.


Rep Denies House Support For Islamic Banking

A member of the House of Representatives, Dr. Ibrahim Olaifa, has said the lower chamber has not taken a position on the proposed Islamic banking in the country.
This came as an Islamic cleric, Mallam Ibrahim Soliu, said the introduction of the Islamic banking in the country would reduce poverty and encourage economic development.
Olaifa, who spoke at the maiden Ramadan lecture organised by the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Oyo State Council, said the Governor of the Central Bank, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, was invited to the House to enable the federal lawmakers to get information on the banking system.

He disagreed with the comments of some religious leaders from the North concerning the proposal.

The lawmaker said the aggrieved religious leaders should have embarked on public enlightenment to press home their points on the banking system.

Soliu told the News Agency of Nigeria in Ilorin on Thursday that the system was not a new phenomenon in the world, noting that it would complement the conventional banking system.

The cleric said, “The banking system is not coming to wipe away the conventional banks, rather, it will serve as supplement.

“The Islamic or non-interest banking system is to capture those people who are not disposed to the conventional system because of its excessive interest policy.”


Welcome to Nigeria News Blog: Policemen beat driver, set his bus ablaze

Welcome to Nigeria News Blog: Policemen beat driver, set his bus ablaze: The popular cliché of the Nigeria Police Force; ‘Police is your friend,’ does not seem to affect Taiwo Alabi, a 25 year-old commercial bus...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Obasanjo replies IBB, A Fool at 70

 Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Wednesday, reacted to the comments about him made by  former President Ibrahim Babangida saying that he [IBB] was being foolish as his comments were not well though out.

According to him, former President Babangida should be pitied and shown sympathy rather than anger or condemnation as he was being foolish at the age of 70.

Obasanjo who spoke with news men in Abeokuta during the visit of an American Team on an inspection of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library [OOPL] said that his initial thought was not to respond but that on second thought he decided to reply IBB so that he would not consider himself wise. Read More

World Bank and Anambra State partner on Statistical Masterplan

The World Bank is to collaborate with Anambra State Government to establish statistical masterplan in the state.

Head of World Bank Statistical Project, Dr. John Mgwafon, said at the user-satisfaction baseline survey workshop organised by National Bureau of Statistics in collaboration with the Federal Government and the World Bank, that the bank would continue to give the state support to attain the desired height.

He described statistical system as very important in policy-making and expressed satisfaction with the framework put in place by the government to ensure the success of the project. The Acting Statistician- General of the Federation, Alhaji Razak Sanusi, who was represented by Mr. George Oparaku, commended Governor Peter Obi for promoting statistical profession in the country,  noting that he was among the first set of governors that signed the law establishing the state statistical masterplan.
He said the state was also in the forefront in the implementation of the national and state statistical  masterplan, stressing  that he was the first governor in the six pilot states of the project that have organised workshop for the project. Gov. Obi said functional statistics and data were fundamental in effective planning and execution of policies and programmes.

He observed that proper planning had enabled the state to maintain regular payment of salary, pension and gratuity, as well as sustain the drive to eradicate poverty and hunger, in addition to ensuring adequate allocation of resources to various sectors to meet their needs.

Imo State govt threatens to revoke undeveloped land allocations

The Imo government has threatened to revoke all land allocations not developed by their allottees.
Ogueri Enwerem, the Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Urban Planning, issued the threat on Wednesday in Owerri in an interview with the press. Enwerem noted that such undeveloped lands were scattered all over Owerri, saying that the government would develop them in the alternative ``and put value to these plots of land''.

The initiative was in line with Gov. Rochas Okorocha's Rescue Mission Agenda designed to give shelter to the less privileged. Enwerem pointed that the housing problem in Imo had been compounded by land speculators who acquired lands from government and waited for their values to appreciate with a view to selling them. The present administration would not tolerate such attitude from landlords in the state, he concluded.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Murder of Kudirat Abiola: Shofolahan Denies Working For Mrs. Abiola

Alhaji Lateef Sofolahan 

For many years, Lateef Shofolahan has been presented in discussions of the unsolved 1999 murder of Kudirat Abiola, who was the wife of the winner of the June 12 1993 presidential election, as having been her employee.
 Today, he indignantly told the court, “I never worked for her in any capacity.”
The defence had said that Shofolahan, in a statement made to the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) in 1999, been identified as Mrs. Kudirat Abiola’s Protocol Officer who ran errands for her, travelled with her and dealt with her visitors. “How can a person who never worked as a protocol officer become her servant?” the defendant challenged. “Why hasn’t any of her friends or associates come before this court and say that I delivered a message to them from Alhaja Kudi?”

Going further, Shofolahan, who is charged along with Hamza Al-Mustapha, the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to General Abacha, called on the court to invite members of the Abiola family to come forward to identify him. He stated that on August 8, 1999, following his arrest by the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) in Abuja, he had also asked Mrs Ojomo to call in a family member of the Abiola’s to come and confirm if he was ever worked for their family.   He said he even told them to “handcuff my arms and legs and take me to the family house for identification, which they have not done till date.”
He said his only meeting with Mrs. Abiola was at the offices of her husband’s campaign headquarters when she came by to pick up campaign posters.  Other Abiola wives such as Doyin and Bisi, also came to the office, he said. 
Mr. Shofolahan also told the court that the statement written by him on the 9th of August 1999 and given to the court in evidence was procured by military officers who tortured him mercilessly and dictated it to him. “I was forced to copy the statement on Saturday, 09/10/1999, a day after I was arrested,” he said, “and I was asked to date it 08/09/1999.”
Referring to that statement, he said that only his name, date of birth and residential address of 116, Ojuelegba Street, are correct.  He then urged the court to demand the video and voice recordings of the transaction between him and the investigators who allegedly coerced the statement out of him, as it would reveal the truth.
The defendant also denied knowing other defendants mentioned in the 08/10/1999 statement, including Serkin Shasha, Rabo Lawal and Hamza al-Mustapha. He said Shasha never took him to Mustapha, and jokingly added, “The only place I know called Shasha is the place along the tow-gate on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway.”
In the case of Mustapha, he said he met the former military officer twice before they were both detained.  “I know Mustapha openly in 1998 where he sat on the high-table at Eagle square, wearing agbada with 20 other ministers at the two-million man march for Abacha where I was a delegate from Lagos.”
Asked about his background by defence counsel Olalekan Ojo, Shofolahan described his relationship with the Abiola family was when he was a protocol officer to MKO Abiola’s campaign officer in 1993.”  In that capacity, he said he moved guests between the Campaign Office and Gateway Hotel in Sango Otta.
Prior to that job, he told the court he had been a beer distributor, an engagement “which I continued in 1995 till 1998 when I joined the Olusegun Obasanjo campaign for the 1999 presidential election.”   He left the Abiola campaign office in July 1993 after the organization led was dissolved.”
Testifying further, Mr Shofolahan also denied knowing Bernabas Jabilla (Sergent Rogers), Rabo Lawal, Mohammed Abdul (Katako), or AVM Idi Musa, all of whom were referred to in his statement as accomplices. He said he met Rabo Lawal on at the SIP on 09/10/1999.
Responding to a question as to whether he would have copied a statement which claimed he murdered Mrs. Abiola, the defendant said, “Anything they ask me to copy, I will copy to gain my freedom.”
The case was adjourned to November 21 2011 after the judge summoned both counsels to admit their written addresses for adoption before she delivery of judgement."

Vanguard newspaper, Lagos

Fashola warns land speculators

click to expand image

Governor Babatunde Fashola
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola on Wednesday warned land speculators to desist from further encroaching on the state acquired land at Iba New Town in Ibefun Community, Ijagemo in Iba Local Council Development Area.

The governor handed down the warning after inspecting a large expanse of land earmarked for massive affordable houses under the Iba New Town Development Scheme.

But the state government discovered that part of the acquired land had been sold to people without approval.

However, after a plea by the Head of Bada Family of Ijagemo, Chief Akibu Bada to spare the illegal structures already built on the land, Fashola promised that they would not be demolished but warned against further encroachment.
He said, “The state government will not tolerate any situation where the waiver given to those who have already developed property on the acquired land will encourage land speculators to engage in indiscriminate selling of the land.”

He subsequently instructed government surveyors to see how to incorporate the encroached portions into the plan of the state for the Iba New Town so that the construction process for the affordable houses could be set in motion.

The governor also directed the Commissioner for Housing, Mr Bosun Jeje, who was present during the inspection to liaise with his Physical Planning counterpart to set the boundaries for the existing encroachments and draw the map.

Fashola told the residents of the area that he was visiting them as part of the fulfillment of his electioneering promises to provide affordable houses for Lagosians.

He added that that his visit had also enabled him to see the state of roads in Ikotun, Ijegun and Ijagemo, assuring that government would rehabilitate them.


Korean firm may take over Egbin plant before December

The Federal Government may transfer its 51 per cent stake in the Lagos Thermal Station, Egbin, to the Korea Electric Power Corporation before December, as discussions have reached an advanced stage on the protracted deal that has been on for four years.

Our correspondent gathered from government sources that the only hurdle left to be cleared before the transfer of ownership would be completed was the labour issue.
A top government source, who asked not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the deal officially, said, “We have resolved the gas supply issue and the only issue left now is the labour issue. We have attempted to hold discussions with the representatives of the labour unions, but they insisted that the government must implement the 50 per cent salary increment agreement first before it could discuss severance pay for the workers.

“I believe that once we get over the labour issue, the only thing that will remain will be to reconcile the financial issues and then the transfer will take place. So, I am positive that the transfer can be done before or by December.”

The Bureau of Public Enterprises had recently resumed discussions with KEPCO with a view to concluding the deal on the sale of the government’s stake in the nation’s biggest power plant.

The BPE had earlier announced the sale of the plant to KEPCO in 2007, but unresolved labour issues and the change of government stalled the conclusion of the deal.

Our correspondent gathered that KEPCO was to pay $280m for the 51 per cent government stake in the plant and that the company had made some initial payments in 2007.

However, the suspension of the liberalisation of the power sector by the late President Umaru Yar’Ardua and some unresolved labour and commercial issues prevented the deal from being concluded.

The Egbin power plant has an installed capacity of 1,320 megawatts of electricity and is the only power station in the country that is capable of generating at least 1,000MW to the national grid.

The Federal Government had inaugurated the power sector road map last year with one of the key issues in the document being government’s plan to sell at least 51 per cent stake in most of the electricity companies, otherwise known as successor companies to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria.

Also, President Goodluck Jonathan took an important step towards bolstering investor confidence in the Nigerian power sector on Tuesday as he approved the constitution of the pioneer board as well as the appointment of a manager for the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc.


I was working for Obasanjo when I was arrested – Shofolahan

murder of Kudirat Abiola, Lateef Shofolahan, has denied ever working for the deceased in any capacity throughout her lifetime.

Led in evidence by his counsel, Olalekan Ojo, Shofolahan testified at a Lagos High Court on Wednesday when he also said he was arrested on October 10, 1999 at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, as an aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The defence closed its case with Shofolahan’s testimony, in the 12-year-old trial after which the trial judge, Justice Mojisola Dada, fixed November 10, 2011 for adoption of final written addresses by both parties.
Shofolahan, who described as “newspaper propaganda” that he was Kudirat’s aide, maintained that his relationship with the MKO Abiola family, did not go beyond serving as a protocol officer in Abiola’s Hope ‘93 Presidential Campaign Office, in Lagos.

During cross-examination by the prosecution counsel, Lawal Pedro (SAN), he told the court that his interaction with Kudirat was only limited to when she was coming to the campaign office for campaign materials.

He said, “I have never worked for Kudirat Abiola. I only met her when she was coming to collect posters and other campaign materials. She was not the only one. Even Dr. Doyin Abiola used to come and Bisi Abiola too.

“I never worked for the late Kudirat Abiola or personally with Bashorun MKO Abiola, either as a PA (personal assistant, protocol officer, driver, gardener or security guard. It is newspaper propaganda.

“I only worked with Hope ‘93 as protocol officer and protocol officer in the office is not the same as Protocol Officer at the residence. After Hope ‘93 was closed down, everybody was driven away, the office building was changed to a school and no more protocol officer.”

Shofolahan stated that the prosecution and the Special Investigative Panel, before whom he alongside others appeared in connection with the series of the assassinations in the Abacha regime, failed to prove that he was Kudirat’s aide.

Shofolahan said, “When I appeared before the SIP, I begged the panel headed by AIG Ojomo to ask any member of Abiola’s family to come and identify me. I also suggested that they should take me to his house chained in hands and legs so that his children can identify me. My Lord, I did not work in the house.”

He denied having any personal relationship with MKO Abiola, who was in detention when his wife, Kudirat, was gunned down in Lagos on June 4, 1996, Shofolahan said he was number 22 in the hierarchy at the Hope ‘93 campaign office.

In his response to Pedro’s question he said he moved with Obasanjo to the Presidential Villa when he won the presidential election and was subsequently sworn in as president in 1999.

Shofolahan said, “I was with Hope ‘93 organisation till July 1993, when it was dissolved. Then I went back to my beer business. I was there fully from ‘93 to ‘98 because when I was with Hope ‘93 I had people working there.

“The same year, 1998, My Lord, I joined Obasanjo Campaign Organisation and I stayed in his farm-based house in Otta.

“When he won the presidential election, we moved to Abuja together in 1999.”

“I was arrested in the Villa. I was arrested in the presidency. I told those who arrested me that I was working there.

“They asked me what I was doing at the Villa. I told them I was a staff. They then called Bodunde, the P.A, Otunba Fasawe was there, all of them was there and they told them I was a staff.”

He denied knowing how Kudirat was killed, saying “I only knew she died, but I don’t know what killed her.”

He also said he did not attend her burial because “area boys took over the whole of Ikeja that day.”

On his relationship with al-Mustapha, Shofolahan said he first met him at the two-million-man march of ‘Youth Earnestly Ask for Abacha’ rally that took place in Abuja in March 1998.


Formal Vice President, Augustus Aikhomu passes away

Former military Vice President under IBB (1986 to 1993), and one-time Chief of General Staff, Retired Admiral Augustus Aikhomu has died. He died today after a prolonged illness. May his gentle soul rest in peace...amen

Obama: 'Lone Wolf' Terror Attack More Likely Than Major Coordinated Effort

Barack Obama
WASHINGTON (Associated Press)-- President Barack Obama said Tuesday that a "lone wolf" terror attack in the U.S. is more likely than a major coordinated effort like the Sept. 11 attacks nearly a decade ago.
With the nation preparing to observe the 10th anniversary of hijacked airliners crashing in New York and Washington and along the Pennsylvania countryside, Obama said the government is in a state of heightened awareness.
"The biggest concern we have right now is not the launching of a major terrorist operation, although that risk is always there," the president said in an interview with CNN.

"The risk that we're especially concerned over right now is the lone wolf terrorist, somebody with a single weapon being able to carry out wide-scale massacres of the sort that we saw in Norway recently," he said. "You know, when you've got one person who is deranged or driven by a hateful ideology, they can do a lot of damage, and it's a lot harder to trace those lone wolf operators."
In Norway, Anders Behring Breivik, 32, was charged with killing 69 people last month at a youth camp. A lawyer for Breivik says his client believes the massacre was necessary to save Norway and Europe from Muslims and punish politicians who have embraced multiculturalism.
In recent years the U.S. has endured terror-linked attacks that authorities believe were carried out by a single person. In November 2009, 13 people were killed at Fort Hood, Texas, in a shooting that led to charges against an Army psychiatrist who authorities allege had become an Islamic extremist.
A botched car bomb in New York's Times Square in 2010 and a Christmas Day 2009 attempt to bring down a Detroit-bound jetliner with a bomb also were tied by authorities to one person in each
In the CNN interview, Obama said the government continues to monitor and gather information about potential terrorist plots even though al-Qaida's capabilities have been degraded. Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed by Navy SEALs during a raid in Pakistan last May.
Asked if Americans don't have to worry about a nuclear or radiological attack or some other "spectacular" event, Obama said: "Look, as president of the United States, I worry about all of it. But I think the most likely scenario that we have to guard against right now ends up being more of a lone wolf operation than a large, well-coordinated terrorist attack. We still have to stay on top of it, though, and we're never letting our guard down. That's part of our job."

Complete Story

Community Shuts Down Smelter Plant For Refusing Local Hires

The UC Rusal-Alscon aluminium smelter plant in Ikot Abasi felt the wrath of the community over its refusal to hire local workers. On Tuesday, residents of the local community took a staff bus by force that was conveying employees and used the vehicle to block an access road to the factory.
According to SaharaReporter sources, the takeover forced employees and visitors to abort their trip and return home.
A petition by the community to the Managing Director of the company obtained by Sahara Reporters,  urged the firm to ensure that their sons would be considered for good jobs at the plant.
 The Petition was signed by Messrs Aniefiok James, Ekwere Genesis, Linus Usen and Emmanuel Jumbo on Behalf of Akwa Ibom Concerned Citizens in ALSCON.

Members of the local community complained that the company had marginalized indigenes of the state  working in the plant while arguing that their operational area quote was not respected by the firm.  (?)
However an official of the firm who pleaded for anonymity dismissed the allegations of marginalisation of indigenes from Akwa Ibom in the plant.
Out of six Nigerian directors in UC RUSAL ALSCON , four are from Akwa Ibom, this development shows that it is the non indigenes that are really marginalized,” said the official. “It therefore shows that the management of the company is sensitive, the community protesters are being sentimental but when you look at the facts, the truth becomes evident.”
Currently Aluminium Smelting is one of several companies under the spotlight over accusations of fraud during a privatization drive. Other companies in the spotlight are Delta Steel Complex, DSC, Alaja and the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, Itakpe. The inquest into questionable sell-offs by the Bureau of Public Enterprise is being carried out by an Ad Hoc Committee set up in the Senate.
 ALSCON in Akwa Ibom state was built at a cost of $3.2 billion but was sold to a Russian company for $130 million.

Dora Akunyili Erects N150m Country Home On NAFDAC Land!

Click for Full Image SizeFormer Minister for Information, Dora Akunyili is surfing her way back to the top of public discourse.She is attaining this feat on the platform of a grave allegation .
Informants alleged that the personal house the former minister is currently putting finishing touches to in Agulu, Anambra state is locatedon a portion of the land the community gave to National agency,
NAFDAC (National Agency For Food, Drug Administration Control)

The ‘gift’ was reportedly influenced and made during the tenure of Akunyili as Director General of the agency. The former NAFDAC boss’ part heritage is from Agulu. Her father is from Nanka,
while her mother is from Agulu.

Information pieced together alleged that Akunyili had cornered a portion of the expanse land as the gains of her effort.The country home,valued at one hundred and Fifty million naira,
is said to share a fence with NAFDAC office, Anambra state.
Informants revealed that news of this development floating around has started causing an
agitation of sort within and outside official quarters.

Presently sources alleged a movement to correct the alleged anomaly is on.

The growing agitation is said to have the subtle support of current head of NAFDAC, Paul Orhii.

Orhii is said to maintain a low profile in the matter based on his ongoing battle to retain his seat-he fears
Dora still has enough clout in government circles to compound his problem if he takes her headlong.

The positioning of Akunyili’s home gives her vantage view of going ons within the NAFDAC compound- a situation many have described as ‘unsettling’ given her pedigree at the agency.

Akunyili had used the agency- her performance there- as a spring board for her political ambition.

The former minister and defeated senatorial aspirant refused to respond to enquiries on the matter when contacted.
Click for Full Image Size

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Delta State Governor, Uduaghan, Appoints Accused Murderer As Commissioner

Mofe Pirah

The governor of Delta state, Emmanuel Uduaghan last week appointed to his cabinet, Mofe Pirah, whom his government is also prosecuting for murder.
According to court documents available to SaharaReporters, Mr. Pirah and 10 accused persons have recently received summonses from the Court of Appeal in Benin City for the September 1998 murder of Mr Samuel .A.K Metseagharun in Warri.
In the incident, Mr. Metseagharun, a former chairman and sole administrator of Delta State Board of Inland Revenue and Chairman of the Ugborodo (Escravos) Community Trust Governing Council, was allegedly dragged out of his Mercedes Benz car and beaten to death by a crowd which included Mr. Pirah.
The Delta State Government objected to the verdict of the High Court which dismissed the murder charges against Mr. Pirah and his co-accused, and filed a notice of appeal through its lawyers led by Ighodalo Imadegbelo (SAN).
Saharareporters sources claim that before Mr. Pirah was made commissioner of "Oil and Gas," he had bragged on behalf of himself and the other accused persons that there was no threat from the Court of Appeal, claiming that they have reserved N300 million for the judges involved in the case. He also told family members that they gave the same amount to Hon. Justice S.A. Ehiwario, who decided the case at the high court in 2007.

When SaharaReporters contacted the Commissioner of information of Delta State, Chike Ogeah, he admitted that Mr. Pirah was indeed the person appointed as commissioner by his boss.  Curiously, he also said the state was satisfied with the high court case which dismissed the charges against Pirah and others. Asked if he knew about the appeal, it became even more curious when, following consultations with the Attorney General of the state, he answered in the affirmative.
That means that Governor Uduaghan, who is using official resources to pay lawyers to prosecute Mr. Pirah, is now also using official resources to cater for Mr. Pirah as a commissioner.
Analysts told SaharaReporters today that it is obvious that the governor has already decided the case at the Court of Appeal, and that Mr. Pirah’s boast that the case will be taken care of has Mr. Uduaghan’s support and perhaps, as much as N300 million walking-around money.
The bizarre situation in Delta State is the latest in Nigeria governments in which the president and some governors appoint relatives, friends, cronies and party-members to office no matter how questionable their integrity or track record.


By SaharaReporters

Ondo Labour Party Chairman Resigns

As the race for re-election of Gov. Mimiko of Ondo State hots up, another Labour Party stalwart has resign from his cabinent. This time its the party chairman, Chief Olaiya Oni. He resigned at the weekend as he tagged the Governor "Traitor". This follows the Governor's recent sack of all his cabinent.

You ask where the political calculation in Ondo is tiltering towards being the only Labour Party Government in the Country.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Leave Ojukwu alone, Nwosu tells rumour-mongers

ENUGU – FORMER Minister of Health, Professor A. B. C. Nwosu, yesterday, expressed concern over the rumour regarding the ill-health of Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, saying those who were in a hurry to see his exit were enemies of Ndigbo.

Nwosu, who noted that Ojukwu is comparable to  Dr. Nelson Mandela of South Africa, asked those “who are in a hurry to delete him from this planet to respect the sensibilities of his family, of Ndigbo, of Nigerians and us his very close associates.”

Speaking with Vanguard, the former minister who is a member of Ojukwu’s extended family, said: “I am compelled to ask, who wants Ojukwu dead and why? Why has he not been given the respect he deserves? Why should statements on his health not be made by his family and government? Why are individuals carrying camera around the hospitals in London looking for him?

“Before he was taken to London, I was in Enugu to see him and I later travelled to London to see him and I know he was not on life support. As at January when I saw him, he was not on life support. He was on life support for about one week shortly on arrival in London,  but since January he has  not and the family did not lie about it.
I can confirm that I held his hand in the hospital for the several days and hours I spent with him. There are other close associates of his like Chief Ben Obi who have also gone to see him as well as officials of Nigerian High Commission in London, the Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi and other friends have gone to see him frequently, his chief of staff, his wife, his children are with him round the clock. They have confirmed that there has been tremendous progress from when he was taken till now.”

Nwosu said Ojukwu’s associates were alarmed that he has not been given the kind of respect, sympathy and understanding he deserves, stressing that “Ojukwu is very much worshipped by many people and revered all over and he is one of the most courageous, principled and good-humoured human beings that I have been privileged to meet.”

vanguard News

Privatization Scams: "I Rejected Adenuga’s $100,000 Bribe" Says Nasir El-Rufai

Former director general of the Bureau for Public Enterprises, Nasir El Rufai, denies collecting bribes from Mike Adenuga through a junior colleague, Jean-Charles Osuji. A press statement issued by  El Rufai's aide said the Mr. El rufai didn't seek or receive bribe from Adenuga as claimed by Mr. Osuji yetserday at a senate public hearing.
See press release below:
Our country has come to a sorry pass, where shame and contrition have disappeared. In which other clime can a man under oath before a Senate Committee, admit receiving a bribe, yet expect no immediate retribution? This sums up Mallam Nasir El Rufai’s response to the testimony of Charles Osuji, a former staff of the BPE, at the Senate hearings on privatisation. As Osuji testified, he collected a bribe from Mike Adenuga, and El-Rufai never sought or collected bribe from anyone either in his twenty years of professional practice or in a decade of public service. Osuji went on a frolic of his own, and collected the money, and then told El-Rufai about it.  El-Rufai rejected the bribe and ensured Osuji was punished for collecting it. That was the proper thing to do, and it was done.

Mike Adenuga offered the highest price for the National Oil and Chemical Company (NOLCHEM) when it was being privatised, and the BPE under El-Rufai’s leadership recommended his as the winning bid. El-Rufai-led BPE maintained the integrity of the bid process despite intense pressures from the political leadership of Nigeria at the time and at least one foreign government.
The bidders for NOLCHEM were: Engen of South Africa, which was the former Exxon South Africa, Mike Adenuga of Consolidated Oil, Chief Igweh, the owner of Bolingo Hotels, Shell BV and a consortium led by Mr. Kola Abiola.   As the bids were being evaluated, President Obasanjo informed El-Rufai that Shell’s management had come to him complaining that BPE had frustrated their bid for NOLCHEM. Thabo Mbeki, then South African President, had also called Obasanjo to press Engen’s case.
As the bid process unfolded, Vice-President Abubakar Atiku also told El Rufai that a former president and a notable traditional ruler had asked him to intervene for Mike Adenuga’s Consolidated Oil. The firm response from the BPE was that only the highest bid price could win. At the end, Adenuga submitted the highest bid of something like N36 per share, and he won. Engen offered N28, while Bolingo’s bid was for N34.
Shortly after Adenuga’s winning bid was announced, Osuji came to inform El Rufai that he had been asked by Adenuga to give him N25 million and US $100,000 as 'a gift' in gratitude for selling NOLCHEM to him. El Rufai asked Osuji to return the money, and the latter insinuated that Adenuga had consulted the Vice President about the bribe. El Rufai brought this to the attention of the Vice President who not only denied any involvement but agreed that Osuji’s conduct should earn him a sack from the BPE job.  Osuji was then queried and he failed to respond to the query in time.
As a Deputy-Director, the approval of the National Council for Privatisation (NCP) was required to terminate Osuji's appointment, and it was granted by the Vice President.  At the next meeting of the NCP, members of Council, particularly Late Bola Ige, then Attorney-General and Joseph Sanusi, then Governor of the Central Bank made the case for the conversion of Osuji's termination to outright dismissal, and prosecution under the ICPC Act. The file must still be in the Federal Ministry of Justice. And there is no better time to complete this
The idea that things cannot be done according to due process and in a fair manner is unfortunate, but it lingers because even people who win a fair process were always prepared to subvert and rig it. Osuji is a liar and perjurer.  It is time the law takes it own course, this once.
Mallam El-Rufai is as always proud that he kept his integrity and resisted pressure to bend the rules for anyone while in public service. He challenges anyone with any evidence to the contrary to make such public.
Muyiwa Adekeye
Media Advisor to Mallam Nasir El Rufai
14 August 2011

Prosecute Obasanjo And Others Involved In Nigeria's Privatization Scandal,' Falana Urges Federal Government

Femi Falana

Civil rights attorney, Femi Falana, has called on the Nigerian government to immediately commence the prosecution of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, his deputy and cronies involved in the criminal disposal of national assets.
He was speaking to SaharaReporters yesterday at the conclusion of the hearing of the ad hoc Senate committee which is probing the privatisation and commercialization of government businesses since 1999.
Giving the example of the Delta Steel Company in Aladja Delta State, Falana said  that the company was built with $3.2 billion by the Nigerian government, roughly translating to N480 billion, but was sold to a company believed to be fronting for Obasanjo for N7.5 billion ($120 million)
He further called for the retrieval of the 128 nationally owned companies "privatized" by the Obasanjo regime to the federal government of Nigeria.
In his testimony, Mallam Nasir El Rufai, a former Director-General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), told the committee that Obasanjo and then Vice President Atiku Abubakar, contacted him several times when he was DG to try to influence the sale of government companies to their cronies.
President Jonathan continues to say he will battle corruption, but his critics point at revelations such as those at the Senate hearing as evidence that he is insincere.
By SaharaReporters, New York

Tinubu Goes To London! By Uchenna Osigwe

Bola Tinubu at Chatham House

Bola Ahmed Tinubu was at the Chatham House, London the other day, to tell the world that the PDP won the last presidential election in Nigeria. This declaration was necessitated by the fact that Buhari and some of his supporters were at the same venue earlier to tell the same world what actually happened during the said elections. The question that comes to mind then is, is Tinubu working for the PDP?
A good number of Nigerian journalists have been writing fictions for a long time now. But I don’t think the story with the caption:  “Jonathan won April election – Tinubu,” in the Punch of Wednesday, 20 July 2011, was fiction. The paper quoted Tinubu as saying: “I believe Jonathan won the election but that the returns attributed to him in some parts of the country obviously appeared exaggerated.” Tinubu, according to the report, attributed Jonathan’s victory to the “unique circumstances of Jonathan’s rise to power” which made the public to see him “as a distinctive figure.” How, in the world of Tinubu—who wanted to become a running mate to Buhari, and who said that the candidate of his own party, Ribadu, was a Sarkozy, a Cameron and an Obama rolled into one—Jonathan was transformed overnight into a more ‘distinctive figure’ than Buhari and Ribadu, remains a mystery to many.

Tinubu, in his ‘lecture’ blamed the ‘weak’ campaign of the opposition for their defeat, saying that they naively thought that the public’s disenchantment with the PDP “was enough to get rid of them at the polls.”
In the report, Tinubu took a swipe at “a group of people dissatisfied with the outcome of the general elections,” who through their “political machinations” are worsening the security situation in the country, referring particularly to the Boko Haram menace. He then pledged his “‘full sympathy and support’ for the President in finding solution to the disturbing phenomenon.”
Anybody who had followed Tinubu’s words and actions during the so called alliance talks with Buhari’s CPC would not be very surprised at what Tinubu told the world in London. While Buhari consistently held out hope for a possible alliance, or at the very least, a working plan with the ACN, Tinubu had from the very beginning—once his request to be Buhari’s running mate was rejected by the latter on the grounds that it would be a Muslim- Muslim ticket, which, given the situation in the country, would be DOA—saw the alliance as doomed (in Tinubu’s words in the same report, “the opposition parties danced with each other but did not embrace”). Buhari, on the other hand, called for what he described as a ‘political maturity’ from both parties, who are in a way ideological soul mates, in order to dislodge the PDP. So, while Buhari was holding out hope for a workable alliance, Tinubu had gone to town to rule out any such alliance.
Campaigning in Kano on the 22nd of March 2011for his presidential candidate, namely Nuhu Ribadu, whom he compared to Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy of USA, UK and France respectively, Tinubu declared that the CPC was parading ‘expired leadership.’ Juxtaposed to what he said in his Chatham House ‘lecture,’ to the effect that the insecurity in the country was caused by the political machinations of a group who were not happy with the outcome of the general elections, you have a good idea of who Tinubu was referring to. There was undoubtedly a question of good faith in the alliance talks. Initially, when Buhari refused to run under ACN, again for good reasons, they agreed that the CPC would provide the presidential candidate while the ACN would provide the running mate. CPC was the first to ratify their presidential candidate and instead of ACN respecting their agreement, they went ahead and produced a presidential candidate. From that point on, the alliance was as good as dead. Again, Tinubu coming out to insist on being the running mate to Buhari, according to CPC sources, makes it clear that the party wasn’t serious about a workable alliance in the first place.
Why was Tinubu insisting on such an unpromising ticket?
One of the revelations that came out in the run up to the April 2011 presidential elections in Nigeria was the allegation the former governor of Sokoto state, Attahiru Bafarawa levelled against Tinubu, accusing the latter of being a PDP agent whose brief was to frustrate any alliance with Buhari’s CPC. But Tinubu was the first to make the allegation that there were PDP agents planted to frustrate the alliance, whereupon Bafarawa told him he might have to look in the mirror to recognize one such agent! Was Tinubu’s insistence on being Buhari’s running mate part of the plan to frustrate the alliance talks? That insistence was like telling Buhari: damn if you do, damn if you don’t. If Buhari accepts Tinubu as a running mate, the ticket would be doomed from the beginning, if he doesn’t, Tinubu would blame him for being intransigent. In both cases, Buhari would be the loser. But who really loses when there’s no good governance in Nigeria, is it Buhari or hapless Nigerians? For instance, in a space of one month the president has gone from constituting a mediocre cabinet to the nonsensical tenure elongation gambit to the declaration that petroleum subsidies are a ‘drain’ on the economy to the announcement that Nigeria will soon be importing fuel from the Republic of Niger! It’s not Buhari that loses at such manifest mediocre governance but the suffering masses of Nigerians.
There’s a pattern here: each time Buhari comes out to contest, the PDP sends their agents after him, possibly making one of those agents his running mate. They failed in 2003 because his running mate, Chuba Okadigbo, stood firmly with him, but that cost him his life as he was ‘teargassed’ to death during a rally to drum up support for their electoral petition. Chuba was an asthmatic and the teargas he inhaled from the PDP goons, some of whom appeared to be police officers, triggered a fatal asthmatic attack. With Chuba gone, Buhari’s case at the tribunal suffered a big blow. In 2007 both his running mate and his party abandoned him and went into an alliance with the PDP. That game was again attempted in 2011. Since they couldn’t plant someone close enough, his running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare, was smart enough to understand that those same agents were trying to trick him into signing a post-dated letter of resignation. In other words, they wanted to blackmail him in advance and, through that, weaken Buhari once again. Currently there is a serious effort to divide the ranks of the CPC by creating ‘factions’ in the party.
Tinubu v ACN
Tinubu’s declaration that Jonathan won the presidential election is not only commenting on a case that is sub judice but also diametrically opposed to what his party said immediately after the election. The ACN, as widely reported in the press, said the presidential poll was ‘most systematically rigged.’ According to Lai Mohammed, national publicity secretary of the party, "What the PDP did last Saturday was simple: They colluded with security agents and INEC officials to cook figures which have now turned out to be their undoing, because the cooking was not intelligently carried out." (Thisday, 22 April 2011)
Mohammed continued: “A few examples will suffice: In the South-south and South-east, where President Jonathan is believed to have strong support, the average turnout was 67% each of registered voters, compared to 32% for the South-west where he is believed to have a strong opposition. In the North-west and North-east, which is considered a bastion of opposition in the north, the average turnout of registered voters was 54%.
“And whereas high voter turnout was recorded in states perceived to be sympathetic to President Jonathan in the different geopolitical zones (Bayelsa in South-south 85%, Imo in South-east 84%, and Plateau in North-central (62%), the opposite was the case for areas where the opposition was believed to be strong. Even in Katsina, Buhari’s hometown, the turnout was a paltry 52%! Ditto for Kano (53%); Sokoto (40%) and Zamfara (51%).
“It is also instructive that even though Edo State is in the South-south, the turnout was only 37%, apparently since the state was not believed – by the figure cooks – to be sympathetic to President Jonathan, being controlled by the ACN. The turnout figures for the South-west are also revealing: Lagos (31.8%); Ogun (28%); Osun (39%) and Oyo (33%). Also, while the margin of victory for the PDP in the South-south is 98% and for the South-east 98.9%, the highest margin of victory for the CPC in the North-west, where Buhari comes from, is 55.8%.”
No one can successfully refute facts with an argument, no matter how clever the argument. What the ACN is saying in its allegation is that those figures are too good to be true. The fact that both INEC and PDP are refusing to allow an inspection of the electoral materials that gave such a victory speaks volumes.
However, from the benefit of hindsight, we can reasonably conclude that by coming out with such credible accusation of rigging, ACN was publicly telling the PDP that their ‘agreement’ was just for the presidential election and does not include state elections, that if they repeat the rigging in the state elections, they will be glad to meet them at both the presidential and state elections tribunals. The PDP got the message and the ACN has been quiet ever since.
But what the party said is on record and it flies in the face of what Tinubu said in his Chatham House lecture.
If anybody or any party would know the PDP’s ways of rigging, that would be Tinubu and his ACN (formerly AC, formerly AD). So, it’s puzzling that while his party (which is inseparable from him) told the world that the PDP rigged the presidential election all over the country, Tinubu had to go to London to contradict his own party!
Was Tinubu used by the PDP/NPN to once again keep their nemesis out of power?

By Uchenna Osigwe