Tuesday, December 25, 2007

News Desk Tuesday, December 25, 2007

JTF accuses politicians of backing militants

THE Joint Task Force (JTF) otherwise known as Operation Restore Hope has identified 19 major and minor militant camps in the Niger Delta, their leaders, and arms/ammunition in their possession. MORE>>>

FG challenges court verdict ordering Okonjo-Iweala, Adeniji to refund N215m excess salary

THE Federal Government has requested the Supreme Court to annul a unanimous verdict handed down by the Court of Appeal, Abuja, five months ago, ordering two ex-ministers in the defunct President Olusegun Obasanjo government to refund, with immediate effect, a total N215million... MORE>>>

Why EFCC must probe Obasanjo, by parties.

We waited patiently for over six months, the little we observed were reactions to Wilbros scam in Texas, Metropolitan Police find in United Kingdom, Siemens scandal in Germany and Iyabo-gate in Paris; none emanated from Nigeria, whilst Mr. President is sitting on top of files of monumental corruption. MORE>>>

Govt pledges new deal for Nigerians

A COMMON thread ran through the Christmas and New Year messages of the federal and state governments yesterday: Promises of improved welfare of the citizenry and development of the land. MORE>>>

Iyabogate: Austrian Firm in Forgery Claim

New facts emerging in the controversial N3.5 billion power project contract involving Dr. Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello have indicated that the Austrian company at the centre of the transactions may have a case of forgery to answer. MORE>>>

IG orders Ribadu to proceed on 1-yr course

IG orders Ribadu to proceed on 1-yr courseTHE battle to sack the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, may have been shifted to his immediate constituency where fresh plot to ease him out of office is allegedly coming from the top hierarchy of the Nigeria Police Force. MORE>>>

Monday, December 24, 2007

Wishing All A Merry Christmas


This is how we got here,
With so many fishes in the sea
And the cold wind blowing by
The merchant ships took us away,
The rest is now history.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Last Minute Christmas Shopping @ Oshodi Market


The picture above was captured by Vanguard Group of Newspapers' cameramen at Oshodi Market on Christmas eve which is normally typical of late shoppers who gives retailers a sigh of relief and saves them from a dismal season, especially in an economy the gap between the rich and poor is widening at an alarming rate with the middle class entirely wiped out.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Week In Review Sunday, December 23, 2007

The arrest and detention of James Onanefe Ibori made headlines all across Nigeria. He had become a celebrity within the spheres of the nation's criminal justice system when operatives of the Economic and Finanacial Crimes Commission whisked him away for what the media thought was intended for questioning. The trailing of Ibori by federal agents came to a halt when he was arrested in Abuja on December 13, 2007 when EFCC nabbed him at his Abuja guest house. According to Ibori's spokesman, Tony Elumenor , he said Ibori was not moved by the events that landed him in EFCC net. Of course, he shouldn't be moved when some of his loots are still somewhere without trace and while his supporters are out there backing him is what beats me.

While we are at it, former minister in the military regime of Ibrahim Babangida, Professor Osamor collapsed and died while visting Ibori in jail. Ibori's troubles has just begun as his former personal secretary, Bimpe Pogoson and his sister Christie Ibie will be appearing "before the City of Westminister Magistrate's Court in London" on January 8, 2008, "for aiding Ibori in his alleged money laundering activities. It's about time the rule of law takes its course putting into perspective a sound democratic fabric.

The legal system seemingly is becoming independent and all pumped up. We are beginning to see trasparency and accountability unfold in the polity. After an intense "manhunt" by the EFFCC on former governor of Anambra State, Chris Ngige, coupled with legal tussles and loopholes which made the former governor evade federal agents, the erstwhile governor turned himself in to EFCC for interrogation. He was not arrested after questioning.

Now they wouldn't let Olusegun Obasanjo and his daughter go. The authourities are all over his case. First, it was the monster Obasanjo created that is after Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello on many complicated reasons ranging from impersonation to fabricated documents. What OBJ helped built may take him down with his daughter.Olusola Fabiyi and Musikilu Mojeed reports from Abuja in a statement by the EFCC on its ongoing investigation;

“The attention of the EFCC has been drawn to several media
reports on allegations of a contract misadventure said to involve Senator Iyabo
Obasanjo-Bello. “The dispute was first reported to the EFCC in July 2006 via a
petition from Rickey Tarfa & Co., acting on behalf of M. Scheneider (Nig.) Ltd.,
among whose directors was Prince Albert Awofisayo. “In the course of investigation, the parties to the dispute were invited and they made statements to the Commission. At the time, there was not a single mention of Senator Obasanjo-Bello by anyone.” The EFCC said it then concluded that the case was a case of contractual disagreement between businessmen and no crime was disclosed or unearthed. The commission, the statement added, consequently advised the disputants as to the nature of the matter and that it being civil in nature, they should settle it among themselves. The EFCC said it had the impression that the parties had heeded the commission’s advice and
sought local and international arbitration. “However, virtually the same complaint, but with a new information alleging impersonation by Senator Obasanjo-Bello has just been forwarded to the EFCC. Following the submission of the new petition to the commission, the EFCC is looking into the matter with a view to determining whether a crime that falls within its purview has been committed, in which case, the commission would take prompt action."


Well, Obasanjo created the bad cop image EFCC giving the commission too much power and now his own daughter is beginning to get the taste of her father's medicine. Ironically while Obasanjo-Bello is being drilled, her father is now under the eye of National Assembly's microscope. Ah haa!

The militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) is not giving in. It is a do or die situation. These gang of hoodlums are pissed the government has used Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and the Chief of Defense Staff, General Andrew Azazi as rubber stamps. Shola O'Neil reports from Warri:

The face-off between Ijaw militants in the Niger Delta and the Federal Government degenerated at the weekend as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) threatened to deal with Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Andrew Azazi, for allegedly being used against their kinsmen.
Although MEND said it was awaiting the return of the top government functionaries to their various homes, it did not disclose how it planned to deal with them.

"We want to vow that as Gen Andrew Azazi and Dr Goodluck Jonathan have choosen to kill and destroy their people for the Federal Government, we want to also remind them that we are closely watching their actions as we know that they will surely come back home one day!" the group said in an email statement.

Quoting from a leaked security brief prepared by the Joint Task Force (JTF) MEND accused the Federal Government of using the appointment of their kinsmen to buy time in an allegedly planned military agenda.

MEND said the document entitled "Brief for Chief of Defence Staff on Strategies to stem out militant activities Within The Joint Task Force Operation Restore Hope area of responsibility", was prepared by JTF’s Major General Lawrence Ngubane a few months ago...


With the neo-democratic fabric, Nigera appears to be fracturing along its educational programme as the Federal Government is about to "opt out" of the one laptop per child programme at the expence of the government. That one beats me and I wonder what the Minister of Education, Dr. Igwe Aja-Nwachukwu will be thinking right now. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) founded by MIT Professor Emeritus, Nicholas Negroponte with the desired mission to make laptops to children all over the world is about to be history in Nigeria.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

News Desk Saturday, December 22, 2007

EFCC To Probe Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello

BASED on fresh information the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is re-opening the investigation of the N3.5 Billion contract scam involving Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello and a foreign firm. MORE>>>

Court orders Fayose's arrest for murder * To be arraigned Jan 9

An Ekiti State High Court sitting in Ado-Ekiti yesterday issued a warrant of arrest against the former governor of Ekiti State, Mr Ayo Fayose over the murder of Mr Tunde Omojola Tunde Omojola was killed at Ifaki Ekiti on July 28, 2005 during a councillorship bye election. MORE>>>

Rivers: Ateke Tom gives FG 7-days ultimatum

The Federal Government has been given seven days to replace properties belonging to a militant, Ateke Tom which were allegedly destroyed by soldiers when they stormed his hide-outs in Okochiri recently Ateke Tom who handed down the ultimatum himself in a telephone chat with Saturday Vanguard yesterday threatened to unleash more mayhem in the state should government fail to heed his call. MORE>>>

PDP is the problem of Nigeria -IBB

Former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida has passed a damning verdict on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying the ruling party is at the root of all the problems in the polity today. MORE>>>

EFCC Restrained on Nnamani’s Assets

An Enugu State High Court yesterday restrained the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or any of its agents from taking over control of the companies and properties believed to be linked to former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani. MORE>>>

Militant group to observe Christmas Day cease-fire in Nigeria's oil region

A leading insurgent group in Nigeria's southern oil region said on Saturday it will observe a one-day cease-fire on Dec. 25 to mark Christmas. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, said in a statement sent by e-mail it will not attack oil facilities or kidnap foreign oil workers during the cease-fire period. MORE>>>

Friday, December 21, 2007

News Desk Friday, December 21, 2007

How FG, states shared N248tr Paris Club windfall

DETAILS of how the two-tranche payment totaling $2.068 billion (N248.16 trillion) was shared among the states of the federation and the Federal Government in the last two weeks were distributed are now unfolding. MORE>>>

Niger Delta militants quit peace talks with govt

ALLEGING among others an ulterior motive in the Federal Government's on-going peace talks with Niger Delta militant groups, the Joint Revolutionary Council (JRC) has announced its resolve to quit the party. MORE>>>

Militants free deputy gov’s father, seize Accountant-General’s dad

A pall of gloom has descended on the family of Bayelsa State Accountant- General, Mr. Thomas Zidafamor as unknown gunmen stormed his community, Bolou-Orua in the Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State and kidnapped his 91-year-old father, Pa Anderson Zidafamor. MORE>>>

EFCC Quizzes Ngige over N5bn ‘Security Account’

Former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chris Ngige, Tuesday joined the growing list of ex-governors facing interrogation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of corruption. MORE>>>

EFCC begins probe of Obasanjo’s daughter

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission may have been silently working on a petition brought against the daughter of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, over a controversial N3.5 billion power project contract, even before the issue was made public by the Nigerian media on Thursday. MORE>>>

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ehirim Files Classic: "The Cultural Order"

by
Ambrose Ehirim

No question, Los Angeles has emerged as a cultural model for cities all around the globe. Take a ride on Crenshaw Boulevard to Leimert Park and you will find out it has become synonymous with the African American cultural community. Hancock Park and La Brea Avenue is an identity of the Synagogues and Jewish cultural and arts centers. East Los Angeles identifies with the Chicano cultural and labor union communities. On Venice Boulevard toward Venice Beach, the samba-playing Brazilians entertain in their usual colorful and flamboyant manner. Where can I identify my own cultural order?

On April 10, 2003, I checked my messages arriving home from the stressful and bumper-to-bumper bottleneck Los Angeles streets and freeways traffic with calls from loved ones, my brother, my niece, my church pastor, my daughter's teacher, Dr. Edmund Ugorji, telemarketers, my childhood buddy Eugene Onyeji, my classmate at college Ardis Hamilton who was at All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) launching as my guest, my good friend and renowned journalist Austen Oghuma, community leaders meeting, Los Angeles African American Political Forum and many others too numerous to mention.

I played back the calls. I returned and missed some of them. Among them, the call from Dr. Ugorji of which I left a message. He returned back my call and spoke of my incommunicado, and among other things, delightedly invited me to his house for dinner, the next day. I honored his invitation and told him I would pop up at 7:30 PM, the scheduled day. After my conversations with Dr. Ugorji, I called Oghuma whose fascinating political debate takes us into the night. Debates on why Biafranigeria shouldn't break up, and debates on why I insist Biafranigeria has no business being a "one united nation." And, too, debates on why Olusegun Obasanjo should keep keeping on in leading the nation at its critical era.

However, it was the eve of Mbieri Community Association of Southern California fundraising event and launching of its first almanac that I kept up my word to pay homage to Dr. Ugorji for dinner. On my way, I stopped by Four Seasons Market run by Dozie Ozoemena to check the week's fliers-fundraising events, wake-keeping, launching, naming ceremonies, baby showers, cultural dances, graduations, weddings and the latest in local politics before my final destination of the said evening. At Four Seasons, the fliers and political junkies hung around. It was usual and typical of my expectations as the Zik ekwuo aru ahia mgbede gatherers were at work doing their thing, saying what they don't know and what they do know sometimes, the kind of "tabloid press" you see at the newsstands, and the kind of trash talks you encounter at barbershops..

It was really nothing new to see the loquacious ahia mgbede gatherers, evening market gossipers in their same old ways talking big and rubbing shoulders of what's new in town. Talks like "Nna, inugwo?" Asi na Jerry gburu ozu, oloputara brand new zero-mileage Hummer H2" (Man, have you heard it? It is said Jerry launched a brand new zero-mileage Hummer H2) was the cultural order. One even asked me "what are you driving now, Hummer?" I was not moved knowing the way ndi be anyi, our people operates which is worrisome for the fact that our values and popular culture is being wiped out ever since the "Push Factor" began, the political, economic and socio-cultural conditions that made us flee our native lands in search for a better life.

Nevertheless, in order not to spoil my evening and looking forward to a sound political and intellectual discourse with Dr. Ugorji, I took off to keep up with my appointment as initially planned. Dr. Ugorji, a linguist, and medical director of Los Angeles Department of Health Services is another political junkie. He welcomed me and offered me and seat. He asked "what kind of drink" I would like. "Water or soda will be fine, precisely lemon drink if soda," I said to him. Generous, humorous and frank, he admitted I was a rare gem based on my thought-provoking articles and confidence regarding the way I speak. It was a long debate as we talked into the night while his kids went to bed. It was the eve of the ridiculous and embarassing National Assembly elections of Olusegun Obasanjo's dubious administration. And, all in all, it was the usual Friday evening when the otimkpus, the alarmists gather to make some noise in a series of pepper soup joints around Los Angeles.

Somehow, that evening, I allowed Dr. Ugorji to do all the talking while I sipped my soda listening attentively. He spoke at length his disgust with Achike Udenwa's inept and corrupt administration in Imo State and the many wonders found in the Igbos of the Diaspora and their chieftaincy titles. He talked about the schools we left behind and its deteriorating conditions, and why nobody is doing anything about it since the missionaries and ndiocha, the white people left us alone to figure things out. He talked about secession bid for autonomy by every hamlet in Igboland and how it created a big divide in the Igbo nation. He talked about the scramblers and opportunists erecting mansions and "palaces" on dusty alleys with no street numberings. He complained, too, about the pogrom and civil war comparing the Igbos with the Jews which really caught my attention in all that he was saying.

"Igbos have nothing at all in common with the Jews," I would say. "Nothing at all, no comparison and not even close." First, despite quarrelling among themselves, greed, envy and hatred do not exist in the Jewish nation. Their pop-culture dating back from the Biblical days is still intact and viable. They know Adolph Hitler was evil and "never again" would the most blood soaked event in humankind be allowed to take place. A five year old Jewish kid, growing up learns in the Synagogue, day care centers and faiths in the Torah that "to forget is to proclaim Hitler innocent." Ask a Jewish kid who the father of the modern Jewish state is and he or she will be quick to tell you.

In contrast, the Igbos have quickly forgotten the evisceration of a pregnant woman, the widespread bloodletting, the "Asaba male death march and drowning," Benjamin Adekunle's proclamation of shooting at every moving creature in Igboland and other horrible cases of that nature, finding solace having an affair with a people who never acknowledged what they did was evil and must not be entertained. Just like the Diaspora Jewish kid who has learned about the Holocaust and the state of Israel, its migration and persecution over the years, a Diaspora Igbo kid and second generation immigrant to be exact, ask who the Igbos are or who is Francis Akanu Ibiam and you likely would hear "never heard of him." Or speak Igbo to these lost generations and you will hear "I don't get it, man!"

But ask this kid or a number of Igbo Diaspora kids who Lebron James is. One hundred percent of these kids will be quick to tell you without guessing that he is the number one ranked High School basketball sensation from Akron, Ohio. He will be recognized by all. To a point and so disturbing some Igbo intellectuals do not want their kids to speak Igbo in public. What's all these for?

Ugorji was pissed and admitted exhaustion of all options in Igbo renaissance. "Does it mean we are finished?" I would ask.

"Enyi amaghim," --my friend, I don't know, Ugorji would distressingly respond.

Of course, we are finished and being weary of pointing out that we have no "adversaries" and enemies but ourselves, we who have caused every divide within our kith and kin tailored to the desire of our enemies should be blamed for the present state of the Igbos. I left Ugorji's house with the never-ending excruciating pains I have beared all my life looking at the sorry state of the Igbo nation.

My evening was in order and I looked forward to the very big occasion about to take place the next day. Earlier, Ugorji and I discussed about the big event, Mbieri gala night. He offered me a high table for the upcoming event, and knowing the story of the dog named "Jack" I declined and promised to show up as usual, to observe and report.

On Saturday April 12, 2003, many invitations and fliers sat on my study desk, and many occasions of the cultural order were taking place the same day. There was Onicha Igbo Cultural Association fundraising event, Okwahuman Association of Southern California Special Easter Dance, Eko Club California, Nkwerre Association of Southern California, Amaigbo Cultural Association, Mbieri Community Association of Southern California Fundraising and Launching of its first almanac, South High Car Wash Crusade to raise fund for the football team and many other socio-cultural events. I checked my calendar and had marked Mbieri Community gala as my first point of call in all the cultural order.

Traditional outfit wearing doormen, beautiful looking children rehearsing at the back corner for the occasion's special dance, uniformed Mbieri women cheering on the aisle, the hippies roaming around and cocking eyes at one another, the flowing gowners showing their stuff, Veronica serving her delicious dishes and uniformed Mbieri men tending bar, it looked like one of those Brazilian carnivals and Big Easy's Madigras, populated by men and women who had been invited to the "fundraising event and launching of 1st Mbieri almanac."

I popped up late in the evening and was greeted by one of the occasion's organizers Nze Odunze Igbonagwam who had sold to me one of the event's tickets. Before my arrival, I had called Oghuma to meet me at the ballroom of Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood, California and collect a ticket I reserved for him sold to me by Dr. Ugorji. Oghuma, however, could not make it to the show due to other special engagements elsewhere in the Los Angeles area.

The evening was all showman and local celeb Solomon Egbuhuo's doing. For the last several years, the one and only MC in Igbo cultural events around the Los Angeles area has organized and mceed occasions to help various communities raise funds for worthy causes despite the widespread scandals of keeping funny books. Egbuhuo, a businessman and promoter of local music ensembles loves showbizness and the attention it gives him.

Noted deejays Ike and Jasper spinned while the folklore musical group Umunna of Los Angeles did their own thing--the Mike Ejeagha akuko na egwu, folklore kind of stuff. It was electric. It was much, much better than the spraying money in your face and high fives of the notorious Coque Brothers.

Meanwhile, I had taken up a seat in the ballroom and had gone to the menu section to help myself with what the caterer Veronica had prepared for the event. I served myself a concoction from Veronica's menu table--rice, fried plantain, anu ewu (goat meat), moi-moi, fried fish, vegetables, kpof-kpof (call it donut if you like), okporoko, (stockfish) and you name it, I had it all. I sat at a corner with a couple of hometown buddies to do justice to my concoction, my own combination. Dealing with my dish and watching what was going on, Los Angeles area renowned MC Egbuho introduced UmuIgbo USA, uniformed and tantalizingly hot to perform for the evening.

As the second generation immigrants were ushered in to perform what has been rehearsed and choreographed for months, UmuIgbo USA arrived on stage in a standing ovation after the president's opening remarks which preceded Nigeria and America national anthem, making me ponder and questioning about Igbo "national" anthem. Perhaps that was beside the point since all that mattered was Mbieri fundraising and launching of its first almanac. The sensational group walked into the ballroom across the cobbled square, through the hallway, and onto the stage. Turning to the crowd, they bowed and sang. All eyes turned on them cheering and saying a new generation has arrived the shores of America. They were marvelous, up and adequate to the occasion.

Then followed formal opening of the floor by the high table coupled with "processional" entry of Nd'Mbieri in the kind of egwu ure, recalling my memories to the days of egwu umu ada and joyous festivities when culture was still intact. After the procession and dance, Umunna of Los Angeles performed live with breaks between songs. Every attendant shimmied to the beat of the band's original folklore, "making people happy and keeping the crowd dancing." Umunna's music gave me a feel for egwu agba ochie, the real vibe in the heydays of egwu onwa, moonlight plays, folklore and highlife music, and not the ridiculous money campaign, spraying money in your face performed by the ilk of Coque Brothers and the changed Stephen Osita Osadebe.

Then again, the president's speech and "launching, launching, launching," the time for charity and kind gestures, donations and vice versa. While donations and pledges were being made, a whole lot of shaking and hugging was going on, men and women snapped pictures while happy little children ran all over the place. It was a good feel of community. It was the feel of culture made whole and not "even the sum of parts" as Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka once put it.

I can't describe how much my spirit was lifted. It looked like my boyhood days when we played the hide and seek game during conventions like this, and our parents will be sneaking out to the porch and everywhere looking for us. I left the ballroom totally satisfied that "culture is not parts, it is a whole and an entity."

"Them changes," and as it happened, I suspended my rock classic freaky behavior listening to Peter Frampton, Boston, Rolling Stones, Uriah Heep, The Allman Brothers Band, Thin Lizzy, Eagles, Aerosmith, AC/DC, The Doors, Beatles, David Bowie, Van Halen, David Lee Roth, U2, Rick Springfield, Journey, Rare Earth, Grand Funk, Pat Benatar, Triumph, Bad Company, ZZ Top, Blue Oyster Cult, Foreigner, Rod Stewart, Genesis, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Middle of the Road, Men at Work, Bob Miga's Strangers, John Cougar Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Kim Carnes, Bob Seger and dedicated the month of April and May to the music of Paulson Kalu, Celestine Ukwu, Ali Chukwuma, Prince Nico Mbarga, Ikenga Superstars, Eddie Okonta, Ofo, Ozoemena nwa Nsugbe, Harcourt White, Peacocks, Rex Lawson, the old Osadebe, and Bright Chimezie for "culture is not parts, it is a whole."

On my way home, egwu agba ochie, old school became my new cultural order as I flipped Nkengas in London CD with the masterpiece "Asampete Special" entertaining me all the way. "Culture is not parts, not even the sum of parts, it is an entity." I remembered that!

This article was exclusively published at BNW Magazine in April 2003

Nigeria in Brief Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nigeria will never seize to amaze me. Some say Naija is great while some dwell on the fact that the country is still a jungle where it is only the fittest that survives. Checking out the news of the day and looking at the picture captured by Vanguard, I wondered what must have driven James Ibori supporters to Kaduna protesting and demanding for the corrupt politician's release. The Ibori supporters should have been arrested for disturbing the peace at a courthouse where silence is normally golden. Well, that's politics, I guess. But the question here is, have these angry supporters of Ibori taken a closer look at themselves, how haggard they looked while Ibori was squandering their money? Now who is next among the two notorious bandits? Peter Odili or Lucky Igbinedion?

Anyways, I am beginning to see some changes unfold in that country. The rule of law seems to be taking shape with the judiaciary making a whole lot of sense. Ibori had been denied bail, but the point is, Ibori and his mistress Uzoamaka Okoronkwo's charges are bailable and they will be spending the Christmas and New Year in jail. The embattled ex-Governor and his mistress will know their fate on January 11, 2008, when they return to court to face Justice Mohammed Shauibu. The so-called former "intelligence Czar" seems to be chilling which pops up the question why he should be denied his medication on the ground that he stole from the state and used his powers to deny the people of Delta a proper medical care. He should be allowed to get a taste of his own medicine.

Check this out: The Guardian Newspapers reports that the administration of Umar Yar'Adua has ordered a "massive importation of fuel" to meet up with demands during the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Ain't that something? I'm not sure if the refineries are not producing enough oil but I'm quite sure something is wrong somewhere when the oil regulating agencies are not coming up to terms with reality knowing that they should be held responsible for the loopholes that enables oil pirates and bunkerers get away with billion barrels of oil per day. In another related incident, ex-governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose was also remanded in prison custody until January when he will know his fate and the charges levelled against him.

Interestingly, China and Egypt, once borrowers from International Development Association (IDA) that help poor nations fight poverty are now donors and part of a $21.1 billion aid that would make life meaningful to the poorer nations. When will the "oil-rich" Nigeria join these group of volunteers? My guess is NEVER! Maybe, until Ibrahim Babangida coughs out all the billions of dollars he stole selling oil during the Gulf War.

In the upcoming African Nations Cup to be held in Ghana, a whole lot of noise is being made about the Nigerian squad hanging in there with all desperations to capture the trophy for the first time since 1994 when the iron man, Sani Abacha was the junta of the day. Watford's Danny Shittu will be joining the Eagles squad as the Golden Eagles are not about to be taking any chances. I think Ghana has better chances with home advantage.

Well, Yar'Adua is talking. From last weekend's local council elections that was marred with irregularities, the nation's first man is no longer taking things for granted. He has summoned the 36 state governors, stakeholders and party leaders to a meeting regarding allegations of fraud in the said elections held on Saturday, December, 15, 2007.

Monday, December 17, 2007

News Desk Monday, December 17, 2007

Senate may hold public hearing on Bakassi treaty

AMIDST fresh controversy over the ceding of the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroun by the past administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, indications have emerged that the Senate may hold a public hearing on the matter. MORE>>>

Court rules on Ibori's bail bid today

JUSTICE Mohammed Lawal Shuaibu of the Federal High Court, Kaduna, will today deliver his ruling on whether former Governor of Delta State, Mr. James Ibori, should be granted bail on the 103-count charge of corruption and money laundering brought against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). MORE>>>

Yar’Adua’s men, Obasanjo fight for the soul of PDP

The growing unease in the relationship between President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and his predecessor in office, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is at the root of the uncertainty hovering over the convention of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Daily Sun can now authoritatively report. MORE>>>

IN GLOBAL NEWS:

S.Africa's ANC set to decide Mbeki's future (REUTERS)

Striking writers in talks to launch Web start-ups (LOS ANGELES TIMES)

Two Months in Pakistan (WASHINGTON POST)

Russia Ships Nuclear Fuel to Iran (THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Saudi king 'pardons rape victim' (BBC NEWS)

PDP and the Local Government Elections

With violence and voters apathy, the Peoples Democratic Party is said to have "swept" the local government elections, which, as usual, was marred by irregularities. From the Vanguard news desk, Enugu State recorded two deaths while five people in Oyo were shot and about 130 violent youths apprehended. It is becoming obvious that after 8 years of experiment in what supposedly should have guided a nation in its Fourth Republic on a series of trials in its democratic dispensation, nothing much has changed with the kind of election results that was just released. How can a single party win most, if not all, of the votes in every constituency the election was conducted?

Winning 30 local government slots in Osun State, 230 slots of 20 local government in Ogun state, 15 of 16 slots in Enugu State where two people died due to election violence and all the contested spots in Ondo State, PDP must be up to something, which means lessons are not learnt from the past 8 years of election fraud. It is a mockery of the nation's neo-democratic fabric and until electoral reforms are effected, the situations will remain the same.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

News Desk Sunday, December 16, 2007

Violence, apathy mar council poll

ELECTION and violence in the countryproved inseparable as the election into local government councils held in some states yesterday was characterized by violence.
The election which took place in some states controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was equally marred by voters apathy. MORE>>>

Ibori:Militants Threaten Fresh Attacks

THE fragile peace in the Niger Delta may be halted with the series of stern warnings yesterday by three militant groups in the restive oil-rich region. Beginning from tomorrow, the militants have vowed to resume kidnappings and disruption of oil production in the area due to the arrest and detention of former Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori. MORE>>>

EFCC: I Can Now Clear Myself, Says Ibori

Former Governor of Delta, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, has said that despite his detention by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Commission’s case against him at the Kaduna High Court, he now has the chance to cleanse his name in the court of law. MORE>>>

The case against el-Rufai - Yar’Adua, presidency take over probe - The inside details

Former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is not a stranger in the power arena in the country, just like his compatriot and successor, Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar. The duo understand power and the awesome authority it breeds. MORE>>>

Yar’Adua’s cold shoulders
OBJ begs Atiku


Just seven months out of power, former President Olusegun Obasanjo is already feeling vulnerable to the extent that he has started begging his former deputy turned implacable political foe, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, for forgiveness. MORE>>>

Bank PHB, Peugeot Introduces Easy Car Ownership

Owing to the need to provide cars for all Nigerians, Bank PHB in partnership with Peugeot Automobiles Nigeria Limited, have introduced a scheme whereby middle income earners would be owners of their own cars with ease. The scheme which was tagged, Peugeot Ownership Made Easy, allows Bank PHB to pay 80% of the cost while customers enjoy their cars at the payment of only 20% and a 5% interest as they enjoy the car. MORE>>>

Outlawed Bakassi Boys Back In Abia

The dreaded Bakassi Boys of Abia State banned in 2002 by the federal government are back in the state and are already parading, menacingly, in the streets of Umuahia, the state capital and Aba, its commercial city. MORE>>>

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Week in Review


On a sad note, the week ends with an order by Cameroonian soldiers giving Nigerians living in the Bakassi Peninsula up to today to vacate the said territory despite the original "August 28, 2008 pull-out date." Earlier in the week, President Umar Yar'Adua had written the senate asking for ratification of the Green Trees Agreement which sought the handing over of the peninsula to Cameroon. The Nigerian fishermen whose source of livelihood in the area are beginning to tell their ordeal since Nigerian soldiers left the peninsula last year. Anietie Akpan of Guardian Newspapers reports from Calabar:

"...Narrating their ordeal to The Guardian in Ibibio language in Abana, one of the fishermen, Mr Etim Udo Inyang said: "On Wednesday (December 12), some Cameroun soldiers who have occupied this place since our (Nigerian) soldiers left last year, came to us and said we must leave on or before December 15, otherwise there will be problem." "For fear of being maltreated and my fishing instrument seized from me, I have left Atabong to stay in Abana (headquarters) of Bakassi. I don't know what will happen next," Inyang added. Chairman of Bakassi Council, Chief Emmanuel Etene, confirmed the incident. He said: " Reports reaching us from our people at Ekpot Abia, that is, Atabong East in Bakassi, is that on Wednesday December 12, the Camerounian soldiers there gave Nigerians living there until December 15 (today) to leave the territory otherwise they will face the consequences..."

Interestingly, the Federal Government of Nigeria is getting serious about franchise, starting from its fire service which had been monopolized by the center since independence. According to Deji Elumoye of This Day, the federal governmend has summed up handing over the federal fire service to the states. This was made known by the Minister of Interior, retired Major General Godwin Abbe while paying a courtesy call to Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola. It's about time, I guess, and hopefully the Nigerian Police Force would follow, meaning our respective communities would be policed by the people we know, people we perhaps eat and dine with which sets the tone for a thorough democratic fabric.

Religious riots resurfaced again in the state of Bauchi where Churches and mosques were razed to the ground by religious fanatics who had complained about a mosque being built by a secondary school in Kagadama. Perhaps the 2000 Sharia riots in the North wasn't much lesson to be learnt.

The construction of Primary Health Care Centers in the nation's 774 local governments initiated by the Olusegun Obasanjo's administration was cancelled by the National Economic Council on the ground the decision was unconstitutional coupled with "irregular" deduction of money from the accounts of the local governments. Vanguard's Ben Agande writes;

"THE National Economic Council, yesterday, cancelled the contract awarded by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo for the construction of Primary Health Care Centres in the 774 local governments in the country, saying the contract was not only unconstitutional, the deduction of money from the accounts of the local governments was irregular. President Umaru Yar'Adua had set up a committee to investigate the deduction of money from the accounts of local governments in the country to fund the construction of the Primary Health Care Centres following an outcry from local and state governments that they were not consulted before the decision to deduct the money from local government accounts was made. Mathan Nigeria Limited won the contract for the construction of the primary health care centres in the 774 Local Government Areas of the country. The then Minister of Information and Communications, Mr Frank Nweke, had alleged that the leadership of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria was taken along before the contracts were awarded. But announcing the suspension of the contract in August this year, the Minister of Finance, Dr Shamsudeen Usman, explained that some illegalities had been detected in the deductions. He explained that “as at now, N18 billion has been deducted although not all of that has been paid over to the contractors. N3.7 billion deducted for July has not been remitted and that is being kept in an escrow account in the CBN."

In today's news, the tabloid, Daily Sun reports that the presidency is now panicking since the arrest of former Delta State Governor, James Onanefe Ibori on too many complicated reasons from the ex-governors days as intelligence czar. Heads about to roll or just blowing hot air?

Commander of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Alhaji Abdulahi Bayawo was yesterday arraingned at a Lagos High Court for helping drug smugglers escape. He was indicted on a six-count charge for drug related offences using his position to aid drug suspects.

The ex-governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose landed himself in Economic and Financial Crimes Commision (EFCC) net while paying a surprise visit to the commission at its Ikoyi, Lagos office. The weeping Fayose who is also facing murder charges in Ekiti State will be flown to Kaduna next week and charged for the crimes levelled against him. Sesan Olufowobi and Tony Amokeodo of The Punch reports:

Former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, on Friday broke down and wept at the Lagos office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to the bewilderment of the commission’s officials who had to urge him to calm down.According to an official of the commission, who requested that his name be withheld because he was not the spokesman, the former governor had to mop his tears with three handkerchiefs. The source said that while he shed tears, Fayose kept blaming his bosom friend, Gbenga James, for his predicament, saying he knew nothing about the fraud in the poultry contract handled by James. He also claimed that the car James bought for his mother was before the contract and not a gratification as was suggested in the media. Fayose’s conduct at the EFCC’s office contrasted sharply with his initial posture when he arrived the office at about 11 am.

The visiting Nigerian President, Yar'Adua has reversed his earlier decision and agreed to work with Africa High Command (AFRICOM) in achieving its peace initiatives on the shores of the African Continent. Security in Nigeria, the Gulf of Guinea, Education, HIV/AIDS were among other things discussed with President George Bush. "I briefed him on our current strides to change things in Nigeria and our commitment to equity, fairness, good governance, transparency and accountability," Yar'Adua told reporters.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Hype of Arrests and Corrupt Politicians in Nigeria


I am just laughing my black ass off taking a look at what the jokers have turned Nigeria into. Reading today's news, I'm still cracking up and I think it's now affecting my ribs. Today you will hear that one "vagabond in power" is arrested for stealing public funds and on the next breath the story dramatically changes, and the so-called vagabond in power is released on bail never to be charged again. Then, the media hype trails the story and when one vulnereable journalist or arranger gets paid, the whole brouhaha dies, just like that. The arrest of former governor of Delta State, James Onanefe "Odigborigbo" Ibori shouldn't be any different from the arrests of Orji Kalu, Joshua Dariye, Jolly Tevoru and the rest former rogue politicians who were bent on stealing public funds. As Ibori would be probably charged today in a Kaduna Court and probably remanded in custody or granted bail, it is most likely that a deal would be struck in his favor, as long as he's got the cash that would enable him get back on the streets. No big deal! Kalu is out there still talking with no sign of his case popping up in the courts anytime soon.

But one begins to wonder, of all the arrests and threats to arrest, no one including Mallam Ribadu's EFCC has mentioned or given the public a clue why the former governor of Imo State, Achike Udenwa, shouldn't by now be arrested for the damages and pains he caused to the people of Imo. Udenwa stole from all angles and yet he is scot-free and nobody is mentioning his name for looting the treasury of Imo State. If one should take a closer look, Ibori is a saint compared to Udenwa which makes the whole arrest thing a big joke and a mockery of Nigeria's fledgling democratic fabric. I'm not sure if the nations top cop, Ribadu, is taking a closer look judging from public opinion when he is making all these arrests and leaving out the culprits who destroyed every aspect of civil liberty.

Let's just take a look at charges levelled against public officials since the beginning of the Fourth Republic. It's too numerous to mention, but the fact of the matter is none of the subjects spent time in jail with the exception of the former police chief, Tafa Balogun.

And while Ibori's arrest is all over the news, a sitting governor in one of the North Western states is said to be under the microscope of EFCC for inflated contracts in the said state. Idowu Samuel of the Nigerian Tribune reports:

A governor from one of the North West states is said to have attracted the attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by awarding contracts running into several billions of naira without recourse to due process. The state governor, who himself had probed his predecessor for alleged corrupt enrichment, according to Nigerian Tribune investigations, is now being probed by the EFCC following tips from aggrieved members of his cabinet. A petition by some members of his government now before the anti-graft agency was said to have alleged that the governor had been using his relatives and fronts in the award of contracts. The petitioners had prayed the EFCC to investigate the governor for money laundering. They claimed that all the contracts being handled by the fronts and relations were not listed in the budget. They also claimed that the contracts did not pass through the tenders’ board, thereby violating Due Process in the award process. A top source at the EFCC confirmed that the governor was one of those being investigated.


Ending up this note, it has been confirmed that Ibori bribed EFCC officials with $15m. Imagine, and Desmond Utomwen and Adi Femi of The News reports from the High Court sitting in Kaduna:

Details of how former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, attempted to subvert justice by bribing EFCC officials with $15 million (about N1.8 billion) emerged this morning at the Federal High Court, Kaduna, where he is being tried for alleged money laundering.

Ibori and four others were this morning arraigned on a 103-count charge of money laundering and abuse of office.

The EFCC, in one of the charges, alleged that Ibori on 26 April, 2007 made a cash payment of N1.8 billion ($15m) to EFCC investigators in order to influence their investigation.

According to the EFCC, the offence is contrary to and punishable under section 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act.

The EFCC also alleged that Ibori on 31 December, 2004, collaborated with Lipopo Nigeria Limited to conceal the genuine origin of the sum of N280 million to buy Afribank shares in the names of fictitious persons.

Another charge accused him of collaborating with Kent to conceal the genuine origin of N220 million by using same to buy Afribank shares in the name of fictitious persons.

Ibori was also alleged to have transferred the sum of N5 billion from the account of the Delta State government to buy shares from Afribank with a fictitious company.

He was alleged to have also transferred N5 million to his personal account at Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) illegally from the account of the Delta State government, “and which you knew represent the proceeds of crime with the aim of concealing the nature of crime”.

Another charge against him reads: “That you, James Onanefe Ibori on 10 November 2004, transferred N1 million to your personal account at GTB which forms part of the fund from the account of the Delta State government.”

The presiding Judge, Justice Mohammed Lawal Shuaibu, refused to grant him bail based on the submission of the EFCC counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, that he might jump bail.

Jacobs buttressed his argument with the fact that Ibori had been convicted twice in England for fraud related charges and that he might abscond if granted bail.

Even though Ibori’s counsel, Daudu, pleaded with the court to grant him bail, Justice Shuaibu declined to do so and ordered that he be remanded in EFCC custody until Monday, 17 December, when the court is expected to further consider his application for bail.

Security was tight at the premises of the court as armed anti-riot policemen frisked lawyers and judicial staff moving into the premises.

Despite the tight security, some protesting youths were seen with placards commending the EFCC for a job well done.

The inscriptions on some of the placards read: “ICPC, EFCC, CCB, Well Done’; ‘No Hiding place for corrupt leaders’; ‘With leaders like Ibori, Niger Delta Doesn’t need an enemy’; ‘No To Black Market Rule of Law’, etc.

Ibori was arrested yesterday by officials of EFCC at about 11 a.m. at his Asokoro residence in Abuja and taken to the EFCC office where he is currently being interrogated.

He was said to have escaped to the Kwara State government lodge in Abuja when he discovered the presence of EFCC officials around his house.

His arrest brought to an end the cat and mouse game between him and EFCC officials who have been trying to bring him to book to answer charges bordering on alleged financial impropriety while he was governor of Delta State between May 1999 and May 2007.

The London Metropolitan Police had earlier arrested his wife, Theresa Nkoyo, while she was about to board a Virgin Atlantic flight to Lagos.

The police said her arrest was “in connection with an ongoing money laundering enquiry.”

Ibori has been the subject of money laundering investigation in the UK, where his assets, worth N5 billion, have been frozen.

The investigating team of the Metropolitan Police has made several visits to Nigeria on the matter.

Also under arrest were some of Ibori’s associates, including Adebimpe Pogoson, described as Ibori’s special assistant, who is said to control a number of companies and bank accounts in Nigeria and several other countries; Christine Ibori-Ebie, James Ibori’s sister and Udoamaka Okoronkwo Onuigbo, said to be James Ibori’s banker.

Under probe are companies and properties said to belong to Ibori, such as Haleway Properties Ltd., Gibraltar; the property at 7, Westover Hill in the UK, valued at over 4 million pounds; the property at 42, Great Ground Street, Shaftsbury also in the UK and the company called Telston Quaye Ltd., (British Virgin Island).

Among allegations levelled against him were that he paid $20 million to Bombardier Inc. of Canada, an aircraft manufacturer, for the purpose of buying a plane.

Also being investigated is a London Barclays Bank account in the name of MER Engineering.

About 2.3 million pounds in deposits were traced to the account as payments by Chevron and NNPC.


The saga continues!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

News Desk Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yar'Adua asks Senate to okay Bakassi handover

PRESIDENT Umaru Yar’Adua has written the Senate seeking ratification of the Green Trees Agreement handing over the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon. The Senate, however, wants to hold public hearing on the issue before ratifying it. MORE>>>

Appeal Court voids Public Order Act

ANOTHER milestone was yesterday recorded in Nigeria's bid to enthrone constitutional democracy and guarantee the citizens' right to congregate as the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, yesterday struck down the Public Order Act. MORE>>>

Presidential polls: INEC loses bid to stop Atiku’s petition

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday failed in its bid to get the petition of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar challenging the April 21 2007 presidential
election thrown out by the Supreme Court on the grounds of incompetence. MORE>>>

Religious Riot Breaks Out in Bauchi

Religious crisis reared its ugly head again yesterday in ancient Bauchi city as fighting broke out in Kagadama area of the metropolis following the alleged demolition of a mosque by unidentified people. MORE>>>

FG Hands Over Federal Fire Service to States

The Federal Government has concluded plans to decentralize the operations of the federal fire service stations across the country To this end, the federal fire service stations in all the 36 states of the federation are to be handed over to the respective state governments for maximum efficiency and effectiveness of the service. MORE>>>

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

News Desk Tuesday, December 11, 2007

FG cancels Obasanjo's healthcare

THE National Economic Council, yesterday, cancelled the contract awarded by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo for the construction of Primary Health Care Centres in the 774 local governments in the country, saying the contract was not only unconstitutional, the deduction of money from the accounts of the local governments was irregular. MORE>>>

Siemens scam: EFCC operatives back from Germany

Probe into the Siemens bribe-for-contract scam involving notable Nigerians is now at advanced stage as a high-powered delegation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has completed its first visit to Germany. MORE>>>

Ige, others: Soyinka demands independent probe

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has advised the Federal Government not to leave the planned reopening of all unresolved political murder cases in the country in the hands of the police alone. Instead, he said an independent commission of inquiry on whose foundation the police could build on, should be set up to investigate the cases. MORE>>>

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

News Desk Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Nnamani faces 124 fresh charges

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday slammed 124 fresh charges of fraud and money laundering against the immediate past governor of Enugu State, Dr. Chinwoke Nnamani, following the withdrawal of the 105-count charge initially filed against him. MORE>>>

I'm not afraid of EFCC— Orji Kalu

ABUJA—Former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu, yesterday, declared that he was not afraid of the Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) because he had nothing to hide and would use the judicial process to defend his name. MORE>>>

British lawyers stole N76m from Dariye, Alams’ loots - FG

BRITISH lawyers that handled the money laundering cases of former Bayelsa and Plateau State governors, Chief Diepreye Alamieyesiegha and Chief Joshua Dariye in London, tampered with the recovered monies, the Federal Government revealed on Tuesday in Abuja. MORE>>>

Yar'Adua to visit U.S. next week

Nigeria`s President Umaru Yar`Adua is expected in Washington DC next week on a four-day working visit to the US, a diplomatic source told PANA here Wednesday. President Yar'Adua will arrive 12 December for official engagements in Washington and will return to Abuja, the Nigerian capital, 15 December, the source said, without disclosing details of the visit. MORE>>>

Genoil and Aquamation Announce Commencement of Work

Genoil Inc. (TSX VENTURE: GNO)(OTCBB: GNOLF) and Aquamation, Inc. announced today that Genoil has commenced work on Aquamation's Geregu and Abeokuta Gas Metering Plants in Nigeria. Both projects are underway for the Nigerian Gas Company (a wholly owned subsidiary of Nigerian National Petroleum Company) and on behalf of Zakhem Construction - Nigeria. Aquamation and Genoil will perform these projects under the previously announced Joint Operating Agreement between the companies. MORE>>>

Oil Prices Fall To 88 A Barrel Ahead Of OPEC Meeting

New York, NY (AHN) - Oil prices fell to $88 a barrel Tuesday on mixed signals about a possible spike in output as members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are scheduled to meet this week. MORE>>>

Sunday, December 02, 2007

News Desk Sunday, December 2, 2007

No to fuel price hike — FG * vow to stick to pact with Labour

“Government had an understanding with the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) that until June 2008 there will be no upward adjustment of prices of petroleum products. Government is committed to honouring the agreement with NLC. Government has no intention to increase prices. I was just contributing to a very sensitive debate, and that is all”, he declared. MORE>>>

Theophilus Danjuma @ 70
.Mistakes I made during Biafra war


Warming up for his 70th birthday bash, former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, has sensationally revealed the most prized secret of his military adventures, even as he prepares to hand over the baton of entrepreneurship to his kids. MORE>>>

How N1b inducement split INEC

Unknown to the electorate in Nigeria, some contestants in the last April general elections, including a presidential aspirant and two governorship aspirants planned to scuttle the elections by creating crisis within the Independent National Electoral Commission with an offer of a N1 billion inducement to top officials. MORE>>>

Reps set to reconcile OBJ, Atiku, IBB, Buhari, others

The initiative as conceived would involve bringing the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, his former Deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, General Muhammadu Buhari, General Aliyu Gusau and others to a round table to iron out their areas of differences. MORE>>>

Niger Gov Blasts IBB, Abdulsalami

Niger State Governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, has said he is disappointed over the non-challant attitude of elder statesmen from the state including former military presidents, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) and General Abdulsalami Abubakar(rtd), to the feud between him and his predecessor, Alhaji Abdulkadir Kure. MORE>>>

Yar’Adua warns Army on indiscipline, missing arms

President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has warned that the Federal Government would not tolerate any acts of indiscipline by members of the armed forces. He gave the warning at the closing session of this year’s Army Training Exercise at the Nigerian Army Training Centre in Kontagora, Niger State. MORE>>>

Friday, November 30, 2007

News Desk Friday, November 30, 2007

Bakassi stays in Cameroon, says FG

IRRESPECTIVE of the objection by the Senate to the manner the Obasanjo Administration ceded the Bakasi Peninsula to the Cameroon, Nigeria will not renege on the hand-over agreement with Yaounde, Chairman of the Nigeria-Cameroun Mixed Commission, Prince Bola Ajibola, declared yesterday. MORE>>>

How Abacha Strike Force killed Kudi Abiola—Witness

THE driver of Alhaji Mohammed Abacha, Mohammed Abdul (a.k.a. Katako), yesterday at an Ikeja High Court, Lagos gave a graphic account of how he and other members of the late General Sani Abacha’s Strike Force killed Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, wife of the late Chief MKO Abiola, in 1996 in Lagos. MORE>>>

10 Militants Paraded For Threatening To Blow Up Oil Installations

The State Security Services (SSS) on Thursday in Abuja paraded 10 suspected members of the Niger Delta Youth Coalition for allegedly threatening to blow up oil installations in the Niger Delta. The suspects were said to have made the threat through a letter to President Umaru Yar'Adua. MORE>>>

Bakassi Handover Stands, Says Ajibola

The Federal Government has ruled out the possibility of revisiting the Bakassi issue, maintaining that the decision of the International Court of Justice to cede the oil-rich Peninsula to Cameroon was binding on Nigeria with or without the ratification of the National Assembly. MORE>>>

Nigeria Experiences Crime Boom

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Men carrying AK-47s leap from late-model Mercedes Benz sedans and burst into a Tex-Mex restaurant, training their weapons on tables crowded with foreign workers, greasy fajita pans, Corona beer bottles and ashtrays. MORE>>>

PDP - Ali Must Go Next Year

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has said that its National Chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, has no intention of extending his tenure till 2009, adding that he is willing and ready to go after the party's national convention. MORE>>>

IN GLOBAL NEWS:

56 Killed in Plane Crash in Turkey (WASHINGTON POST)

Cameroon gorillas returning home (BBC NEWS)

More work needed to hit UN world school goal - report (REUTERS)

Ugandan justice failing war's rape victims-Amnesty (ALERT NET)

Immigrants' children grow fluent in English, study says (LOS ANGELES TIMES)

Iraq Lacks Plan on the Return of Refugees, Military Says (THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Videos Show U.S. Hostages In Colombia (CBS NEWS)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

News Desk Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tribunal Nullifies Election Of Plateau Speaker

The Plateau State Elections Petition Tribunal yesterday delivered a landmark judgment by nullifying the election of the speaker of the state House of Assembly, Hon. Emmanuel Goar. The tribunal held that Mr. Goar was not duly elected and thereby ordered INEC to conduct fresh elections within 90 days into Pankshin-North Constituency of the House of Assembly. MORE>>>

How Kudirat’s Murder was Hatched, By Witness

The trial of former Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Ishaya Bamaiyi (rtd), continued yesterday at an Ikeja High Court, Lagos, with the former driver to Alhaji Mohammed Abacha, son of late General Sani Abacha, giving graphic details of how he and other members of late Abacha's Strike Force killed late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, wife of late Chief M.K.O. Abiola in 1996 in Lagos. MORE>>>

Yar’Adua, lawmakers head for showdown

PRESIDENT Umaru Yar’Adua and the National Assembly appear to be on a collision course over the benchmark of oil price for the 2008 budget. The President had proposed a benchmark of $53.83 per barrel while the National Assembly had raised this to between $60 and $70 per barrel based on the current price of oil in the international market. MORE>>>

Shake-up Imminent In Police

A reshuffle is expected in the police next week which may affect three Deputy Inspectors General (DIGs) and ten Commissioners (CPs). Likely to be affected are DIGs Yakubu Mohammed (from Katsina State), Abdulrahman Yusuf (Kogi), and Bukar Dikwa (Borno). They are expected to proceed on retirement leave in January 2008. MORE>>>

Tribunal Sacks Male Lawmaker After Presenting Certificate From A Girls’ School

A member of the Cross River State House of Assembly, Obo Mkpanam Bassey, has been sacked by the Governorship and House of Assembly Elections Tribunal in Calabar for certificate forgery. The Action Congress (AC) candidate, Mr. Eyo Egbai, had dragged Hon. Mkpanam who is serving a second term in the House to the Tribunal on allegation that the legislator’s secondary school certificate was forged. MORE>>>

Bakassi Revisited

THE Senate's rejection of the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula, Cross Rivers State, to Cameroun by former President Olusegun Obasanjo has returned this ever contentious issue to international attention again. The ceding was an aftermath of an International Court of Justice, ICJ, judgment of 10 October 2002. MORE>>>

Glimpsing Nigeria's digital lifeline

But in March this year, the scruffy primary became part of a remarkable experiment. It was the first in Africa to get its hands on the so-called $100 laptop, a rugged device aimed at helping children in the developing world get the most from their education. MORE>>>

Siemens apologises to Nigeria over 10m-euro bribery scandal

Lagos, Nigeria - German company Siemens has written to Nigeria's Presiden t Umaru Yar'Adua to apologise for the bribery scandal, in which the company repo r tedly funnelled 10 million euros to several Nigerian officials to facilitate con t ract deals. MORE>>>

IN GLOBAL NEWS:

Musharraf steps down as military chief (LOS ANGELES TIMES)

Somali journalists banned from covering insurgents (ALERT NET)

Senegal's Wade to mediate with Mugabe on EU summit (REUTERS)

Mideast Talks Yield Promises To Press On
Israelis, Palestinians Will Restart Peace Negotiations
(WASHINGTON POST)

After Annapolis (BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL)

Monday, November 26, 2007

News Desk Monday, November 26, 2007

Obasanjo ran Area Boy govt, says Tinubu....Calls for urgent review of revenue allocation formula

Former Lagos State Governor, Senator Bola Tinubu has called for urgent review of the revenue allocation formula and establishment of financial processes that would prevent corruption in the country. Tinubu, who was in Ibadan at a dinner hosted by the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII) at the weekend, also likened the presidency under Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to social miscreants popularly called Area boys due to its disregard for the Rule of Law. MORE>>>

ICPC begins Etteh’s, deputy’s probe - Over N628m house renovation scandal

AS investigation continues into the house renovation contracts awarded by the former leadership of the House of Representatives, the former Speaker, Olubunmi Etteh, and her erstwhile deputy, Babangida Nguroje, are to appear before the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) this week. MORE>>>

In Nigeria, the new face of global Mormonism

LAGOS, Nigeria — Outside Zion Osandu Ndukwe's one-room apartment, a naked toddler ran up and down a filthy hallway lit by a single candle. The power in the overcrowded slum was off yet again. The stench of urine from the communal bathroom overpowered the fragrance of spices in the bubbling soup a neighbor was stirring. MORE>>>

Friday, November 23, 2007

News Desk Friday, November 23, 2007

Senate right to void Bakassi handover, says Akinjide * Utomi urges caution; CPP lauds upper chamber

Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN), former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, said yesterday in Ibadan that the Senate was right in repudiating the transfer of the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroun. Akinjide said it was wrong for former President Olusegun Obasanjo to have ceded the Bakassi and other areas to Cameroun without legislative approval as required by the Constitution. MORE>>>

I’m back in PDP because AC has nothing more to offer — RIMI

Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Second Republic governor of old Kano State, chieftain of PDP and later AC has his head being asked for in a ‘platter’ during his recent re-decampment to PDP. Unsavoury remarks have been made about him on the front pages of newspapers but in this recent encounter, the former chairman of Nigeria Printing & Minting said he has no regrets about leaving AC for PDP and went further to explain why he did it. Many interpretations have been given to why you went back to the ruling PDP after leaving it for AC and campaigning with its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubabar. MORE>>>

Sahara Oil Invests $250m

The recent oil discovery is expected to accelerate economic growth in Ghana as Sahara Group of Companies, one of the largest energy sector players in Africa, says it will in the next five years open filling or fuel stations in all the 166 districts of the country. The company therefore says it is ready to commit about $260 million in investments not only in construction of filling stations but also in oil production in the country. MORE>>>

Thursday, November 22, 2007

News Desk Thursday, November 22, 2007

How Bamaiyi, Mustapha plotted to kill Osoba, Ibru, others —Sgt Rogers

SERGEANT Barnabas Jabila, otherwise known as “Sgt Rogers,” yesterday wept profusely as he returned into the witness box, six years after his first public appearance, to give testimony on some of the gory operations of the deadly “Strike Force” established by the administration of the late Gen Sani Abacha. MORE>>>

Why UK can't try Ibori, say AGF

THE Attor ney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Chief Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), ruled out yesterday, the possibility of granting the request of the United Kingdom (UK) to try the immediate past Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, in London for alleged money laundering. MORE>>>

Election Results Forged in 12 States, Says INEC

A few days after it accused the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) presidential candidate in the last April 21 election, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, of tendering forged documents to prove his petition at the tribunal, the Independent National Electoral Commi-ssion (INEC) went a step further yesterday, saying its result sheets and other documents in 12 states had been tampered with. MORE>>>

EFCC Begins Probe Of Obasanjo

Investigation may have begun on the eight-year reign of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as news emerged on Wednesday that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has opened a file on him. This is probably connected with the rolling allegations of personal enrichment, and gross abuse of office made against the octogenarian by critics, among them Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, and human rights lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi. MORE>>>

Nigeria deploys troops to Camerounian border

THE Nigerian Navy has begun to send more of its men to the sea border with Cameroun following the killing of 21 Camerounian soldiers and the retaliatory killing of 10 Nigerians by the soldiers. MORE>>>

€10m scandal: ICPC seeks more facts from Siemens

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission on Wednesday said it had sought more information from the German telecommunications giant, Siemens AG, towards building its case against the indicted Nigerians. The commission has also confirmed that some of the 13 indicted Nigerians in the scandal have made useful statements to facilitate a thorough investigation into the matter. MORE>>>

IN GLOBAL NEWS:

Court upholds Musharraf election (BBC NEWS)

U.N. nuclear watchdog agency chief keeps pressure on Iran (LOS ANGELES TIMES)

Putin Links Rivals to West (WASHINGTON POST)

Pakistan to be kicked out of Commonwealth (GUARDIAN UNLIMITED)

China Changes Its Mind About U.S. Warship (NEW YORK TIMES)

Arms seizure threat sparks panic in Darfur camp (ALERT NET)

170 countries for Sunday's World Cup draw (REUTERS AFRICA)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Congo Creates Great Ape Preserve

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) Congo is setting aside more than 11,000 square miles of rain forest to help protect the endangered bonobo, a great ape that is the most closely related to humans and is found only in this Central African country.

U.S. agencies, conservation groups and the Congolese government have come together to set aside 11,803 square miles of tropical rain forest, the U.S.-based Bonobo Conservation Initiative said in a statement issued this week.

The area amounts to just over 1 percent of vast Congo — but that means a park larger than the state of Massachusetts.

Environment Minister Didace Pembe said the area was denoted as a protected reserve last week as part of the administration’s goal of setting aside 15 percent of its forest as protected area. The Sankuru announcement increased the amount of protected land in Congo to 10 percent from 8 percent, he said.

The Sankuru Nature Reserve aims to protect a section of Africa’s largest rain forest from the commercial bushmeat trade and from deforestation by industrial logging operations in the central part of the country known as the Congo Basin.

Sally Jewell Coxe, president of the Washington-based Bonobo Conservation Initiation, said the group has been working to establish the reserve since 2005, when it started meeting with leaders in villagers that ring the area to persuade them to stop hunting the ape.

Though local lore holds that washing a baby with the ashy remains of a bonobo will make the child strong, Coxe said many area villages have committed to ending the practice.

“We have agreements with many of the local villages that are on the edges of the park, and they will be the managers and be very involved in it,” she said.

Bonobos — often lauded as the “peaceful ape” — are known for their matriarchal society in which female leaders work to avoid conflict, and their sex-loving lifestyle.

The bonobo population is believed to have declined sharply in the last 30 years, though surveys have been hard to carry out in war-ravaged central Congo. Estimates range from 60,000 to fewer than 5,000 living, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

The Sankuru reserve also contains okapi, closely related to the giraffe, that is also native to Congo, elephants and at least 10 other primate species.

Startup funding has been provided through a grant of $50,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and about $100,000 from private donors, Coxe said.

“We’re really thrilled; now comes the hard work of funding it for long term,” Coxe said.

News Desk Tuesday, November 20, 2007

EFCC made me poor – Alamieyeseigha

Former Bayelsa State governor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, has accused the Federal Government and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of impoverishing him with the confiscation of his assets and about 1.7 million pounds sterling reportedly found on him by British police in London. MORE>>>

€10m bribe: ICPC summons ex-ministers, others

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission on Monday said it had invited the former ministers and other public officials allegedly involved in the 10m euro bribe scandal by a German multi-national engineering firm, Siemens AG. MORE>>>

Council of State confirms Okiro as IG

The first Council of State meeting under President Umaru Yar’Adua took place on Monday and took far-reaching decisions that bordered on the security of the country, economic stability and the welfare of the police. It also approved the promotion of Mr. Mike Okiro to the post of substantive Inspector- General of Police. Okiro had functioned in an acting capacity for about six months. The position was effective from June 1, 2007. MORE>>>

Nigeria rejects US presence in Africa

THE Federal Government announced on Monday that it would not host the United States military's new Africa-wide military command, taking Africa’s most populous nation and a top source of American oil imports out of contention. MORE>>>

IN GLOBAL NEWS

Walkout fuels French strike woes (BBC NEWS)

New York Tightens Shelter Policies (WASHINGTON POST)

Pakistani authorities release thousands of opposition supporters (LOS ANGELES TIMES)

Baghdad Starts to Exhale as Security Improves (NEW YORK TIMES)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

News Desk Sunday, November 18, 2007

Aso Rock budgets N2.3million daily for refreshment....N1.5m for eye glasses

THE National Assembly has been allocated N65 billion out of the N2.5 trillion spending plan for 2008 proposed by President Umaru Yar‘Adua. N2.2 billion of the proposal has been earmarked for food, details of the proposal obtained by Sunday Vanguard have revealed. The Presidency including the State House has been allocated N26.9 billion in the 2008 spending plan with N1.301 billion going for feeding and refreshment in the State House. MORE>>>

Trial for loitering: American ‘wrongly deported’ to Nigeria knows fate, Wednesday

A Lagos Magistrate Court, Ebute-Metta, Lagos has fixed Wednesday for ruling in the case brought against a black American Mr. Grayson Ernest Eugene who was serving a jail term in the United States before his alleged deportation to Nigeria in error by the American government on December 12, 2006. Eugene, 44, is standing trial before Magistrate R.O. Davis on a one-count charge of “an act not warranted by law” which “causes inconvenience or damage to the public by loitering around American Embassy premises.” MORE>>>

Siemens Bribery Scandal: Suspects’ll be Prosecuted in Nigeria, Says EFCC

Siemens Bribery Scandal: SuspeThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday said it was investigating all suspects in the Siemens bribery scandal and assured that those found to be culpable would be prosecuted in Nigeria. Spokesman of the agency, Mr. Osita Nwajah, told THISDAY last night that: “We are already involved in the matter. Investigation is still on-going. All those found to be culpable will be brought to justice in Nigeria,” he added. MORE>>>

Nigerians Abroad to Remit $16b

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole yesterday told the House Committee on Foreign Affairs that it must ensure that all policies of the Federal Government are geared towards maximising the benefits of the nation’s foreign relationships in the best interest of the average Nigerian, just as he confirmed that Nigerians living abroad will remit over $16 bilion back home before the end of this year. MORE>>>

Real reasons INEC aborted PDP convention - The Iwu, OBJ connection

Indications have emerged that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may have stopped the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) not to fulfill the requirement of due process, but to assist some forces with enough time to re-strategise, with the aim of regaining the control of the party. MORE>>>

Imo AC Guber Candidate Teargassed At Tribunal

The gubernatorial candidate of the Action Congress, AC in Imo State at the April election was allegedly assaulted and tear-gassed by the police at the venue of the ongoing Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Owerri the state capital. The candidate, Hon. Uche Onyeagucha told our correspondent in an exclusive interview at his Abuja Apo Legislative Quarters, that he had gone to the Tribunal on Monday, November 13, 2007, but his car was blocked by some police officers and Special Assistants to Governor Ohakim, demanding to know his identity. MORE>>>

Why Soludo Sacked Me - Wahir Mshelia (former deputy governor, CBN)

Until she resigned her appointment on May 3, 2005, Mrs. Wahir Mshelia, 57, was the deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). After her resignation, she went into retirement, ending her voyage of 27 years in the public service. Recently, however, she opened up, alleging that she was actually hounded out of office by her boss and that he did so with the active connivance of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. In an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP Sunday, Mshelia said her former boss and incumbent governor of the nation's apex bank, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, persecuted and sacked her because he could not abide by her principled stand on issues, especially her penchant for insisting on due process. She stated that Soludo was equally angered by her stout rejection of the bank's consolidation policy, which she believed was not in the overall interest of the North. MORE>>>

Six die in electoral violence in northern Nigeria

KAN0, Nigeria, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Six people were killed and over 250 arrested in the northern Nigerian state of Kano in weekend violence linked to local government elections, the state's chief of police said on Sunday. MORE>>>

Friday, November 16, 2007

News Desk Friday, November 16, 2007

London appeal court freezes Ibori’s assets

Former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, on Thursday suffered another setback in the bid to free himself from prosecution over corruption. A London Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, in an unanimous decision, ruled that the Southwark Crown Court, which had discharged a restraint order on Ibori’s assets, erred by lifting the order. MORE>>>

Militants bomb Shell's oil pipeline in Delta

PORT-HARCOURTMILITANTS in the early hours of yesterday blew up with explosives a crude oil delivery pipeline, belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Delta State amidst fears that the execution of the multi billion dollars Escravos Gas -to –Liquid project of the American oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited, may be truncated following a fresh threat by the people of oil – rich Ugborodo community, Warri South West local government area. MORE>>>

Two police officers, two armed robbers killed in gun battle at Apapa

Police sources said a gang of about eight armed robbers were spotted somewhere around Trebbor junction, Apapa at about 11pm on Tuesday. It was gathered that men of anti-robbery squad who were scattered around Apapa and environs were put on the alert. However, sources said the gang quickly made a U-turn and headed towards Tin Can Island where another team led by the late Inspector were on a pin down point at a black spot. MORE>>>

Bakassi Killings: Nigerian Soldiers Not Involved, Azazi Insists

Chief of Defence Staff, General Andrew Azazi, insisted yesterday that Nigerian military did not attack Cameroonian soldiers in Bakassi. Also yesterday, leader of Nigerian delegation to the United Nations, Prince Bola Ajibola, reiterated that Nigerian government had no hand in the November 12, 2007 killings of the 20 Cameroonian soldiers. MORE>>>

Illegal Bunkering: Navy Arrests 260 Ships – Adekeye

Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye, yesterday said 260 ships involved in illegal bunkering have been arrested by the Nigerian Navy. Adekeye disclosed this while fielding questions from newsmen during the maiden tour of the Minister of State for Defence, Mrs Fidelia Akuabata Njeze, to Naval headquarters, to enable her interact with principal staff officers. MORE>>>

Nigeria's Niger Delta Militants Issue New Threat

In Nigeria, the militant group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said it intends to spread its agitation from the oil-rich region to other parts of Nigeria. In an email sent to journalists late Thursday, the group said it will attack major bridges and other non-oil sector-related infrastructure throughout Nigeria. MORE>>>

Militant Group Says Nigeria Military Behind Attacks of Cameroon Soldiers

One of the most potent militant groups operating in Nigeria's oil-rich delta region, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, says the Nigerian military were behind a cross-border raid that left 21 Cameroonian soldiers dead on Monday. Nigerian authorities deny the accusation. The attack took place in the Bakassi Peninsula, an oil-rich strip of territory recently ceded to Cameroon after international courts overturned neighboring Nigeria's claim to the land. Sarah Simpson has more from Lagos. MORE>>>

IN GLOBAL NEWS

U.S. deserters lose bid for Canada refugee status (BOSTON GLOBE)

China spying 'biggest US threat' (BBC NEWS)

U.S. to urge compromise in Pakistan (LOS ANGELES TIMES)

Home Run King Bonds Charged With Perjury (WASHINGTON POST)

Report Raises New Doubts on Iran Nuclear Program (NEW YORK TIMES)