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)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Election Tribunal Sacks Adamawa State Governor

The drama in the April elections continues apace. The Adamawa State Election Petition Tribunal in its ruling moments ago has nullified the election of Governor Murtala Nyako on the ground that Ibrahim Bapetel, Action Congress' gubernatorial candidate's name was unlawfully removed in the April 14 election eve by EFCC on trumped-up indictment for fraud. The ruling states fresh election must be held "within 90 days."

However, Nyako is expected to appeal the ruling.

News Desk Thursday, November 15, 2007

Corruption Charges: Group Drags Obasanjo To EFCC

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo's name re-echoed yesterday on the streets of Lagos as youths marched in their hundreds and thousands protesting what they described as eight years of dictatorial and corrupt regime of a "civilian czar" which should call for immediate probe. Their first port of call was the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC in Lagos. MORE>>>

I Am Not In Any Battle Of Supremacy –– IBB

Former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida has refuted insinuation that he is in a supremacy battle with former president Olusegun Obasanjo over who becomes the national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). MORE>>>

FG takes over NICON, Nigeria Reinsurance Plc

The lingering imbroglio that beset the insurance sub-sector since the recapitalisation of the industry has now been rested with the Federal Government dissolving and taking over the boards and managements of NICON Insurance Plc and Nigeria Reinsurance Plc. MORE>>>

Gulf of Guinea: Nigeria, US Collaborate over Oil Theft

The Federal Government is collaborating with the United States Government and some European countries in a bid to forestall crude oil theft in the Gulf of Guinea.
The collaboration would be under the aegis of the Gulf of Guinea Energy Security Strategy (GGESS). MORE>>>

Cameroun retaliates - Kills 10 Nigerians

THE Camerounian government said on Wednesday that its soldiers killed 10 suspected Nigerian gunmen in a retaliatory attack after they killed 21 soldiers in the oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula. MORE>>>

Senatorial candidate arrested over forgery

THE person identified by the Court of Appeal, Abuja, as the lawful candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Ondo South Senatorial District in the April 14 election, Chief Olusola Oke, was reportedly arrested on Tuesday by the police for allegedly forging the signature of the party’s national chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali. MORE>>>

‘We ’ll deliver 2nd Niger bridge in 36 months’

Mr. Domenico Gitto, Managing Director of Gitto Construzioni Generali Nig. Limited, the Italian firm handling the construction of the Second Niger Bridge in Onitsha, assured yesterday that the bridge which has a 36 month completion time would be delivered on schedule. MORE>>>

Foreign reserves hit $49bn – CBN

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo said yesterday in Abuja that the nation’s foreign reserves had hit $49 billion. Soludo also said that the aggregate credit lending to the private sector of the Nigerian economy had tripled from N1.2 trillion in 2004 to N4 trillion as at the end of October, 2007. MORE>>>

We’re ready to probe Obasanjo – EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Wednesday, said that it would investigate allegations of corrupt enrichment against former President Olusegun Obasanjo. MORE>>>

Araraume Concludes Submission At Tribunal

Governorship candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Imo State in the last election, Ifeanyi Araraume, on Wednesday concluded the submission of documents in the petition he filed at the Election Petitions Tribunal against the declaration of Governor Ikedi Ohakim by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as governor. MORE>>>

IN GLOBAL NEWS

Pakistan opposition begins to unite against Musharraf (BOSTON GLOBE)

Iraqis Wasting An Opportunity, U.S. Officers Say (WASHINGTON POST)

Musharraf 'will quit army soon' (BBC)

Working in a Warzone (The Guardian Weekly)

LAPD's Muslim mapping plan killed (Los Angeles Times)

African Crucible: Cast as Witches, Then Cast Out (New York Times)

Zionist official was first to hear of Final Solution (Jerusalem Post)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

News Desk Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Obasanjo, IBB Battle for the Soul of PDP

The cold relationship between former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and immediate past president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, may have shifted to the National Convention of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as both appear set for a fierce battle. The convention, which has been shifted from December 8, 2007 to January 5, next year, as a result of a procedural error, has seen the party divided into Obasanjo and Babangida camps with each supporting different candidates for the office of the national chairman of the party. MORE>>>

Yar’Adua Blocks Buhari’s Witnesses

For the second time, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has frustrated the efforts made by General Muhammadu Buhari to get his witnesses a platform to give a situation report on the inspection of documents and materials used for the April 21 presidential polls. Counsel to the president yesterday opposed fiercely an application made by Buhari’s lawyer, Chief Mike Ahamba (SAN), before the presidential election tribunal seeking to bring five witnesses to adopt the depositions they tendered before the court. MORE>>>

London court hears Ibori’s asset case today

A three-man panel of the Court of Appeal Criminal Division will today in London hear former Governor James Ibori’s money laundering case. The panel, scheduled to begin sitting at 10:30 a.m., will be led by Justice William Gage and assisted by Justice Dame Staal and Ms. Justice Cox. MORE>>>

Court discharges Judith Asuni, others

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Monday discharged Judith Asuni, an American woman, charged with felony and espionage against Nigeria. A Nigerian, Saidu Danjuma and two German journalists, Florian Orpitz and Andy Lehman, who were charged alongside her, were also discharged. MORE>>>

Adedibu: AC, Balarabe slam Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday came under strong criticism for describing a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Oyo State, Chief Lamidi Adedibu, as ”the only father of the PDP.” Obasanjo, during his visit to the politician in Ibadan on Sunday, was quoted as saying that Adedibu, as the father of the PDP, could not be looked down on. MORE>>>

IMF ready to cancel Liberia debt

The International Monetary Fund is ready to start cancelling Liberia's debt to the agency after securing sufficient funding for the process. The IMF says donor nations have pledged $842m (£407m) which will start the process once the pledges are honoured. MORE>>>

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nigeria Discuss Early Deployment of Hybrid to Sudan

ABUJA (AFP) — US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Nigeria's Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe on Monday discussed the importance of a rapid deployment of the United Nations-African Union hybrid force to Sudan's troubled Darfur region. "I think there is work to be done in Darfur. It's very important that a heavy support package should be deployed as soon as possible and then followed by the UN-AU hybrid force," Negroponte told reporters after the talks in Abuja. MORE>>>

AL QAEDA IN NIGERIA

Nigeria arrests alleged Al Qaeda operatives

The U.S. embassy warned in September that Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer, was at risk of "terrorist attack", and Osama bin Laden once named the country as ripe for jihad, but Nigeria has yet to see any major attack in the style of al Qaeda. Nigerian police and the secretive (State Security Service) have made sporadic arrests of suspected jihadists for some years and trials have been launched, but there has been no conviction and no conclusive evidence of al Qaeda's presence in Nigeria has been made public. MORE>>>

The Vanishing Nigerian Dailies and Quality News Reporting

The decline and the quality of fine journalism within the Nigerian press continues to amaze me. I have been wondering what happened to the Vanguard Group of Newspapers and its eloquent staff writers and columnists for nearly one week now that the paper has gone offline. The paper has shown no sign of coming back and my guess would be that, somehow, a management staff had forgotten to pay the bills, or maybe the owner(s) may have given up the idea of online publication to reduce cost. I think I really miss reading from the Vanguard, and perhaps that's why I'm perturbed for the fact that I am popping up this very topic twice in just two days. I must be feeling it--the urge to read from a daily I have been hooked up to for a while now.

The past couple of days, I have engaged in a series of discussion on why the Vanguard continues to disappear on the web and why the Guardian Newspapers continues to be offline and off the streets for a strike that could have been avoided if the management took its business seriously. According to the statement by Guardian, which was issued on November 6, 2007, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the National Union of Printing, Publishing and Paper Products Workers (NUPPPPROW) withdrew its services to the company on the ground of not reaching a deal even though the Guardian group came half way to the two unions demand. The Guardian statement reads:

The Management of Guardian Newspapers Limited wishes to inform members of the public that our newspapers have been off the streets and online, following an industrial action called by our workers.

The two unions in our company - Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), and the National Union of Printing, Publishing and Paper Products Workers (NUPPPPROW) - withdrew their services on Tuesday, November 6, 2007. Their grouse was that our company would not commit to award a 50 per cent raise on their gross pay. Mindful of the prevailing economic situation in the country in general, and the media industry in particular, we offered a more realistic pay increase to the workers. We also held several meetings with the unions, with a view to reaching an agreement on the issue. But the unions rejected our offer outright and stuck to their demand.

We thank our readers and advertisers both in print and online, and the general public for their understanding, and ask that they bear with us over the prevailing situation.


Nowadays that the two major newspapers are offline, I rely on other newslinks and I'm not quite sure if I'm getting the real deal when it comes to quality news reporting. I have tried to avoid all the tabloids, notably the Daily Sun and other sensationalized newslinks that have no clue the importance of keeping up with news in today's journalistic world. The Port Harcourt-based Tide has its news done for four or five days in a week, then remains the same until it pops up the next couple of days with fresh news stories. The Tide Could care less about damage report. It vanishes whenever it feels like and pops up anytime it deems necessary. I'm quite sure not too many read online from this tabloid. I wonder how they are able to stay in business with fierce competition out there. Nevertheless, it hasn't stopped me from doing the news on my blog-related News Desk which is part of keeping up and updating readers who visit and comb my blog.

The Port Harcourt Telegraph is another big joke. Its Garden City and Riverine-related news could be ten days old and nobody cares. Maybe, some oil baron should buy it out, though some of its lousy journalist who have been overstating its circulation may land on their feet and the paper could rejuvenate for fine newspaper reporting, changing the paper's content. In the newspaper business, it takes quality journalism work to thrive, like the Guardian has done over the years. With the Guardian on strike, its quality journalism work is definitely over. Now after a week and no news, who is going to be interested when there are many other news sources that can produce the same quality work the Guardian had been giving us all these years?

From a brief survey that I conducted regarding the Guardian, almost 85 percent of the readers I surveyed were satisfied with the Guardian and its quality work. That number fell dramatically as of yesterday when I carried out the same survey. Guardian just lost it and perhaps that's how it goes in the newspaper business.

The Punch, Daily Champion,, This Day, Daily Trust and Daily Independent tastes the same save for the Nigerian Tribune which is ngbati-ngabti , noise-making in nature as it has been since Obafemi Awolowo set its tone in the 50s for the interest of Egbe Omo Oduduwa, descendants of Oduduwa. By the way, the Daily Independent was gone for a while and it's now back. It has lost its base and Guardian is likely to fall within that category from an avoidable strike nobody wants to reach a deal.

Who knows? The newly Abuja-based Leadership Nigeria Newspaper whose motto states "For God And Country" may take over from the Guardian in quality news reporting. I doubt it. We'll see!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

News Desk Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nigeria’s military might a hoax

The self acclaimed su periority of Nigeria’s military in Africa has been described as a hoax by a university don and military strategist, Dr Osisioma Bazil Chinedu Nwolise. Dr. Nwolise, of the Political Science Department, University of Ibadan, in an exclusive interview with Sunday Tribune in Ibadan at the weekend, claimed that Nigeria cannot stand up to countries like France in a serious war for two months without capitulating. MORE>>>

Five ex-governors to return N50bn

Five former governors may have given the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission undertakings to return more than N50bn looted public funds within the next two weeks.A top source in the EFCC told our correspondent that they risked arraignment before the courts if they reneged on the mutual agreement or failed to honour it within the stipulated period. It was learnt that the mutual agreement informed the decision of the commission to put on hold its plan to commence the prosecution of two of the former governors last week. MORE>>>

MASSOB: Tension Over Uwazuruike’ Life

The crisis within the ranks of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) has heightened, with fears that majority of those occupying Freedom House, the official residence of its founder and leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, were hired to do him in. The MASSOB leader and founder, who arrived Imo State on Tuesday, is said to be studying the situation at his residence in Okwe against the backdrop of information he got while in detention and since his bail two weeks ago. MORE>>>

NUT Tackles Imo Govt Over Sacked Teachers

Imo State government and the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) are on collision course over the estimated 3,500 teachers under the Secondary Education Management Board (SEMB) axed by a government White Paper, which the present administration is bent on implementing. According to the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Chuma Nnaji, the affected teachers are to leave the state’s secondary education system, following an audit report which had been released by the government of Ikedi Ohakim. MORE>>>

PDP: Ali Hands Over to Convention C’ttee Dec 8

With the shift in the date of the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to Jan 5, 2008, the National Working Commit-tee (NWC) headed by Dr. Ahmadu Ali, may hand over to the National Convention Committee to be set up in the next two weeks. The Ali's NWC tenure expires on December 8 after the 60 days notice of resignation it filed on September 8. MORE>>>

CBN To Enact Law Prohibiting Foreigners From Acquiring Local B

In its efforts to secure a firm, sound and sustainable banking sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN is to enact a law prohibiting foreigners from taking over local banks in Nigeria before the end of the year. The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo, who stated this during a workshop in Enugu however said the policy does not stop them from participating in banking activities in Nigeria. MORE>>>

AEPB Thugs, Ex-police Officer Manhandle Publisher

In what appeared to be its continued show of notoriety, thugs of the Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) at the weekend beat up Mr. Inyang Edet, the publisher of National Dictative, on the orders of a former police officer, (Rt) ASP Titus Supro. According to an eye witness, the AEPB staff had arrested a newspaper vendor, and taken him to their office at Area 3. The vendor put a call to his colleagues who then stormed the AEPB office in company of Edet. MORE>>>

Tension as Gov Obi battles Awka elite

Lingering face-off between Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State and prominent indigenous union in Awka, the state capital, worsened yesterday, as the governor alleged that the union was planning to carry out another mayhem in the state. Consequently, the police disrupted a scheduled meeting of all the branches of his perceived dread-Awka Development Union (ADU)-thereby throwing panic into the capital city. MORE>>>

Georgian Leader Says Emergency Rule to Last as Needed

TBILISI, Georgia, Nov. 10 — Anticipating demands from a senior American diplomat that he immediately lift a state of emergency, President Mikheil Saakashvili said Saturday that the emergency decree would remain in effect as long as the Georgian government deemed it necessary. MORE>>>

Oil Price Rise Causes Global Shift in Wealth

High oil prices are fueling one of the biggest transfers of wealth in history. Oil consumers are paying $4 billion to $5 billion more for crude oil every day than they did just five years ago, pumping more than $2 trillion into the coffers of oil companies and oil-producing nations this year alone. The consequences are evident in minds and mortar: anger at Chinese motor-fuel pumps and inflated confidence in the Kremlin; new weapons in Chad and new petrochemical plants in Saudi Arabia; no-driving campaigns in South Korea and bigger sales for Toyota hybrid cars; a fiscal burden in Senegal and a bonanza in Brazil. In Burma, recent demonstrations were triggered by a government decision to raise fuel prices. MORE>>>

Ghana to UK: the new trail of misery

With the trial of two British girls accused of smuggling drugs set to resume this week, Dan McDougall in Prampram reveals how cartels move their cocaine to Europe by exploiting the vulnerable and the poor. THE condoms are smeared in margarine or local vegetable oil, 'to help them slip down', says Kawko, holding out the white grains of pure cocaine in his scarred palm. Behind him, on the palm-tree fringed beach of Prampram village, dozens of colourfully painted longboats make land; the bulky wooden vessels heaved and roped out of the roaring West Atlantic by slender teenage boys. MORE>>>

The Slums and Nigeria Oil Money

No question, the entrapment called Nigeria is well known in the oil business it is one of world's biggest supplier of oil. That image of oil has set up a tone that Nigeria is a very rich country bubbling with life potrayed by the haves even though when one takes a close look at the changing phases and events of the common man, bogus businessmen and government officials to see how oil has controlled and doomed the country in its entirety, the country is nothing but a jungle despite its oil wealth.

With all that oil, the nation seems to be undeveloping and moving backward by the day with the above picture of Njemanze Waterfront in Port Harcout, the hub of the nation's oil well taken by Candace Feit of New York Times. In President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua's presentation of the 2008 budget he projected a total revenue of N1.96 trillion in which eighty percent of that will come from crude oil sales with a "presumed exchange rate of N117 to the US $1."



So, Mr President, how about the slums in the neck of the hood where oil is produced? What are you going to do about it? Would there be another Fela Anikulapo Kuti to tell it in your face that corruption has eaten the entire nation it is now baked in every Nigerian gene? Apparently, the oil boom is not ending anytime soon since war here and there has catapulted oil sales, once again to the top.

Nevertheless, the poisonous substance called oil has created all sorts of characters in Nigeria which is disturbing and bizarre. Nobody wants to get anything done but to engage in mysterious underground economy, using oil as a tool that fuels bitter conflicts often seen in the Niger-Delta crisis whic indeed has destroyed any hope of ordinary development. The above picture speaks for itself.

Strikes and the Disappearing Nigerian Daily Newspapers.

Stanley Macebuh, the media guru in newspaper business, started it all. He had helped erect The Post Express, the first daily newspaper to go online in Nigeria. He was the pioneer managing director and editor-in-chief of Post Express before calling it quits to pave way for a younger generation to take over. It didn't take long, Post Express was offline before anyone knew it. Many have come and gone.

Daily Sun, the tabloid, has not been consistent with its online publishing ever since it surfaced in the Second Republic on Orji Kalu's bankroll. Daily Independent plays a cat and mouse game not caring about the people that pays to keep it afloat. It pops up online whenever it feels like and I'm sure by now the hits to the site has gone down the drain.

Probably, the blame should go to web-journalism since it couldn't challenge newspapers on the streets where it's really practical. The Post Express is a perfect example. When Post Express launched its first online version in 1998, it appeared to signal a whole new trend in journalism. However, it turned out to be expensive and paying the dues wasn't easy. Newswatch equally did the same trying a paid subscription model but lost more readers because most readers weren't willing to pay since they could get the same news source elsewhere, free of charge.

The past four days or so, in my routine early morning News Desk publication, I noticed one or two things. In particular, The Vanguard Group of Newspapers have disappeared online without a trace or explanation whatsoever. Visiting the site, it reads "This is the Plesk default page. If you see this page it means: 1) hosting for this domain is not configured or 2) there's no such domain registered in Plesk."

I have been wondering what would amount to an authentic paper in Nigerian standard of web-journalism vanish online just like that. I hope the owner(s) of this unique newspapers that assembled some fine journalist would do something to avoid losing its archive in terms of making references. I have enjoyed reading the Vanguard for quite sometime now.

The Guardian, the best managed paper, in my own humble opinion, is being shut down as I write. Its employees have embarked on a strike the past four days or so, indicating "the management of Guardian Newspapers Limited wishes to inform members of the public that our newspapers have been off the streets and online, following an industrial action called by our workers."

What these guys are demanding is just a pay raise or some kind of benefits. Would that amount to taking a newspaper of Guardian's magnitude off the streets and online? Why not go to the table and negotiate to stay in business? Assuming that Guardian declines to the demands of its employees, my guess is that Guardian will instantly lose its value. The irony is a paper begun well by Macebuh goes offline after all these years of fine journalism.

Friday, November 09, 2007

News Desk Friday, November 9, 2007

LAPD to build data on Muslim areas

An extensive mapping program launched by the LAPD's anti-terrorism bureau to identify Muslim enclaves across the city sparked outrage Thursday from some Islamic groups and civil libertarians, who denounced the effort as an exercise in racial and religious profiling. MORE>>>

Police ring Bhutto home in crackdown

LAHORE, Pakistan — Security forces placed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto under virtual house arrest early today as a crackdown on President Pervez Musharraf's opponents continued, a day after he bowed to enormous political pressure and pledged to hold parliamentary elections by mid-February. MORE>>>

Gangs Terrorize Nigeria’s Vital Oil Region

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria — Rosemary Douglas has no connection to the oil business that pumps more than two million barrels of crude a day from beneath the swampy Niger Delta. But the violence surrounding it pierced her home in September anyway, when a bullet shattered her upper left arm as she napped with her 2-year-old daughter. MORE>>>

On Campaign Bus, Obama Opens Up About Challengers

CHARITON, Iowa, Nov. 8 -- Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) took on his two principal rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday, arguing that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) cannot appeal to independents and Republicans as effectively as he can and asserting that former senator John Edwards's populist message does not square with his record. MORE>>>

Nigeria sues over child smokers

Nigeria's government says it has begun legal action against three leading international cigarette companies. It is demanding more than $40bn in compensation over their alleged role in promoting underage smoking. MORE>>>

Senegal: Journalist Arrested for Allegedly Offending President

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on the government of Senegal to put an end to the "oppression" of journalists after the arrest of an editor this morning. This is the fourth arrest of a reporter or editor in the last month for allegedly offending the President or endangering national security. MORE>>>

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Search For Ozo & The Rest.

I had called Mike Egi, compiler of Flashback 1 & 2 a couple of days ago to see if he made it back from his trip to Naija on an expedition to dig out master tapes of 70s local ensembles that kept body and soul one. Mike had told me his journey was very "disappointing" and somehow was not worth the trip.

He trooped to Pound Road, Aba, and according to him the road was so bad it took more than two hours to drive through a couple of miles. He had gone there to look for original albums of the Wings, The Apostles, Action and many other old-school jams of the day. We talked for nearly two hours on the phone and it was quite engaging. I had written a piece in the past about these old school jams and that's how we hooked up. Mike lives in St. Paul.

For a while now, I have been searching for some of these rare LPs. I have digged every archive but could only be that lucky. Some are there, some not. Mike also noted how bad in shape these 70s musicians were when he ran into them. Drummer Ben Alaka was so bad in shape and could not remember the songs he made in his heydays playing gigs at Lido, in Warri.

I had asked Mike if he was able to find the group Ozo whose 70s "Listen to the Buddha" album was a smash hit. "No where to be found," according to him. Ozo was a group founded by Igbo born Keni Saint George who later went solo and produced Asaba. Just browsing, I stumbled into this rare track here, and in shock I clicked on the album version of the track "Anambra" which echoed taking me aback to the groovy days all compositions and arrangements were original. Not even the all-flavor vintage Paris DJs founded by Djouls and Grant Phabao has it in stock. I give it to them, though. Those kids are doing a hell of a job remixing and digitally waxing all African vintage songs they can lay their hands on.

The album "Listen to the Budhha" was produced by Keni St. George and Vernon Cummings and recorded at DJM Records in 1976. Tracklisting: 1) Listen to the Budhha, 2)You Better Run, 3) Kites, 4) Anambra, 5) Love Me Tomorrow, 6) Who Shot Him Down, 7) Times-A-Changing, 8) Love is Gone, 9) Realms.

Mike's Flashback 3 will be out soon and I hope this time around, the track "Anambra" and "Listen to the Budha" will be included. Listen to the music. There's a message in it.

Hey, Mike, don't forget the liner notes and biographical info.

News Desk Thursday, November 8, 2007

FG Revokes Yar’Adua, Ex-Govs’ Land in FCT

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday revoked titles of plots of land belonging to President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, former governors of Kaduna, Zamfara and Plateau states, Mohammed Makarfi, Ahmed Yerima, and Joshua Dariye respectively and other prominent Nigerians. MORE>>>


French Court Jails Etete

A French court yesterday sentenced in absentia former Minister of Petroleum, Dan Etete, to three years in prison and a fine of 300,000 euros ($440,000 ) for money laundering. The Paris criminal court also issued an arrest warrant for Etete, who served as Petroleum Minister under Late General Sani Abacha from 1995 to 1998, and is currently living in Britain. MORE>>>

A-G Stops Asuni's Trial Over Espionage

The Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Michael Kaase Andoakaa (SAN) yesterday ordered the immediate stoppage of the on-going trial of an American cum Nigerian woman, Judith Asuni. Asuni is standing trial before a Federal high court, Abuja for conspiracy and espionage. MORE>>>

N70b Textile Fund - Obasanjo Issued Dud Cheque

The much celebrated N70 billion textile fund, which was initiated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo as an emergency fund to rescue the ailing industry, has become a big fraud. MORE>>>

PDP, Kupolokun, Obaseki may appear in US court - Over N750m bribery allegation - FG to probe top officials

TOP functionaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Group Managing Directors of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr. Gaius Obaseki and Mr. Funso Kupolokun, may be subpoenaed as possible accomplices in a $6 million (N750 million) bribery allegation. MORE>>>

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

News Desk Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I Don't Trust Yar'Adua - Uwazuruike

Leader of MASSOB who just regained temporary freedom from detention, Ralph Nwazuruike, has said he has no confidence in the genuine intention of the Yar'Adua-led administration to resolve the lopsidedness of the Nigerian nation. He made the remark yesterday at a reception organized for him at the residence of Otunba Gani Adams. "If he is serious, why did he release Dokubo and left me? It is maginalisation and insentivity," he alleged. He promised that the struggle for emancipation will continue. arlier, Otunba Adams said only a sovereign national conference can resolved the national question.

Bail Conditions Scandalous - Kutigi

The Chief Justice of Nigeria yesterday took a swipe at judges in the country over what he described as scandalous bail conditions, just as he said the idea of judges granting bail to accused persons and setting down strenuous bail conditions was quite outlandish. Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi also expressed dismay over the incessant interference of some state governments with the judicial arm of government by depriving it of the required funds for recurrent and capital expenditure even as some state governors refuse to appoint the next most senior judge in the hierarchy of state High Court. This, he said, is not only "an affront to the 1999 Constitution, but also inimical to administration of justice and the rule of law, which this administration, since inception, has guarded."

UK Admits Pressure from Nigeria to Try Corrupt Officials

The United Kingdom has admitted that its decision to go after corrupt Nigerian public officers who use its country as a safe haven to launder stolen wealth was at the prompting of the Nigerian government. Talking with THISDAY in Washington, D.C., former leader of the House of Lords in the UK, Baroness Valerie Amos, said the British government had to make legislations following pressure mounted by Nigeria and concerns expressed about money laundering through financial institutions in the UK.

I will quit as president if ... - Yar’Adua

IF the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal voids the election of President Umaru Yar’Adua in the April general election, the president may not appeal against the ruling going by feelers on Monday. It was gathered that the president, during his visit to New York, United States, in October, met with top government officials, led by the Secretary of State, Ms. Condoleezza Rice, and told them that he might not appeal if his election were nullified. The presidential election petition tribunal, sitting in Abuja, is currently hearing two petitions against the election of the president.

Espionage: Judith Asuni still in SSS custody

TWO weeks after a Federal High Court in Abuja granted her and her Nigerian employee, Danjuma Saidu, bail, Niger Delta activist, Dr Judith Asuni, who is on trial for alleged espionage, is yet to leave the custody of the State Security Service (SSS). They are said to be finding it difficult to satisfy some of the stringent bail conditions listed by the court. Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court had granted the two of them bail on conditions which included N10 million surety each.

I’ll return to jail in January – Uwazuruike

Leader of the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, has promised to return to prison on expiration of the three months bail granted him two weeks ago. According to him, "on January 28, 2008, I will return to prison. That is what the law said and I will not hesitate to comply."
He spoke during a visit to the corporate headquarters of The Sun Publishing Limited on Monday, saying, "I will go back to jail on the 28 January, 2008, unless something else happens." Uwazuruike lamented the death of his mother while he was being detained, adding: "The death of my mother, when it was announced, was my saddest moment in prison. There is something I hold in common with my mother. I am the only son. Before I was born, my mother had seven kids who died. So my birth was something special to her. She begged me not to die. We reached an agreement and I promised that I would not die."

Monday, November 05, 2007

Renowned Author, Cyprien Ekwensi, Dies At 86


The Guardian
From Uduma Kalu, Literary Correspondent, Enugu

DARKNESS fell again in the Nigerian literary firmament yesterday when veteran novelist, pharmacist and public commentator, Cyprian Ekwensi passed on. He was 86 years old.

The author of the popular Jaguar Nana series of novels was said to have died at the Niger Foundation in Enugu where he underwent an operation for an undisclosed ailment. It was not clear as at press time yesterday if he died during or after the operation.

Earlier this year, Ekwensi released Cash on Delivery, a collection of short stories, which turned out to be his last book. When he turned 86 last year, the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Lagos State chapter and the Committee for Relevant Arts (CORA), feted him.

Ekwensi was celebrated as the forefather of the city novel.

He is believed to be the author of the earliest published fiction on social life in the Lagos Metropolis. The accomplished novelist is remarkable for his down-to-earth style of writing and his prolific output, with over 20 novels to his credit.

One of his books, Divided We Stand, a lampoon on the Nigerian Civil War, is slated for discussion by experts in a conference on 40 years after the civil war.

"How far so far", is one of the themes for discussion at the ninth edition of the Lagos Book Fair, holding on Friday morning at the National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.

Told of the passing on of Ekwensi, poet and past president of ANA, Odia Ofeimu, was "shocked beyond words" to comment immediately.

To the newly elected Lagos State ANA chairman, Mr. Chike Ofili, it was an unnerving piece of information. He too withheld his comments till later.

News of the death broke as Nigerian authors were rounding off their yearly convention held over the weekend in Owerri, Imo State.

He was a Nigerian writer who stressed description of the locale and whose episodic style was particularly well suited to the short story.

Cyprian Odiatu Duaka Ekwensi was born at Minna in Northern Nigeria on September 26, 1921. He later lived in Onitsha in the Eastern area. He was educated at Achimota College in the Gold Coast, and at the Chelsea School of Pharmacy of London University. He lectured in pharmacy at Lagos and was employed as a pharmacist by the Nigerian Medical Corporation.

He married Eunice Anyiwo, and they had five children.

After favorable reception of his early writing, he joined the Nigerian Ministry for Information and had risen to be the director of that agency by the time of the first military coup in 1966. After the continuing disturbances in the Western and Northern regions in the summer of 1966, Ekwensi gave up his position and relocated his family to Enugu. He became chair of the Bureau for External Publicity in Biafra and an adviser to the head of state, Lt.-Col. Chukwemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu.

Ekwensi began his writing career as a pamphleteer, and this perhaps explains the episodic nature of his novels. This tendency is well illustrated by People of the City (1954), in which Ekwensi gave a vibrant portrait of life in a West African city. It was the first major novel to be published by a Nigerian. Two novellas for children appeared in 1960; both The Drummer Boy and The Passport of Mallam Ilia were exercises in blending traditional themes with undisguised romanticism.

His most widely read novel, Jagua Nana, appeared in 1961. It was a return to the locale of People of the City but boasted a much more cohesive plot centered on the character of Jagua, a courtesan who had a love for the expensive. Even her name was a corruption of the expensive English auto. Her life personalised the conflict between the old traditional and modern urban Africa. Ekwensi published a sequel in 1987 titled Jagua Nana's Daughter.

Burning Grass (1961) is basically a collection of vignettes concerning a Fulani family. Its major contribution is the insight it presents into the life of this pastoral people. Ekwensi based the novel and the characters on a real family with whom he had previously lived. Between 1961 and 1966 Ekwensi published at least one major work every year. The most important of these were the novels, Beautiful Feathers (1963) and Iska (1966), and two collections of short stories, Rainmaker (1965) and Lokotown (1966). He continued to publish beyond the 1960s, and among his later works are the novel Divided We Stand (1980), the novella Motherless Baby (1980), and The Restless City and Christmas Gold (1975), Behind the Convent Wall (1987), and Gone to Mecca (1991).

Ekwensi also published a number of works for children. Under the name C. O. D. Ekwensi, he released Ikolo the Wrestler and Other Ibo Tales (1947) and The Leopard's Claw (1950). In the 1960s, he wrote An African Night's Entertainment (1962), The Great Elephant-Bird (1965), and Trouble in Form Six (1966).

Ekwensi's later works for children include Coal Camp Boy (1971), Samankwe in the Strange Forest (1973), Samankwe and the Highway Robbers (1975), Masquerade Time! (1992), and King Forever! (1992).

In recognition of his skills as a writer, Ekwensi was awarded the Dag Hammarskjold International Prize for Literary Merit in 1969.

Ekwensi, a one-time Commissioner for Information in the old Anambra State, is survived by children and grand children.

News Desk Monday, November 5, 2007

World Bank Lists Country As 'Fragile State'

THREE years after the World Bank characterised and listed Nigeria as a fragile state, the country remains so listed in a 2007 study report alongside Burundi, Cambodia, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Kosovo (territory) and Lao PDR. MORE>>>

Africa: Continent Needs Marshall Plan - Yar'Adua

President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua yesterday in Eltville, Germany, called for a Marshall Plan for Africa along the lines of the European Recovery Programme employed by the United States of America to rebuild the nations of Europe devastated by the second World War. MORE>>>

PDP Chair: S’East Blocks Nnamani

About one month to the National Convention of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja, subterranean moves to draft former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, into the party’s chairmanship race may have run into a hitch. MORE>>>

NNPC’s Oil and Gas Assets Base Hit $56bn

With the six months deadline for the implementation of the recently approved new National Oil and Gas Policy around the corner, the value of insurable assets of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NN-PC) has been estimated at about $56 billion. MORE>>>

Obasanjo, Ali not fit for emerging PDP – Col Umar

Former Governor of old Kaduna State, Col. Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, says the bugle has sounded for the collapse of the old order in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), predicting that good people will emerge to lead the party to further the interest of democracy in the country. MORE>>>

ICPC quizzes ex-NDLEA boss - Over missing N29m, other exhibits - May declare 9 senior officials wanted

THE Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) may declare nine senior officers of the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) wanted over alleged disappearance of 168,400 euro (about N29 million) and other missing currency exhibits in their custody. MORE>>>

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Chief Ralph Uwazuruike's Bail and Igbo Leadership

On December 19, 2006, leader of the militant group, Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) Gani Adams and five others walked out free of charge from a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, strucking out the case on the ground it lacked jurisdiction. Adams, whose faction of the OPC through the course of its demand for self reliance had been backed by notable grassroot Awoists and radical eggheads in Yorubaland was released not because his case lacked jurisdiction. He was released on many grounds. The Yoruba elite was behind him, and Adams knew he had serious backing by his kith and kin.

Before Adams' unconditional release, Dr Frederick Fasheun who led another faction of OPC was released on health grounds. His release had come about on the advocate of the pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, another stronghold of Obafemi Awolowo's ideals. On the other hand, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and his followers who had been locked up on the same charges and who had lodged complaints of illhealth was denied bail to seek medical attention. The Igbo elite group did not have the guts to follow up his case for whatever reason, but like his counterparts charged for alleged same crime and released unconditionally, Uwazuruike was remanded indefinitely in jail. Sick and desperate for medical attention, he was not a free man until Justice Binta Murtala Nyako, on Friday, October 26, 2007, granted Uwazuruike bail to enable him fulfill the burial rights of his mother.

Also, the Niger Delta militant, Muhajid Asari-Dokubo, who had caused all sorts of havoc, raising arms and annihilating innocent citizens with members of his deadly gang, was granted bail through the legacy of a profound Ijaw leadership.

But Uwazuruike's detention was without Igbo leadership being tight-lipped and doing practically nothing for the release of the MASSOB leader. Upon Uwazuruike's arrest, and on November 28, 2005, the so-called "apex Igbo socio-cultural organization," Ohanaeze Nd'Igbo through its Secretary General, Chief Joe Achuzia whose war credentials had been questioned, issued a statement denouncing and disowning MASSOB saying it was not backing MASSOB for whatever purpose the non-violent group was agitating for. Achuzia in this interview with Cajetan Mmuta of the Daily Champion issued a statement saying:

Ohanaeze cannot lend support to Uwazuruike other than ask Uwazuruike and his group to recant. They can fight against Igbo marginalization if that is what they are fighting for under a different name, not actualization of sovereign state of Biafra. It is unfortunate that everytime MASSOB is mentioned, everybody looks on the Igbo as if they were the architect and activists of MASSOB. I want to make it abundantly clear that at no time did Ohanaeze or Nd'Igbo in any meeting of any kind sit down to fashion out an organization called MASSOB.

This line of policy abstaining from affairs of the Igbo nation like that of Uwazuruike and MASSOB was typical of a bunch that had no clue what was going on and what the bigot Olusegun Obasanjo who had suddenly become a stateman after his command had committed rape and pillage against the Igbos. This kind of statement obviously fired up Obasanjo's quest in determining how to handle the Igbo nation when it comes to situations like this - the slamming of Uwazuruike and his followers. But Achuzia who thought he was doing his efulefu Igbo bunch a favor in order to pacify Obasanjo, was totally wrong and missed it entirely.

It also made one fear for Igbo unity because when Afenifere and elders of the Yoruba leadership forum are asking that Adams, Fasheun and the rest OPC gang be released without charge, Achuzia and his confused efulefu bunch were busy trying to see what leftovers could reach them in Abuja. It made one fear for Igbo unity because when Adams and Fasheun had had all sorts of backing from every aspect of Yoruba leadership, neverminding the havocs caused by Adams faction of OPC, Achuzia and his inept dovish group were busy keeping funny books in disguise and on the ground they were representing the Igbo nation. It made one fear for Igbo unity because when other militant groups around the nation were fighting for what they figured was a just cause, the do-nothing World Igbo Congress was busy chasing money at Abuja on the pretence it was Igbo umbrella.

However, Uwazuruike would continue to suffer in detention without proper medical attention nearly one year after Adams, Fasheun and Asari-Dokubo had been released and their respective cases struck out for one reason or the other; struck out for lack of jurisdiction in the case of Adams and his colleagues. It took a sound Igbo political leadership of freshman Senator Ikechukwu Obiora (Nnewi Senatorial Zone), Senator Uche Chukwumereije, Eze Nd'Igbo of Abuja, Nwosu Ibe and Eze Nd'Igbo of Lagos, Christian Uchechukwu Nwachukwu whose tallied sureties were required for the MASSOB leader's bail.

Eventually, Uwazuruike got out with his trial scheduled for January 28, 2008. Good job, Obiora, Chukwumereije, Nwosu Ibe and Uchechukwu Nwachukwu. I salute your courage!

News Desk Sunday, November 4, 2007

Agency, Imo Govt Trade Blame Over Expired Rice

Director-General of the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) Mrs. Ify Umenyi, and the Commissioner of Commerce in Imo State, Chief Ben Obinali are trading blames over who is responsible to run the Imo state Consumer Protection Committee and consumer protection matters in the state. MORE>>>

Orubebe Escapes Assassination

A ministerial nominee from Delta State, representing the South-South geopolitical zone, Elder Godsday Peter-Orubebe, escaped death in the early hours of yesterday in Abuja. MORE>>>

Rimi: Yar’Adua ‘ll Defeat Buhari Again

Former Governor of Kano State, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, yesterday said President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua would defeat Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), his arch-rival in last April Presidential elections, if there is need for the two men to seek endorsement of the electorate. MORE>>>

Squandermaniac!
You sold Edo assets for peanuts, Osunbor tells


An insight has been provided into the alleged squandering of Edo State resources by the past administration of Chief Lucky Igbinedion.According to the state governor, Senator Osareime Osunbor, the Solid Mineral Plant at Igbesi, for instance, was sold off by the Igbinedion government for just N50 million. MORE>>>

Friday, November 02, 2007

'American Gangster'


Driving through Los Angeles and Hollywood, the billboards are all over with pictures of Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in a movie that opens today in all theatres. Universal Pictures withdrew in 2004 just as the movie was about to start shooting after spending nearly $30 million in pay or play deals. 'American Gangster' starring Washington as Frank Lucas, the drug lord and Crowe as Richie Roberts, the cop who tailed Lucas' rise and fall trafficking heroin from South East Asia to the shores of America has been tracked to top the weekend's box office.

News Desk Friday, November 2, 2007

Bankole succeeds Etteh

Mr Saburi Dimeji Bankole representing Abeokuta South Constituency of Ogun State emerged the ninth Speaker of the House of Representatives, yesterday, pledging to entrench transparency, accountability and zero tolerance for corruption in the House. MORE>>>

Navy Kills 7 Militants, Loses 1 Officer in Gun Battle

THE Nigerian Navy yesterday explained its version of the attack on its Warship in the Niger Delta by militants saying its personnel killed seven militants while one Naval personnel on 'lookout duty' was killed when the militants in four boats attempted to attack the ship, NNS Obula. MORE>>>

Speaker pledges robust debates, quality laws

AT exactly 1:35 p.m. yesterday, 37 year-old Dimeji Saburi Bankole (Abeokuta South) Ogun State, hit the gavel on the table of the House of Representatives Speaker, twice to announce a change of guard in the chamber. He thereafter called his colleagues to order with a pledge to unite them once more for robust debates, exciting motions and quality legislation that would put the country on the path of sustainable development. MORE>>>

Ex-Govs Move against Obasanjo

In a bid to neutralise the perceived overbearing influence of former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former governors and some power brokers within the party are moving to take control of the party machinery. MORE>>>