Saturday, June 30, 2012

NIGERIA: Sunday Papers July 01, 2012




COMPILED BY AMBROSE EHIRIM

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE: Malian jihadist group threatens to attack Nigeria, others

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE: Why Oba of Benin didn’t receive Jonathan •The ‘gods’ stopped him - Aide •Oba of Benin met Jonathan in private - Edo PDP

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE: US has confidence in Dasuki - Ex-Attorney-General...As Boko Haram splits the North

NIGERIAN TRIBUNE: Police foil attempt to bomb bridge in Plateau

THE GUARDIAN NIGERIA: Kidnappers Renew Offensive In Abakaliki, Kill Pharmacist

THE GUARDIAN NIGERIA: Kidnapped Students Get Lawmakers’ N1m

PUNCH: ‘Why Nigerian businessmen can’t access funds in US’

PUNCH NIGERIA: Third Mainland Bridge closure: The anguish, pain begin today

PUNCH NIGERIA: Day all hell broke loose in Kaduna

NIGERIAN VANGUARD: 14 YEARS AFTER MKO’S DEATH: Abiola’s mandate had votes – Kola Abiola

THE GUARDIAN NIGERIA: Jonathan’s Stance On Asset Declaration Violates US, Nigeria Agreement

THE HIMALAYAN TIMES: Gunfire‚ explosions rock troubled Nigerian city

AFP GOOGLE WIRE: Mobile money firms seek Nigerian riches

LEADERSHIP NIGERIA: Other Cultures Lagging In Nigeria Movie Industry

LEADERSHIP NIGERIA: NAF To Commence Int’l Helicopter Training School

THIS DAY: New PIB Resolves Controversy over Fiscal Regime, Gas Pricing

LEADERSHIP NIGERIA: Anambra North Senatorial Seat: As Supreme Court Beckons

Friday, June 29, 2012

Nigeria's Kenneth Anokam Gets 12 1/2 Years In Health Care Fraud




[HOUSTON, TEXAS]—Kenneth Ibezim Anokam, 57, a naturalized United States citizen from the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been handed a 151-month federal prison term for his role in a massive health care fraud conspiracy that billed the Medicare and Medicaid programs for more than $45 million over a 2 ½ year period, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

Anokam was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, 27 counts of health care fraud and four counts of structuring to avoid reporting requirements by a Houston jury on May 27, 2011, following an almost three-week trial. Anokam was an employee and person in charge at City Nursing, where the fraud occurred. The owner of City Nursing, Umawa Oke Imo and Dr. Christina Joy Clardy, under whose Medicare and Medicaid provider numbers City Nursing billed the fraudulent claims, were also convicted at trial and sentenced to 327 and 135 months, respectively.

Joann Michelle White, an employee of City Nursing who pleaded guilty in February 2010, received a 46-month sentence. Godwin Chiedo Nzeocha, who was charged with Anokam with conspiracy to commit health care fraud, health care fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, was returned to Houston earlier this week from Nigeria to face the charges after federal agents were unable to arrest him in 2009. Nzeocha is presumed innocent until convicted through due process of law.

In arriving at Anokam’s sentence today, United States District Court Judge Melinda Harmon, who presided over the trial, considered Anokam’s role as a manager and supervisor at City Nursing, as well as the amount of fraud committed through the conspiracy. Judge Harmon sentenced Anokam to 120 months for the conspiracy conviction and each of the health care fraud convictions which will all be served concurrently.

He also received an additional 31 months for each of the structuring charges, to be served concurrent to each other but consecutive to the 120-month sentence—for a total sentence of 151 months in federal prison. Judge Harmon further ordered he pay restitution in the amount of $16,817,015.95 to Medicare and $2,230,530.95 to Medicaid, joint and several to the other convicted members of the conspiracy.

According to last year’s trial testimony, Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries were paid cash for going to City Nursing and signing undated blank treatment forms which were subsequently completed by Anokam and other City Nursing employees to reflect physical therapy treatment that was not provided. City Nursing employees who testified on behalf of the United States described how they handed out cash, usually $100-$150, given to them by Imo and Anokam to beneficiaries and “recruiters” also known as “marketers,” for coming to the clinic. Generally, beneficiaries were paid once a month when they came to City Nursing to see the doctor; however, those beneficiaries who took Medicare Explanation of Benefit statements into the office to complain about the fraudulent billing were given extra payments, sometimes $200-$300 to “settle” matters.

Anokam was one of the managers who dealt with the complaining beneficiaries with Medicare statements.

Despite billing more than $45 million for physical therapy services, the evidence at trial established there was never a single licensed or otherwise qualified physical therapist at City Nursing. One Medicare beneficiary testified that when she asked the doctor at City Nursing for physical therapy she was told the clinic did not provide that type of service and to go to her primary care physician for a referral to another clinic. Another Medicare beneficiary described the clinic as looking like an unemployment office with people just hanging out and referred to a day when he saw an employee direct a patient to make a pot of coffee.

The investigation into City Nursing was the result of the joint efforts by Special Agents of the FBI, Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigations, the Department of Health and Human Services—Office of Inspector General and investigators from the Texas Attorney general’s office—Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Julie Redlinger and Mark Donnelly prosecuted the case.

Assistant United States Attorney Kristine Rollinson assisted with forfeiture and restitution.

SOURCE: 7TH SPACE INTERACTIVE

NIGERIA: U.S. Begins $119M Embassy Annex Project In Abuja




By Emmanuel Okubenji/Daily Times/Nigeria

The U.S., on Friday, commenced the construction of its embassy annex which will accommodate three of its agencies in the Diplomatic Drive, Central Area, Abuja.

The Ambassador, Terence McCulley, at the ground breaking ceremony said that the project, which will cover 7,500 square metres, would cost 119 million dollars.

McCulley said that the building will house the US Agency for International Development, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Defence.

He also listed a five-level parking garage, a swimming pool and a marine security guard quarters as part of the project.

"Many of these team members work out of other office buildings, and must travel to the Chancery building for regular meetings," he said.

"After the completion of this annex, they won’t have to leave this property for meetings. Their trips farther afield will be simplified within a coherent support structure. This effort will also improve the conditions under which we all work."

The envoy said the initiative was a signal that the US considered Nigeria as an important partner.

"Our presence here is critical to maintaining that partnership. It is also a sign that the US is solidifying its commitment to staying engaged in Nigeria."

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru, said the timing of the project was important, given the nation’s current security challenges.

"America believes in Nigeria and its future, and takes a long term view on our relations. We will continue to work together for the success of our Bi-National Commission," Ashiru said.

The Minister of FCT, Senator Bala Mohammed, said the new construction further indicated that Abuja was a safe destination for investment and tourism.

He commended the embassy for its contribution to the city’s development.

The event was witnessed by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger and members of the diplomatic corps.

The U.S. embassy in Nigeria was moved to Abuja in 2000. It still maintains a consulate in Lagos and plans to open one in Kano soon.

"Obamacare": "High-Tech Lynched Uppity Black Man" Justice Clarence Thomas




In this photo, U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Clarence Thomas is shown during his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Oct. 11, 1991. Thomas denies the charges of sexual harassment brought against him. His wife, Virginia, sits behind him.

On the Healthcare law upheld yesterday, the ruling handed Obama a campaign-season victory in rejecting arguments that Congress went too far in approving the plan. However, Republicans quickly indicated they will try to use the decision to rally their supporters against what they call "Obamacare," arguing that the ruling characterized the penalty against people who refuse to get insurance as a tax.

In that 5-4 decision Thursday upholding Obama's Health Care Programs for the country, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with liberals to uphold the insurance mandate while Justice Clarence Thomas dissented. The question here now is, what would be Thomas' legacy as Associate Justice of SCOTUS by way of succeeding Thurgood Marshall? What were his decisions that favored the ideals replacing Marshall?

From sources according to Wikipedia, Thomas grew up in Savannah, Georgia and was educated at the College of the Holy Cross and at Yale Law School. In 1974, he was appointed an Assistant Attorney General in Missouri and subsequently practiced law there in the private sector. In 1979, he became a legislative assistant to Missouri United States Senator John Danforth and in 1981 was appointed Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan appointed Thomas Chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC); he served in that position until 1990, when President George H. W. Bush nominated him for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

On July 1, 1991, after 16 months of service as a judge, Thomas was nominated by Bush to fill Marshall's seat on the United States Supreme Court. Thomas's confirmation hearings were bitter and intensely fought, centering on an accusation that he had made unwelcome sexual comments to attorney Anita Hill, a subordinate at the Department of Education and subsequently at the EEOC. The U.S. Senate ultimately confirmed Thomas by a vote of 52–48.

Since joining the Court, Thomas has taken a textualist approach, seeking to uphold what he sees as the original meaning of the United States Constitution and statutes. He is generally viewed as among the most conservative members of the Court. Thomas has often approached federalism issues in a way that limits the power of the federal government and expands power of state and local governments. At the same time, Thomas's opinions have generally supported a strong executive branch within the federal government.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Qunincy Jones: The 1969 Antibez Jazz Festival




Jazz à Juan, better known worldwide as the Antibes Jazz Festival is one of Europe’s grand old festivals. The festival owes a lot of its magic to the location in historic Juan-les-Pins. The balmy summer atmosphere and quality jazz is heightened by spectacular sunsets across the bay. Numerous people make this an annual visit, enjoying the south of France by day and the world of jazz at night. This year July 12-25, the festival will be celebrating 52 years of blue notes. The festival consistently hosts the best of American and French jazz. Date: July 01, 1969. Location: Antibez, France. Image: Pierre Fournier.

NIGERIA: Friday Papers, June 29, 2012




Independent Online: Nigerian police post attacked

Nigerian Tribune: US vs Boko Haram: The unstated military action

Nigerian Tribune: Pastor Runs Mad While Praying For Mad Man

Nigerian Tribune: Gunmen kill PDP Chieftain, Wife, Son in Plateau

The Guardian Nigeria: Tears As Rain, Flood Thrash Lagos

Los Angeles: St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral




Inside St Sophia's Orthodox Church in L.A.'s Greek Neighborhood

Little is known of the few Greek immigrants who came to Los Angeles prior to the 1890s. The majority were single males, working on the railroads, in mines and doing other labor-intensive work. Most remained bachelors, married non-Greeks or returned to Greece.

Many of the first Greeks became railroad workers on the transcontinental railroad that united the East to the West. Others were hired as miners and suffered many hardships while working the mines of Colorado and Utah before coming to Los Angeles. Greek seamen and fishermen with limited English were hired to work in the port and at other labor-intensive jobs that employed immigrants. The Los Angeles Gas and Electric Company was the first major industry to hire immigrant Greeks to dig ditches and lay lines across the Los Angeles area. The Alexandria Hotel became an early foothold for entry-level jobs where one could learn to bus tables, polish silver or wash dishes. As the young Greeks learned English, many went on to become waiters in such distinctive spots as the Brown Derby, the Ambassador Hotel, and the famous Coconut Grove nightclub. Some took these skills and opened their own restaurants and cafes.

Another group of early Greeks worked independently as bootblacks or trade peddlers of vegetables, fruits, candies, nuts and flowers. Many sold their fruits and vegetables near Alameda Street and were called the "Greek Fleet" by the locals. Twelve-hour days, seven days a week were the norm, as they gathered small nest eggs that allowed them to expand from vegetable carts to small grocery stores. In addition, smaller pastry and flower shops multiplied. Some Greeks moved from the urban area and started farms and citrus groves in Palomar, Huntington Park, San Gabriel, and San Fernando.

Like other immigrant groups, the "padrone" system came into being when a number of early pioneers sponsored some of their fellow patriots to come to Los Angeles and later work off the cost of their transportation. It was limited to a few in the agricultural, flower and farming trades. Although only small numbers of Greeks came to Los Angeles prior to 1900, by the beginning of the First World War, it is estimated that nearly 1000 Greeks, of whom 95 percent were male, made Los Angeles their home.

By the late 1890s, there was a small cluster of Greeks living in the Boyle Heights area, along with other immigrant groups including Russians, Syrians, Armenians, and East European Jews. The first known Greek owned grocery store in the area opened in 1896. Within a few years, several hundred Greeks settled in the area.

The influx of heavy Greek immigration and settlement in Los Angeles roughly corresponds to a chaotic time in Greek history. At the turn of the century Greece was involved in two Balkan wars, an economic crisis and the First World War. This period of domestic turmoil and international warfare created severe economic hardships in Greece. In addition, the Ottoman Empire no longer exempted Greeks from military service during the Balkan Wars, which resulted in an increased number of Greeks emigrating from areas of "unredeemed Greece" in the Ottoman territories.

The period of greatest immigration to America took place between the years 1900 to 1930 when over 350,000 Greeks arrived. Over 30,000 settled in New York and Chicago. The more adventurous Greeks continued by railroad to the West. By 1930, California Census data listed 10,457 "Greek people" in the state. Of these, some 6,488 resided in Los Angeles County. Church membership, however, listed no more than 1500 during the same time period.

As the threat of war in Greece loomed, many Greek immigrants were eager to help their beloved homeland. Before the United States entered the First World War and it appeared that Greece was in need, 140 Greeks in Los Angeles, formed the "Greek American Military Company of Volunteers," bought their own uniforms and began to train. Their goal was to prepare to return to Greece if war was declared in the Balkans. This regiment trained for two hours a day after work in Elysian Park. On the weekends additional training was held. On October 26, 1912, their diligence and preparedness was recognized when they marched in the local Preparedness Parade, on Fourth and Los Angeles Streets, and were awarded the grand prize.

Some of these men returned to Greece and fought bravely in the Balkan Wars. When the United States entered World War I, over 60,000 Greek males, representing 25 percent of all Greeks in America, enlisted in the U.S. Army. That was the record for all immigrant groups. Those men were told that serving in the U.S. Army would exempt them from their Greek military obligation as well as gaining them American citizenship. After the war, a few returned to Greece only to discover that the exemption held only for men naturalized before January 15, 1914. For the vast majority, however, their much-coveted American citizenship was granted.
Source: Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Oprah Winfrey To Appear In "Keeping Up With The Kardashians"




With all that media frenzy and speculations, it has now been confirmed that Oprah Winfrey will be appearing in an upcoming episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Talks are that after Oprahs heated confrontation with Khloe Kardashianin the talk show host interview, the talk show mogul agreed to appear on the Kardashians show.

Sonny Okosuns: Ozi di from the Mountain Top




The outbreak of war had obviously slowed down pub-crawlers and nightlife in Lagos; and, with Igbo performing artists - Zeal Onyia, Rex Lawson, Celestine Ukwu, pop groups like the Attractions, Fractions and several other Igbo session men - who had fled Lagos back to the East, the entertainment industry of a highly themed vibes of Igbo casts disappeared and with constant blackouts as a result of the war, music and night life was minimized with Victor Olaiya, Bobby Benson, Roy Chicago and others of Yoruba origin who played occasionally.

READ FULL STORY FROM THE MUSIC BLOG

Monday, June 25, 2012

Nigeria: Lagos One Day Governor Meets Fashola




Ogbuefi emerged the 2012 winner of the State Secondary Schools Spelling Bee.

By Gbenro Adeoye, Daily Times

Lagos State 2012 One-Day Governor, Lilian Ogbuefi, on Monday, asked that a bus and a 250KVA generator be provided for her school.

During a visit to Governor Babatunde Fashola at the State Executive Chambers, 16-year-old Lilian said her demands would enhance learning at the State Senior Model College, Kankon, Badagry.

For winning this year's State Secondary Schools Spelling Bee competition, Lilian got the opportunity to be governor for one day, as is the tradition in Lagos.

Accompanied by some members of her cabinet, the One Day Governor commended Fashola for improving the state of education, transportation, security and road networks in the State.

She also commended the innovation that brought about the various academic competitions, adding that such programmes had impacted positively on the quality of education in the state.

“I can proudly say that Lagos public schools are the best and the students can shine any time anywhere,” she said

In his reaction, Fashola added that the resuscitation of such enhancing programmes as the Spelling Bee, had proved to be useful building blocks of character.

He said the fact that Lilian was a product of a public school showed how far state-owned schools had gone in competing with the private ones.

Fashola urged the One Day Governor to continue to develop herself, adding that many past winners of the competition had gone ahead to become outstanding students and leaders.

He said some of the past One Day Governors had graduated from the University with First Class honours and some others with Second Class honours.

Explaining the objective behind the One Day Governor concept, Fashola said it would connect young ones to governance.

He gave a commitment that the list of requirements made by the One Day Governor for her school would be worked upon.

Lilian was accompanied by her parents and other members of her cabinet which included the Deputy Governor, Ireti Ogedengbe; and Speaker of the House of Assembly, Chibueze Jonathan.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nigeria: Monday Papers, June 25, 2012




COMPILED BY AMBROSE EHIRIM

Business Day: "Nigeria is not Broke, says Jonathan"

Business Day: "Improving Nigeria’s business environment for increased investments."

Business Day: Concerns as 134m Nigerians live as tenants.

The Guardian Nigeria: PDP, ACN factions submit separate lists for Ogun council polls.

The Guardian Nigeria: Ebonyi women protest suspension of female legislator for alleged drunkenness, riding Keke NAPEP

The Guardian Nigeria: Death toll in Ghana’s explosion hits seven

BERNAMA: Euro Crisis A Threat To African Airlines

The Guardian Nigeria: NAFDAC may seek life jail for fake drugs’ dealers

The Vanguard Nigeria: Aregbesola plans to surpass Awolowo’s policy.

The Vanguard Nigeria: Security frustrates Sunday worship in Jos.

The Vanguard Nigeria: Reps ask ECOWAS to stop deportation of Nigerians from Ghana.

The Daily Sun: Attacks on Unongo, Shaahu’s homes, arson -Police.

Nigerian Tribune: Azazi/Bello ouster: Minister, presidential aides panic over imminent changes •2 cut short foreign trips; lobby for defence ministry begins.

Nigerian Tribune: Woman inserts 66 wraps of drugs in private part.

Nigerian Tribune: US designation of Boko Haram leaders: Nigeria’s sovereignty compromised.

The Punch: 700,000 Lagos houses to get new numbers.

The Punch: States evacuate ABU students, Army sends reinforcement.

The Punch: Keep off S’West, OPC warns Boko Haram.

The Punch: Far North, South lobby for defence portfolio.

South African photographer believes theft was hate crime




By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — It was a most unusual burglary. Thieves got in through the bathroom window and walked past the flat-screen TV, DVD player, expensive camera and a couple of brand-new cellphones. Instead, they took 20 external hard drives and some digital camera memory cards.

It didn't make sense to Zanele Muholi, an art photographer and activist, the victim of the April theft.

Unless …Something cold shifted inside her. Could this be another hate crime against lesbians?

The stolen hard drives, all hidden in different locations around her apartment, were the archive of five years of Muholi's extraordinary work photographing marginalized lesbians in many African countries.

"Seemingly they spent some time searching," Muholi says in a phone interview. "It seemed to be targeted. The content is a major part of my life."

Muholi, a lesbian whose work has been called "immoral" by a government minister, is convinced the theft was designed to suppress her "visual activism," as she calls it.

The 39-year-old is the only black South African artist selected to exhibit her work at the recent Documenta festival in Kassel, Germany, an exhibition featuring hundreds of international artists that is put on every five years. (The other South African chosen was prominent artist William Kentridge.)

Her work on lesbianism and womanhood confronts traditional patriarchal notions of African masculinity and is often perceived as threatening to men in the townships where her subjects live.

Muholi's five years of lost work is a unique record of the lives of black lesbians forced to live underground, in fear of being attacked for being "unnatural" or "un-African," stoned, beaten, even burned. Her photographs celebrate the love and life of black lesbians — and mourn the dead. Muholi documented the funeral of Noxolo Nogwaza, a lesbian raped and killed last year in Kwa-Thema, a township outside Johannesburg.

There's an epidemic of rapes of lesbians in South Africa, disturbingly dubbed "corrective rape," because a victim is told it is to teach her to be a "real woman." Beatings of lesbians, gays and transgender people are commonplace.

The attacks are a blight on South Africa's Constitution, a document that enshrines the right to same-sex marriage, but whose protection for people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender is opposed by African traditionalists and fundamental Christians.

Richard Lee of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, an African nongovernmental organization promoting democracy, human rights and good governance, compares the loss of Muholi's work to the theft of a Picasso in Europe.

"There should have been a huge outcry by now. Government ministers and artists and academics and journalists should be shouting from their pulpits, because a unique part of South Africa's cultural heritage was stolen…," Lee writes on the organization's blog. "No one else has taken photos like this. No one else has documented this community with so much understanding and so much force and so much beauty."

After the robbery, Muholi's state is akin to mourning.

If you ask her how she is, she responds, heavily, "It's another day." She lies awake at night, and this or that beautiful image captured during her travels around Africa spins into her head.

"There were pivotal moments that I shared with people. I can't go back to those spaces.

"I am so shocked and traumatized and hurting."

But under the grief, the knowledge that someone has been in her apartment also leaves its trace of fear, given the violent homophobia common in South Africa.

"I don't feel comfortable in my apartment. I might be in danger. You never know when your time will come." Known for her courage, Muholi almost cringes, because she feels as if that's been stolen too. "I used to be brave. Now, I'm weak and I am scared."

Muholi's work has always been intensely political and confrontational. Even the white T-shirt she sometimes wears showing two black women kissing is enough to enrage many South Africans.

She says her motive in photographing lesbians is to give faces and voices to the disempowered communities in Africa, and support victims of hate crimes.

"We have to support them, because you never know, I might be next," she says. Among the stolen images were photographs taken at the funerals of lesbians gang-raped and slain because of their sexual orientation, or who killed themselves in despair.

In 2010, South Africa's then-minister for arts and culture, Lulu Xingwana, who was supposed to speak at an exhibition featuring Muholi's work, walked out, calling the images of black lesbians embracing "immoral, offensive and going against nation-building." Xingwana has since been promoted by the overtly traditionalist president, Jacob Zuma, to minister for women, children and people with disabilities.

Since the Xingwana walkout, South Africa's artistic freedom has come under pressure from politicians more than once, with the ANC calling for a debate on the limits of artistic freedom. In recent weeks, South Africa was convulsed by its fiercest debate on artistic freedom, after a male artist depicted Zuma (a polygamist with more than 20 children) with genitals exposed in a painting called "The Spear."

Supporters have set up a campaign to replace Muholi's equipment. But even if they did manage to raise the money, it wouldn't bring back the lost photographs. And even if she could retrace her steps in the different African countries, she wouldn't find the same images.

"Even if somebody sent me back there," she says, "I would not be able to capture those moments."

Jonathan: Boko Haram wants to topple government

PM News
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday said Islamist group Boko Haram was seeking to destabilise the government and had continually changed its targets in an effort to do so.

“Terrorists all over the world have one common agenda: destabilising government,” he said during a question-and-answer session on national television before describing how the group had moved from targeting local rivals to government institutions and now churches.

Jonathan, who has come under heavy criticism in recent days over spiralling violence in the country’s north, described how the group had moved from targeting local rivals to government institutions and now churches.

He said earlier waves of attacks had not brought down the government, leading the group to target churches in Africa’s most populous nation, roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

“Attacking churches is to instigate religious crisis,” Jonathan said. “They believe that when they attack a church, Christian youths will revolt against Muslim youths. They don’t care about who dies in the process.

“If it doesn’t work, the same Boko Haram will start attacking mosques to instigate Muslim youths to attack Christians. So they change their tactics.”

Jonathan however pledged that Nigeria would halt the violence. He said the government was open to dialogue if Boko Haram figures identified themselves and made clear demands.

The television appearance, in which the president took questions from a panel of journalists before fielding phone-in questions from ordinary Nigerians, featured some of his clearest statements yet on the Boko Haram insurgency, which has killed hundreds since 2009.

Most of his public comments have been limited to assurances that the violence will soon end, and the country’s main Christian body this week in a rare move directly and harshly criticised him over his response to the insurgency.

According to him, security is a global challenge now and most parts of the world are grappling with the problem and Nigeria is not an exception.

He said his government was prepared to dialogue with members of the sect and make them useful citizens, but expressed worries that they are “faceless.”

He appealed to Nigerians who have been able to contact the sect members to help inform them that government meant well and was ready for dialogue.

Jonathan denied that government was arresting children of Boko Haram members, but said some criminals also have their wives as criminals thus justifying why the security agents sometimes had to arrest wives of Boko Haram members.

The President, who also defended his trip to Brazil, said he had to continue to work for the progress of the country even in the face of such challenges, saying other presidents have always advised him not to stop the running of government because of Boko Haram insurgency.

He added that Boko Haram cannot stop the government from running as those in government would continue to travel for the progress of the country whether they struck or not.

The President, while reacting to insinuations that he was slow with his fight against corruption, said he was happy with the current EFCC and ICPC chairmen as they have consistently proven that they are up to the task.

Emphasising his trust for the current EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde, Jonathan said he was the brain behind most of the successes recorded by Nuhu Ribadu as head of the anti-corruption agency.

He also said Lamorde investigated him as the Governor of Bayelsa State and as a result, he could vouch for him.

On the controversy surrounding his refusal to publicly declare his assets, the president said he places such issues as matters of principles, adding that he had warned his predecessor, the late Umaru Yar’Adua, not to allow the government start an issue by publishing their assets.

He said the country was dear to him and his cabinet, adding that he directed one of his Ministers, Olusegun Aganga, to contract a foreign firm to audit the NNPC, saying if he had something to hide or he wanted to protect someone, he would not do that.

He also justified his resolve to sanitise the oil sector with the appointment of Nuhu Ribadu to head a committee in the sector.

He absolved the presidency of any role in the sting operation that nailed Farouk Lawan in the alleged bribery case, adding that it was the journalists who broke the news of Farouk Lawan’s alleged involvement in the scam.

He said Nigerians have now taken to criticising him for every single thing that happens in the country.

He pleaded with Nigerians to give the administration some time, adding that this was the reason the government is encouraging the private sector to invest in electricity.

He said though there is high unemployment in the country, there is hope since the economy is growing. “We are happy the economy is growing and we would do our best to ensure that it grows.”

He said his government was planning to employ over 70,000 in its short term plan to reduce unemployment adding that his government believed in the growing of entrepreneurs.

On whether he will contest in 2015, he said it was too early to start talking about 2015 when had just spent one year in office.

President Jonathan said his relationship with the National Assembly was cordial, adding that he had no issues with being invited by the National Assembly.

He said he wished he could address the nation more often on the floor of the National Assembly as is the case in other countries.

On the Unilag name change, he said what he did was right, being the visitor to the university, adding that some people are fanatical about names.

He also decried the large scale crude oil theft going on the Niger Delta and vowed that it would be stopped.

Additional reports by Eromosele Ebhomele

Nigeria says it needs new anti-terrorism tactics


(Reuters) - Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said on Sunday he sacked his defence minister and national security adviser last week because the government needed new anti-terrorism tactics.

Militant Islamist sect Boko Haram has been fighting an insurgency against Jonathan's government since he entered office over a year ago. Several military crackdowns and a state of emergency have failed to stem the violence.

The presidency issued a statement on Friday saying Jonathan's two top security chiefs had been dismissed but did not give a reason why.

"We think some new persons have to come in to change tactics in our fight against terrorism.... It's not that they were not working but just that we need to change tactics," Jonathan said in a meeting with reporters aired on state television on Sunday.

Boko Haram, which is based in the remote northeast, has rapidly overtaken militants in the oil-producing southern Niger Delta as the country's biggest security threat.

Niger Delta militants gave up arms in return for training and stipends in a 2009 amnesty but brief efforts to hold a dialogue with Boko Haram earlier this year failed.

"Boko Haram has no face and government will not dialogue with a faceless people. They must come out and tell us why they are doing what they are doing," said Jonathan.

Gun and bomb attacks blamed on Boko Haram have killed hundreds since the movement started its uprising more than two years ago.

It is fighting to carve out an Islamic state in Nigeria - a country nearly evenly split between Muslims and Christians. Attacks on churches have intensified this month, sparking deadly religious violence in northern Kaduna state.

(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Ralph Gowling)

Sect member dies, prison break frees 40 in Nigeria


By Haruna Umar and Bashir Adigun, Associated Press

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — A top radical Islamist sect member blamed for a deadly Christmas Day church bombing in Nigeria has been killed by security forces, says the sect, which demonstrated in a prison break Sunday that his death has not affected its ability to keep fighting.

A statement attributed to the Boko Haram sect and obtained Sunday by The Associated Press said the group is happy about Habibu Bama's "martyrdom."

Bama, a former soldier, died after sustaining injuries from a gun battle between security forces and the sect in the northeastern city of Damaturu earlier this week, Nigeria's State Security Service said.

The battle occurred from Monday to Tuesday as authorities fought back against the sect that struck six churches, five primary schools, a police station and a police outpost, authorities said.

Bama had been declared wanted in connection with the Dec. 25 bombing of St. Theresa Catholic Church in the town of Madalla, just outside of the capital, Abuja, killing at least 44 people.

Officials also believe he was involved in a federal police headquarters bombing last June and the United Nations headquarters suicide car bombing in Abuja last August that killed 25 people.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for all three attacks last year. It is also held responsible for more than 620 deaths this year alone, according to an AP count.

The Nigerian government has failed to corral the growing sectarian violence, leading President Goodluck Jonathan Friday to fire the West African nation's security adviser and defense minister.

Security forces in Damaturu were still reeling from days of sustained sect attacks when Boko Haram raided a police station early Sunday, freeing 40 suspected sect members, said Yobe State Commissioner of police Patrick Egbuniwe.

He said one inmate was killed in the ensuing gun battle, and a prison warden was wounded.

The sect has launched several prison breaks in the past.

A prison break in the central Nigerian town of Koton-Karifi in Kogi state freed 119 inmates in February. It mirrored a massive prison break in the northeastern city of Bauchi in September 2010 when Boko Haram freed about 700 inmates.

Nigeria's prisons remain overcrowded and understaffed, with the majority of those imprisoned waiting for years for trials that likely will never come. A 2007 study by Amnesty International called the system "appalling," with children remaining locked up with their parents and guards routinely bribed by inmates. Despite pledges by the government to reform the system, it remains largely the same today.

Associated Press writer Bashir Adigun contributed to this report from Abuja, Nigeria

Retired Horace Mann Teacher Admits to Sex With Students




By Jenny Anderson, New York Times

Tek Young Lin was revered at the Horace Mann School. He was different from other teachers — a Buddhist who carefully tended to his elaborate gardens, a chaplain and a cross-country coach. He was so beloved that the English department chairmanship was named in his honor.

But there was something else about Mr. Lin: a focus he placed on certain students, a fascination that some said looked like infatuation.

Last week, in an interview, Mr. Lin, now 88, acknowledged that there was something to those whispers. He said he had had sex with students, “maybe three, I don’t know,” crossing boundaries he said were not so clear years ago.

“In those days, it was very spontaneous and casual, and it did not seem really wrong,” he said.

A New York Times Magazine article this month that exposed sexual abuse at Horace Mann, a preparatory school in the Bronx, has spurred thousands of alumni to express their feelings online and a number of victims to reach out to one another. Two law enforcement agencies have opened Horace Mann abuse hot lines. The school has pledged to “work together to understand what may have happened and why,” and last week, after accusations against Mr. Lin began to surface in online postings, Horace Mann removed his name from the English department chairmanship.

The teachers named in the magazine article, which recounted abuse that occurred 20 or more years ago, are all dead. But since its publication, some graduates of the school have made accusations against former teachers who are still alive, including Mr. Lin.

Because of New York’s statutes of limitations, it is unlikely that Mr. Lin could be prosecuted or sued for any actions that occurred when he was at Horace Mann; he retired voluntarily in 1986.

The Times has interviewed three former students who described inappropriate contact by Mr. Lin. One said he refused Mr. Lin’s request for sex; another said there had been physical contact, but no sex. One, who said he was 14 or 15 when the inappropriate contact began, said that Mr. Lin had sexual contact with him several times over several months, and that they had had a relationship that lasted years.

Mr. Lin, who lives near Santa Cruz, Calif., said no coercion had been used. “The only thing I can assure you of was that everything I did was in warmth and affection and not a power play,” he said. “I may have crossed societal boundaries. If I did, I am sorry.”

Thomas M. Kelly, the head of school, declined to comment directly on Mr. Lin’s statements, but a spokesman for the school’s public relations firm said: “If what Mr. Lin has told The New York Times is true, the conduct in which he says he engaged was appalling. We urge him to cooperate with law enforcement authorities.” Mr. Lin said no authorities had contacted him.

In the phone interview, which lasted about a half-hour, he cited his fading memory and his advanced age. He recalled facts like the names of four of his five headmasters and provided details about one particular encounter, most of which were confirmed by the student involved.

Mr. Lin was articulate in the interview, sometimes philosophical and a bit puzzled by the resurfacing of the past. “I’m surprised they remember,” he said, referring to the students. “It was all so casual and warm.”

The era had not yet come when a teacher would be viewed automatically with suspicion for inviting a student to his home. Sexual scandals in institutions like the Roman Catholic Church and Pennsylvania State University were still decades away. Mr. Lin himself said he had acted “occasionally out of impulse,” adding, “In those days, the ’60s and ’70s, things were different.”

All three students cited Mr. Lin as a positive influence in their lives, even today, and seemed reluctant to speak, not wanting to hurt the reputation of a man who had opened their eyes to philosophy and literature, and whose strict grammar rules they remembered today.

Mr. Lin, whose Web site says he was born in the East Indies, came to the United States as a teenager in 1941, enlisted in the Army and served in the Office of Strategic Services, a precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency. According to Michael Lacopo, the final headmaster under which Mr. Lin served, he was working at Macy’s after the war and responded to an advertisement for Horace Mann.

Small and delicate, he was known for his passion for grammar, for the cherry trees he planted all over the Horace Mann campus, in Riverdale, and for his classroom in Tillinghast Hall, which overflowed with plants and palm trees.

His Zen-like presence in a notoriously non-Zen-like environment offered students a unique outlook on the world. Long after Mr. Lin retired, some alumni started a Facebook page, “Fans of Tek Young Lin,” and many kept in touch with him.

Mr. Lacopo said he was shocked by Mr. Lin’s admissions. “He was one of the hardest-working, gentlest men, from my perspective, who was on the staff,” he said.

One of the three students expressed mixed feelings about Mr. Lin’s admission. He said Mr. Lin was right to acknowledge the relationships — but to not know it was wrong? “Delusional might not be the right word,” said the man, grappling with feelings of disappointment and anger. “But to not have the awareness that there’s a built-in power dynamic with a teacher and student?”

He said that he was 17 when Mr. Lin asked him to sleep over, and that his parents did not view it as strange.

The two slept on mats on the floor in their underwear. Mr. Lin asked to give him a massage. The teacher straddled his back and rubbed against him. The next morning, Mr. Lin caressed him. “It was like it was another person,” the man said. But nothing more happened, he said.

He said he never spoke to Mr. Lin again, and soon started to see a therapist.

None of the students who accused Mr. Lin of inappropriate contact said they had told the school, and Mr. Lin said administrators did not know. “Oh no, it was very discreet,” he said. “It seemed O.K. in those days.”

Mr. Lin remembered one particular encounter with a student. “He was a violinist,” he said. “When he came to dinner, he played Schubert’s ‘Serenade,’ and we talked about that early movie ‘Four Daughters.’ ”

Mr. Lin said he did not touch that student, an account the man says is true. Mr. Lin wanted to have sex, but the student said he refused. He did not recall the movie, and said the “Serenade” he had played was Haydn’s, not Schubert’s.

“There was nothing malicious in what he was doing to me,” he said. “He probably fell in love with me and he confused sexual desire with his ability to think rationally as a teacher.” He said he felt what had happened to others was much worse.

While at Horace Mann, Mr. Lin lived in Yonkers and had pictures of former Horace Mann students hanging on his walls, said a former student, who was 14 or 15 when Mr. Lin initiated sexual contact with him. He called these boys his “pillars.”

The man said that Mr. Lin used phrases like “I just want to cuddle” and that Mr. Lin would not do anything he did not want him to do.

“Did Tek behave in a way that was inappropriate? Absolutely,” he said. “Was he warm, was it a wonderful relationship? He opened up areas of philosophy to me. Yes.”

He recalled Mr. Lin’s tears when one of his weeping cherries was trimmed. “He was a very sensitive man,” he said.

During the interview last week, Mr. Lin said he was now traveling the country to try to reunite with the nine surviving members of his World War II battalion.

Reflecting on his age, he said: “You can’t see the shore of youth and you only see the shore of death, the shore you are going to. I have a healthy outlook to dying.”

He said he now understood that he might have crossed a line.

“At the time it seemed it happened and it was done, but apparently it wasn’t, and if I had in any way harmed them, hurt them, I am truly, truly sorry,” he said. “I hope if they have been hurt, they will overcome that hurt, and I should be very happy to help in any way I can.”

William Glaberson and Ariel Kaminer contributed reporting.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Los Angeles: 1928 'S Type Mercedes Benz'




This unrestored S Type Mercedes from 1928 is expected to sell for more than £1.5million at auction. Capable of more than 100mph, the 'S' was first seen at the Nurburgring in 1927, where it won in the 5-Litre class and recorded the fastest time of the day at the hands of ace driver Rudy Carraciola. The supercharged S Type Mercedes, that has had just one owner, will be sold this autumn. According to auction house Bonhams, the 'lost' car is one of the greatest and most important motor car finds of the last decade and will be offered at Bonhams Goodwood Revival sale on Saturday 15th September 2012. The legendary 'Kompressor' (Supercharger in German) Mercedes' 'S' series of the 1920s - with its distinctive scream - reestablished Mercedes' reputation for building fast, luxurious and high quality motorcars. Ferdinand Porsche designed the supercharged 6.8-litre engine which was set in a low-slung chassis frame and adorned with the now iconic Mercedes 'V' radiator grille. Pictured: S Type Mercedes from 1928. Image: Splash.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Rick Olson Group Jazz Party




In one of the summer jams and concert series all around the Southland, The Rick Olson Quartet, premier jazz group in Los Angeles performs at the Julian Dixon Community Center of the Baldwin Hills Branch, Los Angeles City Public Library. Thursday June 21, 2012 as part of rehearsals and jam sessions for upcoming summer gigs in Los Angeles. The quartet entertained guests with Monk, Davis, Gillespie, Morgan classics. (L-R): David Weaver (Guitar), Max Acosts-Rubio (Drums), Michael Saucier (Bass) and Rick Olson (Keyboards). A community gathering and the groups CD Release. It was an evening of volunteer and collaboration for the community.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

NIGERIA: Boko Haram Members Debut On U.S. Terrorist List

BY AMBROSE EHIRIM


The Boko Haram Terrorist Group. Image: TVC


The U.S. State Department has, for the first time, included members of the Nigerian sect Boko Haram as "Specially Designated Global Terrorists":

The Department of State designated Abubakar Shekau, Abubakar Adam Kambar, and Khalid al-Barnawi as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224. Shekau is the most visible leader of the Nigeria-based militant group Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, commonly referred to as Boko Haram. Khalid al-Barnawi and Abubakar Adam Kambar have ties to Boko Haram and have close links to al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

The designation under E.O. 13224 blocks all of Shekau’s, Kambar’s and al-Barnawi’s property interests subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with or for the benefit of these individuals. These designations demonstrate the United States’ resolve in diminishing the capacity of Boko Haram to execute violent attacks. The Department of State took these actions in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Treasury.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility today for attacks that have left 40 people dead in Northeast Nigeria this week. More than 640 people have been killed in attacks by the group this year.

Interestingly the State Department has not yet taken the more sweeping step of labeling the group as a whole a "Foreign Terrorist Organization". According to Reuters, this reflects a desire "not to elevate the group's profile."

That makes some sense, though Boko Haram would certainly seem to be a more active threat than such largely-defunct groups as the Tamil Tigers, Aum Shinrikyo or Sendero Luminoso.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sectarian violence kills more in Nigeria's Kaduna

By Garba Mohammed and Mike Oboh
(Reuters) - Deadly violence between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria's Kaduna flared again on Wednesday, adding to the more than 90 deaths in sectarian clashes in the northern city so far this week.

Religiously mixed Kaduna, near the volatile "Middle Belt", where Nigeria's mostly Christian south and largely Muslim north meet, was the scene of a triple church bombing on Sunday that sparked days of revenge killings.

Dispelling earlier hopes that the violence had eased, locals said Christian youths attacked homes in a Muslim area of Kaduna and police shot dead some of the mob.

Resident Rabo Haladu, who spoke to Reuters by telephone, said he saw bodies lying on the ground and the National Emergency Management Agency said there were unconfirmed reports that dozens of people had been killed.

At least 92 people were killed in the tit-for-tat attacks between Muslims and Christians in Kaduna in the last three days, sparked by suicide bombings of three churches on Sunday that killed 19 people and were blamed on Islamist sect Boko Haram.

The group says it is fighting to reinstate an ancient Islamic caliphate in the north of Africa's top oil producer that would impose strict sharia or Islamic law. The insurgents have killed hundreds since launching an uprising in 2009.

The violence has heightened sectarian tensions in Africa's most populous country, which is evenly split between Christians and Muslims, who mostly live peacefully side by side.

President Goodluck Jonathan was criticized by parliament for travelling to a U.N. summit in Brazil instead of staying to deal with the unrest. The lower house voted on Tuesday to summon him for an explanation.

Information Minister Labaran Maku defended Jonathan's decision, telling Reuters on Wednesday the president could "take decisions from anywhere in the world."

"OVERCOME THE MONSTER"

Chief of Defense Staff Olusheyin Petirin and Police Inspector General Muhammad Abubakar travelled to Kaduna to appeal for an end to the sectarian tensions.

"We understand your unique location which makes Kaduna a mini Nigeria," Petirin said. "This is a serious challenge for which all of us must come together and overcome the monster."

Pope Benedict repeated his concerns about sectarian killings, calling for an end to "terrorist attacks" against Christians and warning against reprisals.

Hundreds of kilometers (miles) from Kaduna, Boko Haram insurgents waged gun battles with security forces in the remote northeastern city of Damaturu, near the radical sect's heartland, throughout Tuesday, police chief for the surrounding Yobe state Patrick Egbuniwe told Reuters.

He said 40 people were killed - 34 insurgents and six security personnel.

Police chief Egbuniwe said Damaturu, which has frequently been a focal point for the insurgency since late last year, was calm on Wednesday and that seven suspects had been arrested.

Local Red Cross official Awwal Sani said his organization was in Kaduna helping collect bodies and treat the wounded, following riots in which Muslim youths fired AK-47 rifles, burned tires and destroyed a church on Tuesday.

Boko Haram mostly targets security forces or authority figures but in the past year has turned its sites on Christian worshippers, attacking churches in an apparent attempt to stoke a wider sectarian conflict.

It claimed responsibility for church attacks on the first two Sundays of this month.

(Additional reporting by Camillus Eboh and Felix Onuah in Abuja; Writing by Tim Cocks and Joe Brock; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

NIGERIA: Shareholders battle Dangote



By Chidi Okoye, Daily Times
The Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN) has resolved to resist the resumption of billionaire businessman, Aliko Dangote, as President of the Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

Sunny Nwosu, the ISAN President, said on Wednesday that the court judgment which reinstated Dangote was just one of the cases the association instituted against him; adding that another suit was pending.

Although Dangote promised to meet with relevant stakeholders upon his resumption at the NSE on Wednesday, Nwosu said that it could only be possible if he had the certified true copy of the judgment.

Nwosu also added that the ISAN would challenge the latest ruling at the Supreme Court.

Dangote’s initial election in 2009 was nullified in March 2010 by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos; following an application brought before the court by some shareholders of African Petroleum Plc (now Forte Oil Plc), who alleged manipulations and insider infractions against Dangote, Nova Finance and Securities Limited and NSE.

As a result of the crisis that followed these allegations, the former director general of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, was removed by the SEC.

Dangote, voted by Forbes Magazine as the richest man in the African continent, is estimated to worth $11.2 billion.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Nigeria: U.S.$3 Million Bribery Scandal - Constituents Move to Recall Farouk Lawan




Embattled member of the House of Representatives Hon. Farouk Lawan is facing a fresh battle from his constituents over his alleged involvement in the $3 million bribery scandal rocking the House: some of his constituents are plotting to initiate his recall from the House.

The lawmaker was released on bail yesterday after two days of incarceration by the Nigeria Police Force over his involvement in the bribery scandal.

However, investigations by LEADERSHIP SUNDAY in the lawmaker's constituency of Shanono/Bagwai federal constituency of Kano State showed that some of his constituents had already commenced the compilation of signatures for onward transmission to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the representative's recall.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY investigations also revealed why the leadership of the House of Representatives 'sacrificed' the embattled lawmaker during their emergency session on Friday.

Hon. Lawan was removed as the chairman of the ad-hoc committee on the petroleum subsidy and chairman, House Committee on Education.

It was learnt that the leadership of the House took that decision because Hon. Lawan failed to confide in them nor did he carry the members of his committee along all through his transactions in the alleged scandal.

"Hon. Lawan did not carry any of his colleagues along in what transpired. We cannot vouch for him. We are not even sure whether he is with us or with the executive arm of government. Let him sort himself out. The credibility of the whole House cannot be called into question because of the alleged act of one member," a source in the House said.

This is even as politicians in the opposition Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP)are taking full advantage of Lawan's travails and are seeking signatories from his Shanono/Bagwai federal constituency for a petition to begin the process of his recall.

Some of the politicians who spoke with our correspondent in Kano said that Farouk's action has portrayed Kano State in bad light, even though it has been one of the leading progressive states that has been advancing the cause of the common man in the area of politics for a very long time.

A former House of Representatives aspirant of the Congress for Progressive Change [CPC] for Fagge constituency in the last general election, Shuaibu Abubakar Fagge, condemned the action of the lawmaker and hailed the action of the legislators that suspended him from the chairmanship of the committee, saying that what the House did was "in order, proper and followed the due process of the law".

Abubakar, however, subscribed to the commencement of recall process of the lawmaker to allow easy flow of investigation into the matter since, according to him, Farouk's action has exposed how PDP has been thriving on illegality and giving democracy a bad name.

"Farouk should be recalled, then prosecuted in order to face the consequence of his action," Abubakar said.

He called for a thorough probe into the bribery scandal because, "Nigerians will love to see how the lawmaker that has been presenting himself as leader of the Integrity Group will stoop so low to demand for a bribe. Let the whole truth come out and everyone involved in the bribery scandal identified and their names made public," he said.

According to him, the law is very clear that whoever is facing serious allegation of fraudulent practice has to give way and allow the law to take its course. "That's why I hailed what the House did by first suspending him from the chairmanship position he held, now he should be prosecuted," he added.

Secretary of the ANPP, Alhaji Rabi'u Bako said that Farouk's action has demonstrated how PDP has been responsible for corrupt practices in the country since the return of democracy in the country in 1999.

"It is evident that Farouk did not win the last election. That has been the case with him in all the elections he contested in the past. He'd not win, but he would be declared winner through illegal means. Now he has sown a seed and is reaping the fruits of what he sowed," Bako said.

The ANPP scribe, wanted immediate recall of the lawmaker, while the INEC holds a fresh election to fill in the vacant position, as the police arrange for his prosecution before a court of law for him to defend himself before the court.

However, Alhaji Ali Kakako Commander, one of the PDP leaders in Bagwai, said that the lawmaker is on his own, as far as the allegation of bribery is concerned, since his people did not send him to the House to promote illegality.

Commander said that even though Lawan has been outspoken in the House, his constituency has suffered a great deal since there had been no dividend of democracy in the area in the last 13 years.

"We have not started feeling his impact as our representative from this local government. He has only been good to himself and he has been accused of corrupt practice, so let him defend himself. When you talk of quality representative one can say he is good, but with what happened now, I think he was just a self-serving man," he said.

Meanwhile, the embattled lawmaker was yesterday released from police custody after two days in detention over his role in the $3million bribery scandal that engulfed the ad-hoc committee that investigated the fuel subsidy regime which he chaired.

He was granted bail yesterday afternoon after meeting bail conditions imposed by the police. The lawmaker, however, is to report at the police station on a daily basis while the investigation lasted.

Deputy force public relations officer, CSP Frank Mba, confirmed his release in a telephone chat with our correspondent. He said that the lawmaker may be prosecuted, depending on the outcome of their investigation. He refused to disclose the bail conditions.
SOURCE: Leadership Nigeria/All Africa

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Place Nd'Igbo Conducted Business Becomes Kaiser Permanente




At a time, it was called the Santa Barbara Plaza sitting on the four square Mid-City streets - Santa Barbara Boulevard, Marlton Avenue, Santa Rosalia Drive and Hillcrest Drive. Santa Barbara Blvd. had been renamed Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in honor of the Civil Rights leader.

Now Marlton Square and once the hub of small businesses run by Igbo entrepreneurs and other Los Angeles area local merchants, and going through a lot of changes by way of ownership and management over the last twenty years, coupled with ups and downs in the plaza's business-related affairs and the city's engagements, the plaza, Marlton Square, finally reached its destination.

Before this new development, Victor Ahaiwe ran a discount store in the complex while reaching an encroachment deal, capitalized and relocated. Felicia Okereke ran a church ministry and rented her spot for Igbo-related gatherings and parties - wake-keepings, wedding receptions, graduation parties, baby showers, bachelor night parties, Igbo community conventions, money-making related errands, Friday and Sunday night prayer meetings, and the list goes on and on, and on - before she was also settled and relocated. Charles Anyadike operated a counselling church helping folks to renew their lives. Leo Uzoka once ran a tax and accounting offices in the complex. Justine Ezeanioma owned a book club (African Book Club) which he leased for a series of Igbo-related parties and conventions.

Also, still sitting there are: Jerry's Flying Fox Lounge, a soul food restaurant and blues night club; Joy Gene's Personal Touch Hair Styling Salon; Affordable Black Art; Oran's International Studios, The Oran Z Pan African Black Facts & Wax Museum; Black History Arts & Culture Center, offices and other small businesses that had served the community in the last three decades.

In my interview with Oran Z who owns the Oran Z chains of franchises about four years ago, he wasn't sure when his settlement would be finally reached in order for him to relocate since the encroachment did not meet to his demands. Oran Z is still in the facility while half of the complex has been demolished.

As part of his regular updates to city dwellers, Councilmember Bernard C. Parks, 8th District, whose job development programs leads the city in job creations, has over the months been sending information through his Twitter and Facebook accounts including newspapers within and around the City of Los Angeles on his office' newer projects by way of bringing development to the community. Parks, the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency and Commercial Mortgage Managers and only owner still standing while previous owner Earvin "Magic" Johnson missed the opportunity for redevelopment with the development group Capital Vision Equities, the square has been going through stages of construction starting from the demolition process which was begun in the summer of 2011.

So, as it has happened through consultations and related surveys carried out by the area's university students (UCLA, USC, Loyola Marymount, Charles Drew University, etc.) on the possibilities of a healthcare facility in the community, Parks, last Thursday, announced a new tenant - Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser closing escrow at the 4000 block of Marlton Avenue will be opening outpatient medical office buildings.

"When we talked to Kaiser, the said the reason this site was so important for them is because it is in the heart of their membership pool and it is also in the heart of the community, which needs medical insurance," Parks said signalling a sign of relief. Also, there were remarks by former Congresswoman Diane Watson; Commissioner Valerie Shaw; Jamie Brooks who played a significant role in securing Kaiser as a tenant and other guests.

Finally, with all the speculations of Magic building one of his empires at Marlton Square and after missed opportunities though, Councilmember Bernard Parks Community Projects to create more jobs has kicked off and Kaiser Permanente is the new tenant on the 4000 block of Marlton Avenue.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Nigerian Footballer Obodo Abducted, Says Family




AFP

LAGOS — Nigeria international Christian Obodo has been abducted in Warri, southern Nigeria, his family confirmed Saturday.

The player's family said Obodo, who last season played for Lecce in Italy's Serie A, was driving alone in his car following a visit to a relative when he was taken by unknown gunmen.

"His whereabouts are unknown but his car was left behind by the kidnappers. We are yet to receive any call demanding a ransom," said a family member, under condition of anonymity.

Oil city Warri is in the restive Niger Delta, where kidnapping is commonplace.

Obodo was for several years a Nigeria international. Last season, he played on loan at Lecce from Serie A side Udinese. Lecce were relegated to Serie AB on May 13 after finishing third from bottom of Italy's top flight.

The 28-year-old midfielder is not the first Nigerian footballer to be abducted.

The brother of Everton defender Joseph Yobo was kidnapped before he was later freed, while most recently the father of Chelsea midfielder John Mikel Obi was also abducted before he was freed after a police raid.

A brief statement from Lecce said: "We hope the situation can be resolved as soon as possible in the best possible way."

Obodo's brother, Kenneth Obodo, who is also a footballer in Italy and is currently in Nigeria, was quoted by Italian news agency ANSA as saying: "Christian is fine. We are in touch with the kidnappers, who want some money.

"We can't give them more than 100,000 euros ($125,000). Unfortunately these things happen in our country."

His brother-in-law, Obidike Okechukwu, was quoted by ANSA as saying that the kidnappers had asked for a ransom of 150,000 euros.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

NIGERIA: Bigots, Hooligans To Test Polish Image At Euro 2012



When John Godson first arrived in Poland from Nigeria 20 years ago, he was spat on in the street and, like many African immigrants at the time, beaten up simply for being black.

Now a member of parliament, Godson says his fellow Poles have changed for the better and complains some media reports in the run-up to the Euro 2012 soccer championships, which start on Friday, may mislead visiting fans into fearing rampant racism.

He dismissed as "one-sided" a British TV film documenting racist and anti-Semitic abuse and violence at stadiums in co-hosts Poland and Ukraine which received far more coverage in Poland, most of it hostile or defensive, than it had in Britain.

"I was really saddened," Godson told Reuters. "It ... does not reflect my own experience," he added, arguing the BBC had failed to reflect progress against intolerance that Poland has made since it emerged in 1990 from a half century of repressive domination by first Nazi Germany and then Soviet Communists.

"It is not that people are racist, they simply have not been exposed to other cultures," said Godson, a university teacher who is among just a couple of thousand Poles of African descent.

"As Poles get to know other people, this is getting steadily better, although we still have some way to go."

Racist abuse by Polish crowds has been a concern for black players and for Euro 2012 tournament organizers. Michel Platini, head of European soccer's governing body UEFA, said on Wednesday referees could halt matches if it occurred, though he questioned whether there was more racism in Poland than his native France.

ANTI-SEMITISM

Less familiar at west European stadiums are the anti-Semitic chanting and displays by far-right groups which organizations like the Warsaw-based East Europe Monitoring Centre say are also common in Poland and which Godson said needed tackling.

"Anti-Semitism is still a problem," he said. "There are jokes about Jews. It not an institutionalized thing but it is something that is definitely present in our society.

"We have clearly not done enough in analyzing what we see happening in the stadiums."

Home to more than three million Jews on the eve of World War Two and the Holocaust largely perpetrated on Polish soil, Poland now has a Jewish community numbering in the thousands. Both its postwar Communist rulers and Roman Catholic clergy who opposed them faced accusations of encouraging anti-Semitic sentiment.

Today, the word "Jew" is still heard as a term of abuse by non-Jewish Poles against each other, not only in stadiums.

The U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League, which has praised efforts by democratic Polish leaders, found in a survey this year of European countries that nearly half of Poles still held anti-Semitic views - fewer than in Hungary or Spain, but double or more the level it recorded in Germany, France or Britain.

SOCCER VIOLENCE

The furious response from officials to last week's BBC documentary about its soccer hooligans was indicative of how sensitive Poland is to any blemish on its image as a thriving, open society within the European Union, an image that hosting Euro 2012 is meant to enhance.

Anxious to protect the benefits in tourism, trade and international prestige that spending 20 billion euros ($25 billion) on stadiums, transport and other infrastructure might bring, Poland's government is also anxious to clamp down not just on verbal abuse but violence around soccer.

A year ago, pitched battles that drew in not just fans and police but also players and journalists marred the national cup final and prompted Prime Minister Donald Tusk to promise a clampdown during his successful parliamentary election campaign.

Police have arrested suspected ringleaders among hard-core supporters groups and have invested in an already heavily armed riot squad. Ticket prices that are high by local standards may keep some Polish hooligans out of the stadiums. But the presence of rival foreign fans around the games could mean trouble.

Next week, the national team plays a first-round match against historic adversary Russia, a tie that Wojciech Wisniewski, a prominent member of the fan club for leading Polish team Legia Warsaw, sees as a flashpoint: "The Russians are loud, they are provocative," he said. "It depends how the authorities approach it, but it is definitely a problem."

Many see the roots of soccer violence and the xenophobia that goes with it in Poland's relative poverty compared to its western EU neighbors. Despite resisting the global economic downturn better than most - it is the only EU state to record consistent growth since 2008 - Poland remains the bloc's fifth poorest. Per capita annual income is less than 10,000 euros.

"In the West, the dominant reaction to the economic crisis is a turn to the left, as we are seeing for example in Greece," said Michal Bilewicz, who studies prejudice at Warsaw University. "In Poland or Hungary, our way of dealing with material hardship is to blame someone 'foreign'.

"For this reason the right is gaining support and the left is struggling to reach voters."

Godson, however, points to reasons for hope in his election to parliament last year in Lodz - a city where most people rarely see a non-European face and where the intense rivalry between fans of the two main soccer clubs is famously marked by anti-Semitic taunts, even though few Jews now live there.

"Race was not an issue in my election," Godson said.

"People voted for me because I was a good councilor and they could see that I had a strong community conscience and was prepared to help people," he added.

"Poland is a very friendly, hospitable place. I feel more at home here than I do in the West."

(Additional reporting by Adrian Krajewski, Anna Rychert and Chris Borowski; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

SOURCE: Fox News

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

NIGERIA: Dana Crash: LASUTH Releases 26 Identified Bodies




The management of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, has released a list of 26 victims of the Dana Air plane crash that have been identified by their relatives.

Bodies identified include those of:

1. Martin Alade (M) 2. Prof C.O. Onwuluri (M) 3. Temitope Ariyibi (F) 4. Sonny Ehioghae (M) 5. Nagidi Ibrahim (M) 6. Chinwe Uzoamaka Obi (F) 7. Okocha Christopher (M) 8. Mahmud Ahmed Dukawa (M) 9. Anibaba Tosin (F) 10. Stanford Obrutse (M) 11. Ibrahim Jangana (M) 12. Ikpoki Obiola (M) 13. Ailende Ehi Joel (M) 14. Patrick Eze Okonji (M) 15. Kim Edger Norris (M) 16. Bassey Eyo (M) 17. John Ahmadu Hamza (DIG)(M) 18. Kanguyi (Chinese (M)) 19. Femi Shobowale (M) 20. Charles Ntoko (M) 21. George Moses (M) 22. Dr Abiodun Jonathan (M) 23. Obinna Akubueze (M) 24. Ifeanwaka Jones (M) 25. Olabinjo Awodogbin (M) 26. Obot Emmanuel (M)

Fourteen out of the 43 bodies at the hospital’s mortuary were yet to be identified by their relatives.

The family members were given forms to fill for identification process which also included taking the passport photographs of family representatives and photocopies of their international passports.

Yet, relations of victims who thronged the hospital’s mortuary for collection of the corpses may not be able to claim them until autopsy is carried out according to Lagos State Coroner Law.

As the clamour to take away identified corpses continued, the chief medical director (CMD), LASUTH, Prof Wale Oke, appealed to the aggrieved relations, saying “already we have started doing the autopsy today (Wednesday), and we are going to do at least 12 autopsies per day”.

“Every corpse leaving our mortuaries will leave with a death certificate. And we cannot issue death certificates without autopsy,” he explained.

The CMD affirmed that “in the next three days, all identified corpses must have been handed over to their families. Our team of pathologists has started work today. We are being careful not to hand over a corpse to the wrong family”.

The consultant pathologist, forensic medicine, and vice chancellor, Lagos State University (LASU), Professor John Obafunwa, led seven other pathologists to commence the autopsy.

For many of the relations of the victims, the waiting game to collect their relations’ corpses was unacceptable. They openly expressed their displeasure, compounded by the sudden grief.

Earlier in the day, those who had not identified the corpses of their loved ones were anxious to do so, as two family members of the deceased were allowed into the morgue at a time.

Meanwhile, stench from the morgue grew worse by the day. The stench was evident as family members that thronged the mortuary had to buy nose masks to prevent inhaling the stench that was coming out of the overwhelmed morgue.

SOURCE: LEADERSHIP NIGERIA

Nigeria Has No Law On Entry Age For Aircraft


Nigeria is yet to make a law that will determine the age of an aircraft that can be operated by indigenous airlines. However a policy exist that stipulates that Nigerian airline operators should not fly aircraft that are more than 22 years old. Though this policy was introduced during the era of Kema Chikwe as Aviation Minister, it has not been incorporated into the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) regulation. Despite this, investigations have shown that some Nigerian airlines still operate aircraft that are more than 22 years old.

READ FULL STORY

Nigeria Plane Crash: Dana Airline Defends Itself


Francis Ogboro, an executive who oversees Dana Air speaks to journalist at a press conference in Lagos, Nigeria, Wednesday, June 6, 2012. A Nigerian airline whose airplane crashed in the country’s largest city, killing 153 on board and more on the ground, defended itself Wednesday against growing public criticism, saying its own chief engineer died on the doomed flight. Ogboro said. “No airline crew would go on a suicide mission.

Chinese businessmen wait to identified bodies at the Lagos state university teaching hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, June 5, 2012.

The wreckage of plane crash lays at the site in Lagos, Nigeria, Wednesday, June 6, 2012.

RELATED STORY:

Carrier Defends Itself Over Nigeria Plane Crash

Images: Sunday Alamba/AP

Sunday, June 03, 2012

[The Ojukwu Family Feud] Fire For Fire




By Anthony Akaeze and Sebastine Obasi/Newswatch

Contending groups in the larger Ojukwu family make claims and counter claims over ownership of properties and the paternity of a member allegedly born out of wedlock.

He walked into Newswatch office that May 14, betraying no sign of anxiety. But it was soon clear, once the interview began, that the man was much eager to dispute or refute some of views contained in a recent interview granted Newswatch magazine by another member of the family, Debe Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Ike Ojukwu, son of Joseph Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who is the first son of Louis Philip Odumegwu- Ojukwu, said most of the views of Debe as contained in the May 7, issue of the magazine were either factually incorrect or did not reveal the true situation of things in the family. Although he acknowledged that there was a lingering court case involving members of the family over their patriarch’s property, he did not consider it unusual because disagreement is common among families. To that extent, “there’s no war with anybody.”

But Ike, who is an obstetrician and gynaecologist, took exception to the words “natural child” as expressed by Debe during the interview.

In the interview, Debe, in reply to a question said that his father, Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu and former Biafran leader, was the “only natural child of Sir Louis Odumegwu-Ojukwu.” This claim, Ike said, is far from the truth. On the contrary, Ike said that his father’s position as first son of the late Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu has never been in doubt even while his grandfather was alive. He brought to the interview documents showing that his father, Joseph, had been a board member of his father’s company since the 50s.

Beyond that, Ike said his father enjoyed the best care and upbringing from their father and that his grandmother, Ogbenyealumalize, was his grandfather’s first wife. “My father was born here in Nigeria. I don’t remember his primary school, but I know he went to King’s College. He not only went to King’s College, he went to Cambridge; my grandfather paid his school fees. This company we are talking about, he’s been a director since 1952…now I don’t know anywhere in Nigeria where somebody will send you to King’s College in the 30s, send you to Cambridge in the late 30s, and you’ve been a director of the company for 60 years, this year and you are the only son that’s an executor of his will” and not considered his natural son.

Ike added that, if there’s anything as unnatural son, it best fits Debe. Debe, he said, contrary to his claims, was never acknowledged by Ojukwu, the late Biafran leader, as his first son. He alleged that Ojukwu, the Ikemba Nnewi, some years ago, told his extended family members called Umunna, that his first son is Emeka Jnr.

Ike also addressed the issue of his grandfather’s property many of which are sited in Lagos. He said that, although the late Ikemba Nnewi lived in Villaska Lodge, the property and others do not belong to him. “Not one of these properties belong to Emeka Ojukwu, my uncle. They belong to the company, Ojukwu Transport Company and the gazettes prove this and he acknowledged that…It’s a family thing. Everything belongs to the family,” he said.

But the family properties have since been a subject of litigation in the law court and the parties involved are Debe Odumegwu-Ojukwu on the one hand, and Ojukwu Transport Limited, represented by the children of Sir Louis Philip, on the other.


How did things get to this point? Newswatch learnt that Debe, who’s a former police officer and lawyer, was the person in charge of managing the family’s property until things suddenly fell apart between the two parties. Ike told Newswatch that the Ojukwu Transport Company engaged Debe to manage the family’s property with the agreement that he would take 30 percent of the proceeds, but that, Debe, till date, had not remitted any money to the family. He stated that it was Emmanuel Odumegwu Ojukwu, his uncle, who offered Debe the opportunity to take charge of their father’s property but that he has since failed to fulfill his own part of the agreement. Evidence of this strained relationship came to public light in an advertorial that appeared in February 22, 2008, in the Daily Sun newspaper asking tenants in the houses managed by Debe, to desist from dealing with him. “The general public and particularly the tenants occupying the following houses owned by Ojukwu Transport Limited…by this notice… are warned that the company has, by resolution, appointed the firm of Massey Udegbe & co to manage the above listed properties. Any person who deals with any other person and more particularly, the firm of Mrs Ogbonna Ojukwu & associates and or Debe Odumegwu-Ojukwu in respect of the above mentioned properties, does so at his own risk,” the disclaimer read.


One of the properties in question, which according to a source, has remained unoccupied till date is located at 29 Queens Drive. The property is called Villaska Lodge, and was where the late Biafran leader lived before he relocated to Enugu. According to Lotanna, one of the sons of Sir Louis Philip Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the property had remained uninhabited since the late 1990s that Ojukwu moved to Enugu. Lotanna told Newswatch that he visited Villaska Lodge some months ago, and that when he got there, the gateman was not there. So he went inside. But the gateman, he said, soon appeared and locked the gate, leaving him trapped. Lotanna asserted that he and his driver and one other person who accompanied him, now had to force the gate open for him to come out. Following that, Lotanna said the gateman contacted Emeka Jnr and Bianca who now mobilised members of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, to guard the place. He noted that the house requires renovation and that it would better benefit the family if repairs are carried out on it.



Lotanna is one of the defendants in the pending court case at a Lagos High Court. Others are Ojukwu Transport Limited, Professor Joseph Ojukwu, Emmanuel Ojukwu, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu and Massey Udegbe. Listed as claimants in the case are Ogbonna Ojukwu and Associates, Debe Odumegwu-Ojukwu and Silver Convention. One of the lines of the suit with No: LD/794/2011 dated 6 October 2011 read: “… despite the fact that there was an agreement between the Claimants and the 1st Defendant to manage the properties listed in the schedule of the Management Agreement dated 1/6/1995, most of the rents were either collected by the 1st –5th Defendants personally despite the 2nd Claimant’s protest that some of the properties in question were never released to the Claimants as they were personally occupied by some of the Defendants herein.” Part of the claimants claim is that “most of the properties in contention were derelict and dilapidated and taken over by known and unknown persons before the Claimants were engaged whilst various sums of money were expended to recover and put them in tenantable situation without being reimbursed by the 1st Defendant for that purpose.”

That Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s name appears on the list of defendants might be only due to the fact that he’s a director in Ojukwu Transport Company as some of the expressions tend not to only exonerate him, but give the impression that it is his interest that is being championed: “Rather than for the Defendants, excepting the 3rd, (Emeka Ojukwu) to see reasons why terminating the management agreement would be unjust and inequitable in the circumstance, they went ahead to appoint/nominate the 6th defendant to take over the management functions from the 1st claimant thereby jeopardising the financial/vested interest and equitable right of the claimants in the said properties.” Furthermore, “the actions of the defendants, excepting the 3rd, in deliberately denying the claimants of their dues and returns on investments is also actuated by malice, ill feeling and family vendetta against the 2nd claimant (Debe) and his father the 3rd defendant.”


Apart from Villaska Lodge, some other houses cited in the suit include: 132 Agege Motor Road, Lagos, 19 Mekunwen Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, 15 Oshodi Street, Lagos, 32 Commercial Road, Yaba, Lagos, 388B Herbert Macaulay Street, Yaba, Lagos, 32 Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, 13 Hawksworth Street, Ikoyi, Lagos, and 4 Macpherson Road, Ikoyi, Lagos. All these constitute just a fragment of Sir Louis Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s properties, a man whose story and wealth would have been something of a fable were they not identifiable. Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu once revealed, in an interview that his father owned 29 houses.


Although Ike Ojukwu himself admitted that court cases involving the Odumegwu- Ojukwu dynasty predated this current one involving Debe, the case offers an insight into the extent of the disagreement within the family over family property. It appears deep rooted. Although Ike doubts Debe’s claims to being Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s first son, he didn’t categorically deny that he’s the man’s son. Debe is a split image of Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, and if looks were the criteria to determine paternity, he would have no difficulty convincing anyone that he’s Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s son. And the fact that he was contracted by the Ojukwu Transport Company to manage the family’s property is another point that is hard to ignore.


Also, during one of the family meetings held January 13, 2009, in the family compound in Nnewi, Debe was invited by the family to participate. The question then is, if Debe were not the son of Odumegwu-Ojukwu, why was he invited to the meeting? Again, Newswatch can confirm that even the law firm of Andrew N. Anyamene and Company (SAN), acknowledged Debe as a member of the Odumegwu-Ojukwu family. In a letter written to him to render the management account of the Ojukwu properties, the law firm referred to him as the grandson of late Louis Philip Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Most significant, in 2009, the late Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, in a letter, thanked Debe, his son for the role he played during the burial of Chukwuma Onoh, former governor of old Anambra State, who was Ojukwu’s in-law.


Newswatch also learnt that Debe was conferred with the Nnewi traditional title, Akpunwa, meaning strong son. He is also the president-general of Umudim Nnewi, both home and abroad and is seen by some as a popular figure due to his humanitarian activities in Nnewi.


But based on Ike’s claims, Newswatch sent one of its reporters to Nnewi to find out from some of the extended family members what they think of the matter.


Greg Ojukwu, a retired civil servant in his 80s and a senior member of the family, told Newswatch that there was never a time the late Ikemba introduced Debe as his first son throughout his life time. “There was no time the late Ikemba introduced Debe to the family as his first son. Not to my knowledge. We know Emeka Ojukwu Jnr. as Ikemba’s first son going by the tradition of the land. In Igboland, we count mother and child together (Nwa na Nne yi) as we say in our local parlance. So, who is Debe’s mother?” he queried.


Anthony Ude Ojukwu, a lawyer and another senior member of the family, also told Newswatch that the late Ikemba never identified Debe as a son, let alone the first. “Have you seen any event, political or social, where Ikemba introduced him as his son? His was only given a contract to manage based on professionalism and at the expiration of the contract, he went to court to make some claims. Nothing stops him from going to court on that basis. Nobody can stop him from making claims in the court of law. Sylvester (Debe’s English name) was never told to withdraw any case before he could participate in Ikemba’s burial.”


Ude Ojukwu argued that it is a father that identifies his son and not the child that claims to be the son of the man. “In Igbo culture, it is only when a man acknowledges his son that he will be able to say the position of that particular son. Somebody has to be identified as a child of a man before his position can be ascertained. But all his life, Ikemba never identified Sylvester (Debe) as his son, not to talk of being the first son,” he told Newswatch.

If that is the case, why then does Debe bear Ojukwu and why was there no disclaimer to that effect? Ude Ojukwu said nobody raised an eyebrow because they have no monopoly of the name Ojukwu. “It is a common name. Anybody can answer any name without interference. But the bottom line is that Ikemba did not marry his mother. The customary law says that for a man to claim ownership of a child, he must have the consent of the mother. The mother should be able to identify the father of her child; after delivery, the man is expected to pay the hospital bill; if the child is staying with the woman, the man should pay some allowances for the upkeep of their child; pay his school fees and at the age of 15, give him accommodation.”


But some others have a contrary view. Innocent Okafor, who describes himself as a “member of the Ojukwu family” said that he was not aware that Ojukwu ever said Debe was not his first son. “Where and who did he call to tell them that. Can you deny your son? Who was there when he said it? It’s all hear say.” He added that he was not unaware of the bad blood among some members of the Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s family and that, that was the reason why he advised Debe to distance himself from the burial activity of his father in Nnewi to give peace a chance.

Ofili Nwosu, the prime minister of Nnewi, said that “ in the tradition of Igbo land, it’s who a man wants that he makes the first son” but added that “there’s no doubt about the fact that Debe’s the son” of Odumegwu-Ojukwu.


Comfort Ukwu, (nee Ojukwu) who is the first cousin to Ikemba, said that the question of who is the eldest child of Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu has never been in doubt. “The person born in 1956 and the one born in 1965, who is the senior?” Debe was born in 1956. Ukwu, who says that “a man knows who his children are” said that Debe always played the role of a son to his father. “When my brother was in hospital in London, Debe went to see him a number of times. During the burial of Onoh, Debe played an active role.” She described the whole hoopla over property as embarrassing, considering also that her cousin was not known to be materialistic.


Emmanuel Nwobosi, who, as a Biafran soldier, was chief of operations during the Nigerian civil war, said he was not aware that Ojukwu denied Debe as his first son. “Ikemba was my very close friend, he was my boss. He never said such a thing to my hearing. From time to time, when I visited Lagos with Ikemba, Debe would always visit Ikemba, and a number of times, with his wife, would bring food and Ikemba never indicated to me that he didn’t like what he was doing. It was all appreciation on his part. So this story, if you ask me, I will say that Ikemba never hinted it to my hearing. I am friendly with both Debe and Emeka Jnr,” he said.


Debe, in an affidavit, deposed that he was “practically raised by my loving but poor mother and later by fending for myself until I joined the Nigeria Police as a constable in 1976…” At this time, Odumegwu-Ojukwu was still in exile. Perhaps the hardship he experienced as a young boy is the reason why he describes himself as a “self-made man.”


In his book, Emeka, Frederick Forsyth, the former BBC reporter in Nigeria and a friend of Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu wrote: “I have watched him walking by the crocodile pool in exile, abandoned and alone on learning that yet another Biafran he trusted had betrayed him for money; smiling with pride when his son did well at school…” There is no proof to show which of Ojukwu’s sons, whether Debe or Emeka jnr, is being referred to at that time. The book was published in 1982.

However, according to a source who wishes anonymity, the issue of what a man does or says at times is dictated by circumstance or state of mind and relationship at every given point in time. “Anyone can make a pronouncement or declaration and later change his mind; it all depends on the individual and the person involved.”


Newswatch learnt that Ojukwu met Debe’s mother while he was an Assistant District Officer at Udi but that their union was not formalised. Apart from that relationship, Ikemba married four wives: Elizabeth, a nurse, between 1956 and 1959 who had no child; Njideka, his second wife, who’s the mother of Emeka Jnr.; Stella, and Bianca who’s the fourth and only surviving widow.

But beyond that, there are those who desire to see the feud resolved amicably, given the reputation of the Odumegwu-Ojukwu family. Sir Louis was a man of means who epitomised the Igbo entrepreneurial spirit as seen in his numerous achievements, which included being the first president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Emeka, his son, on his part, is famous for the role he played in the 60s which culminated in the declaration of secession, a move that his admirers say, proved his love for his people. “My advice to the family is that they should take things easy,” said Nwobosi.


Okafor on his part, is optimistic that the matter will be resolved peacefully. “We shall settle the matter,” he said.

Not a few friends and admirers of the family will love to see that happen.


Reported by Dike Onwuamaeze, Victor Ugborgu, Anayo Ezeugwu, Ojima Achimugu and Endurance Akoro.