Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Terrorism: US to Offer Nigeria Modern Technology to Fortify Border Security

Senator Iroegbu and Adebayo Akinwale
This Day, May 1, 2013

The United States of America (USA) Tuesday met with the federal government to express their willingness to assist Nigeria in offering modern technological assistance to fortify security at the nation’s borders with the aim of curbing the activities of terrorist in the country.

 The leader of the US delegation, and the Counter Terrorism Deputy Secretary, Ms. Anne Witkowsky, said the aim of the visit was to avail Nigeria of the modern technology of securing borders by showing the Personal Identifications Secure Comparison System (PICES) and the Demonstration of the PICES equipment.

Witkowsky explained that the PICES equipment was a border control system with ten finger prints, which portrays that if the name and other means of identification were falsified, the ten finger prints cannot be captured.

Receiving the delegation in his office, the Minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro said it had become necessary at this point in time to be availed with the modern technology of securing the Nigerian borders.
 
Moro admitted that it had got at a point when the government realised that while making effort to contain the situation and changing tactics too, it became difficult to contain the situation due to the level of technology.

He said: “When it was discovered that some undesirable elements that are criminally minded have infiltrated the country, the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has been up and doing.

“Our rather unusual approach of offering the option of dialogue is hardly an option in any terrorist situation”.
 
Against this backdrop, he noted that, “government strongly believes that if dialogue can’t bring the much needed peace, then we go for it, of course you are well aware that we are in the process”.

The minister further emphasised that the most important thing for the country now was to deploy modern technology to combat the menace as the current security situation now has gone beyond relying on the traditional method of securing the borders.

“Am aware that some of the important infrastructure that is required for installing the technology may be lacking at some places in some parts of our borders right now but we have gone round our borders to find and put them in place,” he said.
 
Moro however added that everything that was needed to secure the border would be deployed.

 He clarified that the equipment would be supplied by US but manned by the officers of the Nigeria Immigration Service.

Satellites, Witnesses Show Scope of Nigeria Attack

By Haruna Umar and Jon Gambrell
Associated Press, May 1, 2013

Satellite photographs and witness statements Tuesday strongly challenged denials by Nigeria's government about mass casualties and damage left behind after fighting between the military and Islamic extremists in a northeast Nigeria village where locals say some 187 people were killed.

The release of photographs by Human Rights Watch came as foreign journalists under a military escort finally entered Baga, a fishing village along Lake Chad that officials have limited access to since the killings. The evidence directly contradicted military claims about limited damage to the town, raising new questions about security forces consistently accused of using excessive violence in trying to put down an Islamic insurgency that's raged across Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north since 2010.

Residents who spoke to The Associated Press said soldiers specifically targeted civilians in their retaliation, setting fire to the simple homes in the town.

"I lost everything in my house after soldiers came and set my house ablaze," Ibrahim Modu said. "They met me outside, walked into my house and put it on fire, after which they told me to leave so that I don't get burnt by the fire."

Another witness, fisherman Abdullahi Gumel, said he still could not find one of his sons, days after the attack.

"Things have calmed down for some days now, but we are still burying the dead almost every day," Gumel said.

Human Rights Watch said an analysis of satellite imagery before and after the attack led them to believe the violence destroyed some 2,275 buildings and severely damaged another 125. The photographs, which the organization released to journalists, showed tell-tale black splotches in the town left behind by massive fires. The images also suggested the violence occurred sometime around April 16 or 17, judging from the plumes of smoke seen rising from the town, Human Rights Watch said.

"The Nigerian military has a duty to protect itself and the population from Boko Haram attacks, but the evidence indicates that it engaged more in destruction than in protection," Human Rights Watch's Africa director Daniel Bekele said in a statement released late Tuesday. "The glaring discrepancies between the facts on the ground and statements by senior military officials raise concerns that they tried to cover up military abuses."

Officials with Nigeria's military could not be immediately reached early Wednesday morning. However, a brigadier general in the region previously said members of the Islamic extremist network Boko Haram used heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in the assault, blaming that weaponry for the fires. Extremists earlier had killed a military officer, officials said.

The military said extremists used civilians as human shields during the fighting, indicating that soldiers opened fire in neighborhoods where they knew civilians lived. On April 23, a military statement claimed "about 30 thatched houses" caught fire in the crossfire, something directly contradicted by the satellite images and what an AP journalist who visited Baga on Tuesday saw.

Officials could not offer a breakdown of civilian casualties versus those of soldiers and extremist fighters. Many bodies had been burned beyond recognition in fires that razed whole sections of the village, residents said. Those killed were buried as soon as possible, following local Muslim tradition. The Nigerian Red Cross later said at least 187 people had been killed.

In a statement Tuesday, presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said authorities had received reports by the military and emergency officials about the violence that criticized "a lot of misinformation being peddled about the situation in Baga."

Still, President Goodluck Jonathan "said that what happened in Baga was most regrettable and unfortunate," the statement read. Jonathan "reaffirmed his full commitment to doing all within the powers of the federal government to speedily end the intolerable threats to national security which have necessitated such confrontations."

There are several major cases in Nigeria's recent history of soldier abuses. In 2001, the military attacked some seven villages in Benue state following ethnic Tiv militants killing soldiers there. Witnesses said some 200 people died in the fighting that saw soldiers ransack villages, shell houses and gun down residents indiscriminately. In 1999, ethnic Ijaw activists claimed more than 200 civilians were killed by the military in Odi in Bayelsa state following the killings of police officers there.

A military raid in Nigeria's oil-rich Delta state in 2010 against militants there killed some 150 people, activists said, though soldiers blocked AP journalists from reaching the area at the time. And in October 2012, when extremists killed a military officer in Maiduguri, soldiers killed at least 30 civilians and set fires across a neighborhood in retaliation. In all cases, the military denied committing the abuses, though a 2006 United Nations report described how soldiers routinely target and kill civilians in their operations without any oversight or legal repercussions.

Boko Haram, which means "Western education is sacrilege" in the Hausa language of Nigeria's north, has said it wants its imprisoned members freed and strict Shariah law adopted across the multiethnic nation of more than 160 million people. It has sparked several splinter groups and analysts say its members have contact with two other al-Qaida-linked groups in Africa.

The violence in Baga appears to be the worst spate of killings in a single incident since the insurgency began in 2010. In January 2012, Boko Haram launched a coordinated attack in Kano, northern Nigeria's largest city, that killed at least 185 people, the previous worst attack linked to the insurgency.
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Associated Press writer Bashir Adigun in Abuja, Nigeria, contributed to this report.
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Jon Gambrell reported from Lagos, Nigeria, and can be reached at www.twitter.com/jongambrellAP .

N100bn deceased ‘customers’ funds trapped in banks


By Tordue Salem
National Mirror, May 1, 2013

The House of Representatives yesterday disclosed that about N100bn belonging to deceased banks’ customers is presently trapped in dormant accounts across the country.
According to the lawmakers, while the banks continue to trade with this money, beneficiaries of the deceased persons’ estates are living in penury, with many unable to feed.
The House therefore mandated its Committee on Justice and Judiciary to liaise with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Aloma Mukhtar to relax the requirements for access to bank accounts of deceased persons by their next of kin and dependants.
This, the lawmakers said, can be done by simplifying the process of obtaining Letters of Administration from the courts. Letters of Administration is an instrument issued by a court or public official authorizing an administrator to take control of and dispose of the estate of a deceased person.
The resolution of the House followed a motion by Hon. Abiodun Balogun (ACNOgun), which was unanimously adopted. In the motion entitled: “Need to stop the pains of Beneficiaries of Dead Account Holders go through in Nigerian Banks and Courts,” Balogun noted that death was an inevitable end for all living souls.
According to him, most people keep reasonable amount of their money in the banks due to the culture of savings imbibed by Nigerians and that when account holders die some of these monies are usually left with the banks.
He said that N100bn of deceased persons’ money was lying idle in dormant accounts in Nigerian banks. He argued that while banks had continued to trade with such monies, the beneficiaries of deceased account holders wallowed in penury.
The lawmaker noted with concern that the beneficiaries often found it difficult to access the funds as the next of kin owing to bottlenecks placed by banks. He further expressed worry that beneficiaries of bereaved contributors to the Contributory Pension Scheme, CPS, also experienced same cumbersome process of getting Letters of Administration. Balogun said that the inability of the beneficiaries to assess funds of deceased bread winners was discouraging people from saving with banks.
He stressed the need for the process of obtaining letters of administration from the courts to be simplified to allow beneficiaries with genuine claims access their inheritance.
He said: “That anytime beneficiaries show up to access the funds as the next of kin to the deceased, the banks usually place official and unofficial hurdles to frustrate them.
The courts that are supposed to issue Letters of Administration also engage in unwarranted delays sometimes for a period of up to one year before such Letters of Administration are issued, thereby adding greatly to the frustration of the already traumatized beneficiaries.
“Even the beneficiaries of the bereaved contributors to the CPS are not left out as they are frustrated due to their inability to make claims for their entitlements as a result of the cumbersome process of getting Letters of Administration. The inability of beneficiaries to access unclaimed funds may further discourage people from saving in our banks.”

Witnesses Describe Nigeria Assault That Killed 187


Haruna Umar
Associated Press, May 1, 2013

Witnesses in a northeast Nigeria village where at least 187 people were killed in fighting between the military and Islamic extremists say soldiers set fire to homes.
Foreign journalists made it to Baga village on Tuesday, more than a week after the attack. Soldiers blocked journalists from looking at graveyards and limited their access to the village.
Fisherman Abdullahi Gumel says villagers continue to bury bodies every day. Meanwhile, the nation's presidency issued a statement again denying mass civilian casualties as "a lot of misinformation."
The killings come as attacks by Islamic extremists continue in Nigeria's predominantly Muslim north. Bombings and shootings have been taking place since 2010 there.

Nigeria: In The Bagan Boiling Pot

The Nigeria military is under attack on the retaliation of a soldier's death in the Baga massacre. According to eyewitness reports after the carnage, a soldier was seen throwing a child back into the flames as the whole village burned to the ground. The village, baga, found itself in the middle of the fight between the Nigerian military and Boko haram insurgents.



Women and children gather near burnt houses and ashes in the aftermath of what Nigerian authorities said was heavy fighting between security forces and Islamist militants in Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad, adjacent to the Chadian border, April 21, 2013. The bloody gun battle against Islamist insurgents in Nigeria last week involved forces from neighbouring Chad and Niger, officials said on Tuesday, as West African countries increasingly view jihadist groups as a cross-border threat. There was no confirmation of the death toll from Friday's fighting, but a Nigerian military source said dozens may have died, many of them civilians. The Nigerian Red Cross said it was checking reports from locals that 187 people had died, but had still not obtained security clearance to go into Baga. Image: Stringer/Reuters



People stand near burnt structures. Image: Stringer/Reuters



Major General lawrence Ngubani, leader of the Defence Ministry Investigation Team on Baga, speakes during a meeting in Maiduguri in the aftermath of the Baga Boiling Pot. Image: Afolabi Sotunde, Maiduguri/Reuters



A vehicle used by Islamist militants is pictured damaged during the heavy fighting between Nigerian security forces and the Islamic militants. Inage: Stringer/Reuters


Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima speaks to a team of military investigators led by Major-General Lawrence Ngubani from the Defence Ministry during a meeting in Maiduguri in the aftermath of the Baga Boiling Pot. Image: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters



Burnt houses and ashes are pictured in the aftermath of what Nigerian authorities said was heavy fighting between security forces and Islamist militants in Baga, a fishing town on the shores of Lake Chad, adjacent to the Chadian border, April 21, 2013. The bloody gun battle against Islamist insurgents in Nigeria last week involved forces from neighbouring Chad and Niger, officials said on Tuesday, as West African countries increasingly view jihadist groups as a cross-border threat. There was no confirmation of the death toll from Friday's fighting, but a Nigerian military source said dozens may have died, many of them civilians. The Nigerian Red Cross said it was checking reports from locals that 187 people had died, but had still not obtained security clearance to go into Baga. Image: Stringer/Reuters





Nigeria’s Elite Make Country Toast Of Champagne Sellers


By M.J. Smith
AFP, April 30, 2013

The party was just getting started at a plush club in this teeming Nigerian city, hip-hop blaring, the bar bathed in blue light — and Champagne bottles on ice already adorning tables.
“Too much oil money,” said a 40-year-old man at Rhapsody’s in the high-end Victoria Island district of Lagos, when asked about Nigerian spending on Champagne.
Two bottles of Laurent-Perrier chilled in ice buckets on the table in front of him. His company was picking up the tab, like others here, he said, declining to give his name or say what he did for a living.
Recent data puts Nigeria among the fastest-growing countries in the world for Champagne consumption, spending an estimated $59 million in 2012 on bubbly, according to Euromonitor International research firm.
That number is up from $49 million in 2011, and the firm forecasts that the country will spend some $105 million on fizz in 2017.
Analysts say oil wealth, hip-hop, movie stars and an elite obsessed with status symbols have driven demand.
One Euromonitor analysis using data from about a year and a half ago forecast Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, as having the world’s second-highest growth in new Champagne consumption from 2011-16, trailing only France.
The study showed 849,000 liters in new consumption during that timeframe in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with a huge gap between its rich and poor.
Euromonitor senior analyst Spiros Malandrakis said the figures have since come down somewhat, with projections around 500,000 liters in new consumption from 2012-17, which would still keep Nigeria in the upper tier.
“It’s among the top markets for the future of Champagne,” Malandrakis said.
Malandrakis said one aspect of Nigeria’s market seemed to set it apart from countries such as China, where Champagne producers have banked on an emerging middle class to drive growth.
“In the case of Nigeria as far as I understand, we have a very divided society with big sections of the population in the working class,” he said, while the elite “have the money to spend on really extravagant consumption.”
Oil barons and Nigeria’s movie industry, known as Nollywood, have especially helped drive growth, he said, while hip-hop has also played a role.
U.S. hip-hop stars with global appeal have long promoted their love of bubbly — and Nigeria’s homegrown music scene has toasted it as well.
A hit song from a couple years back — seemingly ubiquitous in Nigeria’s clubs and on the radio — featured the memorable hook: “Pop-pop-pop-pop … pop Champagne.”
Prices at clubs can vary widely here, with a standard bottle of Moet & Chandon running around $120, while bottles of Cristal can come in at $900 or more. Store prices tend to be much lower.
Nigeria has long been considered one of the world’s most corrupt nations, with billions in oil revenue pocketed and misused over the years, while basic development has been neglected.
Such spending on Champagne is particularly striking when considered against World Bank calculations from 2009-10 showing some 63 percent of Nigerians live on less than $1 dollar per day.
Data from the same years, the latest available, shows 46 percent of the country’s population living in poverty, a slight decrease from 48 percent in 2003-04.
However, the decrease is less than population growth, meaning more people live in poverty in Nigeria today than a decade ago.
The gap between the rich and poor has also been growing, with a scale measuring inequality moving from 0.39 in 2003-04 to 0.42 in 2009-10. Zero represents complete equality on the scale, while one is absolute inequality.
“By international comparisons, that’s fairly high, but not out of the range of other countries,” said John Litwack, the World Bank’s lead economist for Nigeria.
Some members of Nigeria’s class of super-rich would likely have not have participated in the survey, possibly distorting the figures to a certain degree, he said.
Those with money clearly have lots of it to spend. Martin Kapsdorfer, who runs the Cafe Vanessa lounge down the street from Rhapsody’s, said a recent group there ordered 80 bottles of Champagne.
Back at Rhapsody’s, where the car park is full of BMWs and Land Rovers, a man at one table with a bottle of Moet was drinking a Guinness instead. He said the person buying the Champagne was in the oil industry.
“It’s like a prestige kind of thing,” he said of Champagne buying. “Personally, I hate it.”

The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society

The Pew Research
Poll - April 30, 2013


A new Pew Research Center survey of Muslims around the globe finds that most adherents of the world’s second-largest religion are deeply committed to their faith and want its teachings to shape not only their personal lives but also their societies and politics. In all but a handful of the 39 countries surveyed, a majority of Muslims say that Islam is the one true faith leading to eternal life in heaven and that belief in God is necessary to be a moral person. Many also think that their religious leaders should have at least some influence over political matters. And many express a desire for sharia – traditional Islamic law – to be recognized as the official law of their country.
The percentage of Muslims who say they want sharia to be “the official law of the land” varies widely around the world, from fewer than one-in-ten in Azerbaijan (8%) to near unanimity in Afghanistan (99%). But solid majorities in most of the countries surveyed across the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia favor the establishment of sharia, including 71% of Muslims in Nigeria, 72% in Indonesia, 74% in Egypt and 89% in the Palestinian territories.
At the same time, the survey finds that even in many countries where there is strong backing for sharia, most Muslims favor religious freedom for people of other faiths. In Pakistan, for example, three-quarters of Muslims say that non-Muslims are very free to practice their religion, and fully 96% of those who share this assessment say it is “a good thing.” Yet 84% of Pakistani Muslims favor enshrining sharia as official law. These seemingly divergent views are possible partly because most supporters of sharia in Pakistan – as in many other countries – think Islamic law should apply only to Muslims. Moreover, Muslims around the globe have differing understandings of what sharia means in practice.
The survey – which involved more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in 80-plus languages with Muslims across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa – shows that Muslims tend to be most comfortable with using sharia in the domestic sphere, to settle family or property disputes. In most countries surveyed, there is considerably less support for severe punishments, such as cutting off the hands of thieves or executing people who convert from Islam to another faith. And even in the domestic sphere, Muslims differ widely on such questions as whether polygamy, divorce and family planning are morally acceptable and whether daughters should be able to receive the same inheritance as sons.
In most countries surveyed, majorities of Muslim women as well as men agree that a wife is always obliged to obey her husband. Indeed, more than nine-in-ten Muslims in Iraq (92%), Morocco (92%), Tunisia (93%), Indonesia (93%), Afghanistan (94%) and Malaysia (96%) express this view. At the same time, majorities in many countries surveyed say a woman should be able to decide for herself whether to wear a veil.
Overall, the survey finds that most Muslims see no inherent tension between being religiously devout and living in a modern society. Nor do they see any conflict between religion and science. Many favor democracy over authoritarian rule, believe that humans and other living things have evolved over time and say they personally enjoy Western movies, music and television – even though most think Western popular culture undermines public morality.
The new survey also allows some comparisons with prior Pew Research Center surveys of Muslims in the United States. Like most Muslims worldwide, U.S. Muslims generally express strong commitment to their faith and tend not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society. But American Muslims are much more likely than Muslims in other countries to have close friends who do not share their faith, and they are much more open to the idea that many religions – not only Islam – can lead to eternal life in heaven. At the same time, U.S. Muslims are less inclined than their co-religionists around the globe to believe in evolution; on this subject, they are closer to U.S. Christians.
Few U.S. Muslims voice support for suicide bombing or other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam; 81% say such acts are never justified, while fewer than one-in-ten say violence against civilians either is often justified (1%) or is sometimes justified (7%) to defend Islam. Around the world, most Muslims also reject suicide bombing and other attacks against civilians. However, substantial minorities in several countries say such acts of violence are at least sometimes justified, including 26% of Muslims in Bangladesh, 29% in Egypt, 39% in Afghanistan and 40% in the Palestinian territories.
These are among the key findings of a worldwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. The survey was conducted in two waves. Fifteen sub-Saharan African countries with substantial Muslim populations were surveyed in 2008-2009, and some of those results previously were analyzed in the Pew Research Center’s 2010 report “Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa.” An additional 24 countries in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa were surveyed in 2011-2012; results regarding religious beliefs and practices were first published in the Pew Research Center’s 2012 report “The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity.” The current report focuses on Muslims’ social and political attitudes, and it incorporates findings from both waves of the survey.
Other key findings include:
  • At least half of Muslims in most countries surveyed say they are concerned about religious extremist groups in their country, including two-thirds or more of Muslims in Egypt (67%), Tunisia (67%), Iraq (68%), Guinea Bissau (72%) and Indonesia (78%). On balance, more are worried about Islamic extremists than about Christian extremists.
  • Muslims around the world overwhelmingly view certain behaviors – including prostitution, homosexuality, suicide, abortion, euthanasia and consumption of alcohol – as immoral. But attitudes toward polygamy, divorce and birth control are more varied. For example, polygamy is seen as morally acceptable by just 4% of Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Azerbaijan; about half of Muslims in the Palestinian territories (48%) and Malaysia (49%); and the vast majority of Muslims in several countries in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Senegal (86%) and Niger (87%).
  • In most countries where a question about so-called “honor” killings was asked, majorities of Muslims say such killings are never justified. Only in two countries – Afghanistan and Iraq – do majorities condone extra-judicial executions of women who allegedly have shamed their families by engaging in premarital sex or adultery.
  • Relatively few Muslims say that tensions between more religiously observant and less observant Muslims are a very big problem in their country. In most countries where the question was asked, Muslims also see little tension between members of Islam’s two major sects, Sunnis and Shias – though a third or more of Muslims in Pakistan (34%) and Lebanon (38%) consider Sunni-Shia conflict to be a very big problem.
  • Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa are more likely than Muslims surveyed in other regions to say they attend interfaith meetings and are knowledgeable about other faiths. But substantial percentages of Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa also perceive hostility between Muslims and Christians. In Guinea-Bissau, for example, 41% of Muslims say “most” or “many” Christians are hostile toward Muslims, and 49% say “most” or “many” Muslims are hostile toward Christians.
  • In half of the countries where the question was asked, majorities of Muslims want religious leaders to have at least “some influence” in political matters, and sizable minorities in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa think religious leaders should have a lot of political influence. For example, 37% of Muslims in Jordan, 41% in Malaysia and 53% in Afghanistan say religious leaders should play a “large” role in politics.
  • Support for making sharia the official law of the land tends to be higher in countries like Pakistan (84%) and Morocco (83%) where the constitution or basic laws favor Islam over other religions.
  • In many countries, Muslims who pray several times a day are more likely to support making sharia official law than are Muslims who pray less frequently. In Russia, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Tunisia, for example, Muslims who pray several times a day are at least 25 percentage points more supportive of enshrining sharia than are less observant Muslims. Generally, however, there is little difference in support for sharia by age, gender or education.


Pew study: 99 percent of Muslim Afghans want sharia to be ‘law of the land’

Washington Post
April 30, 2013

In this Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 file photo, Afghans listen to preacher while offering the Eid al Adha’s prayers outside of Shah-e-Dushamshera mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan. As the country braces for next year’s presidential election and the planned withdrawal of most foreign combat troops by the end of 2014, the panel urges the U.S. government and its allies to work harder to promote religious rights in the war-torn nation. (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File)

OUOTE OF THE DAY:

“The percentage of Muslims who say they want sharia to be ‘the official law of the land’ varies widely around the world, from fewer than one-in-10 in Azerbaijan (8 percent) to near unanimity in Afghanistan (99 percent). But solid majorities in most of the countries surveyed across the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia favor the establishment of sharia, including 71 percent of Muslims in Nigeria, 72 percent in Indonesia, 74 percent in Egypt and 89 percent in the Palestinian territories.”

Dangote Cement Sees Second-Quarter Sales Growth on Gain in April


By Chris Kay, Bloomberg News
April 30, 2013

Dangote Cement PLC (DANGCEM), Nigeria’s largest company and Africa’s biggest producer of the building material, said second-quarter revenue will total 98.5 billion naira ($623.3 million) as demand was “strong” this month.
Pretax profit will amount to 50.6 billion naira, the Lagos- based company said today in an e-mailed statement. First-quarter net income advanced 81 percent to 53.7 billion naira as the tonnage sold increased 38 percent.
Dangote Cement, owned by billionaire Chairman Aliko Dangote, has production capacity of 19.3 million metric tons in Nigeria, with plans to increase that to 29 million tonnes by 2015. The second-quarter revenue forecast would be a 26 percent jump from a year earlier, when the company posted 77.9 billion naira in sales, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“The year has begun well for Dangote Cement and our 38 percent increase in volumes far outpaced the Nigerian market’s strong growth of 16 percent,” Chief Executive Officer Devakumar Edwin said in the statement. “Our gas supply has been better this year, and that has driven margins upwards from the first quarter of 2012,” when two plants at the Nigerian locations of Ibese and Obajana were starting operations.
A new plant in Senegal was unable to start production as scheduled in the quarter because of a dispute over the land title, Dangote Cement said. The company said it’s working on an “acceptable solution” to the dispute that would allow the site to begin operations within weeks.
Dangote Cement released figures after the Lagos market closed. The stock gained 2.6 percent to 160.12 naira today. The shares have risen 25 percent this year, outpacing the 19 percent increase in the Nigerian Stock Exchange All-Share Index. (NGSEINDX)
To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Kay in Abuja at ckay5@bloomberg.net

UN to launch mobile phone initiative to help teachers improve English language skills in Nigeria


United Nations News Center
April 30, 2013



30 April 2013 – The United Nations educational agency today said it is ready to launch a pilot project combining mobile technology and teachers’ development to support primary school English teachers in Nigeria, which has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world.
In a statement issued in Paris, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said “English Teacher” is one of the first attempts to employ mobile technology to improve tools for primary school teachers.
“Our aim from the beginning was to develop a service that teachers working in difficult conditions and without a great deal of support could access quickly,” said Steven Vosloo, the project coordinator for UNESCO. “Mobile technology is a promising avenue and, in some instances, the only option in terms of technology.”
Available to anyone in Nigeria, were nearly all the population is connected to a mobile network, the service sends teachers educational content and messages with pedagogical advice once a day. UNESCO said the system could reach tens of thousands of teachers across the country.
The project runs 72-weeks from the time the subscriber enlists in the free membership, and content is divided into one or two week periods with links to outside resources.
Organized in partnership with the conglomerate Nokia and supported by the British Council and the National Teachers’ Institute of Nigeria, the project will be introduced to teachers from almost 50 different schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria on 2 and 3 May.
“We’re in Nigeria because this is where we are most urgently needed. While it would be nice to offer in-person training to teachers, there are 575,000 primary school teachers in the country and more are needed to achieve universal primary education,” said Mark West, a UNESCO project officer involved in the training in Abuja.
Some 42 per cent, or roughly 10.5 million primary age children in Nigeria, are out-of-school, and those girls and boys who do attend are struggling to learn basic literacy and numeracy, UNESCO said.
“The rapid uptake of mobile technology in Africa has made it realistic to reach teachers who were, practically speaking, unreachable just a few years ago. It is exciting work, and we hope the project provides a model others borrow, emulate and improve upon,” Mr. West added.
Initiatives promoting mobile learning have already been spearheaded across a wide range of countries – including Mozambique, Pakistan, South Africa, Niger, Kenya, and Mongolia – where policies have already provided access to distance education in far-flung communities and improved literacy among girls and women.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Portland Judge Sends High Rolling Las Vegas Oxycodone Dealer [Kingsley Osemwengie] To long Stretch In Prison

By Bryan Denson
The Oregonian, April 29, 2013

Before his arrest in 2011, Kingsley Osemwengie was a high roller who lived in luxury condos and bought four Bentleys, including this one.


Kingsley Osemwengie fell into the fast-lane trappings of Las Vegas, scoring big as a kingpin of a coast-to-coast crime ring that sold pain pills in a dozen states. His was a jetsetting life of call girls and drug couriers, Bentleys and bling.

But Monday, the 27-year-old defendant shuffled out of a Portland courtroom in cuffs and leg chains, headed for a long stretch in prison. Behind him, his anguished mother, who had begged Senior U.S. District Judge Ancer L. Haggerty to show her son mercy, sobbed loudly.

Osemwengie and longtime Vegas buddy Olubenga Badamosi, a Nigerian-bornoxycodone dealer who lived in Milwaukie, headed a network that sold tens of thousands of the pills during a three-year span that began in 2008.

A massive multi-state investigation based in Oregon dismantled the network in a case that federal agents dubbed Operation Trick or Treat. Investigators tracked sales of the prescription painkillers from Florida to Alaska.

Government investigators say they believe many of the oxy pills came from Vegas, where the drug gang paid people to go from doctor to doctor to obtain prescriptions for oxycodone and then hand over their supplies. The fraud is known as "smurfing."

The oxycodone pills sold by Osemwengie and 17 co-conspirators went on the street for up to $80 apiece, according to prosecutors.

"This is the largest oxycodone trafficking conspiracy ever prosecuted in Oregon, and one of the largest in the nation," Amanda Marshall, the U.S. attorney for Oregon, said in a statement.

The pills have a high addiction rate, said John F. Deits, who heads federal drug prosecutions in Oregon. "Then they get too expensive to buy, so people (switch) to heroin, because it's cheap and readily available. Then they run the risk of overdosing."

Kenneth J. Hines, special agent in charge of IRS criminal investigations in the Pacific Northwest, warned oxy dealers that federal agents and their local counterparts will catch and prosecute people who take legal pain meds and distribute them like "some kind of party favor."

And, he said, the government will go after their money.

The court seized $600,000 in assets -- including cash, jewelry and luxury cars -- from defendants in the Trick or Treat case, Deits said.

Authorities arrested Osemwengie at his $5,100-a-month Vegas condo in March 2011.

When IRS agents pored through his financial records, they found that he and his girlfriend, a stripper named Reina Nakachi, had deposited $1.2 million in six bank accounts, including those for two shell corporations: High Profit Investments and First Class Service.

Osemwengie moved thousands of oxy pills and handled hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, while Nakachi was pulling down up to $140,000 a year as an exotic dancer and escort, IRS Special Agent Scott McGeachy told the judge at Monday's hearing.

"The defendant controlled Miss Nakachi in every facet of her life," McGeachy testified. "She was at his command every step of the way."

Osemwengie, a first-generation American whose parents hailed from Nigeria, gave Nakachi $118,500 to pay cash for a 2007 Bentley convertible. He also used her to acquire three other Bentleys, a pair of 2007 Mercedes S550s, a Cadillac Escalade and a Range Rover, prosecutors say.

The high-rolling dealer lived in a high rise in Vegas and put Nakachi up in the Trump Tower in Sunny Isles, Fla. Nakachi, whose sentencing on a drug conspiracy conviction is set for June 10, also leased five other luxurious dwellings for Osemwengie, including a $10,000-a-month condo in Miami's Ten Museum Park, the government alleges.

"He's a very bright man," Osemwengie's defense lawyer, Gary Bertoni, told the court.

Osemwengie was illegally making fake IDs before he met up with Badamosi. Their circle of friends grew, and the drug operation grew with it "by happenstance," Bertoni said.

Soon, Osemwengie found himself entrenched in the Vegas high life. "Once you're into it," Bertoni said, "you need to maintain that lifestyle." Osemwengie had lots of jewelry, but little cash, his lawyer said. In fact, he owed money to family members and had student loan debts to the University of Nevada Las Vegas. In all, he owed about $300,000, Bertoni said.

Osemwengie was the last of the key players in the oxycodone ring to be sentenced. He took his case to the eve of trial, but reversed course last December and pleaded guilty to three conspiracy charges that accused him of selling oxycodone pills, sending them through U.S. mail and laundering the proceeds.

His parents spoke up for him at the sentencing hearing.

Philomena Osemwengie, his mom, beseeched Haggerty to give her son another chance. "Please, your honor, I'm begging you," she said. By then, her tall, handsome son was weeping. He dabbed his eyes with Kleenex.

When it came time for him to stand and say his piece, Osemwengie drew his 6-foot frame out of his chair and stood rigidly in his blue jail scrubs. "I gotta apologize for a lot of things," he said. "First and foremost, I put my family through a lot of shame."

They suffered, he said.

"I'm sorry."

Haggerty sentenced Osemwengie to 17 years and six months in federal prison.

– Bryan Denson

In Brawl For Seau Brain, A Proxy War Over Concussion Science

By Steve Fainaru and Mark Fainaru-Wada


ESPN reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru are writing a book about football and brain injuries, to be published in 2013 by Crown Books, a division of Random House. FRONTLINE, in partnership with ESPN’s Outside the Lines, is producing a documentary based on the reporters’ research. This article is a product of these partnerships.





Inside the autopsy room of the San Diego County medical examiner’s office, Bennet Omalu, a forensic pathologist, carefully sliced Junior Seau’s brain with a long knife. It was late morning on May 3, 2012; Seau’s autopsy, which began just after 9, was nearly over. Omalu wore dark blue scrubs, rubber gloves and a clear plastic face mask as he went about his work in the cool, windowless room, picking up half of Seau’s brain and placing it in a small tub filled with formaldehyde and water.

Omalu, 44, was the first researcher to identify brain damage in a former NFL player. When he published his results, in July 2005, the NFL attacked him and insisted he was wrong. His research has since been vindicated many times over, with each new discovery of the crippling neurodegenerative disease in a dead football player. Omalu arrived at Seau’s autopsy with a special “brain briefcase” he carries on such occasions. His intention was to fly Seau’s brain back to San Francisco that night and share it with a Nobel Prize-winning researcher who also coveted the valuable specimen.

Just then, the medical examiner’s chaplain, Joe Davis, walked into the room.

“Houston, we have a problem,” Davis said.

Seau’s son Tyler had just called, Davis told Omalu and Craig Nelson, the deputy medical examiner.

“I talked to the NFL,” Tyler Seau, then 22, told the chaplain. The league, he said, informed him that Omalu’s “research is bad and his ethics are bad.” Tyler was in a rage. Omalu “is not to be in the same f—ing room as my dad!” he screamed. “He’s not to f—ing touch my dad! He’s not to have anything to do with my dad!”

Omalu left and returned home, his brain briefcase empty.

From that point on, the NFL played a powerful role in determining what happened to Junior Seau’s brain — who studied it and where. In the hours, days and weeks after Seau shot himself in the chest with a .357 Magnum revolver — the shocking end to the life of one of the most admired players in history — the league muscled aside independent researchers, ignored a previous commitment to Boston University and directed Seau’s brain to the National Institutes of Health — four months before the NFL donated $30 million to that institution for concussion and other research.

The NFL’s intervention in the fate of Seau’s brain — the most prized specimen yet in the race to document the relationship between football and brain damage — was part of an aggressive strategy to dictate who leads the science of concussions. By shunting aside Omalu, whose discovery sparked the concussion crisis; Boston University researchers, the leading experts on football and brain damage; a Nobel laureate; and other suitors, the league directed Seau’s brain away from scientists who have driven the national debate about the risks of playing football — the central issue to the NFL’s future.

“Outside the Lines” and “Frontline” pieced together the odyssey of Seau’s brain from interviews, documents and private emails.

What emerges is essentially a scientific backroom brawl in which the NFL prevailed over a half-dozen researchers vying for Seau’s brain. To the league and the Seau family — and even some of the losers — this was the best possible outcome. The NFL ended an ugly free-for-all that brought added pain to Seau’s relatives, who received unsolicited calls from brain researchers, including Omalu, within hours of his death. With researchers unwilling to share tissue and bad-mouthing one another to Seau’s family, the intervention by league representatives led to a blind study by one of the most respected research institutions in the country. Five specialists consulted by the NIH found what Omalu himself suspected: Seau suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the disease found in dozens of former players.

“Obviously, the NFL wants to be real careful as to not look as though they were inserting themselves in the middle of this, where they’re trying to cover something up,” said Kevin Guskiewicz, one of three members of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee who helped steer Seau’s brain to the NIH. “I can assure you that is not the case right now.”

But there’s a déjà vu quality to the NFL’s recent strategy. A federal lawsuit filed against the league by more than 4,000 retired players and their families (including Seau’s) revolves around the NFL’s previous scientific exploration. The players charge that the league’s original concussion committee, which was disbanded in 2009, conducted fraudulent research to hide the connection between football and brain damage. That 15 years of research has been largely discarded, even by the league. When Mitchel Berger, chairman of the department of neurological surgery at the University of California San Francisco, joined the NFL’s new concussion committee in 2010, he and his colleagues “essentially started from zero,” Berger said.

Faced with the threat of the lawsuit and mounting concerns about the long-term health effects of the sport, the NFL is again using its vast resources to insert itself in the science of head trauma.

“I guess the National Institute of Health is now involved; I guess they somehow got drafted by the NFL,” said Bob Fitzsimmons, a Wheeling, W.Va., lawyer who represented Mike Webster, the first NFL player diagnosed with CTE, and co-founded the nonprofit Brain Injury Research Institute with Omalu and Dr. Julian Bailes, a prominent neurosurgeon. “They had an early draft, I think, and they drafted the NIH and paid them pretty good salary, too, from what I hear.”

The NFL also recently announced a $60 million research partnership with General Electric and Under Armour, and is working with the U.S. Army on concussion initiatives.

An NFL spokesman, Greg Aiello, said members of the Head, Neck and Spine Committee work independently and the league played no role in directing Seau’s brain to the NIH. Guskiewicz said he acted on his own as a research scientist and not under the direction of the league. The NFL Head, Neck and Spine Committee is funded by the NFL, reports to the commissioner and filters communication through the NFL’s media office, which sometimes monitors interviews and correspondence with committee members. None of the committee members is paid by the league, but they submit expenses through the league office.

According to Dr. Rich Ellenbogen, the committee’s co-chairman, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sought guidance from the committee as far back as 2010 about where to direct the league’s resources. The NIH was recommended. At the same time, Ellenbogen and other committee members discussed employing the NIH as a scientific clearinghouse for research into football and brain damage.

Seau’s death became a catalyst for turning the NFL’s vision into reality.

In the final months of his life, Seau had become unrecognizable to those closest to him. He rarely saw his four children and frequently disappeared on partying and gambling binges, spending tens of thousands of dollars at a time. His erratic moods, inattentiveness and inexplicable bursts of anger had caused his most trusted confidante, Bette Hoffman, the head of his charitable foundation whom Seau called “Mom,” to quit and change her phone number to avoid his calls. In San Diego, Seau was still beloved as a great athlete and local ambassador who raised millions of dollars for disadvantaged kids through the Junior Seau Foundation. His smile and charisma, which lit up the entire city, seemed undiminished. But to those who loved him, he was obviously in trouble; many now believe his car crash off a cliff in 2010 was a suicide attempt.

As word spread on May 2 that Seau’s girlfriend had found him shot in the chest on a queen-sized bed at his beachfront home in Oceanside, Calif., Seau’s extended Samoan family, friends, neighbors and San Diego Chargers fans descended on the house.

Nelson, the deputy medical examiner, arrived at 11:46 a.m. A medical examiner investigator’s report described the scene: “There was bedding lying on the floor on the left side of the bed as I faced it. On top of the bed were pillows stained with blood. The fitted sheet on the bed was blood stained. A gray stocking cap and a Smith & Wesson Model 19-5 .357 magnum revolver … lay on its left side with five live rounds in the cylinder and one spent round near the right-sided head of the bed as I faced it, and next to a pillow.”

Seau was placed on a gurney in a body bag and brought down to the garage. Only his head was exposed. The house was warm and filled with police, medical personnel and family, and decorated with Seau’s trophies and memorabilia: his Chargers MVP trophy, game photos, a New England Patriots helmet signed by the team. The crowd outside had swelled to some 400 people. Seau’s family opened the garage for a spontaneous public viewing. One by one, for nearly an hour, the tearful crowd filed past; some bent over to kiss Seau’s forehead or cheek. “It was a pretty intense moment,” one witness said. “I looked down and I was like, ‘Man, that’s Junior Seau.’ There’s nobody that looks like him. It really affected me, the enormity of it.”

As Tyler Seau looked down, he felt pain and regret. Like the rest of his siblings, he had been fighting for his father’s attention, dealing with the absences and volcanic bursts of anger.

“I guess the hardest thing was just there was just no closure,” he said, crying softly during an interview.

When the viewing ended, Seau’s body was taken away. Tyler was still at the house when his cellphone rang. At first it was difficult to hear; reception at the beach house was spotty. But soon he could make out the thickly accented voice.

It was Bennet Omalu, introducing himself and expressing his condolences.

He had a request.

Omalu was a 36-year-old junior pathologist at the Allegheny County Coroner’s Office in Pittsburgh when he identified Webster, the Hall of Fame Steelers center, with CTE. That discovery forever changed how people look at football and continues to haunt the NFL.

Omalu is now chief medical examiner in San Joaquin County, Calif. But in many ways, he is still a foreigner, especially in the closed world of concussion research, which is dominated by older, white men. A devout Catholic and native of Nigeria’s Igbo tribe, he blends science and mysticism and is prone to hyperbole and indiscretion. Omalu believes he can communicate with the spirits of the people he autopsies. In 2009, he displayed photos of Webster lying on the autopsy table during a meeting of the NFL Players Association in Palm Beach, Fla., stunning many of the players, scientists and widows in attendance.

No one has been able to discredit Omalu’s research, however. When Bailes, the neurosurgeon who helped found the Brain Injury Research Institute with Omalu and Fitzsimmons, heard that Seau had killed himself, he phoned Omalu immediately.

“We need to secure this brain,” said Bailes, the co-director of NorthShore Neurological Institute in Evanston, Ill.

To many, Seau’s brain was the premier specimen in concussion research. At stake were research dollars and the prestige of diagnosing Seau, who was 43 at the time of his death and the most significant player thrust into the NFL’s concussion crisis. Seau was a certain Hall of Famer who spent 20 years in the NFL. He combined strength and speed to become one of the game’s most physical players. The fact that he never had a diagnosed concussion raised more questions for the NFL and scientists seeking to study his brain.

Omalu and Bailes called Tyler Seau together. “We introduced ourselves, explained what we were doing, about CTE, that we would like him to grant us consent to examine his father’s brain,” Omalu said. He described Tyler as “very polite” and receptive during the call.

But Tyler said he felt pressured by Omalu. “He was very pushy and he really wanted me to make a decision that night. He pretty much said that we have to do it now because if it’s not done the right way we could lose a lot of the tissue and things like that.”

Omalu faxed Tyler a consent form to harvest his father’s brain. Emails obtained by “Outside the Lines” and “Frontline” show that Tyler initially was prepared to sign. At 8:38 that night, he informed Omalu: “my guy is on his way here right now so I can sign it and fax it back to you.” An hour later, Tyler wrote that Omalu needed to talk to David Chao, the San Diego Chargers doctor, to “cross our Ts and dot our Is before proceeding.”

Tyler said he called Chao for advice because “he was my dad’s team doctor 13 years. They were pretty close.” Chao has come under criticism in and out of the medical community for issues unrelated to Seau’s care. DeMaurice Smith, the executive director of the NFL Players Association, called for Chao to be replaced as team doctor over allegations of malpractice and negligence. Earlier this year, a panel of independent doctors established under the collective bargaining agreement exonerated Chao.

The night of Seau’s death, Omalu spoke with Chao. “That was one of the most arrogant phone calls I’ve ever been involved with in my life,” Omalu said. “This guy was yelling, was extremely arrogant, pretty much questioning who I was.”

Chao declined to comment for this story.

After emailing samples of his research to Chao, Omalu still believed he had “verbal consent” from Tyler to take Seau’s brain. He packed for the flight from San Francisco to San Diego the following morning to do just that.

By the time Nelson, the deputy medical examiner, returned from Seau’s home, a half-dozen phone messages were waiting for him from researchers hoping to study the brain.

One of the researchers in pursuit, emails show, was Stanley Prusiner, winner of the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Prusiner, a 70-year-old neurologist who is director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of California San Francisco, won the award for his discovery of prions — a class of proteins that cause brain disease.

Prusiner joined Omalu in what became a tag-team approach to securing Seau’s brain. Shortly after Seau’s death, Prusiner, according to emails and interviews, placed calls to Davis, the chaplain at the medical examiner’s office, to try to arrange a meeting with the Seau family. Prusiner’s assistant also called and emailed Tyler Seau.

“Please it is vital you get to the Seau family,” Omalu wrote Prusiner. “I think they will give you/us the brain if you directly speak to them and play the nobel price (sic) card

Prusiner responded by email 12 minutes later that he planned to fly to San Diego to try to meet with the Seau family.

But others, too, had begun to make bids for the specimen. The day after Seau’s death, Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy reached out to representatives of the family. Chris Nowinski, a 34-year-old former professional wrestler and concussion activist, had once worked with Omalu. When the two split acrimoniously, Nowinski merged his own group, the Sports Legacy Institute, with BU. Working with another pathologist, Dr. Ann McKee, the Boston group had diagnosed more CTE cases than any other researchers in the world.

In 2010, the NFL gave Boston University $1 million, designated the center as the “preferred” brain bank of the NFL and pledged to encourage retired players to donate their brains and participate in the center’s research. The open-ended agreement, signed by Jeff Pash, the NFL’s general counsel and No. 2 executive, was framed on the wall of the Boston center’s main office. The agreement came with no strings attached, but some researchers questioned whether Boston University had sacrificed its independence by taking money from the NFL. As Omalu made his case to Tyler Seau, he pointed out that his group didn’t take a dime from the league.

Nowinski, Boston University’s brain chaser, contacted Chao, who was representing Seau’s family. “The pitch is usually, ‘We’d like to talk,’” Nowinski said. “We don’t want people to make the ask for us.” Before long, though, “there were multiple people calling” on BU’s behalf, Nowinski acknowledged. “People who supported us, who had a relationship with them.”

The BU group touted itself to the Seaus as the NFL’s officially sanctioned brain bank.

The morning after Seau’s death, at 5:55 a.m., Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King tweeted: “Dedicated researchers in Boston studying deceased players’ brains for evidence of trauma attempting to obtain Junior Seau’s. Hope they do.”

King’s tweet quickly became a national news story that appeared on NFL.com, ESPN.com and other websites. Seau’s family was outraged. “I think that put added pressure on the Seau family,” Nowinski said. “We heard back from Dr. Chao that they were upset that they were put under that pressure.”

Nowinski and others at Boston University urged King to retract the tweet and apologize to the Seaus. Nowinski said the tweet was premature and was based on an earlier conversation in which he told King that BU sought all brains of deceased athletes involved in contact sports. But King, in fact, had confirmed BU’s interest in Seau’s brain. He refused to apologize or make a retraction. “I empathize with them and know how badly they wanted to see Seau’s brain,” King said in an interview. “I was sorry it put them in an awkward situation, because I believe in what they do.”

King issued another tweet at 11:13 a.m.: “To clarify researchers seeking Seau’s brain: Info not from them. They seek to examine all ex-players who played contact sports. Every one.”

In some ways, the tension was understandable. If Seau’s brain was to be studied, it had to be preserved. There were no immediate plans to do that. As he prepared for Seau’s autopsy, Nelson tried to keep up with the calls.

Nelson and the Seaus found the competition bizarre and macabre. “It felt sometimes to me like buzzards were circling,” Nelson said. “I have a scientific mind and a medical background, but when someone has just died, things are very fresh. I want to say, ‘Listen, guys, somebody’s dad just died, that’s what my focus is.’ Imagine that your parent dies and then hours later somebody is calling you and saying, ‘Hey, would you consider donating this for research?’ It can sit a little odd, and when it’s such an unexpected death, it makes it harder.”

When she heard about the requests, Seau’s ex-wife, Gina, with whom Seau had remained close, was horrified. “It was the most foreign thing I’d ever heard of, quite honestly,” she said. “And the fact that I had to have a conversation with the coroner and ask, ‘If we decide to donate it, how do you take it out? And what do you do with it?’ It was the most bizarre, horrible conversation, looking back.”

On May 3, the day after Seau’s death, Omalu arrived in San Diego around 7:30 a.m. and headed straight to the medical examiner’s office. Nelson, believing Omalu had received consent from Seau’s family, authorized him to participate in the autopsy. That morning, when the brain donation consent form still hadn’t materialized, Nelson asked Davis, the chaplain, to call Tyler Seau and have him forward it. Before the autopsy began, Omalu chatted with Davis, recounting his early battles with the NFL. He then joined Nelson in the autopsy room, a large space with fluorescent lighting and 12 workstations equipped with stainless steel tables, oscillating saws and plastic cutting boards.

Nelson conducted the autopsy and removed most of Seau’s vital organs. Omalu said he removed the brain and spinal cord and handled the preservation and cutting of the brain, which, when removed, has the consistency of Jell-O. Part of Seau’s brain was placed in formalin (formaldehyde and water), a process known as fixing. The process hardens the brain until it can be sliced more easily and shaved into slivers viewable under a microscope. The rest of Seau’s brain was to be frozen and overnighted to Prusiner the next day, according to Omalu.

As the autopsy was concluding, Davis received a call back from Tyler, who was angry and yelling, insisting that he didn’t want Omalu near his father. Davis asked why. Tyler responded that he had “talked to the NFL” and specifically mentioned he had received advice from Chao, although it was unclear to Davis whether Tyler might have spoken with others affiliated with the league, too.

When Davis walked in and recounted to Omalu his jconversation with Tyler, Omalu became upset. He felt like it was a replay of the earlier attempts to discredit him, a campaign that was led by three former researchers on the NFL’s concussion committee: Elliot Pellman, Ira Casson and Dave Viano. “It reminded me of the way Casson, Pellman and Viano dismissed me, actually calling me a fraud as well,” Omalu said. “It’s the same pattern. To summarize it: a systematic effort to marginalize me, delegitimize me and dismiss me. To pretty much make me null and void, an outsider not to be trusted. Why? I don’t know.”

“Why do I deserve to be treated the way I’m being treated?” Omalu said, growing emotional. “For doing good work? Isn’t that what America is about: doing good work, enhancing the lives of others?”

Tyler Seau said he was upset that Omalu assisted on the autopsy without his written consent to harvest his father’s brain. When Tyler read the consent form, he said, he believed it would have forced him to give up all control of his father’s brain. He declined to address his conversation with Davis but acknowledged in a statement that Chao, the Chargers doctor, had warned him away from Omalu

Even after he was booted from the autopsy room and sent packing, Omalu held out hope that the combination of him, Prusiner and Bailes might still persuade Seau’s family to let them study the brain.

Omalu returned home late that night to a congratulatory email from Prusiner. The Nobel laureate attached an article from ESPN.com, which had learned that Omalu participated in the autopsy.

“Your trip to San Diego was really important,” Prusiner wrote. “Please see the wonderful attached write-up about you, the CTE identifier. I shall call Tyler and David Chao tomorrow and create a time to meet them in SD.”

But Prusiner, who declined to be interviewed for this story, appears to have been unaware of the forces now working against them, and that Chao and others were steering the brain in a different direction.

Shortly after Seau’s death, Chao called Guskiewicz, an influential member of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine committee who is also director of the Matthew Gfeller Sport-Related Traumatic Brain Injury Research Center at The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. The two men knew each other through a trainer at UNC. In 2011, Guskiewicz, a former critic of the NFL, won a $500,000 MacArthur “genius grant” for his concussion research.

Guskiewicz had been present for Omalu’s graphic 2009 presentation of the Webster autopsy and had never forgotten it. He acknowledged to “Outside the Lines” and “Frontline” that he shared with Chao concerns “within the circles that I hang out in within the science community” that Omalu was prone to “sensationalizing at times” and “showing slides of the deceased person — their brain — and that sort of thing.”

But Guskiewicz and some of his colleagues on the NFL committee also had concerns about Boston University, the league’s preferred brain bank. Many researchers, including Guskiewicz, complained that BU refused to share brain tissue, making it difficult to validate its work. The issue had grown larger as BU diagnosed more and more CTE cases and asserted publicly that the connection between football and brain damage was indisputable.

Guskiewicz and other researchers associated with the NFL believed that the BU group had created unwarranted hysteria about the risks of playing football, even though the prevalence of CTE is unknown.

“And then, to know that there was all this knocking on the door, the calls, I just can’t imagine going through it,” Guskiewicz said. “It puts a bit of a black mark on the entire neuroscience community because some of us, I think, are perhaps guilty by association. So I think that’s concerning.”

Around the same time, Ellenbogen, the Head, Neck and Spine committee’s co-chair, said he received a call from the league office in New York. Ellenbogen, in an interview, said he was told that Chao contacted the league seeking advice on behalf of Seau’s family. The league wanted the committee to get involved, asking: “Is this something for NIH?”

Members of the NFL’s concussion committee, including Ellenbogen and Guskiewicz, had pushed the idea of directing research to the NIH since the committee was reconstituted in 2010. In early 2011, despite the league’s commitment to BU, members tried to direct the brain of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson to the NIH. Unlike Seau, Duerson had left a suicide note in which he requested: “PLEASE, SEE THAT MY BRAIN IS GIVEN TO THE N.F.L.’S BRAIN BANK.”

At the time, Duerson’s family interpreted the note to mean the Boston University group, which emphasized its association with the NFL. BU diagnosed Duerson with CTE.

With Seau, the NFL did not honor its commitment to BU.

Guskiewicz said he was unaware that the league had pledged to direct brains to Boston University and got involved only because of his personal connection with Chao. He said he viewed the NIH as an ideal solution to end the “tug of war” over Seau’s brain. He said he believed some of the tissue would “likely end up in the labs of some of these scientists” and the findings “could be corroborated using a more collaborative investigative model.”

Asked in an interview why they suggested the NIH, Ellenbogen said, “We had been talking about it for a while. My point, for a long time I’ve been saying … if you’ve got a problem you want to solve, do you put one university on it or have multiple studies done? The federal government is very good, in some ways, really good about doing this. They don’t have an agenda.”

Ellenbogen and Guskiewicz put Chao in touch with Dr. Russell Lonser, then an NIH brain researcher. “We hooked him up with Russ, and then Russ takes the story from there,” Ellenbogen said.

Lonser had two official titles: chief of surgical neurology at the NIH and head of research for the NFL’s concussion committee.

Lonser downplayed his connection with the league and said his most important role was overseeing the study of Seau’s brain for NIH.

“NIH can be like Switzerland in a certain sense,” he said.

Nowinski said he wasn’t surprised by the snub of Boston University: “The family was upset with us. I didn’t think we’d get it.”

Robert Cantu, the chief of surgery at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass., and a co-founder of the Boston University center, described the move as “a personal insult” to McKee, the neuropathologist who diagnoses brains for the center. Except for that, said Cantu, a senior adviser to the NFL Head, Neck and Spine committee, he was “glad it went down the way it did” because the NIH’s confirmation was ultimately stronger than if BU had diagnosed “one more brain.” McKee did not respond to interview requests.

The NIH has not publicly identified the researchers who conducted the blind study of Seau’s brain, but Aiello, the NFL spokesman, said he understood Boston University was one of the groups that received Seau’s tissue to study. When asked how the NFL would know the identities of the organizations involved in a blind study, he said he “heard it second-hand around the office.”

Four months after the Seau family donated Seau’s brain to the NIH, the NFL gave $30 million to the institution for concussion and other research. At the time, it was the largest philanthropic gift in the league’s 92-year history. Goodell said the donation came with no strings attached — a pledge identical to one the NFL made three years earlier to Boston University.

“I don’t think you tell the NIH what to expect,” Goodell told ESPN’s Darren Rovell. “We give them the money because they are the leading scientists in the world, and they make the determinations where that money goes, how it can be best spent and what kind of results can be expected.”

Ellenbogen said it was important to find a more independent research model.

“You can’t have the NFL doing studies,” Ellenbogen said about the committee’s reasoning. “You can’t have the NFL paying Boston University to be doing studies. You gotta get people who don’t owe us anything.”


Members of Seau’s family were unaware of the full extent of the NFL’s role in steering Seau’s brain to the NIH. Nor do they appear to care, only that the competition for the brain stopped and the study was of the highest quality. “I didn’t care about what people and doctors were competing for,” said Gina Seau, Seau’s ex-wife. “I just cared about a high level of scientific study without bias.”

The confirmation of CTE is, of course, no solace to Seau’s relatives and friends. But it provides an explanation for why he became a different person.

Rather than providing the closure, Tyler Seau said the diagnosis in some ways made him feel worse. “It didn’t take any of the pain away; I feel it almost brought more,” he said. “Mainly because I feel bad that I didn’t try harder. And just the pain that he was going through for how many years?”

Fitzsimmons, the lawyer who represented Webster, said it’s too soon to know what to expect next from the NFL.

Fitzsimmons has been following the league’s struggle to deal with concussions for nearly 20 years. He defeated the NFL in court to win $1.8 million in disability benefits for Webster — three years after Webster’s death. He watched the NFL try to discredit and marginalize Omalu. He watched the league embrace Boston University and now push its researchers aside for the NIH.

“If you can control facts,” Fitzsimmons said, “that’s probably beneficial to whatever side is controlling them.”