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January 28, 2006

AS GOVT BATTLES TO FREE HOSTAGES, STOP KILLINGS : We say NO to use of force, by Niger-Delta leaders

GENERALLY, the expectation is that the militia group, which abducted four foreign oil workers, including an American, Pat Cendey and a Briton, Nigel Markson from an oil vessel, off the Atlantic Ocean in Bayelsa state, January 11, should have set them free by now after collecting a negotaited ransom, but surprisingly this time around, they are still being held captive at an unknown hideout by their captors, who claimed to be members of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger-Delta (MEND).

By Emma Amaize, Regional Editor, South-South, Simon Ebegbulem, Emma Arubi and Paul Bebenimibo
Posted to the Web: Saturday, January 28, 2006

But given the high-powered committee set up by the Federal Government to secure the release of the hostages and the unmistakable directive to the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger-Delta to rescue the captives from the lion’s jaw, their freedom was only seen as a matter of days but two weeks and three days after the kidnap, the committee is yet to achieve the ultimate goal which is the foreigners’ freedom. The kidnappers, however, are the ones talking tough.

It is viewed in official quarters that agreeing to the demands of the rebels to release the former governor of Bayelsa state, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and leader of the Niger-Delta Peoples Volunteer Front (NDPVF), Alhaji M. Asari-Dokubo, who are respectively standing trial for money laundering and treasonable felony in a barter for the hostages, will tantamount to a sovereign government abdicating its sovereignty to hooligans.

Yet, the group, which had killed some policemen and soldiers and blown up a number of oil installations in the country, threatens not to release the oil workers but to cause more havoc if their demands are not met. So, should the government call their bluff and deploy the military to liberate the hostages and capture the militants dead or alive? The matter is now at a critical phase and the way it is handled will have some implications, both within and outside Nigeria.

With the abductions, killings of security personnel and destruction of oil installations, this is not the best of times for this hugely-populated country called Nigeria. There has been so much unease in the international community following the attacks, causing oil prices to continue to rise in the world market.

Back home, there is such a palpable tension in the land, especially in the troubled Niger-Delta region where frightened villagers had since begun to flee from their homes for fear of reprisal attack from the Federal Government as it happened in Odi (Bayelsa) and Zaki-Biam (Benue) when some soldiers and policemen were killed.

Besides the call for Alamieyeseigha and Asari-Dokubo’s release, the militants said they were also fighting for the control of the resources of the Niger-Delta region. Those who actually wear the shoe here are the people of the Niger-Delta and they know where it pinches most. They are the people who suffer ecological damage and all sorts of expoiltation due to oil exploration, leaving the comatose in the poverty-stricken creeks.

President Olusegun Obasanjo, Thursday, was as emphatic as ever that his government would not bow to terrorists, even as he had earlier Wednesday reacted to the the attacks by gun men on oil facilities and banks within the Agip compound in Port Harcourt, the day before.

While directing the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero to track down the perpetrators of the crimes and to forestall any reoccurence of the ugly events, the President expressed his condolences to the families of the eight policemen and one civilian who lost their lives in Tuesday’s attacks.

But what is the way out of these avoidable deaths, abduction and vandalisation of oil installations? What can the government do to resolve the crises? In which way can the hostages be freed? Saturday Vanguard spoke to some elders and youth leaders of the geo-political zone on the siege on the region; what they make of the entire sordid affair and the way forward.

It is believed that if the parties concerned hearken to these words of wisdom from the elders and the people concerned, perhaps, it may help to lessen the tension in the land and the steady decline into anarchy.

Jemide: This action won’t help

The Otsodin of Warri, Chief Isaac Jemide said the kidnap of the four foreign oil workers in Bayelsa state is the height of lawlessness.
“I don’t think this action (kidnap) will get the government to release Alamieyeseigha and Asari-Dokubo in order to get the hostages released. No, it’s not the solution to the many problems in the Niger Delta region.
“There are better ways to go about solving the multiple problems of the region. Yes, we have a lot of problems here but I do not support this act.”

‘It’s no cowardice to dialogue with ‘em’

Warri-based lawyer, Dr. Emmanuel Urhobo who spoke in the same vein like Oyegun said that it was wrong for any person or group of persons to give condition to government for the release of the hostages they kidnapped, saying that encouraging their demands will be encouraging chaos.
“I support the release of the foreign nationals but government should be committed to discussing the grievances of the militants with them. It is no cowardice to do so. Besides, they can be prevailed to drop their hard-line posture.”

He said that rather than use the release of Alamieyeseigha and Asari-Dokubo as condition for the release of the hostages, what one should be talking about is their being giving fair hearing and speedy trial for “justice delayed is justice denied”.

Involve religious leaders — Mamamu

Chairman of the Ijaw National Congress (INC), Western zone, Chief Samson Mamamu does not want the authorities to use force to free the hostages or to make a statement. “We should avoid anything that will make this incident escalate because if it does, the crisis will be more disastrous than before. The committee set up by the President should do an honest job. They should be sincere and anybody involved in the negotiations must be genuine.

“The rumour now is that many of the people acting as contacts between the government and the kidnappers are not genuine. It is also my advice that very few traditional rulers should be involved. Then, some God-fearing religious leaders should also be involved so that the joint efforts of the royal fathers and the religious people will yield result.

“As for using force, we do not advise that the government should deploy soldiers to start threatening innocent souls. That will create more confusion and even jeopardise the aim that is being pursued. If these things are done, we may succeed in getting out the victims.”

Our advice —Itsekiri, Ijaw youth leaders

Itsekiri youth leader, Mr. Itsekure Mathew condemns the killings of soldiers and policemen because “these things portray us (Niger-Delta people) in bad light. To kidnap foreigners doesn’t help the Niger-Delta struggle in any way. It is an embarrassment to the country before the international community.
“My advice is that the government should apply any peaceful measure to get the problem resolved. The use of force should be the last resort because it really does not help any side because there may be casualties on both sides.”

Also speaking, the chairman of Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), Western zone, Mr. David Reje sees the issue of the kidnapped expatriates as a very complex one, and one caused by the neglect of the Niger Delta region by the Federal Government.

According to him, “in most cases, the oil companies prefer to cater more for the welfare of the security agents more than what the needs of the indigenes are. Most times, the indigenes make some demands, like cases of MOU signed with these companies, and they are not fulfilled.

“What government should do is to negotiate with the militants, and not to use force. But after the hostages would have been freed, one would expect the oil companies to begin to keep to their agreements with the host communities.”

He backs the call for the release Asari-Dokubo because “he’s fighting for his people. He’s a freedom fighter.” On the killing of security personnel and abduction of foreigners, Reje says these actions “are sad but I implore the military to exercise restraint because military action will not help. What I can say for now is that the Bayelsa state government is doing what it is supposed to do as a government. It should call the kidnappers to order because it is even the government that made these people so courageous.

“They used them for elections and after the elections, nothing happened, many of them were not empowered. So, they pounced on the nearest prey they can lay their hands on. Most of the politicians used these people during elections. And after using them, they dumped them. So, that’s what you get.

“I equally advise the kidnappers not to harm the hostages because the issue of fighting for resource control is internationally known. And I believe that the Ijaw people should come together and make a case and send a delegation to the home countries of these multinationals and present our cases. Then the kidnappers should please exercise restrain too because of the future and the integrity of our people. We beg them to release the expatriates to the government and table their demands to the authorities to look into. I appreciate the fact that they did not take the foreigners because of money.”

‘Arresting Ijaw youth leaders won’t help’
Already, security agents have arrested three Ijaw youth leaders in connection with the many crises while many are on the run. One of them is the deputy president of the IYC, Mr. ThankGod Seibi. Seibi spoke to Saturday Vanguard from his hideout.

“Many IYC leaders and members have been listed as the people behind the incident and they want to arrest them. Some like the spokesman, Peter Ajube, assistant secretary, Bailbond and Boro Opudu have been arrested for no just cause. The allegation was that they were behind the cases of kidnap and killings. We are all surprised. Our hands are tied because government wants to arrest people including me. So, we’re all running.

“My advice to the youths that are responsible for the hostage-taking is that they should temper justice with mercy, and for the sake of the Ijaw nation, release these people. On the part of the Federal Government, I strongly advise them not to make further arrest of Ijaw youth leaders because that can only worsen the situation.”

Posted by Publisher at 10:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Court refuses bail for Uwazuruike, 6 others

ABUJA — A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday refused to admit to bail, the detained leader of Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and six others.

By IseOluwa Ige
Posted to the Web: Saturday, January 28, 2006

The presiding judge, Justice Binta Murtala-Nyarko, in a ruling, yesterday, held that apart from the fact that the investigation against the accused persons were still on-going, she said the charges preferred them were grievous.

Besides, the judge added that lead counsel to the accused persons, Chief Mike Ikenna Ahamba (SAN) did not help the case of the accused persons as he did not cite any precedent relating to people charged with treason in the past and granted bail on request.

The court ruling yesterday also addressed two other separate issues raised in the bail application including a request on the court to void the entire treason charge against the accused person on the account of its incompetence and the relocation of the accused persons from the SSS custody to the prison custody.
Ruling on the request by the accused person to void the treason charge on account that it was not accompanied with proof of evidence, the judge held that although filing a criminal information without a proof of evidence was a defect, such defect was not serious enough to warrant annulment of the entire charge. The trial judge consequently ordered prosecution to file and furnish the defence with proof of evidence in the case within two weeks.

But the court moved in favour of the accused persons over their demand that they be remanded in prison custody.
Justice Nyarko who gave the order for the relocation of the accused persons from the SSS custody to prison said they should be given maximum security there in order to allay the fears expressed by the prosecution that their security could not be guaranteed in prison.

But counsel to the accused persons, Chief Ahamba (SAN) yesterday said that it would contest the ruling of the court. Full blown trial in the case was adjourned till March 10, this year.

But moments after the court rose yesterday, Chief Ahamba (SAN) had a discussion with the SSS men on the modality of the relocation of the accused persons from their custody to prison as ordered by the court.

A senior officer of the SSS and a lawyer who robed in court during proceedings yesterday told Chief Ahamba (SAN) that the relocation of the accused persons was not a problem, adding that they were willing to comply with the order of the court.

The lawyer and SSS official who did not disclose his name however solicited the co-operation of Chief Ahamba to allow him keep the accused persons in the Peugeout Expert that brought them to court pending the time they would obtain remand warrant from the court.

He even told the learned silk that he was at liberty to chat with his clients while they were on the bus.
But moments after Chief Ahamba turned his back, all the accused persons who were already in the SSS bus were driven off the court premises to the chagrin of Chief Ahamba.

He said he had expected the senior SSS official to be a man of honour.
The six others were Chibuike Nwosu ‘m’ 23 years old, Benedict Alakwen ‘m’ 45 years old, Chimankpa Okorocha ‘m’ 19 years old, Kelechi Ubabuike ‘m’ 27 years old, Ambrose Anyaso ‘m’ 46 years old and Augustine Ihuoma.

Posted by Publisher at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 25, 2006

Alams asks court to stop trial

LAGOS—IMPEACHED Bayelsa State governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, yesterday asked a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, which is trying him for alleged money laundering, to stay further hearing in the matter pending the out-come of the appeal he (Alamieyeseigha) filed before the Court of Appeal, Lagos, challenging the ruling of the trial judge, which over-ruled his application to stop his formal arraignment.

By Innocent Anaba & Ise-Oluwa Ige
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which is prosecuting him has , however, dismissed Chief Alamieyeseigha’s suit as laughable.

Justice Mohammed Shuaibu had on December 23, 2005 refused Alamieyeseigha’s application to halt his arraignment, after he had contended that he (Alamieyeseigha) had two pending suits, challenging his removal from office before a Bayelsa State High Court and a Federal High Court, Abuja.

The trial court held that the two suits were civil matters that had nothing to do with the instant case, which is a criminal trial. Dissatisfied with the court ruling, Alamieyeseigha appealed the verdict.
At the resumed hearing of the matter yesterday, counsel to Alamieyeseigha, Prof. Alfred Kasumu (SAN), applied to the court to stay further hearing in the matter, contending that the accused person had appealed against an earlier ruling of the court and that it would be prejudicial to the matter at appeal if the trial court continued with the matter.
He also argued that if the trial court should go ahead with the matter and at the end, he (Alamieyeseigha) won his appeal, that much damage would have been done to him.

The Federal Government has, however, opposed the application for stay, urging the court to go ahead with the hearing of the criminal matter. According to government, Alamieyeseigha who was arraigned December 23, was not granted bail and had since remained in the custody of the EFCC and that the grant of the application for stay of proceedings would mean that trial would be stalled and the 1st accused would continue to remain in custody without trial.
The prosecution further said it was ready and prepared to call its witnesses and prove its case against the accused persons to accord all the accused persons their constitutional right to fair hearing within a reasonable time and that the other accused persons would be prejudiced by the grant of this application.

Referring to the appeal lodged by Alamieyeseigha, the prosecution said if the applicants’ appeal succeeded at the Court of Appeal, the court might then stay proceedings pursuant to the directive of the Court of Appeal and no injustice would resort to either party. But if the appeal did not succeed, then much time would have been wasted especially that of Alamieyeseigha, who would be in custody.

The prosecution further said it had made necessary arrangements for its foreign witnesses to come down to Nigeria and that the respondent and other accused persons would be prejudiced if this application was granted.

Alams’ suit laughable—EFCC

Meanwhile, the EFCC yesterday dismissed as laughable the suit filed by Chief Alamieyeseigha, challenging his arrest, detention and contemplated extradition to the United Kingdom by the Federal Government to face money-laundering offences.

The commission urged the Abuja Division of the Federal High court entertaining it to urgently dismiss it in its entirety. According to the anti-graft commission, the suit by the ex-governor was not only vexatious, embarrassing but also constituted a gross abuse of court process, adding: “The court also lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.”
Seventy two hours after Ex-Governor Alamieyeseigha was impeached by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly and arrested on December 9, he filed a suit before an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, challenging his arrest, detention and his contemplated extradition to the UK to face trial.

In the suit, Chief Alamieyeseigha claimed that he was still the incumbent governor of the state as at the time he was arrested and was, therefore, covered from arrest by section 308 of the 1999 constitution.
He, therefore, contended that since the process of impeachment was still on-going, his arrest by the agents of the Federal Government was contrary to the provisions of the 1999 constitution.

Reacting to the suit, the EFCC urged the court to dismiss the suit in its entirety. In a preliminary objection filed by the anti-graft commission, EFCC said it never contravened the provisions of the constitution as it refrained from arresting him even when he jumped bail in UK and escaped to Nigeria.
The commission said it decided to arrest him only after he had been constitutionally impeached.
Justice Adah of the high court is billed to hear the matter.

Posted by Publisher at 11:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 21, 2006

With what happened in Odi, it’s senseless for anybody to stay

With what happened in Odi, it’s senseless for anybody to stay back at home until the soldiers arrive, say fleeing Ekeremor indigenes

By George Onah and Samuel Oyadongha, Yenogoa
Posted to the Web: Saturday, January 21, 2006

UNCERTAINTY and apprehension reign supreme among the Ijaws and other residents in the coastal fringe of the troubled Niger Delta region, no thanks to the recent kidnapping of four foreigners, killing of soldiers and attacks on Shell flow-stations. To this end, the villagers, especially the youths have been fleeing from their communities for fear of reprisal attack by federal forces.

Without doubt, the people have not forgotten in a hurry the infamous invasion of Odi and the devastation in its wake some six years ago. The talk in the region and other parts of the country was how some armed militants loaded in three canoes, stormed the Shell EA field in the high sea, where the company produces oil from its Sea Eagle vessel to abduct the foreign oil workers.

What is more worrisome is that this current kidnap has a new dimsension. Prior to now, the kidnappers had oftentimes pointed to the exploitation of their people and environment by the mere extracting of huge riches from their devatstated lands from where the bulk of Nigeria’s 2.3 million barrels of petroleum are pumped daily.
In those days, the abductors had shut down oil rigs, broke oil pipelines or taken oil workers hostage while demanding a huge ransom from the employers of the kidnapped men. But this time around, the militants have not asked for any ransom.

And not oblivious of the fate that befell Odi in the hands of federal forces, the Dodo River communities comprising Amatu 1 and 11, Bilabiri 1 and 11, Bisangbene, Letugbene, Ogbeintu, Azamabiri and Orobiri, host to the EA field, had come out to condemn in strong terms, the adduction of the oil workers.

In a statement signed by Berry Negerese and Franklin Simon, chairman and secretary of the communities and made available to Saturday Vanguard in Yenagoa, the communities said they were in no way connected with the “barbaric actions of the kidnappers, which destroyed oil pipelines as well,” adding that they completely dissociate themselves from the “irresponsible actions of the men”. They argued that even if the action of the kidnappers was hinged on Niger Delta cause, they were not in the mood to be dragged into it.

“Our people have been benefitting from SPDC, which has been spending between N45 million and N60 million on surveillance as way of developing our people. Remember that there is no Bayelsa government presence in our area”.
The current government in Bayelsa State is particularly jolted by the turn of events, but has assured that the problem would be resolved soon.

On the other hand, the people of Ekeremor Local Government, cannot be convinced to stay back. They are fleeing en masse.

One of them who gave his name simply as Binabo said: “We know that those who caused this trouble are not from our communities. But there is so much fear everywhere about the trouble in the creeks and possible counter attack from soldiers. Nobody wants what happened in Odi to befall him or her. That is why families are moving out.”
Also speaking, Pere Dombraye, a boat driver who sails from Yenagoa to Republic of Cameroon and other places on weekly basis, said he had to suspend his job for now to avoid being caught in any crossfire.

“Yes, I have relocated to Port Harcourt for now. I just came into town (Yenagoa) to see some people. I don’t want to die. I am from Bayelsa but my state is not safe for now. The army people have been moving into the villages and creeks since those bad boys killed some army people. I know that fight will soon start when the soldiers enter where those bad boys are hiding.”

Another fleeing resident of the place, Festus Anansa, a student of University of Port Harcourt, said he was on his way to Azamabiri to source for funds from his father when he changed his mind on the trip, at Mbiama Bridge.
“When I got to Mbiama,” he said, “I decided to discontinue with the journey. You see, each time a young man is seen travelling along the creeks, he is often misunderstood by security men. They always see one either as an accomplice of those criminals or as a cultist. I am a university student, I have a future and a fimily name to protect.

“Why should I engage in such an act of piracy or kidnapping foreigners? I have asked my younger sister to leave the village and to move to Lagos where one of our siblings resides. I foresee danger in our area and the best thing is to run from there” Anansa said.

Posted by Publisher at 09:47 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2006

I can't be intimidated - ATIKU

YOLA—VICE President Atiku Abubakar declared yesterday in Yola that nothing would intimidate him in pursuing his political ideals ahead of the 2007 election.

Posted to the Web: Friday, January 20, 2006

Addressing thousands of his supporters from Gombe State who visited him in his Yola residence, the Vice President said he had never disappointed his supporters and 2007 would not be different.

“Politics towers above everything and it is the instrument through which the lives of the people could easily be improved,” he told his supporters.

According to him, he has never relented in pursuing any political ideals aimed at advancing the course of the common man.

He described democracy “as the most important ingredient of politics by which the people are empowered. Therefore, the practice of politics cannot be successful without the application of democracy, which allows for the participation of everyone. It, therefore behoves on politicians to make the defence of democracy their major preoccupation.”

Atiku said if the people were denied participation in the democratic space, then they would have been denied their rights and could not be described as free under a democratic dispensation.

The Vice President who spoke in Hausa assured them that he would continue to work for the consolidation of democratic norms and practices in the country to enable the people to choose the type of leadership they desire. He urged the leadership of the coalition to shun divisive tendencies else, their enemies would seize upon their disagreements to break them up

Contributing, Governor Bonnie Haruna of Adamawa State said the Vice President was truly a dependable person who could always be relied upon to show the people the direction to take at the appropriate time.
Speaking earlier, the leader of the delegation, Alhaji Babawuro Barambu, said they were in Yola to pay solidarity visit to the Vice President and to also lend him support to enable him overcome the forthcoming challenge in the political arena.

Alhaji Barumbu said the delegation comprised representatives from all the 11 local government areas in Gombe State, some members of the House of Assembly as well as the Deputy Speaker. He said they were all solidly in support of the Vice President’s quest for the highest office in the land.

Posted by Publisher at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

January 19, 2006

N-Delta: Tension as troops parade creeks

WARRI—THE massive deployment of soldiers in Niger Delta waterways in the wake of the kidnap of four oil workers is already taking its toll on economic activities in the area where residents now complain that the security patrols are preventing access to the creeks.

By Victor Ahiuma-Young with agency report
Posted to the Web: Thursday, January 19, 2006

The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) are also threatening to withdraw their members from the region on account of increasing threat to their lives.

A previously unknown group calling itself Brigade of Martyrs in a statement yesterday in Port Harcourt threatened more attacks and sought an alliance with the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) which claims to be behind last week’s abduction of four foreign oil workers.
However, MEND in a swift reaction slammed the Brigade of Martyrs as a “fake group created by Shell and the Rivers State government to undervalue its (MEND’s) activities.

Human rights activists expressed fears yesterday that the massive deployment of troops on the waterways and a possible bloody crackdown might spark a broader wave of violence in the region.
Joseph Evah, leader of the Ijaw Monitoring Group, said army and naval patrols were preventing access to the creeks of the Western Delta swamps between Warri and Bayelsa State. “Soldiers are now moving en masse into the Niger Delta. We have been trying to persuade them to let us have access to the riverine areas to see what is happening,” he said, as military helicopters flew over the city.

Warri residents fear the latest surge in violence could lead to a return to the dark days of 2003, when clashes between soldiers and rival ethnic gangs in and around the city left hundreds dead and thousands homeless.
“This dispute should be sorted out by dialogue, not by fighting. Things have been better here, but there are still no jobs. So many of the expatriates and their oil companies have left,” said Ijaw boatman. Henry Imhanlenjaye.
The latest violence has caused shock even in the Delta. On Sunday Victor Ejuk, who works for a catering company contracted to Shell, was sleeping in the workers’ camp at Shell’s Benisede flowstation on the Bomadi creek when he was woken by gunfire.

“We came running, there was shooting everywhere, the military’s houseboat was in flames. The militant youths came into the place, shooting, killing a lot of people, army and civilians,” he said.
Ejuk and his surviving colleagues ran into the jungle or dived into the river and hid out until sunrise. They were later evacuated, along with at least 10 seriously injured colleagues, to Warri.
On Tuesday, President Olusegun Obasanjo met top-ranking security chiefs and the Delta’s political leaders, later announcing that a team had been set up to secure the release of the hostages.


Meanwhile, PENGASSAN and NUPENG are asking government to guarantee the security of lives and safety of their members within the shortest reasonable time if they must continue to work in the region.

President of NUPENG, Comrade Peter Akpatason, who made the position of the two unions known to Vanguard in a chat, however, advised government to be cautious in handling efforts to secure the release of the four expatriate Shell workers that had been kidnapped by militant youths in Bayelsa State, to ensure that no harm befalls on them.
Comrade Akpatason had said the two unions, under the umbrella of NUPENGASSAN, a fusion of NUPENG and PENGASSAN was issuing a joint statement on the matter yesterday in which they condemned in its entirety the attacks on oil flow stations\ facilities in general and particularly, the workers, irrespective of the nationals. The statement was yet to reach Vanguard at press time.

According to him, “collectively, NUPENG and PENGASSAN, under the aegis of NUPENGASSAN, we are issuing a statement later today (yesterday) on the renewed violence in the Niger Delta. We see the hostage taking and the increasing loss of lives as very unfortunate developments.
‘For us, it is unacceptable because it endangers the lives of our colleagues and makes the working environment very unfriendly and unsafe for our members."

Posted by Publisher at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2006

Ladoja stays away; Akala at work

IBADAN — IMPEACHED governor of Oyo State, Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja, failed, yesterday, to carry out his threat to resume duties as governor, although he said he would now do so after a strike called by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in the state.

By Rotimi Ajayi, Ola Ajayi & Emma Ulayi
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The strike was largely ineffective on its first day, yesterday, even as the national leadership of the NLC described Ladoja’s impeachment as a subversion of law and democratic norms and vowed to deny Ladoja’s successor and former deputy, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, recognition.

Chief Alao-Akala himself arrived his office yesterday brimming with confidence and declared: “Two kings cannot stay in the same palace,” in reference to Ladoja’s threat to return to office yesterday.

Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, commenting on the political drama in the state called it “an executive lawlessness on a large scale that has not been witnessed in the country in the last four decades.”

Alhaji Ladoja, contrary to expectation, made no public appearance yesterday but issued a statement entitled: “The battle of liberation will lead us to true democracy.”
He denounced his estranged political godfather, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, and hailed “the groundwell of support” from the “good people of Oyo State.”
The statement: “In the past 24 hours, the good people of Oyo State have witnessed the groundswell of support for their desire to liberate themselves from the stranglehold of glorified miscreants and self-styled godfathers.

‘The support has come from the Body of Benchers, the distinguished seniors in the legal profession who have called on the Inspector-General Sunday Ehindero to live up to the obligations of his office and to the law profession by restoring my official security details in obedience to the ruling of High Court of Oyo State as delivered by Justice Bolaji-Yusuff.

“The support has come from the broad section of the workers in Oyo State formidably united under the umbrella of the Nigeria Labour Congress who have resolutely resolved not to live under the serfdom of godfathers or suffer the indignity of being ruled by an illegitimate, power hungry interloper who seeks to exploit this contrived crises to foist a civilian junta on the citizenry.

“The support has come from the Campaign of Democracy, the students unions of various institutions and the highly respected West African Bar Association. They have insisted that my mandate remained sacred as justified by the position of the law and asked President Olusegun Obasanjo to put an end to this nightmare by directing the Inspector-General of Police to obey the verdict of the Third Estate of the Realm.

“I am grateful for the massive endorsement of my mandate. I am inspired by the mass mobilisation of democratic forces for the defence of the rule of law that continues to take root across the length and breadth of Oyo State. I thank the Afenifere and the various delegations of farmers under the aegis of the Agbekoya, who have visited me to demonstrate their support for me till the end. I shall not disappoint anyone of you.

“I thank the press. Through editorials, letters to the editor, opinions expressed by legal luminaries and public spirited persons published in the media, the press has lived up to its traditional role in Nigerian history as the defender of the rule of law, justice and democracy.

“At last, the people of Ibadan, and the whole of Oyo State in general can see through the crisis. It is a disagreement over whether I should surrender the money of the people to a heartless, greedy and devious potentate. Today, the people have risen to liberate themselves from the you-chop-I-chop politics of Lamidi Adedibu, a man who sees government money as political.

Posted by Publisher at 11:36 AM | Comments (0)

Pomp, as Liberia swears in new President

MONROVIA — THERE were neither white marquees nor glittering lights, just sheds made of reed mats for the historic ceremony to install Liberia’s first post-war elected president.

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A few balloons and ribbons in Liberia’s colours of blue, red and white festooned the grounds of Capitol, the parliament building that was placed under tight security.

Hundreds of Liberians invited to the investiture of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, turned out in their best and brightly coloured Africa attires to join nearly a dozen African leaders and senior American politicians. Thousands others lined up the road outside the venue and on the streets of the capital expecting to catch a glimpse of their newly installed leader.

Others followed the proceedings live on national radio stations while a few with who can afford television sets and electricity power generators in a country that has had no electricity in years, were glued to their screens. The ceremony brought the entire city to a standstill as movement of public transport was barred to yesterday as part of tight security measures applied by the UN and US security forces.

Dressed in a cream African traditional dress and a head scarf, Sirleaf took oath of office administered by the country’s Supreme Court judge Henry Reed Cooper swearing she would uphold the country’s laws and bear true allegiance to Liberia to the best of her ability. She was garlanded with a green sach representing the orders of distinction of Liberia before she took up her seat at a giant red and golf chair. After she took oath of office, a group of traditional dancers beat drums and blew horns in what the interior minister said represents “the gun salute” in Liberian traditional culture.

Her installation was preceded by the swearing in of a new parliamentary speaker, opposition lawmaker Edwin Snowe, who is a controversial figure subject to UN sanctions because of his close association with former president and warlord, Charles Taylor. Taylor who is in exile in Nigeria has been indicted by the UN on charges of war crimes in neighbouring Liberia where he is accused of sponsoring rebel groups. The position of parliament speaker is the third most powerful in Liberia after president and vice president.

Dressed in a black suit and Stetson hat, Snowe presided over his first brief parliamentary session in front of 10 heads of states including Sierra Leonean President, Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.

In her inaugural speech, Sirleaf “extended a hand of friendship and solidarity to all political leaders.” She has previously said while she wanted to see justice prevail, she would not allow Charles Taylor’s case to derail urgent issues at stake in the country which lacks even running water. Her loser of second round of elections that brought her to power, former international football star, George Weah, attended the ceremony discreetly in the throng, having dropped electoral fraud protests.

US First Lady, Laura Bush, and Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, attended the ceremony so Chinese foreign minister Li Zhiaxong. Bush stopped over to greet Li as she walked to her seat.
Presidents of South Africa, Nigeria, Mali, Senegal, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Togo, Burkina Faso and the prime minister of Guinea attended the ceremony.

Posted by Publisher at 11:35 AM | Comments (0)

Rimi was target of wife's killers, says Gambo Jimeta

KANO — NATIONAL chairman of the Movement for the Restoration and Defence of Democracy (MRDD), Alhaji Gambo Jimeta, said yesterday that the murderers of the wife of Alhaji Abubakar Rimi were out to kill the Second Republic Governor of the old Kano State.

By Tina Anthony
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Alhaji Gambo spoke briefly with journalists at the residence of the former presidential aspirant after commiserating with him, noting that it was politically motivated.

He also wrote in the condolence register: “A great loss indeed, may the Almighty Allah grant Alhaji Rimi and his family the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss. We together with all the members of MRDD share this great grief with our dear friend.”

The former Inspector-General of Police also prayed that God might unmask the killers of Hajiya Sa’adatu Rimi because she did not deserve to die the way she did.
“This is the most wicked act done to a human being, a woman and wife for that matter. For whatever purpose, they wanted to achieve they will not achieve it because they cannot stop the wind of change. May God comfort the family of Governor Dr. Rimi. God will reveal their bad and wicked activities,” he said in the condolence register.

Chief Jim Nwobodo, Second Republic governor of the old Anambra State wrote in the condolence register: “The death of Sa’adatu Rimi is painful because she does not deserve this cruel death. The murderers who perpetuated this horrendous crime against God and man will pay dearly for humanity will not forgive them. They will certainly not escape justice. May her gentle soul rest in peace,” while Governor Boni Haruna of Adamawa State wrote: “My condolence to his Excellency over the death of his wife, our sister and mother. We in Adamawa State mourn her untimely death, just as we pray to God to grant her eternal rest and give his Excellency the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.”

Other dignitaries who were at the residence of Alhaji Rimi to commiserate with him were former military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida, Governor Abdulkadir Kure of Niger State, Senator Ibrahim Kirikasama, ministers, and legislators.
The Kano Police Command is yet to comment on the murder. Policemen remained in the compound yesterday.

Posted by Publisher at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

ALLEGED THIRD TERM BID : Many Nigerians can perform better than Obasanjo — Senator Janfa

SENATOR Silas Janfa was a member of the Senate from 1999 to 2003 but lost his bid for a second term. But he remains very vocal any time he chooses to speak. He spoke recently on some issues ranging from the alleged third term agenda, the crisis in Plateau PDP and others.

By Taye Obateru, Jos
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

There have been a lot of developments on the political arena since you left the Senate, could you give an overview of what you have observed so far?
Well, I think there are a lot of political developments one of which is the fact that the opposing parties have gone to sleep. I had expected them to criticise, give constructive criticisms and be the watchdogs of the generality of Nigerians as it relates to the excesses of government but I think they have failed and have got swallowed by the larger party PDP. Secondly, I have seen a disintegration in the various political parties. People have been decamping from here to there, more so for personal reasons. So it means that the principles and ideology of parties were thrown to the dogs. Also, within the PDP itself, some dictatorial attitudes have been put in place and the party is no longer as supreme as we knew it before.

There have been tendencies of taking control without democratic processes, without adherence to the constitution of the party, to the extent that you know what is happening now, that genuine founders of PDP have been marginalized and sidelined. In Plateau for example, I led the New Era to sign the memorandum of understanding to form the PDP. So indeed, I was a foundation member, bringing the New Era with the likes of Martins Kuye, Agagu and so on. Today, I have gone to my ward and the so called authentic register is not there, people have collected names and gone to places outside of Plateau to do registration. Briefly, what I am saying is that the political scenario is degenerating and there is no regard for even the parties themselves. I think we have to go back to the drawing board, where party constitution is respected and where the game is played according to the rules.

With the scenario you have just painted, what do you think is the future of PDP as a political party?
Unless PDP re-addresses itself back to the drawing board and does a thorough, serious reconciliation, I can see the party collapsing. In Plateau for example, the group which we nick named PDP 2 is the one purportedly recognised by the national secretariat, but it has nothing more to show. They cannot win elections, they have no grass root support and I think, if the PDP wants to come back as the biggest party in Africa, they have got to go back to the drawing board, respect the constitution and respect the founding members’ views on running of the Party. At the moment, I think it is a jungle organisation called PDP.

Do you think the threat posed by the MDD and MRD to the PDP is real?
If things were to continue the way they are now and the MDD and MRD are properly harnessed, they will give the PDP a show down.

The two issues of rotational presidency and third term appear to have become very controversial. As someone who should know, how would you assess the situation?

Let me start with the rotational or power shift, it is not a Nigerian project, it is a PDP project. And sometimes it worries me that Nigerians are being swallowed by a matter that is strictly a PDP matter. When they talk of Obasanjo signing an agreement with who ever, whatever they did was within the PDP. If it is true that there is power shift agreed to by Nigerians collectively, then why did Buhari contest for elections on the platform of the ANPP? It means that ANPP had a different zoning principle, a different power shift principle other than that of the PDP. So I don’t believe that people should worry about power shift to the North or to wherever. The PDP should go and put its house in order. And this is also on the basis that the PDP thinks it will continue to win elections. Supposing another party which doesn’t have the same rotational principle wins or goes to an election with different candidates from different parts of Nigeria? So I think that the adoption of rotational presidency or zoning should be a party issue not a constitutional one.

Zoning was an arrangement of the PDP to ensure that they carry everybody along. Now, they are in disarray; they’ve found out that they cannot carry everybody along so the zoning thing or power shift has become a Nigerian project. But I don’t think it is a Nigerian project. On the third term issue, the man perceived to want the third term has refused to come out. He has refused to say anything. I don’t think we should dissipate our energies so much even though silence sometimes is dangerous. Obasanjo has been quite silent about the third term issue. The other aspect I see, even if there is a constitutional review today, I don’t think it should be retroactive. I think if we amend our constitution to a three-term of four years, it is not retroactctive, Obasanjo would have to come out and face the voters on the basis of this amended constitution. I am not a lawyer but that is the way I see it. I believe that Obasanjo knows that if he comes to an election today, it might not be easy, Obasanjo has told this country that to have a good omelet, the egg must be broken.

Beautiful, but that is the reform that is giving us a lot of problems that all Nigerians are suffering. In six years, we haven’t seen the omelet and the egg has been broken. That means that Nigerians have been suffering and have not got the table to eat the omelet. I think Obasanjo has to revisit some of these reforms because I believe that he said even when he was out of government, any reform must have a human face. I believe that these reforms haven’t got a human face. For example, because they have reviewed the price of fuel four, five or six times, it has affected everybody. Even the dead who are in the mortuaries need fuel to take them to the grave. The effect of the rising cost of fuel descends down to the lowest person. I think that Obasanjo should redress the issue of reforms. We have had Mantu committee to cushion the effect of rising cost of fuel, but we haven’t seen the result. Whether it has been implemented or not, we do not know, we haven’t seen it. But, personally, I do not subscribe to a third term unless of course they will amend the constitution such that it is a continuous stay in power for another term. I do not see it happen. Certainly, I do not support it. The rotation to the North or South is a PDP matter.

Why do you think the sit-tight syndrome by leaders is more or less an African problem?
I agree with you. If you remember, somebody once mentioned the sit tight syndrome as a disease of African leaders. The Americans have been operating the presidential system of government for so long, there has been no clamour for a third term even when Bill Clinton was so popular and his popularity rating was so high. there was no temptation for a third term.

The argument of those clamouring for an elongated term for President Obasanjo is that he needs more time to complete the reforms he started.
I don’t believe in this excuse that he set up reforms that he must see to the end. No reform comes to an end, they are all continuous. They will be amended, updated and so on. There are so many Nigerians that can get up to that seat and perform even better than Obasanjo. If you look at his background (Obasanjo) he is a soldier, simple. I do not want to under rate him but he cannot be the only one that can carry these reforms to the end or implement them. I believe we should put a stop to this third term thing so that the polity is not over heated.

In the rotational presidency arguments, the North is saying that there was a pact that power should come back to them while the South-South and the South-East are claiming that they have been cheated. What is your opinion on where power should go to, come 2007? Do you subscribe to the position of Southern leaders that power should be rotated along the six geo-political line?

Well, there are valid arguments among the geo-political zones, but as I said, the question of the North/South is which part of the North or which part of the South? But I think it is rational and appropriate to think of it in terms of the geo-political zones. The North-South issue is a PDP matter. If Nigerians now think that it must be done right and amend the constitution that rotation should be done among the geo-political zones, so be it. I think that most Nigerians would see it as a fair deal because it will give all Nigerians the feeling of equality. Whether it should go to the South-South or South-East is a different argument. The argument that when the colonialist came here, they saw three regions: North, West and East also makes logical acceptability to me. I believe that until it is a constitutional matter, the parties should be allowed to solve it within their party constitutions.

The PDP is not only in disarray at the national level but even in your state Plateau where there are two factions. What efforts are founding fathers of the party like you are making to reconcile the feuding camps and to make the party strong once again?

The PDP in Plateau is not deriving its power from the membership in Plateau. It is deriving its powers from somewhere in Abuja and so until Abuja says reconcile and come down to the real fact of the matter, there will be this attitude. Take for instance, they are now announcing that membership cards are available. The cards are only available now after they have finished the ward, local governments and state congresses where delegates to the primaries have already been appointed.

Therefore, we can now come in and be just followers and we have no level playing ground to aspire to anything because they have already been appointed and put on a paper. The basis for reconciliation for Plateau must be to go back to the wards, the grassroots and do proper congresses right up to the state.

Otherwise, I cannot see how some of us who are not registered are being asked to come and register. To me, it is even an abnormality. Once, you are a member of a party to go and re-register, it is unthinkable, it is wrong, it is not even in the constitution of the party. You go on a registration drive to get new members not to re-register and if PDP still wants to be the biggest party in Africa, there must be a surgical operation that should be carried out.

Must people remain in PDP if they are not wanted?
People assume that PDP is synonymous with success and I think it is very wrong because if for example, in Plateau State PDP stands as it is now, the PDP is synonymous with failure. I don’t think that PDP is a sacrosanct expression per say. I think that the rest of us that have been thrown out might find shelter somewhere and win elections.

The crisis in PDP appears to be centered round two personalities: the Deputy Senate President and the Governor. What efforts are you making to reconcile the two of them to have a stronger party? Mantu is saying that he is the ultimate father of Plateau Politics. Do you agree with him?

The problem between the two of them is best known to them, I don’t think anybody has gone to the root of it. On our side, we have tried even as a party and from the central zone where the two of them come from to resolve the issue. I think the Deputy Senate President is wallowing in some power that he sees himself like an ultimate leader even in Islam, you don’t call yourself ultimate leader, you allow people to accept you and see you like an ultimate leader.

People who do that are people with a lot of inferiority complex and therefore having found themselves in positions that they have never dreamt that they could get to in their life, the euphoria of being there is so much around them. Mantu is a friend of mine and I have tried as an individual three or four times to see him to discuss and resolve issues. I have always believed that both Islam and Christianity teach forgiveness, they do not allow for vengeance because it is God’s; they teach the power of God that He is ultimate and whatever you try to be, it is only God that will make it materialise.

If all politicians in Plateau would accept this and work with these principles, it might be easier for us. But I can see that a lot of people who are greedy are only concerned about self alone and they seek relevance just for their selfish ends and without any concern for the people. In this wise, I am not saying that Dariye is infallible as it were. Certainly, he has been accused of one or two things and the matter is in court and of course, the presidential system provides for checks and balances. The conditions for which a governor can be removed are clearly stated in the constitution. Resignation, impeachment or death. Now Dariye has refused to resign, he has not been impeached and he is not dead, he is still the governor of Plateau State. The other arm that can effect the option of impeachment is the House of Assembly and I hope that they have the wisdom to look at the papers that have been presented to them and take actions appropriately. They were elected by the people they have the mandate of the people and I believe that with the number of lawyers among them, they will look at what EFCC has given them, look at what they’ve got in the constitution and I’m sure they will not fail us, but I think the idea of pulling someone by force especially when there are constitutional provisions is not the best. We should allow the provisions of the constitution to apply.

As a former senator what advice would you give to the national and state Assemblies on the proposed amendment to the constitution?
I think the amendment of the constitution is necessary. People are saying no because they are looking only at this third term issue but there are certain inappropriate provisions in the constitution that need to be amended. It is true that the national and state assemblies must stand up to the challenges, to protect the interest of voters who voted them into power and you know that the generality of Nigerians including the Clergy and Imams are against the third term agenda. I believe that Obasanjo is a Christian and says his prayers and I am convinced that somewhere along the line, God is telling him ‘don’t do it’ and may be that is why he is finding it difficult to say YES or NO because generally 90% of Nigerians apart from the 10 per cent who are his cabals and his aides, Nigerians have said no to the third term agenda. It is very clear.

Since the Alamieyeseigha saga, there has been renewed pressure to remove the governor of Plateau State. The argument is that since Alams had to go, there is no reason why Dariye should stay because their offences are similar. What is your position on this because just before Alams was removed, EFCC and the FG suddenly woke up to write another letter to the state house of assembly. Do you see any co-relation between the Bayelsa and Plateau issue?

Well, I said that earlier on, the Bayelsa issue and the Plateau issue of money laundering and so on are similar but whether they are the same, I do not know. Alams was brought to book because he lost immunity after impeachment by his state House of Assembly. If he had not been impeached, he would have still been there as state governor. The letter written by the EFCC is before the State House of Assembly. We should not preempt their decisions or actions but I believe that they have the mandate of the people and I believe that they know the voice of the people of Plateau State and they should act accordingly to satisfy the wishes of their voters.
The electorate in the central zone recently sent a petition to INEC that they want Mantu recalled and people are seeing this as heating up the polity in Plateau State especially with the recent developments. What is your comment on this?

The constitutional provisions are very clear as to steps to be taken to recall a legislator, and I think that the preliminary steps that have been taken so far are in accordance with the provision of the constitution. The lukewarm attitude with which INEC received the petition and signatories is already creating some doubts in the minds of people as to whether INEC would have the courage to continue the exercise to its logical conclusion because not too long from when the petitions was received, the hangers around Mantu went to give a press statement and were given a different treatment. They were allowed into INEC and were given all the funfair including a press conference. Now you can see the two sides of the coin. One was lukewarm and the other a very warm welcome so it is giving us doubts. I am not from the central zone of Plateau, so we see what is happening in the central zone. They certainly have grounds for the recall. It is up to INEC to go the whole hog the way they went in Lalong’s case because what is good for the goose is good for the gander. There should be no selective procedure for one man and another for the other person. I think we must provide a plain ground and INEC needs to prove to people of Plateau State and Nigerians in general that they are equal to the task and they merit that word “Independent”. Prof. Iwu I don’t know him personally, he has started a good job. He should not destroy it by pandering to the interest of the powers that be.

There has been a recent clamp down by officials of EFCC on Plateau State Government officials and it is being alleged that most of the issues for which these officials are being haunted are issues before the court. What do you have to say on this?

The Nigerian constitution is very clear that once a matter is before a court, court processes should be allowed to take its course. I do not know the legal backing the EFCC is using but I know that when a matter is in court it is subju dice. I think that is what the Assembly has been considering. Dariye’s case is a matter before the court, whether they should take pre-judicial action or not is up to them. On the face of it, it is wrong for the EFCC to chase anyone if the case is before the court. That is all I can say on that.

Posted by Publisher at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

14 perish in Edo road accidents

BENIN CITY — ANOTHER multiple road accidents on the Auchi-Okene and Benin-Agbor roads of Edo State yesterday claimed 14 lives, including that of a mother and her only child.

By Osaro Okhomina
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

While all 12 persons who were identified as passengers in a commercial station wagon were killed in a head-on collission with a water tanker along the Auchi-Okene Road near Elele village, the woman and her only child heading towards Igbanke village in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of the state were crushed in saloon car by an unidentified truck.

Vanguard gathered that the accidents occured a few hours from one another on Sunday. It was gathered that in the first incident along the Auchi-Okene Road near Elele village, a commercial station wagon loaded with passengers heading for Auchi ran head-on into a water tanker trying to overtake another vehicle along the same route.

It was gathered that the incident which occured around 8.16 a.m. on Sunday caused a disruption in the free flow of traffic while the men of the Nigeria Police and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) conducted rescue operations.

The tanker with registration number SN853AUC was trying to overtake another vehicle when the commercial wagon with registration number SA154AJA came out from a sharp bend and rammed into it.

Speaking with Vanguard on telephone yesterday, the Sector Commander of the FRSC, Mr. Samuel Obayemi, said the commercial station wagon was overloaded with passengers.

Twelve of the 16 passengers, including the driver of the vehicle died instantly. "We were called in by the men of the Police and discovered that 12 people died instantly while four others survived and are receiving treatment at the Fate Medical Centre in Auchi.”

The other incident involving the mother and her only child was reported to have provoked anger among sympathisers, a few minutes after they discovered the identity of the occupants of the crushed vehicle.

Vanguard gathered that the victims were on their way to Igbanke in Orhionmwon Local Government Area when the accident occured. It was gathered that the incident occured on Sunday night but the full details were not available to the officials of the FRSC when Vanguard called but a Save Accident Victims (SAVAN) official who spoke with Vanguard on telephone directed that their officials in Abudu town of Orhionmwon Local Government Area would provide the needed information.

Posted by Publisher at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Ijaw activist warns as govt ignores accord on Warri peace

WARRI — PROMINENT Ijaw activist, Mr. Dan Ekpebide, says the prevailing peace in Warri may not be sustained unless the Federal Government and the Delta State Government implement the agreement reached by leaders of all the ethnic groups in the area in 2004, warning that any attempt to disregard the agreement may see to the return of violence in the area before 2007.

By Simon Ebegbulem
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Vanguard gathered that the agreement was reached following the persistent crisis between the different ethnic communities in Warri. The agreement, according to Ekpebide, is the reason for the present calm situation in the oil city.

The Ijaw activist regretted in an interview with Vanguard in Warri that two years after the accord was struck, both the state and federal governments have refused to implement it.

“I have fears as we are heading towards 2007. My fear is the way the state and Federal Government abandoned the WIIGPF which was struck in 2004. The issue is not whether Obasanjo will come back in 2007 or not, that is not the problem. The real problem is that the Delta State Government and the Federal Government have refused to implement some recommendations which was made in other to sustain peace in Warri. It is sad that up till now, nothing has been implemented.”

According to him, “let me tell you we should not be decieved that we have peace now and everybody will relax, the issues are still there and if they fail to implement the recommendations, the the crisis will come up again and it will be very grave. The problem here as we know is political and that is the major problem. So as we are heading towards 2007, which is an election year, the problems are likely to come up again and that is the reason why I am raising this alarm."

Ekpebide further lamented that “the problem we ae having in this country is fire brigade attitude of the government. When the crisis starts again, you will see them running up and down but they will not want to deal with the real issue before it becomes a problem. It is very unfortunate."

Posted by Publisher at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

Three robbery suspects shot dead in Uyo

Uyo — Four suspected armed robbers believed to have been terrorising residents of Itam Junction in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, yesterday morning, met their waterloo as three of them were shot dead by the police while one was arrested.

By Tommy Solomon
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

According to the State Police Command, the four robbery suspects were tracked down to a hideout where they were allegedly sharing their 1oot.

The police gave the names of the dead suspects as Okon Edet, Victor Sylvester and Uduak Okon while Ofonime Dominic Edet was arrested and he allegedly confessed to the police.

Bodies of the suspects were displayed at the State Police Headquarters while members of the public turned out in large numbers to catch a glimpse of the robbers.
Among dangerous items recovered by the police at the robbers’ den were locally made pistols, cartridges, face masks, axes, torch lights and daggers.
On interrogation, the suspect confessed involvement in various robbery operations in Itam Junction, Itu Road and Ikot Ekpene Road.

Briefing newsmen on how the men of the underworld were apprehended, the State Deputy Police Commissioner, Mr. Mike Ehidiamen said the arrest of the robbers followed a tip-off by a resident in Itam Junction on the activities of the hoodlums.

Ehidiamen said the robbers on sighting the police opened fire on them which the police responded to, resulting in the killing of three members of gang.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police, called on parents towarn their children and wards to shun criminal activities, as the police would not spare them when caught.”
We appeal to the public to continue to give us information on the activities of their neighbours whom they suspect to be engaging in criminal activities.
"We are determined to make the state safe for residents” he assured.

Posted by Publisher at 11:31 AM | Comments (0)

Gbagi chides agitations for power shift in Delta

FRONTLINE gubernatorial aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party in Delta State, Chief Kenneth Gbagi, has pledged to make peace the focal point of his administration if voted into power in 2007.

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Speaking in Lagos, Sunday, Gbagi also criticised agitators for power shift from Delta Central to either North or South, saying “power shift is completely at variance with democratic tendencies.”

At a reception organised for him by Delta Choice 2007, made up of prominent Urhobo living in Lagos, Gbagi said “democracy has to do with the game of numbers, and numbers by the grace of God we (Urhobo) have and we’ll use the numbers to deliver Delta state.”

On what his government is set to achieve if voted in, Gbagi said “peace will be the centrepiece of my government so that everybody in Delta state, no matter where you come for or where you reside will have peace.

“We’ll also look at even development to ensure that the entire state is evenly developed so that agitations for power shift or state creation as the case may be will be reduced."

Pledging to take a cue from the Federal government and give women more roles, he said “women in our state have been rudely set behind. I intend to have a 50-50 appointment, taking a cue from the Federal Government where the appointed women have not disappointed us."

He said he would rather sit down and work for the state if voted in rather than embark on endless probes of past administrations. He said "my government will have nothing to do with probe. Where has probes taken us?"

Speaking earlier, Coordinator of Delta Choice 2007 and host of the reception, Chief Johnson Barovbe had said the group had noticed that there was a political vacuum in Delta State and was set to use its influence to better the lot of the state in 2007. “We in Delta Choice are grateful to Gbagi for his choice and we have gratefully accepted his offer.

“From today, Delta Choice 2007 will move home to Delta state, to the capital, Asaba and all the local governments. It will be the mouthpiece of our governor for the oil-rich state in 2007."

Among those at the reception were Chief Johnson Barovbe, Rotarian Luman Gbemre, Chief Justus Esiri, Mr. Solo Scott, Chief N. E. Dotie, Chief S. O. Ovba, Chief S. I. Okuesa, Mike Ighofose, Chief & Mrs. Ernest Jombo, High Chief V. O. Awhi, Chief Isaac Abollo among others.

Posted by Publisher at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

Ojougboh blames Shell for attack on flow station

ABUJA — Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, has blamed the recent attack on the Benisede flow-station on what he described as the “irresponsibility of shell Petroleum Development Company” in its areas of operations.

By Andrew Oota
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Suspected gunmen had attacked the Benisede flow-station, a crude oil facility in the Niger Delta, owned by Shell Development Company killing 13 people, while property worth millions of naira were destroyed.

Briefing newsmen yesterday, Ojougboh argued that the action of the armed men was not targeted at the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led government but insisted that it was motivated by the lack of respect for both the government and people of Nigeria by Shell over the years.
Condemning the act of the angry mob in all its ramifications, the Delta-born lawmaker expressed dissatisfaction over the affairs and conduct of Shell in the Niger Delta.

According to him “while I condemn the act of the angry men as a result of the quantum of destruction and loss of human lives that their actions have caused in the Niger-Delta region, I must state here that this action is not an act against the Nigerian government, it is an act against Shell and its management. In fact, Shell has to, as a matter of fact, change and reform its attitude because the issue of Ogoni is still fresh in the minds of the people.

“Shell should be held responsible for that act, because they have being treating the government of Nigeria without any respect and the time has come for Shell to change its behaviour. Shell does not honour invitations from the National Assembly and that is not good enough because other companies that operate in this country have tremendous respect for the laws of this country but Shell does not.”

The lawmaker was confident that “some of the people who attacked Shell, if you look into it, are either retirees or people Shell have sacked or those that Shell is owing and have refused to pay or even the jobless ones in the same environment Shell operates in."

According to him, “Shell must begin to obey the laws of this country, they must reform themselves, they most improve the lives of the people whose environment they are operating in, they should carry the people along, give them employment and the people would not think of involving themselves in such acts.”

Posted by Publisher at 10:57 AM | Comments (0)

"Harvesting rain water will help check erosion menace"

OWERRI—IT has been suggested that one of the major ways of arresting the rampaging gully erosion, which has continued to threaten several communities in Imo State, is through harvesting rain water.

By Chidi Nkwopara
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A gubernatorial aspirant and former member of the Federal House of Representatives, Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who made the suggestion in an interview with Vanguard in his Ehime Mbano local government area country home, also revealed that all the programmes he intends to pursue if given the opportunity, have been tested.

"I harvest rain water in this house, store it in an underground tank, treat it and distribute same for family use. I also use part of the rain water to irrigate my farm. The point I am making here is that if I was not harvesting the rain water, those living behind me would have been sacked a long time ago by gully erosion”, Nwajiuba said.
Although he did not immediately give an idea of what he spent in the water-harvesting project, Nwajiuba however reasoned that it was definitely cheaper than the cost of relocating either a family or community sacked by rampaging erosion.

On his plan for agriculture, the governorship aspirant equally said he does not believe in mere theories but leading by example.
"I have already shown that every family can begin a small agricultural project in their homes. I have a piggery, poultry, palm plantation, some stands of varying cash crops in my small compound. I am rearing grass cutter, just to prove that it is possible to keep such an animal in a living home”, he explained.

Answering a question, Nwajiuba said he only uses the droppings of the pigs, goats, sheep and poultry as natural manure for his palm, cash crops, plantain,banana and cassava farm.
"Imo State should not have any business importing food from anywhere. The farmers can be effectively grouped according to their areas of interests and given the necessary farming inputs and guidance.

We have the land and manpower. What I am not too sure we have, is the correponding policy and will power on the part of government to achieve these goals”, Nwajiuba said.

It was his considered opinion that for the state to make meaningful progress in all sectors, there ought to be a clean break from the usual practice of recycling old hands.

"These old hands have been tested. We have seen their output. It would not be a crime to bring in people with fresh ideas, people who are very prepared to render service to the citizenry, people who are not more interested in lining their pockets instead of rendering total and dedicated service to Imo people”, he said.

Posted by Publisher at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

Court postpones Ngige's appeal

ENUGU—HEARING in the appeal filed by Governor Chris Ngige of Anambra State against the decision of the Anambra Election Petition Tribunal which declared Mr. Peter Obi of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) winner of the 2003 gubernatorial election in the state was yesterday postponed to January 23.

By Tony Edike
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The matter was originally scheduled to commence yesterday but the Appeal Court shifted it to enable it rule on an application for joinder filed by the candidate of the National Advance Party (NAP) in the elections, Mr. Ifeanyi Okonkwo.

Okonkwo who was disqualified by the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) from contesting the 2003 gubernatorial polls, had sought to be made a party to the appeal contending that he was an interested party.

He had hinged his quest on the declaration by the Federal High Court sitting in Enugu that he was wrongfully excluded from participating in the elections and subsequently sought leave to appeal the ruling of the lower tribunal and an extension of time within which to file the appeal.

But ruling on the application yesterday, the appellate court, however, dismissed the application saying that it was an abuse of the process of the court as Okonkwo not only failed to show that he was a rightful party to the suit but also failed to comply with the provisions of the Electoral Act in filing his application.
Justice J.O. Baga who read the lead judgement held that since Okonkwo did not contest the election, he could not claim to be an interested party who would have shown that the right of appeal availed him and that the decision of the tribunal caused him grief.

“Those who did not contest the election cannot be granted leave to appeal its outcome as they do not fall into the category of petitioner or statutory respondents as defined by the Electoral Act””, he said. The Court further held that the applicant failed to file his application within the 21 days stipulated by the Act declaring that the non-compliance was fatal to his case. ““The entire application lacks merit and is entirely dismissed with N2,500 cost in favour of each of the respondents””, the court ruled. The ruling clears the way for hearing on the main appeal by Ngige to commence Governor Ngige in his last legal battle to secure his seat, is seeking to overturn the decision of the Justice Garuba Naburuma-led tribunal on the petition filed by Mr Obi against the Governor’s declaration by INEC as the winner of the guber elections. Failure in this regard will cost him his position as the decision of the Court of Appeal on cases arising from gubernatorial and National Assembly elections is by the Electoral Act, final.

Posted by Publisher at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

Kalu advises PDP to reconcile feuding factions

UMUAHIA—governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State says he is optimistic that the present crisis in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would soon be resolved, advising the party’s leaders to start reaching out to all the aggrieved members for reconciliation.

By Vincent Ujumadu
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The governor who spoke with journalists before he left the state for an official business in Lagos also commented on the recent opinion poll conducted in the United States of America (USA) which named him as one of those likely to succeed President Olusegun Obasanjo next year.

According to the governor, politicians would always quarrel but the good thing is that they reconcile, adding that the best way to save PDP is to start a healing process.

“I believe that peace will return to the PDP. The party is not one man’s business. Even if one man wants to make it his business, it will not work. I therefore believe that PDP will soon set out for serious reconciliation and be able to move forward. My advice is that the leaders should start reaching out to ensure that peace returns.”

According to him, the present situation in PDP is threatening democracy, adding that it is only by coming together that that threat would be removed.
On the recent opinion poll which listed five Nigerians, including himself as likely successors to President Obasanjo, Kalu said although he was not moved by the rating which placed him above others, the truth was that America is a country to emulate.

His words: “I hold Americans in high esteem and I emulate their brand of democracy. Although I admire the kind of legacies their past and present leaders have bequeathed to their people, I will respect the constitution of Nigeria (when I become president).

They could have a say in what happens in other parts of the world, but they would not dabble in the internal affairs of any nation. They also believe in the rule of law and I believe in that too and I want us to follow their model by respecting the judiciary and the constitution. So, by commenting on those likely to become president in Nigeria by 2007, they are only playing the role expected of them.”

Posted by Publisher at 10:53 AM | Comments (0)

Sustain war aganist corruption, Udenwa urges Nigerians

OWERRI — As Nigerians filed out to honour their fallen heroes on Sunday, the Imo State Governor, Chief Achike Udenwa, appealed to his fellow countrymen to sustain the current war against corruption.

By Chidi Nkwopara
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Udenwa, who made the appeal after laying a wreath in Owerri, at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, also opined that winning the war against corruption would usher in a new Nigeria where equity, justice, fairplay and peace will reign.”

In the spirit with which we are remembering our fallen heroes today, we shall win the war against corruption to usher in a new Nigeria where equity, justice, fair play and peace will reign, God willing”, the Governor said.

According to him, this year’s exercise is coming at the heels of a full-blown reformation of our country with a pointed resolve to fight corruption in all its ramifications, stressing that this war on the cankerworms militating against the nation’s growth and survival is ably led by President Olusegun Obasanjo. "Being our brother’s keepers has been the moving spirit behind this annual ritual. Our fallen heroes gave their lives that Nigeria shall remain one and united."
"They embraced discipline and patriotism and applied them to the discharge of their duties”, the Governor opined.

Continuing, Chief Udenwa said “we must by our actions, assure our generation that those in whose honour we are gathered today did not die in vain”, adding that a helping hand is expected from each and every Nigerian towards the dependants of the fallen heroes. "To the surviving compatriots, I salute your courage, doggedness and contributions to the peace and unity of Nigeria, your fatherland”, he said.

While reminding the serving and retired members of the Nigerian Armed Forces of the state government’s tripod programme of agriculture, industrialisation and re-orientation, the Governor also told the retirees that their training in the military, properly equips them to participate in community vigilante service or small scale industrial activity."The development of Imo State will blossom if your disposition to the re-orientation vision is responsive and total. Development is a partnership between government and the people."

"As we play our roles as a government, I plead with everyone to also play his/her own role. The results, certainly, shall be worthy and commendable”, Chief Udenwa insisted.

Posted by Publisher at 10:52 AM | Comments (0)

Ondo sets up committee on health delivery

AKURE — A 14-member committee has been inaugurated by the Ondo State Government to ensure the overall efficiency and effectiveness in its health care delivery system.

By Dayo Johnson
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The committee members known as ‘‘Health Sector Quality Assurance Committee, were drawn from various professional groups in the health sector across the state.

The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Oluremi Akinbobola while inaugurating the committee advised the members to put the interest of the people of the state above all other considerations. Dr Akinbobola urged the committee members to "be pro-active in their activities, saying that the state government reposes a lot of confidence in their abilities to discharge the assignment in the overall interest of the people. The commissioner pointed out that the present administration is "fully determined to eliminate all obstacles militating against effective health care delivery in the state and keep pace with modern challenges in health care delivery."

The commissioner said the state Ministry of Health commenced massive employment of qualified medical and health personnel towards the end of last year, noting that the ministry has continued to pursue the new state health plan with vigours to enable the people of the state have access to quality health care with minimum stress.

According to the commissioner, the committee is to identify current obstacles hindering optimal performance and to develop workable strategies for improving the quality of care with actionable goals and objectives. The committee is also to ensure compliance with sound clinical practice and ethics of the different professions and to identify available human and material resources for health care delivery.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Rhoda Adejuyigbe is the chairman of the committee while the Permanent Secretary, State Hospitals Management Board, is the co-Chairman, Dr. E. T. Oni is to act as the Executive Secretary.

Other members are: Dr. M. A. Ojo, Dr. Osunmakin, Dr. A. O. Afolabi, Mr. Kunle Owolabi, Mrs. V. A. Olakunle, Mrs. Olafisoye, Mr. Odi Onyenma Uche, Mr. S. A. Ademukola, Mr. J. O. Dada, Mr. Femi Olabode and Mrs. A. Adegoroye.

Posted by Publisher at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

OSOPADEC offers free health services to 2000 persons

AKURE — OVER 2,000 people have benefited from the free health services embarked upon by the State Oil Producing Area Development Commission (OSOPADEC) for the people of Ilaje and Ese-Odo local government areas of the state.

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Over 695 beneficiaries of the programme have eye related cases.

The Chairman of the Commission, Chief Olusola Oke said that that programme was aimed at redressing the various health problems associated with negative effects of petroleum exploration activities in the oil producing riverside area of Ondo State.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the programme in Igbokoda over the weekend, he said that "the intervention agency had already spent N10 million on the first phase of the programme that lasted for three weeks in the two local government areas.

According to him "the commission would also offer free medical information to the people of the oil-producing communities on the avoidable diseases that had been ravaging the area. The commission, Chief Oke said had embarked on “the programme because of its philosophy of developing not only the land, but also the people of the area."

The free health programme, which was meant for the mandate areas of OSOPADEC, he said, was meant to take care of poor people with cases ranging from hernia, hydrocele, lipoma and cataracts. He added that it was also meant for mass de-worming of children and adults, provide glasses for people with refractive errors and treatment for various medical conditions.

Reading a technical report the Chairman of the State Hospitals Management Board, Dr. Banji Ajaka said that 695 out of the beneficiaries had eye related cases. Out of this figure, he said 485 people had refractive errors, while 66 cataract cases were discovered during a health auditing of the two local government areas earlier carried out late last year.

Posted by Publisher at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

Task force grounds EAS Airline

LAGOS — THE Task Force on Verification of Airworthiness Status of Aircraft and Operational Competencies of Commercial Aircraft Operators in Nigeria has grounded the operations of Executive Airline Services (EAS).

Kenneth Ehigiator
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The task force, headed by the Rector of Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Engr. Folashade Odutola, was set up by Aviation Minister, Prof. Babalola Borishade, some six weeks ago to audit all airlines operating in the country, especially their aircraft.

Although reasons for the grounding of the airline were not made known by the task force, it however, said deficiencies were discovered in its operations and advised the regulatory agency, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) not to allow it to fly until all identified lapses were rectified.

But in a swift reaction, the airline’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr. Idris Adama, said the airline was grounded for human and procedural reasons and not technical reasons that could endanger safety.

“Following its audit of EAS Airline, the task force has advised the NCAA to ground the operations of the airline, pending the rectification of certain deficiencies discovered during the audit inspection.

“Accordingly, the airline would be released to commence operations upon evidence of rectification of the deficiencies,” Chairman of the task force, Engr. Odutola said in a statement issued yesterday.

Consequently, the airline’s two Boeing 737-200 aircraft have since ceased to fly and would, according to the task force, remain so until all the deficiencies identified in its operations were rectified.

Speaking with Vanguard on phone yesterday, EAS Corporate Affairs Manager, Mr. Idris Adama, said the task force discovered a few deficiencies, but stressed that those identified were merely “human and procedural and not technical.”

According to him, "human and procedural deficiencies are not enough to impinge on air safety and we are addressing them; I’m sure we are going to resume operation in the next few days.”

Posted by Publisher at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

'Order Ehindero to obey court ruling on Ladoja'

LAGOS — MEMBERS of Lagos State House of Assembly yesterday called President Olusegun Obasanjo to order the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero to obey the rule of law with regards to the Oyo State High Court ruling, refraining the acting Chief Judge of the state from setting up a probe panel to investigate Governor Raheed Ladoja just as it condemned the procedure adopted by the Oyo State House of Assembly in impeaching the state governor.

By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Oyinlola Apelehin
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Describing the action as illegal, it advised the IG to direct his men not to be part of the illegality.
Moving the motion under matter of urgent public importance, Mr. Kolawole Taiwo (Ajeromi-Ifelodun) said what happened in Oyo State was disrespect to the rule of law, because a court has earlier ruled refraining the acting Chief Judge of the state from setting up a panel.

Mr. Taiwo stated that the role police acted in the impeachment process was demeaning and unexpected of an authority that should not be partisan.
The House posited that Mr. President should use his good office to intervene in the matter more so that a competent court has ruled against the move, “we will remain a laughing stock to the rest of the world if our government continues to flout court rulings.”

His words: “The action of the lawmakers is a matter of worry to the electorate, who voted them into office because they have really disappointed them (electorate).
In his own contributoin, Mr. Abdulateef Abdulkareem contended that the court has already ruled on the matter and any action contrary to the court rule would amount to illegality, maintaining that there was no need to call for the reinstatement of Gov. Ladoja because he still remains the governor of the state because the process which Chief Alao Akala was sworn in was illegal and illegality act should not be condone.

“There is no need for anybody to pass a resolution for Ladoja to be reinstated because he is not impeached and the Inspector-General of Police should listen to the voice of reasoning by obeying court ruling, Akala should be removed,” Abdulkareem strongly stated.

The House while stating that sentiment should not be attached to what is happening in Oyo State, affirmed, “because a situation where rule of law is not obeyed would continue to make foreign investors run away from investing in the country.”

Posted by Publisher at 10:44 AM | Comments (0)

Consolidation: CBN revokes 14 bank licences — N177bn trapped

ABUJA — The banking sector recapitalisation programme, yesterday, reached a climax, as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revoked the licences of 14 banks which could not be redeemed and directed the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to immediately commence the process of liquidation.

By Emma Ujah
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the Governor of the CBN, Prof. Charles Soludo gave the names of those affected as: African Express Bank, Allstates Trust Bank, Assurance Bank, City Express Bank, Eagle Bank, Fortune Bank, Gulf Bank, Hallmark Bank, Lead Bank, Liberty Bank, Metropolitan Bank, Societe Generale Bank, Trade Bank, and Triumph Bank.

A total of N177 billion has been trapped in the 14 banks with only about N70 billion deposits falling within the insurance cover of N200,000.00, thereby leaving the bulk of N107 at the risk of being lost. Depositors of that category could only receive additional payment after the initial maximum N200,000.00, if the liquidators are able to recover funds from the assets of the affected banks.

The process of liquidation has become cumbersome and could even be frustrated, as the NDIC was required by the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act to obtain a court approval before it could liquidate a banking institution. The process could be challenged, as was the case of Savannah Bank, which is still pending, more than two years, after.

Prof. Soludo explained that the action was in the interest of the credibility of the reform programme and the health of the industry. There has been intense lobby by powerful people to stop the CBN from liquidating the insolvent banks.

The CBN boss also disclosed that a list of the fraudulent managing directors, other board members and top management that grounded the affected banks through insider dealings and non-performing loans was being compiled and would be sent to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for necessary action.

“Let me say at this juncture that we are compiling a list of chronic bank debtors for the EFCC for necessary action,” he said, adding, “the full provisions of the Failed Banks Acts will be applied, against all those directors that have been involved in bringing down all these banks.”

“Well, they are shut for banking operations. You cannot go there now to withdraw money but we are still go into those places to see whether they are going to be handed over to any of the other banks and all that. You will need people to show you the books and so on. And you don’t want those who were part of these banks going down to be the ones doing these.”

In spite of the huge sums trapped in the 14 banks, the CBN governor assured that the interest of depositors would be protected and that the amount involved was less than 1 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which he insisted was an indication of a good result of the reform, so far.

According to the governor, the 14 banks that had to be liquidated was still a positive result since according top him, 25 banks were on the verge of being liquidated before he announced the on-going consolidation in July 2004.

Speaking on post-consolidation challenges, the CBN boss said that a fresh capital verification would be undertaken in order to ascertain the quality of funds that were received by the banks and that any bank found wanting would face stiff consequences including losing its operating licences and to be acquired by another.

Posted by Publisher at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

Census: Boarder areas deserve special attention, says Dandi LG boss

BIRNIN-KEBBI— Chairman Dandi Local Government, Major Rabiu Kamba (rtd) has warned that the difficulty in the enumeration of aliens across the boarder areas in the forthcoming National Population and Housing Census may be heightened by the issuance of Nigerian National Identity Cards to some foreigners in spite of the fact that some Nigerians are yet to be issued with their cards.

By Abayomi Adeshida
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Chairman who spoke with Vanguard in his office yesterday regretted that unless deliberate steps were taken by the National Population Commission to pay special attention to the boarder areas during the Census period, some Nigerians might miss the opportunity of being counted while some foreigners might be erroneously counted as Nigerians.

Narrating a recent experience, he said he personally intervened when immigration officials were bent on deporting a man who they claimed was an alien but who presented a Nigerian national identity card.

According to the Chairman, “you know, I was highly embarrassed when my attention was drawn to the face-off between the man and men of the Nigerian Immigration Service who said they had enough evidence from his body marks that he was of a tribe outside Nigeria.

“My embarrassment was not only that the man in his own defence paraded a National Identity Card that was done in his name and photograph, I was taken aback by the fact that it was the first time I was seeing anything like the National Identity Card myself.

“You know if I was already issued with my own card, I would have been able to certify if the man was even carrying the original document or an imitation of what was being issued by the Federal Government.

“My reaction was to ask where the man was issued the card and he said he got the card in far away Lagos; and I just said if the man had traveled from Lagos to Kamba, it only meant he was a free Nigerian.

“They had to leave him and let him go because most of the Immigration Officials I was told, would not have been able to present their own cards if I had asked them to present their own cards,” the Chairman stated.

While baring his mind on how the non-issuance of the National Identity Cards might impact upon the Census, he said, “you know, the scenario I just painted was something that occurs occasionally, in a situation where a few days have been set aside for the counting of people, it would be practically difficult for us to intervene in every case.

“You should not also forget that because of our natural endowments, many communities in our neighbouring countries want to be part of Nigeria, so, in a situation whereby majority of the people are not carrying identity cards, it would be somehow difficult for enumerators to refuse to count some of the people along the boarder areas”, Major Kamba stated.

Posted by Publisher at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

Makarfi blames past leaders for zonal agitation for Presidency

KADUNA — The Governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, has said that lack of fairness and equity on the part of past leaders is responsible for the current agitation for which part of the country should produce the next president.

By Emeka Mamah
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Makarfi spoke in Kaduna yesterday when a United Kingdom based Nigerian preacher, Pastor Williams Isaac Sodeye, visited him at the government house.

He said that if past leaders have been fair and equitable in their dealings, the current agitation would not have arisen, adding that if they (past leaders) had operated on the basis of fairness, equity and justice, as well as being accountable, the issue of where leaders come from would have been immaterial.

According to him, the nation’s past leaders did not live up to their responsibilities in the spirit of fairness which is the cause of the clamour for power by most political actors in Nigeria.

The governor argued that operating in a manner that every part of the country gets its fair share of things was the best thing the country needed in order to have a vibrant economy with people oriented projects.

He assured people of the state that his government would continue to operate in a manner that is not discriminatory irrespective of religious or ethnic background and would create the enabling environment for economic growth in the state.

He called for a honest approach to dealing with the country’s multiple problems and conscious efforts be made to solve them with open mind in order to buid a developed and united Nigeria.

Earlier in his remark, the clergyman, Pastor Williams Isaac Sodeye, described the governor as a role model in view of his fair and equitable distribution of power and basic amenities to the people of the state irrespective of their ethnic or religious background.
He noted that this gesture by the governor should be emulated by other governors in the country so that justice and fair play is assured and the people treated in the best way possible.

Pastor Sodeye noted that the peace initiative and reconciliation carried out by the Makarfi administration is commendable by all as it has created a conducive atmosphere for all to operate in the state.

Posted by Publisher at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

Third term speculation is endangering our unity, says Rep

ABUJA — Senator Abubakar Sodangi (PDP Nasarawa West) has warned that continued speculations on the alleged third term agenda is capable of resurrecting previously cemented sectional and tribal divides.

By Tina Anthony
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

He said this at a reception for officials and members of the Nigerian Bar Association branches from Abuja, Keffi and Lafia in Nasarawa town. Senator Sodangi equally said he would leave the N14 billion Abuja-Keffi dual carriage way as a lasting legacy of his representation of his constituency in the Senate. The reception graced by officials of the NBA from the Abuja, Keffi and Lafia jurisdictions also saw the commissioning of a hall dedicated to the NBA in Marhab‘al Halal Centre owned by Senator Sodangi.

The hall was commissioned by Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN) who was represented by the Chairman of the Abuja NBA, Mr. Jude Okeke. Responding to questions on the alleged bid to amend the constitution towards allowing the President contest for a third term, Senator Sodangi said: “Nobody, neither Mr. President or governors has come to me on this issue. Look at the danger that this is causing primordial thinking, sectional thinking and tribal thinking which are coming in against our normal way of doing things. We are not going back to regional and sectional ways.’’

Continuing, he said: “If you are reducing this thing to a regional thing that is a terrible danger for the survival and sustainability of democracy in this country everybody will now be clamouring for a President of the South East, President of the South South… that will portend danger and will balkanise the unity of this country,’’ he warned.

Responding to reporters questions on his legacy, Senator Sodangi while lauding the contributions of President Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Abdullahi Adamu to the development of his constituency said: “The dualisation of Abuja-Keffi road was started by my handwork when I moved a motion drawing the attention of my colleagues in 1999 when we came to the incessant accidents in Nyanya and in 2002 the contract was awarded and whether one likes it or not when I leave office, even when I die they will say during Obasanjo’s tenure who was the Senator? It was Sodangi. It is a N14 billion contract,’’ Senator Sodangi who is also chairman of the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs said. “In addition to that, there is another road that is being constructed between Nasarawa and Loko including the bridge that is going to be built across the River Benue and that is another road that is going to link the North to the South East. Whether one likes it or not that is another gigantic road project.’’

Posted by Publisher at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

Lawmakers resume sitting

Abuja — The Senate resumes yesterday from the seasonal and religious holidays with the swearing in of its most recent member, Senator-Elect Fred Orti from Benue State. Barrister Orti’s inauguration would bring the Senate to its full complement of 109 Senators in nearly two years.

By Emmanuel Aziken & Andrew Oota
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Senate schedule before its next holiday in about three months time will be focussed on the passage of the 2006 budgetary proposals and consideration of the proposals for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution.

A number of senators were yesterday observed trying to settle down for the forthcoming legislative activities in the Senate building yesterday.
Mr. Orti from Benue State was elected in a bye election last December to replace the late Senator Joshua Adagba who died last July. A retired Customs official and member of the defunct National Political Reform Conference that took place last year, the new Senator first aspired to represent the Benue North West constituency in the 2003 election but succumbed to the late Senator Adagba.

Speaking ahead of his swearing yesterday, he promised to make use of the remaining months of the tenure to deliver democratic dividends to his constituency. He said: ''I am ready to continue from where the late Adagba stopped. Seventeen months are not too small to achieve what he wants to achieve, I am going to lobby my colleagues so that I can see that infrastructure is provided in our state. Benue State is an agrarian state. Even if I am going to have two bills that are going to impact positively on my people I will be okay,’’ he said.

On his perception of the Senate, he said: “People should understand that lawmaking is painstaking and that the parliament is the only arm of government that is affected anytime the military strikes. I cannot say it is a learning process, but Nigerians should take it easy. It took America fifty years to perfect democracy yet there are some flaws even in some of the bills they pass.’’

Posted by Publisher at 10:36 AM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2006

War in Niger Delta

* Fighting continues after attack on Shell flow-station
* Security council meets, Obasanjo summons N-Delta govs

By Hector Igbikiowubo, Kingsley Omonobi, Simon Ebegbulem & Samuel Oyadongha
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 17, 2006

WARRI — FIGHTING between soldiers and militants in the Niger Delta continued yesterday following the attack on the Shell Petroleum Development Company operated Benisede flowstation which left 13 military personnel dead and an equal number of civilian casualties. Information from Yenagoa last night indicated that security agencies had arrested a man believed to be the mastermind of last week's kidnap of four oil workers in Bayelsa.

It was gathered that a high powered security council meeting scheduled by the Presidency for yesterday was rescheduled for today to enable government collate enough data on the situation in the area and take a decision on the next course of action.

A resident who fled the scene of the fighting told Vanguard yesterday that fighting continued between soldiers and the militants for the better part of Sunday and the wee hours of yesterday.

Mr. Johnbull Igoniwari said rapid exchange of gunfire heightened after troop reinforcements came in. “The soldiers are shooting at anything that moves. This problem at Benisede did not start today. The soldiers there have always been very highhanded and our people had previously made our case known to the authorities including Shell.

“But nobody listened. I recall a time last year when one of our boys was killed and several people injured, we made our complaint but nobody listened. Shell simply got in army reinforcement to stifle us. The problems have simply become more and more complicated,” he said.

On the current state of affairs in the area, he said young men in Ojobo, the host community of the Benisede flow-station, had since left the area for fear of arrest by the army on suspicion of being part of the attack on the station. “You know whenever such things happen, the army starts arresting younger people indiscriminately under the excuse that they are being held on one suspicion or the other,” Igoniwari said.

On the motives behind the attack on the flow-station, he said he was not aware, adding that the Ijaw people have always been subjected to one form of deprivation and subjugation for one reason or the other.

"Don’t you know that we have been turned into tenants in our own houses? What is happening in Ijaw land is the same thing as people invading your house, take over your wife and daughters and repeatedly rape them in front of you. Then they dare you to talk.That is the situation in Ijaw land today.
“Even our leaders who dare to speak up are humiliated publicly for one reason or the other. I beg, I do not know why the station was attacked. But I can assure you that unlike my generation which sat down and did nothing, the youths have seen the light and will not sit back and do nothing,” he said.

* Presidency reacts
President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday summoned governors of four Niger Delta states to a special security council meeting to be attended by all security chiefs in the country as well as ministers responsible for security related Ministries of Defence and Police.

The meeting which is scheduled for 9:00a.m. at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, is coming on the heels of a directive, yesterday, by the president to security agencies to fish out the perpetrators (militants) who killed the soldiers sent to Bayelsa State to protect the Benisede flowstation.

Military sources told Vanguard that the directive to fish out the perpetrators was to pre-empt any reaction of soldiers who may want to embark on a reprisal akin to the Odi and Zaki-Biam attacks.

Those to attend today's meeting are Governors Goodluck Jonathan of Bayelsa State, James Ibori of Delta State, Peter Odili of Rivers State and Olusegun Agagu of Ondo State.

Also invited are National Security Adviser, General Aliyu Gusau (rtd); Minister of Defence, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso; Minister of State for Defence, Dr. Rowland Oritsejafor; Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo; and Internal Affairs Minister, Ambassador Magaji Mohammed.

Others are the Chief of Defence Staff, General Alexander Ogomudia; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Martin Agwai; Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Jonah Wuyep; Inspector-General of Police, Mr Sunday Ehindero; Chief of Defence Intelligence, Maj-General Halidu Giwa; DG SSS, Col Kayode Are and DG NIA.

As a prelude to the meeting today, Chief of Defence Staff, General Ogomudia yesterday held a three-hour meeting with Air Marshal Jonah Wuyep, Chief of Air Staff; Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye, Chief of Naval Staff; and Chief of Defence Intelligence, Major-General Halidu Giwa.
Also yesterday, Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, held a three-hour meeting with the Inspector-General of Police and other DIGs on the matter of security in the Niger Delta.

Speaking on the development, a Presidency official said government was disturbed by the dare-devilry of the militants, adding that security reports would determine the next line of action.

"You can be rest assured that government would take drastic measures to safeguard lives and property in the Niger Delta,” the official said.
General Alex Ogomudia,Chief of Army Staff arrived Warri yesterday to get first hand information on the development, while more troops have also been deployed to police the troubled area.

* Shell reaction
In another statement yesterday, the SPDC said there was no new net impact on production as a result of the attack on the Benisede flow-station, adding that the company’s share of the 106,000 barrels per day shut-in due to the attack on the Trans-Ramos pipeline is 30 per cent.

“A number of people have been given medical attention and about 10 persons are currently being hospitalised at the Shell hospital in Warri. There are reports of fatalities but we are only able to confirm one SPDC catering contractor staff fatality at this time. We cannot give further comments on reported non-SPDC cases and we are cooperating fully with the authorities.

“Our thoughts go out to all the families of all of those affected. All possible steps are being taken by SPDC to ensure the safety and security of staff and contractors and the communities in which we operate at all times.

“SPDC would like to clarify that it has no current plans to pull out of the Niger Delta. Following the general insecurity in the Benisede area, the company thought it prudent to minimize the risk to personnel by evacuating staff from the station and neighbouring fields,” Mr Don Boham, SPDC’s Corporate External Affairs Manager said.

*Militants threaten continued action
Meanwhile, some militant youths who spoke to Vanguard on phone refused to disclose their names, accusing Shell of collaborating with the Federal Government to impoverish the people of the Niger Delta and intimidating those whom they described as the voice of the people.
“Let them bring all troops in the Niger Delta, nothing will happen. Unless they release Asari and Alamieyeseigha before we can even sit with them to discuss anything. Shell collaborates with the government in killing us and we will make sure that they leave the entire Niger Delta.

“They have no hiding place here. Nothing will stop us from fighting this war. This is just the beginning. Why should they be killing any one of us who is fighting our course, why?They removed Alamieyeseigha and detained Dokubo and they think it is the end. We will tell them that we have people that can fight and die if possible,” they said.

Following a blast on the Trans-Ramos pipeline and the kidnapping of four expatriate workers, a group calling itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) claimed that it was responsible for the action. The group seeks independence for the region’s 14-million-strong Ijaw ethnic group.

“We are capable and determined to destroy the ability of Nigeria to export oil,” the group warned, in a statement, weekend.
MEND demanded the release of Ijaw leaders, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who will appear in court today to face treason charges, and Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former state governor accused of embezzlement.

* Tension mounts in Niger Delta
Tension has heightened in Ekeremor local government area of Bayelsa State over fears of possible reprisal attack from the military following Sunday raid on the Benisede flow station by unknown armed youths in which a number of soldiers were killed.

Sources from the troubled area told Vanguard that some of the natives had started fleeing their homes to neighbouring communities in Bayelsa and Delta States.
It was gathered that following the surprise dawn attack on the Benisede flow station in which heavy military causalities were recorded, security has been beefed up in the coastal fringe of the Bayelsa West senatorial district to curb the excesses of the rampaging youths.

One of the fleeing natives who spoke to Vanguard said “although the perpetrators of the act are not from our communities, there is palpable fear back home as everybody is concerned about the unfolding drama in the creeks and the possible counter attack from the soldiers.”

According to him, there has been heavy movement of troops in the creeks in the aftermath of the upsurge of violent attacks against the Anglo-Dutch oil giant SPDC personnel and facilities in the area.

Although Yenagoa, the capital city, is calm, there has been heavy security reinforcement around all the entry and exit routes to the state with commuters subjected to intensive search by armed soldiers.

Occupants of private and commercial vehicles were made to get down and walk through series of check points with their luggage thoroughly searched before they are allowed to proceed on their journey thereby causing heavy traffic jam on the roads.
A security source who described the situation in the creeks as a trying period for the state said the measure was aimed at checking the proliferation of dangerous weapons.

Posted by Publisher at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

January 16, 2006

Gunmen kill 13, set oil flow station on fire * 226,000 b/d of crude oil shut in

WARRI—HEAVILY armed gunmen yesterday attacked the Benisede flow-station, a Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) operated crude oil facility in the Niger Delta area burning it down, giving rife to fears that recent attacks were part of a wider plan to destabilise the region.

By Hector Igbikiowubo, Emma Amaize & Samuel Oyadongha
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

It was gathered that the gunmen may have also killed 13 army personnel deployed by government to secure the facility after the Trans-Ramos pipeline was blown up, bringing to 226,000 barrels per day, the volume of Shell’s daily output, now shut-in.

A Shell spokesman said the attackers invaded the flowstation in speed boats, burnt down two staff quarters, damaged the processing facilities and escaped.
Following several attacks and growing insecurity in the area, the company has commenced evacuation of personnel on duty from Benisede and neighbouring flowstations including Opukushi, Ogbotobo and Tunu.

All four flowstations had been shut following the vandalisation of the Trans Ramos pipeline on January 11. The company spokesman who did not want his name in print said the injured persons had been moved to Warri for medical attention, adding that the relevant government authorities had been informed about the situation.

Brigadier General Elias Zamani, Commander of the Joint Task Force, confirmed that there was an exchange of gunfire between his men and the youths. Asked to confirm the report that 13 soldiers were killed, he said there were casualties on both sides but he did not know the actual number of persons that were killed.
“I have sent my men to go and confirm. I cannot tell you any figure and don’t go and start writing that so and so number of persons were killed because we do not have the details,” he said.
Pressed for comments on when the JTF would launch its counter attack on the youths, he said: “Who told you I was going to launch a counter attack on anybody? Are we fighting any war?”

An SPDC official who was contacted on the number of its workers and contract staff that were shot dead said: “I can only tell you that there are casualties. I do not have the figures.”

Yesterday’s attack came on the heels of last Wednesday abduction of four expatriate staff of an oil company and the vandalisation of Trans Ramos pipeline belonging to the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC).

Bayelsa State government spokesman, Mr Ekiyor Welson, said: “We understand there was a shootout between the boys and the armed forces. We’ve not heard of any casualties. The boys have taken over the flow station. The military are working in the area now.”

Vanguard gathered that the gunmen struck military personnel guarding the facility shot and killed one of their men. An SPDC official who craved anonymity said about 13 soldiers and equal number of civilians were feared killed in the attack.

There are indications that the same gunmen were behind the kidnapping of four foreign oil workers from a boat which was working alongside the Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) operated EA FPSO vessel.

Officials said the oil workers included an American, a Briton, a Bulgarian and a Honduran who have been held since Wednesday somewhere in the Delta creeks.
Following the incident, SNEPCO also shut in production at the EA platform which accounts for 120,000 barrels of oil output per day, bringing to 226,000 b/d the volume of oil production shut in.

Last week, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a previously unknown ethnic Ijaw separatist group, claimed responsibility for the attacks and demanded the release of Alhaji Mujahid Asari Dokubo, the detained leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) and Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, the impeached governor of Bayelsa State who was seen as a champion of local autonomy.

Asari declared a cease-fire in August 2004 and vowed to pursue his goals through political agitation, but he was arrested last year after vowing to tear Nigeria apart. He is to appear in court tomorrow on treason charges. Asari’s lawyer insists his group has no link with the recent attacks.

Navy spokesman, Captain Obiara Medani, said security forces were still trying to locate the gang in the creeks south of Warri but that any negotiation with the group was a “political matter” he would not discuss. “We are making progress as to their location,” he said.

Also speaking on the development, Governor Goodluck Jonathan of Bayelsa State confirmed the attack of the flow station, yesterday, at a reception in honour of legionnaires in Yenagoa to mark the end of this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Week. He warned that if the situation persisted, the state government might be compelled to call on the Federal Government to take over the troubled area.

Gov. Jonathan said government would not fold its hand and watch criminals turn the state to their safe haven, adding: “We should not allow any section of the state to be sanctuary of criminals.”

He said government could not accept a situation where Bayelsa people could not move freely in the creek, stressing that the state deputy governor who is an indigene of Ekeremor was expected to lead a high powered delegation to the area to restore normalcy.

Posted by Publisher at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

Dawn tragedy in Kano: Rimi’s wife assassinated

TRAGEDY struck Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar Rimi, the first civilian governor of old Kano State and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, both in 1999 and 2003, as his only wife, Hajiya Saudatu, was, in the early hours of yesterday, murdered.

Posted to the Web: Sunday, January 15, 2006

The incident took place right inside the family living room in Kano.
Rimi, who was in Kaduna attending the 40th memorial anniversary of the late Saudana of Sokoto, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, when his wife, 48, was killed, rushed back home after the sad news was broken to him.

Deputy inspector general of Police, Ogbonnaya Onovo, took over investigation of the murder, yesterday, after the Presidency ordered security agencies to swing into action with a view to finding Saudatu’s killers.
13 suspects were said to have been arrested in connection with the dawn murder while the police announced N15 million reward for anybody who could give any useful information that could lead to the arrest of the murderers.
According to Rimi’s niece, Halima, who was one of the persons at home with the deceased when the murder took place, she was with Saudatu until about 1.30 am, yesterday, watching movie on DSTV after which they both went to sleep.
Halima told journalists that she woke up, yesterday morning, to find the lifeless body of the politician’s wife in the pool of her own blood, right in the family living room. The assailants, apparently, quietly entered the house, murdered the woman and escaped.

Halima, who wept as she narrated her story, said: “We were both watching a movie on DSTV entitled, Mohammedeen. Each time I noticed she was sleeping, I woke her up to narrate to her what she had missed. Shortly after watching the movie, she received a call from one of her sons schooling in America and also made another call after which she decided to retire to her room for the night.

“There was no sound of anything unusual happening in the house while I slept. Even when I woke up to drink my usual glass of water (yesterday morning), I only noticed sleepily that the light in the central passage was off but I never thought anything was amiss. I was shocked when I heard an unusual bang on our door early this morning after my cousin, Asama’u, went out to check mama in her room and came rushing back. I asked her what happened and she said our beloved mother had been murdered.
“When I followed her to the living room, I found Hajiya in a pool of her own blood with a deep cut close to her throat. I was confused because there was no knife or any other weapon around her. She was brutally murdered not slaughtered as some people are suggesting. The blood around her was already dry; she must have died hours before we got to know about it.

“When security agents arrived the house and we entered her private room, we noticed that her wardrobe had been shattered which was unusual because mama was always careful with her wardrobe and jewelleries. It was unlike her to sleep carelessly, leaving her wardrobe untidy.
“I don’t know anything about the murder because the main gate of that section of the house is usually locked by the security men. We just go to our rooms and the security men know when the doors are to be closed. I heard when the entrance door was locked and when the keys were returned before we went to sleep but did not see the person that locked the door. I only heard the sound.”

Rimi, who cut short his trip to Kaduna after he was informed of the murder, yesterday, arrived with his political associate, Alhaji Umar Ghali Na’Abba, former speaker of the House of Representatives. He was too shocked by the incident to talk to reporters As at 1.00 p.m yesterday, security agents were still at the scene of the murder, checking everything that could help them in their investigation while only women were allowed to enter the house and see the lifeless body of Saudatu.
At press time, preparations were being made to bury the remains of the deceased in line with Islamic rites. Sympathisers besieged the family house to console with Rimi. Vice President Atiku Abubakar was among sympathisers being expected to visit the family yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Presidency has directed that security agents should swing into action with a view to finding out those who killed Rimi’s wife. A reliable source in the Presidency told Sunday Vanguard that President Olusegun Obasanjo was saddened by the murder and had ordered a full scale investigation to fish out those behind it.
Following the directive, Onovo, it was learnt, was asked to head the investigation which paid off with the arrest of 13 suspects.

Posted by Publisher at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

LADOJA: SANs want sanction against Ag. Chief Judge

IBADAN — MEMBERS of the inner bar, otherwise known as Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, are pushing for disciplinary action against the acting Chief Judge of Oyo State, Justice Afolabi Adeniran, for his role in last week’s impeachment of the state governor.

By Ola Ajayi
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

They have already filed a complaint against the Oyo Ag. CJ with the National Judicial Commission (NJC).

Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja was impeached by 18 members of the state Assembly following the adoption of the report of the panel set up by Justice Adeniran to probe allegations of misconduct against him.

Leaders of the ruling PDP from the South-West met last night in Abuja with Ladoja’s successor, Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala on the choice of his deputy.
Before departing for Abuja yesterday for the meeting, the new governor had assured residents of the state of peace in spite of the recent political development there.
The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria in its complaint to the NJC through the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Muhammadu Uwais, said: “We have been mandated by the members of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria to convey to your Lordship the decision of the Body taken at its meeting held in Lagos today, Saturday the 14th of January 2006.

“At the said meeting, the Body considered a report on the impeachment and removal of the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja particularly as it relates to the role of the Acting Chief Judge, Justice Afolabi Adeniran. We enclose herewith a copy of the ruling of Hon. Justice Bolaji Yusuff of the Ibadan High Court, in suit 1/1056/05 delivered on the12th of January 2006 as our observations and complaints are based on the ruling of the said court.

“We observe from the said ruling that the Hon. Acting Chief Judge was the defendant in the said suit which was filed on the 29th of December 2005. Filed along with the Statement of Claim was a motion on notice for interlocutory injunction restraining the defendant from setting up a panel to investigate the governor pending the hearing and determination of the main suit.

“The motion which was served on the defendant (as he briefed the Oyo Ministry of Justice to represent him) was fixed for hearing on the 3rd of January 2006. On the appointed date this motion was, at the instance of counsel for the defendant, adjourned to the 13th January 2006 for argument. Before the adjournment was granted, counsel for the defendant gave an undertaking in court that nothing would be done by the defendant to frustrate the application for injunction pending before the court.
“In spite of the undertaking and coupled with the fact that the Acting Chief Judge was served with the motion for interlocutory injunction, we find it disturbing that the Acting Chief Judge would, however, go ahead to do the very thing in respect of which he was being sought to be restrained.

“This is a conduct which we find unbecoming of a judge of the High Court which we believe your lordship should refer to the National Judicial Council for sanction.
“We are endorsing a copy of this letter to the Hon. Acting Chief Judge.”

In a separate letter to the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Sunday Ehindero, the senior lawyers said: “We have been mandated to write to you by the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, following a meeting held in Lagos today, Saturday the 14th of January 2006.

“At the said meeting of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, we considered and reviewed the ruling of Hon. Justice M.O. Bolaji Yusuff of Ibadan High Court delivered on the 12th of January 2006, whereby the impeachment of Senator Rashidi Ladoja as Governor of Oyo State was set aside; a copy of which ruling is attached herewith.

“Given the clear pronouncement of Justice M.O. Bolaji Yusuff, members were dismayed by and expressed concern at the reported utterances and conduct of some members of the Police Force, which tend to suggest a partisan approach in the manner in which the orders of courts are being interpreted and carried out. It is our considered view that it is the duty of Police to obey court orders and ensure compliance with same in a transparent manner.

“This is all the more disturbing since many of the top hierarchy of the Police Force are members of our noble profession.
“We note that you are a prominent member of the Bar Association and you owe a duty to the profession, even though you are presently the Inspector-General of Police. We do hope, therefore, that you will act in a manner that will not defeat and/or subvert the ruling of the Hon. Justice Bolaji Yusuff, nullifying the setting up and the proceedings of the impeachment panel. This nullification is still valid and subsisting until reversed by an appellate court.”

Alao-Akala sues for peace

Meanwhile, Governor Alao-Akala has re-assured the people of the state of peaceful co-existence in spite of the present political crisis.
Laying the wreaths to mark this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day in Ibadan yesterday, the governor said: “I assure all the citizenry that peace will certainly prevail in Oyo State.”

Posted by Publisher at 12:33 PM | Comments (0)

Buhari's wife passes on : Obasanjo condoles Rimi, Afenifere wants probe

KADUNA — ONE time First Lady of Nigeria, Hajiya Safinatu Buhari, died, yesterday, in Kaduna just 24 hours after the murder of the wife of Second Republic Governor of Kano State, Hajiya Saa’datu Rimi.

By Emeka Mamah, Tina Anthony & Charles Ozoemena
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday dispatched a condolence letter to Alhaji Abubakar Rimi on the death of his wife, while the pan-Yoruba group — Egbe Afenifere— called for a probe of the murder.

Hajiya Safinatu was First Lady between January 1, 1984 and August 1985 when her husband, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, served as military head of state.
Her death followed a brief illness at the family’s residence at Inuwa Wada Road, Urgwar Rimi GRA, Kaduna. She has since been buried according to Islamic tradition.

Thousands of Buhari’s supporters and sympathisers went to condole him. Among the early callers was Governor Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi of Kaduna State.Kaduna State chairman of ANPP, Alhaji Kabir Umar described the death of Buhari’s wife as a great loss not only to the family but to the entire nation. Also, chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Alhaji Abdulkadir BalarabeMusa said he received the news of Buhari’s wife death with rude shock and complete disbelief tocomment further.

Sympathisers throng Rimi’s home

However, friends and sympathisers yesterday continued to besiege the residence of the first civilian governor of Kano State, Alhaji Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi, to commiserate with him and his family on the gruesome murder of his wife, Hajiya Sa’adatu in the early hours of Saturday.

Alhaji Rimi is yet to comment on the murder of his wife. The state police command is also yet to comment on the murder.
Detectives had literally taken over the house for several hours on Saturday to find a clue to the murder. Their visit and investigation delayed the burial until about 6p.m. Saturday.

Sources close to Alhaji Rimi believed the killers were after him and only went for the wife when they could not find their real target. The sources also believed some insiders were involved.

Obasanjo condoles

However, President Obasanjo in his letter of condolence to Alhaji Rimi said: “It was with great shock and sadness that I received the unfortunate news about the dastardly murder of your dear wife, Sa’adatu. On behalf of myself, my family and the entire nation, please accept our heartfelt sympathies on this painful and irreparable loss.

“It is even more shocking that at this critical time when we are building stronger and more viable platforms of tolerance, dialogue, understanding, peace, stability and security, that a few misguided persons could perpetrate such barbaric acts in our society. Rest assured that the relevant agencies have been directed to leave no stone unturned in apprehending the criminals and ensuring that they face the full weight of the law.

“I pray that God, in His infinite mercy and wisdom which surpass all human understanding, will give you the fortitude to bear this loss. May God grant Hajiya’s soul perfect rest in His bosom and that the very positive, peaceful and purposeful life she has lived on earth will remain a source of inspiration and direction to many, now and always.
“Once again, accept our very deep condolences.”

Afenifere wants probe

Also yesterday, the Egbe Afenifere expressed shock at the brutal murder of Hajiya Saa’datu. In a statement, it said: “The dastardly act is a sad reminder of the Abacha years when women like the illustrious Alhaja Kudirat Abiola and Suliat Adedeji were brutally murdered.

“We ask for a judicial probe into this heinous act in view of the fact that the deceased’s husband, Alhaji Rimi, is one of the politicians whose critical views have made the present government uncomfortable in recent time. He recently quit the ruling PDP on account of its take over by undemocratic forces. The current edition of The Newswatch magazine carries an interview in which Rimi took the Obasanjo government to the cleaners.
“Only a credible inquiry stating the contrary can convince majority of Nigerians that Rimi’s wife death is not politically motivated.”

Posted by Publisher at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

KILLINGS: Police extort N100m from me — MBADINUJU

ABUJA—IMMEDIATE past governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chinwoke Mbadinuju, has told an Anambra State High Court that the policemen handling the investigation of the assassination of former Onitsha Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) leader, Chief Barnabas Igwe and his pregnant wife, Amaka extorted N100 million from him (Mbadinuju).

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

Although he gave no details of how the money was extorted from him, he named police officers involved in the scam. They are Mr. Gabriel Haruna, a Chief Superintendent of Police who was the commander of Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Anambra State Command and Mr. Kola Sofoluwe, the Public Relations Officer, Anambra State Command.

Mbadinuju said the money was obtained from him, by threat, in October last year. The ex-governor also alleged that one Mr Daniel Enyiego who was arraigned with him before an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court, Jabi, over multiple criminal offences of conspiracy and abetment of murder was the police link-man.
According to him, while he was arm-twisted to cough out the first N50 million to the two mentioned senior police officers, he said Enyiego was the man the police sent to him in Abuja in respect of the balance of N50 million which he coughed out.

He said he did not allow the matter to be swept under the carpet as he made a formal complaint to the Police High Command over the alleged extortion, adding that all the people behind the extortion were later arrested but that none of them was prosecuted till date.

Governor Mbadinuju made the disclosures in an affidavit accompanying his bail application filed at the registry of the Anambra State High Court. He also accused the Police of a monumental cover-up in the prosecution of the real murderers of the Igwes. The former governor said the police had refused to charge the mentioned officers to court for extorting money but had chosen to arraign him before two magistrate courts for an offence that could not be tried in a magistrate court.
He said the police decided to arraign him in magistrate courts when they realised that his continued detention was contrary to the provisions of the 1999 constitution.
The former governor said the police had also refused to hand over the case file to the Anambra State Ministry of Justice for the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution, a fact he said, confirmed that the police merely arraigned him for the Igwes’ murder to deceive undiscerning Nigerians.

He also attached a copy of the report of police’s investigation into the Igwes’ which he said fully exonerated him from complicity in the murder case. The report was submitted to Mr. Tafa Balogun, the then Inspector General of Police.

The Police had in the report, which was signed by Mr. Solomon Arase, Principal Staff Officer to Balogun. said: “The investigation also revealed that Dr. C.C. Mbadinuju be cleared of any involvement in this case as no one mentioned his name in this case so far.”

Mbadinuju is facing trial for the same offence before two chiefs magistrate, one in Abuja and the other in Anambra State. He had already been granted bail by the Abuja Chief Magistrate Court while the Anambra Chief Magistrate had ordered that he be remanded in prison custody.

Posted by Publisher at 12:32 PM | Comments (0)

Soludo meets Allan Greenspan, speaks at World Economic Forum

THE governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Professor Charles Soludo will 24 January, in Washington DC, meet with his outgoing US counterpart Mr. Allan Greenspan, the Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve Bank (FED). Professor Charles Soludo, is also billed to speak at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

OMOH GABRIEL, Business Editor
Posted to the Web: Sunday, January 15, 2006

The CBN Governor who has been specially invited by the global economic and business body to take up various aspects of the theme: “Mastering Our Future”, will be part of different select global panels of experts to discuss the future of the global economy in a series of meetings that will span over 100 different sessions. This is probably the first Nigerian to be so honoured at the gathering of the most powerful business men around the world.

Soludo is billed to speak on “Purse Strings and Democracy”, along side such international figures as Vaira Vike-Freiberga, President of Latvia; Daron Acemoglu, Professor of Economics Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA; Youssuf Boutros-Ghali, Finance Minister of Egypt; Dani Rodrik, Professor, FK Kennedy School of government, Havard University; among others on 25th January.

Although, the agenda for the meeting with Greenspan is yet to be made public, banking sector sources say that it is part of Soludo’s exchange of ideas with, and recognition by, his peers around the world, coming shortly after his meeting with Mr. Melvyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England last October.
It is expected that the talks will revolve around a number of issues that have so far underpinned the unprecedented success of the FED in the maintenance of macroeconomic stability in the United States.

The CBN has expressed its intention to adopt inflation targeting which has become the core policy thrust of Central Banks around the world as its core policy focus later in 2006. The CBN Governor understandably may want to learn from the success of the FED under Greenspan’s leadership in sustaining non-inflationary growth of the US economy in the past one decade.

In a similar meeting with Mr King in London last October, Professor Soludo had attracted the admiration and commendation of the Bank of England Governor over the banking sector revolution in Nigeria. Both Governors had agreed to establish close ties in the area of training, inflation modelling and technical co-operation.

Posted by Publisher at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

Group faults Ladoja’s impeachment

THE Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) has said that the process through which former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Ladoja, was removed is lawless.

Posted to the Web: Sunday, January 15, 2006

TMG, in a statement signed by the national coordinator, Angela Odah, at the weekend, in Abuja, said that though it is the responsibility of the State House of Assembly to make laws for the state as enshrined in the section 188 of the constitution and to remove a governor or deputy governor if found wanting of gross misconduct, such legislative processes must be in accordance with the law and not in a violent and lawless manner.

The statement read: “The Transition Monitoring Group is deeply concerned and worried about the lingering political crisis in Oyo State, the group calls on all stakeholders in the state to uphold the democratic tenets of consultation and dialogue in their conduct to ensure that democracy is not only sustained but consolidated in Oyo State and Nigeria as a whole. The group condemns the use of thugs and violence by some stakeholders in the crisis, and maintains that these acts are undemocratic and criminal.”

Posted by Publisher at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

Foreigners to be counted during census, says NPC boss

CHAIRMAN National Population Commission (NPC) Chief Samu’ila Makama has disclosed that foreigners living in Nigeria during the census period must be counted.

Posted to the Web: Sunday, January 15, 2006

The chairman made this disclosure when the comptroller General of Immigration paid him a courtesy call at the weekend in his office.

According to him, “the foreign nationals in Nigeria are both agents and beneficiaries of the development process, they contribute their quota to the development of Nigeria likewise they also benefit from government”.
““Leaving the foreign nationals out of the census would therefore create a demographic gap that would be difficult in development planning”, he added.

The chairman of the commission also call on agencies to assist in the counting of foreigners during census, “the commission has been reaching out to agencies such as the ministries of Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs as well as Petroleum Resources to assist in the counting of foreigners during the 2006 census enumeration”.
“Efforts are also being made to secure the support and cooperation of diplomatic embassies in Nigeria for the 2006 census through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.
“We are quiet aware that some of the foreign nationals would want to avoid being counted for fear of arrests or the fact that information supplied will be used to effect their deportation in future”.
In his speech, the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) Mr. Chukwurah Udeh expressed concern on the 2006 census.

According to him, “NPC is the only commission that is common to us we know that some critical documents that we handle are always with the NPC, the census is the number of Nigerians and non Nigerian in other to help in economic purpose and security purpose”.
“We will partner with NPC because quite a number of data we generate ends with NPC, let me remind you that whatever you require we are ready to assist”

Posted by Publisher at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

2007: Orlu’ll not run for Imo guber race—Ohakim

“THE political terrain as well as the road to Government House Owerri is free for any man or woman in 2007.

Posted to the Web: Sunday, January 15, 2006

But I can assure you Orlu Zone, having done two terms, will not run again. That area has continued to be a source of my political strength after my Okigwe zone. I am in touch with them and I am their candidate for 2007.”

With these words, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, foundation member of Imo PDP and former commissioner for commerce, tourism and industry in the state under Evan Enwerem administration, said his chances in the 2007 gubernatorial race in Imo State were bright.

Ohakim explained that Senator Arthur Nzeribe, speculated to be interested also in the Imo gubernatorial race, was free to run but pointed out: “I can assure you that Senator Nzeribe is a reasonable calculative politician. He knows what to do. I am not sure he really wants to run and as I talk to you, he is one of my greatest supporters. We have talked, he is one of our leaders, he is a great politician any day but he will support me come 2007.”
Asked if there was any agreement that power should shift to Okigwe, given that the zone had consistently laid claim to governorship in 2007, the PDP gubernatorial aspirant told Sunday Vanguard in Lagos: “I don’t play politics of zone. I am not running for a position at the zonal level. I am an Imo State man, I have always believed that the most competent man should be given instrument of power.

“I cannot at this stage of my life support a buffoon because he comes from a particular zone, let the best emerge. That has always been my belief. Be that as it may, I think equity, fairness and justice demand that Okigwe rather than Owerri zone should be given an opportunity to field the governorship candidate of the PDP come 2007 since the first civilian governor of Imo State, Chief Sam Mbakwe, ruled the old Imo State comprising today’s Abia, Ebonyi and today’s Imo State.”
“Given as the clamour is far Okigwe to produce the man for 2007, such candidate must be credible and acceptable to all stakeholders, a man of impeccable to all stakeholders, a man of impeccable character, somebody who has no colonial stains and not a man who will act like a tin god.”

Flaunting his credentials, he said: “There is no doubt that I’’m of the frontline runners today if you take a census of serious candidates. I mean people who really want to run not jesters who are spoilers. I consider myself fit and proper for the job essentially because I’’m competent, I’’m fit psychologically, spiritually and intellectually equipped for the job. Besides, I have antecedents in government business having been a former civilian commissioner. I ran perhaps the most productive and result oriented state ministry under Gov. Evan Enwerem. Between then and now I have continued to serve both the state and Federal Government in various capacities especially in the area of SME’s, don’’t forget I am a private sector person, I know how to sell snow in the Eskimos, I have been involved at a top management level of at least two big multinational companies where I was in charge of their marketing.

“Very essentially, I am foundation member of PDP and having been a party man to the core, I believe whichever front you are coming I should be considered for the job. Most importantly, I have a plan to turn Imo State into a model, even my competitors know that I am perhaps the best man for the job when it comes to initiating quality, and people oriented projects. As I speak to you, now, I have done well over 30 virile studies, and researches on how to move Imo State forward in 2007, needless to say I have a vision and a mission to transform the State to meet the needs with dreams of the founding fathers.”

Asked about the guarantee that the PDP will provide a level playing field in the 2007 race for him and others in Uzodinma group that left for AD in 2003 but are not back in the ruling party, he said: “PDP in Imo State is a lovely family whether you want to see it from Abuja or Owerri group. We are one family, there is one PDP, the governor is a very fair person, the chairman of the party in the state, Chief Nlemigbo is somebody who has done so much to continue the oneness in the party.
That we left the party in 2003 was because things were not done properly at the time, it is normal in politics for one group to use the instrument of Power to their advantage, there is no ill-feelings in our group as we are back to the party.
“I can assure whoever merits the party flag whether you label him a returnee or not will be given support by everybody, that’’s the Spirit we have, the same spirit with which we began the party in 1999 as small men. There is no problem of discrimination now against anybody whether Returnee, Owerri or Abuja, that I can assure you.”

Posted by Publisher at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

Rubber production: Presidential committee challenges institute on quality

DEPUTY Governor of Imo State, Engr. Ebere Udeagu, says the current production of 96,456 metric tons of crumb rubber in the country will increase if the Presidential Initiative on Rubber (PIR) is religiously implemented by farmers and stakeholders.

Posted to the Web: Sunday, January 15, 2006

Udeagu who stated this in Owerri, while inaugurating PIR’s sub committee on processing and alternative uses of rubber said: “With the expected increase in rubber production being envisaged and encouraged by the Presidential Initiative on Rubber, the current production of 95,456 metric tons of crumb rubber will greatly increase as more hectares of rubber will be planted.”

Engr. Udeagu, who doubles as chairman of PIR’s sub-committee on processing and alternative uses of rubber, also appealed to his colleagues to make serious efforts to explore other uses of rubber.
“Serious efforts should therefore be made to explore other uses of rubber to reduce the consumption ratio of natural rubber to synthetic of 1:1, as against the present ratio of 2:3 and achieve the index of world consumption of natural rubber of one kilogram per capita estimated for Nigeria at 140,000 metric tons per annum”, Udeagu pleaded.
The PIR boss also called on especially the Rubber Research Institute to brainstorm and think out improved ways and means to increase quality and quantity of processed rubber.

The Institute was also charged to find other uses Nigeria’s processed rubber can be put into, stressing that “our individual and collective effort is required in this regard to justify our appointments as members of this sub-committee”.
Responding on behalf of members of the sub-committee, the Vice Chairman and Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Sir Gabriel Tobby, commended the federal government for taking the country back to agriculture. According to him, the establishment of alternative uses of processed rubber is adding value to what is already on the ground.
Sir Tobby disclosed that in Rivers State, 6,700 hectares of land had been mapped out for cultivation of rubber, out of which 3,500 hectares are already in use, regretting that the problem of quality control and processing have hampered their production.

Posted by Publisher at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

2007: Army chief tasks officers on loyalty

NINE Army Generals out of the 41 recently retired from the Nigerian Army, including GOC. 81 Division of the Nigeria Army, Maj-General Samaila Iliya, Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Maj-General Abel Akale, Director of Army Finance and Accounts, Maj-General Sebastian Owuama and Chief of Administration, Maj-General Y. Usman yesterday in Kaduna bagged the General Service Star, the highest army award for meritorious service.

Posted to the Web: Sunday, January 15, 2006

The conferment of the awards came just as Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Martin Agwai who held a gala night for the Generals at the 1 Div Officers Mess, described the task ahead of the Army in 2006 and beyond as enormous saying, “But we are poised as ever to overcome our challenges and achieve our mission. What is required is the goodwill of the political class and the general populace.”

Other retiring officers are Maj-General Patrick Akpa, Chief of Operations, Defence Headquarters, Maj-General A. C. Akoji, former Force Commander, Operation Harmony, Maj-General S. E. Asemota, former D. G. NIPSS, Maj-General M. A. Garba, formerly Commander Armoured Corps, Maj-General K. Akande, Maj-General Y. M. Yaduma and Maj-General F. Atambi.

Also retired are Maj-General A. Ajibade, former Director of Military Intelligence, Maj.-General P. O. Edowande, former D. G. DICON, Maj.-General S. B. Biliyok, former Commander, AHQ Garrison, Maj-General O. M. Appah, former Chief of Operations at Army Headquarters, Maj-General R. L. Akpata, former Guards Brigade Commander and Maj-General R. B. Usoro, former Commander Army Engineering Corps.
Retired brigadiers-general are Brig-General P. O. Oluleye, E.O Itodo, S. Audu, G. O. Eburu, A. T. Wakama, J. T. Ogundele, G. A. Adewale, P.O. Okutimo, P.O. Awodola, M.B. Gotau, M. O. Agu, J. M. Bala and R. L. Bajen. Others are Brig-General C. B. Duke, D. Bitrus, F. Alily, M.A. Aromire, L. C. Bulus, R. Kamaludeen, S. A. Balogun, M. A. Sidi and A. A. M. Oumar.
The retirement of the generals, which was approved by the Army Council last December 2005, takes effect from January 2006.

Speaking at the ceremony, Agwai noted that the Army, in compliance with its constitutional roles has contributed immensely in providing a peaceful environment to Nigerians in various internal security operations undertaken.
Projecting into 2006, he said, “in order to conform to international military staff system, given our continued engagement in peace support operations, the Nigerian Army is adopting the Continental Staff System which would commence in July 2006. We are also adopting a unified integrated logistics system at divisional level in the short term and studying the eventual fusion of the combat service corps into a unified army logistics corps. The advantages of this decision are to reduce waste, have speedy reaction to fluid operations and achieve maximum utilisation of scarce resources."
General Agwai then outlined the low areas of the Nigerian Army activities in 2005 to include the explosion at Kaduna in February 2005 and the incessant Police/Army personnel clashes. “These embarrassing police/army clashes are being addressed by the top echelon of the Services to stem these unfortunate incidences,” he stated.

Posted by Publisher at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

Maryam Babangida, 60 Nigerian women to witness Johnson-Sirleaf’s swearing-in ceremony

FORMER First Lady, Mrs. Maryam Babangida is to lead a delegation of about 60 women, including wives of state governors to the swearing-in ceremony of black Africa’s first female President, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in in Liberia tomorrow.

Posted to the Web: Sunday, January 15, 2006

Sources told Sunday Vanguard that the delegation will leave Abuja International Airport by 8.00 a.m. today aboard a chartered aircraft belonging to Chanchangi Airlines. In addition to wives of state governors, it was learnt that many female business women and captains of industry would accompany Mrs. Babangida as a mark of solidarity to Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf.

An official of Chanchangi Airline confirmed that a group of people chartered a Boeing 737 aircraft 200 series out of the two new ones they acquired to take them to Liberia and would return to the country on Wednesday, but said that he was not aware of those who were travelling in it. The American First Lady, Mrs. Laura Bush is also expected to attend the swearing-in ceremony and make a stop over in Nigeria on her way back to her country.

About 17 other candidates contested the November 18, 2005 Presidential elections after which a run-off was conducted for both Mrs. Johnson and soccar star, George Opong Weah of the CDC party. Johnson-Sirleaf won 59 per cent of the votes at the run-off against 41 per cent for Mr. Weah who gained most the votes during the first round.
President Olusegun Obasanjo is also expected to join other African and world leaders at Monrovia, the Liberian capital for the ceremony which would mark the end of over 14 years of war in the country.

Posted by Publisher at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

Akinjide opens up: Ladoja committed political suicide; scuttled efforts to save him

SECOND Republic Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Richard Abimbola Osuolale Akinjide, SAN, has declared that the impeached Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, committed political suicide by allowing the crisis between him and his estranged god-father, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, to lead to his impeachment.

JIDE AJANI, Political Editor
Posted to the Web: Sunday, January 15, 2006

Akinjide, also said contrary to some views expressed about the impropriety of the impeachment process, members of Oyo State House of Assembly, who carried out the impeachment exercise, acted within the law.

Political suicide: Akinjide, in an interview with Sunday Vanguard, weekend, explained that, whereas there were many peace moves made with a view to ensuring that the crisis which had caused so much pain for the people of Oyo State since last year was resolved, Ladoja himself became a stumbling block.

The former minister, who gave one of such instances, disclosed that he made some secret moves with some political leaders in Oyo State which were unknown to members of the public.
He said both Ladoja and Adedibu were very close to him. “The two actors in this crisis were very close to me. And what I tried to do but which was unknown to members of the public was to bring the two of them together, Akinjide said. He continued: “The first thing I did was to set up a committee of four — myself, Alhaji Arisekola Alao, Dr. Lekan Are and Chief Lawal, an Ogbomoso elder.
“The meetings of the committee were always held in my house in Ibadan. We sat and identified people that we needed to meet in the interest of resolving this crisis. One of those we pencilled down was his (Ladoja) wife at home, the First Lady, Alhaji Adedibu himself and President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“We met with the wife and we found her to be very co-operative and supportive of our moves. She gave us useful information with a view to resolving the crisis.”

But Akinjide lamented that at the meeting the group was supposed to hold with the impeached governor, “the first thing the governor told us was that he would not want a non-Ibadan man to be part of the mediation and that was how we had to excuse Chief Lawal from the group although we were taken aback by that statement because this was an Oyo State matter and not an Ibadan affair. “We acceded to his request and we eliminated Lawal,” the former minister stated.

Akinjide said: "As if that was not enough, one of the times we were supposed to meet with him in his office, he said he was indisposed and, therefore, could not attend to us. We left, after fixing another date for the meeting. The three of us met with him later and I thought we were making progress.

“Mind you, I’m very close to both Ladoja and Adedibu. But, about three Sundays ago, when we were to meet with the (impeached) governor again, he came up with another shocker. I waited for the other members of the group just as I was waiting for the governor in my house for lunch as we had planned and time was fast lapsing.

“I telephoned Arisekola who then informed me that the governor said he wasn’t going to be part of the meeting again because he didn’t want me as a politician to be involved.” The former Justice Minister said at that point he perceived that there must be something really wrong somewhere. According to him, “my position as a Board of Trustees, member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, meant that I could be useful to him in some ways but when I heard that, I gave up on him. That was how he committed political suicide and some people had observed that the man is not a politician.”

Going down memory lane, Akinjide said it was unfortunate that Ladoja went the way he did "because we were very close friends. In fact, I delivered a birthday lecture for him during those days of General Abacha,” he said.

Due process was followed: On the process leading to the impeachment of Ladoja as governor, Akinjide said the 32-member House of Assembly which was reduced to 25 via the suspension of seven members meant that those suspended remained suspended and could not in any way enjoy their privileges as members of the Assembly, particularly but not limited to the issue of voting and being voted for.

He said the 18 members were more than two third of 25 and they were, therefore, capable of carrying out the impeachment. “While all the impeachment process lasted, we were meeting with Adedibu who wanted the matter resolved because he wanted peace. Adedibu co-operated with us but Ladoja just chose to commit political suicide,” the former minister added.

Posted by Publisher at 12:26 PM | Comments (0)

Impeachment: My fear for five other governors — Balarabe

FORMER governor of Kaduna State and Chairman of the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP), Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, has faulted the manner in which Senator Rashidi Ladoja was removed as Oyo State Governor, even as he alerted that five more governors may go the same way, before the end of February.

Posted to the Web: Sunday, January 15, 2006

Balarabe, in a telephone interview with Sunday Vanguard, noted that the impeachment of Ladoja and the proposed five others was geared towards actualising the third term plot of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

“It is clear that President Obasanjo wants to intimidate as many governors as possible so that he can have them do his bidding. Of course, most of these governors control the states assembly and once the legislature is in the pocket of governors and every one else in the pocket of the presidency, then gathering the two third to the amendment of the constitution for a third term is no more difficult.

“See the case of Ladoja, I am not saying that he may not have committed some impeachable offences, but due process was not followed. The panel of seven looked at the allegations, and submitted its report, the governor was not given any chance to defend himself, and they just hurriedly removed him. This is unfair,” Balarabe, who was himself removed in the second republic as governor, stated.

He added, “I can tell you that five more governors are to go in this same shoddy manner that Alamieyeseigha and Ladoja have gone, just to satisfy the selfish interest of the President.”
Though the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) chieftain said he would not speak in detail on the identity of the governors and how they are to be removed, he said they are all in the PDP.
Balarabe also said they are to be handed over to the EFCC after they would have been humiliated. “They do not have to be actually corrupt, their sins would have been that they had the guts to refuse to go the president’s way.” he pointed out.
The former governor said unless something fast was done to halt the “excesses” of Obasanjo, the country may never recover from its effect.

He said the CNPP was against any attempt to amend the constitution, presently, because it would be exploited for selfish interest. For him, deferring an amendment to the constitution till 2007 would be in the best interest of the country. The coalition of parties, he, nevertheless, maintained, would not boycott the public hearing on the issue.

Posted by Publisher at 12:25 PM | Comments (0)

Anenih’s support for power shift principled, says Ojougboh

Hon Cairo Ojougboh, is Chairman House committee on Petroleum, and gubernatorial aspirant in Delta state. He shares his thinking on the state of nation, especially over increasing political tempo over the 2007 general election.

By Paul Odili
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

In particular, he stood in stout defence of Chief Tony Anenih’s comments that either the South-south or southeast should produce the next president. Ojougboh says Anenih’s statement is principled and gave reasons.

Chief Tony Anenih has been in the eye of the storm over his position in Enugu, at the Southern Forum, that the south-south or southeast should produce the successor to President Obasanjo, which Chief Audu Ogbeh said was a contradiction of Anenih’s earlier position before 2003 general election. Can you comment on this?
What actually happened was in line with what the leader, Chief Anenih, had explained that towards the 2003 general election there was an understanding that nobody from the North should contest the PDP primaries in Abuja, with the candidates from the South. But, incidentally, Ogbeh allowed Chief Barnabas Gemade and Alhaji Abubakar Rimi to join the contest, meaning that Anenih was over ruled. That, indeed, violated whatever agreement or accord anybody had. So, Anenih has come out to say that since Ogbeh and his National Working Committee did not abide by the agreement reached on powershift, it has once more thrown up the office to everybody in Nigeria. But the south is saying that we should look at the statistics, that a section of the country has ruled for 37 years, and another for nine years, so I believe the time has come for this country to treat everybody with justice and fairness.

You are blaming all these on the leadership of Ogbeh ?
If Ogbeh’s National Working Committee were able to put their foot down, to discourage Northerners from contesting, Anenih today would have no reason to support candidates from the south. Anenih is not a man that double speaks, he says one thing and he stands by it. I know him very well. He has been my mentor, my leader and so there is no double speak about him.

Is there still PDP in Delta state?
Of course it is the biggest party in the state. Every day the party gets bigger, because more people are joining it.
As at today there are two factions, one led by Chief Emmanuel Ogidi backed by the governor, the other led by Dr Mallam-Obi supported by national headquarters?
The party has come a long way, and whenever there is a problem it has been able to sort itself. The party is a big family. And remember that the President of this country is the leader of our party, and I can assure you that the onus lies on him to make decisions that affects the co-ordination of the party everywhere in this country. And he has the responsibility to keep this country going.

You are admitting there is a problem in the party in Delta?
Of course there is a problem, and this is not unusual. There are problems in families, there are problems in churches, and so for a party of almost 500,000 active members you do not expect there would be no problems.

Can you tell us what led to the crisis in the first place?
As usually when you have a number of persons that are bound in democracy, it is not autocratic, there is no dictatorship; in a democracy the majority must have their way, while the minority would have their say. What happened is that we are praticising democracy in Delta, and as at today the governor remains the leader of the party in the state. As it were the governor is there, the President is there and the National Chairman, Col Ahmadu Ali, is there, between the three of them they would be able to find the solution to the problem. You know I can’t speak much on the matter because I am an interested party, in the sense that I want to contest the governorship of the state. And as such I have to be careful about what I say, that is not to say I am being gagged, but rather I just want to be fair to all.

It would seem the trouble in the party is also complicated by the division in the state over power shift?
Normally in politics there is competition, and nobody sits down while everybody is doing something. Even at the national stage where the north has ruled for 37 years, the north still wants power, the south that has ruled for only nine years are also asking to be allowed to continue. And so it is the same thing in Delta state, the Urhobos want to continue, the other parts of the state that have not tasted it have been asking for it. It is part of human nature to want things and at the same time get as much as they want, where possible. But let me assure you that there is a general consensus that very good candidates with heart of God and mind of man, and with the good spirit to help the people to improve the state, is what the state is looking for. And I can assure you that without mincing words I am ready to work for the people, and as such you must understand that zoning is to target good candidates. If the Delta North do not have good candidates, nobody will be talking about them. Today there are many candidates coming from there, just like there are candidates from other places. The Urhobo people are very good people, very democratic and very passionate, the good thing is that many of their leaders are now beginning to say that this thing should go round.

What in your view do you think constitutes the biggest problem before the people of Delta state?
Rather than say problem, I would say what is the greatest asset before the people of Delta state, because it seems the asset is their problem. The asset they have is high quality human resources that we can utilise and turn the state into the Korea or Taiwan of Africa. We have the resources to turn the state around, invest in education and agriculture. I have an economic blueprint that can turn Delta state around in two years. I have an economic programme that can produce 250,000 jobs every year for three years, and that is 750,000 jobs and the rate of unemployment in Delta is not as much as that.

On this question of power shift and rotation, the north has made the point that you cannot add the years of military, because they had no hand in the formation of military rule?

If you say military government is not government, then you have to expunge all the laws they have made. Yes, they were not elected, but as soon as a government is formed and accepted by everybody then it becomes recognised. Whether elected or not people accept it, people recognise it. Civil servants begin to work under them, politicians are co-opted to serve the government; what is more legal? And these are governments that passed decree some of which the courts still recognise, and which we use in running our country with. My point has been that these issues are issues for our leaders. I know they would sit down and sort it out.
Many people are still not comfortable about the National Assembly being able to organise a Constitutional review, they feel they (legislators) can be manipulated, especially in the light of this whole question of extension of tenure?

You know that this whole question of Constitutional review started in the first term of the present administration, when nobody was talking about third term. The first session of the National Assembly set up a committee, that committee is still working. They identified so many positions like this issue of immunity, imbalance in the polity, and in fact there are 51 positions the National Assembly alone are insisting that must be thoroughly handled. The issue of tenure is an issue that has been part of the review, it was not new. So why would mischief makers turn out to say that the issue of third term is one reason why the National Assembly wants to amend the Constitution. And if you ask people they would tell you that one of the failure of civilian administration is that they had never been able to amend the Constitution, and now we have taken the bull by the horn people read it upside down.

Posted by Publisher at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

Agagu defies critics, opens up Ondo State roads

Constructive criticism is good for development and the opposition party (AD) has not been found wanting in this area. In this regard, it has not ceased from mounting pressure on the present administration of Olusegun Agagu in Ondo State.

By Dayo Johnson, Akure
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

Early last year, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in a strongly worded statement accused the Dr Agagu-led administration of non-performance despite the huge resources that had accrued to the state. Specifically, the party said that despite the closeness of the governor to President Olusegun Obasanjo, the state had not deemed it fit to invite the president to the state to commission projects. To the party, the state government has nothing to show.

Government spokesman, Hon John Ola Mafo however in a swift response joined issues with the party, saying government was taking its time. “By the time we finish with what we are doing, what the president commissioned in Ekiti will be a child’s play when he comes to Ondo state on official visit.”

Despite this, the opposition party (AD) has not relented in its criticism of the government. In the area of road construction and rehabilitation, the party through its Director of Publicity and Research, Mr. Oyegoke Olakunle said that the construction of surface dressing at the 21st century was the highest disservice to the people of the state. “With the funds that had accrued to the state within the last two years, government should be able to asphalt majority of the roads instead of the present surface dressing it is now celebrating.

But, Hon.Mafo said that the criticism by the opposition party on the surface dressing system was myopic. According to him, government embarked on the surface dressing “to bring greater joy to greater number of the good people of the state. For their information, not all roads are to be surfaced- dressed, those that have been surfaced-dressed would within the next two years be revisited with asphalt.

In additon,Commissioner for Works, Land and Housing, Hon. Isaac Kekemeke said that 57 kilometers of road had been constructed this year and that over 175 kilometers of road had been completed to date. These include: Igboroko Nla, Owo, Better Life, Ondo GRA, Ondo, Odosida Street, Ondo, Kolawole Street, Akure, Ade Super street, Ondo, Okedogbon Street, Kunnehin-Apata in Okitipupa and Aboriki-Alapata-Fati road in Ikare Akoko.

Findings revealed also that the Ondo-Iyange-Aule road and the Oshinle-Fadeyi Ijoka road are 70 percent and 90 percent completedy. Also Araromi- High school road has been extended to the Owo Ilesha Expressway. One interesting thing is that the Ondo Iyange-Aule road when completed would solve at least 80 percent traffic congestion in the Akure metropolis.

The state government, according to Hon Mafo, has also put in place the Road Maintenance Agency OSARMCO, a direct labour agency inaugurated to patch failed portion of roads across the state. And true to this, indication from some sectors especially roads, health, agriculture, commerce and industry, education, improvement in the welfare of workers and youth empowerment has shown that the present administration is keeping to its promises to the people.

They argued that government is determined to attain a target of 200 kilometers before the end of year. On the efforts of government in the provision of good road network and curtail the menace of flooding in urban areas, Kekemeke said that an amphibian excavator valued at N100m with specialized low loader has been purchased. He said government had embarked on massive township road maintenance urban towns across the state. Kekemeke added that 80 kilometers of roads were rehabilitated and repaired with N180m through direct labour maintenance programme while government hoped to achieve the rehabilitation of 150 kilometer of roads by next year.

Mafo, said that before the present administration came on board, less than five per cent of the roads in the state were motorable, adding that this development greatly affected transportation of farm produce. He said that majority of the roads projects awarded by the immediate past administration were abandoned as contractors were starved of funds because the amount available for capital projects could not accommodate the road contracts. He said on assumption of office, the present government re-negotiated the contract sum with the same contractor and re- designed the roads.

The commissioner also disclosed that no fewer than 22 contractors were already working on different road projects across the 18 local government areas of the state. Some of the roads, according to him, are Owo-Ikare-Ajowa, Ikakumo-Akunnu-Okeagbe, Oba-Ile Housing Estate, Idanre-Owena, Ilutitun-Omotosho roads. He said the target of government was to ensure that all major towns in the state were linked.

“Apart from the state roads, we have also been rehabilitating federal roads in the state. So the era of erecting signposts saying, sorry this road belongs to the Federal Government is over in Ondo State, because this is what the AD government was doing when in power.”

Hon Mafo added that the Igbokoda-Ayetoro road which was initially awarded for N17.5 billion by the last administration in the state without mobilising contractors to site had been redesigned and re-awarded to a new contractor at a cost of N10 billion. While the AD continues to criticise the surface dressing method, describing it as taking the state backward, the government insists that some of the roads would be asphalted in the next two years .

Posted by Publisher at 12:15 PM | Comments (0)

FG gives fresh deadline on Sapele power project

WARRI — THE Federal Government has given the contractor handling the Amukpe-Sapele electricity project in Delta State, the News Enginering Nigeria Limited, a new deadline of March, this year, to complete the job.

By Emma Amaize
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

The initial deadline of December, last year, was not met principally because no money was released to the contractor to execute the job.

In anticipation that the project would be completed on the new March deadline, the Chief Operating Officer of Benin Distribution Zone of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Mrs. Joy Nwoko, has jump-started arrangements for the radiation of the 33 KV lines.

Public Affairs Manager of the PHCN in Warri, Mr. Emmanuel Ibude, confirmed to Vanguard, last night, that Mrs. Nwoko visited the site of the Amukpe-Sapele substation project, last week, to assess the level of work.

Nwaeze, the chief executive of the company confirmed to Vanguard on phone, weekend, that his company had been on the job since it was re-awarded to it without any financial contribution from the government, saying that it was out of its commitment to the people of Sapele and Delta State that the firm was doing the job, believing that government would live up to its expectation.

His words: “The Power Holding Company of Nigeria has not given me one kobo for the job done so far but I have told the Governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori who has showed great concern that we will do everything to finish the project.”

He, however, said that he was recently shown a letter of cash backing for the project but that as at last Friday, his company was yet to get any cheque or payment for the job already done.

The News Engineering boss told Vanguard that the contract was already 80 per cent completed and his company would be able to complete the job by March as long as funds were released to it on time.

He frowned at the comments that the company abandoned the project, saying that it was not easy for a firm to finance a job of such magnitude with its own funds without money from the government.

On why his workers were not presently on the site, he said, “we have started work in the new year. We are going to meet and the site engineer will brief the company on the state of things after which work will commence.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Nwoko has assured customers in Warri and Effurun of her determination to eliminate feeder load shedding in the area as well as early completion of the Edjeba Injection substation.

She made the promise while on a working visit to the project site at Edjeba injection substation, Warri, where PHCN hopes to install two 15 MVA transformers to improve power supply in Warri and Effurun.

The Warri Business Manager, N. N. Ezeaku, briefed her on the Warri and Effurun power supply situation. Mrs. Nwoko also visited Ughelli Works Centre to inspect the faulty 30 MVA transformer that caused the intensive load shedding affecting many local government councils in the district.

Posted by Publisher at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)

Air disaster looms in Benin, Task Force warns

BENIN CITY — THE Presidential Task Force on Aviation led by Air Vice Marshal Paul Dike has expressed concern over the indiscriminate mounting of masts and residential buildings close to the Benin Airport, warning that failure of the owners of such structures to remove them may trigger another air disaster in the area.

By Osaro Okhomina
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

According to him, though the issue of inadequate facilities and viability of airport operations in the country is being reviewed by the Federal Government, there is need for the management of the airport authority to liaise with the relevant authorities in ensuring that structures that pose serious dangers to flight operations are removed.

Air Vice Marshal Dike, who at the weekend led a 5-man facility sub-committee of the Presidential Task Force to the Benin Airport said the tour of all the airports in the country has uncovered factors leading to air disasters, saying the findings and the need for the viability of the airports would be included in the committee’s final report to the Federal Government.

According to him, "by now, we have visited all the airports in the country and we have identified some of their problems. We have discovered in the Benin Airport that there is over-concentration of birds and it poses a serious danger and something urgent must be done.

"All you have been doing to check some of these problems must be intensified. We also saw the indiscriminate mounting of masts and buildings by some persons, I urge you to liaise with appropriate authority to remove them. We can say we have a fair assessment of your airport. We still expect a lot and we want to say that we have also discovered that a lot of airports are not viable and we would make some recommendations on how they should be made viable.”

Earlier in his speech, the Manager of the Benin Airport, Mr. Sunday Ottio, noted that though the airport, over the years, has been faced with lots of difficulties in the area of manpower and logistics, "the airport has benefitted from the policies of the Federal Government in the areas of facility upgrade and modernised airport plan through the installation of modern operational facilities such as landing navigation aids and rescue and fire fighting equipment.

"At most times, we have had power supply from PHCN, our primary source, became erratic and consequently making the airport to depend solely on secondary power source of supply. The attendant consequence of this is the high cost of providing power to all the airport's facilities and navigational aids.”

Posted by Publisher at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

Delta raises alarm over intra community feud in Isoko

WARRI — THE Delta State government has raised alarm over the irksome intra-community warfare in Isoko land, where the people had chased away no fewer than three traditional rulers from their thrones, since last year.

By Emma Amaize
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

Commissioner for Inter Ethnic Relations and Conflict Resolution, Mr. Ovouzorie Macaulay who expressed government concern on the repulsive development in an interview with Vanguard in Warri said that government would hold a peace summit before the end of the first quarter of this year in Isoko to enable the people articulate their views how the impasse could be resolved.

Presently, the traditional rulers of Emede, Irri and Ofagbe communities are living in exile. That of Emede is taking refuge at Oleh over his refusal to worship a community deity while the Ofagbe king who was sacked over some incompatible differences with a section of his subjects is taking refuge in Port Harcourt. The Irri royal father whose palace was burnt by his opponents and he barely escaped death.

Ovuozourie’s words: “Yes, government is worried by the problem in Isoko and we are going to hold a summit where they will be able to articulate their views and come out with how to come out of these problems. That meeting will come up by March or before the end of the first quarter of this year and the governor, Chief James Ibori has given approval for the summit”.

“It is dubbed Isoko Peace Summit and the leaders, I mean all the community leaders, the president general of the Isoko Development Union (IDU), their political office holders, elected and appointed will all have to converge to find a way forward for Isoko people”, he added.

Besides the Irri, Ofagbe and Emede crisis, there is also uneasy calm in Ozoro kingdom where the Ovie-elect and the regent were battling themselves over the kingship throne. Some lives were lost, last year in Ozoro in a bloody war between the factions. And sometime ago, some kingpins of the groups were caught with AK 47 and two pump action guns by the police with which they intended to do battle at an Oleh High Court, where a case concerning the kingship was being decided.
No fewer than three persons were killed in the Ofagbe imbroglio and over 10 houses burnt. The palace of the Odiologbo was also burnt and at Irri, several houses were razed with at least five persons killed. At Emede, the royal father’s palace was vandalized and property burnt.

In each of the four communities, their opponents were bullying those loyal to the royal fathers and hundreds of them have similarly fled to exile. In fact, what exists in the communities right now is a graveyard peace.

Posted by Publisher at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

Owie, Obahiagbon differ on Ladoja's impeachment

BENIN CITY—FORMER Senate Chief Whip, Senator Roland Owie and Leader of the Edo State House of Assembly, Barrister Patrick Obahiagbon weekend differed on the impeachment of Alhaji Rasheed Ladoja as governor of Oyo State by the 18 members of the state House of Assembly.

By Osaro Okhomina
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

While Senator Owie condemned the action of the Oyo State legislators describing the impeachment as illegal and an action that does not meet the required constitutional two third majority needed, Obahiagbon described the impeachment as a victory for democracy and an indication that the state Houses of Assembly should be alive to their responsibility of checking the excesses of the state governors.

Both Senator Owie and Obahiagbon spoke separately at the weekend with Vanguard in Benin City on the recent impeachment of Governor Ladoja over alleged cases of financial impropriety and other offences.

According to Owie, "The PDP government is known to be a lawless government and they never believed in the rule of law. They disobey court rulings and disregard proper implementation of the budget. It is government that does not respect human right. And you know that when a robber steals it is not news, but while a child of God steals it becomes news. They went to Bayelsa and remove the governor and got members of the House into the EFCC net. What happened in Oyo State was evil and cannot last.

There is no way you can impeach a governor without 2/3 members. And in Oyo State, the members are 32, while the 2/3 should be 24. PDP is lawless and I urge Nigerians to go down on their knees and pray for the removal of the party called PDP”. Obahiagbon however noted that though the removal of the governors of Bayelsa and Oyo states was not a good display of the conduct of the executive arms of government,” the show down in Oyo and Bayelsa is a wake up call for the legislative arm to be more alive to its responsibility in holding the governors accountable to the people.

I must however hasten to add that the ancient legal doctrine of the rule of law and democracy must be religiously respected while invoking constitutional weapon of impeachment in cleasing Augean stables of executive lawlessness.

To what extent the doctrine has been adhered to in these two states provokes mental pabulum.”” ““I have taken a multifacet view to the Oyo State political imbrioglo,the situation has proved the point that legislature as an institution can not be toyed with.And the view that legislature as an institution barricade has gone otiose must stop. Executive brigandage and insensitivity must stop.So,I see the activities of the Executive arm of government in the operationalisation of our democratic peregrination. An ambience where governors carry on with reckless abandon””

Posted by Publisher at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

NDPVF distances self from Bayelsa kidnap saga

PORT HARCOURT— THE Asari-led Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF) has dissociated itself from recent kidnapp in the Ijaw areas of Bayelsa State just as they condemned the criminal destruction of oil pipelines in the Niger Delta region.

By Jimitota Onoyume
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

The body in a six paragraph statement made available to the Vanguard yesterday warned those behind the act not to connect it to agitations for Asari’s release even as it charged them to let go of those in their custody as kidnapp and vandalisation were not part of the Ijaw strategy in the struggle.

The release reads in part: "We the members of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force have no knowledge whatsoever concerning the destruction of oil installations in the region and kidnapping of persons. We also want to state that we are not in support of such acts.

We are hereby asking any group of people involved in these acts to desist from such acts, we are also asking them to release any person under their custody and allow peace to reign, such acts should not be ascribed as part of the efforts of asking for the release of Alhaji Mujaheed Dokubo Asari”.

Extoling the qualities of Asari Dokubo whom they described as a prince to the Kalabari people and a reincarnate of one of their foremost kings, King Amachree, the group said he would never support any act of criminality in the region even as they labelled those behind such as enemies of the Ijaw nation.

“The destruction of lives and property, also the kidnapping of innocent people are not part of the Ijaw struggle.Asari is a prince to the Kalabari people and a reincarnation of King Amachree ... such a man cannot be part of the acts of kidnapping, killings and destruction of property”.

The group which also called for the release of Asari Dokubo said the Ijaw nation would only be provoked if what happened to Isaac Boro and Ken Sarowiwa befalls their leader.

“The Nigerian state has not provoked us yet, if they kill any of our leaders as they did to Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro and Ken Sarowiwa, then they will provoke us” warning that the Niger Delta region has in recent times witnessed pipeline vandalisations and explosions with some persons reportedly kidnapped in the area.

Posted by Publisher at 12:12 PM | Comments (0)

"Govt's interest towards qualitative education unprecedented"

OWERRI—The interest of the Imo State government towards enthronement and sustenance of qualitative and functional education in the state has been described as “unprecedented since the creation of the state”.

By Chidi Nkwopara
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

The Commissioner for Education, Dr. Gloria Chukukere, made the commendation when she received a compendium of books donated to the state Ministry of Education by the state governor, Chief Achike Udenwa, for distribution to public schools in the state.

"I am optimistic that the books will go a long way to ensuring qualitative education in the state. May I also use this opportunity to appeal to public spirited persons in the state to assist government in its current efforts to bequeath quality education to the citizenry”, Chukukere pleaded.

She pointed out that the state government alone cannot single-handedly meet all the needs of the varying levels of education in Imo State, stressing that this is why it has become pertinent for all to be fully involved in the crusade.

Presenting the books on behalf of the state government, the executive assistant to the governor on economic affairs (foreign), Mr. Athan Ogoh, explained that the donation was part of the dividends of the governor’s trips to the United States of America (USA).

"During the visits, Governor Udenwa solicited for help from the administration’s friends, relations, as well as good spirited individuals and corporate bodies in USA to help in solving the current dearth of books in the state school system”, Mr. Ogoh explained.

He expressed hope that the arrival of the books would help in ensuring effective teaching and learning in the state school system.
"I must equally commend the state governor for attracting such a gesture to the state, for the enhancement of effective teaching and learning”, Ogoh said

Posted by Publisher at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

2007: US-based doctor declares interest for Anambra guber seat

ENUGU—A Nigerian physician based in United States of America, Dr. Chudi Nwawka has declared his interest to contest the Anambra governorship seat in the 2007 general elections.

By Tony Edike
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

Already, he has set machinery in motion to ensure his emergence as the next governor of Anambra State in the next dispensation.

Revealing his economic master plan for the state in an interview with Vanguard, Nwawka said he is optimistic about the future of Anambra State when he becomes the governor, adding that he would offer leadership that will restore the state to its proper role.

Said he: “The game plan is simple: The state government must return to its proper role which is planning, establishing rules and laws, enforcing these rules and laws, maintaining security of lives and property and facilitating private businesses doing the work. I have a plan of economic activities including the provision of an international airport projected over time to grow to the magnitude of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport or that of New York’s JFK.”

According to him, this airport will not be funded by either federal or state government but rather private local and foreign interests. “I have a big plan to inject some sense of discipline in Anambra by ensuring a sound economic base which will in turn create an enabling social environment and restore the hopes and aspirations of the citizenry” Nwawka said.

Speaking with a lot of passion, the physician observed that Anambra has devolved to lawlessness and chaos due to a very obvious vacuum in leadership.
“I have worked very hard within the opportunities given from growing up in family that valued education, travelled around the world and have been equally observant.
I am fiercely inspired to lead Anambra State at this point in time when our collective image as citizens has been reduced to ridicule by decent people everywhere” the University of Ibadan and Canadian-trained physician who has been practicing for more than a decade in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States of America said.

Posted by Publisher at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

Kalu faults Ladoja's removal

abia — Governor Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia State, yesterday, spoke against the unconstitutional removal of governors from office, warning that should the trend rear its head in his state, it would be resisted at all cost.

By Kenneth Ehigiator
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

His warning came against the backdrop of what has been considered the unconstitutional impeachment of Governor Rasheed Ladoja of Oyo State.

The governor, who spoke in an interview at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, said the trend which he described as dangerous, would soon meet with force in some states if it continues.

He said: “I want to warn politicians to be very careful. It’s (impeachment) a trend, but for us in Abia, we will defend our territory at any time any day. When people act unconstitutionally, we will also act unconstitutionally.

“But we want to respect the constitution; we want to be law-abiding; we want democracy to progress. I believe that this trend has to stop and governors should stand up and defend themselves. What is happening is no longer democracy.

“This is how bad trend starts to spread and when things like this continue, we are endangering the country; we are endangering democracy; we are endangering all kinds of things. They might do it to a governor who you will impeach and he will say no I am not going, or who you will start the process, and he will rather say I want to go to a new republic than being in a Nigeria of injustice.”

Asked if governor’s impeachment was not to pave way for the third term bid of President Olusegun Obasanjo, Governor Kalu said if people have ambition for any office in the country, they should be allowed to legitimately pursue their legitimate ambitions.

He said his ambition of becoming Nigeria’s next democratically elected president remained on course, despite intimidations.
Kalu, who appealed to the military not to use current misbehaviour of politicians to truncate the nation’s democracy, said his decision to contest the next presidential election was borne out of the desire to enthrone rule of law and respect for people’s opinions and criticisms.

“I want to contest to see a democracy that has value for people’s votes; that will respect people’s opinions; that will respect people’s constitutional rights; that will respect people as people.“I want to see democracy that will be practised like American democracy where time limits, rule of law, opinion of the judiciary, whether High Court, Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, must and should be respected,” the governor said.

Continuing, Kalu noted that “unless we put ourselves in this kind of system, we will not be able to move forward and I don’t believe countries that feel concerned about Nigeria have misplaced fears; their fears are legitimate.”

On the review of the constitution, Governor Kalu said it was unnecessary, adding that what Nigeria need at the moment was strengthening of the electoral laws and institutions in view of the forthcoming general elections.

He expressed surprise that Nigeria was talking about introducing over a hundred amendments into a constitution of not more than eight years when the U.S. constitution that is over 200 years old had had just 25 amendments.

He said if the nation’s leaders had respect for rule of law, orderliness, people’s opinion and criticism, a review of the constitution was absolutely unnecessary.
“Let us go back to the drawing board to see that the institutions that will handle the elections are strengthened. If we don’t do that, we are equal to square one, and when we are in square one, we are heading for trouble.

“No section of the country is more amenable to trouble than the other. Trouble can come from anywhere and nobody has a monopoly of violence. Let us be very careful; I want us to respect ourselves, respect our constitution,” Kalu said.

Posted by Publisher at 12:10 PM | Comments (0)

Overlook politicians' quarrels, Kalu enjoins military

UMUAHIA — GOVERNOR Orji Kalu of Abia State, pleaded yesterday, with the military to overlook the quarrels among Nigerian politicians, saying it was only through such quarrels that an enduring democracy could evolve in the country.

By Vincent Ujumadu
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

Speaking after laying a wreath as part of activities marking this year’s armed forces and remembrance day celebration at the Aguiyi Ironsi cenotaph in Umuahia, the governor said that with an enduring democracy, the future of both the politicians and the military would be much brighter.

His words: “I want to advise the military to allow us (politicians) to make our mistakes in our democratic process because such mistakes are bound to be made. Do not take our quarrels as politicians as an excuse to interfere with the running of government. Leave us to make the mistakes and learn from them so that we will have an enduring democracy and be able to grow to make the Nigerian military one of the best in the world. I believe that Nigerian armed forces have a bright future under democracy. So, let us work together to make our democracy survive.”

Kalu said that he has a 10- point agenda to make the Nigerian military professionally sound and combat – ready to contain trans – border threats from international bandits and insurrectionists if he becomes the country’s president in 2007.

He questioned the moral justification in gathering every year to honour those who died in the service of the country “when there is so much hatred in our hearts and conduct ourselves in a manner capable of endangering our democracy.”

He said that Nigerian leaders have failed because many of them could no longer stand up for what is right, regretting that the rat race for wealth and materialism has enslaved them such that they have lost those ideals for which the world held the country in high esteem in the past.

He said further: “Everyday we talk about peace and unity of our country but are not ready to make worthy sacrifices to promote them. Our gathering for the sake of our departed heroes would have been necessary if we had lived up to the wordings of our national anthem. Think about Nigeria individually and collectively and you will see how much damage we have done to it. We use every opportunity we have to tell the world how patriotic we have been to Nigeria, but at the slightest chance, we steal the country blind.”

According to him, the last civil war in the country was caused by injustice, greed and obsession for power, adding that for 30 months, Nigeria was in limbo and when everybody thought that it was going to break up, God intervened.

Posted by Publisher at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

Military pensioners protest 42 months pension arrears

LAGOS — A PROTEST yesterday by military pensioners in Lagos State almost marred this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration in Lagos.

By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

The Nigerian Association of Military Pensioners was protesting alleged shabby and inhuman treatment meted out to them by the Federal Government by not paying their 42 months pension arrears and gratuity.

Apparently unhappy about the development the placard carrying military pensioners chanted slogans against President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was referred to as General Olusegun Obasanjo.

However, Gov. Bola Tinubu who presided at the wreath laying event held at the Remembrance Arcade, Tafawa Balewa Square, appealed to the protesting pensioners as the delay was due to reconciliation of pensioners records at Abuja and not the fault of the Federal Government.

“We are the soldiers fighting for our rights by the grace of Jesus we shall conquer,’’ and “Olusegun, Omo Obasanjo, o kowo jagun tan otun febi npawa se iru eleyi dara,’’ meaning “Olusegun, son of Obasanjo, you conscripted us to fight the Nigerian civil war, after that, you are now suffering us.’’

The protesters who were undaunted by efforts of some serving military officers who tried to prevent them from moving forward to the area resisted the move.
Apparently looking emaciated and most of them in unkempt attires also displayed various placards describing their pathetic plights. Some of the inscriptions on the placards: “General Obasanjo, the ghosts of the fallen heroes are crying for the punishment you meted out to their wives and children. Would they cry perpetually?’’

“To be a soldier is to volunteer your life for your nation. We have done so but I became a taboo by Gen. Obasanjo," "Haba, Gen. Obasanjo, stopping somebody’s pension for 42 months is a wicked act," "Obasnjo’s monetary policy is a sure passport to an early grave," and "Our dividends of democracy in Nigeria are hunger and deprivation.’’

Gov. Tinubu addressing the protesters while appealing to them said that he had written about their case to President Obasanjo.
His words: "President Obasanjo has replied, saying that they are comprehensively looking at the welfare package of the retired men and women of the Nigeria Armed Forces.’’

Tinubu attributed the delay in the payment to the records of the verification and pension’s scheme, which had not been fully reconciled.
Tinubu therefore assured the pensioners that he would continue to bring up their sufferings and pathetic situation before the Presidency so that “it will continue to remember your case and do something about it quickly. Pensions and gratuity are your rights. Nobody would rob you of it but I urge you to exercise some patience.’’

Posted by Publisher at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

Consolidation: CBN sacks boards of 11 insolvent banks

LAGOS — The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has bowed to intense pressure not to liquidate the weak banks that failed to cross the N25 billion recapitalisation hurdle, as it has sacked their boards of directors, rather than liquidate them, outright, as planned.

By Emma Ujah
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

The affected banks are: African Express Bank, Eagle Bank, Fortune Bank, Gulf Bank, Hallmark Bank, Lead Bank, Liberty Bank, Metropolitan Bank, Societe Generale Bank, Trade Bank, and Triumph Bank.

This confirms Vanguard’s exclusive report on Thursday January 5, that CBN Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo and his top management were under severe pressure from political big-wigs, working through some powerful individuals in the Presidency to stop the CBN from liquidating the affected banks.

In a press statement issued by the CBN spokesman, Mr. Festus Odoko, in Abuja, yesterday, the apex bank announced the appointment of Interim Management for the ailing banks which could not attract mergers and or acquisitions in the recapitalisation exercise which ended on December 31, 2005.

The statement said that the affected banks, “in the opinion of the CBN are in grave situation having become insolvent with negative shareholders’ funds and having failed to comply with the obligations imposed upon them by the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991 and the Central Bank of Nigeria Act 1991, as amended.”

Consequently the CBN has constituted interim management committee for the afore-listed banks. Those appointed to serve on the committee are:
African Express Bank: Ismaila Shuaibu and Mrs. Ayotunde Asobo; Eagle Bank: Omowa Gbadebo, Augustine Charles and Mbah Offiong; Fortune Bank: Innocent Ilozumba and Dr. Joe Emeson; Gulf Bank: Omoruyi Iyamu and Oluwole Afelumo; Hallmark Bank: Cyril Chukwuma and Alhaji Saidu Ali Danyabo; Lead Bank: Gbolahan O. Folayan and Ozoji Chidinma Janet; Liberty Bank: O. O. Sodiya and Ezegbu Basil O.; Metropolitan Bank: Dolapo Atekoja and Bature Mohammed Abubakar; Societe Generale: Dr. S. A. Ndanusa and B. A. Sanda; Trade Bank: Saidu Baba Ahmed and H. I. Muhammed; Triumph Bank; Ms. Benedickter C. Molokwu and Ibrahim Aminu.

According to the CBN, “the appointment of the interim committee is pursuant to the powers conferred on the CBN by the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 1991 and the CBN Act 1991 as amended.

Posted by Publisher at 12:06 PM | Comments (0)

Ladoja's impeachment, coup backed by Presidency — AFENIFERE

A FACTION of pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere has described the impeachment of Governor Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State as a coup by political thugs backed by the Presidency and called on Yoruba nation to rally round Ladoja.

Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

A statement signed by the National Publicity Secretary of the faction, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said “the whole process of Ladoja’s removal smacks of illegality, lawlessness and unconstitutionalism.”

Afenifere argued that:
•Whereas the constitution stipulates that the notice of impeachment must be signed by the Speaker, the 18 lawmakers loyal to the chief political thug in Oyo State never had the Speaker on their side.

•Whereas there was a valid court process against the setting up of the investigation panel, the acting Chief Judge of Oyo State acted illegally by setting up the panel.
•Against the principle of fair hearing, a panel that has three months to sit, sat for only two days and gave Gov. Ladoja only two hours to defend himself. He was consequently denied the right to defence.

•The 18 lawmakers went ahead to attempt the impeachment of the governor when they were not up to the 2/3 of the House. They “needed 22 lawmakers to impeach the governor if the earlier processes had been legal.

According to the statement: “Rallying support for Ladoja to enforce the rule of law in Oyo State is a sure way of ensuring the thugs coup in Oyo is not allowed to stay. The likely event is that the Presidency would either throw off its mask and openly enforce illegality with brutal force, or eat the humble pie the way it did in Anambra State.

“Either way, democracy, which has been greatly assaulted by the unconstitutional removal of Ladoja, would prevail. It would be an interesting scenario to see the President who said he would not interfere in the impeachment process because it was a judicial affair (though he interfered in Akwa Ibom when a Deputy Governor was to be impeached) now using force to suppress a governor whose so-called impeachment has been voided by a law court.

“For the Yoruba nation, there are urgent and compelling reasons why the unjust diktat in Oyo must be unraveled: For Adedibu and his backers, the whole issue is not about the welfare of the people of Oyo State but the satisfaction of individual’s greed. This much Adedidbu exposed when he said “He (Ladoja) was collecting N65 million as security vote every month. He was to give me N15 million of that every month. He reneged.”

Alao Akala’ s successful take-over of the governorship of Oyo State automatically means that the state treasury would be turned over to Adedibu.
“The pride of the Yoruba people would suffer eternal damage if thugs are allowed to successfully chase a governor out of office in clear breach of the constitution.
“The success of Adedibu backed by Obasanjo’ s coup in the political capital of the Yoruba would have a reverberating effect across Yorubaland as people like "Adedibu who have been mellowed over the years by the strong values of Yoruba political culture would now begin to rear their heads. This is one bad legacy we must never allow Obasanjo to institute in our nation.

“For Nigeria as a whole the time has come to halt the political gangsterism foisted on the nation as obtained in Ngige’s abduction, unconstitutional removal of Alamieyeseigha and the attempted coup in Oyo State. If we don’t stop them now, they would do it again and again.”

Posted by Publisher at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

Resist Alao Akala, CD tells Oyo residents

IBADAN — NATIONAL President of the Campaign for Democracy (CD), Mr. Moshood Erubami wants residents of Oyo State to resist what he calls the imposition of Otunba Alao Akala as governor of the state.

By Ola Ajayi
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

Comrade Erubami on a phone-in programme, said that all the democracy loving residence of the state should “troop out on Monday and protest against the impeachment of Governor Ladoja. This is the time for you people of this state to come out and defend democracy.” Mr. Erubami charged the people of the state to give heed to this clarion call so as to salvage the present democratic dispensation from hitting the rock.

“If you fail now to yield to my call, that means democracy will continue to be trampled upon by those people who do not believe in the existence of this democratic system of administration,” he said.

Expressing support for the position of the Campaign for Democracy on the impeachment and eventual swearing-in of Gov. Alao Akala was the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ibadan branch, which had earlier called on the state acting Chief Judge, Justice Afolabi Adeniran to resign his appointment with immediate effect for his alleged “flagrant disregard for the order of the court which directed him to stop the inauguration of the seven-man investigative panel against Ladoja and insisted that he must not only resign as the acting Chief Judge but must also resign forthwith as a Judge of the High court.”

Chairman and Secretary of the association, Messrs Adegbola Adeniyi and Kazeem Gbadamosi, in a joint statement said "this is in furtherance of the resolution of the Nigerian Bar Association calling for the boycott of the acting Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Adeniran for three consecutive days from January 12 to 16,2006 for his reprehensible conduct by inaugurating a panel of inquiry to investigate alleged offences made by the Oyo State House of Assembly against Ladoja without due regard for the suit pending against him in respect of the same matter.”

In addition, the association also requested the CJ to resign from office and in the second instance as a judge of the state High Court with immediate effect.”
Meanwhile, anti-riot policemen have been drafted to Oyo State from neighbouring police commands to reinforce men of the Oyo State Command to be prepared for any eventuality in the state. As at 4.25 p.m. yesterday, armoured tanks and bomb disposal buses were strategically positioned at some areas in the city, particularly all the gates leading to the State Secretariat Complex and the Government House, Agodi, Ibadan, apparently to ward off any possible attack from the loyalists of the impeached Gov. Rashidi Ladoja.

Posted by Publisher at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

Group buys over Atiku-for-President campaigns

ABUJA — A political group loyal to the presidential ambition of Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Turaki Vanguard, has announced the buying over of the Vice President's presidential campaign for the election. The group made the announcement in a statement issued in Abuja at the weekend by its National Director of Media Affairs in Abuja.

By Rotimi Ajayi
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

According to the statement, the group took the decision to buy over the campaign in order to insulate the Vice President from further media attacks which it claimed reached its peak with a recent interview granted by Dr Gbenga Obasanjo, son of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Although Dr. Gbenga Obasanjo has disowned the interview, the group stated that it was a calculated attempt to malign the character of the Vice President.
The statement reads, “we make bold to state here that Vice President Atiku Abubakar is not so much desperate to run for the 2007 presidential election. But so far, God and good people of Nigeria who believe in genuine democracy have resolved based on his unique qualities and experience that he will become Nigeria’s next president, we are favorably disposed to this position.

“Hence, it has now become highly imperative for us to rally round and galvanize support for the Vice President to achieve this ambition. Therefore no amount of cheap blackmail, intimidation, harassment and others will deter members of Turaki Vanguard and other progressives from actualizing this dream.
“Preparatory to this, our movement has been restructured, reinvigorated, repositioned and refocused to restore hope and give Nigerians the needed direction to rediscover themselves and make this country the paradise God had destined her to be.

“The Vice-President has suffered untold hardship and embarrassment ever since — as a democrat and patriotic Nigerian — he has shown interest to contribute further towards the socio-economic and political emancipation of this country.

“Against this backdrop, and to forestall further occurrence of these insults on God’s gift to Nigeria, as well as to enhance the greatness and potential of this country, Turaki Vanguard has decided to buy over the presidential campaign of Vice President Atiku Abubkar.

“This decision was informed by the inherent benefits Nigeria and the world at large stand to gain from Atiku becoming the country’s President come May 29, 2007.
“Hence, Nigerians may not be hearing much from Vice President Atiku any longer. Based on his past speeches, and acts, we will in no distant time make public his administration’s vision, policies and programmes for 2007.”

Posted by Publisher at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

EFCC invites 18 top Plateau Govt officials

Jos — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has invited 18 top Plateau State government officials to appear before it tomorrow in furtherance of its investigations into the finances of the state.

By Taye Obateru
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

This invitation came just as the Commission’s Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, was advised to stop making prejudicial comments on matters the commission is investigating in the interest of justice and the ruleof law.

Vanguard gathered that the invitation from the EFCC was contained in a letter to the state government last week just as the special committee of the state House of Assembly commenced investigations into the allegations contained in a correspondence from the Commission to the house.

Some of the officials invited to Abuja were also billed to appear before the house committee this week, but the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Yakubu Dati confirmed on yesterday that a reply had been sent to the Commission to defer the appearance of about eight officers billed to appear before the house committee this week so as not to stall its work.

Dati, however, expressed concern over the recent statements credited to the EFCC chairman on Governor Joshua Dariye which he said were prejudicial and against the rules of natural justice.

"We feel that Nuhu Ribadu should shut up because one, the issues are before a competent court of law and two, the state House of Assembly is alreadyinvestigating the matter based on a letter he sent to them.

"So why should he be talking on the pages of newspapers that he is bitting his finger because Dariye has not been removed as governor?
"Does that not amount to playing the judge in a matter he has taken to the house? Why can’t he show respect for due process and the tenets of democracy which are the rule of law and respect for the judiciary and the legislature?” he lamented.

The Commissioner who said Plateau people were solidly behind Governor Dariye and had resolved to swim or sink with him, advised the EFCC chairman to respect the motto of his organization which is “no one is above the law” by stopping his tendency to speak and behave as if he is above the law.

He urged him to honour the invitation by the state Assembly to present his facts against the governor rather than “shouting on the roof top and passing judgement.”
He accused Ribadu of going beyond his brief in the way he insults or passes judgement on people advising him to learn from the experience of government appointees who behaved in a similar manner in the past. “He should be careful because there is tomorrow.”

Posted by Publisher at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

Ladoja: Lawmakers endorse action, say Obasanjo is also guilty

abuja — Ahead of today’s expected confrontation between the impeached former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja and his former deputy, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala, senators from within and outside the state have endorsed the impeachment as following constitutional procedures.

By Emmanuel Aziken
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

However, Senator Sani Sanmi (ANPP Kebbi South) in his own reaction to the unfolding development in Oyo State, accused most governors and the president of being guilty of the offences former Governor Ladoja was impeached of.

Senator Uche Chukwumerije, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Affairs in his own response to the action of the Oyo State House of Assembly, called for caution from all sides in the dispute towards avoiding a plunge into the administration of the law of the jungle in the country.

While expressing his respect to the major actors in the crisis, Senator Chukwumerije said restraint was essential in the light of the political history of Ibadan. Oyo State senators, Abiola Ajimobi and Robert Kolesho while expressing mixed feelings on the removal of Alhaji Ladoja from office nevertheless affirmed the application of due process in the procedure.

Responding to the removal of Ladoja from office, Senator Ajimobi (AD, Oyo South) said: “I think politically it has been uprising here and there, they have had problems here and there and it has resulted in a legal issue and the panel set up has done its work and I think they went through the due process and that is democracy at work.’’ On the consequences of the action, Senator Ajimobi, himself the Senate’s deputy minority whip said: “It just tells us that we really should all be above aboard, to whom much is given much is expected.’’ Senator Kolesho in his own reaction said: “My reaction is with mixed feelings that, I am not very happy but at the same time, the law should take its course.’’ Asked to react to the constitutional procedure employed by the legislators, he said: “Well I don’t want to get involved with that, I don’t want to comment on that since the governor may do whatever he likes by having his own redress.’’

Responding to the action of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Senator Chukwumerije said: “With deepest respect to all the actors in the crisis and in the context of the long term interest of both Oyo State and Nigeria, one calls for caution as a major crisis in Nigeria many years back began from the same Ibadan.’’ “A motion of such magnitude must respect not only the letter and spirit of the law, but it must be emphasised that any thing that takes us away from constitutional democracy, precepts and laws can sabotage democracy. It is in the long run dangerous to the country because a dangerous precedent can be set and this could plunge us into the law of the jungle.’’ In his own reaction, Senator Sanmi said: “My own opinion is that the government is behind Adedibu, it is Obasanjo, who is Adedibu to remove a Governor? Look at the way things are, when it started it was just a rift which could easily have been solved, but why is it that the government is backing Adedibu, providing logistic support? It is obvious that the government is backing Adedibu. What do you mean by impeachable offences, who is not guilty of impeachable offences even the President himself is,’’ Senator Sanmi, vice-chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs said.

While calling for caution, he said:‘Let us tolerate one another so that our democracy will survive, but if you say you are going to impeach, you want to impeach hence everybody will have to go, most of the Governors including the President himself.’’ He, like the two Senators from Oyo State, however, admitted that the action of the Oyo legislators may have followed due process.

Posted by Publisher at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

Pension Reforms: Trustfund begins operations with N40bn assets base

ABUJA — FOR the effective operations of its recently licensed pension fund administrator, Trustfund Pension Plc, the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund NSITF has concluded arrangements to transfer over N40 billion worth of pension fund asset to the Agency.

By Emmanuel Ulayi
Posted to the Web: Monday, January 16, 2006

The measure is as a result of the impressive infrastructure and quality personnel put in place for its prompt pension fund management in the country .

It would be recalled that the pension regulatory body, the National Pension Commission, (PenCom) formally granted licence to Trustfund Pensions Plc to operate as a Pension Fund Administrator.

The action of PenCom is in conformity with the provisions of the Pension Reform Act 2004, which mandated Nigeria’s foremost social security outfit, the NSITF, to set up a PFA.

This development will make Trustfund the PFA with the highest asset base, also as it has a unique ownership structure made up as follows; NSITF, Nigeria Employers Consultative Association, Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress, Afribank Nigeria Plc, Niger Insurance Plc, and Denham Asset Management
According to the Managing Director of the fund manager, Mr. Oseni Elamah "the ownership structure bestows on the organisation a unique advantage of competence, reliability, experience, professionalism and trust, asserting that each investing institution is bringing on board wealth of experience, credibility and expertise.

Elamah, shortly after the licence was granted, stated that PenCom’s formal approval marked a new beginning in the practice and management of pension funds.
As according to him, while NSITF has been in the business of pension funds management for over forty years, Niger Insurance and Afribank are two of the oldest financial institutions in both the insurance and banking industries. “The combined level of experience and expertise is unrivalled and conveys the requisite stability and trust required in the management of long term savings scheme. This means upon retirement and at a time when members need their retirement savings, Trustfund will always be trusted to deliver on premium benefits.”

He also stated that membership of the board comprises credible personalities drawn from both the private and public sectors, who have earned public confidence and trust in the management of funds.

adding that “The management team has also been carefully selected from the foremost institutions in the financial services industry to provide a blend of skills, expertise and quality service delivery in conformity with the ethical standards required in the management of funds held in trust for workers”

Further Elamah noted that Trust fund’s processes were developed by Accenture, a leading international consulting company, in line with best practices and its operations will be supported by Sonda of Chile which has been tested for over 25 years in management of pension funds, the model now in place in Nigeria.
Conversely explaining that the choice of Sonda was informed by the fact that modern contributory pension scheme originated in Chile, which maintains one of the best managed pension schemes worldwide and on which Nigerian pension reform was modelled after.

On the relationship between NSITF and Trust fund, Elamah disclosed that apart from the fact that the Pension Act mandated NSITF to set up a PFA, it also provided that the accumulated pension funds of the current NSITF contributors should be managed by Trust fund for a transitional period of five years while stressing that On the basis of this, “ NSITF would transfer over N40 billion in its custody to Trust fund”.

In addition he stated that Trust fund has a capital base of one billion Naira which is in excess of the N150 million stipulated by the Act and will commence operations immediately with over 20 branches nationwide linked on-line real time to its head office in Abuja, thus bringing its services closer to the doorstep of its members.

Posted by Publisher at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2006

3 children, 21 others die in road crashes

BENIN CITY—IT was a sad Sallah holiday yesterday in Edo State after multiple auto-crashes along the Igbogiri and Uwe junction of the Benin-Agbor road claimed over 24 lives, including those of a woman and her three children.

By Osaro Okhomina
Posted to the Web: Thursday, January 12, 2006

Many of the dead, according to the Edo State Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps headed by Sector Commander, Mr Samuel Obafemi, were travellers from the Ewhohimi Community in Esan South-East local government area of the state. They included 17 male, four women and three children.

The state Deputy Governor, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, described the incident as shocking and prayed against a recurrence. He promised the readiness of the state government to support relevant agencies to avert such tragedy.

Vanguard gathered that the incident occurred around 11.30a.m. on Tuesday and bodies of the victims were deposited in various mortuaries in Abudu in Orhiowhon local government area and the Central (Specialist) Hospital in Benin City. It was gathered that only four persons survived the accident and are receiving treatment at the Abudu Central Hospital.

It was gathered that the unexpected burst of a tyre of a truck heading for Aba town triggered off the multiple accidents in which a Toyota Hiace bus and a Station Wagon vehicle coming from the other lane and heading for Benin City ran into the truck that veered into their lane. The 18-seater bus, conveying about 20 passengers, was reported to have had a head-on collision with the truck and the passengers died instantly.

The Hiace bus, with number plate BC 234 SMK, was said to have trapped its victims. The driver of the truck was reported to have survived but with his two legs broken.

Contacted on telephone yesterday, Sector Commander of the FRSC, Mr Obafemi, confirmed the incident, saying “while the rescue operation was on, one of the passengers died, while many of the relatives besieged the scene of the incident wailing, trying to identify the bodies of their relations. After the initial investigation, we discovered that the accident was caused by the burst of a tyre from the truck. And in the last three weeks, the accidents recorded were mainly caused by tyre burst but one of them was caused by night driving.”

Reacting yesterday on telephone from Auchi, the venue of the turbaning of some prominent indigenes of the state, the Deputy Governor, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe, described the news of the incident as shocking. “We feel deeply shocked by the death of the 24 persons in the crash. And I express our condolence to the families of the victims. We also pray against such recurrence in the state and the nation. The state government will continue to support relevant agencies to avert the carnage on our roads and we must call on motorists to be more careful,” he said.

Posted by Publisher at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

January 11, 2006

Josepdam pays N2.5 billion for Nigeria Sugar Company

The preferred bidders in the privatisation of the Nigeria Sugar Company, Bacita, Josepdam & Sons Nigeria Limited, has paid the initial $20 million (about N2.470 billion) representing 50 per cent of the $4.4 million bid price to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE).

By Emma Ujah
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Managing Director (MD) of Josepdam, Mrs Josephine Kuteyi, personally handed over the cheque to the Director-General of the BPE, Mrs. Irene Chigbue, at a brief ceremony held in Abuja, on Monday and witnessed by the directors of the company, those of the BPE, as well as top management of Wema Bank Plc, led by its MD, Mr. Adebisi Omoyemi.
Kuteyi pledged that her company was determined to resuscitate the moribund firm and turn it into an efficiently run company that would immensely contribute to the drive against the importation of sugar and would provide jobs for many Nigerian youths currently roaming the streets. “We are happy to be able to move into Bacita. It is not a matter of ego. We have been in trading for a very long time and it has been our yearning to be able to contribute efficiently to the economy of the country,” she said.

According to her, the goal of the company was to go into full scale sugar production, from farming the canes through crushing to the final products refining and that the ground work had been done in collaboration with foreign technical partners from South Africa.

Her words: “Sugar refining is not the end of sugar business. We should be able to contribute efficiently to the economy of the country through farming and that is why we have gone all the way to bring those who know about sugar plantation, refining and we are sure, with our technical partners from South Africa, we will get there.
“We know very well that the task is enormous but I can assure you that although we may not be able to carry it out by ourselves, we have somebody by our side that has the power and can do all things and that is the father who can do all things.”
In a brief chart, the MD of Wema Bank said the bank granted the loan facility to enable Josepdam buy into the sugar company based on the confidence reposed in her ability to profitably utilize the funds.

According to him, Josepdam has been in the business of sugar for 20 years and had the requisite experience to have a breakthrough in the running of the plant and then be able to repay the credit advanced to it by Wema Bank. Mr. Omoyemi said Wema Bank also gave the credit facility as a demonstration of its support for the privatization programme, which according to him, remained very relevant in the nation’s efforts at repositioning the economy to be more productive through the growth of the real sectors. “We are interested in supporting privatization in the country because we know that is one of the things that will galvernise our economy and secondly.
She has been in the business of sugar for over 20 years and sha hes been our for 15 years,”” he said.

Earlier, the DG of BPE expressed satisfaction that the core investors in the transaction were able to mobilize adequate resources to pay the first installment in the deal which she pointed out made her apprehensive when the money was not paid on the appointed date.

She however, noted that the delay was due to issues that had to be straightened in the deal, particularly that of obtaining the title to the Sugar Company’’s land in Bacita where it has its factory and other properties necessary for sugar plantation.
Mrs. Chigbue urged the investors to live up to expectation by paying the remaining 50 per cent as at when due in other to seal the transaction and charged the company to diligently work on the plant to return it to an efficiently run firm in the near future.

The company in liquidation has about N11 billion liabilities, an indication that the about N5 billion to be realized from its sale would not be able to settle the entire debt.
The BPE boss, therefore, explained that priority would be given to staff liabilities and tat thereafter debts owed to other creditors would be settled based on what was realised from the sale, which according to her made the liquidation option the best for the company’’s privatization.

Posted by Publisher at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

Nigeria earns $3.49bn from crude oil in November

*External reserves up by 13.2%

Nigeria’s earnings from crude oil export in November 2005 amounted to about $3.49 billion, being the proceeds from an estimated export of 61.5 million barrels for the month.

By Yinka Kolawole
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The nation’s external reserves also rose by 13.2 per cent within the same period.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revealed in its monthly report for November 2005 that at an estimated 2.05 million barrels per day (mbd), there was marginal increase in the crude oil export in November when compared with 2.02 mbd recorded in October 2005. According to the report: “Nigeria’s crude oil production, including condensates and natural gas liquids, was estimated at 2.5 mbd or 75.0 million barrels in November 2005, compared with 2.47 mbd in the preceding month.” The CBN further stated in the report that deliveries to refineries for domestic consumption remained constant, at 0.45 mbd or 13.50 million barrels for the month.

“At an estimated average of $56.74 per barrel, the price of Nigeria’s crude, the Bonny Light, declined by $3.69 per barrel or 6.1 per cent from the level in the preceding month. Similarly, the prices of other competing crudes, namely, the UK Brent, Arab Light, West Texas Intermediate and the Forcados declined by 5.6, 7.8, 10.2 and 6.2 percent to $55.06, $51.35, $55.94 and $56.54, per barrel, respectively. World crude oil output in November 2005 was esimated at 84.92 mbd, while demand was estimated at 81.75 mbd same as in the preceding month, indicating an excess supply of 3.17 mbd. The decline was attributable largely to the sluggish demand for crudes in the United States of America, due to continued warm weather,” the report indicated.

Meanwhile, provisional data has shown that Nigeria’s gross external reserves at end-November 2005 stood at $27.08 billion, indicating an increase of 13.2 percent from the $23.92 billion recorded in October 2005. At the current rate of foreign exchange commitments, the level of reserves could finance about 21.8 months of foreign exchange disbursement, compared with 13.3 months in October 2005. On foreign exchange flows, the CBN report stated: “Foreign exchange inflow and outflow through the CBN, in November 2005, amounted to $4.10 billion and $1.19 billion, respectively, representing a net inflow of $2.91 billion. Compared with the levels of $3.07 billion and $7.32 billion in the preceding month, inflow rose by 33.6 percent while outflow declined by 83.7 percent. Cumulative inflow and outflow through the CBN from January to November 2005 stood at $30.7 billion and $21.5 billion, respectively, compared with $22.11 billion and $13.85 billion in the corresponding period of 2004.

“Provisional data on aggregate foreign exchange flows through the economy in November 2005 indicated that total inflow rose by 23.2 percent to $5.58 billion. Oil sector receipts, which accounted for 70.1 percent of the total, increased by 43.1 percent over the preceding month’s level to $3.91 billion. Non-oil public sector and autonomous inflows also rose by 25.0 ans 1.2 percent and accounted for 26.5 and 3.4 percent of the total, respectively.

Posted by Publisher at 05:36 PM | Comments (0)

It’s tough selecting players for Nigeria — Eguavoen

AS the Nations Cup draws closer with each passing day, Super Eagles Coach, Austin Eguavoen, no doubt, is feeling the heat of carrying the cross of over 120 million Nigerians who expect nothing but the trophy from the Eagles to assuage them for Nigeria’s World Cup miss.

By Tony Ubani
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Eguavoen who has returned to Faro, Portugal, where he is tinkering the Eagles confessed that he was going through the most difficult time to select the flag-bearers for Nigeria in the midst of many good players. In an emotion-laden voice in an interview on Brila FM yesterday, Eguavoen said that he envies coaches of smaller countries that do not need to go through the pounding headache of what now appears to be his dilemma - selecting from a horde of many good players . “It is not easy to pick the players that will go to the Nations Cup from the pool that we have.

I hope you know that Nigeria have many good players. It is almost difficult dropping a player for another”, Eguavoen confessed. He regretted that some players in the English Premiership have made him to disregard his deadline for players to report to camp, noting that it was done to create good relationship with the different clubs. “The Premiership players remain the only ones who are yet to come to camp. But, I have spoken to the players and in some cases their managers”. The coach was not disturbed by the injury scare among his top players that included AC Milan’s hit-man, Obafemi Martins, Joseph Yobo and Nwankwo Kanu. “They are not as serious. Obafemi Martins is in his room and has not shown any sign of any injury in training. I have spoken with Yobo. His shoulder injury is not new and he has been playing with it and said that he would still make it. The only problem I can say is that they are not here for us to train as a team. But, it is likely that we will extend our camp in Faro by one week and they would have been here by then”. He said that the players were in good shape and mentally alert for the battle that awaits them in Cairo, Egypt.

Also speaking, Team Co-ordinator, Sumonu Bello-Osagie, said that the players were confident of a fine outing in Cairo. “All the players are positive and are ready for the tournament. I must say that even players that were decamped showed so much vim but the truth is that some players had to be dropped. Eguavoen will be using such players in the future when some of these bigger players will either be engaged by club duties or retired. It was a nice experience bringing the players, here”, Bello-Osagie emphasised.

Posted by Publisher at 05:16 PM | Comments (0)

NFA holds board meeting in Lagos ...As Nigeria await FIFA ruling

World Football governing body, FIFA, is expected to rule on the Nigerian crisis this week, we gathered yesterday.

By Onochie Anibeze
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

There were two major things FIFA wanted to ascertain before taking their decisions. One, was there quorum in the Kano elections and two, was there security problem in Kano that threatened or denied the elections a peaceful atmosphere? FIFA, we gathered, are already investigating the Nigerian situation and they have gathered useful information to reach a very fair judgement.

The sports ministry had wanted the election in Abuja and claimed that Kano was not safe. After the ministry failed to move the election to Abuja, they quickly rejected the elections and ordered an extra-ordinary congress which held January 6 and announced February 17 as the date for their own elections.

FIFA’s ruling will either confirm the Kano election which they already recognise as the names of Galadima and Felix Anyansi Agwu are already in their books as NFA chairman and vice respectively or order another process entirely. FIFA may never recognise the January 6 Abuja congress which was shunned by majority of the FA chairmen and which was sponsored by the sports ministry. The sports minister, Seidu Sambawa, was apparently not well briefed and the ministry displayed their hands in their attempt to muscle NFA and install the minister’s candidates. FIFA, we gathered, are aware of all the moves of the sports ministry and would not recognise the January 6 meeting even if they are not satisfied with the Kano elections.

Meanwhile, the newly elected board members of the FA will be holding their first board meeting in Lagos this week. Feelers say that the members will discuss the Nations Cup and ways to make the association viable.

Posted by Publisher at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

FIFA's verdict on NFA crisis coming soon — Ubrizsy

The final word that would put an end to the crisis rocking the NFA elections in Kano would be delivered very soon by the legal committee of the Federation of International Football Associations, a FIFA spokesman, has said.

By John Egbokhan
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Speaking to Sports Vanguard in Lagos, yesterday, during the unveiling of the FIFA Coca-Cola World Cup Trophy Tour, a media officer of FIFA, Thomas von Ubrizsy, said FIFA would soon give its final verdict on the matter, after entertaining the views of the different factions in the issue, that some persons, fear may elicit a ban on Nigeria from the world’s ruling football body.

Ubrizsy, while speaking at the Eko Hotel and Suites venue of the elaborately organised event by the world’s biggest soft drinks giants, Coca Cola, said it would be out of place for him to preempt the verdict of FIFA on Nigeria’s elections crisis.
“I am not competent to say what the decision of FIFa would be on the Nigerian issue because the final word on that matter would be delivered by the Legal Committee of FIFA, which would soon give their final word on the issue.
“As a media officer of FIFA, the only thing I can say as regards the Nigerian election is that we all should await the decision of FIFA and I know the word would soon come out, so that we all would know the stand of the world’s football governing body”, said Ubrizsy.

Posted by Publisher at 05:15 PM | Comments (0)

FIFA commends Coca-Cola on trophy tour

The Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) has commended the Coca-Cola Company for partnering it in the ongoing FIFA Coca Cola World Cup Trophy Tour.

By John Egbokhan
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Making this known during yesterday’s private viewing of the most coveted football trophy in Lagos, a media officer of FIFA, Thomas von Ubrizsy, said FIFA was delighted in partnering Coca Cola to take the World Cup trophy to 31 cities in 28 countries.

“We are very glad to have Coca Cola as our partners in taking the real World Cup trophy to about 31 cities in 28 countries. It is a thing of joy for us to be able to deliver the real thing, like Coca Cola would say, to thousands of soccer fans in the world to be associated with Coca Cola”, said Ubrizsy.
He also talked on the reason behind the World Cup Trophy Tour.

“The World Cup Trophy Tour enables us to make new friends and bring people together. These two reasons are the driving aims of the FIFA Coca Cola World Cup Trophy. We are going round cities and countries, some of whom, who even did not qualify for the World Cup in Germany but we hope that the fun of seeing the World Cup in their cities would enable them to enjoy the tournament”, he said.
In his keynote address, the Managing Director of Coca-Cola Nigeria Ltd and Division President, Nigeria and Equatorial Africa Division, Lawrence Drake II, said the soft-drinks firm would continue to partner FIFA to bring soothing refreshment to football fans, all around the globe.

“We are committed to contributing our bit to the good of football and we believe that our identification with the World Cup Trophy Tour enables us to deliver real refreshment to thousands of football fans in the world”, said Drake, before the select audience had the opportunity of seeing the World Cup trophy and take time-lasting photo-shoot with the coveted football trophy at the Eko Hotel and Suites.

Posted by Publisher at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

Coca-Cola raises World Cup dream

The Coca-Cola Company, has expressed its resounding belief that Nigeria can win the World Cup in the near future, as the country has all the potentials.

Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

This optimism was expressed at the press conference as well as the private viewing event of the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour, by the Division President for Coca-Cola Nigeria and Equitorial Africa, Mr. Larry Drake.

He stated that "Nigeria winning the World Cup is not an impossible task. But we at Coca-Cola believe that hard work, dedication and most importantly long term preparation and consistent support preparation are the key success factors. This way, you are ready when the opportunity comes. We can conquer if we believe we can. To this end, Coca-Cola. is making a major investment over the next four years in pursuit of this vision."

The FIFA World Cup Trophy will be visiting 29 countries, and for the first time ever, the authentic solid gold FIFA World Cup trophy has landed in Nigeria for the first time. Larry Drake pointed out though Nigeria did not qualify for the World Cup, "Coca-Cola felt the need to bring the real FIFA World Cup trophy to Nigeria, so that our people can share in this spectacular experience. Having had the excitement of viewing the authentic World Cup Trophy, the next major moment will be to win it. No single sport speaks to the world like football and no single brand speaks to the world like Coca-Cola.’
Also speaking at the press conference, the Marketing Director of Coca-Cola Nigeria, Ms Anne Harte, explained that the ‘World Cup Trophy Tour comes out of our commitment by Coca-Cola to connect with Nigerians' passion for football and to present our football activity in a way no other brand can.
"The fans experience is an amazing event that offers fans all kinds of sensory and physical experiences. It will include interactive sessions, photo trophy area and a movie experience room where a fantastic 3-Dimensional film will show the trophy in a spectacular manner.

The Marketing Director said that the 4 teenage trophy bearers who escorted the trophy to Nigeria were chosen for their academic performance, their interest in sports and their overall contribution. It is important to recognise and reward diligence, sound character and a unifying spirit amongst teenagers.
The Franchise director, Mr. Carl Willis, restated that "Coca-Cola and football have become symbolically synonymous, and together, they are a natural fusion of real delight and pleasure."
The managing Director of the Nigerian Bottling Company, Mr. Marcel Martin concluded that the "the world cup trophy tour by Coca-Cola, should give us all a taste of the excitement and passion that we will all share in 2010, when I believe Nigeria will win the first ever world Cup in 2010."

Posted by Publisher at 05:08 PM | Comments (0)

S-West govs' bid to save Ladoja flops

*Plot to sack Ladoja is a coup, says Speaker

ABEOKUTA—A LAST minute attempt by four South-West governors to persuade President Olusegun Obasanjo to stop the impeachment process against their embattled counterpart in Oyo State, Governor Rashidi Ladoja failed yesterday with the president insisting that the law must take its course.

By Kolade Larewaju & Ola Ajayi
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The governor is facing impeachment instituted by 18 members of the state Assembly.

Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. Adeolu Adeleke, said yesterday that the impeachment and the investigation of the governor by a panel of seven were nothing short of a coup d’etat.

Governors Ayo Fayose (Ekiti), Olagunsoye Oyinlola (Osun) Olusegun Agagu (Ondo), Olugbenga Daniel (Ogun) and Ladoja himself had met with Obasanjo at his Ita Iyalode, Abeokuta residence yesterday to plead with him to intervene in the Oyo crisis and call Alhaji Adedibu to order to prevent Ladoja from being impeached.
Governor Ladoja arrived incognito in a car with number plate OYO AE 429 NJM without any escort for the meeting while his fellow governors were already with the President. Sources at the meeting said President Obasanjo refused pointedly to intervene in the imbroglio, insisting that all the issues were already legal matters and that the law should be allowed to take its course.

Obasanjo was also said to have told the governors that with the security reports at his disposal, Governor Ladoja had to go as he had failed in the discharge of his responsibilities in the state.
President Obasanjo after about one hour of his interaction with the governors left wearing a stern look, an indication that all was not well at the meeting.

Governor Daniel followed the President to the Navy Secondary School where he boarded the helicopter that brought him to Abeokuta back to his Ota Farm from where he is expected to leave for Abuja tomorrow morning.
About 30 minutes later, Governor Ladoja, looking sad left in company of Agagu, Fayose, and Oyinlola with all of them refusing to talk to newsmen who had thronged the venue.
Presidential spokesman, Mrs. Remi Oyo, denied knowledge of any discussion talk with the President, insisting that the governors came to felicitate with the President as usual when she was called on her cell phone.

Plot to impeach Ladoja is a coup – SPEAKER

Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeolu Adeleke said, yesterday, in Ibadan that the ongoing impeachment process against Governor Rashidi Ladoja and his (Ladoja’s) investigation by a panel of seven were nothing short of a coup d’etat.

Mr. Adeleke, leader of the pro-Ladoja group in the Assembly, told newsmen in Ibadan that the people of the state would resist the “many clandestine and treasonable steps” of “these disgruntled citizens.”
However, the key actors in the Oyo State political logjam, Governor Ladoja and Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, yesterday steered clear of the Agodi praying ground, Ibadan where other Muslims in the city gathered for the Eid-el-Kabir prayers.
“I need to state in plain language that there is a coup d’etat in Oyo State though not by the military but rather by some few citizens of this great country. To execute the coup d’etat, many clandestine and treasonable steps have been embarked upon by these disgruntled citizens but to no avail. The good people of Oyo State have been resisting these criminal steps,” Mr Adeleke told reporters at the Governor’s office, Ibadan.

He said neither the governor nor any of the 14 legislators was served notice of impeachment as claimed by the group of 18 lawmakers. “The executive governor of the state was never issued any notice by the Speaker but rather the House at its sitting of 14 December 2005 in the Assembly complex presided over by the Speaker urged the governor to ignore the paid advertisement in a Nigerian newspaper. I am still alive I never abdicated my duty nor delegated same to anybody,” he said, adding that the Assembly should have resolved by motion whether the allegations should be investigated. “In fact, no motion or resolution was made or arrived at,” he said.

He alleged connivance and conspiracy by some people with the Acting CJ under serious threat, intimidation and pressure to secretly constitute the seven-man panel. He expressed disgust at Monday’s sitting of the panel despite the court ruling that the status quo be maintained until the final determination of the case.
“Notwithstanding the preservative order, the acting CJ ignominiously purportedly constituted the seven-man panel, consequentially, rubbishing the order of the High Court. This is an insult and a disgrace to the judiciary, Nigerian legal system and the legal profession if an acting CJ can act as such,” he said and asked the President of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representative, National Security Council and all stakeholders in the nascent democracy and good governance to please rise up and save the present political dispensation from total and imminent collapse. He also challenged all Nigerians not to stand and watch what he called present illegality, unconstitutionality and treason being perpetrated by G-18 lawmakers.

He denied sending any letter on the impeachment move to the CJ or directing the Acting Chief Judge to raise the seven man panel. He said if anything, he wrote to the acting chief judge to ignore any letter contrary to what he wrote to him. “I did not request him to raise the panel. The request to raise the panel was from a member, Hon Oluyemi Taiwo, who has being parading himself as the acting speaker while I am alive and not in any way incapacitated. More so, there was no position of the acting speaker in the constitution of the country. What you have is the position of the speaker and his deputy,” he said.
He was highly embittered at the way the G-18 was going about the impeachment process. The speaker said most of the constitutional provisions for the removal of the sitting governor were ignored. He said the illegal way the G-18 “are going about the whole thing should be stoutly resisted by lovers of democracy in Nigeria.”

Ladoja, Adedibu steer clear of praying ground

Meanwhile, the signal warning sent by the Chief Imam of Ibadan land, Sheikh Suara Busari Haruna, to the two feuding parties in the on-going political face-off in Oyo State between Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu and Governor Ladoja was yesterday, heeded by both men they were absent at the Eid-el Kabir Praying Ground at Agodi Gate, Ibadan.
While Governor Ladoja worshipped at the Government House Mosque, his estranged godfather worshipped at Ahmadiyya praying ground on the Ibadan-Lagos expressway. Also absent at the praying ground were the likes of Alhaji Yekini Adeojo and Alhaji Alao Arisekola.

The Chief Imam had, two days ago, warned the two warring parties to abstain from the praying ground if they could not control their supporters who might trigger off violence. He said this was necessary to avert a violent clash.
Notwithstanding, palpable tension gripped other worshippers for fear of being attacked by hoodlums. This resulted in a sharp drop in the turn out of the worshippers. It was said that the low turn-out was a result of the tension in the political scene in the state.

Yesterday’s prayer witnessed a heavy presence of hundreds of regular and mobile policemen who stood fully armed at very strategic areas of the Agodi praying ground.
In his sermon, the Chief Imam asked all political stakeholders in the state to opt for dialogue as a means of settling political parties. “I call on the political stakeholders in the state to please allow dialogue as a means of settling differences as all the parties involved in the present are brothers,” he said.
He appealed to the two sides to sheathe their swords not forgetting the fact that both of them are Muslims and, according to him, “Islam preaches no other message other than the message of peace.”
Commenting on the failure of government to airlift all the intending pilgrims to this year’s Hajj, he called on “all the authorities involved in Hajj operations to design a better structure that would guarantee a better operation in future.”

Posted by Publisher at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

2007: North, S-South parley tomorrow

WARRI— POLITICAL leaders and elders from the North under the headship of the Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, and their counterparts from the South-South geo-political zone, led by Chief Matthew Mbu, are meeting for the second time in four months in Abuja tomorrow for further talks on a realistic pact between the broad-based North and South in 2007.

By Emma Amaize
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The first talks dubbed “bridge building” between the Shagari- piloted Northern group and the South-South under the new political dispensation were held September, last year, in Abuja. A committee was set up at the end of the meeting to review, among other things, the quest by the South-South to produce the next president and increase in derivation from the 25 per cent benchmark of the zone to 50 per cent in the next five years.

The committee is expected to brief the Assembly on its findings at tomorrow’s meeting and depending on the open-mindedness of the North in the matter, the South-South may push for the participation of the whole South in subsequent gatherings to avoid the wrong impression about its separate meeting with the North.
National chairman of the South-South People’s Assembly (SSPA), which facilitated the North/South-South meeting to renew the old ties between the former political allies before the grand reunion of the three geo-political zones in the South at Enugu, Chief Raymond Alegho Dokpesi confirmed tomorrow’s meeting to Vanguard, yesterday, in a phone interview.

He said there should be no fear over the meeting as the South-South would not negotiate away its avowed declaration to produce the next President. Another prominent leader of the zone and first civilian governor of Edo State, Chief John Oyegun, corroborated Dokpesi’s assertion.
However, investigations by Vanguard showed that some South-South leaders were having some skepticism over the meeting and have advised that the zone should shun it.

Posted by Publisher at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

Okogie slams Obasanjo on loyalty

LAGOS—PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo’s call, last week, for absolute loyalty from public servants was has been described by the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, as a pointer to dictatorship.

By Sam Eyoboka
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Reacting to the president’s speech, Cardinal Okogie also said it was only in the Army that you have absolute loyalty. “There is nothing like absolute loyalty anywhere and in any institution in the world. To demand absolute loyalty from all is to point to dictatorship. To suggest that it is only in the Army that you have absolute loyalty is false.
“If so, why do you have coups and counter-coups and rancour in the Army if there is absolute loyalty there?” the cardinal asked.

In the statement released by the Rev. Fr. Gabriel Osu, the Lagos Catholic spokesman, the Cardinal said the disloyalty being experienced by the Federal Government was due to bad leadership and disgruntlement.
Cardinal Okogie asked: “How loyal is President Obasanjo to the nation and the constitution?” According to him, “only God is absolute.” He, therefore, wanted the President to define absolute loyalty.

The spiritual leader and Prince of the Universal Catholic Church reminded President Obasanjo that he was dealing with human beings who were not perfect but God alone. “It is not possible to call for absolute loyalty from the people. It is the good policies and programmes of government that command their respect and loyalty,” he said.

Posted by Publisher at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

I'll waive immunity to face EFCC, says Gov Nnamani

ENUGU—GOVERNOR Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State has reacted to the invitation extended to some officials of his government by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday, saying he is prepared to waive his own constitutional immunity as governor to face prosecution if any case of corrupt practice is raised against him.

By Tony Edike
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Nnamani, who was approached by some reporters in Enugu, Monday night, to get his reaction to a media report that top officials of his administration were arrested last Friday by EFCC to answer allegations raised in a petition by suspended Chairman of Udi Local Government Area, Mr. Oscar Egwuonwu, said the officials were not arrested but only reported themselves to the commission following an invitation from the commission.

He said upon receiving the information last Friday that EFCC officials were in Enugu making inquiries about the affected officials including his Special Adviser on Local Government Matters, Chief Sam Ejiofor, he directed them to report to the commission’s office in Lagos on Monday, which they did.

“There was certainly no arrest because even one of the individuals mentioned, Prince Sam Ejiofor, my local government Adviser, as you know, held a baptism ceremony for his son on Sunday and all of us were there. So, government actually directed the affected officials to report to the EFCC office today (Monday) and they are in Lagos at EFCC office now. I believe they are undergoing interrogation in connection with the petition generated through Mr. Oscar Egwuonwu, the suspended chairman of Udi Local Government Council whom I believe is presently on bail and possibly undergoing prosecution for attempted murder,” he said.

The governor said he was prepared to give up his immunity to face probe or prosecution for any offence that might be proved against him, adding that he would take full responsibility for the actions of the government of Enugu State.
“As head of government, I take full responsibility for the actions of the government of Enugu State because the buck stops on my table. I, for one, will not hesitate to respond to questions raised by EFCC, I will be willing to waive the constitutional immunity and go through interrogation and prosecution if need be just to reaffirm my belief in the process. So I am available to be investigated either here or even in Lagos. I have no problem with it.

“I believe that one has to participate in the process as an affirmation of confidence in the system. So, I will be willing to answer questions, interrogation and even prosecution because I believe in the system and I believe that we need to show example if not for any other thing but for Nigeria,” he said.

Nnamani stressed that there was nothing irregular or strange about the EFCC’s probe of officials of his government, saying that the commission had already proved its seriousness in the war against corruption by exposing and prosecuting some highly placed government officials like a former Senate President, a former governor and a former Inspector-General of Police.
He commended the commission for its achievements so far in the crusade, stressing that its presence and activities had effectively reduced the tendency of public officials to embezzle or misappropriate public funds.

“I believe that an organisation that has been able to have far-reaching impact in terms of anti-corruption crusade on the head of the National Assembly which is a major arm of government, on the head of the national police and many other people is an effective organisation. The EFCC can lay claim to success and we can relate to that. You certainly cannot diminish the EFCC or take away anything from what they have achieved so far. We in government are fully aware of the EFCC, where i’s were not dotted and t’s were not crossed, i’s are now being dotted and t’s are being crossed. Where otherwise envelopes would have been distributed, they are no longer being distributed. So I believe the EFCC if they have not done anything, have created public enlightenment and awareness. They have also built capacity. We cannot ignore the fact that there is a Ribadu in Nigeria, and it is positive, it is also good,” he said.

The governor said Enugu State had undergone several processes of assessment and examination by independent partners, foreign agencies and the mass media and had always come out in flying colours, adding that the current EFCC action was “another assessment and we are certainly willing and able, and very interested in cooperating with them.”
Giving a background to the petition before the EFCC, Nnamani said it was originated by the suspended local government chairman, who, according to him, was having problems with his councillors who had all ran away from the council, accusing the chairman of threatening their lives.

He said the government had suspended him and was considering his recall when he (Egwuonwu) forcefully retook his office and allegedly abducted and almost killed the acting Chairman whom he had put in a boot of a car and was taking him away when he was intercepted by the police.
The governor, however, expressed confidence that the EFCC probe would vindicate him and confirm the transparency of his government as had been attested to by independent assessors.

Posted by Publisher at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

Navy seizes 250,000 tons of fuel barges

WARRI—THE Navy Command in Delta State (NNS DELTA) has arrested a badge containing 250,000 metric tons of petroleum products at Egborode, in Okpe local government council of Delta State, just as the Federal Government has seconded additional helicopter and other security equipment to the command in the state, to check the activities of pipeline vandals and alleged bunkerers in the Niger Delta.

By Simon Ebegbulem
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Commanding Officer of NNS Delta, Navy Captain Mufutau Ajibade, who made this disclosure in Warri, yesterday, said his men arrested the badge at a remote community along the Benin-Warri axis after the hoodlums sighted their patrol boat and escaped.

The Navy boss who highlighted the efforts being made by the command to check bunkering activities and pipeline vandalisation in the Niger Delta, said: “We have made so many successes in checking the activities of these criminals. The most recent of such success recorded was the arrest of a badge containing 250,000 metric tones of suspected PMS at Egborode in Okpe local government council of Delta State, during a patrol operation carried out by my men in some remote communities along the Warri-Benin axis.
“Though no arrest was made because they saw us when they were loading the PMS product and abandoned the badge and the equipment and took off. I can tell you we have been fighting them seriously and the situation has reduced drastically.”

Posted by Publisher at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

FERMA still flouts FG's directive on highway traffic—LASG

FOLLOWING the directive issued by President Olusegun Obasanjo ordering the banning of Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) from engaging in road traffic management, Lagos State Government has called on the Inspector General of Police Mr. Sunday Ehindero to enforce the presidential directive and that anyone found doing so among them should be arrested and brought to Abuja for proper prosecution.

By Olasukanmi Akoni
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The state Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Muiz Banire made the call following the defiance of the order by the operatives of FERMA who he alleged were still seen controlling traffic in various parts of the state in the past one week.
The Federal and Lagos State Government had recently met in Abuja with his Federal counterpart led by Mr. President during which he announced the banning of FERMA from meddling in traffic on the highways.

Announcing the outcome of the meeting to Housing Minister Rahman Mimiko said the Federal Government recognised the importance of Lagos as a megacity whose operations have extended to the neighbouring states and has decided to participate in its renewal. The meeting also set up a panel to be headed by the legendary geographer and urban development guru, Professor Akin Mabogunje to prepare a masterplan that would solve problems identified by the Lagos State in facilitating transportation and sanitation in the megacity which is home to 15 million Nigerians
The list included the prayer for the exclusion of FERMA from traffic management, increase in police personnel, duty waivers on equipment needed for the Bus Rapid Transit system and the Landfill sites, stoppage of deductions based on the Independent Power Project and approval of ecological fund intervention to upgrade sand fill sites, ensure pollution control and check gully erosion.

The state commissioner linked the disobedience of the presidential directive to statements made by the Controller of Works, Mr. Adeniji and the FERMA’s corps-marshall, Mr. Oyenuga who alleged that they are yet to receive instructions from the Minister of Works, Senator Seye Ogunlewe.
Dr. Banire said his office has been bombarded by calls from innocent citizens complaining of continuous extortion and violent harassment by FERMA officials. Many of them, he said, wanted clarification on the matter from the Lagos State Government.

“There is no doubt that the Minister of Works, Senator Seye Ogunlewe has found it difficult to disarm the political thugs and miscreants he gave uniforms because he is afraid of losing control over them. He has created a monster that he can no longer control. The Presidency needs to call him to ask his thugs to quit the roads in line with the president’s order. This continued disobedience of the directive of the president amounts to rebellion and gives the impression that Senator Ogunlewe is above the law.

“We hope the president will apply the appropriate sanctions because Senator Ogunlewe attended the meeting where the president issued the directive.” Dr. Banire stated.
Vanguard gathered from members of the public particularly motorists who still complained of extortion by FERMA officials who lay ambush daily on the road for innocent motorists.
Therefore, the Lagos State Government has urged the police to enforce the presidential order to the latter in the interest of justice and the general public.

Posted by Publisher at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

It's grief and shock as depositors besiege liquidated banks

As the CBN’s deadline for consolidation in the banking sector expired penultimate Saturday, several banks which were liquidated were besieged by anxious depositors last week reports Okey Ndiribe

By Olasukanmi Akoni
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

THE scene at the Abule-Egba, Lagos branch of Trade Bank was explosive. As early as 7.30 a.m., a group of depositors stood in pensive mood outside the premises hardly speaking to anyone but looking directly at the main entrance. The group increased steadily and became a crowd at about 8 a.m. when the bank’s gates were supposed to be opened for the day. But the gates were not opened even when it was 8.30 a.m. The crowd became restive. Some members of the crowd swore they would stop at nothing to collect their deposits from the bank which was not listed among the big 25 which emerged after the just concluded consolidation exercise in the banking industry.

An official of the bank who summoned courage to attempt addressing the angry depositors was shouted down by angry voices in the crowd. When the official realised that he could not handle the situation and began to retreat into the banking hall, he was pelted with pure water sachets and orange peels.

Shouts of ole ! ole! ( thief! thief!!) rented the air. Two men stepped out from the crowd and held the bank’s gate which they shook violently demanding that the branch manager should come out and hand over their money to them.
The two men were still shaking the gate angrily when the sound of a siren announced the arrival of the police in two pick up vans. The sight of the policemen instilled some fear in the crowd as they moved back from the gate. The police team which was led by an Assistant Superintendent of Police quickly took position at the gate of the bank and ordered the crowd to move further backwards. The leader of the police team proceeded to address the crowd and appealed for calm. He assured the depositors that resorting to violence would not achieve any positive result as the management of Trade Bank was doing everything possible to ensure that the interests of its customers were protected.

Although the crowd had become quiet, it was obvious that some of the depositors were desperate to withdraw their money. A middle-aged business woman who was said to hail from Oyo State looked like she was about to collapse. She was assisted by her relatives who held her hands. Efforts to speak to the woman proved abortive but it was gathered from her relatives that she had a deposit of N28 million in the bank.

The presence of the police apparently meant nothing to the woman as she refused to shift from the position where she stood. This was in spite of repeated appeals and warnings by one of the policemen to her to move back. It took the intervention of the bank official who had earlier attempted addressing the crowd to calm the woman. The official had assured the woman that she would get her money back.
According to the official, “what is happening is simply a government problem. Very soon everything would be over and you would get your money even if you want to withdraw all of it.”

The look on the face of the woman and those of her relatives showed they did not believe the official one bit.
Some of the depositors who spoke to Vanguard Features (VF) said they were shocked that Trade Bank which had appeared to be doing well all along could be affected by CBN’s sledge hammer. A depositor, Tunde by name said he had banked with Trade Bank for over 10 years and had not had any problem.
However, VF learnt that the Abule-Egba branch of Trade Bank was not the only branch in this tight corner. The bank’s branches in Abuja and several other parts of the country were also besieged by large numbers of depositors who wanted to withdraw their money.

Apart from Trade Bank which VF learnt was dumped by Afribank International at the last minute, other banks that were hit by the CBN sledge hammer were: Fortune, City Express , Metropolitan, Triumph and Eagle. Others included Afex, Liberty, Gulf, AllStates, Assurance and SGBN. Hallmark Bank and African International Bank also made the liquidated list.

VF learnt that Hallmark Bank was liquidated by the apex bank because its merger talks with Union Bank collapsed. Sources within the bank told VF that Union Bank which had earlier wanted to acquire Hallmark was discouraged by its huge unrecovered loans. It was learnt that the bank’s granting of over N500 million loan to Folio Communications— the company that acquired Daily Times — was regarded as a very bad debt. Folio Communications could not repay the loan it obtained from Hallmark Bank within the stipulated time and this led to the media group being taken over by the bank through a receiver manager. But Folio Communications kicked against the manner Daily Times was taken over by Hallmark and, therefore, headed for the court to challenge the action.

Apart from the bank’s troubles with Folio Communication, it was also rumoured in banking circles that its plight might have been worsened due to the fall of former President of the Senate, Mr. Adophus Wabara, who was impeached several months ago for his involvement in the bribe-for-budget scandal which rocked the National Assembly last year. The Minister of Education at the time, Prof. Fabian Osuji, was accused of giving some millions of naira to Wabara to facilitate an increment in the ministry’s budgetary allocation. The former Senate President is the elder brother to Mr Marc Wabara, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hallmark Bank.

Already, CBN has directed that big 25 could buy up the failed banks at one naira each.
But the management teams of some of the liquidated banks have already made spirited efforts to prevent their organisations from going under. For instance, the Alliance group of banks which could not meet the N25 billion deadline on December 31, 2005 appealed that it should be given more time to raise the amount. But the CBN said these group of banks would not be allowed to join the big 25 since they could not do so at the expiration of the initial deadline. This was confirmed by the apex bank’s spokesman, Mr. Festus Odoko, while speaking to journalists last Thursday in Lagos.

The Alliance group had earlier raised hopes of stakeholders that they were expecting $250 million to be invested by foreign partners. Speaking further on the Alliance group, Odoko said: "Let us face reality, if a student did badly in a particular examination, and now decides to read very well, is it possible to have his papers remarked?" He added that depositors in the 13 banks which failed to meet the target would be reimbursed by the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) within the first quarter of this year.

The CBN announced the names of 25 banks that met the N25 billion capital base on schedule as UBA, First, Union, GTB, Zenith, Intercontinental, Standard Chartered, Oceanic, Access, Ecobank, ATB, and Sterling. Others are NCIB/City Bank, Fidelity, FCMB group, IBTC Chartered, Stanbic, Afribank group, Platinum/Habib, Diamond, Unity group, Spring Bank, Skye group and First Inland Bank.

However, VF learnt that banks that belong to ‘club 25’ achieved this feat largely due to the vision of their various boards and management. It was learnt that the boards and management teams of several of these banks had anticipated the current development in the sector especially after the crash of many banks about 10 years ago.
Speaking to VF about measures the Intercontinental Bank group took to ensure it survived the consolidation challenge, the Corporate Affairs Manager of the financial institution, Mr. Harold Nzekwe, said: “When the current leadership of CBN issued the N25 billion minimum capital base requirement for all banks operating in the country, it looked like a tall order in the banking sector.

“But not all corporate members of the sector shivered and trembled like rats soaked by rain. The Intercontinental Bank group had long ago anticipated this type of development in this sector and had prepared for the rainy day. And this why the bank had been operating on a robust group structure for the past 11 years.
“For instance, in addition to several other subsidiaries involved in insurance, capital markets and stockbroking, real estate and discount house businesses, Intercontinental Bank also owned Equity bank.”

Nzekwe revealed that through Associated Discount House Ltd., the bank also owned majority shares in Gateway Bank.
He said given the background of the bank’s link with associated banks like Global Bank, the group’s consolidated shareholders’ capital and reserve as at the first half of 2004 was close to N20 billion, adding that this placed the bank as the fourth largest banking conglomerate in the country two years ago.

Nzekwe said even before the CBN conceived of the idea of consolidation, all the Intercontinental Bank group needed to achieve the same goal was to collapse this already existing group structure into one entity.
Said he: “So it is not surprising that the bank met the CBN’s deadline well ahead of time.” With the apex bank's directive that no one should do business with the liquidated banks, the question on the lips of many is how do depositors get their money.

Posted by Publisher at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

OYO IMPEACHMENT CRISIS: Ladoja deserves his current ordeal—ADEJUMO

Mr Soji Adejumo, an agriculturist and at the same time a University don in this interview takes a swipe at the Oyo State governor, Senator Rasheed Ladoja saying he deserves his present predicament for not fulfilling his own part of the bargain.

By Ola Ajayi, Ibadan
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

He bares his mind on this and other national issues. Excerpts:

You are aware of the political crisis in Oyo State. What can you say necessitated this?

Well, I must agree that it is a sad chapter in the politics of Oyo State. It is sad in the sense that we politicians want to ensure good governance which was why we worked very hard to remove the AD government which was very insensitive to the plight of people and replaced it with a PDP government, where we all worked together. The reason why we removed AD was that AD was not running a democratic government. A government based on old tenets, it belonged to old school and was hierarchical. If it is not your turn you have to queue, there was no participatory democracy there, but in PDP everybody came on board on equal footing and we felt that government would be responsive to the expectations of the people and we worked and was actually with us and we delivered. But as soon as the government took certain bizarre and very frightening events started to happen at the highest seat of governance in the state, where you find that even though we are all joiners, the bulked of us, and I am being very sincere, who worked very hard to enthrone the PDP government were in politics long before the Governor himself joined politics in 1991, a lot of us had started, actually I have been in politics since 1988 and Chief Adedibu has been in politics for about 55 to 56 years, where a lot of people have been in politics for about 30 to 40 years and we all worked together. You needed to see us on the campaign train; we went to the nooks and crannies of the state. The roads that Lam claimed to have tarred, we went there to campaign and we found out that they were not tarred. We challenged him. All those who did the work were being gradually sidelined, pushed out from the scheme of governance.

These were the same people who anchored the success, the same people who used themselves as points of contact to the electorate. And we were being pushed out, not consulted, things were happening that were marginalizing us turning the government into a one man administration. And we want to build a legacy for participatory democracy, of hereditary democracy. We want to play our parts and go naturally. Not play your part and now be forced out. Politics is not like that. We play our part and we all go naturally and our children, our brothers coming up even when we are playing our part will leave the scene. It is not by saying that yes I will create politics in Oyo State, it is not done. Everything should have followed a normal order. When we are here, let’s put our heads together, let’s run this government, let’s be bringing others to learn from us, and with that there would have been a normal administration. But what we have is very different and frightening. This brought the crisis today.

Some people say that Chief Adedibu is being too unnecessarily demanding, what can you say about that?

When they say that I laugh. Chief Adedibu is a real father to all of us. In fact, I said sometime last week that this state owes Adedibu a big debt of gratitude. He put everything he has into the system; he makes people out of no people. He makes somebody out of nobody.

How can you say that type of person is demanding? And the Governor has never said that Chief Adedibu came to him to ask for N20b, Let me tell you this, many people don’t know it, when we were doing the campaign, there were places where Chief Adedibu spent five times and it’s from his own personal money, what even the governor spent. And he did not come out today to say I have spent x amount. His was that we have this huge family of PDP, let me take them to the seat of governance and now let this family come together and each person who has a role to play, let him play it. That was all he has been fighting for, never for his own personal gain, I can tell you and I can prove it.

With the situation on ground now, do you think the crisis can be amicably resolved?

Nobody is God; we are not God. What we are doing is what we are doing today. What will happen to others will be determined by God? If God says crisis will end tomorrow, and if he says it will end today, it will certainly end today. It is God that will now manifest the mechanism for the crisis to end. There are so many ways that the crisis can be resolved. The crisis can be resolved by the combatants coming together and say we agreed on this, or it can be resolved the combatant being defeated and he goes away. And the victors now turn around and say let us start afresh, that is also a resolution. One day sooner or later well, I don’t even see it as a crisis, it is a family matter. It’s a family dispute. We are seeing that certain things were wrong, and we felt we should put it right.

If you were the Governor, what would you do?

Thank God you said if I was the Governor, and I am not the Governor, so I can’t answer that.

Let me ask you this way, if you were Chief Adedibu, What would you do to restore peace?

As I have told you, what Papa is trying to do is to make sure that democracy does not die. I know what I’m talking about; democracy was on the road to death. I don’t want to say much at this point. Papa is just trying to uphold the tenets we hold dear to our hearts in this journey of politics. The primary one is loyalty. You must be loyal to your leaders and loyal to your party, you must be loyal to your country. But when people who have not imbibed that culture and suddenly coming from nowhere, come to sit on a seat that they know nothing about how can they practice these principles? They cannot. Politics has its tutelage and all of us at one time or the other goes through the tutelage. You must have a leader. There is nowhere in the world where people just find themselves floating. In America every state has its standing point. Even in the UK there must be a rallying point. There are figures that are shining light for their communities. The game is reciprocity. You cannot take and take and not give and give.

Let`s consider the role of judiciary in the crisis, Yesterday the court prohibited the panel and the panel has adjourned its sitting to Monday. How would you reconcile the two?

Well, I am not a judge nor a lawyer, so I really cannot comment. But I know that those who are engaged in the legal side of this crisis are all lawyers. They are all constitution practitioners. So at the end of the day, what will be done will be constitutional.

Now the issues of two-third majority, the 14 legislators are claiming that the G-18 cannot make 22, which is required and G-18 are claiming that 7 members had already been suspended, so they now remain 25. Where are we now?

It is like saying something is six and someone says it is not six. They are both saying the same thing. It is all a constitutional matter. If the constitution is read correctly by a party, you cannot force them to apply the provisions of constitution to their matter. Like I said some of these matters are in court, but the country has a constitution. And one thing I know is that, if I as a teacher, I have a class of 30 pupils and about 8 of them commit a serious offence and they are suspended from school. Suspension means go and stay at home. They must not come to the school premises; they must not even be seen around the premises of the school, for the period of that suspension. They are not active pupils of that school, because suspension can be indefinite. Suspension means you are not part of us. You remember during the reign of Shagari, people were saying we could not have two-third of a state, of a ward and of an individual, Akinjide when he was arguing that case in 1979, said we must give two-third an ordinary meaning that logic, the philosophers of old who created the discipline of mathematics did a fraction and said two-third of 19 is 12 and not 13, it is a precedent. I won’t say more than that.

People are saying that the governor should have performed better than this, but various crises in the state are impeding his progress. What have you to say on this? Is the governor performing?

Well, if you say the governor is being impeded, I don’t know what you really mean. The crisis started just about three weeks ago, and the governor has spent two and half years so that shouldn’t have stopped him to do what should have been done. The people of the state are in the best position to judge. But some of these is because the party is at a cross road. He took power from AD because he believed they were not performing. And we are almost falling into the same position and that is why we have this problem, so it’s better to make efforts to fulfill our promises to people. I, as a person, during campaign made promises to people, but the question is those promises we made, have we really fulfilled them? Can I go back to the people to campaign or even to my own community, and say you people lack xyz and would make sure that if we cannot provide xyz at least we would provide x. We are not even allowed near the state government for you to even try and make sure you delivered that x. How then do you go back to the people? That is why I said Chief Adedibu has come to emancipate the people. The full cadre of politicians should not just be made persona non-grata in their own constituencies because they do not have a say in governance, in the scheme of things and people would look at them like frauds; people would say when they knew that they did not even have the power to be in government why did they promise us?

What can you say about the role the CCII is playing in settling the crisis?

CCII is a Committee of Elders just like we have the Arewa and YCE; they are playing the role they should play, so we should commend them.

Do you believe in the third term agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo?

God is the determinant of the future, so we leave the future to God. Nigeria in the last six years has given everybody infinitely pleasant experience. Before President Obasanjo came to power, telephone line was costing N100, 000, and mobile phone N50, 000 nobody could go to bank to borrow money to invest, because cost of borrowing was about 30-40%, so some companies were bankrupt, banks closing down. The highest paid Professor was earning about N20, 000. The cost of living is now very low, telephone now cost as low as N2, 000. Think of what Nigeria can be if the same trend is sustained for the next three years. So we are praying to God to help us consolidate these gains, God in His mercy can provide the President with the opportunity to consolidate by whatever means, then we should just be thankful to God, that for once we have a President who is totally committed to the progress of this country. We have never had a President that has the same commitment like President Obasanjo. He does not fear to die for the cause of this country. He is unwaveringly committed to putting Nigeria on her right path, not caring what he has to sacrifice. This President travels, criss-crossing the globe as if he is a 20 year old. I know what he is committing to this nation and Nigeria will be eternally grateful to him.

2007 election is around the corner. Do you have any political ambition?

Again, God is the dis- penser of ambition, let’s see what God has in stock for us because today determines tomorrow. What I will do is for God and my political leaders to decide. PDP leaders should use themselves as a bridge to link people together. Whatever man would be he should remember those who helped him attain that position, he should not forget them, whatever happens. And those who played their role should be made relevant in the scheme of governance. Whether a man would be a councillor, a chairman or a governor, it is left for his political leaders to decide.

Assume you are chosen as the next governorship candidate, would you accept the offer?

All preferment and positions come from God, If God decrees that I’m going to be this or that, I have no right to go against the decree of God, because I am not the one that would make myself, It is God that would enable other people (my leaders) to make me, and would enable me to make others. We have people as governors, presidents not by their own design, but because God has designed it. And with the help of my political leaders, God will use them to make me.

Talking about rotational presidency, where would you prefer the president to come from, North or South?

From the experience we have of President Obasanjo, when he was coming, people did not expect anything good. What the President has done in these six years shows that the future of this country is annexed into the brain on the head of the person who wears the crown of the president. Looking at the enviable performance of the president, it will be foolhardy to be talking about zones instead of talking about who would become the president. Who can fit into the shoes of President Olusegun Obasanjo. If we have that kind of person whether he comes from South-South or North-North all Nigerians would rally round him. The President has demystified this issue of geopolitical zones. What this country needs is a person who is as pragmatic, direct, influential and also God fearing as Obasanjo.

People say that Governor Ladoja is fighting too many battles than he can handle. The council of Obas, the TIB issue, the parliamentary crisis and those that are feeling marginalized. Do you believe this?

In sincerity and honesty, I agree with you, but I will reduce everything to one- selfishness and deceit. You can’t turn yourself into a messiah. Messiahs are made by God. Jesus never said “I am messiah” but people call him messiah. When we were campaigning, every port of call was the Obas Palace, to Alaafin of Oyo, Soun of Ogbomoso and Onjo and many other places. We knew that there were problems with the traditional council, but we were there to campaign to them. It would have been easier for us to form a big committee and sit down and marry all various views, and know their own position but when you now impose absolute strangers on them, how would they not run into a barb wire? Nobody has absolute power or authority to solve all problems. So marginalization is part of it. Prior to 2003 elections, when the delegates went to Abuja for the convention, Chief Adedibu and Governor Ladoja had 114 delegates, while Yekini Adeojo had 113 delegates, in the spirit of brotherliness, all these members should have been incorporated into one. I expected that when Chief Adedibu leads the way, Ladoja follows and then Adeojo, but the case is contrary. Out of 331 you can hardly find five of them in government today. In the spirit of accommodation and appreciation those who played their roles should have been made relevant, this would have removed marginalization.

Posted by Publisher at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

Saraki and the burden of failed LG Chiefs in Kwara

Barely two years in office, it is now a general knowledge across the length and breadth of Kwara, that the leadership of the sixteen local governments across the state are far from being assets, but rather, bundle of liabilities.

By Demola Akinyemi, Ilorin
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

One of the loyal female politicians with Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, father of the governor and a top commissioner in the cabinet who craved anonymity in an interview with me admitted that all the elected local chiefs across the state are non starters,” “a ti ko eran m’ero, meaning we are trafficking goats with human beings, it is true that all of them are disasters, it was as a result of the political problem between Lawal and Baba, we had to do away with all the local government chairmen who refused to leave that government, when it was time to do so. The truth is that Lawal had the best manpower, but he held them hostage so to say and they couldn’t leave the government, the last local government administrators were excellent, but they worked with bad governor. But you know in politics, things do not always work that way. All along we had people who had been working for us but unfortunately, many of them don’t have what it takes to perform, no experience, no commitment, that is the price we have to pay, because that is the way politics work, you cannot go and make your enemy anything, no matter what, you make do with what you have,”.

Perhaps, sensing this problem , Governor Bukola Saraki shortly after their swearing-in had initiated a joint account system with the local governments whereby certain percentage of their monthly allocations was being paid into the central account. The calculation was that each local government would in turn be taking the whole chunk of the money to execute a major project in the respective council area and that has being the only major achievements of the councils in the state according to vanguard investigations.

By extension, aside paying the monthly salaries, many of the council executives have not been able to carry out any concrete projects in their domain. One of the troubled chairmen admitted this much in an interraction with me.I met the sacked chairman of Edu local government, Alh Lerama Duba, when he ran into troubled waters with the legislative arm of his government, in addition to his enormous problems with the traditional rulers in his domain which had made him to abscond from Lafiagi, headquarters of the local government and be operating,the council from ilorin. On the fateful Friday he had been cornered by one of the aggrieved councilors, and they exchanged fisticuffs. He had ran to one of his men in the government house when I met him” some of us had never held any position of responsibility near this, and we didn’t have the required experience, I thought we would be exposed to many seminars and conferences that would help us to make up, but up till now the ones we attended never have any bearing with our office, I think that is the bane of our problem” he said.
The problem in the councils across Kwara state became so worrisome to the extent that within the last three months, three out of the sixteen council; three chairmen have been suspended from office by Governor Bukola Saraki and the state House of Assembly .

The first casualty was the elected chairman of Ekiti local government, Hon Dele Abiodun. His offence according to Vanguard investigations was that without clearance from the executive, he obtained loan from one of the banks in Ilorin to pay the staff salaries among other allegations of .mal-administration and financial recklessness. Besides, Abiodun was also on July 28th this year docked before an Ilorin Magisterate Court for criminal and assault contrary to sections 263 and 264 of the penal code law. Docked with others, the embattled council boss was also accused of inflicting bodily harm on one Biodun Olawuyi who had been invited to the CBN quarter’s of the council boss to negotiate the payment of a debt of N410,000 the chairman was owing him. Following series of meetings held with the council chairmen and series of reports coupled with avalanche of petitions, consequently, the council boss was suspended by the government after a meeting with the council chairmen.

According to the press statement issued by the governor’s chief press secretary, Mr Bisi Abidoye thereafter, Mr Dele Abiodun was suspended over allegations of financial impropriety, mis-mananagement, and compromise of the security of the people of the council area.His vice, Mrs Cecilia Ore was asked to take over the affairs of the council pending the final determination of his case.The Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs,Hajia Nimota Ibrahim in her reaction said the government had to step in because by not paying the council workers their wages, the chairman was inciting the workers against the state government.The commissioner who denied that the state government was tampering with the allocations of the local governments aside the issue of joint account and their directive to be involved in the ‘‘clean and green’ programme of the government wondered why many of the councils found it difficult to pay workers salaries.

In the case of the chairman of Ekiti.Hajia Nimota Ibrahim said” we called him and caution him with the intention that he would change but he didn’t, so we asked the assembly to wade into the petitions and the accusations leveled against him”.
The next was the chairman of Edu local government in Kwara North, Alh Muhammad Lerama Duba who was suspended with his vice Alh Muhammad Tsado last month. The state House of Assembly wielded the big stick, by sacking him from office pending the final decision of the reports of the avalanche of petitions against him which was investigated. The assembly ask the Speaker of the council, Hon Issa Ndache to take charge as provided for by the constitution, while the state governor citing section 29(1) of the local government law directed the ministry of local government to also forward the report of the legislative arm of the council to the House of Assembly for appropriate action. The governor reacting to his removal from office said he had no objection to it because he could not contain the breakdown of law and order in his council”. You will agree with me that you cannot run a government under that situation and as such we thought it necessary to put a stop to it before the matter disintegrate, in other to ensure that we have some level of impartiality in the crisis , we asked the chairman and his vice to go and ask the council Speaker to take charge" said Governor Bukola Saraki.

Lerama had earlier raised alarm of threat to his life by the monarchs and the king makers in his council and also accused the police DPO in the area of supporting his “enemies” against him.

The next was the chairman of Oyun local government, Alh Hammed Ajimoti who was suspended by the House of Assembly and approved by the governor over allegations of mal-administrations. This is contained in the letter issued by the Secretary to the State Government, Alh Salman Adelodun Ibrahim to that effect. While the state government has set up a panel being headed by the Special Assistant to the Governor on Economic Matters, Mr Ademola Banu and three others to look into the allegations, the vice chairman of the council, Mrs Helen Bisi Popoola was asked to take charge. Panic has already gripped the remaining council leadership in the state as Vanguard investigations in the House of Assembly revealed that deluge of petitions filed against them will soon receive the attention of the legislators, while some of the council chairmen according to findings have already started making frantic moves to suppress the petitions. How far can they go? Time will tell. But with depletion of the then ruling ANPP with most of the members founding their way into the ruling PDP in the state, it is expected that, the new local government executive in the state from the 2007 elections would be better off.

Posted by Publisher at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

Warri crisis: Itsekiri victims to be resettled this year — Commissioner

WARRI — COMMISSIONER for Inter-Ethnic Relations and Conflict Resolution in Delta State, Mr. Ovouzorie Macaulay, says that as a way of rehabilitating and healing the wounds of the victims of the Warri war, the state government will ensure that hundreds of Itsekiri people who fled their villages and are yet to return since the war ended some years ago, return home, this year.

By Emma Amaize
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

He also said that government would soon roll out a programme to ensure that all the property belonging to the victims, which were still being occupied illegally by some persons, be they Ijaw or Itsekiri, were released to the authentic owners in the next few months.

Macaulay, who is among the re-appointed Commissioners by Governor Ibori also told newsmen in Warri that youths who were still occupying property that are not theirs would be evicted from them, adding that in order not to make them a nuisance to the society, the government would try and see the kind of assistance it would give to them.
The commissioner also said that government would consider a kind of support for the returnee Itsekiri, while talks were already being held with the leadership of the Ogbe-Ijoh National Council to see how the issue of Warri Corner would be permanently resolved.

He said that the government had already asked the Ijaw to find an alternative place that is not contentious between them and any other ethnic group for the government to resettle the residents.
According to him, the Urhobo who lost their property in the Warri crisis were also being considered by the government and in his words, “His Excellency has looked into it and has given a formal approval to this process and time from time, we will be able to see how funds will be made available to start to meet these programmes.”

Posted by Publisher at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

Obasanjo didn't send me out of Aso Rock — Brume

WARRI — FORMER chairman of the Senate Committee on the Niger Delta, Senator Fred Brume, has denied the rumour making the round in political circles that President Olusegun Obasanjo chased him out of Aso Villa over some irreconcilable differences.

By Emma Amaize
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

He told Vanguard in an interview that it was a wicked rumour, saying, “I do not dwell in Aso Villa. So I do not know under what circumstances somebody would tell me to leave the place. I do not have an office there.

“I must say that I have favour in the sight of the leadership that when I want to see him, I go to the Villa, I have no problem whatsoever. So I do not know what that means. It is a mere figment of imagination and it is not everything that happens that I have to display on the pages of the papers.

“I can only say that there was a lot of counter currents as regards my coming to the PDP. You know, character assassination, things like the man has come again. By the time I was asked to coordinate Edo State, some feathers were being ruffled. They were afraid of course, you know normally how I do my things, whether in politics or in other aspects of life. Right is right and if you are going to conduct a congress, we have to conduct and harmonise in a fair way that it would suit the guidelines of the national leadership and the people have pocket plans, saying that this man was going to do something and they started all sort of things.

"One of them at the national level told me that they said you are from Edo State, how can you be sent to Edo State to go and conduct the congress there. But this is a person both of us have been together in the past in the party but I told him that certainly I am not from Edo State; I am from Delta just as you people are close in Bauchi and Gombe. Then later, what you hear is that he is an AD man, so how can an AD man come back to the party and want to take control. These are the kind of things going on actually”, he said.

Posted by Publisher at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

Senator Manager disowns Equity 2007

Abuja — Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South) has dissociated himself from Equity 2007, a political group in Delta State, closely associated with one of the State’s gubernatorial aspirants within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

By Emmanuel Aziken
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Senator Manager in a chat with Vanguard expressed dismay that the group flaunted his name in its recent goodwill message to President Olusegun Obasanjo and national officers of the PDP without his authorisation.
While not contesting the substance of the message to the President and the national officers of the party, Senator Manager expressed dismay that the group could list his name as a “notable supporter’’ of the group which he claimed not to belong to or believe in.

“I have never attended their meeting, I don’t know what they believe in and it was a shock to me that I was listed as a notable supporter of this group.
“I have a legacy in Delta State, I have my roots, I have my way in Delta and I cannot be conscripted into a group on the pages of newspaper,’’ Senator Manager, the pioneer chairman of the PDP in Delta State and himself, also a former Commissioner in the first Ibori administration.
“I hasten to dissociate myself from this group not because of the content of their message but because of the way they are going about it. Why should they bunch me among people that I do not associate with in a group that I have never subscribed to?’’ Senator Manager asked.

“So for me, it is important to clarify my stance and disavowal of Equity 2007 so that my supporters would not be deceived because our vision is yet clear and we remain focussed. For now, our objective is not Equity 2007,’’ the Senator said.
Continuing he said: “While it is true that I may have associated with some of the fellows listed in the group in the course of my political stewardship in the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) or in my two tenures as a commissioner under their Excellencies, Olorogun Felix Ibru and Chief James Ibori, for several of them I do not know them. We do not meet, except under the umbrella of the PDP.’’

Posted by Publisher at 02:15 PM | Comments (0)

ANPP, ADC want alleged bribery in National Assembly probed

BENIN CITY — LEADERS of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and the Alliance for Democratic Change (ADC) yesterday asked the leadership of the National Assembly to investigate the alleged distribution of between N50 million and N100 million to members of the House of Representatives and the Senate for the proposed amendment of the Constitution to allow a third term for President Olusegun Obasanjo, warning that such allegation and amendment may derail the nation’s democracy.

By Osaro Okhomina
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

While the ANPP through its Edo State Secretary, Mr. Uwadiae Odigie, pleaded with the National Assembly members not to amend the constitution in favour of the third term agenda to avoid setting a dangerous precedent, the Alliance for Democratic Change (ADC) through its National Chairman, Chief Ralph Nwosu, asked the leadership of the National Assembly to investigate the alleged N50 million bribery to members to effect the constitutional amendment and come out with the outcome to avoid losing the confidence of the people on the issue.
Both the Secretary of the ANPP, Mr. Uwadiae Odigie, and the National Chairman of ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu, spoke separately yesterday on the issue of the alleged third term bid of President Olusegun Obasanjo in a statement and at the South-South zonal meeting of ADC in Benin City .

According to Odigie, "we want to plead with the President not to indulge in the amendment of the constitution to perpetrate his third term agenda as such action will also see the North amending the same constitution to impose a Northern life President on Nigerians should power oscillate back to the North.
"The President should be wary of those known to have looted public funds, the religious fanatics and those who shunned the Oputa panel when a call was extended to them to give account of their stewardship in the consideration of those eligible to contest for the nation's most exalted position.”

On his part, the National Chairman of the ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu told the gathering of youths, professionals and market women at the Benin City venue of the party’s South-South delegates conference that the allegation of N50 million bribe offered members of the House Representatives and N100 million offered Senators by unknown campaigners of third term agenda for President Obasanjo must be investigated by the leadership of the National Assembly, "failure to do this means they have succumbed to the temptations of Ghana-Must-Go bags.
“We must say that no nation can be stable if those elected into positions of power falsify the document that binds us together. We have discovered that the National Assembly leadership are reluctant to investigate the bribery allegation but we say they must for the records."

Posted by Publisher at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)

Fresh crisis looms at Yenagoa FMC

Yenagoa — Fresh crisis looms at the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, as the workers of the institution have given a two-week ultimatum to the Chief Accountant to resign or they would be forced to down tools.

By Samuel Oyadongha
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Although the Federal Medical Centre, the only Federal Government referral institution in the predominantly riverine state was locked in a protracted crisis which culminated in the removal of the then Chief Medical Director, Dr. Kobina Imananaghan, midway into his second tenure and subsequent appointment of an interim administrator, the hospital is again drifting towards anarchy over what the workers described as the shoddy way and manner wage-related matters are being handled by the chief accountant.

In a communiqué issued at the end of its expanded executive session held in Yenagoa, the workers under the auspices of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria; Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria and National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives described as totally unacceptable a situation where they had to wait for more than three weeks to collect their salaries after disbursement of allocation by federal authorities without proper communication.

Lamenting what they described as the new culture of buck-passing and flimsy excuses of mislodgement of recurrent allocation of the last couple of months, the workers in the communiqué jointly signed by Ahmed Saibakumo and Bogofanyo Jacob, AMLS Chairman and Secretary; P. Ikioumoton, Vice-Chairman NANNM and Ebiowei Nobia, Vice-Chairman MHWUN, pointed out that these sharp and fraudulent practices were effected with the collaboration of some officials of the bank where their salaries are lodged.
While condemning in strong terms what they called “fabrications, intrigues, prevarications and subversion of due process," the aggrieved workers warned that the chief accountant should resign before January 19, 2006 or they would be forced to down tool.
The session, however lauded the efforts of the interim administrator whose tenure winds up Thursday for creating a conducive job environment.

Posted by Publisher at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)

2007: Royal father urges SSPA to shortlist 5 presidential aspirants

WARRI — PARAMOUNT ruler of Seimbiri kingdom in Delta state, HRM Pere Charles Ayemi-Botu, yesterday, called on the South-South Peoples Assembly (SSPA) to shortlist at least five presidential aspirants from which the political parties will shop for their presidential flag bearers in the 2007 presidential elections.

By Emma Amaize
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Speaking to Vanguard in Warri, he said there was nothing wrong with the Assembly screening presidential aspirants from the zone, pointing out that the intention was to prune down the number to put the zone in a better stead while telling the other zones that it was its turn to produce the next president in 2007.

In his words: “Except those who are kicking against the screening are misinformed or they do not grapple with the problem of the South-South, I do not see why they should be against the exercise. It is in the interest of the zone, we have to be organised and there is no way we can say that we are organised if we do not put our house in order by short- listing our first eleven.” It was possible for the major political parties that want presidential candidates in 2007 to shop for their flag bearers from the four or five that would be nominated by the zone as happened in 1998 when the PDP picked the incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo from the South-West while the defunct APP, now ANPP went for Chief Olu Falae, also from South-West, all because the political class gave it to the zone because of the manner Chief Moshood Abiola died in detention.

syncrasies to blur the overall objective of the zone, adding that, “it does not matter if Mr. A from Rivers state or Mr. B from Delta state finally get the mandate of the zone, what matters is that a good aspirant from the zone emerges in the long run as the next president in 2007”.

Posted by Publisher at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

Police, soldiers clash

WARRI — THE police and army clashed, yesterday evening, in Effurun, Delta state, over a traffic offence committed by a solider and in the ensuing battle, some of the female traffic police were bloodied by the soldiers.

By Emma Amaize
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It was a free-for -all fight as soldiers, not minding that their victims, who were females and law enforcement agents like themselves, kicked the policewomen, dragged them on the road and beat them like animals.
Eyewitnesses told Vanguard that one of the three traffic policewomen at Okorodudu junction, Effurun, flagged down a soldier who was riding a motorcycle but he refused to stop, apparently because he is a solider.
The female traffic warden stepped in front of the motorcycle to stop the soldier from proceeding further but the stubborn soldier hit her with his motorcycle, an incident that infuriated the policewoman, who insisted that the motorcycle would be impounded and that the soldier must follow them to the police station.

It was gathered that an army captain who was around intervened but was challenged by the irate policewoman resulting in the soldiers who were at a nearby checkpoint pouncing on the three policewomen.
A source said that the female traffic warden insulted the officer and gripped his shirt, prompting the soldiers who were around to beat them up.

As at the time Vanguard arrived the scene around 4.40 p.m., the policewomen were being mercilessly beaten up by the soliders who threatened to shoot anybody that comes near them.
Some policemen who arrived the scene later wanted to engage the soldiers in a fight but others appealed that they should allow peace to reign.
This led to an agonising traffic jam on the Warri-Sapele road.

Posted by Publisher at 02:13 PM | Comments (0)

Igbo president would ensure economic stability — Lawmaker

Enugu — DEPUTY leader of the House of Representatives, Prince Gilbert Nnaji, says a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction would ensure greater stability and economic advancement for the nation because of what he described as the natural creativity, courage and optimism of the Igboman.

By Tony Edike
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Speaking with reporters in Enugu over the weekend, Nnaji noted that the fact that the nation had often relied on the dexterity of Igbo intellectuals and statesmen to wriggle out of dire situations and tackle difficult national assignments, was a clear indication that the race was capable of producing a President who would lead the country to the “promised land”.

The lawmaker who cited the exemplary performances of some Igbo under President Olusegun Obasanjo administration such as Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, NAFDAC boss, Dr. Dora Akunyili and Central Bank Governor, Professor Charles Soludo among many others, said that the Igbo race currently boasts of a crop of leaders who bring about the long-desired turn around for the nation.
“The Igbo have always been called upon to perform very difficult assignments for the nation and they have always succeeded where others failed. It is only natural that now we are going into another crucial period in the nation’s history that we consider an Igboman to lead the nation, we have very capable hands and the country needs those hands in 2007”, he said.

Nnaji who is also the leader of the South East caucus in the House of Representatives, expressed optimism that the South East would produce a consensus presidential candidate without much friction and urged Igbo political leaders to rally behind the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to ensure the realisation of the age-long ambition. On the controversy over the alleged third term bid of the current regime, Nnaji dismissed it as “diversionary and unnecessary”, explaining that the proposal to include the tenure of executives among suggested constitutional amendments had only been made by a sub-committee of the National Assembly on constitutional amendments and was yet to be considered by the committee itself or the whole house.
maker stating that it was part of a reform process embarked on by the party. ““The Party (PDP) is only reforming itself just as it is reforming the national economy and other sectors. It cannot be preaching reform and refuse to reform itself””, Nnaji declared.

Posted by Publisher at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

Ilodigwe now Odenigbo of Igboland

THE Igwe-in-Council and Nze N’ Ozo of Oko in Ezioko Village, Oko, Orumba North local government area Anambra State will today confer Chief Nelson Olisa Ilodigwe, the President of Civil Society Congress (CSC) as the Odenigbo of Oko/Igboland.

Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Coronation ceremony which will be held in Late Chief Nwafor Ilodogwe compound in Ezioko Village, Oko, is expected to attract personalities from all walks of life including all the traditional rulers in Anambra State.

Posted by Publisher at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

Lagos, Chinese to build Lekki Free Trade Zone

LAGOS — THE LAGOS State Government in partnership with a Chinese consortium experts have concluded plans to commence work in April 2006 on the first phase of the development of Lekki Free Trade Zone project, estimated to cost N2.8 billion, spanning over 10 years.

By Olasunkanmi Akoni &m Oyinlola Apelehin
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The project which about 5,000 hectares of land has been earmarked is aimed among others to create and transform the area into an economic mega power. The first phase would cover 1,000 hectares of land.
Gov. Bola Tinubu of Lagos State disclosed this yesterday while receiving the progress reports of the project from the implementation committee chaired by Mr. Segun Jawando as well as hosting the delegation of Chinese consortium of experts, led by Mr. Cheng from Naijing, China in his Alausa office, Ikeja.
A-15 member committee had earlier been inaugurated by Gov. Tinubu in March 2005 to work out the modality as well as look for a prospective investors into the project in its efforts to ensure the establishment of a viable free trade zone in Lagos and in the entire Africa.

While explaining that the project was in realisation of the Federal Government's policy on the establishment of free trade zone, the governor added that the project after completion would improve commerce and industry, create employment opportunity and accelerate the economic development of the state in particular and the country in general.
His words: “A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a step, we have embarked on this project in the realisation of the Federal Government dreams to have free trade zone. This surely will bring about economic network of opportunities on an erstwhile sleeping corridor.

“Lagos State is the economic centre of the country but congestion has been a major constraints on the steps of transforming the state into a 21st century industrial pack. Yet we have both human and natural resources that could be translated into economic recovery.”

Posted by Publisher at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

Ladoja deserves his travails, says Ekiti ex-Speaker

ADO-EKITI — FORMER Speaker, Ekiti State House of Assembly, Mr. Kola Adefemi believes embattled Governor, Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State deserves his current travails.

By Gbenga Ariyibi
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Mr. Adefemi in a statement in Ado-Ekiti yesterday accused Gov. Ladoja of collaborating with PDP to rig himself to power, especially in Ibarapa area of the state in 2003 governorship election.

He said: “When the PDP captured the South-West states in the 2003 elections, an election that has been described as anything but free, the increasing victims of today’s illegality were not bothered and instead screamed “POWER” in ecstatic jubilation of the might of their party.

“Even, Gov. Ladoja perpetuated the power-play. He refused to swear in the winner of the Ibarapa East Local Government election being a member of the Alliance for Democracy despite conclusive judicial pronouncements in favour of the AD. Instead he proceeded to appoint a caretaker committee and thus scuttled the mandate.
“ Now Ladoja is screaming illegality when his job is on the line. Today, the vision is to stay afloat and alive in the shark infested and turbulent ocean of the Nigerian polity.”
He said the situation in the country called for sober reflection and re-assessment of what he called fundamental unhappiness of a society in search of values.
“Take a look at the face of today’s victims of the spread of illegality — Tafa Balogun, Joseph Wabara, Ex-Governor DSP Alamieseigha, Ngige, and former Deputy Governor Abiodun Aluko, they were all perpetrators of illegality,” he said.

Posted by Publisher at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

Thugs take over Ondo AD secretariat

AKURE — THUGS have taken over the party secretariat of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in Ondo State for the fifth day running following the crisis bedevilling the party over the romance of a section of the executives in the state with the MDD|MRD which led to the removal of the state chairman of the party, Comrade Sola Iji last week.

By Dayo Johnson
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Stern-looking middle-aged boys stood at strategic positions yesterday preventing entry to the party secretariat located at Oyemekun Road in Akure metropolis.
The party secretariat had been under lock and key since last week Thursday when the chairman was removed and his supporters and that of his opponents clashed followng which policemen were deplored to restore normalcy.
Posters asking the party members to resolve their differences littered the walls of the secretariat when Vanguard visited yesterday.

But the suspended chairman, Comrade Iji insisted yesterday that he remained the chairman of the party and those who reportedly suspended him had no constitutional power to do so.
However at a meeting of the Ondo Central Senatorial District of the party held at Ilara Mokin in Ifedore Council Area of the state, the party members from the area supported the removal of the chairman, Comrade Iji, nothig that the decision would sanitise the party in the state.

A communique issued and signed by six of the chairmen of the party in the Senatorial District including the chairman, Hon Ayo Agbonmuserin and Secretary Deacon Solomon Ogunbuyide said that the suspension of the chairman was in the right direction and that the party would now move forward.
According to the communique, the party rejects any association with MDD MRD which is now seeking registraton with INEC.

Leaders of the party that attended the meeting include a chieftain of the Afenifere, Chief Olu Falae, the acting leader of the Afenifere, Chief Rueben Fasoranti, the former Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chief Wunmi Adegbonmire, among others.
The party members in the Senatorial District reaffirmed their support for the party leaders which include the immediate-past governor, Chief Adebayo Adefarati, Chief Falae, Chief Fasoranti and Hon. Ayo Agbonmuserin, the former Speaker of the State House of Assembly.

Speaking with Newsmen in Akure the Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Rubber Seedling Production under the presidential initiative on rubber, Chief Omolade Oluwateru said that the acquisition of the land, which would start this year, is to resuscitate the planting of rubber crop which had been abandoned by farmers for more than 20 years

Accordin to the chairman who is also the Ondo state Deputy governor “ the revival programme for rubber production in the country was part of the Federal Government’s efforts at diversifying the nation’s economy and increase its revenue base.

Chief Oluwateru pointed out that the committee was” set up to find ways of reviving the dwindling rubber industry in Nigeria and placing the nation back as major world producer and exporter of natural rubber.

According to him, rubber occupied the fourth position to cocoa before the discovery of crude oil in 50s followed by groundnut and cotton as foreign exchange earners.

Nigeria he noted use to be the largest producer of rubber in Africa, exporting 60, 000 tonnes of rubber sheets, representing 8 per cent of the world rubber output annually.

“|In the 70s Nigeria was the largest producer of rubber in Africa, exporting about 60,000 tonnes of rubber sheets annually, representing eight percent of the world rubber output. The defunct Western and Eastern Regions were the major producers of rubber in Nigeria.

“Unfortunately, the development of this high potential foreign exchange crops has been neglected by the past Governments for crude oil, despite enormous potentials of land and human resources available in the country towards sustaining the cultivation of rubber and its allied products.

“Now that the world market price for rubber is once more on the upward trend, the present initiative on rubber production is expected to stimulate the interest of producers and processors”

Chief Oluwateru pointed out that the Federal Government had mandated the committe “to work out modalities for the production of the 11 million rubber seedlings in order to achieve the rubber production target.

According to him the seedlings would be nurtured to field transplantable stage for distribution to organised groups of farmers, schools and the private sector producers.

Terms of reference of the committee the chairman stated include the development of estates and out-growers, rubber seedlings production and uptake and processing and alternative uses.

“Efforts would be geared towards the implementation of the policies and programmes that could assist in the achievement of the set goals in the sector.

“Now that we are going into the revival of rubber, we will tackle it headlong, it is a matter of creating awareness again within the farmers to let them know that it is a money spinning venture because it sells very well now in the world market and it doesn’t cause havoc to the environment.

“For the next ten years we want to be producing at least 20, 000 hectares of rubber every year in order to bring us a level where we will be world leader in rubber production.”The Chairman declared.

Posted by Publisher at 02:10 PM | Comments (0)

Id-el-Kabir: Daniel enjoins Muslims to pray for peace

ABEOKUTA— GOVERNOR Gbenga Daniel has enjoined Muslim faithfuls to seize the occasion of the Id-el-Kabir to make supplications for the peace, progress, unity and development of the country.

By Kolade Larewaju
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Daniel in his Id-el-Kabir message said “we all know that 2006 is a crucial year for our country. We need God’s guidance to enable us go through it peacefully. I want all the Muslim Ummahs to pray for our country and follow the good example of Prophet Ibrahim who was ready to make a sacrifice in line with Allah’s injuction.

“Our piety should not be in words only but also in deeds so that Almighty Allah will accept our acts of worship.”
He then appealed to Nigerians to show love to all and sundry, saying that the strength of the country lied in its unity and cohesiveness.

The Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona in his own message appealed to all Muslims to celebrate the festival peacefully and in accordance with Islamic tenets.
Oba Adetona who is the President-General of the Ogun State Muslim Council said that all Muslims should exhibit the major lessons of the festival at all times, including the fulfillment of promises.
“All Muslims should endeavour at all times to live honestly and within their means both spiritually and materially”, he said.

Posted by Publisher at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

Union urges FG to avert complete collapse of textile industry

KADUNA — FEDERAL Government has been urged to address the twin issues of high cost of “black oil” and flooding of the markets with fake and sub-standard real wax to avoid the complete collapse of textile industry in the country.

By Emeka Mamah
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) which made the call in Kaduna said that the price of black oil which is a vital input for the production of real wax (abada) was increased from N12.21 to N30.40 while the country had been flooded with fake and sub-standard real wax with fake United Nigeria Textile Plc logo.

Addressing the press on the issue, the President and acting General Secretary of NUTGTWN, Comrades Reginald Agulanna and Issa Aremu, respectively said that “in spite of the laudable policy and the bold step of setting up the presidential task force on banned items, smuggling activities continue at alarming rate, leading to company closures and job losses.”

They also described as scandalous, a situation whereby textile industries can not obtain black oil which is needed for their industries in an oil producing country like Nigeria.
“It is a scandal in an oil producing country… Unfortunately, the budget 2006 proposal lacks new measures aimed at resuscitating the industry. In fact, some neo-liberal measures (are) contained in that budget such as Common External Tarrif … Our fear is that this government seems eager to impress the world about being compliant with international/regional agreements rather than deliver on its promise of reviving the industry and creating jobs at home,” they said.

The NUTGTWN further lamented that Nigeria had lost over N20 billion through illegal importation of fake and sub-standard foods and predicted thousands of job losses this year.
“In 2005, additional, 10,000 direct jobs were lost. This excluded job losses as a result of retrenchment by distressed textile mills. This development is tragic and unfortunate; but from every indication, the year 2006 may be worse, unless emergency measures are taken to save the industry,” they added.

Posted by Publisher at 02:08 PM | Comments (0)

FG urged to address high cost of 'black oil', fake wax

KADUNA — THE Federal Government has been urged to address the twin issues of high cost of “black oil” and flooding of the markets with fake and sub-standard real wax to avoid the complete collapse of textile industry in the country.

By Emeka Mamah
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) which made the call in Kaduna, said that the price of black oil which is a vital input for the production of real wax (abada) was increased from N12.21 to N30.40 while the country had been flooded with fake and sub-standard real wax with fake United Nigeria Textile Plc logos.

Addressing the press on the issue, the President and acting General Secretary of NUTGTWN, Comrades Reginald Agulanna and Issa Aremu respectively, said that “in spite of the laudable policy and the bold step of setting up the Presidential task force on banned items, smuggling activities continued at alarming rate, leading to company closures and job losses.”

They also described as scandalous, a situation whereby textile industries can not obtain black oil which is needed for their industries in an oil producing country like Nigeria.

“It is a scandal in an oil producing country… unfortunately, the budget 2006 proposal lacks new measures aimed at resuscitating the industry. In fact, some neo-liberal measures (are) contained in that budget such as Common External Tarrif… Our fear is that this government seems eager to impress the world about being compliant with international/regional agreements rather than deliver on its promise of reviving the industry and creating jobs at home” they said.
The NUTGTWN further lamented that Nigeria had lost over N20 billion through illegal importation of fake and sub-standard foods and predicted thousands of job losses this year.

“In 2005, additional, 10,000 direct jobs were lost. This excluded job losses as a result of retrenchment by distressed textile mills.

Posted by Publisher at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

Emir urges Kano residents to participate in census

KANO — The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero has called on the people of the state to take advantage of the forthcoming national census, saying the exercise will guide government in executing developmental projects that will benefit the people of the state.

By Tina Anthony
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Alhaji Bayero made this appeal during his usual Eld-el Kabir massage to the people of the state, warning that they should not allow any group of persons to deceive them to shun the exercise for any political reason because even advanced countries depend on census figure to establish projects for their people.
His words: “It is only when the Federal Government gets the authentic census of the people that they can execute projects for the people; the census has more advantage for the people to benefit.”
The Emir then called on the various Muslim sects in the state to put aside their differences and be united in their struggle to live a good life here on earth, saying that without unity they cannot promote Islam as it should be in the state.
In his Sallah message to the people of Kano, Governor Ibrahim Shekarau reiterated his government's determination to fulfill the desires of the people of the state, adding that they will remain focused in their implementation of the Islamic law in the state.

According to him his government is committed towards improving the lots of the generality of the people of the state, stressing that already government has laid a solid foundation of the Sharia, which he said had been yielding good result throughout the state.
Governor Shekarau then hinted that in 2006, his administration has resolved to pursue concrete actions that will enhance the collective wellbeing of the people of the state, and urged them to avoid any action that is capable of undermining national cohesion.

Posted by Publisher at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)

NUF not campaigning for Obasanjo's 3rd term — Saraki

ILORIN — Second republic Senate Leader, Dr. Olusola Saraki last weekend denied that the diplomatic shuttle of the Northern Union Forum (NUF) in which he was the chairman to the 19 governors of the Northern States, was to mobilise against the supposed third term agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

By Demola Akinyemi
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The elder Saraki who was in Ilorin to mark Sallah celebrations speaking with newsmen also described as untrue the group's visitation to former Nigerian leaders of Northern extraction as aimed at creating Northern resentment against the third term agenda.

According to him, the diplomatic shuttles to the Northern governors were aimed at creating an avenue for a common agenda, which would favour the Northern states in the unfolding political scenario as 2007 draws nearer.
He explained the need for the governors as leaders of their people to act as bridges to ensure a greater unity and understanding among various contending forces in the old Northern province.

According to him: “So much have been reported about our visits to the governors, especially the Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Abubakar Idris as if the courtesy calls were aimed at creating a forum of agitation against the alleged third term bid of Mr. President. It is far from truth. We are touring the Northern states to create greater unity and understanding among our various leaders.”
Continuing, he said: “You know 2007 is around the corner and almost all regions are taking sides and positions on the election year but in the North, our voices are divided."

Posted by Publisher at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

January 10, 2006

Gbenga Obasanjo denies attacks on Atiku

LAGOS — ELDEST son of President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gbenga, yesterday, expressed regrets over the interview granted Elendu but said it was unauthorised.

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The interview is the cover story of the current edition of The News Magazine.
Gbenga in the publication had called Vice President Atiku Abubakar names, with the Presidency in a swift reaction disowning the comments while the Vice President’s camp described Gbenga as rude and uncultured.

Solicitors to the President’s son, S.O. Ajayi and Co, issued a statement yesterday in Lagos to clarify their client’s position.
They said: “We are the retained Solicitors to Dr. Olugbenga Obasanjo, on whose instructions and behalf we forward this letter to you with regard to the above referred subject matter, which was given a cover story prominence in the current edition of The News Magazine with vol. 26 No. 01 of 16th January 2006. The same story has found huge prominence in many national daily newspapers of today (yesterday) the 9th January 2006.

“Our client got to know about the story late evening yesterday and since then, he is being inundated with several calls from family members, friends, well wishers and associates, both within and outside of Nigeria, expressing concern over the contents of the alleged interview in all its ramifications and circumstances. This story is also attracting deep interest of operators of the electronic media, as it has continued to be used as a regular news item since this morning by some radio stations in Lagos State; both Yoruba and English channels.

“This has caused and continues to shock our client who states unequivocally that he did not grant the reporter, Mr. Omoyele Sowore, any interview as claimed or at all. At no time did Mr. Sowore put questions to our client, which elicited the responses reported in the papers and The News magazine.

“The truth of the matter, according to our brief, was that our client met Mr. Sowore at the Nigerian Seme border sometime in December 2005, assisted Mr. Sowore to resolve some disagreement he had with some law enforcement agencies and gave him a ride to Lagos, a journey that took far less than two hours. Our client informed us that Mr. Sowore requested for an interview, which our client politely but clearly declined to grant.
“Our client informed us further that it was in the course of the journey that Mr. Sowore, our client and one of our client’s cousins who was with them in the vehicle had some private discussions. It is not unusual among Nigerians wherever they are gathered to evince their patriotic views. The contents of the discussions have been largely embellished. Our client denies the widespread political colouration given to the discussion and regrets the dimension that what he sees as a private and essentially health related discussion has taken.

“Our client states that there is no way that he could have uttered such vituperation against people of such high calibre in his father’s government. Our client insists that there were discussions, he insists that the reporter directly requested for an interview but he politely and directly declined the request. It is illegal, and unbecoming of a reporter to turn the favour granted him by our client to what has now scandalised our client. The reporter took advantage of our client’s large heartedness to scoop a story of a disastrous proportion.
“The unsolicited and unauthorised story is deeply regretted by our client and he regrets the embarrassment that this might have caused members of his family.

“We have our client’s instruction to request you to publish this letter as his rejoinder to the alleged interview and also to carry a retraction of the story with apology both to him and his respectable father, Mr. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who has been embarrassed by the alleged false interview.

“It is not our client’s practice to air his grievances publicly or litigate on every wrong done to him and he does not seek to do so on this occasion, hence our demand for a retraction and apology. We trust that this retraction will also receive a front page treatment in your next edition. However, you will understand that if this is not forthcoming, then, our client will have no choice than to take the necessary steps that would preserve our client’s and his family’s reputation and integrity, given the widespread nature of the publication that was packaged and branded in the purported interview that our client did not grant and the unusual circumstances of this case.”

Contacted, Omoyele Sowore of Elendureport who conducted the interview said he had read the solicitor’s letter and would pass his comments to The News Magazine that ran the interview.

Posted by Publisher at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2006

Army cautions politicians

'We hope and pray that politicians will understand the importance of having this country as one entity. We hope they will not allow their political differences to do anything that will threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria as one united country'

By Kingsley Omonobi
Posted to the Web: Friday, January 06, 2006

ABUJA —THE Army High Command yesterday cautioned politicians against indulging in activities capable of threatening the corporate existence of the nation, explaining that democracy must not be jeopardised.

“In a society or community without peace and stability, there can never be development. Even in a family, there are always disagreements which are resolved through dialogue. We do not have to destroy what we have or kill ourselves just because we disagree with one another,” it said.

Speaking against the backdrop of recent threats and violent confrontations between political gladiators in different parts of the country, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Martin Agwai said: “We hope and pray that politicians will understand the importance of having this country as one entity. We hope they will not allow their political differences to do anything that will threaten the corporate existence of Nigeria as one united country.

“We on our part will continue to allow professional politicians to do their job. Since politics is a profession for those who want to become politicians, we will encourage them. We will provide the enabling environment for politicians to carry out their functions. Towards this end, we will make sure that we encourage Nigerians to understand that democracy has come to stay in our nation.

“I want to also assure Nigerians that the Nigerian Army will continue to perform its constitutional roles of nurturing our democracy to maturity because I believe democracy is the best form of government.”

The Army chief who was presented with an award by the Peace Mission of Nigeria, Bauchi State Chapter, for his contribution to the peace and security of not only Nigeria, but to the African continent and the world, recalled the exploits of the Nigerian Army in bringing about peace and stability in the world.
His words: “Over the years, the Nigerian Army has been involved in the United Nations peace keeping missions, African Union missions and ECOWAS missions. I must say that I am proud to be part of the Nigerian Army because it is an army that never fails in its missions.

“We went to Liberia and at the end of it all, with the human and material resources that were lost, we were able to bring peace and tranquillity to that country. That a world recognised elections were held in Liberia is because Nigerian Army was the vanguard of peace in Liberia. There has been another election in Liberia and we are looking forward to the swearing in of the president.”

Earlier, President of the Peace Mission, Babayo Liman, explained that the award to General Agwai was necessitated by his exemplary leadership in guiding the army to acclaimed performances in resolving African sub regional conflicts peacefully, adding: “Out of 51 peace support operations conducted by the United Nations, the Nigerian Army participated in 24 of them creditably.

“It is on record that immediately General Agwai was appointed Army Chief, he put in place strategic measures to combat violent crimes in the country,” he said, adding that statistical data had shown that violence and crime in the country had reduced drastically from 100 per cent.

Posted by Publisher at 02:32 PM | Comments (0)

January 05, 2006

Oyo CJ okays panel to probe Ladoja

IBADAN—THE Oyo State acting Chief Judge, Justice Afolabi Adeniran, has set up a seven-member committee to probe the allegations of gross misconduct levelled at Governor Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja by 18 members of the state Assembly.

By Jide Ajani, Political Editor & Ola Ajayi
Posted to the Web: Thursday, January 05, 2006

The committee comprises Justice Bolaji Ayorinde as chairman, Mrs. E.A. Adegboye, Imam M.A. Adebayo, Evangelist Segun Alli, Alhaji M. A. Adetoro, Mr. John Alabi and one other person.

The seven members of the committee were sworn to an oath of allegiance yesterday at about 3:30 by the acting Chief Judge. The committee is expected to hold its inaugural sitting today in Ibadan.

Some of the allegations levelled at Gov Ladoja include:
lThat he operates a current account in the Standard Trust Bank amounting to 156,982,322 Naira and still remained in the management of the Standard Trust Bank being a Director thereof contray to Paragaph 2(b) of the Fifth Schedule to the 1999 Constitution.

lFraudulent conversion of public funds by diverting the Local Governments Allocations from the excess crude oil into Account No 00849378601106 at Standard Trust Bank from August 2003 to May 2005.
lOperating a Foreign Bank Account No 36336483 at National Westminster Bank Plc London,Tavistock Square Branch.
l Sponsored attacks on honourable members of the House on Thursday, 15th September 2005 and whenever they want to take important descisions
lUndermining the integrity and constitutional powers and functions of the legislators
lNepotism in the contract for the commercialisation of Oyo State produce under the Ministry of Agriculture
And in a swift reaction to the video clips shown by the Speaker Abraham Adeleke to the press on Tuesday, Chairman of House Committee on Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr Babatunde Eesuola, claimed it was a doctored and should be disregarded.

The 18 pro-Adedibu legislators also yesterday, denounced the efforts of the Central Council of Ibadan Indigenes (CCII) who went on a peace mission to President Olusegun Obasanjo over the lingering crisis in the legislative arm of the state
Addressing newsmen at D’ Rovans Hotel, Ibadan, Mr Eesuola carpeted the peace efforts of the council, saying: “One wonders if it was not with the support and connivance of the CCII that the governor was committing those alleged offences.
“The CCII is only trying to be more Catholic than the Pope. The good people of Ibadanland elected 16 honourable members to represent their interest in the state and 12 of those 16 honourable members from Ibadan are here and they are not in support of the governor. Can the CCII claim to be better representatives of Ibadan people? There is need for them to talk to the electorate and not through the back door. Again, Honourables Akinrinade and Ayilara Kazeem, they are two Ibadan indigenes and they are members of this group.
“Sometime around March 2004, when the issue started and sometime in February 2005 when some honourable members were assaulted and attacked, they reported the incident to the CCII under the Chairmanship of Mr. Bode Amoo who promised to contact the governor.

“Then, Mr. Bode Amoo later replied the honourable members when pestered by December 2004 that the ‘governor said the issue of the House was a political issue and since he’s not a politician he should not dabble into such political issue and that he was unable to take up the task then.’ Now, whose interest is the CCII protecting?”
He then wondered why people had a parochial view of the crisis: “It is disheartening to note that no person or group has advised the governor to respond to the allegations of gross misconduct, rather they are expressing personal and selfish opinions against the legislators on our constitutional duties.

“We implore all citizens of Oyo State to advise Senator Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja to answer our allegations, though it is belated constitutionally. The governor was personally and publicly served the impeachment notice, he should also publicly answer the allegations,” he said.

On the video clips shown by Speaker Adeleke to the press on Tuesday, he claimed it was a doctored one which should be disregarded. “The video clips shown to the press by the suspended Speaker, Honourable Adeolu Adeleke are not the true representations of the events of that day. The recordings had been doctored to suit the purpose of that press briefing," he said.


*Bolaji Ayorinde (Chairman)
*Mrs. E. A.Adegboye
*Imam M.A. Adebayo
*Evangelist Segun Alli
*Alhaji Sikiru Adetoro
*John Alabi and one other person

Posted by Publisher at 05:26 PM | Comments (0)

January 04, 2006

Nobody can impeach me — Gov LADOJA

IBADAN — EMBATTLED Governor Rashidi Ladoja of Oyo State has vowed to do everything possible to defend the mandate given to him by the people of Oyo State, saying he cannot be forced out of office by “a small clique of people.”

By Ola Ajayi
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Adeolu Adeleke, has also urged the acting Chief Judge of Oyo State not to set up any panel to investigate allegations of gross misconduct against Governor Ladoja as the purported resolution of the House presented to the state chief judge by a group of 18 members of the House was fake.

Governor Ladoja who was speaking at a prayer session organised by Christians and Muslims in the state said he still enjoyed the maximum support of the people in the state.

Said he: “I know when to leave. I have said it on many occasions that I would leave when the people of Oyo State say they don’t want me again. I have said it loud and clear that the people of Oyo State still love their governor.”

Ladoja who agreed that year 2005 was very traumatic called on everybody who was involved in the crisis to continue praying to God for forgiveness. “We must forgive whatever wrong anybody might have done to us in the year 2005 so that this year 2006 will be a very peaceful year. We must pursue the path of peace no matter how difficult it may be. We must let people know that the essence of democracy is we disagree to agree. You put forward your own point of view and you are supposed to accept where there are stronger arguments,” he said.

He told the lawmakers that the mandate they were holding was not the mandate of one person but that of the people who voted them and they should, therefore, do the bidding of the people who voted for them. While underscoring the acceptability of democracy the world over, the governor said “military rule is not acceptable the world over. Many soldiers had tried coups but they failed. Now the country is to be watched when it comes to conflict resolution in Africa.

“Even our President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is being begged now to continue as the President of the African Union. One is grateful to God that Nigeria is the one keeping peace all along West Africa. Now everybody looks up to Nigeria, but we must show to the world that we can also keep peace at home,” he said.

Recalling the events in 2005, he admitted it was a traumatic year. “If the law enforcement agencies had not been up to the task, it would have been another thing entirely, because we learnt that people were brought in from outside the state to destabilise the state. We don’t know what they are looking for, some people said it was impeachment, while some said they were looking for a state of emergency but they have failed. But I assure you that I will not stay a day longer. Even those who have not before this time been involved in politics are now coming out. But on my own part, I will do everything possible to defend it,” he said.

Speaker defends gov

Meanwhile, Speaker of Oyo State House of Assembly, Mr. Adeolu Adeleke, has described the resolution presented to the acting Chief Judge to set up a panel to investigate Governor Ladoja as fake.

Showing the video clips of the purported sitting of the 18 members loyal to Chief Lamidi Adedibu, he said “it is imperative on behalf of myself and the other 13 members who are loyal to the oath of office and adherence to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to let the state acting chief judge and the whole world know the illegality in the impeachment processes against the state Governor on the 23rd December, 2005 where there was a paid advertisement in the Nigerian Tribune Newspaper signed by a suspended member of the House, Mr Babatunde Eesuola who also claimed to be the acting Clerk of the House contrary to section 93 of the 1999 constitution.

“The said advertisement claimed that Hon. Eesuola said the 18 members of the House sat in the Parliament Chambers and passed a resolution directing the state acting Chief Judge to set up an investigating panel to examine the purported gross misconducts,” he said.

Posted by Publisher at 03:22 PM | Comments (0)

January 03, 2006

NLC opposes 3rd term plot; IBB visits Ota

LAGOS — THE Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) warned, yesterday, on what it called the “whole frenzy over... the third term plot," and vowed to work with other interest groups to resist any attempt to subvert the electoral process ahead of the 2007 elections.

By Kenneth Ehigiator & Emmanuel Ulayi
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, also speaking on the third term issue yesterday cautioned Nigeria’s past rulers against creating more problems for President Olusegun Obasanjo through their statements on the alleged third term plot.

Former military head of state, General Yakubu Gowon, had, last week, advised President Obasanjo to learn from history and shun any temptation to seek a third term in office.

The NLC in a four-page New Year message by its president, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole said: “There is an overarching need to dispense with the business as usual approach to many aspects of Nigerian life come the year 2006. The country needs to make real progress through purposeful, selfless and committed leadership at all levels in government, business, civil society and other non state institutions.

Fighting poverty through creation of decent jobs

“One challenge that calls for more creative thinking, more effective policies and private public partnership is unemployment. Combating unemployment is the greatest challenge of governance today. Creating decent jobs requires an integrated approach that should entail intensive public and private investments, macroeconomic stability especially with respect to interest and exchange rates and inflation, affordable energy prices and other measures to improve competitiveness.
“In particular, there is the need for trade policies that protect local industries. The nation has to summon all that is required to roll back the poverty situation, which has reached unprecedented proportions, affecting a vast majority of the people. The best means to fight poverty is to put the people to work .Therefore, congress proposes that the Federal Government should take advantage of the current review of the NEEDS document to strengthen its implementation tools in furtherance of the imperatives of jobs creation and meeting the Millennium Development Goals(MDGs)

“In this respect, we share the anxiety of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) about the harmonised ECOWAS tariff structure, which could lead to dumping and consequently, factory closures and unemployment. Already, the nation has witnessed a spate of factory closures and massive erosion of capacity in the manufacturing sector arising from trade policies, which promote dumping at the expense of local production.

“The challenge is for the Federal Government to create a framework of engagement such that the concerns of the manufacturers and other stakeholders are urgently addressed in a way that ensures that the ECOWAS tariff regime does no harm to local industries.

Re-inventing a pan Nigeria approach to politics

“Particularly in recent times, the utterances and behaviour of many Nigerian political elite have regrettably not involved the right amount of responsibility to the stability of the system and unity of the country. The question of who speaks and acts for Nigeria remains pertinent in the light of the rising brigade of ethnic and regional megaphones among the political elite, who assert claims to power based on considerations tied to the accident of their places of birth.

“Much of the current clamour for power is often couched in concern about constitutionalism and anti-establishment rhetoric. While there are more and more active and self-labelled Northern, Western, Eastern Southern and other kinds of sectarian fora, little is increasingly being said and done about a Nigerian forum. This primordial revivalism among the elite divorces politics from the real issues and is entirely subversive of the nation-building process.

“For instance, it has turned to being opportunistic defensive instrument for politicians when issues of accountability and management of public funds are posed. The challenge for Nigerians is to collectively insist and ensure that only personal integrity and sterling qualities should be the basis for leadership at all levels, rather than ethnic consideration. NLC will remain a faithful defender of the Nigerian agenda and will strengthen its pan Nigerian activism anchored on the defence of the welfare and interest of the generality of Nigerians across all divides.

“NLC will continue to demand that politics and politicians must respond to the real issues and challenges of growing the economy, creating employment, poverty eradication, pensioners’ rights and social protection, education, health, security, infrastructure etc.

Free and fair elections in 2007: The battle needs to start now

“The NLC is also deeply worried that the whole frenzy over what has been termed as the third term bid diverts attention from the critical issue of fairness of 2007 elections. The impression being created is that once elective offices have been awarded to any zone or ethnic group, the 2007 elections will be a mere formality to legitimise elite consensus. What is evident is that a free and fair election in 2007 is not within the calculations of the elite, who feel that the Nigerian elite, not the people, must decide who occupies public office and the number of terms.

“The agenda for the Nigerian people should be how to ensure that the 2007 elections are free and fair. Democracy without free and fair elections is just an empty ritual that removes the people as the determinants of office holders. Only Nigerians must determine who governs at all levels and never again should the will of the people be wantonly subverted through rigging. The starting point is to begin to build a coalition capable of resisting rigging and other forms of manipulation of the electoral process ahead of the 2007 elections.

“Congress remains fully committed to this process. We will work in active partnership with other segments of the Nigerian society towards electoral reforms and strengthening in our people the consciousness and resolve to resist rigging. Part of the challenge for the broad progressive community is to bring to the mainstream of politics and governance the culture of selfless commitment to the public good, which it has historically represented. This culture can only become part of the nation building process if it extends from popular and protest movements to the wider terrain of politics and governance.

Corruption: A war we must win

“Mr. President has demonstrated tremendous courage in combating corruption. The unanimous outrage of Nigerians in the face of revelations of malfeasance in high places also shows a deepening of the concensus that corruption must be abhored and fought. We again commend Mr. President and the leadership of the EFCC for the unprecedented progress in the anti-corruption war.

“This notwithstanding, the country needs more thorough, result-oriented and comprehensive measures against corruption at all levels and in spheres of life. In addition, there have been concerns raised about the anti-corruption agenda, which requires that the operative agencies pay more attention on issues of civil liberty and due process.

“Ultimately, corruption is a war that must be fought, but must be won. NLC remains committed to the anti-corruption effort and will continue to support Mr. President and the relevant institutions in this effort.

Need for stakeholders forum to monitor savings on debt relief

“It is necessary to commend the decision of Mr. President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, to commit the savings from debt relief to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in line with calls from various quarters, including the NLC. However, congress wishes to once again make a case for the setting up of a stakeholders' forum to monitor the application of these savings. This global practice empowers the civil society to play a monitoring role to ensure effective utilisation.

Need to respect collective agreements

“The nation needs to be spared the tendency for government and its agencies to set aside collective agreements voluntarily entered into with unions. This is not healthy as it heats up the industrial relations process, violates workers' rights and makes nonsense of the machinery of dialogue and collective bargaining. Failure of government to implement agreements was responsible for much of the industrial crises witnessed in this dispensation, especially in the last one year. The efforts at institutional reforms must take on board the need to respect agreements and outcome of dialogue.

Wage issue

“The national secretariat of the congress is renewing in partnership with affiliate unions and state councils' efforts to mitigate the impact of the erosion of the value of wages. The governments of the federation will be continually engaged to fulfil their commitment as employers in this respect.


“The expectations of pensioners and other concerned Nigerians that the 2006 budget packaged would deal with pension arrears have been dashed, as government still has not included pension debts among those to be liquidated. This is an unfortunate departure from Mr. President’s widely received assurances in his 2005 Independence Anniversary speech that the issue of arrears will be addressed 'over the next few weeks.'
“The challenges is for the Federal Government to urgently revisit the arrears and set aside funds to offset them as had been done in the case of contract debts. Congress is also appealing to the National Assembly to intervene on this matter so that the pension debts are settled satisfactorily in the 2006 budget year.

Labour unity

“For the NLC, labour unity is a collective challenge and we call on segments of the movement to take the necessary measure to realise this vision in 2006. Labour unity is necessary to ensure that the trade union movement is able to maximise its impact, give the worker value for his/her membership and be strong and effective in relation to government and employers.


“The leadership of the NLC remains indebted to Nigerian workers for their loyalty and confidence and to the Nigerian people for their trust and solidarity. These were strikingly manifest in the nation-wide rallies to resist harsh petroleum prices and other painful reforms of government. In particular, we remain thankful to the generality of the Nigerian society (parliamentarians, the media, civil society groups, students unions, religious and civil bodies, political parties, professional bodies etc) for their solidarity during the struggle to resist the de-registration of NLC through the amendment proposed to the trade Union Act.

“We also appreciate the solidarity of our colleagues in the international trade union movement under the auspices of the ICFTU and Global Unions. We salute the steadfast comradeship of our allies in civil society and to the TUC and CFTU and their affiliates, with whom we have borne the burden of a consistent campaign for good governance. We look forward to more qualitative advances in our relations in the year 2006.

“Congress remains committed to its mandate of defending the rights, welfare and interest of Nigerian workers, working families and the masses. The message for 2006 is that despite our pains and frustrations, we need to remain committed to the progress, unity and democratic development of Nigeria, because with our collective efforts, a new and better Nigeria is possible. This is wishing Mr. President, the workers and people of Nigeria a happy, peaceful and prosperous 2006.”

IBB speaks

Also yesterday, former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), said his views on the alleged third term plot of President Obasanjo would be made known soon and urged Nigerians to allow him time to use his position as statesman to consult with the incumbent, with a view to dousing the tension created by it.
Gen. Babangida, who spoke in an interview at the Presidential Wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja on his return from a visit to President Obasanjo at Ota, also cautioned the nation’s past leaders against creating more problems for the incumbent through their statements on the third term plot.

General Yakubu Gowon had last week advised President Obasanjo to learn from the past mistakes of the country’s leaders, including himself.
Babangida, who was in company of his son, Mohammed, said: “We are privileged to sit down there at one time or the other. We know what the problems are and our job is to help ease the problems and not to increase the problems for the incumbent. That is why we are statesmen.

“I did mention also the other time that anything that has to do with the government, presidency, I have been one of the privileged persons in this country that is easily accessible to him (President Obasanjo). I can talk to him, I can discuss with him on anything. I can discuss with him on anything that touches the government and the country and I will maintain that tradition.”

He said he would continue to be an active participant in the nation’s politics, but was silent on whether he would take a shot at the presidency next year. But he said he was as qualified as over one million other Nigerians to vie for the nation’s top office.

“Getting involved in politics is the responsibility of each and everyone of us because you must move forward and you cannot sit at home. You have to participate in one way or the other and at various levels. This is what politics is all about.

“You have over one million people who can vie for the presidency in this country,” Babangida said, and implored Nigerians to continue to pray and work hard to make the country one of the greatest not only in Africa, but also in the world.

Posted by Publisher at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2005

Mbadinuju charged with murder

ABUJA—THE police yesterday arraigned immediate past Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chinwoke Mbadinuju, before a Chief Magistrate Court sitting at Jabi, Abuja over the September 1, 2002 assassination of the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Onitsha Branch, Mr Barnabas Igwe and her pregnant wife, Amaka.

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
Posted to the Web: Friday, December 30, 2005

The arraignment brought to two the number of former executive office holders protected by constitutional immunity, that were charged to court over alleged crime while holding office.

Former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, was the first to be dragged before the court of law to face trial.

Mbadinuju who looked sober and dejected in the dock was said to have conspired with some criminals, still at large, to arrange the death of the two lawyers. The charge did not give reasons why the governor arranged the killing of the former NBA boss.

Late Igwe and his pregnant wife, Amaka, were assassinated three years and four months ago while on a visit to a family friend in Awada Layout, Onitsha.
According to reports, the former NBA boss (Igwe) and his wife were shot several times by assassins in their private car. After several gun-shots, the assassins allegedly moved closer to the dying couple and inflicted several machete cuts on them before using a vehicle to run over their bodies again and again to ensure that they did not survive the attack.

The assassination followed several death-threat telephone calls received by the couple over a 21-day ultimatum issued the Mbadinuju-led Anambra State government by the Onitsha branch of the NBA led by the late Igwe on salary arrears owed civil servants.

Soon after the death of the couple, several people accused Chief Mbadinuju of masterminding the killing even though he was away to Houston-Texas at the time the incident occurred. The former state governor denied his involvement.

But, in a dramatic turn yesterday, the police dragged the former governor before the Chief Magistrate Court, Jabi for the killing. They said their three-year investigation revealed that it was the former governor that arranged the murder and spread several millions of naira to a number of police investigators to either stop investigation in the case or cover him up.

Also arraigned with him for the murder was one young man, Daniel Anyiego. Anyiego was arraigned for allegedly collecting money from the governor to bribe investigators and powerful security men interested in the case to conceal the real identity of the killers.

But little was known of Anyiego’s identity at press time as the police themselves said he (Anyiego) was a man of no known address.
The duo of Mbadinuju and Anyiego were brought to court by the police in a Peugeot 406 car about noon. They were neither handcuffed nor leg-chained. They looked unruffled until they were called into the dock.

In the not-too-spacious dock, Chief Mbadinuju who wore a red shirt atop a pair of black trousers. Much of the times he was looking down, feeling shy. But he braced up and comported himself immediately the chief magistrate motioned to the court registrar to read the First Information Report (FIR) (charges) already prepared by the police to the accused persons.

The First Information Report (FIR) read out to them:
* That you Chief Chimaroke Mbadinuju, former Governor of Anambra State is accused of criminal conspiracy; abetment of an offence of culpable homicide punishable with death;

* Giving false information with intent to mislead public servants;
* Causing disappearance of evidence and giving false information to shield an offender ;

* Third party benefitting from gratification to shield an officer contrary to sections 97, 84, 162, 121 and 168 of the Penal Code;
* That on or about the 1st day of September 2002 and November 2005, you Chimaroke Mbadinuju, ex-Governor of Anambra State of No 135, Adetokunboh Ademola Crescent, Wuse 2, Abuja and Daniel Anyiego of no definite address conspired amongst yourselves and with others at large and agreed to do an illegal act to wit: you use your position and engaged the service of persons whose identity is yet to be unraveled and you aided and facilitated the killing of Barrister B C Igwe, Chairman of the NBA, Onitsha branch and his wife and you gave false information to the police with intent to mislead the police from the true facts of the circumstances of the killing of Barrister and Mrs Igwe;

* That you know and have reason to believe that an offence of murder instigated by you has been committed whereas you caused the evidence of the offence to disappear with the intention of shielding the said persons who committed the offence from legal punishments. In furtherance of your dishonest intention, on or about the month of October 2002 and November 2005, you gave gratifications to the tune of several millions of naira for the concealment of the said offence in order to avoid legal punishment. Investigation has revealed that you Daniel Anyiego, male, received several millions of naira at Rockview Hotels, Abuja from Dr Chinwoke Mbadinuju for distribution to security officers to serve as inducement to the security officers to avoid investigations and legal punishments. You hereby committed the above named offences.

Almost immediately the accused persons entered their pleas, the prosecution counsel, Mr Ibrahim Bako urged the court to remand them in prison, saying investigation was on-going in respect of the foot-soldiers allegedly used by the governor to murder the two lawyers. He told the court that the police were ready to go ahead with the prosecution of the case as soon as possible.

But counsel to the former governor, Messrs Gabriel Egbele and Sina Oluwole Femi, orally applied for his bail. It was Mr Egbele that addressed the court first. He invited the court to admit Mbadinuju to bail pending commencement of trial in the case, saying his client (Mbadinuju) was a responsible Nigerian and a lawyer who would not jump bail if granted or interfere with police investigation. Besides, he said at the moment, the accused was not feeling fine.

Opposing the bail application, counsel to the police, Mr Bako said the mere fact that counsel to Mbadinuju said his client was ill was not enough a reason for the court to admit him to bail, having not exhibited any documentary evidence to back up his claim. Bako further told the court that though the grant of bail was purely the discretion of the court, he would implore the court not to move in favour of Mbadinuju because the police were yet to be through with the investigation of the case.

“I also want the court to take cognizance of the national importance of the case. Granting him bail at this point will not be in the interest of justice,” he said.
The Chief Magistrate, Mr Usma Shuaibu, however, did not write his ruling yesterday on the ground that the submissions made were lengthy. He, consequently, adjourned delivery of the ruling till January 3, next year.
But the Chief Magistrate ordered that the former governor and his alleged accomplice be remanded in prison till same date.

Posted by Publisher at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2005

CNPP enjoins Obasanjo to leave in 2007

ABUJA—The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties has once again called on president Olusegun Obasanjo to leave office honourably in 2007 and allow Nigerians to elect whomsoever they want as president.

By Ben Agande
Posted to the Web: Thursday, December 29, 2005

In a statement in Abuja yesterday, the CNPP noted that the statement credited to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Communication, Chief Fani Kayode to the effect that Nigeria must insist on a leadership like Obasanjo was a veiled confirmation of the third term plot, which Nigerians must resist.

The statement signed by the CNPP’s Publicity Secretary, Osita Okechukwu, pointed out the statement by Fani Kayode was reminiscent of the Hilter era in Germany ‘‘where nobody except the Furher is capable of leading Germany and therefore the staus quo must be maintained." “CNPP can imagine from the statement how cronies captured Chief Obasanjo exploiting his innate desire for self glorification and built a cult hero around him, making him believe that without him Nigeria will disintegrate and nobody is capable of running the country.

“CNPP contends that nobody is indispensable and that there is no record that shows that Nigerians are happier today than ten or twenty years ago “We wish to state for the umpteenth time that Nigerian democracy should be allowed to flourish, therefore Nigerians should be allowed to elect whosoever they want as president” he pointed out.

The CNPP commended the catholic bishop of Abuja dioceses, John Onaiyekan for standing in defence of democracy by asking the president to resist the temptation of extending his tenure and called on other Nigerians to do the same.

Posted by Publisher at 04:13 PM | Comments (0)

December 28, 2005

Buhari, IBB, Kalu in talks on 3rd term plot

UMUAHIA—FORMER Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida; his immediate predecessor in office, General Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State, yesterday, held talks in Umuahia, the Abia State capital on the perceived third term agenda of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

By Jide Ajani, Political Editor
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, December 28, 2005

*As Gani warns Obasanjo not to dare God on 3rd term bid

As they met, Lagos lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi (SAN), warned President Obasanjo not to dare God on the third term bid, because as he (Fawehinmi) put it: “What is it that is bugging you to sit tight at 70 in 2007.”
The two former military leaders, who are rarely seen together in public, were in Umuahia at the instance of the governor. Vanguard was reliably informed that the meeting which took place at Government House, Umuahia, was very private.
The meeting was held between 10:55a.m and 12:15p.m. General Buhari, according to sources close to Government House, Umuahia, arrived the Abia State capital on Monday night while General Babangida arrived Umuahia yesterday morning.
Details of the talks were sketchy at press time. However, sources hinted that it was not unconnected with the present political gyrations in the country.

Vanguard was informed that the alleged third term plot woven around the person of President Obasanjo was central to the discussions. The position of political leaders of Southern Nigeria contained in their communiqué at the end of their meeting last Monday in Enugu, the Enugu State capital, specifically the demand by the leaders that the presidency must remain in the South after 2007, was also discussed.

Fawehinmi warns Obasanjo not to dare God

Also yesterday, Lagos lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, in a five-page statement warned President Obasanjo not to dare God on the third term bid issue.

He said: “In view of the importance of 2006, which will determine 2007, I have decided to send to you this Open New Year Message. I have never sent you any seasonal greetings before. And this is not one. Since the course of this nation will be determined in all its ramifications by your third term bid, it is necessary to send this message which is stated below:
“The Obasanjo third term bid
“Do not disturb the polity.
“Do not lay a dangerous precedent.
“Do not tempt God.
“Do not ignore the feelings of the people as they are against your bid.
“The agony, the anguish, the pain and the pang of crushing poverty, which your six years in office had brought on the majority of Nigerians show no sign of abating.

“On Monday, October 1, 1979, you voluntarily handed over power when you were a young 42-year old military dictator to a democratically elected president. On Saturday, October 1, 1999, you became a civilian president and swore to uphold the constitution, which prescribes a two-term presidency and no more.

“On Thursday, October 1, 2003, at the beginning of your second term in office as president, you swore to uphold the same constitution, which prescribes a two-term presidency. Is there any destructive evil lurking somewhere that is preventing you from easily leaving office as an old man of 70 on the 29th May, 2007?

“In 1979, you proved that a military dictator could hand over power to a democracy. Why should it be difficult in 2007 for you as a “democratically elected President” to hand over power to another democratically elected President if you genuinely believe in democracy?

“Mr. President, since third-term bid controversy erupted, the Nigerian society has been divided, highly polarised, particularly along dangerous ethnic and tribal cleavages which virtually now colour every governmental thought, policy, programme and nuances.

“Mr. President, you ought to know if you are sincere to yourself that Nigeria is different in every respect from Gabon where Omar Bongo has lorded it over the Gabonese since 1967, from Uganda where Yoweri Museveni has blinded Ugandans since 1986, from Egypt where Hosni Mubarak has ingloriously sat tight since 1981. And that is African Union (AU) you lead as the Chairman.

"The internationally revered Nelson Mandela warned you against it and your propagandists abused him that he was senile. President George Bush of the United States of America, the current President in his second term, warned you against it but your publicists railed against hint, saying that the Americans cannot teach you democracy, despite the fact that you begged them for debt relief. And you continually plead with them for investment in our country.

“Mr. President, in your capacity as Chairman of the Commonwealth of Nations, you should be aware of the record of the Commonwealth against sit tight presidents. What is it that is bugging you to sit tight at 70 in 2007?
“In 1995, you were found guilty of planning a phantom coup by the late General Sani Abacha. We pleaded with General Abacha not to execute you and others because we believed you were innocent. You served three years in prison. God rescued you despite your ailment. You left the prison to become an “elected President” in controversial circumstances. After the first term, you continued as President in the second term.

“What is it that is bugging you to remain in office at the old age of 70 in 2007? Do not do it. Do not extend your time.
“It is incontrovertible that any third term bid by you is psychologically, spiritually, physically, emotionally and in every respect a suicide mission driven by perverted ambition even when it is so glaring that it is unattainable in the Nigeria of today. It is not too late for you to change your perilous course.

"A national broadcast on the 1st of January 2006 that you will hand over government as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 29th of May, 2007 will bring down the negative temperature of the country and bring the country back from the brink of looming catastrophe or calamity.

“Mr. President, if you fail to hearken unto this seasonal message, you have yourself or your soul to blame; or do you want to make it a case of those the gods want to destroy, they first make mad; and in your own case they first make obstinate, truculently obstinate?
“Wishing you a God-fearing, sane and humble 2006.”

Posted by Publisher at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 27, 2005

FG requires $36 bn to meet electricity needs by 2015

THE Federal Government would require $36 billion from the private sector to meet its electricity needs in the next ten years even as it has introduced initiatives at encouraging foreign and domestic private sectors in the energy sector.

By Luka Binniyat
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Already, Austria has indicated interest in investing $5 billion into the Nigeria Energy sector once Nigeria has a comprehensive Gas policy conducive to Austria's investors.

Special Adviser to the President on Energy Matters, Professor Anthony Adegbulugbe disclosed this to the Press in Abuja last week after returning with a Nigerian delegation to Austria on energy investment drive.
He told the Press that Nigeria is bent on seeing that a ripe atmosphere for massive foreign investment is put in place so that by the last quarter of next year, foreign investors would start trooping in.

“Investment in Gas infrastructure is a huge one,” he said, “no one is going to bring in billions of dollars if he is not covere4d by an attractive policy, incentive, physical security and good return on his investment,” he said.
He said that it is in line with that that the Nigerian Gas Bill will be passed into law very soon, and an integrated study on Nigerian gas wealth and sundry issues is being sponsored by the World Bank at a cost of nearly $10 million.
He also pointed out the Nigerian Government encouraging gas utilisation through the funding of seven medium power plants in the Niger Delta to increase the electric power generation to 10,000 megawatts by 2007, which according to him will eventually be run by private sector operators.

Speaking further on Government’s initiative in the energy sector, Adegbulugbe said they include “the ongoing privatisation of the refineries, the gas to power projects, the ongoing unbundling of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and the provision of incentives for private investment in Independent Power Plants (IPP).
“Put in mind that government is standing firm that there must be no gas flaring by 2008”, he said, “all this is to encourage gas utilisation in the country.”

On Austria, he said that its government is keen on facilitating its private investors to participate actively in investment in the Nigerian energy sector.
To fast track this noble initiative, both governments have agreed to set up a task force of government and private sector officials to visit Nigeria in February, 2006 towards exploring investment opportunities and possibilities in the sector.
The delegation was received by the Austrian Prime Minister on Capital Markets and Special Austrian Government Projects, Dr. Richard Schenz who assured the Nigerians that the task force will comprise of representatives of Austria’s ten top energy companies, engineering firms and investment bankers, said the Presidential Adviser on Energy.
He said that Dr. Schenz who is also Vice-President, Austrian Economic Chamber and former Chief Executive of the Austrian oil giant, OMV, said that the privatisation policy and other economic reforms being carried out by Nigeria are capable of attracting investment into the country, and called on the Nigerian government to remove bottlenecks that may hamper investors’ entry into Nigeria.

The Nigerian delegation was in Austria at the invitation of Austrian government and private investors to enable the two countries hold bilateral consultations with private investors, and see how Austrian technology and capability could be of assistance to the revitalization efforts of the Nigeria government.

Posted by Publisher at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

Energem’s Nigeria storage facility hits 50% completion

ENERGEM Resources Inc. is pleased to announce that it has reached 80 percent completion of its 50 per cent owned Nigerian oil storage and distribution facility, recording 500,000 injury free construction man hours on the project.
The company is constructing the facility together with 50 per cent Nigerian joint venture partners the Yinka Folawiyo Group (YFG).

By Hector Igbikiowubo
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The facility will be a refined oil product storage facility with its own deepwater jetty in Apapa, Lagos, Nigeria capable of handling multiple refined fuel products.
Nigeria, a country of some 100 million people, is a major crude oil exporting country but remains dependent on imported refined product to service its internal consumption.
On completion, this facility will be the only privately owned refined oil product storage and distribution facility in Lagos with access to a deep-water jetty.

Currently vessels can spend up to 45 days offshore waiting to be discharged, at considerable additional cost. Engineering and Projects Company Limited (formerly Grinaker LTA Process Engineering Ltd), appointed as both front-end engineers and EPCM contractors, have designed a 66,000 metric tonne storage facility with an anticipated through-put capacity of 175,000 metric tonnes per month.

The facility has been designed to operate on a 24 hour basis and design and construction is in accordance with the American Petroleum Institute standard API-650.

The anticipated completion date for full commissioning is the end of the second quarter 2006. During August and September 2005, all the fuel storage tanks successfully passed their hydrostatic tests.
The total estimated cost of the project, including contingencies, stands at US$43 million. Costs incurred and paid for to date amount to US$28.8 million with an anticipated further amount of US$14.3 million to bring the project to completion.
Of the amount spent to date, US$14.6 million has been funded by Energem, US$14.1 million by a project financing facility and YFG have provided the necessary land and jetty.

A project finance facility of US$20 million from Prudent Bank Ltd, a Nigerian Bank, has been secured towards the funding of the project for a period of 36 months, with a 6 month moratorium on the principal repayment at commercial interest rates.
The facility is secured over the project and is supported by a corporate guarantee given by a wholly-owned Energem subsidiary company, Energem Petroleum Corporation Limited.
The facility repayment schedule permits distribution of profits to the joint venture partners in tandem with debt settlement. Tony Teixeira, Energem Resources Inc CEO, in commenting on the project stated: “We are extremely happy with the progress that the project has made to date.

Our partners have been instrumental in ensuring that the project remains on course and we are proud to have such a prominent Nigerian company as our partners.
The level of commitment shown by all our contractors, partners, consultants and staff has been exemplary. Our commitment to see this project come in on budget and on time, whilst maintaining our excellent safety record, is our priority.”

Posted by Publisher at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

NNPC, JV partners plot improved security in Niger Delta

NIGERIAN National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its joint venture partners have concluded arrangements to boost security surveillance in the Niger Delta with the provision of materials for the various security agencies responsible for maintaining peace in the area.

By Hector Igbikiowubo
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Royal Dutch Shell PLC has disclosed that it has signed a deal with Qatar Petroleum to tap into the huge natural gas fields in the Persian Gulf, and is acquiring more pipeline capacity in the United States to channel the gas to the U.S. market.
While speaking in Lagos at the weekend, Dr. Funsho Kupolokun, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC said the corporation had bought flat-bottom barges for the Nigerian Navy to assist the force in tackling criminal activities in the Niger Delta including illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism.
Kupolokun disclosed that the efforts of the Navy has helped in reducing the incidence of crude oil theft from the 100,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 2003 to 30,000 b/d currently.
Similarly, the NNPC boss disclosed that crude deferment has declined to 140,000 b/d from over 300,000 b/d within the same period.

“Significant improvements have been made in the area of security in the Niger Delta. This is as a result of a number of interventions, namely the (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) EFCC and the Navy. They have been wonderful and of course the industry and the NNPC has been playing their own part.
“NNPC had to buy flat-bottom barges for the Navy and they have been deployed. As a result we are seeing significant improvements. We are encouraged to do more and this year we are going to deliver more to the police, the EFCC and SSS and the Navy to help them to help us,” he said.

However, investigations revealed that just as the police, the Navy, the joint task force operating in the area and the EFCC have improved upon strategies aimed at securing the area, so have those intent on causing grief redoubled their efforts too.
Only last week a 24" pipeline operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), conveying crude oil to Bonny Oil Terminal through the Ogoni area was blown up with a substance suspected to be dynamite.
Almost simultaneously a petroleum products pipeline in the Warri area operated by the Pipeline and Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the NNPC was also vandalised by suspected thieves, calling to question the degree of security in the Niger Delta area.

The Shell promoted Qatargas 4 project will produce 1.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas from Qatar’s North Field over the next 25 years, Shell said. The project includes a liquefaction plant and shipping capability. The project will be 70 percent owned by Qatar Petroleum and 30 percent by Shell. Most of the liquid natural gas will be delivered to North America, beginning around the end of the decade, the company said. Exxon Mobil Corporation and the French energy company Total SA were earlier investors in the development of Qatar’s natural gas reserves, among the world’s largest. At the other end, Shell also announced an agreement with a subsidiary of El Paso Corp. to acquire more capacity at the Elba Island LNG terminal in Georgia. It also reached agreement with another El Paso Corp. subsidiary, Elba Express Pipeline Company LLC, to acquire capacity in a new natural gas pipeline. Both projects will be filed with the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval in the third quarter of 2006, Shell said. “The project will contribute to Shell’s goal of growing our natural gas production and reserves position, as well as to increased security and diversity of natural gas supply to North America,” Linda Cook, Shell’s executive director of gas and power, was quoted by the company as saying in Doha, where the contract was signed. Shell, the world’s third-largest publicly traded oil company, has been under investor pressure to explore new resources after disclosing in 2004 that it had overstated its proven reserves of oil and gas. Shell said its 2004 gas sales were around 10.2 million tons from projects in Nigeria, Malaysia, Brunei, Oman and Australia, and the addition of Qatargas 4 would help the company double its gas capacity by the end of the decade.

Posted by Publisher at 06:17 PM | Comments (0)

NSE records N21.5b turnover in November

THE Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in the month of November 2005 recorded a turnover of 2.39 billion shares worth N21.5 billion exchanged in 90,394 deals as against a total of 3.55 billion shares valued at N30.5 billion exchange in 99,842 deals for the month of October, 2005.

Peter Egwuatu
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The transactions for the month of November were concentrated in the Banking sub-sector, which accounted for 72.04 per cent of the total turnover volume. As in the preceding month, the Insurance sub-sector that accounted for 10 per cent of the total turnover volume emerged second.

As in the preceding month, Oceanic Bank International Plc emerged as the most active stock (turnover by volume) for the month under review. A turnover of 443.2 million shares was recorded , which represents 18.53 per cent of the turnover for the month. Access Bank Plc with a turnover of 183.5 million units, which represents 7.7 per cent of the turnover volume , emerged second. Co- operative Development Bank Plc took third position recording 1723,216,514 unit of shares.
Market capitalisation of listed securities closed the month under review at N2.751 trillion, a decline by 3.2 per cent from N2.842 trillion recorded at the end of October 2005. The decrease in the market capitalisation was largely attributed to price drops suffered by highly capitalised stocks.

Nigerian Breweries Plc remains the most capitalised stock for the month under review with market capitlaisation of N312.25 billion . First Bank of Nigeria Plc followed with a market capitalisation of N160.05 billion. It was followed by Union Bank Nigeria Plc with market capitalisation of N152.010 billion , while Guinness Nigeria Plc occupied the fourth position with market capitalisations of N119.221 billion.
The new issue listed on NSE for the month of November was a total of 11,075,373,027 shares of Prudent Bank Plc . This brought to 33 and 282 the number of equities listed in the Banking sub-sector and securities listed on the Exchange, respectively.

The NSE All share index , which opened at 25,873.81 points closed at 24,555.85 in the month under review. This shows a decline by 5.9 per cent during the month. Eterna Oil & Gas Plc had 101.96 per cent change in price from 2.04 per share to close at N4.12 per share, followed by Adswitch Plc with 33.33 per cent change from 36 kobo to close at 48 kobo.
John holt Plc recorded a drop by 43.40 per cent from N2.65 per share to close at N1.50, followed by UTC Nigeria Plc which declined by 37.50 per cent from N1.20 per share to close at 75 kobo per share during the month under review.
Thirty-seven corporate trading results were announced during the month under review made up of seven full year results, twenty third quarters, five half year and five first quarter.

Posted by Publisher at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

Presidency blows hot on 2007 race

'How many are capable of running the economy and fighting corruption the way it’s being done today?'

*Crisis looms over 3rd term plot, says Kalu

By Habib Yacoob & Tony Nwankwo

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

ABUJA — THE presidency has declared that while President Olusegun Obasanjo acknowledges the virtue of vacating office in 2007, Nigerians must exercise caution in the desire to have a change of guards “for the sake of change.”
But Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State believes Nigeria ABUJA — THE presi-
dency has declared that while President Olusegun Obasanjo acknowledges the virtue of vacating office in 2007, Nigerians must exercise caution in the desire to have a change of guards “for the sake of change.”
But Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State believes Nigeria would be courting a political crisis should the president decide to stay in office beyond 2007.

Presidential Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, in a telephone interview yesterday said though there may be as many as one million Nigerians that could take over the mantle of leadership from President Obasanjo, it is the quality of their performance that Nigerians should be interested in.

He said: “The point today is not how many of these people can take over from the government, but how many of them are really capable of running this country in an efficient, just and equitable manner as is being done today?
“How many are capable of running the economy and fighting corruption the way it’s being done today? How many are capable of restoring the future of Nigeria, in the international arena as it’s being done today? How many could have boosted foreign reserve, increased agricultural production, consolidated the banks, and revived the manufacturing sector as its being today?” he asked in an apparent reaction to a statement by the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Dr John Onayekan. Dr Onayekan had said at least 5,000 Nigerians could run Nigeria.

Continuing, Mr Fani-Kayode said: “We agree that in every institution, whether government, a private company, media outfit, political party, even the church itself, there is room for change pf leadership at the appropriate time. Thus, the quality, not quantity, of individuals that are capable of taking over then becomes the issue. And, where you have a choice in any of these institutions (including the government), you do not change leadership simply for the sake of changing it.”
He said it was necessary for Nigerians to approach the issue of having a successor to President Obasanjo so that the country would not return to the mistakes of the past.

“We can’t and must not allow ourselves to be taken back to the rot and degeneration of the past by anybody. We must cultivate the courage to insist on the very best quality of leadership and on matching the very high standard that this administration has set, no matter what that takes,” he said
President Obasanjo himself had, last Thursday, avoided answering a caller’s question in his television interview on whether he would go for a third term in 2007.

Crisis looms on 3rd term plot, says Kalu

Meanwhile, Gov. Orji Kalu of Abia State believes Nigeria cannot avoid a political crisis should President Obasanjo choose to stay in office beyond 2007.
Governor Kalu has also stressed the importance of Igbo unity within a federal Nigeria in the collective interest of the Igbo nation.

In an interview in Umuahia, the governor expressed fears that should there be any breach of the 1999 Constitution, especially as it relates to the tenure of office of the president, the country would witness crisis.
“The only danger I foresee is if (President) Obasanjo refuses to go in 2007. For as long as Obasanjo wants to go, there is no danger. If Obasanjo refuses to go, it will be a breach of the constitution, it will be a breach of contract and anything can happen. And people can break away to be another country.”

He also warned against possible rigging of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primaries.
He said: “The election must be free, the election must be fair, the election must stand the test of time, and the result must be internationally accepted. Anybody who wants to violate the law, I will help him the more. Nobody will violate the law.
“This is the truth, and I want you to quote me correctly. Nobody can declare himself president illegally. If you do an illegal statement, we will support you with an illegal statement. I want to respect the rule of law, I want to respect the constitution. I have to respect the order of the courts.

“I want to be a man that respects whatever that is good. So, if anybody thinks that he can disrespect the law, he can disrespect the orders of the Supreme Court, I will help him to do it. I will mobilise the people against him. Rigging election is like looting my property. If you loot, I will also loot.”

On the need for unity among leaders of Igbo land, the governor said one of the age-long impediments to Igbo political success within a united Nigeria was the level of acrimony in the ranks of Igbo leaders.
He cited the recent reconciliation between Chief Alex Ekwueme, Second Republic Vice President and Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, as proof that the Igbo nation was ready to do battle.
His words: “My immediate interest now is to build unity among Igbo leaders. I thank God that I am succeeding in what I have in my brain, and what God is working out for me. I want you to think in history that Ekwueme and Ojukwu are sitting down together tonight and they are sitting in Umuahia. This is almost 35 years. Ojukwu used to sit here where I am sitting today,” he said.

Posted by Publisher at 03:32 PM | Comments (0)

Pro-Adedibu's legislators vow to sack Ladoja

IBADAN — THE 18 mem-bers of the Oyo State House of Assembly rooting for the impeachment of Governor Rashidi Ladoja vowed, yesterday, to press ahead with their plan irrespective of the court order obtained on Friday by the Assembly speaker, Mr. Adeolu Adeleke and others in his group.

By Ola Ajayi & Kolade Larewaju

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, told Chief Lamidi Adedibu to allow for peace in Oyo State.
A state high court sitting in Ibadan had granted an ex-parte motion filed by Speaker Adeleke and the state Assembly, restraining the pro-IBADAN — THE 18 members of the Oyo State House of Assembly rooting for the impeachment of Governor Rashidi Ladoja vowed, yesterday, to press ahead with their plan irrespective of the court order obtained on Friday by the Assembly speaker, Mr. Adeolu Adeleke and others in his group.

President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, told Chief Lamidi Adedibu to allow for peace in Oyo State.
A state high court sitting in Ibadan had granted an ex-parte motion filed by Speaker Adeleke and the state Assembly, restraining the pro-Adedibu group, “their servants, agents and/or privies from impeaching or removing the governor of Oyo State from office or otherwise interfere in any way or manner with the discharge, execution or performance of his constitutional, official or statutory duties or responsibilities pending the hearing and determination of the “court motion on notice filed in the court by the plaintiffs.”

However, reacting to the court order yesterday, a member of the pro-Adedibu group, Mr. Babatunde Eesuola said the court lacked constitutional power to stop their impeachment process against the governor.
Section 188(10) says: “No proceedings or determination of the panel or of the House of Assembly or any matter relating to such proceedings or determination shall be entertained or questioned in any court.”

Mr Eesuola, Chairman, House Committee on Publicity, said: “One million court injunctions cannot stop the impeachment process. The impeachment or removal of the governor or the deputy governor is one of the constitutional duties of the state House of Assembly and not of any court.”No court can stop the impeachment initiated by any House of Assembly. If you follow the impeachment move closely, you will notice that we are following the laid down constitutional process. So that it will be a proper and constitutional exercise. I can tell you that since we are following the normal process, the impeachment is on the right course.”It is not beyond the powers of a state House of Assembly to initiate impeachment moves as well as to impeach either the governor of a state or the deputy governor as it is clearly stated in section 188 (10)of the 1999 constitution”As far as we are concerned, there is no going back on the impeachment move. We are committed to what we are doing; nobody can stop us.”

On suggestions that his group of 18 did not constitute two-third majority as required by the constitution to implement the impeachment process, Mr Eesuola said: “Since the seven members of Hon. Adeleke’s group have been suspended, the remaining Oyo lawmakers are just 25 in number. If you calculate it, deduct 18 from 25, you will find that we have constituted the two-third majority to carry out the impeachment process.”

Obasanjo begs for peace in Oyo

However, President Obasanjo yesterday described Chief Lamidi Adedibu as “a force to reckon” with in the politics of Ibadan and Oyo State. He spoke in his Ibogun Olaogun village in Ogun State during the 2005 Ibogun Olaogun Day celebration.Chief Adedibu had arrived in the village with his supporters in about 20-18-seater buses amidst drumming and singing. Chief Adedibu himself rode on a white horse butthe security men insisted that he should disembark before he could be allowed into the venue of the celebration.

Adressing the crowd on the occasion, President Obasanjo said: “We appreciate your coming. We appreciate not only your coming, we appreciate your coming in a very special style. Nothing can be more spectacular than the display of the drummers.
“Chief Adedibu, you have for a long time been a force to reckon with in the politics of Ibadan in particular and Oyo State in general.”

President Obasanjo who allowed Adedibu’s drummers to entertain for about five minutes, however, told him and other politicians in Oyo State to ensure peace and security in the state. He said: “I will just plead with you and others, who are in the mainstream of Oyo State politics, to bear in mind, these four important items: peace, security, solidarity and loyalty.”The President apologised to Adedibu for the insistence of the security agents that he should disembark from his horse before entering the venue of the ceremony, explaining that when Adedibu came, he instructed that he be allowed to enter the venue on the horse.The President earlier in his address urged Nigerians to focus on the development of their communities, irrespective of their political affiliations. He also congratulated the new Olowu of Owu, Oba Olusanya Dosunmu, whose appointment, he said, was not a mistake.In his speech, Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State urged other communities in the state to emulate Ibogun, adding that the state government would continue to focus on the welfare of the people.

Posted by Publisher at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

UK turns down FG on visa for Alamieyeseigha

LAGOS — THE Britain High Commission in Abuja has turned down a visa application filed by the Federal Government on behalf of the impeached governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.

By Innocent Anaba

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Government had planned to whisk him back to London once the visa was procured to face trial for jumping bail and money laundering.

The visa application rejection notwithstanding, Chief Alamieyeseigha himself wants the visa to enable him return to London for the trial. He has accordingly written to the high commission to issue him visa.

His counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome in the letter said: “We are solicitors to Alamieyeseigha, on whose behalf we make this humble LAGOS — THE Britain High Commission in Abuja has turned down a visa application filed by the Federal Government on behalf of the impeached governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Government had planned to whisk him back to London once the visa was procured to face trial for jumping bail and money laundering.

The visa application rejection notwithstanding, Chief Alamieyeseigha himself wants the visa to enable him return to London for the trial. He has accordingly written to the high commission to issue him visa.
His counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome in the letter said: “We are solicitors to Alamieyeseigha, on whose behalf we make this humble appeal. Our client has informed us that a British visa was applied for on his behalf by the Federal Government of Nigeria to enable him (Alamieyeseigha) travel to London to attend court on December 22, 2005. He further informed us that for reasons not known to him, the said application was turned down and the visa was not granted.
“We are consequently appealing to you to use your good offices to ensure that he is granted a visa to enable him continue his trial in London. We are also sending a copy of this appeal to Alamieyeseigha sureties in London to enable them inform the trial court of his difficulties in obtaining a British visa to enable him attend trial. We believe sir, that you will accede to our humble request by granting our client a visa as soon as possible.”

Chief Alamieyeseigha was arrested in London in October and was charged before a London court on allegation of money laundering. He was admitted to bail, but jumped bail and returned to Nigeria before he was impeached by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly on December 9.
Alamieyeseigha was on the same date arrested and detained and was only last week charged at a Federal High Court, Lagos for money laundering offences.

Posted by Publisher at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

27 perish in Xmas eve auto crash

GUSAU—SOME 27 persons were killed on Christmas eve at Bakura junction, in Bakura local government area of Zamfara in a ghastly motor accident. The accident involved a Mercedes Benz 911on its way to Sokoto from Magami town in Gusau local government area.

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The FRSC Sector Commander, Alhaji Umar Liman, said the accident occurred at about 4:00 a.m. as a result of a mechanical problem. “The vehicle was loaded with bags of maize, and when the accident happened, it fell under a bridge,” he said.
According to him, three other injured persons had been taken to the Usman Danfodio University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto.

Crime rate low, saypolice

Meanwhile, the police say criminal activities in the country were very low throughout the Christmas celebrations. Force spokesman, Haz Iwendi, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), said in Abuja that the crime situation during the period was insignificant.

He said reports reaching him from various police commands showed that there was no serious crime recorded throughout the fiesta. Iwendi said: “There is no cause for alarm, everywhere was calm as people were enjoying themselves without fear of harassment or attack.”

He attributed the security situation to adequate measures put in place by various police commands to ensure the safety of lives and properties of all citizens. Iwendi further called on Nigerians to continue to cooperate with the police, saying policing must be seen as a collective responsibility of government and the citizenry. He also solicited the support of the citizens in providing useful information to the force.

Posted by Publisher at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

'Marwa still reports to EFCC'

LAGOS– THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is still investigating former military administrator of Lagos State, General Buba Marwa, five days after his first round of questioning.

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The presidential aspirant was at the EFCC office in Lagos yesterday for another round of interrogation, because, according to an EFCC source, “we still have some questions to ask him.” The source would not say what those questions were.
But it was made clear that the investigation will continue until Gen. Marwa answers all the questions from his interrogators satisfactorily.

He is being investigated over a $120 million contract he allegedly signed on behalf of the Abacha regime when he served as military attache in the country’s embassy in US. The contract was in respect of some military vehicles sold to Nigeria by India.

Marwa told his interrogators that although he signed the contract papers, negotiation was handled by an associate of the late Gen. Abacha, and payment made by the Federal Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank.
Investigation of the matter was first conducted in 2001 but was discontinued apparently because the investigation had reached a cul de sac. Marwa’s associates are insinuating political vendetta in the current investigation.

Posted by Publisher at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

The dangers ahead in 2007, by Gov. Orji Kalu

Sunday, December 18, this year will remain indelible in the memory of the select few at Government House, Umuahia, where Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu had assembled eminent Igbo people for a peace talk that was expected to change the political fortunes of Igbo everywhere.

By Tony Nwankwo

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

That was the day, two great sons of Igbo land, former vice president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme and former Biafra leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu had their rift of over 35 years settled. The governor used the opportunity to shed light on some thorny regional and national issues.

For instance, Kalu declares a fatwa on whoever decides to rig the PDP presidential primaries or the 2007 presidential election. Hear him: “The election must be free, the election must be fair, the election must stand the test of time, and the result must be internationally accepted. Anybody who wants to violate the law, I will help him the more. Nobody will violate the law. This is the truth, and I want you to quote me correctly. Nobody can declare himself president illegally, if you do illegal statement, we will support you with illegal statement. I want to respect the rule of law, I want to respect the constitution, I have to respect the order of the courts. I want to be a man that respects whatever that is good. So, if anybody thinks that he can disrespect the law, he can disrespect the orders of the Supreme Court, I will help him to do it. I will mobilise the people against him. Rigging election is like looting my property. If you loot, I loot you back”
But that is not all. The ever rambunctious Kalu also made it clear that it is not in the interest of people who live in glass houses to throw stones, especially regarding the Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha saga. Kalu, while declining to comment on the travails of Alamieyeseigha whom he describes as his very close friend, nonetheless said “I want to say that I have no comment in discussing my friend, because Alamieyeseigha is still my friend till tomorrow, and I will cherish him as a friend till the end of my life.

It was only unfortunate that the Governors Conference was not able to discuss Alamieyeseigha with the President. I am disappointed in the Conference of Governors. I may never attend any of their meetings again, because it is not worth it. When Bayelsa was in trouble, we were supposed to have discussed the issues as governors of Nigeria. Whether we were discussing for or against Alamieyeseigha, the issue must be discussed with Mr. President. He was the governor of his state. This is a federation, we are sovereign states. And if anybody gets out to London to say we are no longer sovereign states, then that is something else. I don’t support stealing, I am not a thief and I can never be a thief. I don’t encourage people I work with to steal government money. People who live in glass house should not throw stones. And I can see a lot of people who live in Abuja, they live in glass house and try to throw stones. It is not good for them.”

The South-East Governors Forum is expected to play a major role leading to the elections of 2007. How is the group working towards actualising this?

We are cooperating a lot at our own level, and this is why, it is at the upper level that we have some problems. It is the upper level that we are trying to build upon from the level we are. Even my grand father in the village, and my mother, if you tell them that Ojukwu and Ekwueme will sit together, they will tell you it is not possible. But today, it is not only that they were sitting together, three of us were drinking orange juice from the same glass. It is God’s work. Therefore, 2007 is going to be very bright, and we are going to come tops.

We are not going to allow any other region to take over power in this country in 2007. It will not happen. And that is why I am doing everything in my power to settle the differences between our people and others, and to settle the differences among our people. In the next couple of weeks, and months, we will be settling whatever differences between our people in the National Assembly. This settlement now is going to ginger us to do more. With this, we will be able to work for the ambition of these people. In the next few weeks, we will form the biggest political movement for the Igbo, that will be led by Ojukwu and Ekwueme. That I can assure you. So, I believe, we deserve better than we are presently getting in this country.

What is the role of Ohanaeze in this movement you just talked about?

Honestly, I want to tell you that I am not a cultural man, I am a politician. Since I left my businesses to be in the forefront of politics, I have been a politician. Ohanaeze is a cultural institution. You don’t need to involve them in politics. So, Ekwueme and Ojukwu are politicians, I want to involve them in politics, that is what I am doing today.

What’s your opinion of the Southern Leaders Forum, a forum expected to chart a path for a southern president come 2007?

Well, I am not for anything that will not give us the presidential slot. So, if this meeting will give us the slot in the presidential election of 2007, I will find it useful. If the meeting is not talking about the Igbo man being the president in 2007, I am not for it.

Let me tell you one thing, people are disregarding what I am doing. What I am doing has a lot of impact. If people tell you I am a jinx breaker, they may not be far from the truth. Look at what has happened tonight. I know most of the Catholic bishops, most of the Anglican bishops, most of the Methodist bishops, Assemblies of God, who had tried to get these two guys together, but they refused. And this is just another way that God wants to pay us back. So, to me, we are in the right direction.

Your ambition is for the South-East to present the president in 2007, but the South-South is also a major force in the area. I hear that at the last PDP Convention, President Obasanjo devoted, maybe, a paragraph of his speech to challenge the South-South, to the effect that they should take it seriously. How do you think the South can resolve this problem?
Well, I have all my sentiments of the South-South, but I am going to address the issue of the Niger Delta when I become President. You, see, Igbo is Igbo, and South-South is South-South.

The cooperation of the Igbo in the South-East and the South-South is necessary. I believe they know that we need to work together, they know we need to be our brothers’ keepers. God is God, while man is man. You can talk as a man, but you can’t pre-empt God. Remember what happened when they brought down David, he was the least in the house, but he was very close to God. I cannot stand here and ask God where His mind is. If you want to know where God’s mind is, He says His mind will come from where the sun rises, and Abia State is one of the places that the sun rises. And God’s hand is here.

You were not at the Abuja PDP national convention. As a prominent member of the party, can we know why you were not there?

I mustn’t be there. It is our party. What do you see here? (pointing to the PDP flag adorning the sitting room). PDP is my party.

Were there no specific reasons for your absence?

No, I didn’t want to go and nobody can force me to be where I don’t want to go. I don’t pretend about things. I have a right to go to where I want to go and refuse not to go where I don’t want to go. Party is not my problem. If I want to leave PDP tomorrow, I leave, but I am not going to leave. That is not the problem. If there is no PDP ticket, there will be British Airways ticket, KLM ticket, they are all tickets you have to purchase. There is also Lufthansa ticket. So, that is not my headache. I decided not to go to the convention because I didn’t want to go. My immediate interest now is to build unity among Igbo leaders. I thank God that I am succeeding in what I have in my brain, and what God is working out for me. I want you to think in history that Ekwueme and Ojukwu are sitting down together tonight and they are sitting in Umuahia. This is almost 35 years. Ojukwu used to sit here where I am sitting today.

Your Excellency, we commonly hear of a handshake across the Niger, are we thinking about a handshake across the Benue. How is the South-East reaching out to the North because there has to be dialogue to be able to carry the people along also?

I am sure you people in the press know that a few days ago, I and Buhari met in Abuja for over two hours despite the fact that he considered me a Babangida person. He met with me. I am more popular in the North than in the South-East or in the South-West. Go to the far North, Maiduguri, Sokoto, Keffi, Zamfara, Kano. Kano is the greatest of them all and Kaduna. Go to Nasarawa. If you go there, I am more popular on the ground than people that live there. This is coupled with the achievements of my team, Enyimba. When they go to Kano to play Kano Pillars, they remember the governor of Abia. When they go to Zamfara, to play Zamfara United, they remember the governor of Abia. I don’t even talk about Igbo in Lagos. There are 43.3 percent Igbo in Lagos State population. This deal we are working on, is a deal that God is propelling. It will surprise people that those who think I am working for Atiku or working for Babangida, they will be shocked in their lives that I am working for myself and in the interest of the Nigerian people to liberate these poor people from where they are today.

Again, it is time we emulate other societies by putting young people in charge of our affairs. When, for instance, the United States had problems, they chose President J.F. Kennedy, then in his forties and the man actually changed the shape of the United States for the better. The same thing happened, when Russia needed stability after the collapse of the former Soviet Union, it chose President Putin. Again Britain chose Prime Minister Tony Blair, also in his forties and his achievements in office are there for all to see. Now the Americans are relying more on young Presidents, like President George W. Bush (Jnr.) and former President Bill Clinton before him. It is high time, countries like Nigeria learnt that younger people deliver unencumbered service for the people.

One is still amazed when you say you will contest on PDP’s platform. Apart from the 3rd term agenda that the President is alleged to be interested in, it appears your party has made up its mind towards the presidency going to the North. And the argument is now that the rotation is North/South and not on geo-political zone. One wonders how you can actualise your ambition on the platform of the PDP?

Let me tell you, the Orji Uzor Kalu political organisation for my presidency remains formidable. When you go to any state, even your own state, you feel our presence. We are down to the wards all over. No other person has such showing. I want you to quote me correctly. The election must be free, the election must be fair, the election must stand the test of time, and the result must be internationally accepted. Anybody who wants to violate the law, I will help him the more. Nobody will violate the law. This is the truth, and I want you to quote me correctly. Nobody can declare himself president illegally, if you do illegal statement, we will support you with illegal statement. I want to respect the rule of law, I want to respect the constitution, I have to respect the order of the courts. I want to be a man that respects whatever that is good. So, if anybody thinks that he can disrespect the law, he can disrespect the orders of the Supreme Court, I will help him to do it. I will mobilise the people against him. Rigging election is like looting my property. If you loot, I loot you back.

When you set out to bring these people (Ekwueme and Ojukwu) together, did you consider them as part of a grand strategy to solve the Igbo problem?

It is not solving our problem that is the question. They are two of our leaders who have divided us, and by bringing them together, we have gone half way to solve the Igbo problem.

You said if there is any hanky-panky in 2007 elections, you will match those disrespecting the constitution. The way things are going, do you therefore foresee any grave danger lurking concerning the elections of 2007?
The only danger I foresee is if (President) Obasanjo refuses to go. For as long as Obasanjo wants to go there is no danger. If Obasanjo refuses to go, it will be a breach of the constitution, it will be a breach of contract and anything can happen. And people can break away to be another country.

How do you react to the travails of former Bayelsa Governor, DSP Alamieyeseigha? The man had said he was set-up by the Federal Government?

Let me just say that the Bayelsa State governor was and is still my very close friend, although whatever he had done was in his private capacity. I want to say that I have no comment in discussing my friend, because Alamieyeseigha is still my friend till tomorrow, and I will cherish him as a friend till the end of my life. It was only unfortunate that the Governors Conference was not able to discuss Alamieyeseigha with the President. I am disappointed in the Conference of Governors. I may never attend any of their meetings again, because it is not worth it. When Bayelsa was in trouble, we were supposed to have discussed the issues as governors of Nigeria.

What do you think the governors would have done at the time?

Whether we were discussing for or against Alamieyeseigha, the issue must be discussed with Mr. President. He was the governor of his state. This is a federation, we are sovereign states. And if anybody gets out to London to say we are no longer sovereign states, then that is something else. I don’t support stealing, I am not a thief and I can never be a thief. I don’t encourage people I work with to steal government money. People who live in glass house should not throw stones. And I can see a lot of people who live in Abuja, they live in glass house and try to throw stones. It is not good for them.

Posted by Publisher at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

Ideology of the Nigerian centrists

Since the publication of my article, “On Socioeconomic Model for Nigeria”, (Vanguard, 30 Nov. 2005). I have been inundated with calls to also summarise and publish the recommended centrist elixir for the upliftment and stabilization of our economic and political system, for the attention of the general public.

By Uchenna Nwankwo

Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I was initially appalled at the daunting task of reducing a detailed work of hundreds of pages into a newspaper article. Nevertheless, given the level of interest generated by that apparent preamble, I realize that it is incumbent on me to publish a follow-up, to do a recap. In this regard, I shall hereunder try to deal with both the socioeconomic and sociopolitical dimensions of the problem.

It is now widely acknowledged that the movement of individualism which economic laissez-faire embodies inevitably leads to concentration and lopsided distribution of wealth and incomes. This was poignantly demonstrated by developments in the Western economies, especially in the first quarter of the 20th century. In the United States, for instance, technological increases in productivity throughout the 1920s (up 43% per factory man-hour) were not matched by increases in wages and thus in the public”s capacity to consume (factory pay rose less than 20%). This meant that the fruits of industry were being increasingly appropriated by the owners of the means of production, at the expense of the working class. This disparity, the steadily declining cumulative percentage returns to wage-earners meant that the aggregate disposable income of the masses and therefore their capacity to purchase goods and services fell drastically, leading to a stockpile of unsold inventory in factory warehouses across America. The attempt to cutback on production in order to forestall further accumulation of unsold goods brought about massive retrenchments, pushing unemployment to an all-time high of 25%. In turn, the development further lowered the purchasing power of the masses and the public”s capacity to consume or buy goods. It was this persistent and cumulative fall in consumption demand that produced a recession that eventually led to the Stock Market crash of 1929 and the severe Great Depression of 1929-1939. That, by the way, signalled the collapse of classical capitalism. It undermined faith in the orthodox philosophy of laissez-faire, according to which the disequilibrium of the market would eventually be restored to a new equilibrium without interference from outside.

Taming America”s Great Depression

It is now history that it took the application of President F. D. Roosevelt”s New Deal to evolve a new pluralistic economy, now dubbed modern capitalism, and to rescue the US from the Great Depression. The New Deal, starting with the first term of President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 was principally aimed at putting a little more cash into the hands of the masses in order to increase their aggregate disposable income, increase consumption and hence increase production and employment, to revitalize the economy. It involved the Agricultural Amendment Act (May, 1933) that introduced subsidy in agricultural production and generally raised the incomes of farmers; the National Labour Relations Act or the Wagner Act (July, 1935) that empowered labour unions and encouraged the principle of collective bargaining between labour and management, to achieve better salaries and wages in work and industry; and the Social Security Act (August, 1935) which provided handouts or financial benefits for the unemployed, aimed at assuring its citizens of some protection against want and insecurity. Apart from its humanitarian motivation, Social Security also has important economic effects since such payments provide people a minimum purchasing power, which contributes to the stability of the economy.

The Social Security Act was to be expanded into all manner of subsidy and insurance in the Health, Education and other sectors, all aimed at providing relief to the downtrodden, increasing the aggregate purchasing power of the masses, promoting consumption, high productivity and therefore employment. The principle of progressive taxation, by which high income earners surrender greater percentages of their incomes as income taxes, was employed and used as a mechanism for the mobilization of funds for Social Security and of course for bringing about greater equality and the redistribution of incomes. Furthermore, the Hire-purchase system, that provided the privilege of buy-today-and-pay-later, was equally used to increase consumption and therefore to sustain a commensurate degree of productivity and employment. These efforts in the final analysis helped put the American economy on the path of recovery and boom. The assiduous application of these principles extricated America from the Great Depression and put that sad experience permanently behind her.

Oh yes, business cycles, that is, fluctuations in the level of economic activity, still persist in America, but since the 1940s the swings, the phases of the business cycle, have become more gentle and short-lived. The scenario today is that whenever labour-share of national income dips significantly and a recession sets in, the strong organized labour unions move in to negotiate new (higher) collective wages which in turn restores the aggregate purchasing power of the masses to new highs thereby complementing government”s investment stimulation strategies and welfare to bring about immediate recovery. So, as can be discerned from the above, it is in the interest of all classes that the aggregate disposable income of the masses does not slip below certain levels; for it is a recipe for sustaining the health and vibrancy of the economy. America”s approach to tackling the Great Depression and restoring vibrancy to its economy should be contrasted with steps so far taken to rescue Nigeria from its own “Great Depression” which set in about 1983 and has ravaged the country for over 20 years.

The Buhari / Idiagbon Years

The desperate economic situation resulting from the Great Depression in the West produced two solutions: Roosevelt”s New Deal and Hitler”s Fascism. Notwithstanding its totalitarian nature, Hitler”s fascism did revamp the German economy, and indeed elevated German industry, albeit at the expense of individual liberty. The Buhari-Idiagbon regime tried to some extent to employ fascist methods in the management of Nigeria”s depressed economy and the society. Although its attempt to foist a command-economy was too short-lived for results, it nevertheless made great strides in the area of instilling discipline, strong work ethics and fervent nationalism among Nigerians, and in the war against corruption.

The Babangida Era

The Babangida Era brought the Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, which commenced the process of economic deregulation, privatization and liberalization in Nigeria, though in reality Babangida did not manage to private up to 5% of what was slated for privatization. Through the instruments of naira devaluation, the abolition of the Commodity Boards, import prohibition and price incentive strategies, etc, Babangida”s SAP produced some relief and marginal growth in output especially of agricultural cash crops like cocoa, rubber, etc. However, the relief was short-lived. Two main factors accounted for this somewhat immediate decline. One, there was no improvement in the aggregate disposable income of the masses. Two, Babangida”s personal style reversed the modest gains made by the Buhari / Idiagbon regime in the areas of social cohesion and discipline, nationalistic favour and group consciousness, which in my opinion, are dear ingredients for the building of viable and respectable human community. Babangida inadvertently promoted undue individualism and avarice, and hence, apathy and cynicism among Nigerians. This state of affairs lowered morale and led to the emigration of many of the nation”s best skilled and unskilled manpower. In the end, these developments largely swamped the modest flowering in the economy and returned it to recession and depression.

Sometimes we trifle with and pay lip service to the serious damage done to national well being by corruption in high and low places. But when we stop to think of our subsisting poor air safety & control standards, our pothole-riddled airport runways, our deteriorating road networks that have all contributed to disastrous accidents in the country; that these occurrences have their roots in corruption, in the propensity with which those in authority divert huge chunks of funds voted for public works and administration into private and other uses, or receive gratification to sabotage and overlook established rules and standards, then perhaps we begin to understand and shudder. Ditto for our collapsing public utilities, health, educational, judicial and other institutions and standards that have turned Nigeria into a mess. It is certain that should Nigeria continue to travel on the trajectory emanating from the grave standards of corruption established under Babangida, then the nation will plummet into oblivion in no distant future.

To be continued

Nwankwo is National Coordinator, Association of Nigerian Centrists, ANC.

Posted by Publisher at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

UK turns down FG on visa for Alamieyeseigha

LAGOS — THE Britain High Commission in Abuja has turned down a visa application filed by the Federal Government on behalf of the impeached governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.

By Innocent Anaba
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Government had planned to whisk him back to London once the visa was procured to face trial for jumping bail and money laundering.

The visa application rejection notwithstanding, Chief Alamieyeseigha himself wants the visa to enable him return to London for the trial. He has accordingly written to the high commission to issue him visa.

His counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome in the letter said: “We are solicitors to Alamieyeseigha, on whose behalf we make this humble LAGOS — THE Britain High Commission in Abuja has turned down a visa application filed by the Federal Government on behalf of the impeached governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
Government had planned to whisk him back to London once the visa was procured to face trial for jumping bail and money laundering.

The visa application rejection notwithstanding, Chief Alamieyeseigha himself wants the visa to enable him return to London for the trial. He has accordingly written to the high commission to issue him visa.
His counsel, Chief Mike Ozekhome in the letter said: “We are solicitors to Alamieyeseigha, on whose behalf we make this humble appeal. Our client has informed us that a British visa was applied for on his behalf by the Federal Government of Nigeria to enable him (Alamieyeseigha) travel to London to attend court on December 22, 2005. He further informed us that for reasons not known to him, the said application was turned down and the visa was not granted.
“We are consequently appealing to you to use your good offices to ensure that he is granted a visa to enable him continue his trial in London. We are also sending a copy of this appeal to Alamieyeseigha sureties in London to enable them inform the trial court of his difficulties in obtaining a British visa to enable him attend trial. We believe sir, that you will accede to our humble request by granting our client a visa as soon as possible.”

Chief Alamieyeseigha was arrested in London in October and was charged before a London court on allegation of money laundering. He was admitted to bail, but jumped bail and returned to Nigeria before he was impeached by the Bayelsa State House of Assembly on December 9.
Alamieyeseigha was on the same date arrested and detained and was only last week charged at a Federal High Court, Lagos for money laundering offences.

Posted by Publisher at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

Presidency blows hot on 2007 race

'How many are capable of running the economy and fighting corruption the way it’s being done today?'

*Crisis looms over 3rd term plot, says Kalu

By Habib Yacoob & Tony Nwankwo
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

ABUJA — THE presidency has declared that while President Olusegun Obasanjo acknowledges the virtue of vacating office in 2007, Nigerians must exercise caution in the desire to have a change of guards “for the sake of change.”
But Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State believes Nigeria ABUJA — THE presi-
dency has declared that while President Olusegun Obasanjo acknowledges the virtue of vacating office in 2007, Nigerians must exercise caution in the desire to have a change of guards “for the sake of change.”
But Governor Orji Kalu of Abia State believes Nigeria would be courting a political crisis should the president decide to stay in office beyond 2007.

Presidential Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, in a telephone interview yesterday said though there may be as many as one million Nigerians that could take over the mantle of leadership from President Obasanjo, it is the quality of their performance that Nigerians should be interested in.

He said: “The point today is not how many of these people can take over from the government, but how many of them are really capable of running this country in an efficient, just and equitable manner as is being done today?
“How many are capable of running the economy and fighting corruption the way it’s being done today? How many are capable of restoring the future of Nigeria, in the international arena as it’s being done today? How many could have boosted foreign reserve, increased agricultural production, consolidated the banks, and revived the manufacturing sector as its being today?” he asked in an apparent reaction to a statement by the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Dr John Onayekan. Dr Onayekan had said at least 5,000 Nigerians could run Nigeria.

Continuing, Mr Fani-Kayode said: “We agree that in every institution, whether government, a private company, media outfit, political party, even the church itself, there is room for change pf leadership at the appropriate time. Thus, the quality, not quantity, of individuals that are capable of taking over then becomes the issue. And, where you have a choice in any of these institutions (including the government), you do not change leadership simply for the sake of changing it.”
He said it was necessary for Nigerians to approach the issue of having a successor to President Obasanjo so that the country would not return to the mistakes of the past.

“We can’t and must not allow ourselves to be taken back to the rot and degeneration of the past by anybody. We must cultivate the courage to insist on the very best quality of leadership and on matching the very high standard that this administration has set, no matter what that takes,” he said
President Obasanjo himself had, last Thursday, avoided answering a caller’s question in his television interview on whether he would go for a third term in 2007.

Crisis looms on 3rd term plot, says Kalu

Meanwhile, Gov. Orji Kalu of Abia State believes Nigeria cannot avoid a political crisis should President Obasanjo choose to stay in office beyond 2007.
Governor Kalu has also stressed the importance of Igbo unity within a federal Nigeria in the collective interest of the Igbo nation.

In an interview in Umuahia, the governor expressed fears that should there be any breach of the 1999 Constitution, especially as it relates to the tenure of office of the president, the country would witness crisis.
“The only danger I foresee is if (President) Obasanjo refuses to go in 2007. For as long as Obasanjo wants to go, there is no danger. If Obasanjo refuses to go, it will be a breach of the constitution, it will be a breach of contract and anything can happen. And people can break away to be another country.”

He also warned against possible rigging of the People's Democratic Party (PDP) presidential primaries.
He said: “The election must be free, the election must be fair, the election must stand the test of time, and the result must be internationally accepted. Anybody who wants to violate the law, I will help him the more. Nobody will violate the law.
“This is the truth, and I want you to quote me correctly. Nobody can declare himself president illegally. If you do an illegal statement, we will support you with an illegal statement. I want to respect the rule of law, I want to respect the constitution. I have to respect the order of the courts.

“I want to be a man that respects whatever that is good. So, if anybody thinks that he can disrespect the law, he can disrespect the orders of the Supreme Court, I will help him to do it. I will mobilise the people against him. Rigging election is like looting my property. If you loot, I will also loot.”

On the need for unity among leaders of Igbo land, the governor said one of the age-long impediments to Igbo political success within a united Nigeria was the level of acrimony in the ranks of Igbo leaders.
He cited the recent reconciliation between Chief Alex Ekwueme, Second Republic Vice President and Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, as proof that the Igbo nation was ready to do battle.
His words: “My immediate interest now is to build unity among Igbo leaders. I thank God that I am succeeding in what I have in my brain, and what God is working out for me. I want you to think in history that Ekwueme and Ojukwu are sitting down together tonight and they are sitting in Umuahia. This is almost 35 years. Ojukwu used to sit here where I am sitting today,” he said.

Posted by Publisher at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

Pro-Adedibu's legislators vow to sack Ladoja

IBADAN — THE 18 mem-bers of the Oyo State House of Assembly rooting for the impeachment of Governor Rashidi Ladoja vowed, yesterday, to press ahead with their plan irrespective of the court order obtained on Friday by the Assembly speaker, Mr. Adeolu Adeleke and others in his group.

By Ola Ajayi & Kolade Larewaju
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, told Chief Lamidi Adedibu to allow for peace in Oyo State.
A state high court sitting in Ibadan had granted an ex-parte motion filed by Speaker Adeleke and the state Assembly, restraining the pro-IBADAN — THE 18 members of the Oyo State House of Assembly rooting for the impeachment of Governor Rashidi Ladoja vowed, yesterday, to press ahead with their plan irrespective of the court order obtained on Friday by the Assembly speaker, Mr. Adeolu Adeleke and others in his group.

President Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, told Chief Lamidi Adedibu to allow for peace in Oyo State.
A state high court sitting in Ibadan had granted an ex-parte motion filed by Speaker Adeleke and the state Assembly, restraining the pro-Adedibu group, “their servants, agents and/or privies from impeaching or removing the governor of Oyo State from office or otherwise interfere in any way or manner with the discharge, execution or performance of his constitutional, official or statutory duties or responsibilities pending the hearing and determination of the “court motion on notice filed in the court by the plaintiffs.”

However, reacting to the court order yesterday, a member of the pro-Adedibu group, Mr. Babatunde Eesuola said the court lacked constitutional power to stop their impeachment process against the governor.
Section 188(10) says: “No proceedings or determination of the panel or of the House of Assembly or any matter relating to such proceedings or determination shall be entertained or questioned in any court.”

Mr Eesuola, Chairman, House Committee on Publicity, said: “One million court injunctions cannot stop the impeachment process. The impeachment or removal of the governor or the deputy governor is one of the constitutional duties of the state House of Assembly and not of any court.”No court can stop the impeachment initiated by any House of Assembly. If you follow the impeachment move closely, you will notice that we are following the laid down constitutional process. So that it will be a proper and constitutional exercise. I can tell you that since we are following the normal process, the impeachment is on the right course.”It is not beyond the powers of a state House of Assembly to initiate impeachment moves as well as to impeach either the governor of a state or the deputy governor as it is clearly stated in section 188 (10)of the 1999 constitution”As far as we are concerned, there is no going back on the impeachment move. We are committed to what we are doing; nobody can stop us.”

On suggestions that his group of 18 did not constitute two-third majority as required by the constitution to implement the impeachment process, Mr Eesuola said: “Since the seven members of Hon. Adeleke’s group have been suspended, the remaining Oyo lawmakers are just 25 in number. If you calculate it, deduct 18 from 25, you will find that we have constituted the two-third majority to carry out the impeachment process.”

Obasanjo begs for peace in Oyo

However, President Obasanjo yesterday described Chief Lamidi Adedibu as “a force to reckon” with in the politics of Ibadan and Oyo State. He spoke in his Ibogun Olaogun village in Ogun State during the 2005 Ibogun Olaogun Day celebration.Chief Adedibu had arrived in the village with his supporters in about 20-18-seater buses amidst drumming and singing. Chief Adedibu himself rode on a white horse butthe security men insisted that he should disembark before he could be allowed into the venue of the celebration.

Adressing the crowd on the occasion, President Obasanjo said: “We appreciate your coming. We appreciate not only your coming, we appreciate your coming in a very special style. Nothing can be more spectacular than the display of the drummers.
“Chief Adedibu, you have for a long time been a force to reckon with in the politics of Ibadan in particular and Oyo State in general.”

President Obasanjo who allowed Adedibu’s drummers to entertain for about five minutes, however, told him and other politicians in Oyo State to ensure peace and security in the state. He said: “I will just plead with you and others, who are in the mainstream of Oyo State politics, to bear in mind, these four important items: peace, security, solidarity and loyalty.”The President apologised to Adedibu for the insistence of the security agents that he should disembark from his horse before entering the venue of the ceremony, explaining that when Adedibu came, he instructed that he be allowed to enter the venue on the horse.The President earlier in his address urged Nigerians to focus on the development of their communities, irrespective of their political affiliations. He also congratulated the new Olowu of Owu, Oba Olusanya Dosunmu, whose appointment, he said, was not a mistake.In his speech, Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State urged other communities in the state to emulate Ibogun, adding that the state government would continue to focus on the welfare of the people.

Posted by Publisher at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2005

Fresh pipeline fire kills 5 in Edo; Death toll in Rivers explosion rises to 11

BENIN—A FRESH pipeline explosion, this time in Edo State, claimed five lives, yesterday, just 24 hours after a suspected terror gang blew up a Shell pipeline at Agba Okwan Asarama in the Andoni local government area of Rivers State and another pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) caught fire in Delta State.

By Osaro Okhomina
Posted to the Web: Thursday, December 22, 2005

The death toll in the Rivers State explosion rose to 11 yesterday from eight while Shell struggled to put out the fire.

Yesterday’s explosion, at Ehor, in the Uhunmwode local government of Edo State, Vanguard gathered, was caused by vandalisation to the pipeline by people suspected to be illegal bunkerers. The explosion occurred at about noon. The victims were mainly youths of the community.

A tanker and equipment believed to belong to the bunkerers also got burnt.
Residents of Ehor told Vanguard that the bunkerers by-passed the security surveillance mounted by armed policemen at a checkpoint along the pipeline route and capitalised on alleged laxity of the policemen said to have mounted an illegal road block on the expressway.

The bunkerers were alleged to have cut through the pipe but a spark ignited a fire that caused the explosion. Many of the villagers were reported to have attempted to rush to the scene following the multiple explosions created, leading to many vacating their homes in fear.

Chairman of the local government, Mr Ehosa Ogbemudia, was reported to have stopped them. Vanguard, however, gathered that the Divisional Police Officer of the Command, yesterday, dispatched an urgent signal to the state headquarters of the Police Force to assist in the deployment of a rescue team and emergency fire service team to the area.
It was gathered that the fire fighters contacted claimed to lack equipment to fight a fire of that magnitude, while efforts were still on to contact the management of the NNPC. Attempt to contact the Chairman of the council, Mr Ogbemudia and the Chief Press Secretary to the council, Mr Nosa Adun, yesterday failed.

Spokesman for the State Police Command, Mr Peter Ogboi, could not confirm the incident, claiming he had not been officially briefed by the Police Division in Ehor. A senior Police source, however, confirmed that the incident was reported to the Police Headquarters around 2.30p.m. yesterday but the team dispatched to the scene was yet to return with details of the incident.
Meanwhile, death toll in the Shell pipeline explosion rose to 11 from eight yesterday as the company struggled to put out the fire that engulfed its pipeline.

“The fire is still on. We are trying to determine the extent of the fire. We are organising a flight today (yesterday) to oversee the situation, the extent of fire,” the spokesman said under the cover of anonymity.
The fire, apparently caused by a dynamite attack, according to an initial probe, cut production and this has not resumed. “We have not resumed operations for now. It is impossible. After fighting the fire, we will have to repair the pipeline and see what again need to be repaired before we can resume operations,” he said.

Shell announced Tuesday that unknown persons attacked its pipeline near Port Harcourt, resulting in a major spill and fire and slashing production by 170,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude, accounting for about seven per cent of Nigeria’s total crude export.

“Preliminary investigations revealed that the fire might have been caused by a dynamite attack carried out by unknown persons. To help curb the fire, Shell shut its production from Diebu Creek and Nun River fields as well as all land area facilities except Rumuekpe. Some 170,000 bpd net oil have been deferred,” the company said in a statement.
Shell officials, yesterday, still declined to comment on whether lives were lost in the explosion which affected badly nearby communities. “The number of affected communities is yet to be determined but we understand that some nearby settlements may have been impacted. We have mobilised a medical team that is now on standby in Port Harcourt,” the Shell text said.
Chairman of the Agba Okwan Asarama Community Development Committee, Chief Oraka Benjamin, has called on the state government and the SPDC “to do something urgently to put out the fire.” Naval personnel and SPDC officials had been mobilised to assess the extent of damage.

Posted by Publisher at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2005

Northern Senators fire back at Southern leaders

*Insist on 2007 presidency

ABUJA — NORTHERN Senators denounced yesterday, Monday’s resolution of Southern political leaders on the North’s quest for power shift to the North in 2007. While agreeing that the Southern politicians were entitled to express any opinion they so desired, the Northern Senators asserted the region’s claim to the presidency in 2007, stressing that if not zoned to the North, then the zone would clinch it through its assumed superior number of voters.

By Emmanuel Aziken & Paul Odili
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, December 21, 2005

However, two principal participants at the Enugu meeting, Chief Matthew Mbu and Chief Olu Falae, have declared that the call for a South-South/South-East president in 2007 is a no-go-area should the need arise for negotiation on the issues raised at Monday’s meeting.

Senators Abubakar Maikafi (PDP, Bauchi South), Mohammed Ohaire (PDP, Kogi Central), Tawar Wada (PDP, Gombe South), Abu Ibrahim (ANPP, Katsina South) and Bala Adamu (PDP, Bauchi Central) in separate reactions to the resolution of the Southern politicians’ summit of Monday said the South had no case on its insistence on power retention.
Senator Wada, chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, said: “It is alright for Southern Senators to demand that the presidency should remain in the South. It is equally alright for the Northern Senators to demand that it should shift to the North. As long as the game is played according to the rules, the dynamics of politics will determine where the presidency will remain.”
On his part, Senator Maikafi said: “I think they are entitled to their own views but what we have said is that while we recognise the zonal arrangement which is not in the constitution, we still plead with our colleagues that since the presidency has been in the South for the past eight years, let it come back to the North for another set of two terms. They are entitled to their own views, but if you are asking for equity, you should come with clean hands.”

Senator Ohaire said: “What is happening is the beauty of democracy and in a democratic set up like this, pressure groups are normally needed to allow certain things to be corrected. Whatever is happening over there is a kind of political development. As far as I am concerned, the majority carries the vote and when it is time, I believe the people who were there, that they are all wise men, they love this country, they will toe the line that will suit this country.”
Echoing the opinion of the NSF on the issue, Senator Adamu said: “They have a right to say whatever they may feel, but my opinion is which I have said previously and echoed by the Northern Senators Forum that the principle of rotation should be allowed to take its course and that means shifting the presidency to the North.”
Senator Ibrahim said: “We are politicians and we know how to resolve our issues. Well, it is good that they didn’t say that Obasanjo should continue. I am sure we will find a solution to it.”

Power shift, no-go area—MBU, FALAE

Two southern leaders, Chief Matthew Mbu and Chief Olu Falae, have declared that power shift to the South-East or South-South in 2007 is a no-go area should the need arise to negotiate issues raised by the Southern Leaders Forum at the Enugu summit, on Monday, with other geo-political zones of the country.
They further explained that the threat to declare a confederacy was not to dismember the country but to show resolve that the issues raised by the summit were serious. They were also confident that the summit would succeed in delivering on the task it had set out for itself.

Chief Mbu, reviewing the resolutions of the summit, said: “In politics, you never say nothing is non-negotiable. The word, impossibility, can only be found in the dictionary of those who are fools. However, we have said on the question of providing the President for the country in 2007, we will provide a candidate. And so if there is any no go area that is one.”
Commenting on the task before the national working committee of the Southern Leaders Forum, which he chairs, Chief Mbu, exuding confidence said: “I am very optimistic that this time around we will work to succeed based on the experience of very many mistakes we had made in the past. Why should we go on replicating these mistakes? We have made mistakes, we acknowledge them, and we are forging a new alliance that based all these things if we carry them out, which will benefit us and our future generations. These things are not for me as an individual. It is for the well-being of the people of the South-East and South-South and for the whole Nigeria. So, why should it not work, except for those who do not believe in freedom, justice and fair play?

Rejecting any talk that the summit is out to break up Nigeria, Chief Mbu, said: “What we mean by confederation is not breaking up. Rather, it is a losing up so that we do not get into friction. America began with confederation, but look at how closely they have knitted, peace and confidence built within their institution.”
Relatedly, Chief Falae expressed his hope that the resolution of the summit would open up opportunities for discussion across the geo-political zones, adding: “Why some people may view the resolution of the summit as capable of polarizing the nation, I think what ought to happen is an immediate negotiation across the board. That is what ought to happen. My reading of the consequence of this summit: Once all sides have seen that there is a resolve on all sides, then we will go to the conference table. We are brothers, every disagreement ends at the conference table, even a shooting war."

On why he led Afenifere to protest the composition of the working committee, Chief Falae said it was to address imbalance in the membership. “Various organisations sponsored this summit. In constituting the steering committee, there should be balance in the membership, because what we are quarrelling about is that there is imbalance in Nigeria. And so we should not carry that into the new arrangement. We are happy that we corrected the error,” he said.

Posted by Publisher at 03:44 PM | Comments (0)

December 20, 2005

Govt grounds Bellview as plane suffers mishap in Accra

LAGOS —BELLVIEW Air-lines has been grounded by the Federal Government, based on the interim report of the audit panel checking all aircraft owned by airlines operating in the country for airworthiness.

By Kenneth Ehigiator, Chris Ochayi & Jimitota Onoyume
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Also yesterday, the airline's Flight 252 bound for Accra-Freetown had a flat tyre on landing at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra, Ghana, but there were no casualties.

The incident which occurred at about 11:50am involved the airline’s Boeing 737-200 and was effectively managed by the pilot. Meanwhile, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Ufot Ekaette, yesterday inaugurated the presidential task force on the aviation industry and charged it to make public its findings on the recent plane crashes without fear or favour.
At the time of the incident, 63 passengers and four crew members, led by the pilot, Capt. Ugborgu, were on board.
Bellview Airlines’ spokesman, Mr. Habib Mohammed, who confirmed the incident in Lagos yesterday, said the pilot of the aircraft used his discretion to move the plane to safety on noticing that it had suffered a flat tyre.
“At about 11:50am (yesterday), the pilot of Bellview Airlines flight 252, on landing at Accra Airport, noticed a flat tyre and used his discretion to pack the aircraft on the runway. “All passengers duly disembarked; we serviced the aircraft and it would be due in the country in a few hours,” Mr Mohammed said.

He said after the passengers had been evacuated, the aircraft was towed away from the runway to facilitate its repairs. According to him, the aircraft tyre may have picked a nail or other sharp objects after landing on the runway.
Mohammed said the aircraft continued its journey to Freetown after its repairs since it had combined Accra and Freetown passengers on board.
This is the second time this year that Bellview airliners would be suffering flat tyre. A similar incident happened at the Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos earlier in the year.

ADC says planes not grounded

Meanwhile, ADC Airlines said yesterday that its Boeing 737-200 were never grounded from operation. The Engr. Folashade Odutola-led Special Task Force set up by Aviation Minister, Prof. Babalola Borishade, to audit aircraft and airlines in the country had at the weekend grounded all Boeing 737-100, 200 and 200C series operating in the country on account of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) report issued in 2000.
But management of the airline said ADC was not one of the airlines affected by the directive, as it had rectified the fault identified in the aircraft type long ago.

ADC Airlines’ spokesperson, Ranti Ufere, had told Vanguard, weekend, that based on the proof submitted to the relevant authorities on the matter, the airline was cleared to fly. According to her, the airline received from the Task Force a letter, asking it to provide proof of having rectified the fault identified by the FAA on the aircraft type.

Aviation task force set up

Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Chief Ufot Ekaette, yesterday in Abuja inaugurated the Presidential Task Force on Aviation industry, charging its members to make public findings on recent plane crashes without fear or favour.
Chief Ekaette addressing the Task Force, which has three months to submit its final reports, said; “In the discharge of your mandate, you are to be objective and transparent. Look at the facts on the ground as they are and make recommendations without fear or favour.

“Government places the greatest premium on the life of Nigerians and other nationals who use our domestic air transport system and is determined to ensure that the country meets the standards cherished by the world.
“You are aware that government’s drive for the attraction of foreign investment, which had started to yield results, would be hampered by an unsafe domestic air transportation system, which is the fastest means of travelling within a country so large as Nigeria,” he said.

Parents stage walkout on minister
Parents of the student victims of the Sosoliso plane disaster in Port Harcourt yesterday staged a walkout on the Minister of Aviation, Professor Babalola Aborisade, after calling for his resignation. The parents who aired their feelings in an address read at the Redeemed Christian Church before the Minister, wondered why it took him over a week after the disaster before coming to Port Harcourt.

The address which was read on their behalf by Engr Joe Egwele also lashed at the Aviation Ministry for gross dereliction of duty and failure to institute a crash preventive and management structure. Continuing, the parents who said they were pained by effort of officials of the Aviation ministry to cover up their incompetence through misinformation of the public on their role on the day of the crash accused the ministry and its agencies of misconduct prior to and after the crash.

Posted by Publisher at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)

We can't stop Obasanjo on 3rd term—REPS

ABUJA—THE House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights has expressed fears that the National Assembly may not have the capacity to stop the third term plot of President Olusegun Obasanjo or other excesses of the executive without financial autonomy.

By Emeka Mamah, Rotimi Ajayi, Ben Agande & Andrew Oota
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Similarly, the executive chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Alhaji Bukhari Bello, berated the National Assembly over its inability to secure its autonomy through legislation.

Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) yesterday teamed up with other northern groups such as the Northern Senators Forum, Northern Members Forum and Northern Governors Forum to kick against the third term bid of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Speaking at a meeting with civil rights organisations in Abuja yesterday, deputy chairman, House Committee on Human Rights, Mr Abdul Oroh, maintained that the only way the legislature could checkmate the executive was for it to have total independence like it is with the judiciary.

According to Mr. Oroh, the National Assembly was stampeded into carrying out a lot of functions which ordinarily it could not have done “like the emergency rule in Plateau State, the 2005 Supplementary Bill and many others, because we are not autonomous and could be armed twisted.

“We in the National Assembly are often seen as conspiring with the executive to violate the constitution or further impoverish the people, but the truth is that there is nothing that we can do. This is because the executive is in control of all our funds. We have to beg for any thing or send our leaders to go and beg for us.

“We are not in support of the third term, but there is little we can do because the executive is in full control of the funds and we are just helpless.,” he said.

Speaking on non implementation of budgets by the present administration since 1999, Mr Oroh said: “What we have is para-military democracy, because several times the committee on Public Accounts and other committees have gone on oversight functions and discovered that the budgets were not being implemented and we have asked questions but not even the ministries would answer us because the president is in support of them."

Another member of the House of Representatives, Mr Peter Jiya, who spoke to Vanguard after the meeting was emphatic that the present administration would have become a big monster if the House of Representatives under Ghali Na’Abba did not cut it to size.

Mr Jiya, representing Bida/Gbako/Kacha Federal Constituency of Niger State and chairman, House Committee on Inter-Parliamentary also urged the forth estate of the realm to do all within its reach to complement efforts of the legislature in informing the public of the constitutional violations of the present administration.

In his remarks, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Alhaji Bello, said the reform programmes of the present administration were simply laughable. “How can a government talk of reforms, yet could not implement budgets, whereas that same government is aware that budgets are Acts of Parliament and I tell you that the international communities are not even satisfied with the provisions on education, let alone non-implementationst,” he said.

Arewa in joint assault against 3rd term plot

The ACF warned that the Nigeria might be heading for doom due on account of the personal ambition of a few individuals at the expense of the nation.
In a communique at the end of a meeting of its Rapid Response Committee, the ACF expressed concern over the suffering, it said, Nigerians were experiencing, including those campaigning for or against the prolonged stay of President Obasanjo beyond 2007 to desist.

In the communique which was jointly signed by its Chairman, Chief Sunday Awoniyi; and Secretary General, Col. Hameed Ali, the Forum asked them to stop heating up the polity at the expense of the ordinary Nigerian.

The Forum said at a time when the country and its fledgling democracy needed a joint effort of patriotic forces, it was fully in support and would cooperate with any institutioin and individuals committed to the progress and prosperity of the nation.

The ACF appealed to “office and money seeking class to tamper ambtion and greed with concern for the public good and genunie welfare of the suffering Nigerians,” pointing out that failure could lead to the destruction of all that we hold dear and value.

The Forum pledged its support for other political leaders from the north opposed on the third term plot of President Obasanjo and the ammendment of the 1999 constitution. It said all moves currently going on to amend the 1999 constitution should be suspended till after the 2007 elections.

Posted by Publisher at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

December 16, 2005

Crash: Audit panel clears 3 Chanchangi planes

PORT-HARCOURT — The panel set up to audit the airlines and their aircraft has sent its reports to the president, certifying three aircraft of Chanchangi airline for flying, even as the task force on the aviation industry established by President Olusegun Obasanjo on Tuesday will be inaugurated on Monday in Abuja with expanded terms of reference.

By George Onah, Jimitola Onoyume & Kenneth Ehigiator
Posted to the Web: Friday, December 16, 2005

Government had suspended Chanchangi and Sosoliso Airlines from operations until the completion of the audit.

Parent of one of the student victims of the Sosoliso plane crash in Port Harcourt believes it (crash) would have been avoided if only the pilot had not been negligent. The wife of another victim says his death will not shake the family’s faith in God.

The special panel set up to audit airlines and their aircraft in the country within one week cleared the three Chanchangi aircraft because of the problem of over-capacity now being experienced by other airlines.

Vanguard gathered that Chairman of the panel, Engr. Folashade Odutola, who supervised the auditing of the Chanchangi planes in Lagos, sent the report to the Presidency yesterday for presidential approval for the aircraft to commence operations to meet the needs of the travelling public.
According to sources, the panel’s strategy is to release immediately for operation every aircraft audited and certified airworthy for operations, especially in view of the festive seasons usually characterised by high level travels.

The grounding of Chanchangi and Sosoliso Airlines by the Federal Government last Tuesday created over-capacity problem for other airlines, as the development resulted in the withdrawal of airline service to the South-Eastern cities of Enugu and Owerri operated by the two airlines.
It was learnt that the presidency is also aware of the over-capacity problem and is disposed to give subtle approval for aircraft already cleared to commence operations.

With the grounding of both airlines, close to 15 aircraft were withdrawn from service, compounding the ability of other airlines to cope. Besides Aero Airlines, Virgin Nigeria and Bellview Airlines, others are largely two-aircraft airlines, with little capacity to cope with passenger influx.

Task force to be inaugurated Monday

The Task Force on the Aviation industry which was established by President Obasanjo on Tuesday is to be inaugurated on Monday, December 19, 2005 with expanded terms of reference.

Captain Jonathan Ibrahim has also been appointed as an additional member of the Task Force headed by Air Vice Marshal Paul Dike, Captain Roland Iyayi, Arch. Tunji Bolu, Captain A. Okon, Mr. Tony Elumelu, Managing Director of Virgin Nigeria, Chairman of FAAN and Engineer Sani Baba are its other members.
The Task Force which is to submit its report to the Federal Government within three months of its inauguration is expected to identify the remote and immediate causes of dereliction in the Nigeria’s aviation industry.

Victim's parent alleges pilot's error

Mr. Ntemuse father of Emmanuel Ntemuse said the crash could have been avoided if the pilot had not been negligent and if those who knew the state of the aircraft had spoken out.

Speaking in Port Harcourt, Mr. Ntemuse said it was a grave error on the part of the pilot to attempt to land when he knew the weather was bad. “He should have remained in the air or landed at another airport when it was clear the weather was very bad,” Mr. Ntemuse said, adding: “Those who flew on the aircraft from Port Harcourt knew the state of the aircraft and should have raised an alarm when it was brought out again to make the trip to Port Harcourt, instead of choosing to wait for another flight.”

Okujagu's widow hands over to God

Also speaking, the widow of late Professor Thompson Okujagu said the death of her husband in the ill fated Sosoliso plane crash would not shake the family’s faith in God. Dr Charity Okujagu who spoke when members of the Rivers State executive council paid the family a condolence visit at their Port Harcourt residence thanked members of the state cabinet for the visit and also said the family was perfectly in the hands of the Almighty God. Prof Okujagu was the state Commissioner for Education.

Earlier, the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, Mr Odein Ajumogobia (SAN) who spoke on behalf of the others recalled that the dedication of the deceased to duty which he said was worthy of emulation even as he pledged that the state government would take full responsibility for the burial Meanwhile, the Rivers State government has promised to immortalise the memories of the 60 students and others that died in the ill-fated Sosoliso plane crash in Port Harcourt. Governor Peter Odili, speaking in Port Harcourt, said government had mapped out plans to reduce the pains of the bereaved families. One of such is government’s resolve to pay the mortuary bills of the victims.

Thanking rescue agencies like Shell and others which responded to the distress calls on the day of the crash, Dr Odili spoke of the willingness of the state government to support moves that would improve the state of the aviation industry.

Posted by Publisher at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)

December 15, 2005

Apo 6 for burial tomorrow * Cleared of robbery charges

ABUJA— THE Apo Six killed by the Federal Capital Police Command are to be finally laid to rest in their respective hometowns tomorrow, four months after exhumation of their bodies with the Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo, expected to be in attendance.

By Kingsley Omonobi & Ndidi Onuora
Posted to the Web: Thursday, December 15, 2005

They were recently cleared of armed robbery charges by the Federal Government who also tendered a public apology to the families.
Vanguard sources said the governors of the South-East states would be on hand to give the deceased a grand farewell and perform a requiem mass in their honour before they are taken to their respective hometowns for final burial rite.

The Federal Government had on August 22, three days before it received the final report of the Judicial Commission investigating the killing, issued a letter ordering the release of the bodies to their respective families. The families frowned at the order, saying it was not sincere as there was no official statement from the government that the deceased had been cleared of the alleged robbery.

The order which was conveyed to the families by lead counsel to the families, Mr. Amobi Nzelu, had said: “Consequent upon the Commission’s interim report to the Federal Government on the request for the release of the bodies, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has conveyed Mr. President’s approval and, therefore, has directed that the bodies be released to the relatives of the deceased persons for burial pending the Federal Government’s consideration of the comprehensive report to be submitted to it by the commission.

“However, the other issues attendant to the burial will be dealt with when the commission’s final report yet to be presented to the government is considered. Accordingly, you are hereby requested to inform your clients that the bodies of the five males and one female are available for collection at the Garki Hospital Mortuary, Abuja.”

In a joint letter to the Federal Government through Mr. Nzelu dated August 22, the families had said: “We wish to inform you of our stand towards the burial arrangement and its involvement with the present situation of the case. That the corpses will not be buried until the final report is submitted to the Federal Government by the judicial commission of inquiry and the reaction of the Federal Government made known to the public.”

The deceased who have since exhumation been at the Garki Mortuary, Abuja would be received at Michael Okpara Square, Enugu where a requiem would be conducted for them before proceeding to their various towns for proper burial. The six comprising five males and one female whose families had two weeks ago received a cheque of N3 million from the Federal Government are Ifeanyi Ozor, Chinedu Meniru, Isaac Ekene and Paulinus Ogbonna all from Enugu State. The rest Anthony Nwokike and Austina Arebun from Anambra and Edo States respectively.

Posted by Publisher at 03:30 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2005

Two survivors flown abroad

ABUJA—TWO of the three survivors of the Sosoliso plane crash which killed 107 passengers, including 71 schoolchildren, have been flown abroad for further treatment, a police spokeswoman said yesterday.

By Chinyere Amalu, with agency reports
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The three survivors had been admitted at the Anglo-Dutch Shell clinic and Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital since Saturday when an ageing Sosoliso Airlines McDonnell Douglas DC-9 ploughed into the city airport’s runway, went up in flames and tore to pieces.

Hospital officials said the conditions of two of the survivors were critical while the third was luckier with minor injuries. “I spoke to Shell yesterday (Tuesday) and they told me they have flown one of the two survivors in their clinic to South Africa for further treatment,” spokeswoman for the Rivers State police, Ireju Barasua, said in an interview.
She said another survivor at the teaching hospital was also flown abroad, but could not immediately confirm if she was taken to South Africa. The third survivor, Bunmi Amusan, would soon be discharged from Shell clinic since she received minor injuries during the accident, Barasua said.

Bereaved parents unhappy with FG

Meanwhile, some parents of the children who lost their lives in the crash yesterday slammed the Minister of Aviation, Professor Babalola Borishade, because, according to them, the aviation industry under his leadership has failed Nigerians.
The Parents Teachers Association of Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja also called for an immediate and transparent investigation into the crash, stressing that the action taken so far by the Federal Government on the tragic incident is unsatisfactory.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, the association's chairman, Engineer Ambrose Feese, also demanded that the report of the investigation be published while those found guilty be brought to book.
Government had, Monday, sent on an indefinite leave, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Mr. Tom Oyelade, and the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the ministry, Mr. Esai Dangabar, on the account of Saturday’s crash in Port Harcourt but the parents said they were unsatisfied with that action.

But speaking to reporters, Mr Feese said: “Government should immediately empanel a technical committee of experts from within and outside Nigeria to examine, ascertain and publish the air worthiness of all Nigerian aircraft flying local and international routes. All aircraft found to be unworthy, should be grounded at once.”
The PTA chairman who demanded that the budgetary allocation to the aviation sector be enhanced substantially, starting with the 2005 appropriation, called for the promptly release of funds for all facilities (navigational and landing aids, fire fighting equipment with skilled personnel) to be acquired and installed at all airports and kept functional at all times.
“The relevant supervisory agency should establish a visible presence at all airports to which travellers can report perceived malfunction on any flight. The agency should have powers to ground the aircraft until its systems are checked and certified to be in order before the aircraft is allowed to fly again,” he said.

The association also demanded that a law be passed, establishing a consumer protection agency independent of the Aviation Ministry, to act as a watchdog and to ensure that standards are observed in the nation’s aviation industry.
“The railway system as an alternative medium of transportation should be revived immediately. The existing system is obsolete and has been abandoned and out of use. It should be scrapped completely. A new network should be started now and developed over time. If it takes 50 years to restore it, let us do it. The same goes for the inland waterways.
“Excess revenues from crude oil sales should be channelled to revamp a sustainable transport system. Exclusive of all non-passengers/travellers from check-in counters and beyond be enforced at all airports.
“This is one tragedy too many in the nation’s aviation industry. It is the third fatal mishap in quick succession within the space of 40 days. These incidents have taken over 225 precious lives. Never should this magnitude of tragedy be allowed to happen again in this country. We do not want to see these children die in vain. We want to see that something is done about the aviation industry and very fast too,” he said.

Engineer Feese, however, said nearly 60 of Nigeria’s brightest children have been roasted alive in the latest tragedy that has hit the aviation sector, appealing to Federal Government to act now as they don’t want a recurrence and will not accept it.
Also speaking at the briefing, Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Information, Hon. Abike Dabiri, was of a different opinion, saying the incident was not an act of God but that of devil, adding that enough is enough.
“This is not an act of God. God is not going to watch 50 children to die in a day. God did not say that a mother should lose her three children. I want to appeal to mothers to come together as one and form a pressure group. We must fight this. Let us be the agent of change. These children cannot die in vain. If this is the price we have to pay for their death, let us rise up and fight. Enough is enough,” she said.

Posted by Publisher at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

December 13, 2005

Crash: Perm Sec, Director suspended

Let's grieve but let's grieve like those who have Jesus Christ —OBASANJO

ABUJA— THE Federal Government, yesterday, sent on an indefinite leave, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Aviation, Mr. Tom Oyelade, on account of Saturday’s air crash in Port Harcourt. Also in the same boat is the Director, Planning, Research and Statistics in the ministry, Mr. Esai Dangabar.

By Charles Ozoemena, Kenneth Ehigator & Chinyere Amalu
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 13, 2005

President Olusegun Obasanjo, accompanied by his Education minister, Dr Chinwe Obaji, and other top government officials yesterday visited Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja to commiserate with the authorities of the school on the death of about 70 of the institution’s students in the crash, while the management of Sosoliso Airlines commenced the process of insurance compensation to relations of the crash victims.

President Obasanjo was said to be pained by the spate of accidents in Nigeria’s aviation sector, hence his call for a critical assessment of institutional and human capacity deficiencies in the sector as a prelude to urgent reforms in the industry.
His spokesperson, Mrs Oluremi Oyo, confirming Mr Oyelade’s suspension asked him to hand over his duties to the most senior director in the ministry. The President is scheduled to meet with stakeholders in the aviation sector today at the State House on the reforms in the sector.

Those summoned to the meeting are: The Minister of Aviation; Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation; Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation; Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Aviation; Deputy Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Aviation; Managing Director, FAAN; Director-General, NCAA; Director-General, NAMA; Director-General, NIMET; Representative of the Chief of Air Staff (CAS); Representative of the Inspector-General of Police; Director-General, NEMA; Director of Search & Rescue, NEMA; Commander, Presidential Air Fleet; Representatives of All Airline Owners and Operators in the country; Representatives of the National Association of Airline Pilots and Engineers; Representatives of the Association of Aviation Professionals; Representatives of the Airline Operators of Nigeria; Representatives of the Board of Airline Operators; Representatives of the Aviation Roundtable (ART); Representatives of the Nigerian Aviation Fire and Safety Association; Representatives of the Nigerian Aviation Safety Initiative (NASI); Representatives of the Joint Aviation Professional Coalition (JAPCO); Representatives of Aviation Consultants; former CEOs of Aviation agencies and parastatals; Representatives of Aviation Sector Labour Unions; Representatives of Airline Support Services and Cabin Crew; Representatives of the Nigerian media, particularly Aviation.

Obasanjo visits Loyola Jesuit College

Meanwhile, President Obasanjo yesterday visited the Loyola Jesuit College, Abuja to commiserate with the management and staff on the death of about 70 students in the ill-fated Sosoliso aircraft that crashed in Port Harcourt Airport.
President Obasanjo accompanied by the Education Minister, Mrs. Chinwe Obaji, and other top government functionaries lamented the air crashes in the country in the last two months.

He said: “Within a space of less than two months, we have had monumental air crashes. One in Lagos, one in Kaduna and the third in Port Harcourt. Some people might be partly superstitious or see it in another way, but I would not want to think that way because anything that happens is because God allows it to happen.”
According to the president, these innocent children whom their parents are equipping for the future roles and the service of God have been snatched away prematurely by death, but as believers and children of God, we have to accept our fate and console ourselves that they are in the bosom of the Lord. “Let’s grief but let’s grief like those who have hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

He directed that flags be flown at half-mast for the next three days in honour of the deceased. He also signed a condolence register opened at the school chapel, along other dignitaries.
The Catholic Arch bishop of Abuja, the Most Reverend John Onaiyekan, who received the president and his entourage on behalf of school principal who was on his way to Port Harcourt to condole the parents of those children said up till now, the exact number of children on board the aircraft was yet to be ascertained.
According to him, the school planned to celebrate a special mass for the repose of the departed students and for the soul of a senior Reverend Father who was on the flight.

Also speaking, Minister of Education, Mrs. Obaji attributed the crash to the decay in the educational system, which she described as “garbage in garbage out,” stating: “What is happening in the aviation sector is as a result of all forms of corruption in the education sector, ranging from examination malpractices, certificate forgery and lack of dedication to academic pursuit as well as preference to buy certificates rather than obtaining it through merit.
“This has been the driving force of her ministry in the pursuit for post-JAMB screening to ensure only those qualified and ready to learn actually get into the university,” she said.

Mrs. Obaji described the air crash as a big loss not only to Nigerians, parents and relations of the deceased but to her personally, having lost two cousins in the crash. She said the nation had lost not only a lot of children, but very intelligent and gifted children. “This is because this Loyola Jesuit College is one of the best in the country and it is not where anybody can gain admission without being extra brainy.”
Among the dignitaries that accompanied President Obasanjo to the college were: Aviation Minister, Prof. Babalola Borishade and Special Assistant to the President, Prof. Jerry Gana.


Management of Sosoliso Airlines has begun the process of insurance compensation to families of victims of the airline’s flight 1145 which crashed at Port Harcourt International Airport killing 107 passengers.
Although Chairman of the airline, Mr. Victor Ikuemesi, who briefed the press yesterday did not disclose the amount due each victim, it would not be different from what the law stipulates.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Law states that on account of an air crash, each victim of the crash would be entitled to $100,000. What this means is that Sosoliso Airlines would pay out a total $10.7 million to the families of the victims.
Mr. Ikuemesi said the airline’s insurers, NICON, had commenced the process of claims for the victims’ families, adding that a register had also been opened for families to document their dossiers to facilitate verification and payment of claims.
He said the airline had plans to make initial payment of insurance claims to the families as was the case with Bellview Airlines, but refused to disclose how much each victim family would be paid.

Bellview did not only promise to pay the families initial $10,000 to assuage their pains, but had actually in the words of the Managing Director, Mr. Kayode Odukoya, started paying families that had been able to get through with documentation.
Ikuemesi said the airline had also been working with the Rivers State Government, Port Harcourt and Abuja Dioceses of the Catholic Church on the preservation of bodies of victims of the crash which involved a DC-9 aircraft.

Posted by Publisher at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

December 12, 2005

Sight and sound of the convention

WITH the arrival of Matthew Okikiolakan Aremu Olusegun Obasanjo, the apparent man of the moment, in an 18-car convoy at 12:25 p.m. yesterday, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, kicked off its 7th national convention. It was one peculiar convention but one which the leadership of the party had hailed as a very successful one.

Posted to the Web: Sunday, December 11, 2005

Peculiar because all officers of the party National Executive Committee, NEC, as instituted some months ago were all returned. Peaceful because the doomsdayers who had predicted crisis for the party as a result of the convention were wrong as those “who owned the party” did their convention the way they wanted to do it. Voting was by Voice Vote. The Convention did not experience any particular boycott but the absence of Orji Uzor Kalu, governor of Abia State was said to have been expected. It was a convention which saw the ratification of the expulsion of Chris Ngige, governor of Anambra State and the re-admittance of Chris Uba, whom the party said had shown remorse, unlike the governor, said to have engaged in “increased belligerence and vituperation”.

It was also a convention which saw the party, notifying the Senate President “of the expulsion” of Senator Bode Olowoporoku, with a directive that all privileges due him should be withdrawn. It said Olowoporoku’’s case was treated “in accordance with Article 16c(1&5) of the party constitution”. The party was also able at this convention, ratify the amendments to its constitution in the areas of Composition of NEC, Composition of Congresses and the National Convention, Party Discipline and Code of Conduct, Removal or Resignation of National Officers, Mode of Elections of Officers of the Party, Nomination of Candidates into Public Offices, Party Funding, Offences and Punishment, Oath of Allegiance, Loss of Membership/Re-admission of Party Members and NEC Powers on Discipline. The party’s Board of Trustees, BOT, Chairman, Anthony Anenih, the man they call trhe leader, looked every bit in charge of the situation as he took a tour of the ground, greeting governors from one corner to the other.

You could feel his joy as he walked round. And when James Onanefe Ibori and Lucky Igbinedion went to pay him homage in the state box, pledging their loyalty, it was an obviously satisfied Anenih who received them. SECURITY The night before, Eagle Square, venue of the convention, was swimming with hundreds of policemen.. But for the full capacity attendance of the convention, security operatives, both plain cloths and those in uniform, as well as security operatives disguised as protocol people, delegates may have been outnumbered by security people. One thing though, the very tight security situation perhaps, made it possible that, for the first time in the history of the PDP convention, the convention ground was not over-populated. Gaining access into the convention ground, unlike other conventions in the past, was very difficult. At least about 1, 200 metres from the venue, vehicles had been cordoned off, and vehicular movement restricted in the venue perimeters. In fact, unlike before when governors and some very senior government officials could park inside and around the venue area, it was only the vehicles of President Obasanjo and those of his deputy that were allowed to park inside the venue. All others were parked outside, including vehicles of the governors and ministers.

Whereas the security arrangements put in place looked quite effective earlier in the day –– that is as early as 7:30 a.m –– the scene at the entrance of Eagle Square by mid-day had become chaotic. But this did not deter the policemen and officers of the State Security Service, SSS, from doing their job. In fact what happened was that the civility of the morning gave way to a harsher and more robust determination to ensure that they stuck to their briefs. It was this determination which almost led to fisticuffs between a Police Commissioner and a civil defence cop member at about 8:10 a.m. The latter had refused to carry out an instruction as issued by the former. Things went out of hand as subordinates to the CP could not stand the insult of their boss by ““a common civil defence man””. It took the intervention of a senior SSS operative to forestall what would have been a very messy affair. Even journalists who got to the entrance of the venue after the hour of 11 found it difficult coming in. Meanwhile, as if for every quarter of the hour, a police helicopter kept hovering around the convention venue. The first appearance was made by 8:55. It appeared again by 9:10; and by 9:25, it appeared again. Meanwhile, inspite of the heavy police presence, two military vehicles, Landrover model, carrying some armed soldiers, eight a-piece sped into the venue and parked at two angles.

About 45 seconds after, one of them sped out of the ground again, creating anxiety. The other one eventually drove out of Eagle Square. COMIC STUFF But for the announcement that President Obasanjo was about to read his address to the convention, the supporters of Chris Uba who were carrying his banner would not have stopped parading themselves in front of delegates and at a time becoming a complete nuisance. As early as 8:05, and in fact, they were the first group of delegates to enter Eagle Square, tens of well-organised supporters of Uba, with three very large banner in tow, moved into the venue in a celebratory mode, singing and chanting. There was a nine-man band which provided melodious tunes. The over 100 delegates were dressed in African print Ankara in yellow and drape green colours. They were escorted by five armed policemen as they danced round the inside perimeters of Eagle Square. And while about half of the delegates took their seats at the Anambra State stand, the other half, not done, still made rounds of the Square. Uba himself, dressed in a blue French suite and a hat to match, came in by 12:20. But while he was not around, his supporters, at least a sizeable percentage of them, as if under a spell to burn themselves out in the scorching sun, refused to take their seats or let down the banners they were carrying.

They would go to the front of the VIP podium and display their banner just as they would go to the centre of the Square to demonstrate their unflinching support and allegiance to Uba. It was not until the media department of the PDP secretariat distributed a ““Memo to the National Convention” which was signed by Ahmadu Ali, requesting the re-admittance of Uba and ratifying the expulsion of Ngige, that observers understood the at the demonstration of publicity by the Uba supporters had its roots in the pardon. But if you think that was comic, check out the brutalization of the Chief of Staff in the Oyo State Governor’’s Office. Earlier in the day, delegates loyal to Governor Ladoja had made a show as they entered into the venue. They also danced round the venue before taking their seats at the Oyo State stand. This was some minutes before the hour of ten. At about 11:05, when delegates loyal to Baba Lamidi Adedibu stormed the venue, with Adedibu riding high under a canopy which was shoulder-held together with Adedibu’’s seat, it became obvious that something might give.

The number of delegates who made it into the venue were slightly numerically stronger than the earlier delegates from Oyo State who had the Deputy Governor, Akala, with them. When Adedibu and his delegates got to the Oyo State stand, there were not enough seats and it must have been the alleged pompous statement of the Chief of Staff, named Sharaffa, which made some Adedibu supporters descend on him, tearing his apparel in the process. By 12:12, it was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Finance Minister, suddenly appeared in front of the Press Canopy in the company of some equally rotund women. Andn what were they doing? Visualise Okonjo-Iweala dancing to one of the party songs like ““Winner O O O, winner ““Winner O O O, winner ““Winner You Don Win O, winner ““Pata Pata You Go win forever, winner””. But she did the dance round the Square ground. Even laughing at herself as she danced round, it was quite obvious that she was not one of those with whom she was dancing.

Although she had a small contingent of about 10 women, they were dancing with vigour. Meanwhile, the medical point was not without action. First, it was Sola Atere who brough a staff of NTA to the point for medical attention. Some 10 minutes later, another politician came in the company of another complaining of exhaustion. A woman in her late 40s came to the medical point with her blood soaked dress. Something had pierced the upper side of her left eye. The amount of blood she had lost and the heavy stain on her cloth made the injury look very very serious. But once she was cleaned up, the cut, though big, made her look more like somebody who would live, than the initial panic created by her blood-soaked appearance. VICE PRESIDENT ATIKU ABUBAKAR ARRIVES As all these were going in, with governors coming in with their delegates and making a lap of honour, an announcement came on air that ““May we please welcome the arrival of the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The time was 11:40a.m. When the announcement was made, some observers actually wanted to catch a glimpse of the Vice President. This is understandable. Prior to the convention, and in the wake of the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, MRD, and the Movement for the Defence of Democracy, MDD, onslaught against the PDP, with the belief in most quarters that those pushing the MRD/MDD agenda were foot soldiers of the Vice President, a situation made worse with Wednesday’’s press statement of Ojo Maduekwe, National Secretary of PDP, on disgruntled politicians, and the swift response of MRD and MDD, many had speculated that the vice president would not be attending. But he did. As events went on in and around the Square, it was very clear that those who owned the PDP were in full control of their party. VOTING Voting was done the way Vanguard had reported exclusively that it would be done: Reading out the names of all the nominees and the delegates voting with their voice.

Posted by Publisher at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2005

UK court issues warrant of arrest on Alams

ABUJA —A SOUTHWARK Crown Court in London trying Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State for alleged money laundering yesterday issued a warrant of arrest on the governor who jumped bail in London.

By Emma Amaize & Sam Oyadongha
Posted to the Web: Friday, December 09, 2005

The governor flouted the bail conditions imposed by the court which included that he should report daily to a police station. He was also not to travel outside London or move close to any port.

Meantime, the Investigative Panel inaugurated Monday by the Chief Judge of Bayelsa State, Justice Emmanuel Igoniwari, to look at the allegations of gross misconduct levelled at the governor has commenced sitting in Yenagoa.
While the panel is sitting, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked the Federal High Court sitting in Yenogoa to stay proceedings in the suit filed against it by some lawmakers who claimed that they were tortured and compelled to sign the impeachment notice against the governor.
The chairman of the investigative panel has said he has no reason to be biased against the governor in the discharge of his duties as chairman of the panel.

When the governor fled London, the British High Commission expressed regrets that he returned to Nigeria in breach of his bail conditions and said he had put in jeopardy sureties totaling $1.25 million even as his assets estimated at £10 millions remained frozen.

It also said his travel documents would remain in the custody of the Metropolitan Police, explaining that the appropriate authorities were sourcing a warrant for his arrest.
The High Commission explained further that courts in Britain had a liberal attitude towards bail, stating that they would normally grant bail in cases where a person charged to court was not deemed to be a threat to public order. “Those bailed are not put under 24 hour surveillance,” it said in a veiled explanation as to why it was possible for Alamieyeseigha to jump bail.
Pledging its support for the anti-graft war in the country, it said: “The UK government is staunchly committed to fighting against crime in Nigeria and elsewhere.”
The British pledge of support for the war boosted the anti-graft crusaders’ resolve yesterday as more Nigerians called on the Federal Government to ensure that Alamieyeseigha returned to London to clear his name.

Impeachment panel begins sitting

A source close to the Impeachment Panel, headed by Mr David Serena-Dokubo Spiff told Vanguard, yesterday, that the board of adjudicators had held some sessions since it was inaugurated on Monday but “I cannot really say where they are meeting.”

The chairman of the panel also confirmed to Vanguard that the panel had started work but declined further comments on the modus operandi, saying that you (press) would be informed at the appropriate time.
Vanguard gathered, however, that the panellists have not decided on whether their sitting would be open or in camera and that was why things are unclear regarding its sessions so far.
One of the counsel to the governor told Vanguard, yesterday, that it was not to his knowledge that the panel had started sitting. The panel has three months from the date of its inauguration, December 5 to submit its report to the House of Assembly.

The EFCC case against the lawmakers is supposed to come up today but an official of the court hinted, yesterday that the judges were holding their national conference and it was not likely the court would sit today as the presiding judge was away.
However, one of the five lawmakers that filed the suit against the EFCC, Mr. Amalanyo Yousuo, had since abandoned the pro-Alamieyeseigha camp for the group that wants to impeach Governor Alamieyeseigha. His volte-face, last week, automatically gave the anti-Alamieyeseigha the required two-thirds majority.

Panel Chairman replies Alams

Chairman of the Investigative Panel on allegations of gross misconduct levelled at Governor Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State, Mr David Serena-Dokubo Spiff, has reacted to the protest against him by the embattled governor, saying Chief Alamieyeseigha and himself are friends, and he has no reason to be biased against him in the discharge of his duties as chairman of the panel.

Mr Spiff in his December 7 reply to the Alamieyeseigha’s protest letter, dated December 5, addressed to the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Emmanuel Igoniwari, said he was not a member of the PDP or any other political party as alleged by the governor, adding: “I have never participated in any party meeting or congress.”
His words: “It is important to mention that I have no reason to be biased against Chief D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha. If in 2003, I was lawyer to plaintiffs against his office (not against him personally), after the elections, we became friends and worked together on various initiatives to uplift the Ijaw nation. That was why he appointed me a member of the 10-man committee that articulated the position of the Ijaw nation, in advance of the defunct National Political Reforms Conference (NPRC) alongside Prof Kimse Okoko, Oronto Douglas, Chief T.K. Okorotie, etc.
“I cannot, therefore, be biased against him. Rather, I owe him, Bayelsa State and Nigeria a duty to be fair in this matter and at all times,” he said.

He said the fact that he was the lead counsel in a suit by the Nembe Council of Chiefs against the Governor of Bayelsa State, the Attorney General of the Federation and others in 2003 did not mean that he had an axe to grind with the governor because “I was only discharging a professional responsibility in my capacity as counsel, my mind remaining unaffected as before I received the instructions.”

On his nomination by the Federal Government to the defunct Confab, he said: “Yes. I was nominated a federal delegate for Bayelsa to the NPRC. Perhaps, nothing illustrates my propensity for independence of mind better than my performance at that conference. Notwithstanding that I was nominated by the Federal Government, I advocated the cause of resource control with vibrancy and vivacity. I participated in most activities of the South-South delegates forum and walked out when we all needed to walk out.”

Posted by Publisher at 06:05 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2005

EFCC alleges abduction of staff by Gov Dariye

ABUJA—THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last night accused Governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau State of personally leading assaults on its operatives and in fact abducting them.

Posted to the Web: Thursday, December 08, 2005

The EFCC in a two-page statement said the operatives ABUJA—THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) last night accused Governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau State of personally leading assaults on its operatives and in fact abducting them.

The EFCC in a two-page statement said the operatives were in the state to carry out legitimate activities, specifically the arrest of the governor’s long-time acquaintance, Ms Christabel Bentu.

The statement:

The Executive Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Joshua Dariye, has in the last four days (beginning Sunday, 4th December 2005), personally led three assaults on operatives of EFCC who are in the state to carry out legitimate investigation activities.
“On Sunday, 4th December 2005, Governor Joshua Dariye personally sought to prevent operatives of the commission from effecting the arrest of his long-time acquaintance, Ms. Christabel Bentu, who it would be recalled, was arrested along with him on 2nd September 2004, by the Metropolitan Police in a London hotel on suspicion of money laundering. Mr. Dariye and Bentu later jumped bail, escaped to Jos and have since refused to go back to answer charges against them in London.
“On Tuesday, 6th December 2005, on Mr. Dariye’s orders, an EFCC operative was manhandled, disarmed and abducted in the premises of the KIPC Guest House, Jos, where the operatives went to effect the arrest of Mr Wilson Echeje, Branch Manager of All States Trust Bank, suspected to be a linchpin in the alleged money laundering activities of the governor.
“On Wednesday, 7th December 2005, Mr. Dariye himself, personally led the assault on the EFCC team who had gone to execute a search warrant on the premises of his younger brother, Haruna Dariye. The EFCC team was disarmed by the governor’s security detail, thoroughly beaten and had their vehicles smashed. The melee facilitated the escape of suspects and destruction of evidence.
“While most members of the EFCC team escaped from the scene seriously injured and bloodied, the governor again abducted another member of the team. As at the time of issuing this statement, the whereabouts of the abducted EFCC staff are unknown.

“EFCC wishes to state that whereas immunity from prosecution while in office may have been granted Governor Joshua Dariye by the Constitution, the Executive Governor of Plateau State is not immune from investigation and his alleged collaborators are not protected from investigation, arrest and prosecution. Governor Danye is hereby advised not to take laws into his hands by obstructing legitimate law enforcement activities of EFCC.
“Of immediate concern to the commission, however, are me whereabouts, safety and health of its staff, who have not been seen or heard from, since their abduction on the orders of Governor Joshua Dariye.
“EFCC, the families, relatives and colleagues of the abducted men will hold Mr. Joshua Dariye, Executive Governor of Plateau State personally liable if anything happens to them while being held captive in unknown locations. We therefore urge the Governor to immediately release them and stop further harassment of EFCC staff on legitimate law enforcement activities in Plateau State.

“The Commission wishes to restate that personal attacks, blackmail and political propaganda spin will not prevent EFCC from investigating anyone, arresting and/or charging him/her to court if it is established that such a person has a case to answer.
“The Commission is watching to see how the unsavoury events unfold in Jos.”

Posted by Publisher at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

December 07, 2005

20 killed in bloody Police, MASSOB clash

AWKA — THE sit-at-home protest ordered by the Movement for Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) turned bloody on its second day, yesterday, with about 20 people feared dead in clashes between MASSOB members and the police. The group claimed 12 people, some of whom were its members, were killed by the police in Onitsha while the remaining eight were feared dead in Owerri after the police attempted to break up MASSOB protest in the city.

By Anayo Okoli, Chidi Nkwopara & Eric Ugbor
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, December 07, 2005

There was also pandemonium at the Abakpa Main Market in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State where MASSOB members stormed the market to enforce the sit-at-home order. The group is demanding the release of its detained leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike.

Director of Information of MASSOB, Mr. Uchenna Madu, said in Onitsha that 12 people were shot in different parts of the commercial city. He named one Miss Ogechi Okeke, an SSS1 student of Eastern Academy as one of the victims. A MASSOB member was said to have been shot at Oba near Onitsha.
According to Madu, another 15-year-old boy was also killed at MCC area of the commercial city while a woman identified as Mrs Ngozi Anyaegbuna was similarly killed. The three, according to MASSOB, were killed by police stray bullets.

Madu claimed that the rest were killed by the police while they were blocking the Asaba-Onitsha express road to prevent people from going to their destinations as a way of making them comply with the sit-at-home order. He claimed that they were killed in front of the Ogbo Efere market. Madu also claimed that the police at Okpoko took away the bodies of some of those killed at the Ogbo Efere market to the station while some were recovered by their families.
But the Police Area Commander in Onitsha, Mr Dennis Anyagafu, said he was not aware of any member of MASSOB killed by the police, saying he did not know of any single incident recorded.

“ All I can confirm is that a gang of street urchins invaded Onitsha, robbing people of their belongings and we had to rise to the challenge and arrested many of them, very many of them, over 20 of them. Onitsha is the largest market in the sub-region and many people who are not Igbo, Yoruba, Hausa, Edo and other tribes who have nothing to do with Biafra come here to do business. It is our duty to protect them. We don’t know of any permit to hold any rally by any group.
“Some of them have been arrested for armed robbery and handed over to the state CID. They would stop vehicles at gun point and dispossess people of their belongings. I don’t know if that is their sit-at-home order. If they stayed at home, they would not come out to molest and rob people. I am not aware of any MASSOB members killed but I am aware that street urchins and armed robbers have been arrested and they will face the law soon,” Anyagafu said.

Business activities remain paralysed

Meanwhile, business activities remained paralyzed yesterday in Anambra State on the second day of the sit-at-home protest ordered by the movement. Markets, banks, schools and business premises were closed and vehicles were off the roads till 4p.m. when the exercise ended.

The eight feared dead in Owerri were said to be victims of an attempt by the Police and the military to forcibly break up the MASSOB protest in the town. They fired canisters of teargas to disperse the protesters. Government and economic activities came to an abrupt halt in the municipality and other local governmentareas of the state at about 9.15a.m. MASSOB supporters closed their shops and trooped to the streets,chanting war songs. While a police pick-up van engaged in the battle against MASSOB loyalists hit a commercial motorcycleoperator along Douglas Road, bullets fired by the security personnel along Mbaise Road, all in Owerri,hit another protester. The story was the same at the Douglas Road/Lagos Street junction, where bullets fired by soldiers allegedly killed a middle-aged man.

At Ihugba Street/School Road junction, a 22-year boy was hit on his left leg by a stray bullet. He was eventually moved to an unknown hospital for treatment.The story was completely different at the Timber Market, New Market and Wetheral Road.

Teargas canisters were freely fired at the demonstrators with a view to dislodging the barricades, which the protesters placed on the busy road. Parents were seen rushing to the Assumpta Nursery Primary School at Wetheral Road and other schools located in the municipality to pick their children, as soon as they realised that the roads were relatively safe for movement of vehicles and people.All efforts to reach the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hezekiah Dimka or the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Isah Bala Mohammed (DSP) for their comments on the MASSOB protest failed as a good number of them were involved in the exercise.

MASSOB storms Abakaliki main market

There was pandemonium at the Abakpa Main Market, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, yesterday as members of MASSOB stormed the market to enforce the sit-at-home order.

Also, the Abakaliki rice mill and the mechanic village were among the areas that defied the directive of the state Commissioner for Finance that all traders and other businesses should go about their daily activities to adhere to the MASSOB directive.

Many of the banks did not open their gate for business but some of them attended to their customers through the back door after mid-day.
MASSOB members, however, stormed the Abakpa main market at about 11a.m. yesterday when it appeared that some traders had yielded to pressure and opened some of the shops in the market. Some traders sustained minor injuries as they scampered for safety. By the time the invasion ended, the Abakpa main market was again forced to close.

The two-day sit-at-home was also effective at the other two zonal headquarters of Onueke, Ebonyi Central and Afikpo, Ebonyi South as there was no movement of vehicles up till mid-day in addition to the closure of markets and schools.

Posted by Publisher at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2005

Justice Uwais protests disobedience of court orders

ABUJA—CHIEF Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Muhammad Lawal Uwais, yesterday in Abuja expressed worry over increasing cases of violation of court orders by the Federal Government, saying such conduct amounted to “an affront to the constitution and clear evidence of bad governance.” The Chief Justice of the Federation did not cite examples of disobedience.

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Uwais who warned the sitting judges in the country yesterday to sit up or be kicked out of office also tongue-lashed state governors and their counterpart legislators for cashing in on the inadequacy of section 292 of the 1999 constitution to harass independent-minded state chief judges, remove them from office at will and thereby undermine the independence of the judiciary.

The said section 292 of the 1999 constitution provides that the heads of the judiciary at all levels can be removed from office by the heads of the executive like the president or the governors acting on an address supported by two thirds majority of the Senate or the House of Assembly respectively for their inability to discharge the functions of their office or appointment (whether arising from infirmity of mind or of body) or for conduct or contravention of the Code of Conduct.
Justice Uwais talked tough yesterday, in Abuja, at the opening ceremony of the 2005 All Nigeria Judges Conference. Uwais who is due to retire from the Supreme Court bench next June took his time to address each of the issues he raised.

On the issue of disobedience to court order, the CJN said: “Another thorny point is disobedience to court orders. This malady which was rampant under the past military regimes has started rearing its ugly head again. In a democratic set up like ours, obedience to the constitution is paramount and imperative since all key office holders under the constitution are made to take oaths of office which enjoins us to observe, protect and defend the constitution.

“Section 287 of the constitution provides in sub-section 3 thereof that ‘the decision of the Federal High Court, a high court, and all other courts established by this constitution shall be enforced in any part of the federation by all authorities and persons’ so that any functionary of government howsoever placed is duty bound not only to observe but also enforce any judgment of a court of record. Failure to do so is an affront to the constitution and clear evidence of bad governance.
“Those in authority and their agencies cannot pick and choose what court order to obey. If they feel aggrieved, the only remedy open to them is to appeal, but in the meantime the order must be obeyed,” he said.

Addressing how the state legislators and their governors have been cashing in on the inadequacy inherent in the provisions of section 292 of the 1999 constitution to harass the judiciary, Justice Uwais said: “Section 292 of the constitution is being employed by the state executives and legislatures to diminish the independence of the heads of state courts and thereby the state judiciaries. So far, no less than three state chief judges and a grand khadi had been removed from office under that procedure without recourse to the National Judicial Council.

“A fourth state chief judge has, very recently, narrowly escaped being so removed after the procedure was followed in the state House of Assembly concerned but was left off, so to speak, with a warning by the state governor to remain of good behaviour, whatever that means, for the next one year.
“A fifth state chief judge was also lucky after being tormented, only to be told by the state House of Assembly that he was not found lacking. It may be asked: For how long will the harassment continue? Does it indicate good governance by the states’ executives and legislatures? Must the judiciary be an appendage of the executive despite the provisions of the constitution?

“Your Excellency, Mr President, Hon President of the Senate, Hon Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon members of the National Assembly, Hon Ministers, My lords, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the independence of the judiciary can only be sustained and guaranteed when there is no interference directly or indirectly by the other arms of government or their agencies in the discharge of its duties,” he said.

Also speaking on the need for the judges to buckle up and eschew laziness or be shown the way out, Uwais said: “One other factor that affects the image of the judiciary is the inordinate delay in the determination of cases in our courts. A quite reform by both the federal and state judiciaries has been taking place in this regard.
“To ginger up the judges, the National Judicial Council has introduced about two years ago the submission of quarterly returns by every judicial officer, for the National Judicial Council to determine how many cases are pending before a judge and how many have been disposed off by him or her during the quarter. This will expose lazy judges who are being made answerable for the delay in their courts. Let me once again warn that inability by a judge to discharge the functions of his office is a ground under section 292 of the constitution for him or her to be removed from office,” Justice Uwais warned.

The judges conference is held biennially by the judges of the nation’s superior courts. It is a statutory conference authorised since 1991 by the National Judicial Institute Act of the same year. The on-going conference is the 7th conference to be so held since the Act came into force.

Posted by Publisher at 04:06 PM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2005

Alams asks Supreme Court to stop removal * Pro-impeachment legislators now 16 out of 24

ABUJA— Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State has filed a suit before the Supreme Court, praying for an order stopping the Federal Government from effecting his removal from office through alleged unconstitutional means.

By Ise-Oluwa Ige, Emma Amaize, Sam Oyadongha & Emmanuel Aziken
Posted to the Web: Monday, December 05, 2005

He also wants the apex court to compel the Federal Government to withdraw its troops stationed in Bayelsa State capital. Besides, he wants the court to order the Federal Government to release 15 of the 24 state legislators it allegedly held “hostage” in Abuja for the sole purpose of removing him from office through unconstitutional means.

Governor Alamieyeseigha approached the court, last Friday, through the state Attorney-General since an individual cannot invoke the original jurisdiction of the court.

The case commenced by a way of originating summons with the Federation Attorney-General listed as the only defendant in the matter. By implication, the suit wants the apex court to make clear pronouncement or interpret certain sections of the 1999 constitution as they affect the extent of the powers of the Federal Government over the 36 state governors in the running of their states’ affairs.

In the suit, with registration number SC\274\2000 lodged last Friday by the Chambers of Mike Ozekhome, at the registry of the Supreme Court on behalf of Bayelsa Attorney-General, the governor alleged that the Federal Government was desperate to remove him from office by inviting state legislators outside their jurisdiction and coercing them to impeach him without following due process. He also alleged that in an attempt to create the impression that law and order had broken down in his state and that he was no longer in firm control of its security and welfare, he claimed that the Federal Government deployed troop to maintain peace where there has been no chaos and shut down the only voice of the government in the state—Bayelsa Radio station— to further incapacitate him from performing the functions of his office.

Inviting the court in the circumstance to intervene, Governor Alamieyeseigha, in the suit, formulated eight fundamental questions for the court to answer in respect of his travails. The questions are:

lWhether Bayelsa State, save and except as are expressly provided for in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, is not a separate state possessing of a separate and distinct government with full and exhaustive powers different and distinct from the Federal Government of Nigeria;

lWhether the invasion of Bayelsa State, particularly its capital, Yenagoa, by federal troops and other members of the armed forces and security agencies as directed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria without any provocation, breakdown of law and order or any clear and present danger of such breakdown of law and order with a view to overawing the government and people of the state is not a breach of section 4 (6) (7), section 217 (1) of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria and, therefore, illegal, wrongful, null and void;

lWhether the seizing of 19 and subsequently 15 members of Bayelsa State House of Assembly by the Federal Government and the said agencies is not a breach of section 4 (6) and (7) of the 1999 Constitution;

lWhether compelling the 15 members held hostage under duress and undue influence and leading them from Abuja to Yenagoa under strict military protection to remove the Governor of Bayelsa State while still in captivity is not a breach of section 188 of the 1999 Constitution;

lWhether the withholding of the Bayelsa State federal account allocation for November 2005 and ordering the freezing of the Bayelsa State government accounts in banks is not a breach of sections 1, 2 and 162 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;

lWhether under the doctrine of lis pendens and the authority of Governor of Lagos State Vs Ojukwu (1986) (pt 18) 621, the Federal Government or any of its agencies or other persons or authorities can legally take steps with respect to exhibit B1 which is subjudice and whether the Federal Government can summarily close down a state-owned radio station without the due process of law as it did to the Bayelsa State-owned radio station.

In the event that the questions are determined against the Federal Government, he is asking the court to enter nine declaratory and five injunctive reliefs in his favour including an order restraining the president and any other agent of the Federal Government from further unlawful and unconstitutional interference in the governance of Bayelsa State.

Move to stop sack suffers set back

Meanwhile, attempt by the pro-Governor Alamieyeseigha lawmakers in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly to scuttle the impeachment of the governor has suffered a set back One of the seven lawmakers, who went to the High Court of Bayelsa last weekend to restraint the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Emmanuel Igoniwari, from inaugurating the seven-man panel to investigate allegations of gross misconduct levelled at Governor Alamieyeseigha, Mr. Amalanyo Yousuo, has backed out and has since travelled out of Yenagoa to join his colleagues quartered in Abuja pushing for the removal of the embattled governor.

The return of Yousuo to the fold has given the anti-Alamieyeseigha group the required two-third majority needed to impeach the governor if he is found wanting by the seven-man panel investigating the allegation of gross misconduct levelled at him.
Mr. Yousuo, the only Alliance for Democracy (AD) member in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) dominated House alongside 19 others signed the impeachment notice against the governor only for him and four others to return to Yenagoa and disowned the purported document, saying they were made to sign it by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in its Lagos office under duress.

The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Peremobowei Ebebi, who spoke to Vanguard confirmed that the AD member who initially abandoned them had returned and joined others in signing the notice, calling on the Chief Judge to inaugurate the seven-man panel to investigate the allegations of gross misconduct levelled at the governor.

Also, another of the anti-Alamieyeseigha lawmakers confided in Vanguard that “Yousuo is now on their side and that he cannot go against the position of his party which the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties represents.

The inauguration of the panel billed for noon today at the chief judge’s court in the High Court Complex, Yenagoa, according to a statement signed by the chief registrar of the state judiciary, Mr. Ineikade Eradiri, is in pursuant to section 188 sub-section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

‘Alams’ case won’t stop resource control’

In a related development, the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has said the recent problems of Gov. Alamieyeseigha cannot affect the agitation for more resources for the development of the oil producing Niger Delta region.

Responding to questions from Vanguard on the effect of the political and legal problems of Governor Alamieyeseigha on the Niger Delta quest for more resources for the oil rich but underdeveloped region, Senator Udoma called for a distinction between the problems of the governor and the problems of the Niger Delta people.

Senator Udoma, himself the leader of Senate South-South caucus, nevertheless said "the Alamieyeseigha saga made it more imperative for the state Houses of Assembly to take more oversight of the affairs of governors."

Governor Alamieyeseigha who has been indicted by the London Metropolitan Police and Nigerian financial crime prosecutors on allegation of money laundering is one of the vocal champions of resource control. He has severally put the cause of his problems to his quest for resource control and his political affinity to Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. Following his indictment, resource control activists have seemingly been quiet.

Responding to the situation, Senator Udoma said: “I know that there is the tendency for people to link the agitation with what is happening with the governor. I think the link is unfortunate and I believe that it shouldn’t be. So, I believe we have a very good case for resource control and we should not be discouraged by what has happened to a particular individual. He is only an individual.

“Resource control agitation is not to benefit the governors. It is for the benefit of the people. All the things that have been going on, particularly the issue of DSP Alamieyeseigha, if the allegations are true, and at this point in time, they are only allegations, it only goes to show that we need to strengthen democracy. We need to strengthen the controls that we have over our elected officials,” he said.

Posted by Publisher at 05:18 PM | Comments (0)

December 02, 2005

FG subsidises petrol with N292bn —Okonjo-Iweala

LAGOS—THE Federal Government has spent N292 billion over the last 10 months to subsidise petroleum products to avert another hike in prices and ease the plight of the citizenry.

By Patience Saghana & Osaro Okhomina
Posted to the Web: Friday, December 02, 2005

However, tragedy struck yesterday at Iluoke and Ogidio communities of Auchi in Etsako West Local Government Council of Edo State where five persons were choked to death while allegedly scooping fuel from a ruptured pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) on the Okpella/Auchi road of the area.

Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, speaking at the 9th Champion Insurance Day Lecture Series in Lagos said the present administration was sensitive to the predicament of Nigerians and would continue to ensure that the people were not over burdened.

“I want you to know that we have subsidised petroleum products to the tune of N292 billion this year alone. Nobody seems to know this and if we had not done that, we would have had another hike in petroleum products,” she said.

The minister said some of the efforts of the government at lifting the burden off the populace were sometimes not made public, but promised government’s continuous support. “I want to assure you that the Federal Government is sensitive to the plight of Nigerians and we pledge to continue to support in the best possible way we can.”

She, however, said the era whereby the NNPC) separated its account from the federation’s account was gone, adding that government’s agenda on transparency and accountability must be taken seriously and adhered to by all strata of the economy including the NNPC.

“We want to make it more transparent. Instead of the NNPC withholding its money from the federation account, we have decided that there should be a budget for it so that every Nigerian would know what the government is putting in.”

5 die in petrol fire

In Auchi, it was gathered that three others were in a coma at an undisclosed hospital in Auchi,while the council chairman, Mallam Gani Audu, after a security meeting with the Divisional Police Officer of the area and the leaders of the vigilance groups ordered that the area be cordoned off until a formal report is made to the state headquarters of the Police, state government and the NNPC.
The vigilance group that discovered the dead bodies of the victims around 5a.m yesterday confirmed that they were made up of youths between the ages of 19 and 35 and discovered a hole dug and the jerry cans used in scooping fuel.

Vanguard gathered that the pipeline located close to the Ilouke and Ogido communities was discovered ruptured by some youths of the area and as the news of the rupture spread, some residents stormed the area to scoop fuel. Another version said the youths discovered the rupture around midnight and secretly engaged in scooping of the product as they dug a big hole around the ruptured section.

The Etsako Local Government Council Spervisor on Health, Mr Abass Yakubu, confirmed the incident to Vanguard yesterday and said he first got wind of the incident from the village head when he went to one of the high chiefs at the palace of the Ojieneine of Uzairue.

Yakubu said: “We have not visited the scene but from what we gathered from the council boss and the Divisional Police Officer, the incident happened around midnight and the bodies were discovered later around 5a.m. We got a report that they were choked to death and we held a meeting with the council chairman, the vigilance group and the village elders on the issue.”

The Police Command spokesman, Mr Peter Ogboi could not be reached for comment but the State Commissioner of Police, Mr Muktar Abass told Vanguard on telephone that though an official report had not been made to his office by the Area Commander and the Divisional Police Officer of Auchi,”the issue may have happened but I have not been informed and I will get you informed tomorrow (today) if I get the details on the incident.”

Posted by Publisher at 03:24 PM | Comments (0)

November 30, 2005

Atiku's ADC arrested; PDP set to sanction VP tomorrow

ABUJA — THE police authorities have taken in the Aide De Camp (ADC) to Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Chief Superintendent (CSP) Abdul Yari Shuyan Lafia, for interrogation on account of “cumulative security reports.”

By Kingsley Omonobi, Charles Ozoemena& Umoru Henry
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 30, 2005

He has also been relieved of his appointment, bringing to eight, the number of personal aides to the VP sacked by the Presidency.

On its part, the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) is set to sanction the VP at its National Executive Council meeting in Abuja tomorrow.

Presidency sources said yesterday that Mr Yari who had served the VP since 1999, and hails from Nasarawa State was arrested following volumes of security reports linking him with funding and active participation in the operations of the Turaki Vanguard, set up to actualise Vice President Atiku’s presidential ambition in 2007.

He was directed to report at the Police Force Headquarters from where he was immediately taken to the headquarters of the State Security Service (SSS) for questioning. His activities were said to be in contravention of his role as a security agent.
However, he was returned to the Police after interrogation by the SSS. He was also questioned about the source of money he was using to fund the Atiku presidential campaign group.

Associates of the vice president who were contacted to comment on the development pleaded anonymity and said it had become the trend where aides of the Vice President were dropped at random to deflate the Vice President’s political base and derail his presidential ambition.

Police speak

And in a statement, the Force Public Relations Officer, Deputy Commissioner of Police Haz Iwendi, said following the removal of CSP Yari, six names of police officers of the same rank had been forwarded to Vice President Atiku to choose a replacement from.

The statement reads: “As a result of cumulative security reports about the activities of the Police ADC to the Vice President, CSP Abdul Yari Shuyan Lafia, and after contact with the Vice President, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Sunday Ehindero, invited the ADC for interrogation.
“The Inspector-General has been instructed to give to the Vice President six names of Police officers of equivalent rank of which the Vice President can choose a new ADC.

“In the alternative, the Vice President can select any Police officer of equivalent rank of his choice while CSP Yari is being interrogated. The above actions are mainly Police routine procedures.”
Contacted for more clarification on the matter, senior police sources at the Force Headquarters, who preferred to speak under condition of anonymity, said the action of the Inspector-General followed intelligence reports which indicated that the ADC was at the head of a spy team set up to monitor the activities of not only the President but also top echelon of the ruling party. Besides, sources told Vanguard that the team was also involved in some secret financial transactions which government stumbled on.

Other aides of Vice President Atiku earlier sacked are: Dr. Adeolu Akande (August 2003); Professor Sam Oyoivbare and Mallam Garba Shehu (December 2003); General Jafaru Isa, Chris Mamah and Shima Ayati (July 2005).

PDP to sanction VP

Meanwhile, barring a last minute change, the PDP at its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting tomorrow in Abuja, may sanction Vice President Atiku for his comment at the Northern Legislative Forum on his deregistration from the party.
It was also learnt by Vanguard that another crucial matter slated for discussion at the meeting is the report of Ibrahim Shehu Shema-led Disciplinary Committee to address cases of indiscipline in the party. The expulsion of the immediate past National Chairman of the party, Chief Audu Ogbeh, Lawal Kaita and other prominent PDP members involved in the formation of the Movement for the Defence of Democracy (MDD) from the party would be ratified.

Also to be discussed at the NEC meeting, are reports from the party’s Board of Trustees on Governors Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and Joshua Dariye of Bayelsa and Plateau States respectively. The meeting would ratify the recommendation of the dismissal from the party of the Bayelsa State governor by the National Working Committee.
In a related development, President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday paid a condolence visit to the National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Ahmadu Ali, who lost his stepson, Captain Shuaibu Ali, who died with Anthony Kuma in the Jet Beech craft-200 air craft crash in Kaduna.

Also at the Asokoro residence of the National Chairman were the former Finance Minister, Alhaji Adamu Ciroma. Governor Adamu Muazu of Bauchi State; his Kogi State counterpart, Ibrahim Idris; Sports Minister, Saidu Samaila and Senator Jubril Aminu were also at the Chairman’s residence to commiserate with him on the death of Shuiabu Ali. Others were Justice Lawal Uwais, Ibrahim Abdullahi (SAN) and Alfa Belgore.

Posted by Publisher at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2005

2 killed as plane crashes in Kaduna

KADUNA—TWO occupants of a Beechcraft 200 executive jet died yesterday when the aircraft on its way to Abuja crashed soon after take off from the Kaduna airport. The crash, which occurred at about 10:38a.m, claimed the lives of the pilot, Captain Ali Shuaibu, stepson of the National Chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Ahmadu Ali and one Antony Kuma. The cause of crash was not immediately known.

By Emeka Mamah & Kenneth Ehigiator
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Media Assistant to the Director-General of Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), Mr. Sam Adurogboye, told newsmen that the aircraft, marked N73MN, was a private jet owned and operated by one Alhaji Idima.
The aircraft, he said, was neither registered in Nigeria nor certified by the regulatory agency, the NCAA.
Mr Adurogboye said the flight from the Federal Aviation and Administration (FAA) crew also held American license and had been operating in Nigeria for eight years.

“The aircraft has American license, registered in America and returned to the country last Saturday after a regular maintenance at an FAA certified facility in the UK,” Mr. Adurogboye said.
He said the Accident Investigation and Prevention Bureau (AIPB) had commenced investigation into the crash, and had notified the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
The NCAA spokesman said since the aircraft was not registered in Nigeria, the regulatory agency had no oversight functions over it. According to him, only the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the United States had over-sight roles over the ill-fated aircraft.

He said the NCAA could only advise the US Civil Aviation Authority on the ill-fated air-craft.
This crash came five weeks after the crash of Bellview Airline’s Boeing 737-200 air-craft at Lisa, Ogun State which claimed the lives of all 117 persons on board.

Investigations revealed that the aircraft crashed soon after take off and burst into flame with both the pilot and co-pilot burnt beyond recognition. When newsmen visited the airport, about 30 kilometres from the city centre, the bodies of the pilot and co-pilot had been retrieved from the wreckage by fire fighters and were being conveyed to the motuary in a pick up van with number plate FG135A42 belonging to FAAN. The aircraft was said to be heading to Abuja when it crashed.However, newsmen were barred from gaining access to the tarmac of the airport where the plane crashed while passengers who were expected to take off for Lagos aboard a Chanchangi Airline plane were kept waiting at the departure hall of the airport.
The Airport Manager, Alhaji Salisu Mohammed, refused to see newmen while his staff tossed the newmen round the airport.Some of the passengers were only informed that there was a little problem. They were kept waiting endlessly for their flight.

As at the 4.00pm, the stranded passengers who were scheduled to leave for Lagos at about 11.00a.m. were yet to be informed about the incident at the airport. Some of them asked questions about when they saw newsmen around the airport.
Attempts by newmen to get an official statement from the management of the airport proved abortive as they resorted to playing hide and seek with newsmen. When reporters arrived the airport, they were informed that the airport manager was at the crash scene. Thereafter, they were tossed around the airport for over three hours with nobody to voluntire any information.

Although it was said that the aircraft was a two-seater aircraft, ambulances were seeing going in andout of the place for more than two hours after the crash and after the bodies of the pilot and co-pilotwere taken away.It was not, however, clear what they were doing at the crash site which could be seen metres away from the position where journalists stood. All entreaties to get at least the camera crew to takepictures of the site failed. The intervention of the Police Commissioner, Mr John Ahmadu, yeilded no result as FAAN security personnel maintained a rigid position, blocking journalists and denying them access to the Police boss to get his opinion on what he saw on ground.When the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police and the Diretor of State Security Service (SSS) visitedthe crash site, there were no personnel of the airport to explain to them what happened untill they came to the control tower in search of the airport manager.

Runway 18R

Meanwhile, the official opening of runway 18R (right) of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos, did not take place yesterday as planned.
NCAA spokesman, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, said the runway would not be opened for use until the regulatory agency was through with analysis of the report submitted on the runway by its inspectors.
The NCAA has oversight functions for all facilities at the airport, including the runways.

Posted by Publisher at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

November 28, 2005

Obasanjo's govt worse than Abacha's, says MRD

ABUJA — THE Obasanjo administration came under a fresh assault, yesterday, from the newly formed Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) which said the government was worse than the Abacha administration.

By Rotimi Ajayi
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 28, 2005

The Muhammadu Gambo-led group which is made up of the cream of northern politicians was formed to stop the alleged third term bid of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Meanwhile, Vice President Atiku Abubakar and one-time military head of state, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, have met in Abuja on what, a source called the third term issue.
Alhaji Muhammadu Gambo, former Police Inspector-General, and Co-ordinator of National Security in the Abacha regime, told reporters in Abuja that the MRD had studied every aspect of the Obasanjo administration’s policies and found none measured up to the standard under the Abacha government.

His words: “We are gathered here again to take stock of the political development in our dear country. The restoration of civilian government in May 1999 gave renewed hopes that Nigeria was on the path of sustainable democracy. The hopes and aspirations were not misplaced, given the sacrifices in human and material resources expended before the enthronement of civil rule.

“But alas, not too long after the transition, it became clear to Nigerians that the country was once again, on the threshold of bad governance. For more than six years of civil rule, Nigerians are yet to reap the fruits of democracy. It is amazing that public policies rather than ameliorating the suffering of the masses, living conditions of Nigerians continue to deteriorate by the day.

“In spite of the claims that the reform programme of the government has been acclaimed by the international community, the recent UNDP report on the World Human Development Index points to the contrary. We are disturbed that in spite of the unprecedented wide spread poverty and deprivation inflicted on Nigerians, the administration remains insensitive. Their main pre-occupation now is a programme of self perpetuation in power and issue of self aggrandizement.
“Although I participated in General Sani Abacha’s government, I did not last in that government as I was in exile. My point of departure was when they said they wanted to perpetuate themselves in power.”
He added that even if the administration of late General Abacha had done wrong, the people who participated in it had repented and ready to lead Nigeria back on the path of good governance. According to him, “what we are seeing now is worse than what was in Abacha’s time.

“The level of human rights abuse is worse than that of Abacha. There are more killings in this government than it happened in Abacha’s time. There is so much brazen wastage of public expenditure now and yet nothing is being seen on ground. Where is the water? Where are the roads? Where is the electricity on which billions of Naira have been spent? In stead, what we have is insecurity.

“Whatever you may say about General Sani Abacha, there was security during his time. Only those who were in politics and confronting him had problem with him and they knew the price they wanted to pay just like us now.”
He said the emergence of the group was a necessity in view of the calamity waiting to befall the country. Pledging the determination of the members of the MRD to wage a battle against President Obasanjo’s third term ambition, Alhaji Gambo said members of the group would not compromise on its set target.

He said: “I assure you that for every commitment in life there is a price and we are ready to pay the price. We are of the firm conviction that Nigerians, irrespective of primordial differences, must come together to salvage this country from avoidable calamity. It is obvious that the task ahead is beyond the capacity of the present political parties acting separately, having been weakened by intra-party crises.
“What is urgently required is the coalition of all visible democratic and other patriotic forces and civil society groups to restore and secure democracy for Nigerians.”

Presidency fights back

Reacting to the MRD allegations, however, the Presidency lashed back, describing those comparing the present administration with that of General Abacha as living in another world.
Special Assistant on Public Affairs to the President, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, said there was nothing in the present administration that could be compared to the regime of the late General Abacha. His words: “Anybody that compares this administration with Sani Abacha is obviously living in another world and has lost touch with reality. How can anybody in his right senses compare the present dispensation, where you have democracy and the rule of law, where you have peace and stability, where you have a recovering economy and where Nigeria is no longer regarded as a pariah country? How can anybody in his right senses say that is comparable to Abacha regime?

“Gambo served Abacha. So it is understandable that he should be nostalgic about Abacha activities because he was part and parcel of that administration. But let it be on record that it is the same Abacha that he so loved, that not only killed General Yar’Adua but killed hundreds of other innocent Nigerians and no matter what anybody says, this administration and this President do not have blood on his hands unlike Abacha.
“Those that believe that the Abacha days are better than today and those that believe that Nigerians fared better under Abacha should bow their heads in shame and they certainly do not reflect the thinking of the overwhelming majority of Nigerians.”

Atiku, Buhari meet

Meanwhile, Vice President Atiku Abubakar and former Head of State, General Muhamadu Buhari have met in Abuja on what a source called the third term issue.
Vanguard gathered that the duo of Atiku and Buhari met in a private residence in Asokoro, Abuja to marshal out plans on how stop the President from actualising the third term plan. The meeting was the first since the former launched a legal battle against the re-election of President Obasanjo in the 2003 general elections.
General Buhari contested in the elections as the presidential candidate of the rival All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and held a firm conviction that the elections were generously rigged in favour of President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku.

Posted by Publisher at 05:57 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2005

MTN's subscriber base hits 7.6m

LAGOS—MTN’S results for the six months ending September 30, 2005 indicate that its Nigerian operations which started barely four years ago have put it ahead of its main rival in South Africa, Vodacom.

By Godfrey Ikhemuemhe, Assist. Communications Editor
Posted to the Web: Friday, November 25, 2005

The results put subscriber figures for MTN Nigeria at 7,667,000 as at September 2005. This represents a 38 per cent growth since March 2005.

Conversely, the subscriber base for South Africa where the company began operations in 1994 was put at 8,961,000.
Today, MTN has a total subscriber base of 20.6 million, an increase of 32 per cent over the figures as at March 2005. With the figures, MTN Nigeria has a 47 per cent share of the total subscriber base of the MTN Group.
The strong growth in subscriber numbers in Nigeria is fuelled by continued strong demand for telecommunication services and low connection fees. “The tariff environment has remained very competitive, particularly in the reseller market,” said Phuthuma Nhleko, MTN Group CEO.

“We are satisfied with our performance and progress during the period under review. The MTN Group has entered a new growth phase, having maintained shareholder value and secured three new operations,” Nhleko said..
The good subscriber figures from Nigeria also translates to good revenues for the company from the country. The result indicates that Nigeria continues to lead with good average revenue per user (ARPU) put at $23. In South Africa, it is R168, about$24.93 (about N3,300).

MTN’s strongest rival in South Africa, Vodacom is not so lucky. With its main subscriber base in South Africa which is already saturated, Vodacom’s ARPU is poorer at R147, about $21.82.
A close look at Vodacom’s results indicates that Vodacom achieved revenue of R 16.18 billion for the six months to end-September, up 22.3 per cent from the R13.23 billion ($1.96 billion) for the same period a year earlier.
Total subscribers across the group’s operations numbered 19.1 million – a 41.8 per cent increase over the year-earlier period, and Knott-Craig saaid the numbers passed the 20 million mark last week.
Profit from operations rose 66.7 er cent from R2.53 billion ($0.38 billion) to R4.23 billion ($0.63 billion), while the group achieved a pretax profit of R3.84 billion versus a previous R2.55 billion. A net profit of R2.39 billion ($0.35) compares with a year-earlier profit of R1.45 billion.

On November 21, 2005, MTN acquired a 49 per cent interest in IranCell and has already paid an up-front licence fee of 300 million to the Iranian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
Said Nhleko: “Our entry into the Middle East has been made possible by our strong African footprint that has laid the foundation for our expansion beyond the continent. Our stake in IranCell offers significant growth potential as it is currently estimated that only 11 per cent of Iranians are mobile subscribers.

“To further consolidate its position on the continent and to diversify its investment portfolio beyond the continent, the group will continue to explore value-enhancing international expansion opportunities in Africa as well as in the Middle East. Business opportunities complementary to the core mobile telephony business will also be pursued.
“In light of current market trends, MTN is confident that its operations will continue to show good subscriber growth and maintain a strong market position in all its operations despite intensifying competition. Capital expansion programmes in Nigeria and South Africa are expected to provide further subscriber and revenue growth,”Nkhleko said.

Posted by Publisher at 04:08 PM | Comments (0)

November 22, 2005

Police arrest 15 persons for peddling rumour on attack on Igbos

UMUAHIA—FIFTEEN people have been arrested in Aba, Abia State for allegedly masterminding the rumour that led to attack on persons suspected to be northerners living in the commercial city, even as soldiers have been drafted to the state to maintain peace.

By Vincent Ujumadu
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Trouble was said to have started on Sunday when luxury bus passengers from the northern part of the country who arrived Aba were said to have spread the rumour that some Igbos living in Sokoto were attacked by the indigenes.

Hundres of youths who heard the rumour took to the streets and attacked those suspected to be Hausas and vandalized their property.
In the ensuing pandemonium, several people sustained injuries, while all northern indigenes in the town took refuse at the central police station in the town. Some households in Aba accommodated others who later joined their colleagues at the barracks. As the information spread, all trailers coming into the eastern states through Enugu with foodstuffs, onions, cattle, fish and other items parked at the newly established cattle market at the border town of Umuchieze waiting for the situation to calm down.

When Vanguard visited the area on Monday which is about 200 kilometers to Aba on the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, about 300 fully-loaded vehicles were parked there. Also at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH), Aba six persons wounded during the fracas are still on admission, while the rest of the Hausa community is taking refuse at the police station and at the Naval School of Logistics, Owerrinta.

Governor Orji Uzor who began a two-day visit to Anambra State on Sunday had to cut short the tour and rushed back to Aba in company of members of the state security council. He visited the ABSUTA where six wounded people were on admission, the onions market in Aba, the cattle market at Umuchieze and the CPS where he assured the people that their lives and property were safe and urged them to go back to their businesses. He said: “Abia is safe. I have made money available for providing the needs of those taking refuge at the barracks and made provision for other necesities.

Posted by Publisher at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

November 14, 2005

I did not take N12bn from City Express Bank

Chairman of the Doyin Group of Companies, Prince Samuel Adedoyin, said on Friday that he had submitted two prime properties to the City Express Bank Limited to offset an outstanding credit facility amounting to about N500million.

Biodun Sonowo

Addressing newsmen in Lagos, Adedoyin said total outstanding indebtedness by his companies to the bank were not more than N500million and were 妬ncurred in the normal course of business.・

Adedoyin refuted an allegation that he, members of his family and associates owed the bank up to N12billion in unpaid loans and advances. Adedoyin was until last week, the Chairman of City Express Bank.

The Central Bank of Nigeria removed the board and management of the bank, citing its inability to discharge its obligations to customers and appointed an interim management to restructure the bank.

The industrialist said that contrary to certain reports, he did not grant loans amounting to billions of naira to family and friends.

He, however, said that he authorised a loan to Dayyad Nigeria Limited whose chief executive is his son. He explained that the loan was backed by a local purchase order from Shell Petroleum Development Corporation as collateral and with a lien on the vehicles to be imported by the company.

He said that Dayyad, however, reneged on the terms of the contract and that the bank then had the CEO arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission where he is still being investigated.

的 do not have cronies, I have been in business since I was a teenager and at almost 70 years, I cherish my name and reputation,・he said.

On the planned restructuring and merger plans for City Express Bank, Adedoyin said he welcomed the CBN intervention which he said, would make the bank stronger and enable him to concentrate on the development of his factories.

He said his main priority now was to source Low Pour Fuel Oil for the Doyin Group痴 factories in Lagos, Ilorin and Agbara.

The LPFO or 澱lack oil・is a vital lubricant for industrial machinery such as forklifts, boilers, heaters and other standard factory equipment and has been scarce for several months and hit industries hard.

The PUNCH, Monday, November 14, 2005

Posted by Publisher at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

No automatic successor to Obasanjo —OYINLOLA

OSOGBO— GOVERNOR Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State declared Saturday that President Olusegun Obasanjo has no automatic successor. The governor made it clear that at the expiration the tenure of this presidency, the party's constitution envisages that its provisions in selecting a successor to the President will be followed.

By Jide Ajani, Political Editor & Gbenga Olarinoye
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 14, 2005

Gov. Oyinlola in an interview in Osogbo said the present crisis in the PDP would be resolved as previous crises.
The Osun State chief executive also responded to questions on the rating which saw his state place third behind Governor Chimaroke Nnamani’s Enugu State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, run by Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
On the face-off between President Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar who sees himself as automatic successor in 2007, the governor said: “I don’t think the constitution of the party makes it sacrosanct that at the expiration of the tenure of this presidency, this man must take over. There is a procedure for selecting the presidential candidate of our great party and everybody is at liberty to go for it.

“Until when that procedure is not complied with, then we can think of and begin to say a crisis is brewing or something. The party's constitution is there to guide it in the selection of whoever will be the party’s presidential candidate.
“And for as long as that is pursued, I don’t see the reason why anybody would want to say that will lead to the tearing of the party apart. They’ve been talking about this final battle.

“During the changing of leadership of our party, I saw a report headlined: The Final Battle, the other time ‘The Final Battle, and now people are already saying this one, too, is The Final Battle, when actually will this Final Battle come.”
He said the crisis in the party was normal, considering its size and the plethora of contending interests at play. According to him, “unless there is only one soul living in an area, even that person will have crisis in his own heart. He will have crisis on his own, not to mention where you have two, three or four people or a multitude.
“A large party like PDP cannot but have crisis. But one credit you must give the PDP is the mechanism it has to resolve the crises it had had. The other parties do not have that. How can you expect a party that is as large as the PDP not to have crisis but we have always come out resolving whatever crises there are. And I don’t see any other crisis that we cannot overcome. The greater crises have been dealt with minimal acrimony, so any other one we will handle.”

On the rating

On the rating, the governor said the issue of service delivery which counted heavily in his performance could not but be attributed to the role of Constituency Projects carried out by the party.
He narrated how members of the state House of Assembly introduced the idea to him but which he took with a bit of introspection.
He said whereas legislators requestedN10 million per constituency, he gave an initial N5 million. However, the governor said when he went round to commission projects initiated by the legislators, he decided to increase the funding to N10 million and now N20 million.

“What this has been able to do for the state administration, especially in the area of ensuring that the dividends of democracy get to the grassroots, is that even council chairmen are now up and doing because they do not want the legislators to continue to steal the show. We have a monitoring team which goes round each council.”
Taking on his critics, Oyinlola said: “Gone are those days when propaganda was employed to deceive the people. The people are more enlightened now and they have eyes to see. If I tell a lie that I have done something and that thing has not been done, the people can verify and they can challenge you.

“We have had cause to publish what we were able to do in just two years with what they claimed they did in four years and the facts are on ground. If there is no portable water in a community and I say I have provided it, let them come out and say we are lying. We will continue to do our best for the people of this state and we thank God Almighty for the support He has been providing for us.”

Posted by Publisher at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

Bank inflates client's debt by N700m

LAGOS — MANAGING Director of Doyin Investments, Prince Samuel Adedoyin, has claimed that a commercial bank (name withheld) inflated the amount his company is owing it.

By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 14, 2005

He said about N700 million was passed into the account of Doyin Investment Limited through several separate accounts the group has with the bank. This resulted in a cumulative debt of N1.257 billion in the name of Doyin Investments which the company said it was unaware of.

The group is contesting the amount it is said to be owing the bank, saying its indebtedness is not more than N485 million for which there was adequate security through the mortgage Prince Samuel Adedoyin has with Union Homes.
The company’s account is alleged to have been fraudulently loaded with loan facilities to the tune of N700 million between 2002 and 2004. The company's loan exposure to the bank, Vanguard learnt, is about N485 million.

Investigation showed that the loans were contracted through six separate accounts. In the deal, N140 million was credited as loans to the company through account no 6258. At another time, N50 million was advanced to the company through account no 4859 and another N30 million through account no 4837. Another account no 0314 carried a loan facility of N60 million which the management of the bank advanced to the company. Yet another was account no 0446 bearing a loan facility of N35 million which was opened as a loan account in favour of Doyin Investment.
Account no 6266 bearing a loan facility of N170 million was equally opened as a loan account for the company. All the six accounts add up to N485 million which the company admitted was its legal obligation to the company. But the Doyin Investment loan facility with the bank was allegedly doctored with additional facility of N700 million. This when put together add up to N1.257 billion that the bank carried in its books as loan outstanding from Doyin Investment.
Prince Adedoyin, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Doyin Group of Companies, said he had protested the loans to the CBN and the Presidency, stating: “I did not take or give loans to the tune of N12 billion as reported by a section of the Nigerian media.”

He said the query he raised over the spurious loans on his accounts had not elicited any reply from the management of the bank. Prince Adedoyin said his company stopped banking transactions with the bank in 2003, stating that his bank of first choice was First Bank with which he had transacted business for 39 years.
He said the facilities he took from the bank had the mandatory collateral in the form of mortgages he had with Union Homes which he pledged to the bank to help it out of its dire situation. He said it was not true that he gave out loans to his cronies and surrogates. He, however, admitted that his son was given a facility to the tune of N132.8 million to finance an LPO from Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) with a 365-day tenor.
According to him, the facility given to DAAYAD Ventures Limited had five pre conditions.
Prince Adedoyin said the bank did not play its role of taking direct delivery of the cars. He said Mr. Ayorinde Adedoyin said he had paid N70 million of the N132 million loan facility.

Chairman of Doyin Investment said he was happy when the CBN governor told him last Tuesday that CBN was taking over the bank. He said the apex bank by that action had taken a load off his neck. He lamented getting involved in banking, saying: “I did not know this is how difficult it is to manage a bank. If any one steals a trailer load of products from my factory I will know, but there in the bank if they steal one billion naira I will not know. I did not manage the bank, I was only the chairman. The only thing I ever benefitted from the bank is the car they attached to the chairman's office and the sitting allowance they paid to me. There was no dividend paid. The only time there would have been dividend, the bank said it was going for private placement which did not succeed. I am happy it did not succeed.”

Posted by Publisher at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

I refuse to be caged—Ojukwu

ENUGU—THE Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, vowed yesterday, to continue to exercise his fundamental right of expressing his opinions on national issues and would not allow himself to be caged simply because Ndigbo fought a civil war.

By Tony Edike
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 14, 2005

He insisted that the Igbo did not cause the war. Rather it was brought to their doorsteps by their adversaries, adding that Ndigbo were not defeated in the war since he (Ojukwu), who symbolises the Biafran struggle, is still alive despite all efforts to eliminate him.
The Ikemba who spoke at a meeting of Igbo Improvement Union in Enugu, promised that he would not relent in the struggle to emancipate Ndigbo from oppression, adding that the agitation by Ndigbo was genuine, legitimate and just. He said he was still being hounded by his enemies but stressed that he was not afraid since his cause was to ensure justice for all in the country.

“I cannot be afraid. I am fear itself. They are always looking for what I will say but the major thing is no matter what I say, the question is: have the Igbo spoken? All Ndigbo should know that they are Igbo and they were created by God to be Igbo. Where God left us is where He wants us to be. I will remain committed to Ndigbo cause,” Ojukwu said.
He said having led the Igbo at the age of 33, he was confident that there were so many Igbo who could still provide the leadership required to emancipate the Ndigbo, adding that what Igbo should be looking for was his successor.
Quoting Psalm 136 verse 5, the ex-Biafran leader said he remained “the Zion of Biafra. The day I stop calling unto Zion, let my tongue fall off.”

He, however, frowned at Igbo politicians who rush to the North to seek support to rule the country, saying anybody who has total Igbo support is already assured of victory in any election. “There is no need going to Sokoto to look for support because nobody can succeed in ruling Nigeria without the support of Ndigbo. Even if the Igbo don’t produce the president, they will still be consulted, otherwise it won’t work,” he said.

In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting attended by some eminent politicians from the South-East zone, the group expressed the determination of Ndigbo to congregate on a common political platform that would champion and sustain social justice, economic and political advancement of Ndigbo. They also pledged to encourage credible, principled and incorrigible Ndigbo to contest all elective offices in the country in the next dispensation.
The group condemned the arrest and prosecution of Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) by the Federal Government, saying his demand for the sovereign state of Biafra was nonviolent and in consonance with self-determination principles of the laws of Nigeria, which the country has been practising by creating states out of regions and states out of states.
The communiqué which was read by former All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate in Enugu State, Chief Ugochukwu Agballah, further called for the immediate release of Chief Uwazuruike, stating that his prosecution was unjust and a clear case of victimisation.

The group expressed gratitude to all Igbo for the solidarity they showed to Ojukwu on his return from medical treatment abroad and prayed that God would continue to preserve him so that he would continue to render a selfless service to Ndigbo.

Posted by Publisher at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

NorthOmega Bank emerges in last minute move

LAGOS—AS the deadline for merging draws nearer, a new bank, NorthOmega Bank, has emerged. It is the fusion of FirstNorth Bank Group with the Bank One Group. This has reduced the number of possible banks from 26 to 25.

By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 14, 2005

Members of the NorthOmega Bank are Bank of the North which is being recapitalised by the Northern states, Omega Bank PLC, Trans International Bank, Fountain Trust Bank, New Africa Bank, and NUB Bank. The merging banks came together weekend to consolidate to beat the CBN December 31 deadline. Omegabank had originally planned to integrate its business with Trans International Bank and Co-operative Bank. However, towards the end of October, Co-operative Bank pulled out of the deal which was to trade under the franchise of Bank One. Similarly, Bank of the North was in a merger arrangement with NUB Bank, New Africa Bank in the FirstNorth Bank merger deal. The two groups coming together are to strengthen their position to meet the N25 billion minimum capital base.

Thus far, 12 banks have met the N25 billion minimum capital requirement while 13 others are in the process of making it before the December 31 dead line. The 12 banks are Union Bank, Zenith Bank PLC, GT Bank PLC, Afribank PLC, Intercontinental PLC, Oceanic Bank PLC, Access Bank PLC, Diamond Bank PLC, Wema Bank PLC, Nigeria International Bank PLC and First Bank PLC. Although Standard Chartered Bank has promised to recapitalise, but is yet to reflect in the books of the bank.

Merger groups that have not forwarded an application for Approval-in-Principle to the CBN by Friday, October 28, 2005 deadline may as well forget any further merger arrangement.
The emerging banks, according to the CBN Governor, Professor Charles Soludo, are better described as stronger banks as there is yet to emerge a big bank in the country.
Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhude recently told Business Editors that a level play field had been created for all banks that survived the consolidation. He said inefficient banks had survived in the system in the past through rents that they earned cheaply by trading on foreign exchange and cheap government funds that were invested in treasury bills. He said what the banking reform had done was to remove the sources of such rents in the system.

Only last week, 11 problem banks that formed Alliance Bank met with the CBN to chart a way forward on the over N50 billion depositors’ funds trapped in the banks. The meeting was with the CBN, the management and boards of the affected banks and other stakeholders. The meeting, it was learnt, looked into the modality of forming an alliance among the effected banks in line with the CBN governor’s promise of a bridge bank to manage the problem banks.
On the agenda of the meeting were such issues as loan recovery strategy of the 11 banks, how to handle the over N50 billion depositorss funds in the banks, the shareholding structure of the proposed Alliance Bank and what each bank will be contributing as shareholders’ funds in the proposed bank.

Posted by Publisher at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

Face your trial, Presidency tells Alamieyeseigha

ABUJA — THE Presidency has charged the embattled Governor Dipereye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State to concentrate on freeing himself from the allegations of money laundering levelled at him in London as it, yesterday, dismissed insinuations of political persecution raised by the governor against President Olusegun Obasanjo.

By Rotimi Ajayi & Emmanuel Aziken
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 14, 2005

The presidency position was a rebuttal to a newspaper interview where the governor accused the president of persecuting him (Alamieyeseigha) on account of his political inclinations to Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and his leading role in the resource control crusade.
Reacting to the allegations yesterday, Senior Special Assistant to the President, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode said the allegations were all lies lacking decency. Besides, the presidency described the allegations by Gov. Alamieyeseigha as the utterances of a drowning man.

He said: “The allegation that the President wanted to have him assassinated is far-fetched and ridiculous. This is not a banana Republic and neither is our president a murderer. People say all sorts of things when they are in a tight corner. It is in that light we begin to see this. As regards that aspect of his being prosecuted because he was a supporter of the Vice President, I will not dignify that submission with a response. That is an old story.
“I think that it would be better if Alamieyeseigha faces the charges that have been levelled at him in London by the authorities rather than suddenly spreading lies and say this is why, this is why, this is why.”

Posted by Publisher at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

Where is Etiebet?

Measuring a little under two meters in height, with patches of grey here and there on the hair and with an easily discernible Annang (Akwa Ibom) tongue, Chief Don Etiebet, the national chairman of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP) is regretfully missing.

By Emmanuel Aziken, Abuja
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 14, 2005

In the midst of unimaginable upheaval in the dominant Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and perceivable agony among the populace, the ANPP and its leadership have surprisingly gone into hiding. ‘‘Is that the stuff opposition is made of,’’ people are now wondering.
It is an inexcusable failure to rise up to duty that has bred a number of conspiracy theories bordering on a financial compromise of the ANPP leadership.
Nothing speaks of the inactivity of the ANPP as the seeming quietness of the party to the continuing chaos being visited on the nation by the ruling PDP.

Here and there, then and now, discordant tunes emanating from the PDP should otherwise have enlivened the ANPP, but the main opposition party keeps quiet in a seeming conspiratorial acquiescence to the happenings in the land.
The party it seems can hardly talk. Senator Lawali Shuaibu, leader of the party’s caucus in the Senate blames the rot or seeming ineffectiveness of the party on Chief Etiebet whom he claims is not providing the needed opposition to the PDP.
“ANPP has not provided the needed opposition because I can tell you that we have the kind of leadership that has not been very forthright and that has not been very sincere with the membership of the party and with that I can tell you that right now we don’t have the kind of leadership that is capable of providing such opposition,” Senator Shuaibu told Vanguard in an unpretentious indictment of the party leadership last September.
That accusation was, however, not unchallenged by Etiebet who when contacted on telephone then said Shuaibu’s assertion was like kettle calling pot black.

According to him, Senator Shuaibu as minority leader has collaborated with the ruling PDP in enacting obnoxious legislation among which were the laws amending the organization of labour unions.
However, right under Etiebet’s nose, Governors, Senators and party officials in the State are leaving the party for the PDP.
In one of the most mocking Committee changes in the Senate, Senate President Ken Nnamani two months ago appointed a Senator known by most of his colleagues to have decamped from the ANPP to the PDP as the chairman of a Senate Committee in charge of supervising the functions of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In Bauchi State, the party chairman was recently reported to have resigned and gone back to the PDP.
In Adamawa State where the party almost clinched the governorship of the State, the party’s towering gubernatorial flag bearer in the 2003 elections, Alhaji Adamu Muazu Modibo has ditched the party and is himself mobilizing supporters to decamp to the PDP.

In the most shocking development, Admiral Augustus Aikhomum the chairman of the party’s board of trustees resigned his position fuelling speculations that he was on his way out of the party.
Sources within the Edo State chapter of the party told Vanguard that a big man from the area (Aikhomu) was already holding negotiations with local party chieftains towards smoothening the entry of the nation’s former number two man into the biggest political party in Africa.
Chief Tony Anenih, the chairman of the PDP’s board of trustees had given a pointer to the worsening profile of the membership of the ANPP when he warned renegades within the PDP not to consider shifting tent to the ANPP. According to him, the leading opposition party would soon become an empty house on account of the possible migration of ANPP big fishes into the PDP.

Though a few ANPP legislators like Senator Timothy Adudu (ANPP, Plateau North) and Mr. Emmanuel Arigbe-Osula of the House of Representatives were quick to pour scorn on Chief Anenih’s assertion.
Senator Adudu said Anenih’s assertion that the ANPP would soon become an empty shell was itself an empty talk as he described the PDP as the party that can be most described as being in shambles.
Mr Argibe-Osula (Oredo, Edo State) said the imminent departure of some ANPP stalwarts would be good riddance to bad rubbish which he said, will purify the party for God to use in demolishing the evil hegemony he said the PDP intends to foist on the nation.

Arigbe-Osula who comes from Anenih’s home State of Edo said the ANPP was set to reinvigorate its party offices to the intent of mobilising all those that would want to side with God in the expected battle he said would be a replay of David and Goliath.

The assertions of the ANPP lawmakers notwithstanding, it is however, remarkable that the party leadership has so far failed to respond to the Anenih assertion. Some say that the leadership can not respond as they cannot fault the assertion by the PDP leader.

One ANPP lawmaker said the possible surge by ANPP chieftains to the PDP is indeed likely to start from the ANPP national executive and hence the quietness from the national executive.
Etiebet’s actions some say is not surprising. As chairman, founder, financier and main presidential aspirant of the National Centre Party of Nigeria (NCPN) under the Sani Abacha regime, Etiebet after some commendably daring challenge to Abacha, subsequently ditched his own party and embraced the Abacha Must Reign Forever campaign.
It is not as if the problem of the ANPP, the opposition or the country is for Etiebet alone to solve.
However, it is the suggestion of some that his quietness and to wit, that of his party to issues of national discourse is unbecoming of that of the chairman of the country’s main opposition party.
The party is understandably hamstrung by the lack of funding a situation that has turned the ANPP national secretariat into a sorry state.

The party has been unable to even hold a national executive committee meeting for nearly one year.
“The national executive Committee of the party is the engine room of the party, but they have not been given an opportunity to sit down and rub minds and discuss how we can move the party forward because the chairman I think is not very confident that if the NEC is called that all would be well with him,” Senator Shuaibu told Vanguard in an interview recently.
In defence of his seeming inactivity, Chief Etiebet who despite repeated demands would not grant a full interview on the happenings in his party had earlier told Vanguard on telephone that his critics in the National Assembly have themselves been unhelpful.

Besides accusing them of collaborating with the PDP in the promulgation of seemingly obnoxious laws, he said they have equally refused to provide financial support to the party.
But ANPP Senators, however, rebuff the claim. One senior member of the ANPP Senate caucus disclosed how the Etiebet executive rebuffed efforts by the caucus at energising the party.
As recent as last September the Senate caucus of the party had approached Chief Etiebet with a view to finding a common ground on issues. Such entreaties one Senator involved disclosed ended with no positive result.
Following the determination of a handful of party activists to stick to the party a move to finally edge out Chief Etiebet from his position may have begun.

As at last week, those involved in the process were trying to convince Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, third republic Governor of Edo State to take over from Etiebet. As at last week that effort spearheaded by figures in the ANPP caucus of the House of Representatives was still ongoing.
Meanwhile, the incumbent chairman, Chief Etiebet remains mysteriously missing, even with his job on the line.

Posted by Publisher at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

Rasheed Williams and Lagos PDP

BEFORE the expiration of the tenure of Alhaji Muritala Ahsorobi's administration as chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Lagos State chapter, various aspirants jostling to become the next chairman of the party had indicated interest to lead the party at the state level.

By Dapo Akinrefon
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 14, 2005

It however, came as a shock to the executive members of the party in Lagos few months before the expiration of the tenure of previous administration, that the national leadership of the party decided to set up a caretaker committee to oversee the affairs of the party pending the conduct of fresh elections which would then led to the emergence of a new party leadership which has thus emerged.

Reason for the dissolution of the party leadership in Lagos PDP as gathered by Vanguard was due to the fact that they (excos) had performed beyond expectation which now warranted the need for new crop of leaders to take over the affairs of the party.

After wide deliberations and consultations by the national leadership of the PDP to shop for a neutral person who has the wherewithal to steer the affairs of the party and take it to greater heights, a member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP and at the same time leader of the Elder‘s Forum in Lagos State, Chief Rasheed Alaba Williams was asked to take over the helm of affairs of the party.

When Chief Williams was approached with the offer of captaining the ship of the Lagos PDP with the view of bring sanity to the party which has been meshed in murky waters of factionalisation, he, at first rejected the offer stating that he does not want to be entangled in the dirty game considering the fact that he had wanted to resign from politicking; but for the persuasion of the party hierarchy to come to the rescue of the party in Lagos state.

According to the deputy national chairman of PDP, Chief Olabode George, who continued to laud the efforts of Williams for taking up the tasking job of salving and at the time seeing to it that the party in Lagos is sanitized and harmonized to pave way for capturing the state come 2007, the members of the party should be grateful to him (Willaims) for venturing into it.
During the recently conducted congress in Lagos State, Willaims explained that his coming to take over the party affairs marks a new dawn in the party‘s pursuit to enthrone full particpatory party administration and democracy in the country. In addition, he pointed out that the party shall wax very strong through the determination of the newly constituted party state executive promising that the new administration will be constituted of people of high pedigree and experience.
Williams, however said that experience and maturity is expected to come to play in reshaping the activities of the PDP in Lagos. According to him, “for me, I consider this leadership mantle yet another surmountable challenge. I engaged myself in serious consultations with the various grades and echelon of our Great Party members and a cross section of my friends and members; who expressed their full support and cooperation on this daunting task before I accepted the leadership of our party through this period of renaissance”.

Continuing, Williams vowed that “I stand here before you with the covenant of God and the general members of our Great party in moving the party forward and ensure total victory at the polls in all future elections through dedication to the task at hand, determination, commitment and the pursuit of the ideals of our party’s founding fathers. Yet I cannot do it alone without your support, cooperation, commitment and above all high sense of individual self-discipline”.
Speaking further, the party stalwart promised that the guiding principle of the new leadership shall be equity, fairness and discipline even as he stated without contradiction that there will be no room anymore for mini groups, caucuses, or factions within the Lagos State PDP and as such, anyone or persons wanting to fan such ember of discord should think twice or find his or her way out of our party as such erring members shall be strongly and severely dealt with.

While highlighting his administration‘s prospectus, the former insurance icon cum politician explained that the working committee shall first and foremost overhaul the party secretariat in order to make it more effective and functional and at the same time create various directorates, which will serve the several standing committees which would include amongst others a reconciliation and harmonization committee, an election campaign and planning committee, media mobilization and publicity committee, propaganda and electioneering committee, youth affair committee, security and intelligence committee and women affairs committee. Other areas are the research, strategic and statistics committee, organizing committee, finance and fund raising committee.

Aside this, he promised the constitution of an elders forum which he stated will be properly reconstituted to accommodate key leaders who will serve on advisory capacity to further enrich the party’s decision making process. On funding of the party, Williams hinted that the party‘s ability to mobilize necessary finance will determine its ability to be competitive. He said “a sum of N70m only has been budgeted for the current fiscal year for the administration of our great party, this is exclusive of campaign funding which shall be determined by a committee for that purpose”.
On his modus operandi and style of leadership, the party stalwart vowed to provide “purposeful, responsive, dynamic, honest, fair and transparent, accountable and resourceful, honest leadership”.

He said “we must collectively build a very strong, virile political party. I enjoin all leaders to join hands with me to move this train. We must all eschew bitterness and embrace unity, we must allow our diversity to be our strength. Let us all take the bull by the horn by proscribing factions, instead of caucuses, let’s have a faction of the whole house”.
Continuing, he stated that “we can only overcome our opponents at the polls when our house is in order. With the afore-stated on-stream, we can conveniently stress that our party is determined and resolved to take over the reign of Lagos State from the current government and only then can we be taken seriously and recognised as a potent opposition. I would like to conclude my address by informing the present administration of Lagos State, that, as stakeholders, we would ensure that they give account of their stewardship to the people of Lagos State when they are out of power”.

Posted by Publisher at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

British High Commission soft-pedals on visa

Nigeria’s scrabble team to the World Scrabble Championship in London, England got a reprieve at last after the British High Commission gave them another chance for visa interview but sadly the country’s current number one player, Onota Oteheri still had his request turned down.

By Patrick Omorodion

Posted to the Web: Monday, November 14, 2005


President of the Nigeria Scrabble Federation (NSF), Chief Toke Aka who disclosed this happy and sad development said they were happy that the first reserve player, Anthony Ikolo was issued with a visa on Monday after a brief drilling by the High Commission.

Chief Aka said that Oteheri got the age limit barrier waived for him but he was refused on the ground that he said he had never applied for visa before when actually he had earlier been turned down at a previous attempt about three years ago.
The scrabble boss said other players and officials who were not physically present for interview were given new dares to appear with the Technical Director of the NSF, Larry Ojoko and two players Sunday Oshodi and Azubuike Ogbogu finally issued with visas Friday. Two accompanying journalists will be interviewed on today while two officials from the team’s sponsoring company will have theirs on tomorrow, Chief Aka said.
An elated Aka said the latest development was heartening despite Oteheri’s predicament, stressing that the federation’s request was a geniune one and “substantiated by the rigorous perusal it underwent in the sports ministry before we were approved for a NOTE VERBAL from the Foreign Affairs ministry”.

He expressed optimism in the ability of the team to do well at the World Championship and called on Nigerians “to be united in wishing our team to the championship a very successful outing and by the special Grace of God, we shall return with the coveted World Championship trophy”.
The first batch of the contingent, Chief Aka said, were expected to have left for London yesterday while the rest of the team will join later in the after the rescheduled visit to the British High Commission..

Posted by Publisher at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

MTN looks ahead as Marathon gathers momentum

WITH barely six days to go before the starter guns goes off for the 4th MTN Lagos International Half Marathon, organisers are already looking beyond it to the next edition in 2006 with a promise to get a “bigger and better” race.

Miebi Senge

Posted to the Web: Monday, November 14, 2005

Last Friday officials of title sponsors MTN Communications Nigeria were celebrating what appears to be a huge entry for the 2005 race coming up on Saturday. “We have so far got in excess of 45,000 registration for this year’s Marathon. I think that is a huge success,” Olu Akanmu, GM Consumer Marketing said after the Media ‘Mock’ Marathon race in Lagos.
He was particularly excited that Lagos is gradually imbibing the ‘Marathon culture’ since the mobile phone company re-introduced four years ago.

“Lagos has not been the same since the introduction of the MTN Lagos International Half Marathon. The reaction has been tremendous as attested to by the large volume of entries in every succeeding edition. It is getting bigger and bigger and, hopefully very soon we will get to the summit of World marathons,” Akanmu said.
“Prior to 2002, the Lagos marathon property was relatively unpopular, hence the culture could not permeate the nation and its citizenry. The culture over the last four years has continued to gather momentum with participation increasing on a yearly basis.

“The synergy between the marathon culture and the MTN’s ‘can do spirit’ Innovativeness, among others have set a revolution that has become an affecting agent in event organisation and sponsorship,” he enthused.
The marketing guru however believes the Nigerian mass participating audience (either as participants, event watchers and tele-spectators) are the biggest beneficiaries.

“The greatest beneficiaries of the phenomenon that is becoming a worthy culture in the country, are judged to be the sprawling mass audience and spectators who watch either physically or through the mass media and imbibe the culture of endurance and social service to the nation and its less privileged population. The marathon may be considered as a melting pot of activities cutting across age, race, gender, status, profession, people and nation. It breeds understanding and communication just as the current title sponsor’s in the country main pre-occupation is breaking barriers, engendering communication and fostering peace across board.”

Training tips for road race

There are no hard and fast rules about how to run, as everyone will have their own natural style (some more unique than others!). However, here are a few pointers which can help improve your performance.
Head –– Look straight ahead. Focus on a point 10 to 15 yards in front and try to run in a straight line.
Body –– Keep your body upright with your back straight. Try not to ‘‘lean’’ even when running up hill.
Arms –– Let your arms swing naturally and in rhythm with your legs and loosely cup your hands.
Feet –– Your heel strikes the running surface, your forefoot touches, your heel then starts to lift and the forefoot flexes.
Without realising it most runners breathe in a 2/2 rhythmic ratio; they take two steps as they inhale and two more steps as they exhale. This can change if the pace is faster or slower. Most runners tend to breathe through their nose and mouth but there are no set rules. If you find you have a different breathing pattern then don’t alter it, it won’’t improve your running. Breathing is very natural and you should do what comes naturally to you!
*culled from Flora London Marathon

Posted by Publisher at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

Enyimba break FA Cup jinx

Enyimba Football Club of Aba yesterday broke the jinx surrounding their inability to win the Coca-Cola FA Cup by outscoring their opponents, Lobi Stars of Makurdi 6-5 on penalties at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt to lift the 2005 edition of the competition.

By Tony Ubani
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 14, 2005

* beat Lobi 6-5 (pen)

Both sides had settled for 1-1 draw after full and extra time with no victor and the resultant penalty shoot saw them picking their goals until old war horse Duke Udi fluffed his to deny Lobi coach, Tunde Disu the opportunity to lead the Benue champions to another FA victory.
With the loss the Lobi boys missed the Naira rain promised them by the Benue State government while Enyimba made good their promise to add the FA Cup to the Globacom Premier League which they are on the way to winning after losing out to Dolphin of Port Harcourt last year.
Despite losing the title to Enyimba, Lobi are expected to represent the country in the 2006 Confederations Cup since the Aba side would play in the most lucrative and prestigious CAF Champions League which they failed to win three times in a row after losing out in the group stage to Raja Casablanca.

Posted by Publisher at 08:48 AM | Comments (0)

Build good relationships, Obasanjo tells security agencies

President Olusegun Obasanjo has urged the Armed Forces and security agencies in the country to foster good relationships among themselves in order to whittle down the constant clashes among them.

By Charles Ozoemena
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 14, 2005

The president made this appeal in Abuja while lighting the torch for the Armed Forces and security agencies Games billed for later this month in Owerri, the Imo state capital.
The Games is the first joint sports championship for all members of the security agencies and is supposed to promote good relationship among the agencies.

The agencies involved include the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nagerian Navy, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Police, Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Prisons Service, State Security Service, the National Intelligence Agency and the Civil Defence Corps.

President Obasanjo at the torch-lighting said there had been “too many incidences of clashes among law enforcement agencies” that effort should be made to build social relations between them.
The idea of the sports meet came last year following the security retreat held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where the agencies agreed to hold one for the purpose of promoting social relationships.
Obasanjo said the inter- agency relationship would go beyond sports events, urging them to feel free to step into each others recreational clubs for relaxation.

Earlier, Chief of Defence Staff, General Alexander Ogomudia, said the event would bring together all the agencies in a friendly environment for better understanding of their roles. He said: “We are coming together to understand ourselves better since we are working for the same purpose.”
President Obasanjo later lit the torch and held it for a brief jogging session around his office.
Present at the occasion were Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Martin Agwai; Chief of Air Staff, Vice Admiral Jonah Wuyep and Corp Marshall of the FRSC, General Halidu Hannaniya.

Posted by Publisher at 08:31 AM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2005

Fresh charge for Dokubo

*Court decides bail application today

ABUJA—ON a day a team of lawyers led by Mr Festus Keyamo mounted legal pressure on a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to grant bail to Alhaji Asari Dokubo to face the five-count treason charge against him from home, Federal Government, yesterday, not only opposed the move but hinted that Dokubo would face a fresh one count charge of illegal possession of firearms.

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
Posted to the Web: Friday, November 11, 2005

Acting Federal Director of Public Prosecution, Mr S. Aliyu, who represented the Federal Government in the case told the court that Dokubo was unrepentant in waging war against the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo, adding that even while in detention, two AK-47 rifles and 110 live ammunition were recovered from his residence in Port Harcourt.
Dokubo who himself spoke yesterday moments after proceedings in the case before a new Federal High Court judge, Justice Peter Olayiwola, told newsmen that Nigeria “is an evil entity.”

The new judge, Justice Olayiwola, was recently re-deployed to the Federal High Court, Abuja to beef up the staff strength in the jurisdiction following the increasing number of cases being filed at the registry of the court on daily basis. He took over the trial of the public interest case from Justice Babs Kewumi, who was newly redeployed to the Federal Capital Territory. He is to decide this morning whether Dokubo should be admitted to his temporary freedom and face his trial from home.
Earlier, Dokubo who wore a black vest with the picture of Adaka Boro boldly inscribed on it was driven into the court premises by the police at 9.22a.m. When he stepped down from the vehicle that brought him, Dokubo looked round to see his supporters who went on a sympathy visit. With his eyes glowing, he occasionally clenched his fist to shout “Freedom for my people” to which came the response “freedom.”

He was led into the courtroom where he granted an interview to pressmen until he was stopped.
At exactly 9.29 a.m, the court sat to take an application filed by Dokubo for his bail. It was argued by his team of lawyers led by Mr Keyamo

The Director of Public Prosecution, Mr Aliyu, opposed the application, saying if allowed to go home, Dokubo would run away and would never come back to face his trial, adding that he would not only commit the same crime if allowed bail. The court deferred ruling in the matter till today.
Dokubo-Asari was alleged to be planning with an undisclosed number of people and societies to oust President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government through unconstitutional means. He was specifically accused of conspiring with the undisclosed accomplices at Samsy Hotel, Benin City, Edo State on or about August 28, to levy war against President Obasanjo’s government.

He was also alleged to have incited the people of Niger Delta region to carry arms against their sitting governors over alleged mismanagement of public funds.
None of the organisations allegedly formed by him to achieve his goal was included on the charge sheet neither was any individual name included. The charge simply said that his accomplices were at large.

Dokubo’s statement to the police

His statement to the Force CID, Abuja on September 20, this year before he was charged with treason reads:
“I am Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, a native of Asari (Buguma) in the Kalabari Kingdom of the Ijaw nation now being colonised by the Nigerian state.
“Being born on June 1, 1964 to the late Hon Justice Melford Dokubo-Goodluck and late (Mrs) Bekinwari Dokubo Goodluck of Asari (Buguma) and Obuama all in the Kalabari Kingdom of the Ijaw nation.

“I attended Baptist Day School, Asari (Buguma), University of Calabar (old Calabar), Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt. In both UNICAL and RUST, I attempted to read Law but failed.
“While there, I was president, National Union of Rivers State Students; member, Black Conscience Movement (BCM); member, Moslem Students Society; member, Movement for Progressive Nigeria, a Marxist organisation.
“Since I left the university, I have severally been a member of the Social Democratic Party, AD, National Solidarity Movement. I was also a member of Movement for the Survival of the Ijaw Ethnic Nationality in the Niger-Delta, leader of both the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force and Niger Delta Peoples Salvation Front.
“I have visited all West African countries except Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau. I have also travelled to Sweden, Saudi Arabia, United Arab, Libya, Egypt etc I have not had military training in any country. I never had military training in Libya.
PRONACO means Pro National Conference Organisation. I am one of the conveners with the doyen of popular struggle, Pa Enahoro and Prof Wole Soyinka.

“PRONACO has been in existence for a long time but the present initiative started in November 2004. The objective of PRONACO is to organise a sovereign national conference. The conference will kick off in October 2005.
“The Niger Delta Sovereign National Conference is a mini conference of the PRONACO’s people’s national conference.
“Because General Olusegun Obasanjo manipulated himself to power through massive rigging of the 2003 election, the people must seize power through the process of democratic, progressive mass activism that will lead to the formation of a provisional government of national unity.
“We can achieve peace without fighting by going our separate ways like the Czechoslovakian experience. If there is no peace, the process leading to armed struggle cannot be ascertained as I am not God.
“The NDPVF which I led has totally disarmed, hence armed struggle will predicate on the action and activities of the regime of the Nigerian state.

“I will pursue the course of the disintegration of Nigeria through the process of the People’s National Conference. Under International law and convention, all peoples and nations have a right to self determination.
“Nigeria is an evil entity. It delights in killing her own people such as Dele Giwa, Pa Rewane, Isaac Adaka Boro, Ken Saro Wiwa, Bola Ige and countless number of people.

“Also, the treaties that the various kingdoms of the Ijaw nation entered into with Britain were protectorate treaties and not colonial. Hence any other structure arising from the treaties other than the protectorate status is illegitimate and illegal.
“The illegitimacy of the Nigerian state arose from the imposition of British colonial rule on our people and the handing over of political power to the deprivation of our people to the control, use and enjoyment of their God-given resources.
“We will use everything in our powers to resist the continous exploitation of our people’s resources.
“PANDAC means Pan Niger Delta Action Council. PANDAC is a coalition of various national, self determination, civil rights, religions, labour, market women, youths and other socio-political, socio-cultural organisations.
"The government of General Obasanjo is illegitimate. It retains power through the manipulation of the electoral process. This is a negation of the elementary principle of democratic governance.

“No man with self respect and dignity will allow his right of choice taken away from him by a regime claiming to be democratic.
“This has made me and others like me to resist the government of the regime of Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo.
“When Nigeria eventually disintegrates, the Ijaws will form a country of their own. The trannational corporation in collaboration with the Nigerian state has continued to exploit the resources of our people without their input.
“This has led to the environmental degradation of the fragile environment of our people. The looting of the revenue accruing from these resources is used without due input from our people.
“In every environment, there are people who benefit from the status quo and they will join hands with the occupational forces of the Nigerian state to perpetually oppress and exploit the people of the Niger Delta region asnd the Ijaw nation.
“These collaborations will be made to repeat or they will run away with their patrons and masters when the Nigerian state disintegrates.

“If the struggle outlives me, I will be grateful to God for other better than myself such as Isaac Adaka Boro, Ken Saro Wiwa had gone before me. In my struggle for myself, and my people, I have had several occasions to meet with the leaders of the Nigerian state such as General Abacha, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar, and General Obasanjo to see ways I can convince them to treat my people with justice and equity to no avail.
“My suggestion for the way forward is the convocation of a sovereign national conference. If and when the sovereign national conference is held and its decision is put into a referendum, and the Ijaws accept to remain in Nigeria, then I will have no other option than to accept the decision of the people,” he said.

Posted by Publisher at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

PDP in panic talks over new party

ABUJA—THE leadership of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) launched yesterday into a crucial meeting on the challenge posed by the emergence of the Movement for the Defence of Democracy (MDD) comprising politicians of note across the six geo-political zones.

By Jide Ajani & Rotimi Ajayi
Posted to the Web: Friday, November 11, 2005

The meeting also reviewed the just concluded state congresses of the PDP
The meeting was said to have been called by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the party, Chief Tony Anenih, who hosted the party leaders in Abuja. According to sources, the meeting considered various steps to be taken to contain the MDD from becoming a major challenge to the PDP.
It was revealed that some of those who attended the meeting considered the formation of the group by some leading members of the PDP as being tantamount to anti-party activity. It was learnt that the meeting considered steps to be taken towards the conduct of the zonal congresses and the National Convention. It was also learnt that whereas there had been growing disenchantment in the party over the congresses, the party leadership was already making move to resolve the crisis to calm frayed nerves.

The meeting was said to have been attended by National Chairman of the party, National Secretary, Senate President, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives and some members of the BOT.
Meanwhile, National Chairman of the party, Dr Ahmadu Ali, and National Secretary, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, Wednesday night, met the Vice President Atiku Abubakar on the formation of the new group which has many of his loyalists as members. A source close to the meeting said the two national party officers intimated the Vice President with the implications of floating a new group within the party. It was learnt that they told the Vice President to prevail on his loyalists to back out of the new movement to avoid giving the impression that the party was in crisis.

Sources revealed that the two party leaders expressed shock at the large turn out at the meeting of the group in Lagos. It was learnt that the meeting also discussed parallel congress held in Adamawa State.
It was learnt that the Vice President told the party officers that he had no personal problem with officers of the party but that efforts should be made by the party to build a virile democratic culture.
There were also indications last night that the frosty relationship between the Vice President and President Olusegun Obasanjo may have taken a new turn for the worse in the light of the Monday's meeting of MDD.

Posted by Publisher at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

We didn't release govs’ rating — Ojowu

ABUJA — CHIEF Economic Adviser (CEA) to the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Prof. Ode Ojowu, yesterday said the performance rating of the 36 state governments in Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory was not officially released by it and could not have been conclusive.

By Emma Ujah & Kolade Larewaju
Posted to the Web: Friday, November 11, 2005

Enugu scored 57.22 per cent in the rating by the NCP and development partners such as the World Bank, UNDP, DFID, USAID and CIDA. Federal Capital Territory placed second with 50.28 per cent.
But in a rejoinder in Abuja, yesterday, Prof. Ojowu said “the source of this report is not NCP and unequivocally stating that the report is not authentic and, therefore, should be disregarded. In the last one week, the NCP has made contact with the states to elicit their comments on the draft reports of the benchmarking exercise sent to them.

“The submission of the feedback from the states only ended on November 8, 2005 and the commission is currently analysing the submissions. The analysis shall be reviewed by the High Level Oversight Committee (HLOC) already set up by the NCP.
“The HLOC is yet to meet on the submission. Once the HLOC completes the review, the final results shall be published and widely disseminated via publication in the newspapers and other media. We, therefore, wish to dissociate ourselves from the publication.”

Exercise in bad taste —OGUN

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker of the Ogun State House of Assembly, Dr. Adetokunbo Oshin, yesterday reacted to the National Planning Commission’s (NPC) performance rating of the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) published in Vanguard Newspaper of Wednesday, saying the exercise was done in bad taste.
The performance rating had placed Ogun State in the 28th position with a score of 31.35 per cent.
The Deputy Speaker in a statement in Abeokuta said: “The rating is scandalous, deplorable, appalling and unacceptable. The report leaves much to be desired. The yardstick used to measure the level of performance in the states must have been jaundiced.”

Dr. Oshin said Ogun State had clearly satisfied all the criteria used in the measurement of the performance in that the policies of the state actually addressed the real needs of the people going by the people-oriented projects of the administration.
“The question that key stakeholders do not have their say in policies or whether the policies are widely known to the people of the state do not arise as the present government had widened the scope of policy formation body of the state which has allowed for participants including civil servants represented by the Head of Service as well as the Speaker of the State House of Assembly who heads the representatives of all the constituencies of the state,” he said.

In the area of transparent management of budget and public funds, Dr. Oshin said government had been roundly commended for having blocked all leakages and wastage within the system on assumption of office. He challenged the NPC to conduct an opinion poll within the state to get first hand information from the populace itself “rather than relying on armchair survey.”

Posted by Publisher at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

Pan Ocean Oil: Court voids Danjuma's appointment

LAGOS—JUSTICE Rebecca Olomojobi of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday nullified the appointment of Lt-General Theophilus Danjuma as Chairman and Director of Pan Ocean Oil Corporation Nigeria, operator of the Oil Mining Licence (OML) 98.

By Innocent Anaba
Posted to the Web: Friday, November 11, 2005

Gen Danjuma and three others, Mr John C. Brunner; J. B. Eruhero; H. C. Rooks, were appointed directors at an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting of the company held on March 17, 2004, convened by Annamella Timolini, estrange wife of Dr Patrizio Fabbri, former shareholder and director of the company. Some other directors of the company were purportedly removed at the said meeting.

The removal of the directors of the company prompted it (Pan Ocean) to challenge the appointments, contending that Timolini was not a shareholder of the company and lacked the power to convene any meeting of the company.
Following the suit, the defendants in the matter, Inter Ocean Oil Development Co. (Nig); Inter Ocean Oil Exploration (Nig); Lt-Gen Danjuma, Mr Brunner; Mr Eruhero; Mr Rooks and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), filed a preliminary objection, asking the court to strike out the suit on the ground that the company was not authorised to institute the action.
Ruling on the objection, and after reviewing the submissions of counsel, which lasted about two hours, Justice Olomojobi held that Annamella Timolini was not a shareholder of the company, but a stranger to the company, and as such, lacked the locus standi to convene the meeting at which some directors of the company were purportedly remove and new ones appointed.
The court also granted the prayers of Pan Ocean, which include: “that the 1st and 2nd defendants not being shareholders or directors of the plaintiff have no power to convene a meeting of shareholders or directors of the plaintiff for the purpose of passing any resolution on the affairs of the company, and that the meeting held on March 17, 2 004 was invalid, null and void as it was held without compliance with the law in respect of statutory notices as provided under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA)”

The court also declared that the meeting and the resolution of March 17, 2004 constituted an abuse of court process, contemptuous and were dishonestly and fraudulently made and that the purported resolution of Pan Ocean dated March 17, 2004 and signed by the 1st and 2nd defendants on behalf of the 3rd defendant was invalid and of no effect whatsoever.
Justice Olomojobi further ordered that the purported Notice of Board Meeting of Pan Ocean, dated March 18, 2004 issued pursuant to the resolution dated March 17, 2004 was invalid, irregular, null and void and restrained the defendants whether by themselves, their agent, privies, servants or howsoever called, from interfering with the affairs and management of the plaintiff.
After the ruling upholding the argument of Pan Ocean and dismissing the contention of the defendants, counsel to the company, Chief Afe Babalolo (SAN), asked the court to make the ruling the final judgement of the court, which was also granted by the court.

Posted by Publisher at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

Ranking of state administrations

How your governors performed
It is all about a crude irony.

By Jide Ajani, Political Editor,
Posted to the Web: Friday, November 11, 2005

Indeed, had Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, the presently embattled governor of Bayelsa State known that things would turn out like this, perhaps, he would have participated in the National Planning Commission, NPC, sponsored rating exercise which was carried out in conjunction with some donor agencies which included the World Bank, UNDP, DFID, USAID and CIDA. Whereas other states of the federation willingly submitted themselves to assessors, Governor Alamieyeseigha refused to participate in the exercise. It was not for lack of information. The state administration, in its own column for scores simply had “Did Not Participate”. Even Taraba State which came last in the exercise can still point to Bayelsa State as been behind it.

But it has brought daylight into the magic of some governors. It has also since turned out to be an exercise which has shattered some myths woven around some state governments and their miraculous feats of performance.
The performance rating of the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, ranked Enugu state as the best performing state in the federation in terms of policy formulation, budget and fiscal management, service delivery, communication and transparency in Nigeria since 1999. Enugu State was followed by the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, with Osun, Ekiti, and Ebonyi States coming third, fourth and fifth respectively.

What this has clearly shown is that responsive governance and delivery of democracy dividends are not merely achieved on the pages of newspapers. It is achieved through hard work, commitment to the welfare of the people and a clear head.
In the first eleven category, Ondo, Lagos, Kaduna, Anambra, Cross River and Yobe states came sixth, seventh, eight, ninth, tenth and eleventh, respectively. The states willingly submitted to the assessment. Only Bayelsa State did not submit to this independent assessment. (See the table)

There were three rounds of assessment.

The NPC and the donor agencies did the assessment to identify reforming State Governments in a transparent and fair manner, using internationally acceptable benchmarks to look into areas of developmental governance, reforms and project implementation under the SEEDS (State Economic Empowerment Development Strategies) programme.
The African Institute of Applied Economics, AIAE, played a major role in ensuring that those internationally acceptable benchmarks were adhered to.

A Background

Immediately after the 2003 elections, President Obasanjo announced ambitious reforms aimed at laying the foundations for economic growth, employment generation, poverty reduction and more transparency and accountability in government. In July 2003, he appointed an economic team at the federal level which quickly developed a comprehensive programme: the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) which was launched in May 2004.
The NEEDS main elements include empowering people and improving social service delivery, growing private sector and focusing on no-oil growth, and changing the way government works and improving governance. The third pillar of NEEDS, improving governance is viewed as an imperative - the most important underlying factor for a successful attainment of goals of NEEDS and meeting the Millennium Development Goals of halving poverty by year 2015, and the State and Local Governments being closer to the populace, are viewed as being critical to successful implementation of national development strategies.

Consequently, the federal government, through the National Planning Commission (NPC) and Federal Ministry of Finance intensified dialogue with States of the federation on economic development and governance reform issues, encouraging each State to develop its own State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (SEEDS).
The international community including development partners recognises that the country is at a turning point, one that requires significant, consistent response from the international community. The belief is that the country’s reform and development efforts need strong to international support to be sustainable.

The whole idea of NEEDS/SEEDS was developed through a strong home-grown process, underscoring the government’s firm commitment to an ambitious development agenda, aimed at changing behaviours and placing Nigeria on a path of sustainable long term growth and poverty reduction. This commitment was reflected in the number of State Governments which embraced SEEDS and the accompanying reform process aimed at improving governance at State level.
The States (and the local governments which fall under their purview), is the tier of government principally responsible for the delivery of basic social services to the population. Therefore the attainment of the country’s poverty reduction and development objectives and more generally the MDGs, which the international community and development partners are committed to achieve, largely depends on state governments’ capacity to discharge their basic service delivery mandate in an efficient and accountable manner.

It is against this background that the development partners in Nigeria agreed to intensify support to States starting with provision of technical assistance to the States to develop and implement their SEEDS.
There was also an agreement between the development partners, National Planning Commission and the Federal Ministry of Finance that additional resources should be directed to those States which embark on the most effective development programmes and support changes in governance, transparency and accountability.

Additional resources to well-performing States was viewed in terms of increase in allocation to pursue their development programmes and more donor aid and support. It was agreed that the other States that perform less would continue to receive technical assistance particularly in capacity building that will directly contribute to improved performance.
With the aim to assess and identify reforming State Governments in a transparent and fair manner, development partners, working with the National Planning Commission, set out to develop a set of performance benchmarks that can be used as an appropriate tool to assess performance of States in developmental governance, reforms and project implementation under the SEEDS programme.

Indicators Employed

Each of the four benchmarks was assessed by a range of detailed indicators. The assessment team assigned scores according to the performance of each State. The assessment was meant to be evidence-based implying that the State being assessed must present acceptable documentary (hard) evidence to convince the assessment team.

The set of benchmarks are widely accepted amongst donors and the NPC as an appropriate tool to measure performance of States. It is believed that the benchmarks will clearly identify States that demonstrate a clear commitment to improved governance, service delivery, transparency and accountability and the States will then be eligible both for special grants from the Federal Government as well as a package of donor assistance to support their state level programmes.
Before commencing with the assessment of the States, the assessment tool, termed SEEDS Benchmarks was presented to the National Economic Council early in year 2004 and later taken further by being shared with the 36 State Governors. This was carried out under the general oversight of the NPC. In order to ensure that the tool is appropriately customised to reflect local conditions in the country that all states are fairly assessed, the performance assessment tool were pre-tested in two States -Kwara and Enugu. And following the trials, recommendations and lessons from the States were incorporated into the benchmarks and the methodology updated in readiness for nationwide application.

All the 36 States of the federation were expected to put themselves forward to be assessed. NPC got together with the development partners and through a fair and transparent process, recruited an independent firm; the African Institute for Applied Economics (AIAE) as the supervisory firm to conduct the assessment. This done, a team of assessors made up of experts in various fields were also recruited and provided with necessary training for the exercise through joint donor effort including DFID, UNDP and World Bank.

State Showing Interest

29 States in the first instance indicated interest to be assessed. They were grouped into two, made up of 15 States for the first round 5-18th June and 14 states for the second round 19th June to 2nd of July. The remaining states were prevailed upon to be benchmarked and of the lot, only Bayelsa State opted out leaving a total of 35 States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) participating in the performance assessment exercise.

The exercise has been completed and was widely acclaimed to be thorough and transparent. Independent teams of experts, jointly commissioned by the NPC and development partners, visited each State that puts itself forward for assessment. The independent quality control firm (the African Institute for Applied Economics) appointed through a competitive process managed the exercise and took responsibility for quality assurance.

Assessing The States

The work of testing and assessing the States was carried out by a team of 3 consultants assigned to each State. The consultants were carefully selected with a condition that they must have a profile which include adequate experience in Public Expenditure Management and budget processes in Nigeria, policy and strategy analysis and government accounting and reporting. The donor community nominated at least an observer to attend the assessment visit to each State.
Accordingly, each State was assigned a team of 3 assessors, 1 supervisor from the quality control firm and the observer from the international community. Each person had a role to play in the exercise as indicated earlier. The supervisor coordinated the entire exercise; the assessor conducted the assessment while the observer/s was there to observe and ensure compliance with the rules. The teams of experts carried out an in-depth assessment of the progress at State level in designing and implementing key reforms and better service delivery, as embodied in, but not exclusively linked to, the State’s Economic Empowerment and Development strategy (SEEDS).

All efforts were made by the development partners to eliminate bias and ensure a fair and consistent pattern of evaluation. For instance, members of the assessment teams were not be allowed to take part in the assessment of any state in their own geo-political zone, or any state where they have previously been employed. Consultants who have participated in supporting the production of any state’s SEEDS document were not eligible to participate in the evaluation of that state. In addition, assessment by the field team were submitted to the quality control firm for harmonisation and only scores which were backed up by hard evidence were allowed.

Implications Of The Outcome Of Benchmarking

Given the broad-based nature of the assessment, any States selected from the exercise could be said to be running a close to modern government in terms of development programmes, transparency and inclusiveness. The States will also be leading in prudent management of public funds for implementation of projects and programmes that are crucial to the development of the State and welfare of its people.

The implication of the exercise is that a couple of States will be selected based on their performance in the assessment as “SEEDS compliant States” or lead States. What this means is that these selected States from the next financial year will likely receive additional budgetary allocation from the federal government and in addition, donor partners in the country are intending to add their own windfall to the fortunes of those states. The donors have clearly indicated willingness to use the results of this exercise as a platform to identify states that can be given support and areas in which these states can be supported. An appropriate carrot to be provided by the donors and the FGN is indicated as essential to the exercise; however the size and scope of this carrot is yet to be finalised.

In any case, and more importantly, the assessment of performance of States marks a clear deviation from the past; there is an effort to encourage healthy competition amongst the States of the federation to champion development and improvement of the welfare of their citizens. For the first time, a merit-based system backed by a transparent performance assessment process is being introduced to herald State governments to begin to focus on development priorities of the States. Clearly, well-performing States will serve as role models for the others and the good practices from the States will be disseminated for the others to copy.

The present SEEDS document developed by nearly all the 36 States is a self-critical assessment of poverty and a strategy for the State’s development and growth, linked to improved financial management and service delivery in key areas such as health, education, water and basic services (proposing a social charter which recognises the right of Nigerians to government services that provide the basic needs for life). The donor community anticipates that with the development of such detailed sector strategies it will clearly show the roles and responsibilities of the three tiers of government and support from donors in service provision. This is expected to eliminate waste and duplication of effort and ensure that increasingly, public spending is providing these services (including expenditure on basic economic infrastructure transport, roads, and improved communications).
These, plus transparency, and development of a budget are key performance benchmarks. This is why the assessment of performance of State governments and the implementation of their SEEDS is such a significant step forward for the nation. DFID, World Bank and the EU have openly communicated that they would be using the outcome of the benchmark assessment exercise to “back the reforming Governments” with additional support. In fact, the EU used the occasion of the announcement of the kickoff of the assessment in a workshop for States in Abuja to announce that they would be concentrating their support in six leading States from the exercise.

The SEEDS document also spells out an ambitious agenda for fighting corruption and addressing the issues related to a large and under-performing public sector. Underlying SEEDS is the philosophy that government must change to allow space for the private sector to function effectively and invest in people, in the delivery of services. State governments, which are identified, as clearly reformist are deemed to be creating the right environment for inflow of investment and maintaining an open system that encourage true partnership for development. The States will be helped in addressing the issues of more effective governance including strengthening of communication and participatory governance systems. This involves the generation, analysis and dissemination of information and better coordination with local government areas (LGAs) and other donors in taking forward a State’s development agenda.

The States to be selected from the process will also enjoy immense credibility as well as the support professed by the donor community and the federal government. It will also signal that the government is working towards achieving standards applicable in developed economies. This has far-reaching implication for investment, tourisms and partnerships for development.

State governments are receiving accolades for their commitment to openness by putting themselves forward en masse to be assessed. However, while there are those who insist that the federal government has not done enough, there is another school of thought which equally insist that the federal government deserves immense praise for its reform, anti-corruption and transparency programmes. It is widely believed that the reform programmes of the federal government are taking roots and having a strong knock-on effects on States. Enormous commendation should go to the National Planning Commission under the steer of the Chief Economic Adviser to the President who spearheaded the SEEDS Benchmarking assessment. It is hoped that the process will continue and develop to become a strong continuous improvement tool in the hand of all levels of government in Nigeria.

The Criteria For Assessment

The four areas agreed for the assessment of States were: -POLICY, BUDGET and FISCAL MANAGEMENT, SERVICE DELIVERY and COMMUNICATION and TRANSPARENCY.
The top 11 performers are those states which did not score any red in all the four areas of assessment. Any state which scored a red, although may have earned a high cumulative score, yet it dropped in final ranking.

In the area of policy, the assessors asked this pertinent question : “Does the State’s policies address the real needs of the people? Have all key stakeholders had a chance to have their say in the policies: Are the policies widely known to the people of the State?” But that was not all.

The state government produces a SEEDS document (or equivalent) that defines policy targets in areas such as primary health care, basic education, pro-poor growth, etc and provides a reasoned and fully costed strategy of how they will be achieved.
Evidence is provided to show that a participatory process has been undertaken, and that the sate assembly, the State Executive Council, the private sector and people across the state have been involved in developing the SEEDS (or equivalent)
The SEEDS document (or equivalent) is published and made widely available in the form of a political commitment from the governor to the people.

Budget and fiscal management
For budget and fiscal management: “Does the State manage its budget and public funds in a transparent way so that resources are directed at achieving the priorities of the State? Is there responsible and prudent fiscal management that effectively contains the negative impacts of revenue fluctuation?” There were other considerations.
The state government presents a coherent fiscal strategy, and sets budgets that are a reliable guide to actual spending. The budget demonstrates a clear link between resource allocations and the poverty reduction strategies defined in SEEDS. Timeless and participation in the budget formulation process
The state sets realistic budgets for IGR, VAT and statutory allocations based on historical collection patterns and FG indications; loans and grants are evidenced by signed agreements.
Robust procedures are in operation for the management and recording of debt and guarantees
Budget allocations are released on schedule and there is timely and accurate reporting and dissemination of in-year budget execution. Accounts are prepared on time, audited according to statutory requirements, and audit recommendations are acted upon. Government regularly monitors value for money in service delivery departments, agencies and enterprises.

Service Delivery
In terms of service delivery, the assessors sought to know “What efforts is the State making to improve service delivery to the citizens, both in terms of reach and standards? What is the quality of service rendered?”
There were other issues to consider. An effective system of data collection, processing and dissemination is established, maintained and used to inform policy decisions.
The state government has a consistent policy on the delivery or services, informed by baseline data and through the SEEDS
Service delivery strategies in key sectors take due account of national and local policies, and other service providers, including other tiers of government.
Action has been taken to eliminate payroll fraud.
The Civil Service has been re-aligned towards service delivery.
Services delivered are tailored to the needs of citizens, and citizens have a mechanism to measure service quality.

Communication and Transparency
The last criterion, which is communication and transparency, “sought answers whether the State plans and implements policies in a transparent and accountable manner? Is procurement open? Are there measures against corruption? Do citizens have opportunity to question their leaders? How easily can citizens obtain information about the State’s finances?”
Other issues like plans to ensure “due process”, particularly in procurement procedures are developed and positively assessed against Federal Government due process standards publication of all procurement processes and payments for contracts above N10,000,000 in a national and state newspaper and easily accessible information on the award of contracts as well as payments effected (for example, through a dedicated website). The state government takes, and publicises efforts to expose corruption practices, to prosecute corrupt individuals (at all levels of the hierachy) and to recover assets. People across the state have the opportunity to publicly question their leaders about performance, sector by sector.


What, might, perhaps, be consoling to some of the states who gave themselves for assessment is the fact that the set of criteria used in arriving at the final score did not take cognisance of the peculiar nature of some states. In the area of Budget and Fiscal Management, a state like Borno scores 10.50, whereas the FCT, which scores 10.48, came second with the complementarity of Communication and Transparency and Policy where the latter scored 12.55 and 14 points respectively, while Borno scored 5.25 and 6 points, respectively.
The brighter side of life which the report has brought out is the fact that states that performed a bit below par, for whatever reason would now begin to embrace a more holistic approach to the issue of governance.
A state like Ogun, which scored 13.40 in the area of Budget and Fiscal Management, , scored 4 points in policy, 10 in service delivery but 3.85 in communication and transparency.
What this means is that sate governments must take the issue of transparency more seriously, just as policy and service delivery should not be allowed to suffer.

Posted by Publisher at 03:40 PM | Comments (0)

Second Nigeria Social Forum: Demanding change

As from November 14, Nigerians from different organizations and civil society groups and from all parts of Nigeria will gather in their thousands at the National Youth Service Corps orientation camp at Ipaja area of Lagos for the Second Nigeria Social Forum. The theme for this year’s outing is Demanding Change And Achieving Rights:

Pini Jason
Posted to the Web: Friday, November 11, 2005

Providing Alternatives for Human-Centred Development. This is a follow up to the First Nigeria Social Forum which took place at the Benue State University, Makurdi in November 2004 with the theme: Another Nigeria Is Possible. A successful Second Nigeria Forum will serve as a springboard for a successful hosting of the West Africa Social Forum, next year, while preparing for the World Social Forum coming up in Kenya in 2007.
What is the Nigeria social Forum? Anyone may ask. The Nigeria Social Forum, like other Social Fora all over the world, is not an organization or an institution as we have the NGOs. It is an open space for discussion. It is an open meeting place, a town’s square, where groups and civil society movements opposed to rampaging neo-liberalism and a Nigeria nation dominated by capital or creeping imperialism can mingle and interrogate the existing development strategy and offer an alternative strategies that are people-centred. Like the World Social Forum, the NSF is opposed to the entrenchment of the IMF/World Bank models and all totalitarian and reductionist views of economy, development and history, and the use of violence as a means of social control by the state.

Simply put, the Nigeria Social Forum advocates pluralism and diversity of ideas and development strategies. When the Forum, therefore, proposed the theme Another Nigeria is Possible at the Makurdi meeting last year, it was simply putting the lie on the existing neo-liberal development strategy and simply saying, there is a another way of developing Nigeria, and that other way should be people-centred. Let the people be heard on this! The activities at the Lagos meeting of the Forum will include presentation of papers by individuals and groups workshops. Thirty-one groups and organizations participated in the Makurdi Forum. This year more organizations and groups are expected. There will also be facilities for exhibition by companies and organizations.

This year, the Forum will, among other things, examine main developments in Nigeria, Africa and the world so as to x-ray and appreciate their consequences on the Nigerian people, analyse and propose alternatives and mobilize Nigerian people towards the pursuit of those alternative strategies for their governance. Some of the issues that will be interrogated this year include, rights-based alternative for achieving inviolable human rights in Nigeria, alternative electoral system that can empower the people, an alternative paradigm for constitution making, an alternative housing policy, alternative agricultural system for sustainable food production and a road map for challenging patriarchy and promoting gender relations. The whole idea is for the voices of Nigerian people to be heard on as many issues as concern their development.

Nigeria Social Forum is a veritable way of deepening democracy, especially in an emerging democracy like Nigeria. Any keen observer would have noticed that the Nigerian people have been further disfranchised and alienated from their governance since 1999. The happenings in the recent de-registration exercise and the so-called congresses held by the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, is a very good pointer to the erosion of people’s power in the conduct of their affairs. Another way to look at it is to ask why since 1999, the trillions spent by the Federal Government have not made any significant impact on the standards of living of the people. Rather, social benefits are daily being snatched from the working class Nigerians. There are many who will put the blame squarely on the neo-liberal economic agenda pursued by the government and globalisation. No less a person than Robert Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate on economics has said that, “globalisation today is not working for many of the world’s poor. It is not working for the environment. It is not working for the stability of the global economy”. It is certainly not working for Nigerians who daily lose their jobs under the present reforms.

Take the issue of subsidy, the very nations that goad African leaders to remove subsidy in economies that offer no safety nets for their citizens not only spend huge amounts on social welfare for their people, but also heavily subsidize their farmers. Some of the economic and development models pursued by African governments are blamed for the migration of quality African manpower to Europe and America in what many have called second slave trade. Such migrations also further deepen development problems in Africa. Personally, I have always asked the question, could development not touch the people quicker if government budgets are based on priorities set by the people themselves? The political elite arrogates to itself the responsibility of thinking and acting on behalf of the people. And when they think wrongly, or as in most cases fail to think at all, the masses are subjected to the trauma of such elite failure.

The idea of a social Forum then is to create an alternative avenue for the people to be heard. Today, there is no avenue of getting the voices of the people onto the decision-making table. The concept of the Social Forum is the re-empowerment of dis-empowered people of the world; to, if you like, return sovereignty to the people; to let the people have an important say in their governance. The truth of the matter is that our electoral process does not guarantee the choice or the views of the people. An alternative platform to yell their frustration is what the Nigeria Social Forum is providing as from November 14. The only fly in the ointment, as far as the event is concerned, is the tragic death of two important members of the Forum in the Belview plane crash. John Moru was the organizing secretary of the Second Nigeria Social Forum and edited the proceedings of the First Nigeria Social Forum. Justice Egware was a long-time civil society activist whose presence will be missed at the Forum. I believe the death of these two patriotic Nigerians will serve as fillip for a diligent search by participants for that other Nigeria which can serve, not enslave the masses, for Another Nigeria is indeed possible!

Posted by Publisher at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2005

Alamieyeseigha's wife arrested in London

LONDON—THE family of embattled Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha of Bayelsa State has been hit by a fresh trauma after his wife, Margaret, was arrested yesterday in London for alleged money laundering.

By Dapo Olufade, News Editor with agency reports
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

London Metropolitan Policemen, according to sources, had stormed the Alamieyeseighas' residence in the morning to interrogate her on part of the hard currency recovered from the house in September when the governor was arrested.

The governor was said to have told the police during his interrogation that he did not own all the money.

Since Mrs. Alamieyeseigha was not available at the time to provide answers to questions on the money recovered from her own part of the building, the police went for her yesterday.

The governor himself is facing money laundering charges in London following his arrest at the Heathrow Airport on September 15. The governor’s wife was immediately taken away by the police for questioning and may, like her husband, face trial. The Bayelsa State Government House in a statement last night on the development called it persecution.
Its words: “This morning (yesterday) men of the London Metropolitan Police stormed the London residence of His Excellency, Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha, Ph.D, JP, Governor of Bayelsa State of Nigeria and took away his wife, Mrs. Margaret Alamieyeseigha.
“Mrs. Alamieyeseigha who is very ill and in deep psychological trauma following the ordeal of her husband in the hands of the British and Nigerian authorities since September 15 when he was intercepted aboard a British Airways flight at London Heathrow Airport was accused of money-laundering, the same offence for which her husband has been charged but yet to be tried.

“This latest incident is disturbing. But it follows a familiar pattern of persecution being meted against the person and office of the Governor of Bayelsa State. We suspect that both the British and Nigerian want him to break down but we thank God, he remains in high spirits even in this trying times.
“We recall that only on Friday, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo (SAN) told a London court not to allow the governor return home. Shortly afterwards, there were reports that the President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo wants Governor Alamieyeseigha removed from office.
“That the wife of the governor who has been with the husband in London since this ugly incident started is being arrested now is cowardly and an act of psychological warfare which no doubt will fail as similar evil plots.”

Posted by Publisher at 09:10 AM | Comments (0)

Nigeria's new megabanks emerge

LAGOS—TWO new patterns of banks are emerging in the Nigeria landscape.

By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The merged banks and the stand alone banks. The stand alone banks are Zenith Bank PLC, GTBank Plc, Oceanic Bank Plc, NIB and Chartered Bank. Eco Bank is likely to stand on its own if the promise by its parent body, Eco Transnational, is okayed.

The merged groups are UBA, Intercontinental Bank, Access Bank, Afribank, Diamond Bank, FCMB, First Inland Bank, Unity Bank, First Bank, Union Bank, Skye Bank and Wema Bank.
Others in the merger groupings are Sterling Bank, First North Bank, IBTC/Chartered Bank, Platinum, Fidelity, Citizens Guardian and Devcom and Bank One. From available verified shareholders’ fund, Intercontinental Bank is now the most capitalised bank in the country with N58 billion shareholders’ fund. The new UBA now has a shareholders fund of N50.289 billion while Union Bank and First Bank have about N45 billion each.

Zenith Bank Plc has N38 billion; GTBank, N37 billion and Afribank N39.15 billion. In the emerging scenario, Skye Bank has a combined shareholders’ fund of N37 billon and IBTC/Chartered Bank has N35 billion in shareholders’ fund. Diamond Bank, Oceanic and First Inland Bank have shareholders’ fund above N27 billion. Fidelity has N29 billion, FCMB has N27 billion. Citizens Guardian Bank has shareholders fund of N27billion while Platinum Bank has N25.4 billion.
IBTC Chartered Bank on its part has shareholders’ fund of N35 billion. On the whole, 26 banks may eventually emerge from the consolidation if Bank One is able to make it due to the last minute pull out from the group by Co-operative Bank.
Most of the banks have crossed the first hurdle, that of meeting the regulatory requirement of N25billion. Bankers admit that a number of the groups were hurriedly put together. The issue, they said, was post merger integration. Where due diligence was not properly done, problem of share value for exchange might pose a big challenge to some of the merging group.
Integrating their manpower and technology may be yet another problem. Bankers fear that consolidation may have created openings for stealing and fraud by those managing the banks now who know that they have no future in the on-going consolidation. Next year, they said, would be the text of the success or otherwise of the exercise.

Posted by Publisher at 09:09 AM | Comments (0)

Ogbeh, Nwobodo, others form new political group

LAGOS — Immediate past chairman of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Audu Ogbeh; National Chairman of the defunct NRC, Chief Tom Ikimi; Second Republic Governor of the old Kaduna State, Alhaji Lawal Kaita; and governor of the old Anambra State, Chief John Nwobodo were among the over 60 politicians of note that met in Lagos, Monday, to form a new political organisation, Movement for the Defence of Democracy (MDD).

Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Also at the meeting were the likes of Alhaji Olatunji Hamzat, Vice Chairman of the AD in the South West; Senator Bode Olowoporoku, and national secretary of the defunct SDP, Chief Alex Anielo.
They resolved to dissolve their current structures into the MDD and set up committees to work on the unification of the emerging organisation, a constitution and an interim working committee.
They are also determined to mount a solid resistance against “dictatorial actions of the Obasanjo administration and defend the 1999 constitution.”

There are expectations that the movement may later transform into a political party ahead of the 2007 elections.
Politicians remarked that the nation was in the stranglehold of a civilian dictator who has dashed the hopes of the Nigerian people to use constitutional democracy to liberate themselves from poverty and a unitary system of government introduced by the military to suppress local initiatives.
A run down of the participants at the meeting:
1. Senator J.U.Yohanna, National Secretary, AD
2. Alhaji Lawal Kaita, Chairman, People’s Democratic Movement
3. Mr. Tom Ikimi, former National Chairman, NRC and ANPP top notcher
4. Chief Audu Ogbeh, former National Chairman, PDP
5. Alhaji Olatunji Hamzat, Vice Chairman, SW, AD
6. Alhaji Shuaib Oyedokun, former Deputy National Chairman, PDP
7. Chief Dubem Onyia, former Minister of State,
8. Otunba Femi Pedro, Deputy Governor, Lagos State
9. Chief Iyiola Oladokun, former Deputy Governor, Oyo State
10. Bala Takaya
11. Senator Ben Birabi
12. Alhaji Isa Yuguda, former Aviation Minister
13. Alhaji Lawan Gwadabe, former Labour Minister
14. Dr. Farouk Abdulazeez
15. Silas Janfa
16. Mustapha Boss
17. Dr. Sam Eke
18. Senator John Wash Pam
19. Prof. Musa Yakubu
20. Senator Jim Nwobodo
21. Senator Sikiru Shitta-Bey
22. Ambassador Yahaya Kwande
23. Senator Bode Olowoporoku
24. Senator Olorunnimbe Mamowora
25. Senator T.O. Olupitan
26. Senator Paul Ukpo
27. Senator J.O. Kolawole
28. Chief Tony Adefuye
29. Chief Alexis Anielo
30. Hon. Omotilewa Aro-Lambo
31. Col. J.D. Dungs (rtd)
32. Hon. Asimiyu Alarape
33. Air Vice Marshal Ishaq Abdulrahman
34. Chief Ason Bur,
35. Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu
36. Senator Alex Kadiri
37. Senator Ohiaeri
38. Mrs. Hanatu Chollom
39. Chief (Mrs.) Titi Ajanaku
40. Ms. Funke Adedoyin, former Minister of State
41. Dr. Ajia
42. Alhaji Moshood Adeoti, Chairman Osun AD
43. Mr. George Akosile, Chairman, Ekiti AD
44. Chief S.A, Farinu, Chairman, Oyo
45. Rev. Tunji Adebiyi
46. Chief Raufu Ogunleye
47. Chief Gunju Adesakin
48. Hon. Dosu Oladipo
49. Alhaji (Hon) Abimbola Awofeso
50. Ambassador.O.Okwoche
51. Ambassador Bala Usuman
52. Hajia Aisha Abdulkadir
53. Hon. Evans E. Dede
54. Hon. Mercy Zigka
55. Hon. Nse Ntutu
56. Hon. Esin Efretuei
57. Hon. Femi Idris
58. Hon. Salisu Kanga
59. Alhaji Lai Mohammed

Posted by Publisher at 09:08 AM | Comments (0)

How have your governors performed?

LAGOS—A PERFORMANCE rating of the 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja by National Planning Commission (NPC), and donor agencies including the World Bank, UNDP, DFID, USAID and CIDA has ranked Enugu State as the best performing state in the federation in terms of policy formulation, budget and fiscal management, service delivery, communication and transparency in Nigeria under the current democratic dispensation.

By Jide Ajani
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Enugu State was followed by the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) with Osun, Ekiti, and Ebonyi States coming third, fourth and fifth respectively.

In the first 11 category, Ondo, Lagos, Kaduna, Anambra, Cross River and Yobe States came sixth, seventh, eight, ninth, 10th and 11th respectively. The states willingly submitted to the assessment. Only Bayelsa State did not submit to this independent assessment. There were three rounds of assessment.
The NPC and the donor agencies did the assessment to identify reforming state governments in a transparent and fair manner, using internationally acceptable benchmarks to look into areas of developmental governance, reforms and project implementation under the SEEDS (State Economic Empowerment Development Strategies) programme.
The four areas agreed for the assessment of states are: policy, budget and fiscal management, service delivery and communication and transparency.

The top 11 performers are those states which did not score any red in all the four areas o assessment. Any state which scored a red, although may have earned a high cumulative score, it dropped in final ranking. In the area of policy, the assessors, made up of independent groups with an overall consulting outfit, asked this pertinent question: “Do the state’s policies address the real needs of the people? Have all key stakeholders had a chance to have their say in the policies? Are the policies widely known to the people of the state?”

For budget and fiscal management:: “Does the state manage its budget and public funds in a transparent way so that resources are directed at achieving the priorities of the state? Is there responsible and prudent fiscal management that effectively contains the negative impacts of revenue fluctuation?”

In terms of service delivery, the assessors sought to know: “What efforts is the state making to improve service delivery to the citizens, both in terms of reach and standards? What is the quality of service rendered?”
The last criterion, which is communication and transparency, “sought answers whether the state plans and implements policies in a transparent and accountable manner? Is procurement open? Are there measures against corruption? Do citizens have opportunity to question their leaders? How easily can citizens obtain information about the State’s finances?”
The implication of the exercise is that a couple of states will be selected based on their performance in the assessment as “SEEDS compliant States” or lead states. What this means is that these selected states from the next financial year will likely receive additional budgetary allocation from the Federal Government and in addition, donor partners in the country are intending to add their own windfall to the fortunes of those states. The donors have clearly indicated willingness to use the results of this exercise as a platform to identify states that can be given support and areas in which these states can be supported.

Rank State Score
1 Enugu 57.22
2 FCT 50.28
3 Osun 45.72
4 Ekiti 45.45
5 Ebonyi 44.27
6 Ondo 42.65
7 Lagos 41.40
8 Kaduna 40.80
9 Anambra 40.25
10 Cross River 38.45
11 Yobe 36.45
12 Benue 43.00
13 Jigawa 40.60
14 Adamawa 39.85
15 Delta 37.70
16 Kano 37.60
17 Edo 36.95
18 Kogi 36.57
19 Rivers 36.22
20 Bauchi 35.82
21 Imo 33.90
22 Kwara 33.65
23 Plateau 33.65
24 Gombe 33.60
25 Akwa Ibom 33.10
26 Kebbi 32.50
27 Sokoto 31.50
28 Ogun 31.35
29 Zamfara 31.05
30 Niger 30.75
31 Abia 29.85
32 Katsina 27.65
33 Nasarawa 26.67
34 Bornu 25.80
35 Oyo 23.52
36 Taraba 22.20
37 Bayelsa Did Not Participate

Policy 20 Points
Budget & Fiscal Management 40 Points
Service Delivery 20 Points
Communication & Transparency 20 Points
NOTE: States ranked 1-11 did not have any red grades. Others from 12 down had one or more grades.

Posted by Publisher at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

Senate resumes, may consider Obasanjos's plea for $6b

ABUJA — THE Senate resumes from a three- week break today expecting to consider President Olusegun Obasanjo’s plea to withdraw $6 billion out of the nation’s excess crude account to meet one of the conditions for the cancellation of the nation’s debt to the Paris Club of creditor nations.

By Emmanuel Aziken
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The anxiety over the issue was boiling over yesterday with senators miffed that the President may have paid out the money without getting the required consent of the National Assembly.

Senator Omar Tsauri, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business speaking ahead of today’s pleminary session, however, said he was yet to receive any notification to place the issue on the order paper.

He said that reasonable as it seemed to meet the obligations to the Paris Club, he nevertheless said that doing so without the approval of the National Assembly would amount to a violation of the Constitution.

‘As far as our schedules are concerned, we don’t have anything to that effect, there is nothing like debt relief on the order paper.
If the federal government should pay without National Assembly approval, I will not be surprised because there is a likely reason for that.’
‘‘But actually, I feel that the federal government should try to succumb to Constitutional requirements and I think if any attempt is made to pay without the consent of the National Assembly it will be a breach of the Constitution.’’

A supplementary budget to cover the $6 billion payment to the Paris Club was believed to have been sent to the National Assembly just before the Senate proceeded on break but the two houses of the legislature were not able to consider the issue.

The mood of the nation following the death of First Lady Stella Obasanjo and the crash of Bellview Flight 210 two weeks ago made it inconvinent for the legislative houses to discuss the matter.

There were, however, indications that the leadership of the National Assembly had given the presidency the go ahead to pay the $6 billion in order not to violate one of the principal conditions for the cancellation of 60% of the nation’s obligations to the Paris Club of creditor nations.

Before the Senate proceeded on break three weeks ago, Senators had also expressed bitterness that the federal government had gone ahead to pay $2.5 billion without legislative approval for the construction of gas powered electricity projects in the Niger Delta area.

Posted by Publisher at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

FG already created Biafra when it named the Igboland S-East — Ojukwu

PORT HARCOURT—CHIEF Chukwuemeka Odimegu-Ojukwu has said that Biafra was created the moment the Federal Government labelled Igboland as South-East and not when he Ojukwu declared the defunct republic.

By John Ighodaro
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Ikemba Nnewi said this weekend in Port Harcourt at his 72 birthday celebrations, which held at the Rivers State capital. His words: “ the Federal Government had already created Biafra when it named the Igboland the south-east, the problem is rather what the area should be called and the people of the zone appear morecomfortable with the name Biafra”Chief Ojukwu who was hosted by the Federated Igbo Congress the umbrella body of the Igbo’s in Rivers State and Bayelsa in Port Harcourt asked the Igbo to roll up their sleeves to take political power in 2007.

He also asked those who have been clamouring for Biafra to go about it non-violently. He urged the Igbo to live in peace with their host communities wherever they may be and advised them and their host communities to pursue peace in the interest of the nation His words: “ Peaceful co-existence does not necessarily mean the absence of crisis but the ability to settle after quarrels.”While urging the South-South and the South-East people to embark on sincere dialogue for their survival, he said that he was overwhelmed with joy at the crowd that welcomed him to Port Harcourt adding, “this is a source of strength for me to continue to preach the gospel of equity, justice and freedom of expression and self determination in the country.”

Earlier in his address at the occasion, IFC President, Mr. Cosmas Enweluzo had described Ojukwu as one who knew the problems of the Nigerian nation and was always willing to say it.

Posted by Publisher at 09:06 AM | Comments (0)

Alamieyeseigha: Bayelsa Assembly reconvenes

YENAGOA — BAYELSA State House of Assembly yesterday reconvened after a eight weeks of recess and vowed that it would not allow itself to be used to further heighten tension in the state on account of the arrest and trial of Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha in London over alleged money laundering.

By Samuel Oyadongha
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The position of the Assembly might not be unconnected with speculations that it was under pressure from the Presidency to commence impeachment process against the governor who is currently facing charges of money laundering in a London court.
The Assembly went on indefinite recess to foreclose any impeachment move against the governor.
However the house made attempts twice to reconvene last week but could not, the first time because it did not form a quorum and the second time on account of what assembly sources blamed on non-release of their overhead prompting the lawmakers to stage a protest to the Deputy Governor who facilitated the payment of the fund and the subsequent resumption of sitting yesterday.

Speaking at the resumption of sitting well attended by members, the Speaker, Prince Boyelayefa Debekeme debunked rumour of the planned impeachment noting that the house would not do anything to further heighten tension in the state at this trying moment.
Said he, “I wish to express my gratitude to members and all our supporters for the peaceful manner in which they have conducted themselves in spite of the fact that the state has been faced with traumatic events and problems during this period.
“This house will not participate in any way in increasing the tension occasioned by this unfortunate situation but rather commit the state to the throne of the God Almighty", he noted adding, “we are heartened that this house has remained the symbol of peace and unity in the entire state at this trying times.”

Posted by Publisher at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

MASSOB members to be treated as robbers in Delta — Police

ASABA — DELTA State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Udom Ekpoudom, has warned that the Command would henceforth treat any member of MASSOB found in Delta State as an armed robbery suspect.

By Austin Ogwuda
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Addressing newsmen in Asaba yesterday, the Police Commissioner said “the plan of MASSOB yesterday (Monday) was not to stop in Anambra State. They were to operate in this state (Delta), but my men were up and doing. We know that problems can start anytime anywhere. So we are always on the alert.

“The police blockage on our part of that bridge (Niger Bridge)”, he went on “stopped them from coming to this state. And I tell you any of them that comes here wants to meet his waterloo because as far as I am concerned, they are robbers. The way they go about collecting money what do you call them. It means they are armed robbers. If they come to my state, I am sorry we are going to treat them the way they are, anybody that wants to rear up his ugly head to say that he is a MASSOB man we are going to deal with him”, he warned.

Parades man arrested with Biafran currency

The Police Commissioner also paraded a suspected MASSOB member arrested with Biafran currency. The man, according to the Police Commissioner, was however arrested sometime in October this year in Warri. Said he: “while on surveillance patrol, information was received that one man, Igwe Clement of Akwuru quarters, Mc-Dermot Road, Warri was sharing some paper notes said to be Biafran notes to the members of the public and policemen moved to the scene and at Enerhen junction and got the suspect arrested.

“Found on the suspect”, he said, “were 32 Biafran pounds and ten Biafran shillings and he alleged that he is an employee of one Chief Ralph Uwazuruike and that he receives his monthly salary with the said currency.”
The suspect, while fielding questions from reporters did not deny but said “I have no regrets. I cannot deny Biafra, I am a staunch MASSOB member, I am a freedom fighter”, he stated.

Posted by Publisher at 09:00 AM | Comments (0)

Govt College Ughelli old boys celebrate 60

GOVERNMENT College, Ughelli (GCU), Delta State is 60 years old. To mark the landmark, the old boys of one of the pioneering secondary schools in the old Western region have lined up a series of activities to draw attention to the state of disrepair in the school.

By Austin Ogwuda
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

...Lament state of alma mater

Speaking recently at a media interactive session, President of the Old Boys Association (Lagos branch), Rear Admiral Joe Uguna lamented the deplorable state of the physical structures in the school.
“It is our candid opinion that all stakeholders and indeed the old boys of our alma mater have a duty to society through their individual and collective efforts at restoring hope through sound education for our youths if they must be the leaders of the future on whose shoulders the rejuvenated nation state of Nigeria rests,” Uguna stated. “There is an urgent need", he added, "for all old boys to lend a hand in revamping the school.”
To achieve the objectives of the Diamond Jubilee, the association has set a target of raising two hundred and fifty million ((N250,000,000:00) as a first step and a necessary gesture towards restoring and redeeming the school from further degeneration.

Activities lined up to mark the Diamond Jubilee include a novelty cricket match at Tafawa Balewa Square cricket oval between the Old Boys led by Mr Kome Agodo and Lagos Cavalier Club on Saturday November 12, 2005; an anniversary lecture to be delivered by an old boy, Professor ltse Sagay (SAN) at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) on Tuesday, November 15, 2005 at 11:00am. The topic of the lecture is “Improved Educational Standard as a prerequisite for a meaningful and accelerated growth of Nigeria in the 21st century.”
To round off the celebrations, there will be an Anniversary Dinner/Fund raising at the Banquet Hall, Eko Hotel and Suites Victoria Island on Saturday November 19, 2005 at 7:00pm.
Also speaking at the interactive session, the Chairman, Diamond Jubilee Celebrations Anniversary Committee, Mr Alfred Okoigun, urge all Old Boys to lend a helping hand in the task of restoring the school to its former glory.

Posted by Publisher at 08:59 AM | Comments (0)

Youths raze traditional rulers' palace

ASABA — A group of irate youths have burnt the palace of the traditional ruler of Egbudu-Akah community in Aniocha South Local Government Area of Delta state, Obi Agbogidi Olo-Ome Okolie I, over alleged accusation of lack of transparency in the management of a rubber estate located in the community.

By Austin Ogwuda
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The grouse of the youths was that the accruing largesse due to the community as a result of the siting of the estate was not evenly spread.

As a result of the razing of the palace, the traditional ruler has escaped from the community for fear of fresh attack.
Reports from the area stated that the angry youths could have inflicted injuries on the traditional ruler but he narrowly escaped when they stormed the palace recently.

The State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources had recently decided to hand over the management of Egbudu-Akah Rubber Estate, the bone of contention, to a private enterprise known as CUGA Nigeria Limited for effective operation which the youths feared might be another way to completely sideline them.
Lamenting the sad incident, the embattled monarch told reporters that he lost all his traditional regalia, beads, important documents, clothings worth over N15 million and called for police protection, claiming that the youths were still bent on eliminating him.
In addition to police protection, he also called on the state government to give him some financial aid to enable him start life afresh, lamenting that he had lost all he had since assuming the throne 59 years ago.
According to him, “I need protection as some traditional rulers in the state have been killed by their subjects without due respect for the traditional institution.”
Confirming the story, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Miss Olabisi Okuwobi said “we have already arrested ten persons in connection with the crime and they are here (Asaba) at the state headquarters. The CID men are handling the case”, she stated.

Posted by Publisher at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

Imo govt approves $260,000 for equipment at IMSUTH

OWERRI — IMO State government has approved the sum of $260,000 for the immediate procurement of medical equipment for the Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH), Orlu.

By Chidi Nkwopara
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Governor Achike Udenwa in a message delivered on his behalf by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Emmanuel Chidi Marume, at this year’s annual luncheon and award ceremony of the state chapter of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), said government was determined to “radically change the poor medical facilities, which we inherited. This partly explains why IMSUTH was established. The other aspect is the dire need to train adequate and qualified manpower to take care of the health needs of the citizenry.”
Commending members of the state branch of NMA for the cordial relationship existing between the organization and government, the Governor also described the theme of this year’s physician’s week as being in line with the administration’s health thrust.

“This administration will remain very grateful for the free medical services rendered by NMA members in all the three senatorial zones of the state, as part of the activities marking the week,” the Governor said.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of Imo State branch of NMA, Dr. Amanze Ibekwe, commended the Governor for relentlessly working to improve medical services and health standards in the state.

He passionately appealed to the Governor not to relent in properly equipping IMSUTH, in order to ensure that the health institution will scale through all the screening hurdles. Ibekwe decried the low quality health services and facilities in the country, pointing out that Nigeria has about the highest maternal and child mortality rate in the world, adding that this was not a good testimonial.
“This year’s theme is aimed at drastically reducing infant and maternal mortality. As part of the activities marking this year’s physician’s week, members of Imo NMA organized free medical services, free voluntary screening tests for HIV and sickle cell diseases and other health promotion programmes,” Dr. Ibekwe explained.

Posted by Publisher at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

APGA accuses Ngige of evading service of record proceedings

ENUGU—THE All Pro-gressives Grand Alliance (APGA) alleged yesterday what it called evasion of service of record of proceedings by Governor Chris Ngige’s lead counsel, Chief Jerry Okolo (SAN), in respect of Mr. Peter Obi’s petition against the governor’s election as compiled by the Anambra State Governorship Election Tribunal.

By Tony Edike
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The record of proceedings which was forwarded to the Court of Appeal, Enugu last week, the party said, was taken to Chief Okolo’s office at about 11a.m. on Monday by the Appeal Court bailiff, but workers of the Chamber located at number 162B Zik Avenue, Enugu were no where to be found.

Acting National Chairman of the party, Chief Victor Umeh, speaking on the development, told reporters that the action was aimed at frustrating the commencement of hearing of the appeal pending before the Appeal Court in Enugu, alleging that the office was shut 20 minutes before the arrival of the bailiff, which strongly suggested that they acted on a tip-off.
Umeh described the action as an act of cowardice particularly “as Ngige and his counsel had claimed after the judgment of the lower tribunal that they had 50 grounds of appeal and were confident of overturning the judgment at the appeal court.
The Anambra State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal had in its judgment in the matter on August 12, 2005 nullified the election of Governor Ngige and declared Mr. Peter Obi of APGA duly elected during the governorship election in the state in 2003.

Ngige, however, filed a notice of appeal against the judgment but three months after the matter has not commenced due to delayed compilation of the tribunal’s record of proceedings by the registrar of the tribunal in Awka.
Umeh said: “It is amazing that people who were so sure of over-turning the judgment of the tribunal are now resorting to evading of service of the records of proceedings which will now enable the appeal to go on.” He described the ugly move as “one of the desperate antics employed by Ngige to frustrate the appeal process and continue to hang on to office till 2007 without the legitimate mandate of the people of Anambra State.”

He condemned the attitude of both Governor Ngige and his counsel for allegedly resorting to “subversion of the appeal process”, saying that no amount of tricks would make Ngige escape the long arm of justice in the matter.
Umeh, however, advised all APGA members and supporters as well as Mr. Obi to remain patient and continue to keep faith with the judicial process until the final victory is won, saying that the present action has clearly shown that Governor Ngige was afraid of the outcome of his own appeal.

Posted by Publisher at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

Ex-commissioner, wife die in auto crash

ENUGU—FORMER Commissioner for Information in Enugu State, Mr. Pius Uche and his wife, Virginia, were on Monday crushed to death in a ghastly auto accident along Enugu-Abakaliki expressway.

By Tony Edike
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The couple whose first son narrowly escaped death in the crash, became the latest victims of the spate of motor accidents spreading grief in the state.

Eyewitnesses said the couple was crushed to death by a Mercedes 911 truck, which rammed into their red Toyota Corolla car along the expressway on their way to the Akanu Ibiam Airport in Emene.
Uche, who until his tragic death, was the Director of Commercial Services in Enugu State Broadcasting Service (ESBS), was in company of his wife and son when the unfortunate incident occurred.
His son, who was driving the ill-fated car, survived the crash but his two legs were mangled by the impact of the crash.
The driver of the truck, it was learnt, had crushed a little child, who was attempting to cross the ever busy road and in the process of escaping, the panic-stricken truck driver rammed his vehicle into Uche’s car with registration number BB 383 ENU.

After smashing the former commissioner’s car, the truck was said to have dragged the vehicle and its occupants into a valley near the Nwannedinamba Catholic Housing Estate, where the police and other sympathisers battled to extricate the occupants from the wreckage.
According to the eyewitness account, Uche died on the spot while his wife was certified dead on getting to the nearby National Orthopedic Hospital, Enugu. Uche served as information commissioner during the military administration of Col. Sule Ahman, which handed over to the present civilian government in the state.

Posted by Publisher at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

Aerocontractors blames crash on bird strike

LAGOS— MANAGEMENT of Aerocontractors yesterday blamed the incident involving its Boeing 737-300 aircraft at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Monday on bird strike, saying the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) had abdicated its responsibility to check the menace.

By Kenneth Ehigiator
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The airline’s Manager, Fixed Wing Division, Capt. Dapo Olumide, told newsmen at a briefing that Aero had in the past few years suffered no less than six bird strikes at the same airport, adding that Monday’s incident was the second time its aircraft was being grounded by the strikes.

According to him, Aero on the two occasions spent some $200,000 to effect repairs of the affected engines.
Explaining the circumstance surrounding Monday’s incident, Capt. Olumide said: “At 2:30pm yesterday (Monday), we suffered a bird strike on the take off row and the crew aborted the take off. In an attempt to do that, the tyre burst because of the sloppy nature of the runway.
“The engine was still working, but because of the company’s procedure, the crew aborted the flight. The passengers wouldn’t have even known there was a problem.”

He said since the aircraft was still on ground, there couldn’t have been a case of passengers escaping death, saying the incident was in aviation parlance regarded as a “non-event.”
He said the aircraft, being a new generational Boeing 737 series, could still have continued the journey to Lagos because, according to him, each of the two engines generate 24,000 pounds of thrust, adding that was more than enough to take the plane to its destination.
Olumide said immediate checks on the aircraft after taxiing to a stop for the passengers to disembark revealed that seven of the 36 blades were damaged by the birds, two of which were severely hit.
He said the airline had overtime been confronted with the problem of bird strikes particularly at Abuja, Benin, Port Harcourt and Calabar airports.

Posted by Publisher at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

Plane crash: Bellview fails to start payment of compensation

LAGOS—THE payment of initial $10,000 insurance compensation to families of victims of Bellview Airlines crash did not start as planned yesterday.

By Kenneth Ehigiator
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The airline’s Managing Director, Mr. Kayode Odukoya, had told newsmen last week that payment of the compensation would commence yesterday.

At the airline’s corporate headquarters on Opebi Street, Ikeja, next of kin of victims came in trickles to sort out issues concerning the payment with the management, and this was an indication that they had earlier been briefed that payment would not start without thoroughly sorting out the true identities of the next of kins to avoid impersonation.
Bellview Airlines’ spokesman, Mr. Habib Mohammed, told Vanguard yesterday that the airline lawyers were being careful not to pay money into wrong hands, adding that its management did not take this into consideration before announcing the Tuesday date last week.

“People have filled forms and we are impressed with those that have come. They conducted themselves well without any problem, but the only problem we have now is that of making sure we are dealing with the right people and that is why the process is now delayed.
“No cheque has been given, but we hope before the end of today (yesterday) if we have a clear, smooth case, but we don’t have any yet,” he said.

According to him, the next of kins of victims must provide convincing evidence to show that they were truly related to their loved ones to avoid impersonation.
Mohammed said the airline’s lawyers would, for instance, want couples who lost their spouses in the crash to present a photo of their marriage, adding that the need to ask for photographs was informed by the fact that even marriage certificate could be forged.
He said each family would be paid as soon as it is able to successfully go through the documentation process.
Meanwhile, a pilot, Capt. Dung Pam, has expressed concern about the extra hours of work some pilots in the country subject themselves in an attempt to please their employers and also make more flight allowances.

Posted by Publisher at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

Osomo blames travails on political intrigues

AKURE—FORMER Housing and Urban Development Minister, Mrs. Mobolaji Osomo, yesterday broke her silence months after her sack by President Olusegun Obasanjo and attributed her travails to political intrigues in high places but said that she abhors no regret.

By Dayo Johnson
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mrs. Osomo declared that she would repeat the same decision that led to her sack if given another opportunity.

Speaking with newsmen in Akure the former minister said, “I did not see what I did wrong, nobody has actually told me what I did wrong. I was just asked to go and that was what I got."

Asked if she had any regret over her sack, the former minister declared, “I have no regret whatsoever, that was another experience of politics I had. But then, you become wiser and then you keep going because in politics, you cannot say it will be completely smooth.
According to her: “It is like being on the sea, at times you have the wave of the sea and at times there is low ebb. So what I had was another experience.

“I have had worse experience in 1984 when myself and the then governor of this state were tried in Ibadan for prolonged trial, at the end of the day we were all exonerated and we still continued.
“It is another trend, I believe I will still continue as long as I have life and health because we owe the people of this state, the duty which we cannot run away from regardless of any experience we have.

“Actually, I will repeat the same decision because I did not see what I did wrong and nobody has actually told me what I did wrong. I was just asked to go and that was what I got.
“I think it is just politics, in any political gathering, you have a lot of politics going on.

“To me, I just thought it was one of those things. But thank God it could have been worse, if I had done anything criminal probably I would have been before the tribunal being tried for one thing or the other.

“But I have done my job professionally as a lawyer and being involved in that sort of ministry I was put into. I put in the best, the best of my ability and to my conscience and to my God.
On her rumoured governorship ambition, the former minister said, “it is not a rumour I have even gotten an office. It is real and by the grace of God, so it will be.

“In 1999, I won the primaries and for the reasons best known to the Afenifere group they decided to rob me of it, I kept quiet.
“I will have another go at it this time and I am sure this time if I win the primaries nobody will take it away from me.”
She described an unimpressive the achievement of the Dr Olusegun Agagu administration in the last two years in the state.
“Within two years we did 100 times better and it is that, that we want to repeat now. We built about six factories within four years, I have not seen factory now. All the ones that we built are the ones that are dead and being sold off.

““If he compared himself with Adefarati, he can give himself marks but obviously he cannot compared himself with our own govenremnt of 1979 to 1984 and it is that govenremnt that we want to repeat.
““Honestly, I am not impressed the factories are dead, the roads, I have not seen any brand new road. People are being given some money as looms for commercial purposes.
Thousands of people are unemployed, we have to look at all these thing. Each time you look at the people who have no work, it makes one sad, by the time I come in, you will see governance at its best.””

Posted by Publisher at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

Recall: Mantu's supporters accuse Plateau govt

JOS—THE recall attempt on the Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu, took a new dimension yesterday as his supporters accused officials of the state government of forcing people to append their signature to the recall letter.

By Taye Obateru & Ikedichi Iweha
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

But in a swift reaction, Yaknan Dashe, a Senior Special Assistant to Governor Joshua Dariye dismissed the allegations, describing it as preposterous and untenable since such signatures would still be verified by INEC in due course.
Addressing a press conference, newly elected Chairman of PDP in the state, Chief Jethro Akun, alleged that people were being intimidated or deceived to sign the recall register naming top state and council officials as culprits.
He further alleged that signatures of people were being forged in some cases and paraded two men who claimed that thumb prints were appended against their names without their consent.

Akum threatened that a legal action might be initiated against the recall move if it is not halted adding that Mantu had recorded “monumental achievements” that should not warrant an ill-motivated recall move.
But reacting to the allegations in an interview, Dashe described them as laughable insisting that the state government would not descend to the level of encouraging intimidation or forging people’s signature.
He distanced the state government from the recall move saying it was entirely the business of the people of the Central Senatorial Zone into which the state government should not be dragged.

“What is government’s business with a recall move? It is for the people concerned to decide. Recall is a cumbersome process which cannot be accomplished by forgeries or intimidation as the experience with the aborted recall move against our honorable speaker has shown.
“If they are sure of the popularity of their man, they should entertain no fear since the signatures they are complaining about will be verified and possibly a referendum to confirm the whole thing will follow. So like the Lalong case, the people 'll decide,” he concluded.

Posted by Publisher at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)

Lawmakers rule out single term for executives

ABUJA —AHEAD of today’s submission of reports of sub-Committees of the National Assembly Joint Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution, the Senate said yesterday that there was nothing before it to suggest a third term agenda by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

By Emmanuel Aziken
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Senate declaration came as it emerged that the sub-Committee on the executive has ruled out a single term tenure for executive office holders.

Also yesterday, the Senate formally stepped in to quench growing public misgivings over the expenditure of N40 million for an armoured limousine for the Senate President. Senate spokesman, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) at a press briefing said the purchase had the backing of the Senate and was formally approved.
Speaking to the senate correspondents after yesterday’s brief plenary session, Senator Ndoma-Egba said the issue of a third term for President Obasanjo was presently not an issue before the Senate as according to him there was no formal presentation of the issue in the Senate.
“We reviewed it (third term speculation) and agreed that there was nothing, nothing, nothing before the Senate to suggest that there was any such programme. Nothing has reached the Senate, so if there is such a programme, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is not privy to it, it is not aware and has received nothing at all to suggest that there is indeed such a programme,’’ Senator Ndoma-Egba said.

Meanwhile it was learnt yesterday that the Joint National Assembly Committee on the Review of the Constitution will again convene today to review the reports of the various sub-Committees constituted by the general Committee.
The Committee on the Executive according to Vanguard sources has forwarded a report recommending three options for the tenure of executive office holders, but surprisingly ruling out the much touted single term option.
Vanguard gathered that among the three options forwarded to the general Committee is the sustenance of the present two term tenure of four years each.
The reports of the various committees, Senator Ndoma-Egba affirmed yesterday, may, however, not be binding on the National Assembly.

According to him since the Committees were constituted by the National Assembly, the body has the right to accept or reject proposals emanating from the Committees.
‘‘Committees are agents of whoever set up them. Committees are not independent. Those Committees are Committees of the National Assembly, when they finish their work, they are going to bring their reports to the Senate (and the House of Representatives). It is not a final document, it is only a document for debate and I think that the process of constitutional review is a long one,’’ Ndoma-Egba said yesterday.
Senator Ndoma-Egba also addressed the controversy arising from the purchase of a N40 million armoured limousine for the Senate President.
‘‘It was budgeted for, it was approved by the Senate and we do not think that anything untold or irregular occurred,’’ he said yesterday.

Only last weekend the National Assembly in a statement issued by Mr. Monima Daminabo, the director of information and publications had justified the purchase and price of the car on the need to among others make room for the ‘‘term tenure for executive office holders.’unavoidable profit margin of the contractor.’’

Posted by Publisher at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

Obasanjo sets up committee on prison reforms

ABUJA—PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has set up a committee on comprehensive medium and long-term reforms. The last reform in Nigerian Prison Service was done in 1948.

By Charles Ozeomena
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The President has however, expressed concern that the four cardinal objectives of security, reformation and rehabilitation/reintegration of the inmates/ex-convicts as well as generating revenue were not being achieved by the Nigerian Prison Service.

He, at a meeting in the State House that was attended by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Ambassador Magaji Mohammed, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Sunday Ehindero and top officials of the Nigerian Prisons Service led by its acting Comptroller-General, Mr. Okwara Uche Kalu, therefore, tasked the committee to examine the general situation of administration of justice with a view to identifying what needs to be done for the Prison Service to achieve the four cardinal objectives he had underlined.

The President also among others, asked the committee to examine the roles of the police, judiciary, the community including religious and non-governmental organisations and how these bodies can help the Prisons to achieve its objectives.

The Presidential Committee was also asked to advise on the possible involvement of the private sector in helping the prisons; examine the award of contracts supply and mechanism for procurements in the Prison Service; training of prisons staff and the loopholes in the country’s criminal justice system as they negatively affect the prisons service in achieving its objectives.

The committee which when inaugurated at a yet to be disclosed date is expected to submit its report within three months at the first instance, has members drawn from the judiciary, police, Prisons Service, Ministries of Internal Affairs, Finance and Justice, religious and non-governmental organizations, civil society groups, women organizations, Parent/Teachers Association , the National Human rights Commission and the academia.

Posted by Publisher at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

Insurers sue Police, others over unpaid premium, rights violation

Following the detention of ten insurers on the orders of the Inspector-General of Police, nine out of the ten insurers on the schedule of Police Group Personal Accident Insurance scheme have sued the police boss and the lead underwriter, Mutual Benefits Assurance, for alleged violation of their rights.

By Ifeanyi Ugwuadu
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

They also want the Court to recover about N295million being premium still owed on the policy.

Joined in the suit filed at the Federal High Court, Lagos, are the Assistant Inspector-general of police, Force criminal Investigation Department, Alagbon and the sole broker to the business, Lantos Insurance Brokers.
The insurers are seeking interim orders restraining the Police, its agents, privies and officers from “arresting, detaining, harassing or threatening” any staff of the plaintiffs in respect of the Nigerian Police Group Personal Accident Insurance Scheme until the determination of the substantive suit.
Counsel to the plaintiffs, Tokunbo Ogundipe, claimed the insurers were invited to a meeting in Abuja and thereafter detained for nine days on the orders of the Police boss thereby violating their constitutional rights guaranteed under Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution.

Ogundipe stated that the detention of his clients was out of order considering that the transaction with the police was a business transaction and not a criminal one and it falls under civil jurisdiction.
In an affidavit in support of the motion, the insurers claimed proportional endorsement under the scheme showed that a total sum of N595,711,927 was due to the ten co-insurers under the policy. But instead of remitting the total premium, only N300 million was paid to the underwriters.

However, the lead underwriter was said to have confirmed that it received the actual premium on the account through an endorsement No MB/003/005. But after informing other insurers that all deduction on the policy was in settlement of all outstanding claims, the Police still went ahead to enforce collection of the claims owed by all insurers.
As a result of Memorandum of Understanding signed by all parties on June 23, 2003, the lead underwriter was said to have issued a dud cheque in settlement of the outstanding premium. After several meetings called at the Abuja headquarters of the Nigerian Police failed to resolve the disagreement, the Police arrested the ten representatives of the co-insurers.
Thereafter, the affidavit stated, the insurers were brought to Lagos where they were detained at Alagbon and their companies were forced to cough out over N35million to get them released from custody.
The insurers still maintain that they are not owing any claim on the current account. Instead, they claimed, it is the police that is owing them about N295million. Collectively, they had resolved to suspend payment of all claims on the policy until they receive the outstanding premium.
The applicants/plaintiffs include Vigilant Insurance, Golden Insurance, Standard Alliance Insurance, Heirs Insurance and Sterling Insurance. Others are Goldlink Insurance, Central Insurance, Nigerian Alliance Insurance and Perpetual Assurance.

Posted by Publisher at 08:48 AM | Comments (0)

CIS indicts NSE over under-subscription of Coral Property

CHARTERED Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) has berated the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) for failure to return investors’ money following the under subscription of a public offering issued by Coral Property, a subsidiary of the Exchange some years back.

By Peter Egwuatu
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Registrar/Chief Executive of the Institute, Mr. Remi Bakare said “under the capital market regulation, Coral Property was supposed to return investors’ money when the offer was not subscribed up to the tune of 25 per cent. The Exchange is supposed to inform the public the subscription level of the offer since after two or three years ago.Why should the NSE hide the subscription level and continue to flout the rule of the game just because Coral Property is a baby of the Exchange? There should be a level playing field for all issuers in the market."

He further queried why the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has not waded into the matter. “The Commission is supposed to checkmate the excesses of the NSE and other self regulators within its purview. Up till now nothing has been heard of the offer,” he added.
The Institute which had been in the forefront on the agitation against the compulsory imposition of Trade Alert on investors denied ever agreeing with SEC or NSE on the compulsory imposition as alleged.

Explaining the position of the Institute on Trade Alert, Bakare said “on May 24, the Director General of the NSE addressed stockbrokers on the floor of the Exchange and the President of the Institute responded . It was consequently agreed that the implementation of the Trade Alert be suspended till 2nd October, 2005. In the intervening period, the Institute requested for a meeting with the hierarchy of the Stock Exchange, to be held before the Institute’s annual conference in June 2005. However this meeting was not held until 3rd August , 2005-after the Annual conference.

"At the said meeting , it was agreed that the President of the Exchange should meet with the Director General of SEC again in order to facilitate the agreeable resolution of the problem. The outcome of that meeting was not encouraging , since SEC insisted that it would not reverse the decision to make Trade Alert compulsory for all investors. The President of the Institute further met with the Director General of the Commission concerning the matter but nothing good came up.” In fact , according to the Registrar of the Institute, “to the contrary, the NSE and CSCS had gone ahead to place adverts on Trade Alert in the newspapers whereby stockbrokers are generally portrayed as a pack of crooked professionals who routinely sell investors' shares without mandate.

"The advert, which reads “the drivers seat is for your stockbroker, the brakes are for you” is to say the least provocative and in bad taste. Since the NSE has now decided to employ blackmail and unethical practices to sell this product, we advise that it should remove the huge log in its own eye before trying to remove the speck in the eyes of others. We would like to reiterate that the imposition of Trade Alert on investors is not in the interest of investors, and will only create more problems for the capital market.

"The profit motive, rather than the so called protection of investors' interest could be deduced as being the major and compelling reason why Trade Alert is being made compulsory.”
Bakare further called on SEC to wake up from its slumber to checkmate some of the market fraudulence being experienced to enable the Nigerian capital market have credibility and be able to attract foreign investment.

Posted by Publisher at 08:47 AM | Comments (0)

Wema, National, Lead Banks apply for CBN’s AIP * Group targets January take- off date

Wema Bank Group comprising Wema, National and Lead Banks have applied to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for approval-in-principle (AIP) preparatory to the consummation of their merger and the expected take- off of the group in January, 2006.

By Yinka Kolawole
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Authoritative sources within the group disclosed to Vanguard that the AIP is being expected any moment from now. This follows the favourable report from the due diligence conducted on the banks by KPMG. It is, however, not clear if the other bank that was involved in the merger plan scaled through the due diligence exercise.
With this development and the expected CBN approval, the new Wema Bank will have shareholders funds in excess of N28.2 billion and a combined total assets close to N200 billion with total deposit base of about N75 billion and a branch network of about 135 across the country.

Meanwhile, the informed sources also told Vanguard that the group has set January, 2006 as the earliest realistic date for the take-off of the consolidated Wema Bank because of the need to adequately iron out integration issues within the group. Pursuant to this, a committee made up of members from the three banks is currently working on the issue of integration, which sources confirm is the main challenge facing the merger. The area of integration includes human resources, IT platform, accounts and branding. The committee is expected to round off by December.
Wema Bank recently garnered gross proceeds amounting to N16.64 billion at the end of its public offer and added to an initial shareholders’ fund of N8.06 billion would put it at about N24.7 billion. It has total assets of about N98 billion and total deposit of N60 billion, with 115 branches.

Posted by Publisher at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

Sparks in Oghara turn Porbeni on

Coach Taiwo Ariyo is very young but he is easily emerging a name you may not ignore in Track and Field on these shores. Just in the first day of the Delta Sports Festival, some of the athletes under his care have justified why the International Amateur Athletics Federation selected him to be among the coaches that held a clinic for junior athletes from all over the world at the last World Championship in Helsinki, Finland.

By Onochie Anibeze
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

About six athletes returned sub 11 times just in the heats of what is a state championship.

The performance of the local athletes so thrilled veteran athletics coach Seigha Porbeni that he started warming up for a return to the field. The new tartan tracks at the Oghara Stadium is another attraction for the coach who was among those that raised the standard of athletics in the country before the recent plunge.
“I can see all these and sit back. If they do not invite me back to the field, I’ll invite myself. I just have to do something for these athletes to get results,” Porbeni said with so much passion.

Obinna Metu had run 10.67 in the first heat of the 100m and that was followed by Kperi Andy whose 10.78 was another impressive heat race in a local championship that has all the attractions of an international championships.
The organisation is impressive and the ambiance at the stadium has made all the difference. There’s branding of the stadium and the effects on the tracks while the athletes are running is blistering, thanks to the touches of Pamodzi, easily turning sports marketers of great repute. All the equipment here are imported and branded Delta State.

From Hurdles to pole vault, javelin and many other equipment in use here are of international standards and will make some of those of the sports ministry elementary. Chima Elekwa ran 10.97, Sola Dada 10.98, Agbuwa Emobosa 10.97. Ben Ajiduah and Peter Enegbu were among the runners that returned times under 11 seconds in their various heats.
“For long, I was waiting for these tracks to be laid. Now I can no longer complain of where to camp our athletes. After the festival, the real work begins,” Taiwo Ariwo said after the morning events yesterday. Steve Onyeacholam is another coach now directing affairs and talking confidently about what Delta will demonstrate not only at the Gateway Games in Ogun State but after.
“We have been working hard to develop sports and we are not only thinking of competitions like the National Festival and others.

But I think that we will defend the festival successfully”, Onyeacholan said.
“We are also building a hostel for camping of our athletes here in Oghara. I think that things are taking shape for sports and we’’ll continue to develop the state through sports,” Solomon Ogba, commissioner of sports in Delta State said.
“I am already getting results of records falling in other venues and this is exciting,” he said of the festival with venues in Asaba, Warri and Oghara.

Posted by Publisher at 08:44 AM | Comments (0)

My boys didn’t play to the gallery— Abdullah

Head of the technical crew of Dolphin Football Club of Port Harcourt, Musa Abdullah has put up a stout defence for his players whose performance last Sunday at the Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt that gave them a slim 1-0 win over ASFAR of Morocco in the CAF Confederations Cup was criticized.

By Patrick Omorodion
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The players were not particularly co-ordinated while diminutive Efosa Eguakon played to the gallery, dribbling the Moroccans at will but never making any progressive move into the opponent’s box and at the end loses the ball in the process.
A concerned journalist asked Abdullah during the post match conference why his team played to the gallery and the coach, who appeared tensed following the slim victory that was hard to come by, retorted that his boys didn’t play to the gallery and that he was happy they even got the lone goal.

“We didn’t play to the gallery, it was good we scored one goal. It is not easy to score five or six goals in this kind of match because the opponents are also prepared”, he said.
On the introduction of goal scorer Bola Bello for Kelechi Osunwa who failed to make any impact in the match, Abdullah said that Bello has always played the role of a redeemer for the team at crucial moments and had to be brought in when the Moroccans didn’t give Osunwa room to operate.
He however assured that the team would adopt a different approach in the second leg and hopes they would come out of the encounter successful.

His opposite number Fakhir Mohhamed who spoke through an interpreter and who was happy with the slim loss said the match was tough for his boys as Dolphin were equally a good side but promised that they would approach the second leg at home better than the first leg.
Dolphin were lucky not to concede some couple of goals as the Moroccans found captain of the Port Harcourt side Jide Michael stiff and ran rings around him but the agility of goal keeper Chijioke Ejiogu save his side on such occasions.

Posted by Publisher at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)

Bindir embarks on campaign against doping

Apparently disturbed at the doping controversies surrounding the weightlifting camp of the national lifters for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, the Director Sports Development in the Federal Ministry of Sports and Social Development;

By Fidelis Ebu
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dr Umar Bindir is launching a campaign on all camping sites.
Believing however that the lifters’ sample B sent to South Africa for analysis would be negative, Bindir said a close monitoring of the athletes would be intensified when they relocate to Abuja later this month. “Doping is becoming an international problem. It is however unfortunate that our lifters were fingered in the random test. Those linked could be among the ones struggling to make the set standard. If we imbibe the spirit of early talent hunt and nurture those talents from the beginning, they would not ever think of using any performance enhancing substance to excel.

“The crux of the matter is that we should embark on early talents hunt to avoid subsequent embarrassment”, Dr Bindir declared in a chat yesterday. While directing that the Weightlifting Federation should liaise with the International Federation on the modality of slicing the fine, Bindir pointed out that the ministry could only assist if the fine is reduced to between 30,000 and 40,000 dollars (about N4.3 million and N5.7million respectively).

Regretting the situation, Bindir said such amount would have gone a long way in solving one or two things in the preparation for the Melbourne Games.
The director indicated that a closer and proper monitoring of the athletes would be intensified when all the athletes for the Games are moved to closed camping in Abuja; a project that is expected to commence from November 19.

Posted by Publisher at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

NFA board goes this month, Bindir insists

The Nigeria Football Association Board’s delay tactics in conducting fresh elections may have received a hot blow from the Ministry of Sports and Social Development when the Director Sports Development in the ministry, Dr Umar Bindir drummed it loud yesterday in a chat that the tenure of the current NFA Board ends this month.

By Fidelis Ebu
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

“They (Board members) are fully aware that their tenure ends this month. There had not been any request received from the NFA for extension of the elections.

'They know that they cannot stay a day longer than the moment their tenure expires. Except there is a request to that effect, which we have not received, there is no way their tenure would be extended for any reason.
“We are quite aware that there are lots of issues to be tackled at the NFA such as the Decree 101; the appointment of the Secretary General and many other issues, we want to ensure free and fair election at the NFA Board, and this borders on the calibre of composition of the new board.

Bindir pointed out that should there be any reason for extension of the elections, “the NFA owes the soccer public the explanation on why the extension is being sought and how soon it would be conducive for the fresh election. Since such is not done at this moment, I don’t know how such request could be granted at the eleventh hour when all have been waiting for the date scheduled for the elections”, he said yesterday in Abuja.

Posted by Publisher at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)

Armed Forces Games kick off in Owerri

The first All Nigerian Armed Forces and Security Agencies Games, tagged ‘Owerri 2005’, will kick off from November 13th to 19th with over 4000 athletes and officials expected to compete for various sporting laurels.

By Kingsley Omonobi
Posted to the Web: Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Military and Para-military establishments participating in the seven day festival include the Nigerian Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, SSS, Customs, Immigration, Prisons, FRSC, Federal Fire Service, NDLEA and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

Briefing newsmen on the preparation for the games, Chief of Defence Staff, General Alexander Ogomudia, who was represented by his Chief of Operations, Maj-General Patrick Akpa noted that a total of 18 events are to be competed for during the games and they include Football, Basketball, Table Tennis, Swimming, Boxing, Wrestling, Athletics and Shooting.
According to him, “President Olusegun Obasanjo will be on hand to declare the games open while dignitaries including National Assembly members, State governors, members of the Federal Executive Council and Service Chiefs will grace the occasion.”
He listed venues for some of the sporting activities to include Dan Anyiam Staduim where Athletics will take place, Army Range Port Harcourt where Shooting will take place, Oguta Golf Course in Imo for Golf and Port Harcourt Civic Centre for Swimming.

On Why the games was taking place among all security outfits, General Akpa said, “The first is to foster better understanding, promote mutual respect, tolerance, friendship and espirit-de-corps among members of the armed forces, Police and other security agencies in the country.”
“The second reason is to assess the quality of sportsmanship and training in the Armed Forces and various security agencies in the country with a view to identifying new talents that would represent Nigeria in various sports in future national and international competitions.

Posted by Publisher at 08:41 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2005

Adedibu overruns Oyo PDP, Ibori's foes seize Delta

IBADAN— THE political tussle in the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State worsened yesterday as the party held two separate congresses conducted by factions loyal to Governor Rasidi Ladoja and the strong man of Ibadan politics, Chief Lamidi Adedibu respectively.

By Ola Ajayi & Austin Ogwuda
Posted to the Web: Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Commenting on the two congresses, Chairman, Oyo State Electoral Committee, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, said he had not received any official statement from Gov Ladoja why he decided to organise a parallel congress.

Speaking on the authenticity of the two congresses, Chief Babatope said: “I cannot recognise any other parallel congress going on anywhere except the one being organised at the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan. Anywhere you find members of this team appointed by the National Congress of the party appending their signatures, I want to assure you that, that is the official congress that will be recognised by the National Secretariat of the party.”

At the end of the two congresses, two parallel chairmen were elected. Chief Jacob Gbadebo Adetoro, Asiwaju of Igbeti emerged chairman on the Governor’s side while Mr.Hafiz Tijani was declared chairman on Adedibu’s side.

Gov. Ladoja in an address delivered on his behalf by his deputy, Mr Alao Akala, said: “We are in control of the party and also the government and will, therefore, not allow a clique to marginalise and ostracise genuine party loyalists from our great party. Today’s election is, therefore, a confirmation that the party belongs to all and that majority of PDP loyalists in Oyo State cannot be sacrificed for the selfishness of any group or individual and we cannot be marginalised.”

Chief Adedibu in his reaction said the governor’s intention was to frustrate his efforts “but thanks to Obasanjo who came to my aid. Obasanjo is a God sent leader who has successfully saved the oppressed from the oppressors.” He said the governor and his supporters had lost out.
The police tightened security at the main gate of the Liberty Stadium, seizing charms, guns and other dangerous weapons from party faithful.

Agbi emerges factional Chairman in Delta

Meanwhile, a faction of the ruling PDP in Delta State yesterday picked a new State Executive council led by Mr. Goodnews Agbi. Agbi is a well-known critic of Governor James Ibori and one of the litigants that took Ibori to court over the alleged ex-convict saga.

But in a reaction, Senior Special Assistant on Media to Governor Ibori, Mr. Abel Oshevire told Vanguard in a telephone interview from Oghara that Agbi was not a PDP member. “He has no locus because he (Agbi) is not recognised. He cannot vote or be voted. Therefore, for any group to come up to say it has elected Agbi as the chairman is joking because the Abuja team sent to supervise the state congress in Delta, Ambassador Ladan Shuni went back to Abuja after saying that the congress could not go on because of the different lists before them. The world witnessed it in the glare of the camera. So, what are they (faction) saying,” he said.

In a statement announcing the election of its executive member, the Agbi group said: “As the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) conducted its state congress a new executive committee was yesterday (Saturday) elected for Delta State.

“The congress which was held at 10a.m at the Asaba Ladies League (former Delta State House of Assembly) on Osadebay Way, Asaba which was the official venue registered with INEC saw the emergence of a popular chieftain of the party, Mr Goodnews Goodman Agbi as Chairman.

“The position of State Secretary was clinched by Mr Chu-Gaby Onwuka, pioneer member of the Delta State House of Assembly that represented the old Oshimili State Constituency in the Third Republic . Other positions won from across the state include Mr Andrew Oru, Ex-officio; Chief P.S.O. Gbandi, Financial Secretary and Mr C. Okafor, Youth Leader among others.”

The statement claimed that “it was a well-attended state congress as delegates came in their hundreds from across the 25 local government areas of the state. Among prominent party chieftains whose presence boosted the conducted of the congress include Senator Fred Brume, Chief Amagada.

“Our victory is for every party member who has yearned for a re-engineering of the political machinery and the organisational structure of our great party, knowing very well that we are the hope of a new PDP in Delta State.”

Posted by Publisher at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2005

Congress: Atiku's loyalists move to dump PDP * If they move to another party, they will meet an empty house, says Anenih

LAGOS— AGAINST the backdrop of the defeat of supporters of Vice-President Atiku Abubakar at Saturday’s state congress of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), some politicians loyal to him appear bent on dumping the party for a new one.

By Jide Ajani, Political Editor, with reports from states
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

However, Board of Trustees Chairman of the party, Chief Anthony Anenih, has advised those planning to leave that they would meet an empty house wherever they choose to go to.

Chief Anenih also declared that leaders of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) and other political parties were on their way into the PDP. He admonished party faithful not to be lured into the politics of exclusion. Last Saturday’s congress saw supporters of President Olusegun Obasanjo consolidating their hold on the party.
Whereas there were parallel congresses in some states, there are strong indications from the national headquarters of the party that delegates emerging from those parallel congresses would not be recognised.

There were parallel congresses in Edo, Abia and Kwara States.
In Delta State, for instance, Vanguard was informed that there may have arisen a confusion as the team sent to oversee the state congress went with two lists of delegates. One of the lists was said to have been influenced by Dr Samuel Ogbemudia, convention planning committee chairman, while the other was influenced by Dr Ahmadu Ali, the party’s national chairman.

And in another dramatic twist to the on-going factionalisation which has engulfed the party, its Abia State chapter came out of Saturday’s congress with three factions.
In Vice President Abubakar’s home state of Adamawa, PDP gubernatorial aspirant, Senator Jonathan Zwingina raised an alarm that the deepening crisis in the party was threatening the future of the party.

Turaki Vanguard

Disappointed by the results coming in from across the country, loyalists of Vice President Abubakar have called on his supporters nationwide to brace up to commence the process of setting up fresh political structures across the country.

Members of the Turaki Vanguard said the PDP was no longer a genuine platform for true democracy.
In a statement by National Secretary of the group, Mr. Lanre Fayemi, asked the Vice President’s loyalists “across all political parties to come together and harmonise in each state in preparation for an alternative platform to contest the 2007 elections.”

Mr. Fayemi said time was ripe for the establishment of formidable structures across the country and instructed that members should immediately begin the establishment of offices in states, local governments and wards across the country.

He said Atiku’s supporters nationwide had become totally disenchanted with goings on in the PDP and had decided to dump the party en masse.
“We watched with keen interest the procedure adopted by the PDP in its party membership registration, congresses and the composition of the National Convention Congress Committee,” he said.

“The party’s congresses were grossly manipulated and rigged to exclude key members of the PDP that are not trusted to embrace the President Obasanjo’s two-year extension or third term agenda.”


The scheduled congress to pick officers to run the affairs of the PDP in Delta State was put off indefinitely following confusion arising from parallel lists of delegates for the exercise.

After waiting for several hours, Governor James Ibori drove into the Indoor Sports Hall of the Asaba Township Stadium, venue of the congress at 3.43pm in company of the Abuja team led by Ambassador Ladan Shuni; the incumbent chairman of the party, Dr. Pius Sinebe and State Police Commissioner, Mr. Udom Ekpoudom.

The committee from Abuja went to Delta State with two different lits of delegates. One of the lists, our source disclosed, emanated from the office of the National Chairman of the party while the other came from the office of Dr. Ogemudia, National Chairman of the Congress Committee. A different list was also made available by the party in the state.

After series of stakeholders' meetings to harmonise the three lists failed and given that the there had been complaints that neither the ward congress nor local government congress was held in the state, the party was unable to come up with a list that was acceptable to all the interest groups in the state.
The committee has since gone back to the party headquarters to write its report.


Chief Anenih said though the party was trying to resolve the protests arising from its congresses and other complaints, the plot by some members of the party to move into other parties would be made irrelevant as plans have been concluded to welcome members of those other parties to the PDP next year.
The Board of Trustee chairman who was addressing supporters of the party in Benin at the weekend said the leadership of the party was doing all it could to ensure unity in the party.

According to him,”The congresses we have had is a sign of a new beginning and it is a challenge to the party leadership. (Between now and) when our presidential candidate is nominated, we have a lot to do. Every elected executive member of the party has to be up and doing. With all I have seen here today, and especially the calibre of the new leadership of the PDP in this state, it will soon become a one-party state.

“If members of this party say they will join the ANPP in any way, they will find an empty house. Please don’t allow yourselves to play politics of exclusion. Do not be blinded into doing the wrong things by taking temporary appointments. It doesn’t last. Don’t accept such gift from anybody. Make no mistake, there will be no room for any act of indiscipline and disloyalty from any member.”

On the parallel state congress held in Edo State, Chief Anenih contended that the one organised by the faction loyal to the Governor was not real.
“At the congress we have held here, we have demonstrated true leadership qualities. It is unfortunate that the governor was not here. I believe he must be engaged in official duties and I know the new executive of the party will send him the list of officers and even pay him a courtesy call”, Anenih said in apparent sarcasm.
The three senators representing the three senatorial districts in the state, House of Representatives' members, state assembly members and council chairmen were at the congress overseen by leaders sent to monitor it from the party's national headquarters, as well as INEC officials.

But elders of the party led by the State Governor, Lucky Igbinedion, at the weekend faulted the attempts by some politicians in the state to exclude members of the party from the process that will lead to the nomination of the party Governorship flagbearer in 2007,declaring their resolve to fight those involved to a standstill.


In Umuahia, while the Governor Orji Uzor Kalu-led faction elected the incumbent, Dr Uzodinma Okpara, as its chairman while the Abuja faction of the party broke into two with the emergence of Chief Alfredo Awa as chairman of the Chief Onyema Ugochukwu faction and Dr Rex Otuka as chairman of the Chief Ojo Maduekwe group.

What appeared to be the bone of contention is the 2007 governorship ticket in which notable politicians in the state are already beginning to show interest.
In fact, police had to be at alert to avoid a possible breakdown of law and order during the congress as the once united Abuja faction displayed unconventional tactics to ensure that their candidates were elected.

At the newly acquired PDP office for the Abuja faction at Ojike street in Umuahia, trouble started when both Onyema Ugochukwu and Ojo Maduekwe could not agree on a consensus candidate for the group. While Onyema favoured Alfredo Awa who is from Abia north senatorial zone, Ojo Maduekwe rooted for Dr Otuka who is from the same Abia central as Onyema Ugochukwu.

Vanguard observed that when it became obvious that Onyema Ugochukwu group was heading for victory, Dr. Maduekwe quickly announced the cancellation of the congress which did not go down well with the other group.


In Borno, a new leadership, majority of whom were former legislators and former local government chairmen emerged as state party executive members.
At the congress of the party that took place at the party secretariat in Maiduguri, Kolo Bukar, a former member of the Borno House of Assembly from Kukawa Local Government Area was elected chairman.

Ibrahim Shettima, also a former chairman of Kwaya Kusar Local Government Area was voted as state secretary, while Alhaji Babagana Buhari was returned as treasurer and Hajiya Kuwaiya Askira retained her position as the state women leader.
The congress which was conducted peacefully and completed within 30 minutes through consensus, with all candidates returned by voice votes without any opposition.

The chairman of the congress, Alhaji Kashim Imam, said at the end of the event that the new leadership was a generational change from the old breed to the new breed of politicians. He gave an assurance that with the crop of leadership in the state, the PDP was now prepared to go places and turn its fortunes around in readiness for the 2007 elections.


In Benue State, delegates unanimously gave a fresh mandate to the 28-member executive which had been overseeing the affairs of the party in the state since August.
The decision to allow the party’s executive to continue in office was taken in Makurdi, when the electoral committee informed the delegates that only the officials had returned their nomination forms. The 28-member executive made up of loyalists of Chief Bernabas Gemade, and Gov. George Akume, was put together in August after a reconciliatory meeting between the two politicians brokered by the PDP National Secretariat.


Following the violence which trailed its congress in Imo State, the state government has confirmed what it termed the brutal physical assault on a member of the House of Representatives, Mr Atai Ali, in Owerri, even as the Speaker, Imo State House of Assembly and some closeaides of the governor were allegedly marked for assassination.

Addressing a press conference in Owerri, barely 24 hours after the state congress, the Special Adviser to Governor Achike Udenwa of Imo State on Political Matters, Sir George Eguh, expressed regret that theexercise was almost marred by hi-tech thuggery,violence and fraud.“I regret however to inform you that thecongress in Imo State was almost marred by hi-tech thuggery, violence and fraud. This sorry developmentis made even more regrettable by the fact that it wasorchestrated by supposedly highly placed political office holders from the state,” Sir Eguhlamented.


The former Speaker of Jigawa House of Assembly, Alhaji Isah Zakari Bosuwa, has emerged as the new Chairman, Jigawa chapter of the PDP.
Alhaji Bosuwa was the party’s deputy chairman for six years until his unanimous ratification by the delegates drawn from the 27 local government areas of the state.
The election of the former speaker along side 28 other exco officials was conducted by Alhaji Ahmad Abubakar Dan-Namalu at the party headquarter in Dutse and witnessed by the former Governor of the state, Alhaji Ali Sa’ad Birnin Kudu, former Minister of Power and Steel, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, immediate past Minister of State for Works, Alhaji Saleh Shehu, Ambassador Daudu Suleiman among other leading lights of the party. The congress was peaceful.


Addressing newsmen in Yola weekend, Senator Zwingina called for the urgent unification of the factions in the interest of the party. He regretted that as a founding member of the party, the crises in the party had been disturbing and painful. Zwingina stated that the two factions within the party were relevant for the actualisation of the interest of the members and the party itself.
“PDP is the greatest party in Africa, it is the winning party and whatever affects it relates to the generality of Nigerians”, the senator lamented. He charged stakeholders to bury their differences to allow the party to return to its former status and glory.

Posted by Publisher at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

Flights resume at Lagos airport after closure

LAGOS— FOREIGN airlines have backed down on their boycott of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos following what the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) called permanent repairs of runway 18R.

By Kenneth Ehigiator
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

The runway was shut on Saturday following protests by foreign airlines over its poor state.
The airlines had last Friday refused to fly out of the airport to drive home their insistence that the runway be repaired after the engine of one of the European carriers reportedly picked some “foreign objects” from the runway.

The action of the airlines necessitated FAAN to announce closure of the airport to traffic between 4p.m. and 7p.m. yesterday to allow for repair works.
While the closure lasted, the foreign airlines, including KLM, Air France and Lufthansa, were seen checking in passengers, just as an official of one of the carriers spoke of late arrival of the airlines from their European destinations because of the runway closure.

Although re-opening of the runway was billed for 4p.m., it was not opened to traffic until 5:20p.m.
Spaceworld Airlines operated the first flight out of the airport to Port Harcourt on re-opening at 5:20p.m, while Bellview landed from Abuja at about 5:23p.m.
Similarly, Ethiopian Airways’ flight from Addis Ababa was the first foreign airline to land at exactly 5:30p.m, while Virgin Nigeria’s flight for London took off at 5:41p.m against the scheduled 1p.m.

Also, domestic airlines under the aegis of the Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON) claimed to have lost over N100 million to the closure.
AON Assistant Secretary-General, co-ordinator and spokesman of Chanchangi Airlines, Alhaji Mohammed Tukur, said his airline alone lost over N30 million to the closure.

Crash: NCAA to monitor compensation

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) is to monitor settlement of claims by Bellview Airlines to families of victims of the airline’s flight 210 which crashed at Lisa Village in Ifo Local Government Area of Ogun State.

Media Assistant to NCAA Director-General, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, said in a statement that the monitoring would be done by the agency’s Consumer Protection Unit (CPU).

“Officials of the Consumer Protection Unit (CPU) of the authority will be on hand to monitor the settlement of claims to the families of the victims of Bellview flight 210 to ensure they get fair deal,” Adurogboye said.

Managing Director of the airline, Mr. Kayode Odukoya, had last week told newsmen that payment of initial insurance claim of $10,000 per victim would commence tomorrow while the balance $90,000 would be paid later.

The NCAA scribe also said his boss had summoned for a crucial meeting, chief executive officers of airlines for stock over the Bellview Airlines’ crash and other developments in the aviation sector. According to him, the meeting which is scheduled for tomorrow would deliberate on recent ban on use of tickerts by people other than those in whose names the tickets are purchased.

The NCAA placed a ban on usage of passengers’ tickets by other persons last week, saying the practice constituted a problem to settlement of claims in the event of air mishap. “The practice not only violates the conditions of carriage but also makes settlement of claims impossible in the event of air mishap,” said Adurogboye.
Beside the meeting, Adurogboye said the regulatory agency had also written to all airlines, asking them to adhere strictly to the procedure of matching tickets with authenticated valid identification cards as well as apprehend for prosecution any passenger or tout that would contravene the directive.
According to him, NCAA inspectors will monitor developments to ensure strict compliance by all airlines.

Posted by Publisher at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

Oceanic Bank to acquire Stanbic, ITB

LAGOS—OCEANIC Bank International Plc is bidding to acquire two more banks. The banks are Stanbic Bank and International Trust Bank. The move, if successful, will place Oceanic Bank among the big players in the industry as its shareholders fund is expected to climb to about N50 billion.

By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Top management sources in the bank said weekend that the bank had stepped up discussions with Standard Bank of South Africa to acquire its Nigerian subsidiary, Stanbic Bank Nigeria Limited. Standard Bank, the source said, was also expected to invest a minority shareholding stake in Oceanic Bank. The union, when finalised, will shore up Oceanic Bank’s standing among the strong banks

in Nigeria with global strength and precise focus.
Sources also said Oceanic Bank had concluded acquisition deal with owners of International Trust Bank (ITB) in response to the on-going consolidation in the Nigerian banking industry.

Oceanic Bank is one of the 15 banks that have met and surpassed the N25 billion re-capitalisation directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Whilst its shareholders’ funds stood at N26.5 billion after its successful Initial Public Offer (IPO) in October 2004, it is expected that the bank, on its own, will rake in over N30 billion shareholders’ funds at the end of its September 30, 2005 financial year. The choice of ITB, Vanguard learnt, is informed by its extensive branch network in the Northern part of Nigeria, while Stanbic Bank is strategic for its outstanding African and global franchise through its parent company, Standard Bank of South Africa, and here in Nigeria where it has already established unparalleled core competence in custodian, corporate and investment banking.

It is envisaged that the new Oceanic Bank will produce a strong bank that would be strong at the corporate and the retail ends of the market, leveraging on its enhanced international and geographical reach.

At the end of September 2005, Oceanic Bank has increased its business offices to over 100. With the proposed acquisition, Oceanic will have over 130 business offices nationwide.

Posted by Publisher at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

INEC boss moves to stop committal to prison — says he didn't flout court order

ABUJA—Chairman of INEC, Prof Maurice Iwu, has asked the Court of Appeal sitting in Enugu to dismiss an application by a politician, Dr. Christian Okeke seeking to jail him over his (Iwu) alleged refusal to obey a court order which declared him (Okeke) as winner of the 2003 National Assembly election in Idemili North and South Federal Constituency.

By Ise-Oluwa Ige
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

According to Iwu, he said there was no order from any court directing him or his commission to issue a certificate of return to Dr. Christian Okeke even as he maintained that he did not flout any court order to warrant his committal to prison.

The Court of Appeal, Enugu division, had about two weeks ago, summoned INEC Chairman, Prof. Iwu to appear before it unfailingly last week to explain why he should not be committed to prison for allegedly flouting its order.

Both the National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Awka and the Court of Appeal, Enugu had also, at separate times, declared Dr. Christian Okeke as winner of National Assembly election held in Idemili North and South Federal Constituency.

The two courts which entered judgments in the election petition in favour of Dr. Okeke had pronounced that Dr. Jerry Ugwoke who was representing Idemili North and South Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives ought not to be there.

Although Dr. Ugwoke further exercised his constitutional rights by approaching the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, sitting in Abuja to allege that he was not given fair hearing by the two domestic courts which heard his case, the presiding judge of the court, Justice Hansine Donli had also washed off her hands from the suit citing lack of jurisdiction to entertain electoral matters.

Dissatisfied Ugwoke had also gone back before the ECOWAS court asking it to reverse its position on the matter, saying the issue of jurisdiction was only raised in the court but yet to be argued. Notwithstanding the pendency of Ugwoke’s fresh application, Dr. Okeke demanded for his certificate of return from INEC.
The failure of INEC to issue the certificate galvanized Dr. Okeke to cause the Court of Appeal, Enugu to issue Form 48 and 49 against the INEC Chairman, Prof. Iwu.

Form 48 is a written notice by the court warning a judgment debtor on the implication of his refusal to obey a subsisting court order validly obtained against him.
The Form 48 normally gives an ultimatum for the order of the court to be complied with.

Form 49 is issued after the ultimatum on Form 48 expires. The form is a notice to the same judgment debtor to appear before the court to show cause why he should not be committed to prison for failing to obey its order.

Reacting to the committal application initiated by Dr. Okeke against Prof. Iwu via a preliminary objection, INEC was asking the court to dismiss Dr. Okeke’s request on three grounds.

According to INEC, both Forms 48 and 49 were not served in accordance with the law or order of the court; the trial court did not make an order against the parties sought to be committed to prison and that the Court of Appeal has no jurisdiction to hear the committal application.

The preliminary objection was filed in court by the Head of Legal Department of INEC, Mr. Oluwole Osaze Uzzi.
Hearing on the preliminary objection was stalled at the weekend following an oral application by Dr. Okeke’s counsel, Mr. Arthur Obi Okafor, who said that he was just seeing the application and would need time to study it.
The objection is however scheduled to be heard today.

Posted by Publisher at 10:48 AM | Comments (0)

Orubele vows to empower youth, women

LAGOS—SENATORIAL aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in Imo State for the vacant seat of late Senator Amah Iwuagwu, Mrs. Ngozi Orubele, has vowed to focus mainly on youth and women empowerment if given the opportunity to occupy the position.

By Dapo Akinrefon
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Mrs. Orubele who made this known in Lagos, yesterday while speaking with newsmen stated that her priority which has been her drive is “the empowerment of the youth and our women”.

According to her, It’s because the youth have not been taken care of, that is why you have the high rate of youth restiveness that culminated in cultism in schools. "This is a pity, in this area alone, there are so many children and youths that do not go to school at all, and there are some that have left school without any form of employment for so many years. To such types, life seems so hopeless. They seem lost, as they do not know what to do with themselves. And what would they do in such state of helplessness? It is so painful to contemplate it, but we must face fact, the devil, it is said, finds work for idle hands.”

She, however, lauded the efforts of the late Sen. Iwuagwu who she describes as “young and vibrant and irrespective of the distractions on his path, was able to play his part well because he was focused pointing out that she`ll remain focused to live up to expectation.

Her words: “You must be focused to know what you want to do for your people, because if you can’t deliver your people, there is no point aspiring to the membership of that exalted gathering.

So, we need an effective, efficient and adequate representation. And that is what I intend to provide. I am going there to represent Owerri zone adequately. I want to use all I’m endowed with to help the people, the poor, the aged, the hopeless, and in fact, every member that constitutes the citizenry of Owerri zone. There are so many children out there roaming the streets, they need to be taken care of. It is not just about being in government, it’s about a mother’s heart with the instrument of office”.

Continuing, she maintained that “we can assist these youths to rediscover their potentialities. We can teach them what to do through small-scale industries, and empower them through soft loans to start off business. They are not lazy; an average Nigerian youth is an enterprising fellow. They are ready to work but there is no sense of direction," she said.

Posted by Publisher at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

Privatisation of NITEL not in jeopardy — BPE

The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has said that the privatisation of the nation’s premier national carrier, Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) is not in jeopardy.

By Emma Ujah
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

There had been speculations that the withdrawal of pan-African cellular communications giants, Vodacom, from the Telkom Consortium’s bid to acquire controlling 51 per cent stake in the NITEL would destabilise the privatisation process.

But in a statement issued in Abuja, yesterday, the spokesman of the BPE, Mr. Chigbo Anichebe, said that the withdrawal of Vodacom would not have a negative impact on the NITEL privatisation, which has already suffered several setbacks, particularly following the inability of the Telkom consortium to pay the bid price of $1.317 billion for 51 per cent of the company in 2001.

According Mr. Anichebe, Vodacom’s withdrawal from the bid for NITEL was based on the insistence of the government regulatory agencies to the effect that the communications company could invest either in the V-Mobile or in NITEL, but certainly not both.

His words, “recall that prior to the commencement of the present NITEL strategic sale transaction, Vodacom, separately, and later in partnership with Virgin Group Ltd, was pursuing a controlling interest in V-Mobile Nigeria Limited.

“Vodacom’s recent withdrawal from the Telkom consortium bid to acquire majority stake in NITEL obviously stemmed from recent regulatory pressure on Vodacom to choose between either their interest in acquiring V-Mobile or participating in Telkom’s NITEL bid.

“It is therefore not entirely correct to claim that Vodacom’s withdrawal from the Telkom consortium was predicated solely on the ground that the Federal Government is not currently considering a separation of the fixed and mobile businesses of NITEL.”

“The privatisation of NITEL remains fully on track. The decision of Vodacom neither ends its Nigerian ambitions nor seriously affects Telkom’s bid. Telkom is already in talks with various potential partners to have them join its bid to replace Vodacom.

He pointed out that some observers are reading much more into this development than is necessary. According to him, Vodacom’s withdrawal has no consequence for the NITEL sale process given that the imminent sale of NITEL is in no danger at all.

“It is proceeding ahead according to plan. There were six short-listed teams and the six remain. Investor's faith in the process remains high,” the BPE spokesman explained.

The BPE spokesman added that Vodacom has also indicated that it is open to an equity investment in NITEL’s mobile telephone business if the opportunity should arise and would consider managing the mobile operation of NITEL “without an obligation to undertake equity investment, if Telkom were to win the bid and subsequently requested Vodacom’s mobile management services.”

Posted by Publisher at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

PDP state congresses: Obasanjo’s men consolidate hold

ONE point that President Olusegun Obasanjo is never tired of making is that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is the largest in Africa. As far as the President is concerned, this is the most important point in the march forward.

By Bolade Omonijo, Dapo Akinrefon with reports from correspondents
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

At every point, he admonishes members of the party to be conscious of the fact and do everything to maintain the strength of the party.

As party faithful filed out last Saturday to elect the leadership at the state level all over the country, President Olusegun Obasanjo restated the fact again. Speaking with newsmen in Abeokuta after participating in the state Congress of the party, President Olusegun Obasanjo disclaimed all those who had boycotted the exercise in Ogun State. According to the President, they could no longer be regarded as “full members.” The import of this would become obvious soon. Reports from Abeokuta indicate that two serving Senators, Iyabo Anisulowo and Ibikunle Amosun and their supporters, although full delegates to the Congress chose to stay away to illustrate their disenchantment with the leadership of the party at the state level. This has further widened the gulf in the party hierarchy which presidential intervention in the past failed to bridge. Senator Amosun who is believed to be interested in the gubernatorial seat is said to be using the opportunity of the Congress to make a statement on his next political move.

If Amosun and his political soul mates merely stayed away from the congress, this was not the case in Kwara State where there was long standing deep seated animosity among party members. It would be recalled that the Saraki dynasty was part of the All Nigeria Peoples Party until a few months before the last election. When the group decided to move into the PDP, older members who resented the preferential treatment extended to them from Abuja loudly protested.

Last Saturday, those opposed to the leadership of Governor Saraki decided to hold a parallel congress. Despite all attempts to stop them they succeeded in electing a parallel executive. Earlier attempts to hold the Congress in the residence of Dr. Alimi Abdulrazaq, Deems Hotel and Decandims Hotel were frustrated by the Police. But, determined to achieve their objective, the party moved to Circular Hotel where they eventually came up with a parallel PDP structure in the state.
However, leader of the team sent from Abuja to conduct the election, Senator Gbenga Ogunniya, warned that such conduct would not be tolerated. He told newsmen that his team would not tolerate political rascality.

In Edo State, it was battle royale as the broad division in the party was fully demonstrated. While the faction loyal to the state governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, comprising all state political appointtees reportedly held their Congress in the Government House, the faction loyal to the strongman of Edo politics and pillar of the party at the federal level, Chief Tony Anenih, met at Saidi Centre to give effect to the new political leadership being put in place for the state.

In Lagos State, it was fairly smooth sailing as the political lords under the leadership of the Deputy National Chairman, Chief Olabode George, had met to decide on the course of events. They had resolved to entrust the interim state leadership of the party with the task of piloting the affairs of the state in the period leading to the next election. As such, Chief Rasheed Alaba Williams remains leader of the party in the state.
How the Congress went nation-wide:

It was smooth in Minna the Niger State Capital as all the old executive members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were returned to office.
Those elected were Alhaji Umar Faruk Abdullahi, Chairman, Alhaji Yahaya Hassan, Deputy Chairman, Alhaji Ndatsu Pelemi, Treasurer, Alahji Yahaya G. Sani, Financial Secretary while Barrister Tanko Beji also retained his position as State Secretary.

Despite a court injunction, the Mantu faction of the PDP in Plateau State held the congress. Fierce-looking anti-riot policemen backed by armoured personnel carriers were stationed at strategic points leading to the Hill Station Hotel venue of the congress which was a mere formality as all those who emerged were elected by affirmation. A Jos High Court which sometime ago granted an interim injunction stopping the ward and state congresses had given leave to some aggrieved members of the party who sought the injunction, an order of substituted service for the initial injunction to be published in the mass media. Going by the order, parties to the suit are expected to maintain the status quo ante pending the resumption of the case. However, head of the four-member team sent from the national headquarters to conduct the congress, Senator David Mark, told journalists that he was not aware of any court injunction adding that he was merely in the state for an assignment. The State Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Bolajo Anani, who was an observer at the congress expressed satisfaction with the conduct. Speaking earlier, Deputy Senate President, Alhaji Ibrahim Mantu in a triumphant tone, said the congress marked a new dawn in the politics of the state adding that it was also a testimony to those in control of the party in the state. However, acting Secretary to the State Government, Mr.Litta Shindai, in a statement repeatedly broadcast on the media had requested members of the party to abide by the court order and not to join in the illegality of flouting it by participating in the congress.

Violence marred the exercise in the state as some honourable members of the House of Representatives were attacked. Those attacked were Hon. A. Atai and Hon. Mani Nasarawa from Kogi and Katsina States respectively, as well as Chief Hope Uzodinma.

Addressing scores of those who thronged the Grasshoppers International Handball Stadium Complex, Owerri, the Deputy Governor, Engr. Ebere Udeagu, decried what he termed “the activities of a few individuals, who think that without them, the state will cease to exist”, even as he also reasoned that such a disposition could easily jeopardize the nation’s political engineering.

“As I speak to you today, the papers for the state congress of the party have not been sighted by the State Party Leader and Governor, Chief Achike Udenwa. I urge you all to remain loyal to the Party Leader and Governor, who has equally said there would be no parallel congress in the state”, the Deputy Governor said. While appealing passionately to members of the PDP to remain calm and bury all existing grievances, Engr. Udeagu also commended them for the successful realization of both the ward and local government congresses, which he said has led the party to remain firm.

The state ccngress of the party was peaceful and devoid of crises which hitherto characterised such congresses with all the state executive members of the party returned unopposed.

The congress which kicked off by 12 noon with all the who is who in the state in attendance was held at the Ade Super Hotel in Akure, the state capital.
The 308 delegates to the congress expressed satisfaction with the leadership of the governor, Dr. Olusegun Agagu and passed a vote of confidence on his leadership.
Governor Agagu lauded the successful conduct of the congress and denied insinuatios that the party would break before 2007 elections.

He said that the party has an internal mechanism of resolving any crisis within it.
Present at the congress include Dr. Bode Olajumoke, Dr. Segun Mimiko, Chief Mobolaji Osomo, council chairmen, commissioners, aides to the governor amongst other party chieftains from the state.

THE Congress was held without the presence of members of the National Assembly from the state including the Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani. Governor Chimaroke Nnamani was also absent at the well-attended congress where most members of the Chief Onyioha Nwanjoku-led State Executive Committee were re-elected.

Aside the Senate President, the two senators from the state, Senators Fidelis Okoro and Ike Ekweremadu as well as most members of the House of Representatives from the state were absent.

Only the Minister of Information, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr and the leader of the South East Caucus at the House of Representatives, Prince Gil Nnaji, came down from Abuja to attend the congress held at the Okpara Square, Enugu.
Governor Nnamani was said to have travelled abroad but his deputy, Chief Okechukwu Itanyi represented him at the occasion.

However, members of the opposition in the state who had claimed to be “Authentic PDP” stayed away from the congress but their absence might not be unconnected with the absence of Chief Ken Nnamani and other chieftains of the party, who they claimed were backing their activities.

Chairman of the faction, Chief Gabriel Nnaji could not be reached for comments as to why his group stayed away from the congress but a staunch member of the group, Chief Mike Onu, who held the position of the State Treasurer in the Nwanjoku executive, was relieved of his position at the congress.
Nwanjoku, while reacting to Onu’s removal, said the decision was taken by his zone and could not give reasons.

THE scheduled congress to pick officers to run the affairs of the ruling PDP in Delta State was put off indefinitely, following confusion arising in parallel list of delegates for the exercise.

After waiting for several hours, the governor drove into Indoor Sports Hall of the Asaba Township Stadium, the venue of the congress at 3.43pm in company of the Abuja team led by Ambassador Ladan Shuni, the incumbent chairman of the party, Dr. Pius Sinebe, State Police Commissioner, Mr. Udom Ekpoudom.
Addressing the audience who were thoroughly screened by security agents before entry, Ambassador Shuni said that until the list was harmonized, he would return back to Abuja with his men to avoid further degeneration of the already existing crisis in the party.

Said he “members of the party met in the morning to move for a way forward. We, during the discussion believed that the major problem is on the delegates. There are a lot of problems with the delegates, apart from the statutory delegates, there are delegates who are either to be elected, or who have to come outside the statutory delegates have problems. We came with list from Abuja, and we discovered that even with the list we brought from Abuja we have problem. Our discussion also in which the delegates issue was also discussed, there was problem. So if we want a smooth family, we feel if we go ahead with congress, other people will be alieanated. We feel the best way out is to address the issue of delegates to get the list harmonized. We feel for this decision is to at least delay or postpone this congress and report back to Abuja what actually happened.

Governor Ibori also addressed the gathering and called for calm. There was tight security in and around the stadium.
Within the context of recent development in the country, it is expected that the nature of development at the state congresses would determine the next course of action for those loyal to Vice President Atiku Abubakar. The total take over of party structure at all levels by those opposed to the Vice President’s political ambition is a signal that he might have to jump out if indeed he remains determined to emerge President in 2007. Already, reports indicate that the ranks of supporters of the Vice Presidents has somewhat thinned down. Governors Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, Jolly Nyame of Taraba State and Danjuma Goje of Gombe are said to have decamped from the Atiku side. The disposition of others such as Rasheed Ladoja of Oyo State and even Victor Attah of Akwa Ibom cannot be fully guaranteed.

Posted by Publisher at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

EU Ambassadors: Their visit and verdict on Enugu

WHEN, for three days in September, 13 ambassadors of European countries in Nigeria chose to call attention to the political and economic development in Enugu, many Nigerians thought it was all a publicity stunt.

By Bolade Omonijo, Deputy Political Editor
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

A number of leaders, including some state governors, wondered what that could mean, whether it did not amount to seeking colonial endorsement.

Although they chose to wear the cloak of anonymity, they expressed the hope that the project would boomerang and Governor Chimaroke Nnamani would be permanently silenced. They based their expectation on the very high standards in Europe and the fact that the ambassadors would say it as they see things. They also based their expectations on the suggestion that, given the paltry N1.2 billion that the state rakes in from the Federation Account monthly, little could really have been done that would impress the ambassadors.

In the views of the ambassadors, what really informed the assessment visit? According to the leader of the delegation, the British High Commissioner, Mr. Richard Grozney, “we have worked with His Excellency, the governor and others through the Department for International Development. The United Kingdom is the chairman of the European Union for a period of six months between July and December 2005, so we wish to work with a state government for a visit of this sort.”
The British envoy explained further that, “the reason I suggested Enugu was because I knew a little bit of what it was like here because I come down because of the DFID programmes and I wanted to show them how exceptional and dynamic Enugu was...”

In summing up the impressions of the foreign envoys, Grozney also had this to say: “I see dynamism, optimism and the ambition to be different and to introduce programmes, infrastructure and other elements for the future that will make this state a driving force, a motivating force in this part of Nigeria and perhaps for Nigeria as a whole.”

That was a powerful endorsement. At a time when many governors would travel all over the world canvassing the strong points of their states for elusive investment, the governor of Enugu State, without leaving his state capital succeeded in selling his state and drawing powerful envoys to act as his salesmen.

Perhaps the most striking point made by the visiting ambassadors was the place of women in the state. The women on the team were particularly impressed that they brought out the point. Maria de Perestello of Portugal was full of gratitude to the governor for the pride of place he had given to women in the state particularly in the legislature. She said: “I thank you for the wonderful status you gave to us in your state.” Asked the position of women in the state to which the Portuguese Ambassador referred, the state Commissioner for Information. Mr. Igbonekwu Ogazimora said five of the elected parliamentarians in the state were women.

The Finnish Ambassador, Anna-Lisa Korhomen, another woman was even more surprised by what she called the giant strides taken in the direction of involving women in the affairs of the state. She said: “I am a bit curious to know how you have been able to attract all the people to come together with you, for you have so many women organisations that are so active in this part of the country who are not anywhere else.” Addressing Governor Nnamani, she asked directly: “I would like to know how you do it?”

Again, Mr Ogazimora explains: “We consider this a special state. We are here on a mission, of course the vision is the governors. He believes that women have a whole lot to contribute. He has always maintained that a half of the population cannot be held down and we expect any meaningful development. Here, as a result of the governor’s convictions, for the first time in the history of the state, we have seven female customary court judges. Eight of the 17 local government chairmen are women and 17 of the 39 development centres have women as chairmen. Here, we don’t believe in paying lip service to women development and empowerment. When other states shied away from nominating women to the National Political Reform Conference, we chose to do so. Not only that, we complemented it by sending mainly younger person for that assignment.”

The ambassadors must have been surprised by the level of women involvement at the grassroots, since even in the most developed parts of the world, women are only just being fully integrated into public life. At the lower rungs, the societies that have admitted women into leadership positions are already ahead in terms of development.

However, although women have made some appreciable progress in terms of political leadership in the West, only in a few have they attained the highest point at the highest level, even in the United States of America which is regarded as the headquarters of the Western world, no woman has emerged President or Vice President. In the United Kingdom, about the oldest democracies in the world, no woman emerged the Prime Minister until Margaret Thatcher, popularly called the Iron Lady broke the jinx in 1979. She was to add another first as she later emerged the first Prime Minister in the 20th Century to be elected at three consecutive elections. Given the opportunity, Thatcher made the Conservatives that had consistently lost to the Labour party electable once again.

Anther woman who succeeded in climbing to the peak of the political ladder were Indira Gandhi who ruled India between 1966 and 1977, defeated 1977 but bounced back in 1980. Golda Meir of Israel was called to duty in the most difficult period of the survival of that country. She emerged the prime Minister in 1969 and the task of prosecuting the Yom Kippur war of 1973 fell on her. Although she eventually had to drop off the political scene as a consequence of public disavowal of the country’s performance, Meir is regarded today as one of the greats who once ruled the Israel. Another contemporary woman leader of note is Mrs Corazon Aquino of The Phillippines. Following the death of her charismatic husband, she was procured for the seat by popular demand.

The most recent example was the emergence of Mrs. Angela Merkel in Germany at the head of a coalition government in which the former ruling party is a partner. There were many things that could have served as obstacle to discourage the woman. She hailed from former Eastern Germany which had never played at that level. No woman had ever been so lucky to give a serious challenge to the ruling order. She did not join the political establishment until 1990. Yet, at 51, she gave the necessary push and won. She has since gone into history as the first woman to rule one of the most industrialised countries in the world.

In history, women have proved time and again that, given the opportunity, they could perform the eighth wonder of the world. Names frequently mentioned include Queen Cleopatra of Egypt who ruled between 68 and 30BC, Queen Victoria of England (1819-1901), Joan of Ark who led the French Army between 1412 and 1431 as well as Nigeria’s own Queen Amina who commanded the Zazzau Army and lived from 1560 to 1610.

If these women could achieve distinction many centuries back, it is an indication that the Nigerian woman today, given the level of exposure, education and the generally more liberal environment could do much more.

This is where the “revolution” in Enugu is important. Women who have served as judges of Customary Courts (a rare occurrence in Nigeria), local government chairmen and development centre chairmen are expected to gain the necessary experience, confidence and exposure to lead at higher levels. perhaps from the ranks, Nigeria’s own Thatcher or Meir or Indira Gandhi or Merkel could emerge tomorrow. For this to happen, there is however, a whole lot more to be done. In the spirit of the Beijing resolution, the number of women in the cabinet will have to be jerked up from the present level of two commissioners and three Special Advisers to the recommended 30 per cent. The lower percentage might have been due to the low level of participation of women in politics. This is where the women non-governmental organisations should play a rigorous role. As observed by the Finnish Ambassador, the fact that there are many women organisations in the state should help in this process. The task should be shared by the state government, the women NGOs and the citizenry.

Posted by Publisher at 10:45 AM | Comments (0)

TRIBUTE: -Maria Sokenu: We lost a good friend

With the obvious ineptitude exhibited by the various agencies associated with the aviation industry over the ill-fated Bellview plane crash and indeed the vexatious buck-passing which trailed the tragedy, we may never know what exactly happened on that black Saturday.

By Tony Olutomiwa
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

What is clear with enduring impact however is the sorrow and anguish that had befallen the families, relatives, and friends of the victims. It was really a moment of despair, when life literally ceased to exist - depending on who is feeling the pain.

For me, the monumental crash was a personal loss. I lost a dear mother and clearly my best friend. Still a rude shock, unbelievable but real that I could no longer see and interact with such a wonderful woman. Yet perplexing was the fact that our discussions and events preceding the sudden separation never gave any warning or inkling that disaster was lucking. Exactly twelve days before the crash, I had boarded the same Bellview plane with her from Abuja to Lagos. And two days to the unfortunate incident, I had met with her to discuss one more of her limitless ideas. As her car moved, she asked me to call her and waved bye. I never did.

And so it happened, so quick, a nightmare, that this rare gem is no more - Chief (Mrs.) Maria Olanrewaju Sokenu, a national icon, has finally gone to rest. She has finished her own race, a pacy one throughout her lifetime. But what manner of death? Terrible! As the common saying goes, good people don’t last and this is true of the amazon we fondly called Mummy. Sure, this is not how Mama Sokenu should have ended her graceful life. But what can we do other than to submit to the will of God - who giveth and taketh life.

I had been woken up in the early hours of Sunday (4.00am) by her daughter (Kemi) from Abuja. Having been deep asleep, I couldn’t pick the first call but which was shortly repeated and on opening my phone, the name and number on the screen were familiar. I had shouted her name, only to be interrupted with the sobbing terse message; “Tony, Mummy’s plane crashed”, and then followed the wailing, anguish and total confusion. From this moment till I joined the family and till the time of writing this, the situation has hardly eased with stream of sympathizers.

Although the mourning is expected to end (really?) possibly after the burial but the fond memories of who she was and what she represented to many people will continue to linger. For those who actually had close contact with her, the memory of her goodness, her humanness, her motherhood will keep coming back and years to come, such memories will continue to spark the emotional cord that will make it difficult to forget her. Mummy was a damn good woman.

Having lost my maternal mother in my first year at the University of Lagos, I grew up in life to meet Chief (Mrs.) Maria Sokenu and a relationship of a mother and son had been established. And until the cold hands of death snatched her last Saturday, she remained faithful and committed to me and my aspirations. She was a pillar of support. Just as she equally had other sons and daughters she proudly adopted and never waivered to expend her resources on them. To some of these my siblings, especially those still in school at various levels, like that young girl at the Queen’s College, Lagos, we have collectively lost a dear mother and a good friend. Mrs. Maria Sokenu’s humanity was not in doubt because she lived it.

After a meritorious career in banking, the zenith being her tenure as the managing director of the defunct People’s Bank of Nigeria, she retired to establish the Institute of Poverty Eradication (IPE), an NGO devoted to skills acquisition. She had the uncanny foresight long ago that this was the best way to fight our prevalent poverty. It was one issue that really bothered her and she was committed to it. It was a crusade of a life time. Even with the great successes at the IPE, Mama Sokenu was not satisfied and this propelled her attempts to run for office during the 2003 elections. A woman of incredible intellect and policy wonk (yes, she was extremely brilliant) her fitting political aspiration was a seat in the Senate and did run under the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos State, hoping to represent the people of Lagos Central. But alas, she lost to the mundane peculiarities of our politics.

During our discussions, she would eargerly explain at length how she would use legislation to tackle poverty. But I remember asking her if there were not enough legislation already and she answered that there could be but that her constant advocacy as a senator would add impetus, focus and commitment to the issue, which she told me was the major problem confronting government, and indeed any government in the world. Invariably she lost and it was a huge loss to the poor. But if she had made it to the senate, her success would not have been a surprise because she practised what she preached. Yes, she had a precedent at the People’s Bank where not only were the street urchins (Area Boys) rehabilitated and became responsible citizens but also set up so many of our people in business.

Interestingly, she never bothered about credit of any sort but she’s usually happy to hear of human transformations. Her refrain was that we have not lived, if we have only lived for ourselves. It was really an obsession for her to affect lives in very positive ways, often asking the various men and women who visited her or those she visited (particularly the poor) what was happening to their children. Are they in school or which school do they attend? And she readily offered help without prodding. All this I took notice and would wonder that in a society so steeped in greed and selfishness, her type still existed. She was generous, kind hearted and behaved as if she hadn’t had a good day if she had not done anyone any good - the Maria Sokenu essence. She shared love, empathy and friendship very broadly.

When Governor Gbenga Daniel of Ogun State visited her family last Tuesday, what struck my mind as he sat with her daughter and husband, Chief Femi Sokenu, was the feeling back home in Abeokuta, particularly among the beneficiaries of the Ogun State Employment Generation Programme (OGEGEP). Until her death, she was the head of the Employment Generation Bureau as a Special Adviser to the Governor. She never disappointed till the end, with several thousands already trained and empowered to live a good life. On the streets of Abeokuta her name was on the lips of everyone, not only because of the government’s huge success with her devotion and responsibility but indeed because of her common touch, relating intimately with the folks. Of course, she would open her bag several times a day to give out to the numerous people particularly the youths who crowd around her. Even at her official residence at the Presidential Lodge in Abeokuta everyone was welcome. And she was happy doing that.

Her last outing for the cause of poverty reduction was at a seminar organised by the Women in Banking, Finance and Investments in Nigeria (WIBAFIN) held at the Bankers’ Committee Room, CBN, Lagos where she presented cheque to one of the beneficiaries for the organisation’s micro finance programme on 14th October, 2005. She was a trustee of WIBAFIN.

Chief (Mrs.) Maria Sokenu would be remembered for her many parts. We would remember, for instance, her social duality - mixing so freely with the downtrodden at one minute and she’s at the next minute exuding confidence and grace, flashing her elegance to dine and wine with the high and mighty. And she was also well received, respected for her worth. Well mannered, full of style. She craved integrity and would be quick to react to any wrong doing or indiscretion. But she never harboured grudges. I think I should add, too, that she was conscious of her eternity, often admonishing people to do what is just. A devout Catholic, she read her Bible daily and tried as much as possible to practice her religion.

As the sun set, it is my fervent prayer that our good Lord grant her eternity she often talked about while also comforting her family. But for us still living, the challenge is how best we can really tackle the scourge of poverty in our midst, her real concern in life and our lasting burden and the extent to which we can live a selfless life. How indeed we can change our values so radically to enhance the worth of humanity. Mummy, we shall miss you. Goodnight.

Posted by Publisher at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

Delta Commissioner disowns N168m illegal deductions

Asaba — DELTA State Commissioner for Finance, Chief David Edevbie, says he has nothing to do with the alleged illegal deduction of N168 million from the Statutory Allocations due to the 25 local government councils in the state, saying that the Assembly misfired by linking him with it.

By Austin Ogwuda
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Reacting to Vanguard’s story of Friday, on the issue, Edevbie said that “Commissioner for Finance could not and was not involved in any way with alleged deductions and therefore cannot be caused to return any money or be sanctioned otherwise”, adding that “the Honourable Commissioner for Finance takes exception to have been included in such a report and intends to formally advise the Delta State House of Assembly accordingly.”

Members of Public Accounts Committee of the House headed by Dr. Olisa Imegwu, had recommended that both the Commissioner for Finance, Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the Accountant-General of the state “should be caused to return without delay the sum of N168,162,704.87 million, tucked away somewhere of councils’ statutory allocations to the Consolidated Revenue Funds of the councils and desist from allowing such deductions in the future."
The Committee further noted that “the return of the said amount should not exceed seven working days, beginning from date of the adoption of this resolution and if at the expiry of the seven days no action was taken, the House should officially sanction the officials so mentioned for contempt.”

But Commissioner Edevbie in a statement in Asaba, weekend, said that “it is important to state the facts regarding the role of the Ministry of Finance in the allocation of revenue to local govenments in Delta State. The revenue due to the local governments from the Federation Account is disbursed by the Central Bank to the State Local Government Joint Allocation Account. The detailed distribution sheets of the federal and state 10% allocations are sent by the Accountant-General to the Honourable Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs who thereafter convenes a meeting of the State Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC). The Honourable Commissioner for Finance is not a member of this Committee.

“Following this meeting”, he went on, “the JAAC effects disbursement of monies in accordance with resolutions reached. The role of the Ministry of Finance in the aforementioned revenue allocation process is to ensure that Federal and State allocation due to local governments in Delta State are paid into JAAC account and presented to the JAAC in session for their distribution.”

The Assembly committee in its findings had said that “the 25 local government council chairmen instead of three, who are members of the Committee (State Joint Local Government Account and Fiscal Committee) with the active connivance of the Commissioner for Local Govenrment and Chieftaincy Affairs, signed resolutions which enabled them deduct at source huge sums of revenues and monies standing to the credit of the councils contrary to section 6, sub-sections b and h, of the State Joint Account Law, and section 54, sub-sections 1 and 2 of the amended 1999 Local government law”.
Consideration for the adoption of the Public Accounts Committee’s Report has been slated during the sitting of the House tomorrow (Tuesday).

Posted by Publisher at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

Bayelsa Govt donates N10m to Saro-Wiwa foundation

PORT HARCOURT — THE Bayelsa State Government has donated N10 million to the Ken Saro Wiwa Foundation even as the Rivers State government gave the Saro-Wiwa family N8.2 million to organise the launch of the Foundation, weekend, in Port Harcourt.

By John Ighodaro
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

The event which was held at the Presidential Hotel in Port Harcourt was graced by eminent personalities which included Governor Peter Odili who was represented by the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Magnus Abe, Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, first military governor of Rivers State, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, poet Gabriel Okara, Ken Saro Wiwa Jr., Dr. Wale Okedira, Senator Lee Maeba, Mr. Odia Ofeimum, Nnimmo Bassey among others.

The event which was part of the ongoing programme to commemorate the death of environmentalist and playright, Ken Saro Wiwa, featured a drama sketch and readings of late Ken Saro Wiwa’s literary works.

The occasion which was basically a literary night had Poet Gabriel Okara reading Ken Saro-Wiwa’s poem entitled Lament in the Marketplace
Several lines in the long poem drew applause from the captive audience as Gabriel Okara read the poem.

In a keynote address on the occasion, the first son of the late playwright, Mr. Ken Saro-Wiwa Jr. called on his late father’s friends to make themselves available to him as “I would like to have a father figure.”

Ken Saro Wiwa Jnr who is also a writer said he was almost discouraged from becoming a writer when in 1991, his late father wrote seven books, adding, he was intimiated by the feat but picked up courage and later went into writing.

In his own speech, the Rivers State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Magnus Abe, himself an Ogoni, paid tribute to late Ken Saro Wiwa saying the late playwright's activities while alive and his eventual death brought recognition to the Ogoni not only nationwide but worldwide.

According to him, before Ken Saro Wiwa, the Ogoni people were despised “but wherever you go now in the world, just say you are an Ogoni and you would be recognised. Sometime ago, I was in the United States and I saw Nigerians who are not Ogonis claiming they are Ogonis. This is part of what Ken Saro-Wiwa did for us.”

While reiterating Magnus Abe's account of how Ken Saro-Wiwa helped in the enhancement of the Ogoni image, the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, donated N10 million to the Ken Saro-Wiwa Foundation.

According to the organisers of the Foundation, “it will encourage and support critical thinking, dialogue and enlightenment of public debate to advance the cause of marginal people in Africa. At the same time, it will identify practical community-based projects to improve the life of marginalised enterprises that celebate Ken’s life as an author.”

Posted by Publisher at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

Akhigbe tasks PDP leaders on crises rocking party

BENIN CITY — FORMER Chief of General Staff (CDS), Admiral Mike Akhigbe, yesterday, asked the National leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to take a position on the conflicts rocking the party over fraud noticed during the last registration exercise, congresses of the party and factionalisation, warning that if those involved are allowed to have their way, the party might end up producing a fraudulent candidate in 2007.

By Osaro Okhomina
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Admiral Akhigbe who made his position on the crises rocking the party at the state and national level known to newsmen at the weekend in Benin City, said the silence posture of the National Chairman, Dr Ahmadu Ali and members of the National Executive of the party on the contentious issues raised by aggrieved members negate the principle on which the party was built and could provoke the Nigerian people to demand for their political rights in 2007.

According to him, "the National Secretariat of the party must make up their mind on what they want. They should have a burden of truth and they should know that the party wanted to requite people. Yet, the point was made to you that some people captured the registration materials and you did nothing. On top of that, people are using the police to harass people in some local government areas. Do you know that in Etsako East, people have been arrested and put in jail because they say they did not want somebody and they were accused of printing false cards.

"How do you explain the fact that the Governor of the state is not registered in the party. The Deputy is not registered. How do you explain it. Let us face the fact. What does the Party want. Do they want to elect fraudulent leaders into the party?

“All these congresses have been the elections of the potential candidates for the political office or elective offices. If you fraudulently put people in place to do that, then you are perpetrating fraud. I personally will never subscribe to that. If they like, they can do whatever they like and I believe if the spirit behind the formation of PDP was for us to establish democratic culture in this country, then all men of goodwill and principled must stand up against this fraud. That is exactly why I am personally taking this position. I knew what it cost us to return this country to democratic rule.

“It is very easy to say Military did that. Who were the civilians who were truncating democratic principles. What baffles me really is that the same people who sat down to put partially every leader we have in jail are now the best friend of those they put in jail.

" Some of us were not sleeping in our offices. They were bugging our phones. They have now turned around. If they think that is the best game, the Nigerian people this time will demand for democratic culture to be restored in this country. I have spent over 35 years in the armed forces and for me to return to my village and sit down to see these evils being perpetuated, I think is wrong. If other people are satisfied, I am ready to risk everything to ensure that there is the right thing done. I am not asking for anything and I know PDP has no choice but to face the truth.”

Posted by Publisher at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

Ijaw, Itsekiri youths allege marginalisation by Chevron

WARRI — CHEVRON’S multibillion naira Escravos Gas Plant Phase III (EGP3) and Escravos Gas To Liquid (EGTL) projects may soon suffer a major disruption following allegations of gross marginalization and disdain meted to the oil producing communities and peoples in the award of major contracts in the execution of the projects by combined Ijaw and Itsekiri youth leaders.

By Emma Arubi
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

They also accuse the management of Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) of awarding five houseboats and a major piling contract to people and firms with no bearing and benefits to their communities.

In a statement signed by Messrs Thomas Ereyitomi, Dan Ekpebide, Jackson Edema, G.U. Timinimi, Sunny Jero, Ayirimi Emami and seven others made available to newsmen in Warri, last Saturday, the militant youth leaders under the aegis of Grassroot Itsekiri/Ijaw Coalition for Economic Survival Front (GIICESF), stated that “Chevron is perpetually eclipsing our communities from being privileged partakers in major contracts and employment in their oil exploration and exploitation activities,” stressing that “the award of five houseboats and piling contracts without due consideration for our people shows recklessness on the part of your management.”

Pondering over the Global Memorandum of Understanding, Gmou, concept meant to involve community stakeholders in the designing of what job or contract would be executed and by whosoever, they lamented that “all the major and juicy contracts in the EGP3 project have been awarded to people or firms with no bearing on our people.”

According to GIICESF, if this ugly trend is allowed to degenerate “our people would be left with no other option than to take their destiny in their own hand,” adding that they “would not be able to guarantee Chevron the peaceful and enabling environment for the smooth take off of the EGP3 and EGTL project.”

While insisting that they “wish to be involved from the very beginning of the execution of both projects in the employment of labour and award of major contracts” they warned that they “shall resist with every stiff opposition the option of leaving our people with crumbs in the scheme of things.”

The youth leaders therefore called on the management of Chevron “to have a change of heart to our problems and complaints”, noting that Chevron should not sow the seed of another crisis situation among the Ijaw and Itsekiris by depriving them of their legitimate right to have a say in the EGP3/EGTL operations as they are major stakeholders.

Posted by Publisher at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

Stella: Obasanjo sends emissaries to in-laws

BENIN — FOLLOWING the 30-day ultimatum given to President Olusegun Obasanjo by the Esan people, to bring the remains of the late first lady, Mrs Stella Obasanjo, back to her ancestral home, Iruekpen, for proper burial as demanded by tradition, the President weekend, sent his kinsmen from Ogun State, to dialogue with his late wife’s people, in order to find a solution to the impasse.

By Simon Ebegbulem
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

It would be recalled that elders of Iruekpen shunned the burial of their daughter following the decision of their in-law, President Obasanjo, to bury her in Ogun State, which, according to them, was unacceptable because tradition forbids any daughter of Iruekpen to be buried outside her ancestral home.

Though the President apologised and promised to pay any fine to assuage their anger, but his plea was rejected. However, Vanguard learnt that a strong delegation from Ogun State went to dialogue with leaders and elders of Iruepken community in order to settle the rift and find solution to the contending issues. It was also learnt that the delegation from Ogun state have agreed for a second burial ceremony to be conducted but the bone of contention, Vanguard further learnt, is the insistence of the elders that the remains of the deceased must be exhumed and brought home for proper burial.

Confirming the visit to Vanguard, the Odionwere (traditional leader) of Iruepken community, Pa Jonah Oziegbe said that “the president sent his people to come and see us, so that we can settle the problem. They came yesterday (Saturday), we discussed with them and we told them our mind.”

Asked if they have agreed that a second burial be conducted as they requested, he asserted “yes, they do not have a choice. This is our custom and we have told them. We cannot compromise our custom for anything. We told them that there must be a second burial and that her body must be exhumed and brought home for proper burial. So we are still discussing and I believe they have to agree with us.”

Posted by Publisher at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

Congress returns Emodi, 28 others unopposed

AWKA—THE 29-member Anambra State PDP executive council led by Mr. Uchenna Emodi was unanimously re-elected at last Saturday’s state congress held at the party’s state secretariat, Awka, with a promise by the re-elected chairman to work hard to ensure that the party performs well in the 2007 general elections.

By Anayo Okoli & Chika Agunwa
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

The congress monitored by three National Monitoring Officers led by Senator Ugochukwu Uba was held under a peaceful atmosphere and well attended by delegates. It was also monitored by a team from INEC led by Mr. Okey Ndieche.

The congress started at 12.30pm with the commencement of accredition of delegates which ended by 1.30pm. Thereafter, the old executive council was dissolved by Chief Okey Odunze, the congress committee chairman. He thanked the executive committee under Emodi for keeping the party together despite the lingering crisis that bedevilled it in the state.

Having dissolved the executive committee, the congress committee called for nomination of candidates to contest for the various posts. One after another, the entire members of the dissolved executive committee were re-elected to serve for another four years. Emodi had served for about 18 months before his re-election Saturday.

Members of the new executive committee include Chief R.O.C. Okpaloaka who was elected the secretary, and Chief Benji Udeozor elected the deputy chairman. Mr. David Obaha, Chiefs Ewton Iloegbunam and Chris Orajekwe were elected vice-chairmen for North, Central and South, respectively.

Others are Chief Benson Nwawulu who emerged the treasurer, Mr. Afam Ilounoh, elected the publicity secretary, Mr. Chuks Okoye emerged the state legal adviser while Mrs. Amaka Enechukwu was elected the assitant secretary. Chief Osita Okosieme was elected the youth leader, while Mr. Uche Ogbonna was elected the state organising secretary.

Also re-elected were Mrs. Oyibo Oba as the assistant secretary, ny Nwoye also elected assistant secretary, Tony Nwagbolu was elected the financial secretary.
Also eleceted at the congress described by the national monitoring officers as one of the best congresses include Mr. Jacob Abosi as the assistant financila secretary and Mrs. Thessy Ezechukwu as the state woman leader. Six ex-officio members were also elected, two from each of the three senatorial zones.

Addressing newsmen on the observation of the exercise, Senator Uba who led the team described the exercise as “very successful, very peaceful, well disciplined and well organised”. His view was corroborated by the other members of the team, Mrs. Ugo Nachi from Ebonyi State and Chief Eddy Ukanwa.
In his acceptance speech, Emodi thanked the delegates for reposing trust in him and his team and assured them that they would not let the party down.

Posted by Publisher at 10:40 AM | Comments (0)

Gov Udenwa re-assures citizens on completion of Orlu market

OWERRI — GOVERNOR Achike Udenwa of Imo State has reassured the citizenry of the preparedness of his administration to complete and commission the multi-million Orlu International Market before the end of this year.

By Chidi Nkwopara
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Udenwa made the promise at a meeting he hosted at the Banquet Hall of Government House, Owerri, with Orlu traders, Umuna community, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and officials of Diamond Bank Plc.

“I would like to use this opportunity to reassure Imo people of the preparedness of my administration to complete and commission the Orlu International Market before the end of this year. I solicit your assistance in the realization of this lofty goal”, the governor pleaded.

Enumerating the reasons for the immediate relocation of Orieukwu Market, located along Amaigbo Road, Orlu, Udenwa explained that the market, as presently located, causes unnecessary traffic hold-up, as well as other unhealthy acts along the major road.

“This administration finds it absolutely necessary to relocate the market. I must also warn that government would definitely frown at any move by anybody or group, to sabotage the effort”, the governor warned.

Continuing, Udenwa disclosed that government had entered into a soft loan agreement with the management of Diamond Bank for the actualization of the proposed motor park and access roads, for easy relocation of the market.

Briefing the governor and the participants at the meeting earlier, the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Chief Esom Goddy Obodo, explained the dialogue was necessarily convened with a view to resolving some knotty issues relating to the eventual movement of the traders to the Orlu International Market.
Speaking also, the president of Orlu Market Traders Association (OMATTA), Mr. Paul Uloeme, said that while the traders were willing and prepared to move into the new market, the Umuna landowners sadly placed what he called “serious obstacles” on their way.

While appealing to the state government to “immediately enter into serious negotiations with the landowners with a view to clearing the observable obstacles”, Uloeme also urged the governor to equally tackle other natural constraints.

“Some of the other identifiable constraints militating against our movement to the new market includes the threatening menace of erosion, lack of access roads and other social amenities”, OMATTA boss recounted.

Posted by Publisher at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

Lagos distributes 1000 litter bins to aid waste disposal

LAGOS—AS part of efforts at ensuring a clean environment, particularly major highways, the Lagos State Government through Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) has begun distribution of over 1,000 of 1.6 cubic metre newly introduced litterbins to various highways including presidential routes aimed at enhancing effective collection and disposal of refuse in the state.

By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

The General Manager of Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) Mr. Ola Oresanya. who disclosed this at the weekend while conducting newsmen on inspection of the new waste bins at the premises of its just renovated LAWMA headquarters, Ijora Olopa area, also added that Governor Bola Tinubu has approved funds for the refurbishment of all equipment as well as repairs of 100 broken down heavy duty trucks.

The state government through the Ministry of Environment had last week established and inaugurated the state Emergency Sanitation Services, solely introduced to ensure evacuation of weeds and control of environmental nuisances on major highways and presidential routes in the state.

It would also be recalled that the state government has directed LAWMA to take over the management of industrial and commercial waste in the state following their outstanding performance .

According to LAWMA boss, in the first phase of the distribution, about 200 litter bins would be distributed and stationed at different locations where there are high and low refuse generation, including markets and densely populated areas.

He said the government is giving priority to such roads and highways where government has just rehabilitated, such as: Kudirat Abiola Way, Ikeja, Itire Lawanson Road, Idi-Oro, Tejuosho road, Ikorodu road, Ahmadu Bello Way, Akin Adesola, Ozumba Mbadiwe, Herbert Macauley Way, Muritala Mohammed Way, former Lagos-Ibadan toll Gate among others.

While the second phase would commence in the first quarter of next year and would includes such areas as Apapa-Oshodi Expressway road, Tin Can, Ojo.
The litter bins which would also have 14 and 16 cubic metre in sizes, Mr Oresanya said would be stationed 100 metres to the road.
His words: “The objective of this is in fulfilment of the government promise to provide the bins in the drive towards maintaining a clean environment by ridding the state of every form of filth, refuse.

“The aim also is to create promote, stimulate and maintain conditions and situations that will engender positive change in the habits, attitudes and behaviour of the citizenry to ensure successful execution of project clean-up-Lagos under the campaign of Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI).”

He explained that the litter bins would be emptied twice, a day by LAWMA trucks and designated private waste collectors to be moved to Waste Transfer Loading Stations (WTLS) en-route to dump sites.

Mr. Oresanya therefore, appealed to Lagos residents on the need to maintain the litter bin by avoiding such destructive tendencies like burning the refuse inside the bin.

“The greatest risk involve in this system, is the burning of the refuse in the bin. Because the body is made of steel which is not fire resistance, this could easily destroy it” he explained. Adding that they were purchase with hard earned money of tax payers.

Posted by Publisher at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

Ogun institutes Best Newspaper awards at DAME

ABEOKUTA — THE Ogun State Government announced weekend the institution of the Best Newspaper of the Year with the Diamond Awards for Media Excellence (DAME) to foster closer relations with the media.

By Kolade Larewaju
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Governor Olugbenga Daniel who announced this at the 14th DAME held in Abeokuta the state capital said that the award was to challenge the print media to compete for professionalism and not sensationalism.

Addressing the gathering which included editors and top media practitioners, the Governor said that newspapers, to avoid sensationalism should screen its contents more stringently.

He said that in instituting the award “we will be challenging our friends in the print media to rather compete for professionalism and not sensationalism. It is my view that as gatekeepers, newspapers should not avail every manner of opinion to be heard. Even in a free market of ideas, minimum ethical standards must be maintained”.

Governor Daniel while commending DAME said that the state shared so much in common with it considering the pioneering status of both in the Media Industry explaining that while DAME was the first to give awards in the media, the first newspaper in the country was published in Abeokuta in 1859.
He then thanked the organizers for bringing the ceremony to Ogun State, the first time in 14 years to be held outside Lagos.

Chairman of the Awards ceremony, Ambassador Segun Olusola, lamented the failure of broadcasters to put their house in order because there was really no professional body of broadcasters that can set standards.

He expressed the hope that the Society of Broadcasters which he said would soon be resuscitated would be able to provide the required leadership adding that for now, broadcasters “have to use their own feel for security”.

Chief Olusola referred to the death of Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu in 1958 which he said no radio station could report for many hours and that coverage of the Bellview air crash by African Independent Television (AIT) as two examples.

Chief Executive of DAME, Mr. Lanre Idowu, in his welcome address noted that there were seven significant awards from the media industry in the country noting that honoring professionals should be encouraged.

Challenging media owners over the empowerment of their staff, Mr. Idowu said “you cannot owe a journalist for six months and not expect him to cut corners. Media owners must empower their staff and provide continuous training and retraining”.

No fewer than 29 Awards were given in various categories spanning both the electronic and the print media and in advertising.
Present at the ceremony were, the Deputy Governor, Alhaja Salmot Badru, Speaker of the Ogun House of Assembly, Chief Mrs. Titi Oseni, Commissioners and Permanent Secretaries in the state, Chief Tola Adeniyi, Alhaji Alade Odunewu, Dr. Tunji Otegbeye, Prof. Dupe Olatunbosun, Mrs. Taiwo Ajayi-Lycett and Chief Joju Fadairo.

Some of the editors include, Mr. Gbenga Adefaye [Vanguard] Louis Odion [Sunday Sun] Debo Adesina [The Guardian], Chairman Editorial Board of the Guardian, Mr. Ruben Abati, Mr. Gbemiga Ogunleye and Mr. Lanre Arogundade amongst others. The awards categories and winners are as follows:

Radio Drama, Toyin Alabi FRCN Kaduna
Radio Presenter, Cordelia Okpei Metro FM 97.6
TV Documentary, Kanmi Olaoye MBI
TV Commercial [Services] TBWA Mama Na boy MTN
Radio Commercial [Consumer goods] Prima Garnet Panadol
Radio Commercial [Services] TBWA Mama Kike Eleja MTN
Press Advert [Services] STB McCann Accelon Launch
Press Advert [Consumer Goods] STB McCann Peugeot Special Features
Action Photography: Sikiru Adeoye-Yusuf Tribune
Best Designed Magazine: Brandfaces
Best Designed Newspaper: The Punch
Child Friendly Journalist: Ronke Olawale Guardian
Capital Market Reporting: Emmanuel Ufot Leadership
Energy Reporting: Christopher Ajaero, Newswatch
Environmental Reporting: Julius Ogunro Insider
Editorial Cartooning: Asowata Osarunwese Victor Daily Independent
Aviation Reporting: Wilson Uwujaren, Tell
Political Reporting: Olu Ojewale Newswatch
Editorial Writing: The Guardian
Health Reporting Ronke Olawale Guardian.
HIV/AIDS Reporting: Nene Ike, New Age
Judicial Reporting: Christopher Ajaero Newswatch
Informed Commentary: Rueben Abati, Guardian Editorial Board
Sports Reporting: Ehimare Osaghale, Tell
Child Friendly Media: The Guardian
Press Reporter: Kazeem Akintunde, Tell
Editor of the Year: Debo Adeshina, The Guardian
News Magazine of the Year: Tell
Newspaper of the Year: The Guardian

Posted by Publisher at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

Ondo gives new Deji-elect instrument of office today

AKURE—THE 46th Deji of Akureland Prince Oluwadare Adepoju Adesina of the Osupa Royal House whose selection was approved weeekend after seven years of controversy over the vacant stool is to be presented his instrument of office today by the state government.

By Dayo Johnson
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

The presentation would take place by 9 a.m. at the Cocoa Conference hall of the governors office.
But the former Deji-elect, Prince Adegbola Adelabu had approached both the Federal High court sitting in Akure and the State High court asking them to restrain the state government from going ahead with the approval of the new Deji-elect and the Akure Local Government from starting afresh the new selection exercise.
Prince Adelabu had argued that a Deji-elect was in place and that there was no justification for a new one.

Only last week a High court Judge, Justice Olarewaju Akeredolu engaged a lawyer from the chambers of Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Mr. Kolawole Abiri, in a war of words over the refusal of the judge to rule that the state government should maintain status quo on the case of the Deji until the next date of adjournment which is November 8 this year.

Surprisingly, the state government after its weekly executive council meeting gave approval to the selection of the new Deji-elect an action that caught the opposition unaware.

Announcing governments decision, the Information Commissioner, Prince John Ola Mafo said that the approval was given at the executive council meeting held last Friday in Akure.

The approval was aired on the state radio and television simultaneously.
It would be recalled that the kingmakers in Akureland last weekend picked Prince Dare Adepoju Adesina of the Osupa ruling house as the new Deji-elect of the town thereby ending the seven years chieftaincy crisis bedeviling the ancient town.

Fourteen surviving kingmakers voted in the selection process after the Ifa Oracle had reportedly picked him.
Although the chairman of the kingmaker, Chief Folorunso David, declined comment on the selection process, sources within the kingmakers confirmed that Prince Adesina polled 9 votes as against 5 votes for Prince Kole Adetoyinbo while the three other candidates had no vote.
Vanguard gathered that the voting took place last week Friday while the screening of the five princes was held on Thursday.

Posted by Publisher at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

NTI boss bemoans situation of education in Nigeria

KADUNA—DIRECTOR and Chief Executive Officer of the National Teachers’ Institute (NTI), Dr. Moddibo Mohammed says that a major manifestation of the educational crisis in the country is the poor performance of pupils/students in both primary and secondary schools in public examinations.

By Emeka Mamah
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Mohammed also said that most teachers in the country lacked the skills that would enable them perform optimally because of poor attention to their welfare by the government. He spoke at a meeting with officials from the consortium on Teacher Education In Sub-Saharan Africa (TESSA) which arrived in Kaduna weekend to find ways of assisting the NTI to improve teachers education in the country. The TESSA consortium institutions and organizations are the Open University; United Kingdom;

The Visual University of Nairobi, Kenya; the BBC World Service Trust; The Commonwealth of Learning, Vancouver, Canada; The Open University of Tanzania; The University of Fort Hare, South Africa; and the NTI, Kaduna. Mohammed said that the situation in the country “as far as professional development of primary school teachers is concerned, it is not encouraging at all” adding that there were very few and poorly organized in-service training workshops for teachers. His words: “there are very few and irregularly organized in-service training workshops or seminars that aimed at enhancing teachers’ knowledge and skills. Funds are rarely allocated and promptly released for short in-service training programmes. “Most teachers never have the opportunity to improve heir knowledge of the subject matter they teach and most importantly the practical skills for the effective implementation of the curriculum.

This in turn has had a negative impact on the quality of tuition in our primary school and academic performance of pupils.”Indeed, a major manifestation of the current educational crisis in Nigeria, is the unsatisfactory academic performance of pupils/students in our primary and secondary schools. The low quality of teachers in the schools has been identified as one of the major factors that can account for the poor performance of students in public examinations.” Primary school teachers, it seems, are unequipped and inadequately motivated to face the challenges posed by the dynamic nature of knowledge/skills and the existential realities of the nation’s primary schools”.

Mohammed however, said that the dearth of opportunities for continuing professional development for teachers in Nigeria and other West African countries underscored the significant role TESSA would play in improving the quality of teachers and the quality of tuitions in schools in Sub-Saharan Africa. In her own comment, the leader of the team, Dr. Claire Hedges pledged to ensure that everything possible was done by her group to improve the qualities of teachers in the country.

Posted by Publisher at 10:35 AM | Comments (0)

Report corrupt officials, Gov Turaki tells residents

DUTSE—IRKED by the incessant cases of financial misconduct in some local government councils, the Jigawa State government has asked residents to report any official who attempts to divert their funds to the authorities concerned for legal action.

By Aliyu Dangida
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Governor Ibrahim Saminu Turaki stated this while receiving the Emir of Dutse, Alhaji Muhammadu Nuhu Sanusi during a Sallah visit at Dutse Monument, said the state government had introduced the participatory expenditure management fund for the electorates to decide on any development projects in their respective domain, stressing that it was reported that some local councils refused to comply with the government directives.

“We are seriously disturbed by the attitude of some local councils in the state for diverting the fund meant for projects in each of the polling unit of the council; measures will be adopted to curtail the embezzlement,” Governor Turaki assured.

According to the governor, since the introduction of the polling unit fund a lot of developmental projects which have direct impact to common man of the area were put in place. “We have improved the lives of rural populace through adequate provision of portable drinking water, health care delivery among others by given councillors of each ward the sum of N70, 000 monthly,” he added.

He noted that his administration will not relent in its efforts towards providing the basic necessity for life to the teeming populace of the state, pointing out that any local government official found attempting to siphon the fund meant for that special projects in any of the council’s ward will face legal action.

Governor Turaki advised electorates not to take action against any local government official who embezzled their fund, but to report the affected person to the authority concern for legal action.

Vanguard reports that persistent cases of fund embezzlements among some local councils in Jigawa state have seriously deterred the execution of vital projects in some councils leading to some concern indigenes to take legal action against the local council’s officials.

It would be recalled that the chairman of Hadejia local council along with 105 ward representatives were dragged to Sharia court for alleged embezzlement of N25million belonging to the electorates meant for the execution of developmental projects.

Posted by Publisher at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

Guber aspirant expresses concern over political crisis in Plateau

JOS — A governorship aspirant in Plateau State, Mr. Lumumba Dah Adeh has expressed concern about the political crisis in the state which he said now makes brothers to suspect one another and friends unable to trust themselves.

By Taye Obateru
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

He told journalists in a chat in Jos, last weekend that the situation has resulted in a situation where “you don’t feel free to visit your brother because meanings would be read into it.”

He said this situation did not augur well for the progress of the state and stressed the need for genuine peace that comes from the heart rather than physical peace promising to concentrate on this if he emerged as the next governor of the state. He blamed the problem of the state on what he called bad leadership over the years, noting that the state must be given a new face that would restore its lost glory.

The former member of the House of Representatives therefore urged the people of the state to ensure that they elect into office only those they are sure can deliver come 2007. “Governorship should not be based on sentiments; it should be based on the ability to turn thins around. People who have a focus on what Plateau should be, people should rather be more concerned about the ability to deliver democratic dividends to the people, so sentiments should not be brought in at all”, he stressed.

He saw nothing wrong in the membership re-registration exercise embarked on by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), saying a party should have the liberty to adopt styles that it considered in its best interest at any time. Adeh who is a Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo denied knowledge of any third term agenda, adding that to the best of his knowledge the administration is guided by the constitution of the country. He also dismissed insinuations that the people of the state may not be favourably disposed to the emergence of a youth as governor in the state again having given a youth a chance in the current dispensation.

Posted by Publisher at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

Ukrainian Aviation coy offers to create rescue helicopter

ABUJA—AGAINST the backdrop of air disaster in the Nigeria Aviation Industry, Ukrainian Helicopters Nigeria Limited has offered to create special helicopters standby base across the nation’s airports for the search and rescue operations.

By Dayo Lawal
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Briefing newsmen at the weekend in Abuja, the Director-General of the company, Colonel Vaycheslav Bondarchuk said the company had already met with the Aviation Minister and relevant authorities in the sector in the country on how to work out the modalities for the supply of the Mi-8MTV-l and Mi-26T helicopters in case of any disasters or emergencies. Colonel Bondarchuk stated further that the helicopters which he said was specifically equipped with the corresponding equipment was manufactured to respond to emergencies such as disasters, crashes, accidents, conflicts, violations, search and rescue of survivals, injured, and distressed.

Said he, “our helicopters are specifically equipped with additional stationary fuel tanks which enable them to fly up to 1150km without refuelling at the cruise speed of 220km/h and contained aeronautical equipment that enables them to fly in difficult meteorological conditions”. He also noted, “we offer to create in Nigeria Aviation system search and rescue system within the Ministry of Aviation in order to improve the existing system of search and rescue.” Colonel Bondarchuk who lamented over the last month air mishap which claimed the lives of 117 passengers on board the Bellview plane, hinted that if the contract to supply the aircrafts was eventually signed by the Federal Government and the company, the helicopters will be stationed in Abuja, Lagos, Kaduna and other airports in the country.

Commenting on the pilots and the crews of the helicopters, Colonel Bondarchuck explained that the aircrafts will be operated and maintained by the company’s crews, engineering, and flight personnel, adding that versatile pilots and technical staff with certificates in International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) will be employed. He added that in order to promote professionalism in the nation’s aviation sector, the company has concluded plans on how to train Nigerian pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers in Ukraine flight college.

Posted by Publisher at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

Census 2006: NPC in cross-posting of 188 staff

ABUJA—IN an effort to achieve transparency and credibility in the conduct of 2006 census, the National Population Commission (NPC) has carried out the cross-posting of 188 officials.

Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

NPC Director of Public Affairs, Hajia Fati Kadiri said in Abuja that the cross posting would take effect from Nov. 15.

She said that those affected were Controllers in all the 774 local government areas and 37 technical officials in the 36 states and Abuja, especially those that were involved in the Enumeration Area Demarcation (EAD). Kadiri who said that the officials would remain in their new areas of posting until the end of the exercise in March next year, explained that the 37 technical officials were posted to states outside their geo-political zones. For the controllers, she said their postings were within their respective states, adding that the idea was to detach them from the work they had done and for them to oversee, cross-check and confirm work done by others.

Kadiri said that both categories of officials would do field verifications of the areas demarcated to ensure that they were all in a standard format. She called on Nigerians to cooperate with the officials in the field and to report any observed fault to the nearest NPC office or to the Chairman of the commission. Kadiri said that such complaints should be made as quickly as possible so that the commission would conclude the EAD exercise. On enumeration area maps to be used for the 2006 census, she said that a total of four million of them would be photocopied for use by the supervisors and enumerators. She said that the series of meetings organised for NPC state Directors in Abuja had to do with how to decentralise the photocopying of the maps and make sure that all demarcated areas were brought to an acceptable standard.

Posted by Publisher at 10:31 AM | Comments (0)

States can’t control solid minerals, says Ezekwesili …moves to revoke mining licences

The Minister of Solid Minerals, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, has declared as illegal, all State Ministries of Solid Minerals, as according to her, the sector was on the Exclusive List and therefore beyond the constitutional responsibilities of state governments.

By Emma Ujah & Dayo Lawal
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Inspecting the on-going revalidation of mining leases and licences exercise in Abuja, she also said government would revoke mining licences and leases of those who had breached the provisions of the law or had no business being given in the first.

Her words: “according to the constitution, you cannot have any Ministry of Solid Minerals in any state of the federation. To do so is also to say that you can have a Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the different states of the federation.

“This is clearly a constitutional issue and we believe the only way an orderly development of the sector can happen is for the three tiers of government to recognize that the powers to promote this sector or to control this sector, to make laws and rules for this sector lie with the Federal Government.
“It is under the Exclusive List. It is exactly like the petroleum and gas. None of the states in the Niger Delta makes laws or supervises the activities of the oil sector. It is exactly the same thing with the solid minerals sector in the present constitution.

“But the Federal Government recognizes the importance of local communities and the states in the development of the solid mineral sector through the Minerals Bill that is being promoted for passage by the National Assembly. That Bill has a provision for a State Environmental Committee and that committee is the committee that brings together, the local, the state and the Federal governments for any mining activity that will happen in any state.

“But I do want to send a clear message that the responsibility for legislation, the responsibility for supervision, the responsibility for management of the solid minerals sector is that of the Federal Government, as at this time.

“Perhaps in the future, if we have any constitutional changes, then the states and the local governments could be recognized by the constitution as controlling anything within the sector. That is very important to note.

“The reason I am stressing this is that foreign investments and even domestic investments would not go into a sector that appears to be confused. There must be orderliness. Orderliness is important for investment to happen and we are going to discuss this matter even more through the platform of the National Economic Council, where all the state governors are participants.

On the revocation of licences, the minister was emphatic that those discovered to have breached the laws would lose their titles, stressing, “in our advertisement, we made it clear to holders of Solid Minerals titles that if they have not breached any section of the Minerals and Mining Act, on the basis of which they were given lincences or leases, this would just be a revalidation exercise to enable them have that clear new listing as sound holders of such titles.

“But if in the course of this exercise, it turns out that the obligations that a holder of a title supposed to be making to the Federal Government were not made, or perhaps their licences and leases expired and they just simply need renewal, then the revocation would catch up with them. Revocation is something we are very reticent about. We would do it only when it is clear that there has been a material breach. And for a number of operators, unfortunately, we see material breaches.

She said the World Bank Sustainable Solid Minerals Project was targeting poverty reduction through the activities of the small and medium scale miners and the ministry and the World Bank team had produced a comprehensive work of the programme.

“We are at the moment doing a pilot project in Ogoja, Cross River State and we are looking at organizing small scale miners into cooperatives for the production of Barytes – a commodity that oil companies use in their exploration activities.

“By forming the cooperatives, we stop them from operating as illegal miners. We are giving them coherence by giving them identity. That way we can monitor their activities for better productivity”, Mrs. Ezekwesili said.

The minister explained that the Federal Government was now convinced that it could not effectively run solid minerals businesses and therefore was reforming the sector in such a way that the government would only play the roles of a regulator and creating the conducive environment for private operators to thrive.

Posted by Publisher at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

Capital Market: ISAN cautions CIS over threat to shut down stock market

Shareholders have cautioned the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) over threat to shut down the stock market on November 28, 2005 saying the Institute should settle its differences with the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) rather than wanting to hold the nation to ransom.

By Peter Egwuatu
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

The shareholders under the aegis of Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN) weekend, indicted the CIS for the proposed action to shut down the market if the NSE fails to rescind its decision on Trade Alert and as well as lift the suspension of its President, Mr. Henry Olayemi from the stock market.

Speaking, the National Coordinator of ISAN, Mr. Sunny Nwosu said “The CIS should be wary of the negative image projected by the recent exposure and indictment of its key members and should be more concerned about sanitizing its dented image rather than whipping up emotional sentiments in order to shield dishonest and criminal persons. They should rather embrace any scheme that would ensure a clean bill for its members rather than condemn the efforts of its regulatory bodies. We the shareholders under the umbrella of ISAN have embraced Trade Alert because of the gains associated with the product. When the product was introduced we agitated against price and after negotiation with the inventor and the NSE, the price was brought down together with some incentive for small investors in the market”

Continuing he said “The CIS claims it does not want shareholders to pay for subscription to Trade Alert. I say thank you. But since when have stockbrokers been known to be crying more than the bereaved. We shareholders have embraced it because of the obvious advantage it has since our investment is fully protected against fraudulent practice by operators. What kind of love is it that will make stockbrokers neglect safety of investment at the expense of a fraction of the cost of such an investment?. The truth of the matter is that the CIS was set up to protect the interest of its members. This explains why, since its formation, the CIS has been in the forefront of pushing up the commission accruable to stockbrokers from transactions. The CIS has never argued for the reduction of the commission payable to stockbrokers.”

Nwosu further disclosed that as a leader of a shareholders’ association, with thousands of members in the six geographical zones of the country many of its members have been defrauded. According to him “I know how many of my members have lost their shares irretrievably. I know where the shoe pinches because I am wearing the shoe. And I know that the protection of investment, whatever it takes, is paramount. Trade Alert must be made compulsory, otherwise, the whole transparency policy is defeated. And the policy of the NSE that transactions of below N100,000.00 enjoy a free subscription protects my small players. If that protection is removed, the stocks of all small players are susceptible to abuse”.

Speaking the ISAN boss faulted the CIS claims that people are getting the impression that all brokers are thieves. “What a sad commentary. If the impression is given that brokers are thieves; and here comes a product, transparent enough to show that not all brokers are thieves, shouldn’t they embrace the product rather than reject it? On the suspension of the CIS President for his involvement in unauthorized transactions, I have personally investigated the whole episode and I can confirm to you that the CIS spokesman was being economical with the truth. The shares in question were sold without mandate and the proceeds were retained. Restitution was effected only after a directive from NSE. But more than that, the culprit was offered a fair hearing” he noted.

Throwing more light on the issue, he said “The issue at stake is not about cost or a personal vendetta as the CIS would want the investing public to believe. It is about checking of alarming and rampant daily fraudulent activities of some stock brokers on helpless and uninformed investors. It is about building up transparency and ensuring efficient and effective delivery of services to the investor; leveraging on the advantages preferred by advancement in technology. All of these would not only sanitize but also build up investors’ confidence in the capital market and ensure its survival”.

Posted by Publisher at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

Capital Market: First Atlantic Bank, Fidelity Bank boost market turnover

The Banking sub-sector emerged the most active stock on the floor of the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) last week.

By Jide Ajia
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

The sector recorded a turnover of N95.3 million ordinary shares worth N5.7 billion exchanged by investors in 2,224 deals. Trading activities in the sub-sector was largely driven by activities in shares of First Atlantic Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc.

Specifically trading in the shares of Fist Atlantic Bank Plc accounted for N20.4 million ordinary shares worth N69.6 million exchanged by investors in 15 deals while Fidelity Bank boosted the market turnover during the week accounting for N17.8 million ordinary shares worth N57.9 million treded in 75 deals.

A turnover of 340.4 million shares worth N3.24 billion in 15,643 deals was recorded this week, in contrast to a total of 602.3 million shares valued at N6.55 billion exchanged last week in 26,465 deals. The market closed for two days (i.e. Wednesday and Thursday) in commemoration of the Eid eI Fitri holiday.

There were no transactions in the Federal Government Development Stocks, State Government Bonds and Industrial Loans and Preference Stocks sectors.
The Banking sub-sector was the most active during the week (measured by turnover volume), with 252.05 million shares worth N1.6 billion exchanged by investors in 6,772 deals. Volume in the Banking sub-sector was largely driven by activity in the shares of Fidelity Bank Plc and First Atlantic Bank Plc. Trading on the shares of the two banks accounted for 114.8 million shares, representing 45.5% of the sub-sector’s turnover. As in the preceding week, the Insurance sub-sector followed on the weeks activity chart with a turnover of 23.1 million shares valued at N46.3 million in 639 deals.

The All-Share Index rose by 1.2 per cent. Thirty stocks appreciated in price during the week, lower than the forty-two in the preceding week. Cadbury Nigeria Plc led on the week’s gainers’ table with a gain of N5.68 to close at N72.00 per share while Nigerian breweries Plc followed with N2.96 to close at N49.2i per share. Other price gainers in the Top 10 category.

include: Oando Plc N2.05, Flour Mills Nig. Plc N2.03, UACN Plc N1.49, Glaxo Smithkline, N1.49, Presco Plc, N1.41, Okomu Oil Palm Plc, N114, Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc N0.99, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, N0.90.

Thirty — Five (35) stocks suffered price depreciation; higher than the thirty that suffered the same fate in the preceding week. Total Nigeria Plc led on the decliners’ table dropping by N7.99 to close at N192.01. Texaco (Nig) Plc followed with a loss of N3.99 to close at N126.01 per share. Other price losers in the Top 10 category include: Guinness Nigeria Plc N3.80, Conoil PlcN2.O0, Ashaka Cem Plc NO.91, Nig Bottling Company Plc NO .50, Nestle Nigeria Plc -NO.45, John HoIt Plc NO.38,Unilever Nigeria Plc NO.35 and United Nigeria Textiles Plc depreciated by NO .31.

Posted by Publisher at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

BPE sells NAHCO through IPO

The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) has commenced the sale of shares of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Plc (NAHCO) to the Nigerian public, through Initial Public Offering (IPO) which opened on Monday, last week and expected to close 28th of next month.

By Emma Ujah
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

BPE said in a statement issued by its Head of Public Communications, Mr. Chigbo Anichebe, that all necessary arrangements to privatise NAHCO via an offer for sale have been concluded.

“To this effect, FGN, through the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), is disposing of its entire shareholding, representing 60% equity holding or 180 million ordinary shares of 50 kobo each in NAHCO at N5.50 to the Nigerian public via the Nigeria Stock Exchange”, the statement said.

NAHCO’s pre-privatisation shareholding structure comprised of FGN holding 60% whilst four foreign airlines, namely: British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa and Sabena Airlines with the balance of 40%. The Airline shareholders will retain their holdings post-privatisation.

The Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises, Mrs. Irene Chigbue said: “This offer represents a rare opportunity for Nigerians to invest in a well-managed and profitable company, the leading providers of aviation handling services in Nigeria, with market share in excess of 80%.”

Leveraging on its position as the premier service provider, NAHCO is pursuing an aggressive market development strategy as it intends to extend its services to local airlines in Nigeria as well as other airlines and airports in the West African sub-region.

In order to further entrench its leading role in the industry, NAHCO recently installed a state-of-the-art information technology system, called iMUSE, which facilitates interconnectivity to any system in the world and provides a common pool of information for all airlines across the world, easy check-in, booking, flight information display as well as other value-added services. This system ensures a more effective and efficient service delivery and NAHCO is the first to deploy this system in Africa and second worldwide.

NAHCO’s turnover increased from N1.3billion in 2000 to N2.3billion in 2004, an increase of over 85%. In the same period, Gross Profit increased from N579million to N1.01billion, representing a 74% increase. The unaudited turnover and gross profit for the six-month period ended June, 2005, are N1.3billion and N748million respectively. Turnover is forecast to increase to N2.76billion, N2.97 billion and N3.22billion for the years ended 2005, 2006, and 2007 respectively, whilst gross profit is estimated to grow from N1.05 billion in 2005 to N1.13billion in 2006 and N1.21billion in 2007. Dividend for these periods are estimated at 91.4kobo, 98kobo and 103.3kobo per share respectively, giving an attractive dividend yield of 16.5%, 17.8% and 18.9% at the offer price of N5.50 for the three years ending 31st December, 2007. Application forms are available from all registered banks, stockbrokers, State Investment Companies, the National and State Assemblies, Post Offices and local government offices nationwide.

Posted by Publisher at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

Capital Market: CIS berates NSE for understating revenue, purchase of Daily Times property

Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) has berated the Nigerian Stock Exchange(NSE) for understating its revenue annually in order to avoid taxation, which is against the principle of good governance.

By Peter Egwuatu
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

The Institute also indicted the Exchange for over stating the price for the purchase of Daily Times property from Naira Properties (owner of Nigerian Stock Exchange building).

Addressing newsmen in Lagos on Monday, the Registrar/ Chief Executive of CIS, Mr. Remi Bakare, disclosed this saying “ the NSE gave the Institute quit notice to vacate its building due to the fact that the CIS opposed the compulsory implementation of Trade Alert on all investors in the secondary market. How can a self regulator be using its regulatory power to suppress investors and operators in the stock market. As if that is not enough the Exchange also suspended our President, Mr. Henry Olayemi, from all stock market operations for an alleged sale of clients shares without mandate when in actual fact the President was not in the country when the deal was done. We have never defaulted in our rent payment to the Naira Properties. Is it not true that the Exchange issued a quit notice to the CIS to vacate the 15th floor of the Exchange Building because of the Institute’s position on Trade Alert” he asked.

He further exposed the Exchange unruly behaviour, saying “ Is it true that the NSE recently bought out Daily Times from Naira Properties(owner of the stock Exchange building). Is it true that agreed purchase consideration for the building was N720 million. Is it true that the total payment reflected in the books of the Exchange was N900 million and is it true that the difference of N180 million was issued in favour of a party unknown to Daily Times, that is for onward transmission to the officers of the Exchange”

Speaking further, Bakare said “Is it true that the Exchange is in the habit of understating its revenue annually in order to avoid taxation. How can the NSE be acting in this kind of situation when it has not removed the peck in its own eyes and is trying to remove the log in other people eyes,” he queried

Posted by Publisher at 10:28 AM | Comments (0)

Money Market : Travelex donates N1.3m to orphanages

In a bid to demonstrate its commitment to corporate responsibilities aimed at ensuring high standard of living in the nation’s motherless babies homes, Travelex Retail Services Nigeria (issuers of Thomas Cook travellers cheques) has donated $10,000 (about N1.3 million) to three schools and homes for the physically challenged in Lagos.

Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

The benefitting schools are: Wesley School II (for hearing impaired students), Ajao Road, Surulere; Hearts of Gold Children’s Hospice and Orphanage (home for children with mental and physical disabilities), Adebola Street, Surulere and Motherless Babies Home, Makoko Road, Yaba, Lagos.

General Manager, Travelex Retail Services Nigeria, Mr. Roger Ellan, said that the gesture was borne out of the need to give a helping hand in the improvement of the standard of living in such homes in the Lagos metropolis.

Mr. Roger, who was represented by the Company’s Manager, Human Resources and Administration, Mrs. Maureen Emmanua, said that the company wants to be identified with the less privileged hence in 2002, during the Ikeja Cantonment bomb explosion, and the ensuing refugees problem, Travelex saw an opportunity to identify and meet such basic needs of people rendered homeless.

The Founder/President, Hearts of Gold Children’s Hospice and Orphanage (home for the physically challenged and the rejects of the society), Mrs. Theresa Omolaja Adedoyin, who relocated to Nigeria from England in 2003 expressed her deep appreciation to Travelex after the presentation of a Mitsubishi bus to the Home. She said this would go along way in easing the transportation needs they have. According to her, the children in the home are made up wholly of society’s rejected - children who were dumped by road sides, and some that hopes have been given up on due to disability or deformity.

At the Wesley School II (for hearing impaired students), while receiving gift items of LG VCR video recorder, Samsung television and a computer set, the Principal, Mr. Solomon Addey, represented by his Vice, Mr. Taye Adeola Gbeleyi said that though the school is government owned, it also needs good spirited individuals and organisations like Travelex to come to its aid because according to him hearing aid equippment for a child costs about N180,000 or more and government alone cannot do it.

At the Motherless Babies Home, Makoko Yaba, where gift items of washing machine, computer set and a VCR were presented to the home, the branch Secretary of the Lagos Red Cross Society, Miss Lila Mawusi-Halm, who received the donation on behalf of the Matron, Mrs. Juliana Obanife said that they got to know Travelex this year and requested for a donation. She registered the Home’s appreciation for this kind gesture from the company.

Posted by Publisher at 10:27 AM | Comments (0)

Money Market : Trade Bank posts N486 million profit

The efforts of the New Management of Trade Bank Plc at turning the Bank round has started yielding positive results with the unaudited account of the Bank showing a Profit Before Tax of N486.0 million for the six months ending September 30, 2005.

Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

The enhanced earning of the Bank is the combined product of the success stories from the Bank’s new business development efforts engineered by the new Management and its enhanced recovery efforts. This obviously will be cheering news for the bank, which recorded a loss of N1.583 billion at the close of the year 2003/2004 financial year, but due to a dint of hard work, resilience, effective performance and cost management strategies, has been able to turn the situation around for good.

Investigations showed that the bank has been able to record appreciable success in the new business areas it opened and from which there has been substantial return on investment. Besides, sources have it that the profit is the dividend of the strong activity based cost management mechanisms put in place by management by moderating overall costs and expenses across all departments of the bank.

Trade Bank Plc, one of the banks in the Afribank Group in the on-going consolidation programme in the banking industry has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Afribank Nigeria Plc while the apex bank has given its pre-merger consent.

As a demonstration of the seriousness attached to the consolidation by the Afribank group, Afribank Nigeria Plc has equally embarked on a valuation exercise on Trade Bank, NNB International Bank and Afribank Merchant Bank to work out their share exchange ratio. In its avowed determination to buoy up its shareholder value and shore up its capital base, the bank recently went to the capital market to raise N7.5 billion.

Posted by Publisher at 10:26 AM | Comments (0)

Money Market : Regulation of the practice of taxation in Nigeria

Certain issues have suddenly emerged in the practice of taxation in the country and these are primarily concerned with the authority to enforce.

By Victor Ladipo Akintola
Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

It is the coming to a head of the concerns relating to the enforcement of regulation that must have inspired the article written by Wale Olugbenga entitled; “ICAN vs. CITN”. (Guardian, 15th September 2005). The article has appeared in several national newspapers over the past couple of weeks.

The main thrust of the article may be said to be encapsulated in the following extract from the article: “To an unbiased onlooker, it appears clearly impossible for ICAN as a body to regulate tax practice. It would be gross absurdity to suggest that revenue officers, lawyers, economists and other professionals who wish to practice taxation must first join ICAN. It is a body like CITN (not ICAN, not NBA) that can be the umbrella for these tax professionals from varied backgrounds.”
There are quite a number of points that would appear to require careful appraisal from the above extract and other things specified in other parts of the article. The most salient of these will be treated in this piece. One major fact that one must, however, keep in mind is the obvious biased slant of the article.

There can be no doubt that there is an element of disagreement or dispute between ICAN and CITN over the extent and limits of the regulations governing tax practice in Nigeria. Most of us who belonged to both institutes believed that if wise counsel could be allowed to prevail, the salient points of dispute would be easily resolved. Articles such as ICAN vs. CITN can only succeed in hardening stances and altering reconcilable differences into open and festering sores.

Let us take a careful look at the relationship between accountancy and the practice of taxation. One of the founding organisations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria is the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. The Royal Charter of 11th May 1880 (extract): “Victoria by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen Defender of the Faith”

“That the Profession of Public Accountants in England and Wales is a numerous one and their functions are of great and increasing importance in respect of their employment in the capacities of Liquidators acting in the winding-up of companies and of Receivers under decrees and of Trustees in bankruptcies or arrangements with creditors and in various positions of trust under Courts of Justice as also in the auditing of the accounts of public companies and of partnerships and otherwise”.
Then on 21st December 1948 a supplemental Charter was granted:
“George the Sixth by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King Defender of the Faith”

“Objects and powers:
1(a) The principal objects of the Institute (of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) are: advance the theory and practice of accountancy in all its aspects, including in particular auditing, financial management and taxation;
ii. to recruit, educate and train a body of members skilled in these arts;
iii. to preserve at all times the professional independence of accountants in whatever capacities they may be serving;
iv. to maintain high standards of practice and professional conduct by all its members; and
v. to do all such things as may advance the profession of accountancy in relation to public practice, industry, commerce and the public service.”

One can see from the above extracts in the Charter of an accountancy body that is more than a century old, that accountancy includes (by definition) the advancement of the theory and practice of taxation! Of course it is quite possible that Mr. Olugbenga believes that the training of Nigerian accountants is inferior to that of the English. Yet his article did start, to quote him, with the following assertion: “The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) is without doubt the premier institution for the regulation of the accountancy profession in Nigeria..” Still his definition of accountancy does not include taxation.

A further quote from the piece states: “A lawyer who gives legal advice to his client on tax legislation is practising his legal profession and is in no way affected by the CITN Act.” This is what Mr. Olugbenga claims is the status of the lawyer who pleads a client’s tax case before the Appeal Commissioners of the Tax Authorities. Would the plea not be based on the Returns rendered?

Tax Returns rendered to the Tax office consist primarily of Audited financial statements, Tax Computations and Capital Allowances Computations. The first of these as the product of the Account section of an organisation and audited by an accountant, may be in a similar way to the legal part of taxation that exempts (according to Mr. Olugbenga), that profession from the CITN Act. The Tax and capital Allowances computations are computed having recourse to figures derived from the accounts prepared and audited by accountants. It is of course, possible that I may have missed something.

“if Accountants were taught some taxation courses, just as they were taught some law courses, that obviously does not make them tax professionals or lawyers.” I would challenge Mr. Olugbenga to specify those areas of taxation that are not covered in the syllabus of the accountancy profession. One should not, in trying to make a point, trivialise any profession or minimise the impact on development by its practitioners.

Cassell’s Complete U.K Tax Handbook by David Bertram and Stephen Edwards, (one of the definitive books on Tax Practice in the U.K), states the following:
Chapter 1: Income Tax - scope and Administration “the usual practice is to submit a copy of the balance sheet and trading and profit and loss accounts, duly prepared or audited by a professional accountants, to the inspector of taxes. Frequently these will be accompanied by the taxation computations and supporting schedules (giving details of certain items in the accounts etc.) prepared by the professional adviser. The taxpayer, acting through a professional adviser, usually his accountant, is thus able to “agree” the forthcoming assessment”.

It is noteworthy that the “professional adviser” is usually, (not always), the accountant but no reference at all is made to a “tax practitioner” yet there is a Chartered Institute of Taxation of the UK.

One must also keep in mind, the fact that the ultimate responsibility for taxation lies with the taxpayer. The use or non-use of the tax consultant is the prerogative of the taxpayer. It should never be forgotten that a mandate letter from the taxpayer has to be forwarded to the Tax Authorities before any tax consultant would even be countenanced as representing that taxpayer.

What then would be the role of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN)? This is not a complex question to address and in fact the answer constitutes the primary reason why people like myself joined that Institute.

CITN is to regulate the practice of taxation in Nigeria but only to the following extent:
i. To inform the general public and more importantly taxpayers of those who possess the requisite qualifications and training necessary to represent them as to matters concerning them and the tax authorities. But keeping in mind the standard norms of countries that have properly developed accounting institutes and the freedom of individuals and corporations to use or not to use the services of tax consultants however approved-of.
ii. To work with government in the development and administration of taxation in the country to the ultimate benefit of the citizenry through enhanced revenue generation there from.

Where proper limits are adhered to and inordinate rights are not arrogated to oneself, disputes will not arise. I, like all Chartered Accountants, knowing the training and experience that I have had in the area of tax practice on two continents, Africa and Europe, cannot understand exactly how it can be claimed that I am not qualified, in my own right as a Chartered Accountant, to practice taxation in Nigeria. To each, his due and mutual respect should be allowed to prevail. The two institutes ICAN and CITN should come together as originally intended to work in close collaboration for the improvement and proper development of our national tax administration and practice. This can only be to the ultimate benefit of the nation.

The Chartered Institute of Taxation was established by ICAN and the vast majority of its members is comprised of ICAN members and that is how it should be as was stipulated in the 1948 supplemental charter of the English Institute -- “to advance the theory and practice of accountancy in all its aspects, including in particular taxation”.

With all due respect, ICAN does not wish to regulate the practice of taxation. Its objective in being a major factor in the institution of the CITN was to provide opportunities to those who wish to practice taxation but do not want to qualify as Chartered Accountants. The response from non-accounting tax practitioners is to the credit of the ICAN members who had the foresight to see this need. Mr. Akintola Williams, Chief Arthur Mbanefo, Mr. Niyi Oyediran, Chief Tony Ani, Prince Tola Sotinwa, Mr. Tunde Oremode, Mr. Emman Ijewere, Chief Olorunleke, Chief J.K Naiyeju, Mrs. Bimpe Balogun, Alhaji M.O Oyeleke, M.A Popoola to Mr. Seyi Ojo, etc were all individuals whose immense contributions to the development of taxation in Nigeria could not possibly be quantified.

Yet, the one common factor linking all of them is that the basis of their knowledge and exposure to taxation was their accountancy training.
We as Nigerians sometimes develop the unhealthy habit of believing in debate for its own sake rather than for enlightenment. The issue here at least on the part of ICAN is not regulation but the right to practice the accountancy profession in all its ramifications.

*Victor Ladipo Akintola is a meber of the Institute of Chartered Acountants of Nigeria

Posted by Publisher at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

Mourinho offers to apolgise to Wenger

Jose Mourinho has offered to apologise to Arsène Wenger for the fierce verbal assault in which he called the Frenchman “a voyeur”, provided Arsenal’s manager says sorry for making what he perceives to be too many comments about Chelsea.

Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Mourinho sought to end the bitter dispute at the weekend when he spoke of his respect for Wenger and insisted he had not intended to hurt his Highbury counterpart, a point that Chelsea’s chief executive, Peter Kenyon, emphasised during phone conversations with two Arsenal directors.

But Mourinho declined to apologise without the guarantee of an identical climbdown from Wenger, when asked whether it would have been best to have already said sorry for using the word “voyeur” in describing his rival as being obsessed with Chelsea. Wenger is so angry at Mourinho’s language, which included the suggestion that he “likes to watch other people” and has “a sickness”, that he has threatened legal action.

“If the apology is at the same time - if he is ready to apologise from Highbury about quotes and quotes and quotes and quotes about Chelsea, I am ready to do the same,” Mourinho said. “But of course, it’s not a personal thing. Of course the intention was not to hurt the man, the human being - of course not.”

It would be a surprise if Wenger apologised at his pre-match briefing this afternoon for various remarks he has made about Chelsea. He has denied being obsessed with them and has said he merely gives honest answers when asked about them, as he would expect any manager to do about Arsenal.

However, Mourinho suggested Wenger’s willingness to apologise was not decisive and that they should forget their grievances and move on. For Mourinho, that will mean no further talk about Chelsea by Wenger, who regularly responds to queries about whether they can be caught in the Premiership and last season, criticised them for tapping up Ashley Cole, calling on Roman Abramovich to show greater moral leadership at the club.

“Respect I have [for Wenger],” Mourinho said, “for the human being because he is a successful man and nobody helped him to arrive where he has arrived, so I have to respect that. As a manager, it’s the same; he did very good things. But I think [he has made] too many quotes about Chelsea.

“Some hard, like for example that one about moral leadership. Some funny, like for example he said: ‘I only won one Premiership, I cannot win two in one year.’ But I think it’s enough. It’s good for me and good for him. I have problems to solve in my club because I lost a game and I want to do better. He has problems to solve in his club because he is not doing as well as they need to in the Premiership. So it is better for us to forget this.”

Asked whether he was hopeful of an apology from Wenger, Mourinho said: “I think it’s enough when I say I respect the person and I don’t want to hurt him. I think it’s enough.”

Arsenal will no doubt expect Mourinho never again to accuse their vice-chairman, David Dein of influencing the fixture calendar or to suggest that Wenger’s players win an unusual number of penalties, as he did last month.

Posted by Publisher at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

South Africa dismisses concern over World Cup train

South Africa’s World Cup organising committee has dismissed media speculation that the hosting of the 2010 tournament may be derailed due to possible delays in an important train project.

Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

“It’s complete nonsense, the World Cup was not won on the back of the Gautrain proposal,” Danny Jordaan, who heads the organising committee, told Reuters at the weekend.

South Africa will become the first African nation to host the world’s premier sporting tournament but concerns have been raised in the media over the timetable to construct a 20-billion rand ($3.02 billion) high speed train line project linking Johannesburg, its airport and the capital, Pretoria.

The train, named “Gautrain” after the Gauteng Province in which it will run, is a part of ambitious plans to upgrade public transport ahead of the event.
Jack van der Merwe, the chief executive officer of the project, was quoted as saying progress on Gautrain would form an important element of FIFA’s evaluation in 2008 of preparations for the event.

“The train project was part of the bid. It will be part of the evaluation,” SAPA News Agency reported him as saying, adding that if South Africa was judged not to be ready, the Word Cup could revert back to 2006 host, Germany.

Construction of the 80 km (50 mile) line is due to begin in January next year and is expected to be completed in 2010, leaving little room for delays before the tournament begins later that year.

The train will carry soccer fans between Johannesburg and Pretoria at speeds of between 165 km and 180 km per hour.
Jordaan said the FIFA inspection team in its visits to the country had not been concerned about the project and had not even asked to meet with the Gautrain team.
“We have a transport plan and that plan has nothing to do with the Gautrain project,” he said.

While important for the tournament, the project is seen as part of a wider plan to improve South Africa’s public transport system and will serve as an alternative to the congested highway linking the two main cities once the World Cup is over.
It is estimated the train project will create 148,000 jobs - a much-needed boost in a country with an official unemployment rate of 26.5 per cent.

Posted by Publisher at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

Davids, Makaay out of Dutch squad

Striker Roy Makaay, and midfielders Edgar Davids and Mark van Bommel do not appear to feature in coach Marco van Basten’s plans after being dropped from the Dutch squad.

Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Netherlands, who qualified unbeaten for next year’s World Cup finals in Germany, host Italy in a friendly international on November 12 in Amsterdam.
“I picked 22 players and so have two players for every position,” Van Basten told a news conference on Friday.

“The players who did not make the squad are just not my first choices for their position, but that doesn’t mean they are not playing well.
“All players have to fight for their spot and finally that will raise the level.”

Defenders Barry Opdam, Tim de Cler and Wilfred Bouma and Chelsea winger, Arjen Robben all miss the match through injury but Alkmaar’s Joris Mathijsen makes his return after six months out with a knee ligament problem, having played just one game for his club.

“I spoke with his coach, Louis van Gaal, about him and he agreed. Joris (Mathijsen) performed well before his injury and we still have faith in him,” Van Basten said.

Goalkeepers: Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United), Henk Timmer (AZ Alkmaar).
Defenders: Urby Emanuelson (Ajax Amsterdam), Nigel de Jong (Ajax Amsterdam), Ron Vlaar (AZ Alkmaar), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Barcelona), Joris Mathijsen (AZ Alkmaar), Khalid Boulahrouz (HSV Hamburg), Andre Ooijer (PSV Eindhoven), Jan Kromkamp (Villarreal).

Midfielders: Hedwiges Maduro (Ajax Amsterdam), Wesley Sneijder (Ajax Amsterdam), Denny Landzaat (AZ Alkmaar), Rafael van der Vaart (HSV Hamburg), George Boateng (Middlesbrough), Phillip Cocu (PSV Eindhoven).

Forwards: Ryan Babel (Ajax Amsterdam), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Romeo Castelen (Feyenoord), Dirk Kuyt (Feyenoord), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Manchester United), Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink (PSV Eindhoven).

Posted by Publisher at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

Young Mirsa is India's pride and new tennis sensation

India has a new icon, and she’s not a cricket player or a Bollywood starlet. She’s a tennis player who seems to be everywhere these days in her homeland: Posing on magazine covers, promoting health campaigns and endorsing everything from cars to clothing.

Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

All the while she’s fending off hostile Muslim leaders who say her revealing on-court outfits are an affront to the religion.

For decades, top tennis players have been big stars in the West. In India, the only sports celebrities to capture the nation’s imagination have been cricket greats.
That is, until 18-year-old Mirza started swinging her racket, in February becoming the first Indian woman to win a WTA Tour singles title, in her Hyderabad hometown.

In a little more than a year, she has emerged as a role model for millions of young Indians, boys as well as girls. They see in her rise a reflection of their own desire to succeed in a world where they have countless more opportunities than their parents had.
Mirza’s success “cuts the stereotype of Indian women in the world -- that they can only look pretty and are homemakers,” said Astha Rawat, a 20-year-old college student.

Or, as 18-year-old Anshu Bhushan, put it: “She makes us all Indians feel proud.”
Mirza’s aggressive on-court style in many ways mirrors India’s growing profile on the international stage and plays well with the country’s rising middle class.
As the Indian economy has opened, satellite television channels, Western films and glitzy malls bursting with clothes from Europe and the United States have succeeded in prying open the more hidebound sections of Indian society, exposing a world where girls can compete in every sphere, including sports.

“Sania symbolizes the new India, which is more aggressive, more assertive, ready to take on competition as it comes,” said M. N. Panini, Sociology professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University. She “represents India’s rising middle class -- their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations.”

Mirza’s gung-ho attitude is clear. After one recent match, she said: “I enjoy hitting the ball as hard as I can. I enjoy taking risks. And I believe you always have to take risks.”

While such bravado clearly plays well with fans, it has gotten her only so far on the court.
In August, she became the first Indian woman to reach the fourth round of any Grand Slam, but made it no further in the U.S. Open, losing to Maria Sharapova, then ranked No. 1.

Posted by Publisher at 10:22 AM | Comments (0)

Eto'o urges teammates to work harder

BARCELONA striker, Samuel Eto'o has urged his teammates to work harder in their bid to win the Champions League. Euphoria swept through the Nou Camp after Barcelona reached the last 16 of the Champions League with a scintillating 5-0 win over Panathinaikos.

Posted to the Web: Monday, November 07, 2005

Players did not try to disguise their pleasure after their irresistible display of attacking football on Wednesday.

“We enjoyed ourselves and so did the fans,” said midfielder Xavi. “We were absolutely terrific in the first half hour. The team is playing well and I think we have now hit the same sort of form as last season.”

Panathinaikos were simply torn apart by the Catalans who raced into a 4-0 lead in a whirlwind first half.

Dutchman Mark van Bommel opened the scoring after just 40 seconds and Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o helped himself to a splendid hat-trick. He grabbed his first with a fine header, added the finishing touch to a quicksilver passing move for his second and wrapped up with a delightful curling lob.
Argentine teenage prodigy Lionel Messi, who had another outstanding game in Europe, weighed in with his first goal in the Champions League when he stabbed home after outwitting the Panathinaikos defence.

The victory left Barcelona top of Group C with 10 points from four matches while Panathinaikos, Udinese and Werder Bremen are locked on four apiece.
Udinese and Bremen could finish level with Barca if the Spanish champions lose their final two games but their superior head-to-heads mean they cannot finish lower than second place.

“It was a great night,” said van Bommel. “It’s just fantastic when we play like this.
“Now we have to try and ensure that we top the group because it is always good to play the return leg of a knockout tie at home. “It is very difficult to win the Champions League, but we have the sort of squad that could do it.” Hat-trick hero Eto’o insisted that it was important for Barca to keep their feet on the ground.

“If we start relaxing now we will start dropping points and losing games. The most difficult part is still to come. We have to work hard to ensure we retain this sort of form.”

Posted by Publisher at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

November 05, 2005


THE ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) goes for its state elective congresses today in all the thirty-six states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

By Umoru Henry, Abuja

Posted to the Web: Saturday, November 05, 2005

Today’s congress is coming three weeks after the conduct of the ward and local government elective congresses in the 8,812 wards of the federation. It was an acid test for the Peoples Democratic Party against the backdrop of the Abuja High Court ruling that voided the September 9 proposal of the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party to have non-elective congresses and conventions.

What is taking place today was earlier scheduled to hold last week, October 29th, but was shifted as a result of the tragic incidents that happened in the country, following the death of the First Lady, Chief Stella Obasanjo and 117 persons who lost their lives in the ill-fated Bellview airline.

At the end of the ward and local government congresses that were the prelude to the re- registration and revalidation exercise carried out by the party, many factions within the party were given birth to against the dream of staying under one symbolic umbrella, the umbrella that could no longer take members.
The party at the end of the ward and local government congresses continued to have sleepless nights as the Wadata plaza housing the national secretariat thus literally became a beehive of activities as aggrieved party members besieged the place.
The story of parallel ward and local government congresses and that of losing out or being fenced out by the linkmen or stronger party stalwarts was the same in many states of the federation.

Barely 72 hours after the conduct of the congresses, Delta State PDP members who felt short-changed in the conduct of the congress in the state were the first guests of the party’s national chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali to protest. Leading the Delta members to Abuja, the State Deputy Governor, Sir Benjamin Elue did not only complain that the congresses were conducted in Grand Hotel Asaba, but said that elections never took place there.

Those from Kano and Adamawa followed suit. Results from Adamawa, when released, showed that the Brig-Gen. Buba Marwa Movement took the show. Akwa-Ibom State was not left out as the former Military Administrator, Air Commodore Ndogesit Nkanga, the immediate past Deputy Governor, Chris Ekpeyong, Senators Etang Umonyo and Aniete Okon called for cancellation and fresh congresses because according to them, there was no elective ward and chapter congress that took place in the state.

In Rivers State, it was reported that over twenty persons died during the last congress as claimed by the Abonnema Council of Chiefs. In Plateau State, the men were led by Ambassador Yahaya Kwande while the women numbering over 40,000 were led to Abuja by Hanatu Challom to complain of the absurdity that characterized the ward and local government congresses in the state where the Deputy Senate president, Ibrahim Mantu was fingered as being responsible for all that took place in the state.
In Edo State, it was also reported that leaders of the party held parallel congresses in the 18 local government councils of the state amid protest.

Attempts by some individuals to resist imposition of candidates on them by some persons even led the death of some persons in Agenebode, the headquarter of Etsako East local government council, with similar occurrence averted in Etsako West when youths from the South-Ibie ward were reported to have embarked on a peaceful protest against the alleged imposition of the Council Chairman, Alhaji Abudu Momodu.

It was perceived from different quarters in the state that the ward and local government congresses in Edo State would serve as a veritable vehicle for peaceful resolution of contentious issues within the party. But against the backdrop of what happened at the congresses , one could say unequivocally that it was not yet Uhuru.

Complaints of marginalization and shady deals that characterized the ward and local government congresses to the National Secretariat were only put to a halt following the mourning mood the country was thrown into last week. Only few days ago, Senators Tunde Ogbeha, A.T. Ahmed and others from Kogi State were at Command Guest House, Asokoro, the operational base of the National Congresses and Convention Planning Committee chairman, Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia to protest against last ward and local government congress in the state.

As the PDP conducts its second phase of its congress today, the National Publicity Secretary of the party, John Odey has assured Nigerians that all is set for the congress.

But will today’s congress be devoid of crises and far from the melodrama Nigerians were made to understand took place by aggrieved party members, a modified kind of non-elective congress, maybe to satisfy the Abuja Court?

But the questions now are: Has the party put its house in order as state congresses are being held today? Or will it be a repeat of what took place in almost all the states of the federation where party members complained of either no election or hijack by some powerful members of the party?

How far has the party gone with nipping the crises that emanated from the ward congresses in the bud? Will the ghosts of last ward and local government congresses not come out of their various graves, as they were not exorcised when they first appeared at the ward congresses immediately after the re-registration and revalidation exercise.

Do we expect as from Monday another pilgrimage to the national secretariat for another round of festival of protests from party members across the states of the federation?

Or are we expecting to see at the Wadata Plaza or Command Guest House party members who will come in thousands from all the thirty-six states of the federation and Abuja to thank Dr. Ahmadu Ali and Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia for a job well done?
Are we expecting to see at the end of today, all the forces coming together as one body and not overstreching the umbrella, knowing fully well that when the umbrella is overstreched, the entire polity would be overstreched and that when the umbrella scattered, the centre may not hold for the country?

How far will the Ogbemudia Committee go this time around even though he said in his press conference at the end of last ward and local government congresses that they did a very clean and successful job?
The situation is dicey, but the challenges lie ahead.

Posted by Publisher at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)

72 hours to go: Weah, Sirleaf-Johnosn in final scramble for crucial votes

PRESIDENTIAL candidate rivals, George Weah and Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson have made their obvious differences a cornerstone of their campaigns in the race for the November 8 run-offs towards Liberia’s top job.

Posted to the Web: Saturday, November 05, 2005

The 39-year-old soccer millionaire Weah is revered by most of Liberia’s youth, who like their soccer legend, grew up in poverty and have never finished school. King George, as he is popularly known, is a political novice with little experience off the football pitch.

In contrast, 66-year-old Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson’s academic and professional credentials as a Harvard-trained economist and former top United Nations official are the qualities many believe are essential to lead the country after years of upheaval.
But her experience includes a past as an erstwhile supporter of now exiled former president Charles Taylor. She is also seen by many as the face of a corrupt political elite that reduced the mineral- rich West African country to one of the poorest countries in the world.

Mixed feelings about Weah’s capabilities

About 80% of Liberians are illiterate and unemployed. Although many look at Weah as a ray of hope for their war-scarred country, nagging questions remain about his capacity to lead a battle-hardened citizenry.
Apart from the crude comparisons between the high-school dropout soccer millionaire and the former economist with the World Bank, there are fears that the presidential poll will be reduced to a choice between a “native” (Weah) and a descendant of American-Liberian “settlers” (Sirleaf-Johnson).

The country is deeply divided between the descendants of the American-freed slaves who have ruled over their indigenous African compatriots between Independence in the 19th century and Samuel Does successful coup in 1980.
Sirleaf-Johnson draws most of her support from the American-Liberian educated elite. Weah touts himself as a peacemaker with no bias nor allegiance to past political groupings.

Support from former warlords

But the campaign by Weah’s Congress for Democracy seems to be in a race with Sirleaf-Johnson’s Unity party to canvass votes from former warlords and the 20 defeated presidential candidates.

In a surprising move, Jewel Taylor, wife of exiled former president Charles Taylor and newly elected senator, is backing the campaign of her husband’s erstwhile supporter now bitter rival, Sirleaf-Johnson.
Mrs Taylor is under a UN travel ban as well having her assets frozen, and her husband is wanted for war crimes in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Many fear that he continues to wield influence over Liberian politics from his residence in Nigeria.
And as former warlords are betting on whoever they believe will best represent their interests in a post-war Liberia, analysts believe the political inexperienced Weah may be most vulnerable to manipulation by ruthless and seasoned political operators. -

No presidential debate for Weah

Liberia’s football hero and presidential frontrunner George Weah has backed out of a debate this week with his rival, debate organizers has said.

The debate had been planned for Thursday, but Weah set off on a campaign tour of the west African state on Monday instead, a decision that observers suggested could hinder his bid to beat Harvard-educated banker and economist Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the second-round polls set for November 8.

“The news regarding (Weah’s) unavailability has been a disappointment for many Liberians who have been looking forward to a run-off debate,” Sidi Diawara of the National Democratic Institute noted.
“I was personally approached by several individuals who told me that a debate should be mandatory, but as I told them, inasmuch as a debate is useful in a democratic process, we cannot oblige any candidate to participate.”
Weah’s lack of a formal education and political inexperience have been cited as key reasons why he should not bear the task of rebuilding the country shattered by back-to-back civil wars since 1989.
By absenting himself from the debate, observers said privately, he was feeding those perceptions.

Sirleaf’s Unity Party pounced on the decision in a gleeful statement “wondering how Mr. Weah expects to communicate his vision and agenda to international partners ranging from development theorists to scientists if he cannot talk to his nation and people about his plans to lead this country?

Representatives for Weah said the candidate of the Congress for Democratic Change would spend the last week of the campaign touring the interior of the densely forested nation, hoping to cement his support among the 1.35 million registered voters.

Weah has racked up key endorsements in the last week, and now has the support of 10 of the 20 defeated first-round candidates following announcements from fourth-place finisher Winston Tubman, a former UN special envoy to Somalia, and Alhaji Kromah, a former warlord from Liberia’s first civil war on Saturday.

It’s populism versus establishment in second round vote
Liberia’s run-off presidential vote November 8 sets up a showdown between the young acolytes of footballer George Weah who have known only war and those counting on oldtimer Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to restore a lustre lost decades ago.
But the ethnic and regional lines upon which 50 percent of the electorate was divided will also play a ole in determining who becomes the west African nation’s first post-war elected president, expected to lead Liberia out of poverty and misery, corruption and conflict.

“The election results are a rejection of the Liberian political class by the broad masses of the Liberian people,” Winsley Nanka, a political analyst and journalist in the Liberian diaspora in the United States, said on Tuesday.
“There seems to be a complete disconnect between the political establishment and the masses because over the years they have failed to deliver.”

Weah built a populist campaign with a message that appealed to Liberia’s young people, representing 40 percent of 1.3 million registered voters, who were unconcerned by his lack of formal education and his political inexperience.
According to one west African official, the Weah campaign built itself as a protest vote to counter the failures of the established political hierarchy — of which his main rival, economist Johnson Sirleaf, could be considered a part, a longstanding opposition veteran.

“His campaign cultivated that protest; the slogans chanted by his followers, like ‘he know book, he don’t know book’, exulted in the fact that he was not like the rest of the politicians in the country,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Support for Johnson Sirleaf’s campaign drew from the educated minority in a country with a 30 percent literacy rate, and from women believing it was time enough for a female president in Africa.
“They call her the Iron Lady, and it is for true; she represents the struggle that the people know from the past and the sacrifices they had to make,” said Edwin Gailor, a 28-year-old hotel employee.
Between the two of them, Weah and Johnson Sirleaf have captured half of the registered votes, according to tallies by the National Electoral Commission, which announced on Monday that a run-off would be necessary.

That has left roughly 650,000 votes up for grabs, a great proportion of which were distributed along ethnic and racial lines for candidates that represented counties and regions, not a national politic.

Abdoulaye Dukule, a writer for the online journal, suggested that Weah would look to strengthen his base in the south from the port town of Buchanan to the Ivorian border at Harper, where he drew up second to homegrown favorites Charles Brumskine, of Buchanan’s Bassa County, and Winston Tubman, in Harper’s Maryland.
“Just as age was a factor in the first round, so will be ethnicity and regionalism,” Dukule wrote in an editorial on Tuesday.
This also plays strongly into Weah’s hand, as he represents the often disenfranchised indigenous populations to Johnson Sirleaf’s elite Congo and Americo-Liberian background, even though she tries hard to push her origins as “native”, noted another US-based former journalist.
“The result achieved by George Weah shows that the natives have decided to take control of the situation by themselves,” Zayzay Kpadeh said.

Posted by Publisher at 01:08 PM | Comments (0)

Fasehun’s wife yells: I won’t cry again ‘cos these people are out to ruin us

FOR the families of the ethnic warlords, these are not the best of times, no thanks to the continued detention of their bread winners.

By Chioma Anyagafu

Posted to the Web: Saturday, November 05, 2005

It will be recalled that the quartet of the founder of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, factional leader of the Congress, Chief Gani Adams, founder of the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra, Chief Ralph Uwazurike and the leader of the Niger-Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF), Alhaji Asari Dokubo have been in detention since some submitted themselves or were arrested by security operatives.

Of the lot, however, it is the family of Fasehun that currently tastes the bitter pill. Only three days ago, Police in Lagos raided Fasehun’s Century Hotel in Okota, Lagos where they arrested no less than 26 persons, some of whom were lodgers in the hotel. Also, six women suspected to be OPC members were among those picked up.
Mr. Olayinka Balogun, a Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) told journalists, Wednesday, that items recovered from the men who had allegedly confessed to certain commission of crime included two pump-action guns, one locally-made short gun, 37 cartridges, assorted charms among other things.
The dawn raid on Century Hotel was conducted by a team of anti-riot policeman led by the Raider Commander, CSP Solomon Tolofari.

But for the family of the detained Fasehun, looking at the mess allegedly made of the hotel by men of the Nigerian police and the “lies told” to cover their tracks, infuriates them to no end. As she sat motionless for quite some minutes, Mrs. Iyabo Fasehun, wife of the OPC founder, was massively jolted by the devastation that stared them in the face.
On this day, Iyabo and her two sons alongside a handful other men looked stupefied as they looked around and discussed the wreckage made of the hotel.

“What is going on?” Mrs. Iyabo Fasehun asked nobody in particular. At the approach of this reporter, she stood up, her two sons standing by her side. They were, indeed, in dire stress.
“What have we done?” she asked and tried to take a step.” Why would they just come in and destroy everything? Why are they doing this to us? They have my husband already, they denied him a family get-together on his 70th birthday. Why would they destroy what cost him years and fortunes to put together?”

Asked what really happened to the Century Hotel on that Wednesday, Mrs. Fasehun replied: “I was at home, deep asleep. It was around 4.30 am or 5 am on Wednesday when I got a call. Somebody called to tell me that the police were shooting indiscriminately into the premises of Century Hotels.
“I tried to call some people first, I mean, close relations and friends to inform them. I also called the police and they confirmed they knew about the raid. They said they were looking for one Alhaji Toyin, the man they said was involved in the mayhem at Iyana-Ipaja the other time.

“I didn’t know the extent of damage done. But I know it was because of this Alhaji Toyin that my husband was arrested on his 70th birthday, the day we were busy preparing a get-together in his honour. That 70th birthday get-together never held because it was on that Saturday that my husband was arrested.
“We have no business with this man the police said they were looking for. He used to be a member of the OPC but he left many years ago to join another group. We even thought that the police already had him because somebody said he had been arrested. We don’t know who arrested him but he has no business with us.”

Just as she vehemently denied police claims of sundry weapons found in the hotel, the courageous wife of the OPC leader, queried the rationale behind the destruction at a time that her husband was already with the law-enforcement agents.
“See the damage they did to this hotel. They broke the glass doors and windows, invaded the guest rooms and turned the rooms, even the extensions upside down. They took away our innocent lodgers, people who don’t even know anything about OPC.

“If you go to these guest rooms, you’ll be shocked by what you would see. You’ll see some clothes belonging to the lodgers on the floor. They smashed the doors into our guest rooms and took innocent lodgers away. I am only praying that nothing ugly happens to any of them, and that they are not branded what they are not.” At this point, Mrs. Fasehun asked her son, Olu to take the reporter round the premises. “I would have taken you around myself but my legs ache. I want you to see things for yourself. The police have come to see because I invited them to come and see the damage done by their men. They acknowledged they knew about it. I don’t know what they were looking for? The man they said they were looking for was never here.
“They took our van and carted away our drinks from the bar. They broke into my husband’s office and took away important documents. Was Alhaji Toyin hiding inside there? They smashed doors and windows. Go and see for yourself. Many staff sustained wounds.

Some are receiving treatment in the hospitals. They took the rest away with them. They also invaded the cyber café and took away the people doing overnight browsing.

“I don’t think they came looking for anybody from the damage they did. I believe they purposely did what they did, that is to destroy and they did a good job of it. Look, they have my husband already with them. What else do they want from us? Why are they doing this to an innocent man?

“Everyone who knows my husband knows he’s a peaceful person. He cannot hurt a fly. They have done this damage to the business of a man who did nothing. Go everywhere you can and see for yourself. Go to the rooms and the offices. My husband is a medical doctor and not a crook. He saves lives. He is under oath to do that. He does not kill or destroy lives. What else do they want from us? It is worse to tell lies against us about what they claimed they found. It’s so unfair.”
Mrs. Faseun, looking understandably distraught told Saturday Vanguard that they were even working on securing her husband’s bail before the latest raid by the police.

“Before this time, we had been working on a bail for my husband who was being detained. A case for his bail is for hearing sometime this November but they are holding an innocent man, a man who cannot hurt a fly.
“God will fight for us on this matter because He is on our side. God is our strength, our peace and mind. I have cried but crying will not release him. We have the grace of God and that is sufficient for us. My husband has a case in court already. Let them release him. He cannot run away.

“Where will a seventy-year old man run to? They took him away the day we were planning his 70th birthday celebration. My husband is innocent. Everyone who knows him knows he is not violent. He cannot hurt a fly. Let them stop oppressing us.”
Olu Fasehun, son of the detained founder of OPC kept hissing and shaking his head quite dejectedly while he conducted this reporter round the devastated Century Hotel, Okota. “This is a deliberate damage. You can see it yourself. The assignment here was to come and destroy. Don’t you know my father? Is he violent? This is a man who is known to broker peace.

“Ethnic groups in Lagos come to him and he mediates. Families come to him, tenants also come to him and he brokers peace between them. The only person who sees my father as a violent man is someone who does not know him. He will never raise his voice at anyone. If you bring complaints to him, he calls the other party and begins a process of reconciliation. That is what he does everyday when he is in the hotel.
“In the hospital, he attends to the sick and the poor. My father will never tell anybody to go and hit the other man. He brokers peace all the time.
“I don’t know why anyone would want to do this kind of thing to him. He is not violent. He has never been. He is for peace and has never been for war.”

Posted by Publisher at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

Tinubu cautions on political crisis in Oyo

GOVERNOR Bola Tinubu of Lagos state yesterday called for caution by politicians and asked them to watch their utterances on the political situation in Oyo state.

By Ola Ajayi, Ibadan

Posted to the Web: Saturday, November 05, 2005

The governor on a condolence visit to his Oyo state counterpart, Alhaji Rashidi Ladoja on the recent motor accident that claimed the lives of his (Ladoja’s) aides, said:
“You should desist from fuelling the political differences further.People should not use any political dichotomy or disagreement to fuel the crisis.”

Politics is conflict and conflict resolution. We must use this to unite and not to divide the state.He, however, applauded the display of maturity shown by Governor Ladoja in handling the issue.He acknowledged the humility of the Governor in addressing the strongman of Ibadan politics,Chief Lamidi Adedibu as his father.
On the accident, he said “it is a pity that we should allow life sacrifices before action is taken””,adding that there is a wide expanse of land on both sides of the road ,nothing stops us from creating a big median barrier to curtail such accident.He prayed God to grant the families of the deceased the great fortitude to bear the loss.He finally acknowledged his readiness to contribute his own quota to the relief of the families of the deceased.

Responding, Chief Ladoja expressed his gratitude to the entire people of Lagos State and the Governor for sharing in his grief.
He dismissed suggestions that the autocrash had political undertone.claiming that people who lost their lives were not politician,even some of them were appointed by the former Governor of Oyo state Chief Lamidi Adesina.He said””it would be callous and wicked to think that the autocrash was politically motivated.

Posted by Publisher at 01:07 PM | Comments (0)

The unwillingness of Mr Kemi Pinneiro

The unwillingness of Mr Kemi Pinneiro, counsel to Chief Augunous Okoro arraigned with the late House of Representatives member, Chief Maurice Ibekwe for alleged Advance Fee Fraud offences to continue with the case yesterday stalled the continuation of the evidence of the lead prosecution witness before Justice Joseph Oyewole of the Ikeja High Court.

At the resumed trial of the case yesterday, Pinneiro who for the second time was announcing his withdrawal from the case however did not adduce any reason for his sudden withdrawal in the matter. Only last Tuesday when the matter started de-novo (afresh) after nineteen months, Mr Pinneiro appeared for Okoro who is now alone standing trial for allegedly swindling a German businessman, Mr Klaus Richard Munch of over 300,000 Dollars and 75,000 Deutschmark years back. He is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mr Pinneiro had withdrawn his service for the accused person when late Chief Ibekwe was alive and the matter was before Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, now in Court of Appeal, on the ground that the court refused one of his application seeking a prayer for the fundamental rights of the accused person.
Responding to his application, the prosecution counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs kicked against Pinneiro’s withdrawal attributing it to “another ploy to delay the trial”.

Jacobs who insisted that the court should not grant the Pinneiro’s application said it was not allowed in such matters “for a counsel without filing a formal application to announce his withdrawal from a case”, adding “our witness had come to Nigeria all the way from Germany purposely because of this case.”
In his ruling the trial Judge, Justice Oyewole granted the counsel prayers to step out of the case, but not without a stern warning to the accused person to produce a counsel before the next adjourned date.
The Judge agreed that the withdrawal of the lawyer will have effect on the smooth proceedings of the case, but said that the provision of service by the lawyer for the accused person was on contractual basis which can be terminated at any point in time.

He then adjourned the case till November 16, 2005 for further trial and for the accused person to produce his counsel. At the last date, the witness had told the court the graphic details of how he was allegedly duped by the duo of late Ibekwe and Okoro.

Munch told the court how he was introduced to a business of supplying computer wares for an Abuja Airport. According to him, his problems started in October 1992 when he received an envelope by post addressed to him as the MD of his company inviting an offer for supplying soft wares to the Accountant General of the Airport. “ I was interested in the offer because it could be a good chance for my young company to grow. Therefore I checked several companies like IBM if they would be able to finance the business when I finally get the offer. “I contacted one Dr A.O. Israel who gave me information regarding the business. He told me that the hardware, software and also the accessories had to be supplied to the Airport in Abuja. When I got this information, I got more interested in this contract. Also Dr Israel forced me to take part in business. He told me that it would be very interesting to cooperate with my company.” He said that along the line he was persuaded to lodge some amount of money through the account I was told to open in Germany purposely for the business.

Posted by Publisher at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

Kwara Police warn on illegal congress

Ahead of today’s state congress of the Peoples Democeratic Party (PDP), the Kwara State Police Command yesterday threatened to disrupt any illegal congress being planned by a splinter group of the party which is still believed to be aggrieved over the last elections in the state won by the party in a landslide victory 2003.

By Demola Akinyemi

Posted to the Web: Saturday, November 05, 2005

While the state secretariat of the party under the chairmanship of Alhaji Zubair Abubakar will hold its congress at Kwara Hotels, the parallel congress being allegedly put together under the coordination of one Alhaji Mutaba Kadiriya is scheduled to hold at Yebumot Hotel in Ilorin

Abubakar in an interview said the party was ready for today’s congress and insisted that he was not aware of any faction in the party as all the aggrieved members of the party have been reconciled".
"The former governor, Alhaji Shaaba Lafiagi, Arc Sola Ashiru and several others have been part of the arrangement of this congress. Any other congress anywhere could not have been organised by any member of our great party, so it is illeagal," he added.

The State Police Public Relations Officer DSP Markus Gideon in an exclusive interview with Saturday Vanguard, however, assured that the police would not allow any illegal congress to hold
"We are aware of the state PDP congress that would hold at Kwara Hotel and we have provided adequate security to that effect. We won’t compromise on our duties and responsibilities".
team had put in place a machinery to ensure a successful state congress, warning that the party leadership would no longer condone any act of political rascality.

While addressing reporters at the state secretariat of the party preparatory to the congress, Oguniya said he was armed with the authentic list of delegates to the congress given to him from Abuja.
According to him, “I have a letter of appointment from the National Planning Committee which directed me to come to the Kwara State headquarters of the party and liaise with the outgoing chairman. I am here with the list of delegates from Abuja; I have also been told that there is the 2001 list that has been overtaken by the congresses of 2003 and 2004.”

Posted by Publisher at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

States can’t control Solid Minerals — Ezekwesili

The Minister of Solid Minerals, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, has declared as illegal, all state ministries of solid minerals, as according to her, the sector is on the Exclusive List and therefore beyond the constitutional responsibilities of state governments.

By Emma Ujah & Dayo Lawal

Posted to the Web: Saturday, November 05, 2005

Inspecting the on-going revalidation of mining leases and licences exercise in Abuja, yesterday, she said government would revoke mining licences and leases of those who had breached the provisions of the law or had no business being given in the first place.

Her words, “according to the constitution, you cannot have any Ministry of Solid Minerals in any state of the federation. To do so is also to say that you can have a Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the different states of the federation.
“This is clearly a constitutional issue and we believe the only way an orderly development of the sector can happen is for the three tiers of government to recognize that the powers to promote this sector or to control this sector, to make laws and rules for this sector lies with the Federal Government.

“It is under the Exclusive List. It is exactly like the petroleum and gas. None of the states in the Niger Delta makes laws or supervises the activities of the oil sector. It is exactly the same thing with the solid minerals sector in the present constitution.
“But the Federal Government recognizes the importance of local communities and the states in the development of the solid mineral sector through the Minerals Bill that is being promoted for passage by the National Assembly. That Bill has a provision for a State Environmental Committee and that committee is the committee that brings together, the local, the state and the federal governments for any mining activity that will happen in any state.
“But I do want to send a clear message that the responsibility for legislation, the responsibility for supervision, the responsibility for management of the solid minerals sector is that of the Federal Government, as at this time.

““Perhaps in the future, if we have any constitutional changes, then the states and the loval governments could be recognized by the constitution as controlling as controlling anything within the sector. That is very important to note.
““The reason I am stressing this is that foreign investments and even domestic investment would not go into a sector that appears to be confused. There must be orderliness. Orderliness is important for investment to happen and we are going to discuss this matter even more through the platform of the National Economic Council, where all the state governors are participants.

On the revocation of licences, the minister was emphatic that those discovered to have breached the laws would lose their titles, stressing, ““in our advertisement, we made it clear to holders of Solid Minerals titles that if they have not breached any section of the Minerals and Mining Act, on the basis of which they were given lincences or leases, this would just be a revalidation exercise to enable them have that clear new listing as sound holders of such titles.

““But if in the course of this exercise, it turns out that the obligations that a holder of a title supposed to be making to the federal government were not made, or perhaps their licences and leases expired and they just simply the need for renewal, then the revocation would catch up with them. Revocation is something we very reticent about. We would do it only when it is clear that there has been a material breach. And for a number of operators, unfortunately, we see material breaches.
She said the World Bank Sustainable Solid Minerals Project was targeting poverty reduction through the activities of the small and medium scale miners and the ministry and the World Bank team had produced a comprehensive work of the programme.

““We are at the moment doing a pilot project in Ogoja, Cross River State and we are looking at organizing small scale miners into cooperatives for the production of Barytes –– a commodity that oil companies use in their exploration activities.
““By forming the cooperatives, we stop them from operating as illegal miners. We are giving them coherence by giving them identity. That way we can monitor their activities for better productivity””, Mrs. Ezekwesili said.

The minister explained that the federal government was now convinced that it could not effectively run solid minerals businesses and therefore was reforming the sector in such a way that the government would only play the roles of a regulator and creating the conducive environment for private operators to thrive.

Posted by Publisher at 01:02 PM | Comments (0)

November 03, 2005

OPC: Police raid Fasehun's hotel, arrest 26

LAGOS — POLICE in Lagos, yesterday, raided Century Hotel, Okota, owned by the detained founder of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) where they arrested 26 people, some of them, lodgers in the hotel. Six women said to be OPC members were among the arrested persons.

By Albert Akpor & Chioma Anyagafu
Posted to the Web: Thursday, November 03, 2005

The police claimed they also seized a coffin, charms and arms during the raid.

Police sources said the raid followed a tip-off that some OPC members wanted in connection with the recent murder of a police corporal on the Iyana-Ipaja mayhem might be hiding there.

However, wife of Dr. Fasehun, Iyabo dismissed the insinuations and absolved her husband of any criminal act.
The dawn raid was conducted by a team of anti-riot policemen, led by the Commander Raider, Chief Superintendent Solomon Tolofari.
The OPC members, according to the police, opened fire on the police team which returned fire, and overpowered them.

The police said three persons among the 26 arrested had confessed participating in the killing of the police corporal who was abducted somewhere at Iyana-Ipaja, taken to the hotel and later killed. His AK 47 rifle was snatched from him before his death. The police said they had recovered the rifle. Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of State CID, Mr. Olayinka Balogun said: “Just a few days ago, we received information that some members of OPC who participated in the killing of the Police corporal who was abducted from a riotous scene in Ipaja as well as those who actively participated in the recent Iyana-Ipaja crisis were lodging in Dr. Fasehun’s hotel at Ago Palace Way and we promptly mobilised as early as 3.00 a.m. this morning (yesterday) and stormed the place and arrested 26 of them, including six females. They even took us to the room where the police officer was murdered and his vital organs severed from his body.

Among those arrested are alleged top members of the OPC who gave their posts in the congress as Commander, Spiritual Consultant and Field Officer as well as four caucus members who led the fight in Iyana-Ipaja. They have all confessed to the crime. Items recovered during the raid, according to the DCP, included two pump action guns, one locally made short gun, one American pistol with No. 85128 with one round of live ammunition, 37 cartridges, a police identity card, three tape recorders and hundreds of OPC identity cards.

Others are army life jacket, assorted knives and cutlasse