Monday, August 31, 2009

52 Nigerians on Death Row in Foreign Countries

According to the Nigerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs 52 Nigerians are currently on death row in different countries around the world. 

Mr. Ayo Olukanni, spokesman for the ministry said that 3,132 were serving various terms of imprisonment, 1,640 were in detention, and 3,719 others were to be deported, and about 5,145 Nigerians abroad, mostly girls, are victims of human trafficking.

The list of offences committed by these Nigerians abroad include: drug trafficking, armed robbery, credit card scam, formation of cartels, membership of secret cults, human trafficking and prostitution.

"The overwhelming nature of the problem, in addition to other diplomatic responsibilities, has put a lot of pressure on the Nigerian missions. The activities of these Nigerians are irritating to some countries," he said.

Mr. Olukanni said the involvement of some Nigerians in such shady activities continues to have a negative impact on the country's image.

"Avoid by all means the use of fake passports, visas and other documents, shun criminal activities and respect the laws and regulations of host countries," Olukanni added.

This Day

Related stories: Nigeria is the largest African source of trafficked women to Europe and Asia

Nigerian executed in China

Nigerian beheaded in Saudi Arabia

Nigerian criminals using Asian women as drug mules

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Video report on growing middle class in Nigeria

Financial Times talks with some of Nigeria's elite like Nigerian rapper Naeto C on how the infrastructure in Nigeria is playing catch up with Nigeria's growing middle class.

Related stories: CNBC covers investment in Nigeria

Nigeria's middle class growing

Video report on the EFCC crackdown on corruption in Nigeria

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is hunting down some of Nigeria's wealthiest individuals for failing to repay billions of dollars worth of loans. EFCC agents warn they will use all their powers to arrest and seize the assets of those implicated.The deadline issued for the repayment of the loans expires on September 1st.

Related stories: Nigerian Banks

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nigeria getting social security next year

 The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced it would begin the implementation of national social security policy next year. Nigeria has never had a social security system since its independence 49 years ago.

The draft policy for social security was submitted to the government by General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), a former Head of State, who is also the Chairman of the National Working Committee on Social Security Policy for Nigeria.

The minister of Labour, Price Adetokunbo Kayode, received the document on behalf of the President Yar'Adua in Abuja. He said the implementation would begin in the next four months because the present administration is eager to provide social security for the people. He added that the essence of government itself was to provide security and welfare for its citizens:

"Though it took us 49 years as a nation to do this, the most important thing is that we have done it. The purpose of the government, according to the laws and the constitution, is the security and welfare of the people and this (the document) represents the social security and welfare of our people."

"I want to assure you, even though it took us 49 years to do it and it took the committee four months to put this together, the government will implement it and it will not take four months for the Federal Government to implement it.

"Government must provide social security for our people. It is the duty of government to do so, and this is my belief and I will drive this belief as long as I remain in office. The seven-point agenda of President Yar'Adua is all about security and welfare of our people.

"With social security, we will handle poverty, crimes and other social vices. We will implement this policy. We will drive it."

The former head of state also expressed serious concern about the current state of Nigeria, adding that collapse and non-existence of basic infrastructure had created a disincentive for millions of Nigerians who live in the cities, constituting serious danger to the public:

"The steady decline in the standard of living and ethical values of our countrymen and women over the years are attributable to ever widening income inequality, mass unemployment, mass poverty and social exclusion. These socio-economic maladies are due to external macro-economic dislocations and largely to internal mis-governance and malfeasance across the board" he said.


Related stories: Nation in Darkness

Nigeria's Federal Fire service

Minister wants Abuja in the top 20 cities in the world

Friday, August 28, 2009

11-Year old girl sentenced to seven years in prison finally set free

An 11-year old girl imprisoned for allegedly stealing 10,000 naira ($64.91) from her foster mother has finally been set free after someone noticed that it probably wasn't legal to put her in prison in the first place. Here's the full article from Daily Independent:

Freedom came the way of 11-year-old Rose Otuba in Ebonyi State a couple of weeks back when the wife of the State Governor, Mrs. Josephine Orji, visited the prison. She suspected that Miss Otuba's incarceration was unlawful and contacted the State Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, and the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), who investigated the matter.

It emerged that sometime in 2007, one Paul Nwochi who claimed to be Rose Otuba's father handed her over to his purported distant cousin, Nicholas Otuba, on the grounds that Rose was stubborn. Shortly after, she was accused of stealing ten thousand naira from her foster mother and was charged before an Effium magistrate's court in Ohuakwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State. The court found Rose guilty and sentenced her to a seven-year imprisonment, which she began to serve. Her case is a nauseating travesty.

Nigeria's oldest legislation regulating the welfare of children and young persons, and the treatment of young offenders, is the Children and Young Persons Law (CYPL), a version of which is contained in Chapter 25 of the Laws of Lagos State, enacted on July 1, 1946. Under the this law, a "child" means "a person under the age of fourteen years", and a "young person" is "a person who has attained the age of fourteen and is under the age of eighteen years." This law, or some version of it, applies to all the Southern states of Nigeria.

It is evident that, as at the time Rose was 'sentenced' and up to her recent release, she was and is still a child. She has not even attained the age of 14 that would qualify her to be seen before the law as a 'young person'. Even if she had attained the age of 14, the provisions of the CYPL would have made her appearance before a juvenile court unlawful. Section 3 of the law authorises arraignment before the juvenile court only in matters relating to a person of the "age of seventeen years or upwards".

Further, in Section 6(5)(6), the CYPL prohibits the publication of the name, address, school, photograph or any identification of the child or young offender except with the permission of the court; while the words "conviction" and "sentence" are prohibited from being "used in relation to children and young persons dealt with in a juvenile court".

It can hardly be gainsaid that the legal rights of little Rose have been grossly violated by her country. While Mrs. Orji's intervention leading to her release is commendable, it does not serve the cause of justice sufficiently that no subsequent investigation of the circumstances that led to this miscarriage of justice took place, to the knowledge of the public, in order to prevent an odious precedent from being set in our legal system.

What is the explanation for the magistrate's court's provocative conduct? Was Rose, for example, unusually mature in appearance as to mistake her for a young person? What efforts were made by the court to ascertain her true age? Was it a behind-the-scenes trial? Who, really, is to blame, for the conduct of a delinquent child if not the parents and the society itself? Is it justified to lock up a child in prison for seven years on allegation of stealing? And in a society where the elite are reported daily to be engaged in treasury looting and fraud?

Section 15(a-m) of the CYPL says "Where a child or young person charged with any offence is tried by a court, and the court is satisfied of his guilt, the court shall take into consideration the manner in which, under the provisions of this or any other law, the case should be dealt with, namely, whether (a) by dismissing the charge; or (b) by discharging the offender on his entering into a recognizance; or (c) by discharging the offender, by means of a corrective order, to the care of a relative or other fit person; or (e) by sending the offender by means of a corrective order to an approved institution; or (f) by offering the offender to be caned; or (g) by ordering the offender to pay a fine, damages, or costs; or (h) by ordering the parent or guardian of the offender to pay a fine, damages, or costs; or (i) by ordering the parent or guardian of the offender to give security to his good behavior; or (j) by committing the offender to custody in a place of detention provided under this Law; or (k) where the offender is a young person, by ordering him to be imprisoned..." At 11-year-old, when Rose was allegedly sentenced to prison, Section 15(k), which permits imprisonment of a young person as the last option of punishment, certainly did not apply to her.

It is disgraceful that a colonial law enacted 63 years ago is more humane in its recommended treatment of children and young persons than the 21st century Nigerian judicial system, under a sovereign State, is capable of delivering to its own children. What a tragedy!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Funny Playstation 3 ad references 419

Pretty funny Playstation 3 ad makes reference to the infamous Nigerian letter 419 scam in the video up top.

Son of newly appointed Nigerian Ambassador to the US charged with rape

Adedamola Adeniran and two other Nigerian men living in Baltimore County, Maryland have been charged with gang-raping three women in the city of Baltimore.

According to Maryland police on July 27th, two women accepted a ride from two men near North Calvert and West Fayette streets in Downtown Baltimore. Police say the men then threatened the women with a knife and drove them to a parking lot at Seton keough High School in Southwest Baltimore. The two men and a third man who arrived later proceeded to rape the women at the parking lot according to police.

The three men, 19 year old Adedamola Adeniran, 19 year old Anthony Edoror, and 20 year old Opeyemi Adigun have been charged with rape.

An identical attack happened on August 18 and the victim this time was able to identify the licence plate of the car to the police. This helped Maryland police find one of the suspects who identified the other two. The three men also face charges that include false imprisonment and conspiracy to commit rape. They face spending the rest of their lives in prison if convicted. No sense of diplomatic immunity will apply to Adedamola Adeniran because his father has yet to be cleared for the position by the US.

The newly appointed Ambassador also faces another particular issue that the US government would like clarified. Sahara Reporters were told by State Department officials that Professor Adeniran has two wives in the US bearing his name. They said this will have to be sorted out before the appointed ambassador can assume responsibilities.

Related story: Tunde Adeniran rejected as Nigeria's ambassador to the United States

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

76 year old woman kidnapped and held for 2 months released after family refuse to pay ransom

Mrs. Ibiwari Brown was kidnapped and held captive for two months in Rivers state, Nigeria. She has finally set free after her family persistently refused to pay the 38 million naira ransom demanded by the kidnappers.

The 76 year old woman was kidnapped on June 18, 2009 from her home. She managed to escape from her kidnappers on August 2, 2009, but she was recaptured at a fishing town where she was looking for help.

Mrs. Brown's son, Chief Aroloyoteim Brown released this statement about his mother's experience to the media:

"Two months after, the kidnappers resorted to torturing this old woman. She was flogged several times like a common criminal. From June 18 to August 22, she had no water to bath.

"Her room was her toilet and she was fed with Indomie once a day. The ration was not enough to feed a three-year-old child. The treatment became worse when they realized that they had 'invested in a bad market'. The food ration changed and mama cried and begged them for food".

"when food was no more available to her, she would bless the glass of water given to her before drinking it. That served as food and her hunger will be satisfied.

"Being frustrated, mama attempted to escape from these men on August 2, 2009 at about 10:00pm. She went to a nearby fishing settlement and asked to see the head of the settlement but no one was willing to assist.

"She was recaptured by the morning of August 3, 2009 and taken back to the camp. They agreed that she will be killed and so she was moved to their shrine and they hit her face hard with the palm.

"She was then blindfolded and they were ready to kill her when suddenly my call went through to them and they suspended the action. At that time ,she was already on the ground in front of the shrine as a sacrificial animal, almost dead.

"They then called back and told me that she was dead and gave me the option of coming to carry her corpse or permitting her burial. When they went back few hours later perhaps to bury her, she was found alive and crying like a baby. She was taken back to her room and permanently locked up.

"On Friday 21st, they decided to set mama free. On their way, the speed boat had an accident. It was in the night. She was left in the mangrove till the 22nd. She was moved from there to a fishing settlement at a place called 'Namasibi' around the New Calabar River".


Related stories: Nollywood star Pete Edochie Kidnapped

American doctor Kidnapped in Nigeria sympathizes with his abductors

Canadian Kidnapped

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Oil Must Flow - Video report on the Amnesty deal in Nigeria

CNN's Christian Purefoy reports on the amnesty deal between the Nigerian government and the militants of the Niger Delta.

Related stories: Nigerian militants declare cease fire

Oil War - Ten minute video recap of the oil war in Nigeria

Nigerian militants blow up Chevron pipeline

Monday, August 24, 2009

Hundreds of students attack ritualist for taking male organ of colleague

At the School of Health Technology in Maiduguri, Nigeria. A suspected ritualist was attacked by hundreds of students for allegedly "stealing" the male organ of their colleague this past Saturday.

Daily Trust reports that the suspect, a middle-aged man, drove to the school in an ash colored Jeep and was said to have met with the student. Thereafter, the student alerted his colleagues that his male organ was gone and accused the suspect of "stealing " it. The students proceeded to attack the man and they also vandalized his car.

A witness, Sani Goni told Daily Trust that in order to prevent being beaten to death, the suspect confessed to taking the male organ and then returned it. But after returning the male organ the students continued to beat him and school authorities had to call in the joint military and police police patrol team to rescue the suspect.

The principal of the College, Alhaji Bukar Modu confirmed the incident and said normalcy has been restored:

"I have earlier called the man to interview him in respect of the allegation and he confirmed removing the manhood of the boy but said he immediately returned it at the spot"

Principal Modu appealed to the students to stop taking the law into their own hands as the matter was being investigated by the police. The commandant of the patrol team that rescued the suspect, Chief Superintendent of Police Mohammed Amadu said the allegation was baseless because it could not be scientifically proven.

Daily Trust

Former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo Marries Ex-Wife

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo has chosen his ex-wife to help fill the void left by Stella Obasanjo who died in 2005. 

"At his age he needs a stabilizing force, for that is what a wife is to a man," according to Fred Ojie, a public analyst resident in Lagos, Nigeria.

"You cannot wish away the role which the late Stella played in the man's life, and though he is no longer occupying any public office, he deserves a regular companion like everyone else. In fact, the older a man is, the more he needs a female companion." Ojie said.

But according to a source who claimed to know the family. No other woman can completely fill the void that Stella left as she was the woman who stood by Obasanjo during his incarceration in the Abacha regime:

"He would continue to live with the memory of Stella," 

 Daily Independent

 Related stories: Forensics show that Stella Obasanjo's death was avoidable

 Obasanjo in the hot seat

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Nigeria is the largest African source of trafficked women to Europe and Asia

According to the article by NEXT below. Nigeria is the largest source of trafficked women to Europe and Asia:

Standing just outside the town hall in Egor local government council, Edo State, Caroline Osasu did not allow NEXT talk to her daughter. This is not surprising. Mrs. Osazu mumbles in pidgin English that she agreed to this interview in the first place, only because the ‘fixer’ was her close friend.

“I can explain a little. I cannot just explain everything because...” she stops midway, as her eyes fill with tears. Fair-skinned, with some wrinkles, beautiful, though impoverished, this mother of seven won’t even look me in the eyes as we speak. She often retreats into a shell of silence; quite like the big snails she sells at Egor market for a meagre living.

Mrs. Osasu was approached by a family friend who said she wanted to “help” her 22-year-old daughter ‘travel out’. Her first child, whose name she did not reveal, worked for 10 months in Spain as a prostitute before she was deported two months ago.

She is just one of thousands of Nigerian females trafficked into the international sex trade yearly. According to the National Agency for Prohibition of Traffic in Persons, (NAPTIP), about 10,000 Nigerian girls, aged between 13 to 17 years, are either in jail or held captive by sex-slave lords in Morocco and Libya, with a high percentage of them being indigenes of Edo State.

About that same number of females are also reportedly living and working in Italy as prostitutes. Adefunke Abiodun, Head, Benin zone of NAPTIP, said that within Africa, Nigeria is the largest single source of trafficked women to Europe and Asia. “It is a lucrative business for the trafficker, their recruiters... in fact, everyone, except the girls concerned”.

Mrs. Abiodun said although some girls were willing to get involved in the trade, they had no choice regarding which country they would end up in—or how life-threatening and lengthy their journeys would be. Only few go by air. And even then, they do so after going by road to other African countries (Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire and South Africa) and may reach Europe by train.

Trail of tears

“More are shuttled from Benin to Katsina and on to Niger/Togo/Burkina Faso/Guinea from where they often have to walk through a section of the Sahara desert to get to Algeria or Morocco,” she said. Horror tales abound. Deaths have occurred on the desert stretch; the victims are covered with sand and the rest continue the drive or trek. Some girls are sold, or made to prostitute to raise money to continue the journey.

Many are impregnated, contract HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases and, like the 10,000 girls in Libya and Morocco, are considered faulty goods and left behind in transit countries.

Those remaining must continue the journey by boat (usually at night) from Morocco to Spain. These tangible dangers, however, have done nothing to stem the sex trade. If anything, it toughens the girls. Mrs. Osasu admitted that her daughter did not return home because she did not want to continue in the job as a sex worker. “She came back home because she was deported,” she said.

Edo State carries the stigma

Edo State prides itself in having 2,000 years of history and culture. But, sadly, it also has the unattractive reputation of being a hub for the international sex trade. According to The Advocacy Project, a Washington based NGO, “Edo is only one of 36 Nigerian states, but it has produced over 80 per cent of the women trafficked to Europe.

Trafficking prostitutes began in the late 1980s, when Italy was importing immigrant labourers to feed a booming informal economy. Nigerian women began travelling to the central Italian region of Campania to pick tomatoes. Gradually, they were attracted to the large cities of Rome, Naples, and Florence, where they found a high demand for their charms.

(So high, in fact, that on one occasion, Italian prostitutes publicly protested against the encroachment on their turf by Nigerians.)” Today, trafficking females for prostitution is an industry of sorts. NEXT’s investigations revealed that there are two classes of travellers: those who paid their handling charges to the destination and those who were poorer and would therefore have to be ‘sponsored’.

Mrs. Osasu said the latter was the case with her daughter. “My child worked and paid this woman 25,000 euros in 10 months, yet she said the money was not enough. That until she is satisfied, that is when we will stop paying.” Jomo Edafeyeyan, a resident of Egor, says: ‘Girls who are sponsored are actually the ones who are thoroughly maltreated, especially if the madam was once assaulted herself.

"Her thugs, who also act as ‘trolley,’ sleep with the girls anyhow and beat them into submission at the madam’s request. For those who pay their way, they part with up to ₦500, 000. But again, they get returned faster, since they are not as ‘lucrative’ as the thoroughly dependent girls.” A trolley is the agent who ferries the girl from her home to the required destination.

"Once there, reports show that girls are asked to pay back as much as $50,000 dollars, by prostituting. For those who refuse, anything from threats with arrest, beatings, and even death may be their lot.”

Ruthless people

Last year, media reports quoted Isoke Aikpitanyi, founder and spokesperson of the Association of Benin City Girls (ABCG), as saying that more than 200 prostitutes had been killed in Italy within three years, by their handlers when they attempted to escape. ABCG is the only association of victims and former victims of human trafficking in Italy.

“These people are ruthless”, Mrs. Edafeyeyan said. She said the practice was so widespread that virtually every family in Edo has a person working abroad, or has someone who is a sponsor or recruiter or who must at least know people who are any of these three.

Another source, who spoke on conditions of anonymity, told NEXT. “Here, it is a thing of pride to have a child abroad, no matter if she is into prostitution.

Obituary announcements leave people envious of the number of children the deceased has abroad. At parties, special music is played and people who do not have children abroad are asked to leave the dance floor so those who do can preen. They spray euros and dollars as others look on, wishing out loud that they either had children abroad or that their children had stayed long enough to have legal documents instead of being repatriated.”

A trade backed by manipulation

The handlers also make their potential wards go through frightening rituals to make them obey their wish. A source said: “On the day of departure, the girls have their pubic and armpit hairs shaved, their nails cut and given to their handlers. Their underwear is also confiscated. It is believed that these intimate items are held by the sponsors to enable them place a curse on the girls should they refuse to pay their debts. The girls are often taken to shrines where they swear they will not renege on the terms of their ‘contract’.”

Mrs. Abiodun also confirmed that girls trafficked have reported they were told to indulge in pornography which was filmed and photographed by their handlers. In January 2005, customs and immigration officials conducting routine checks came across pornographic pictures, pubic hair, finger nails, menstrual pads, immigration records, payment records, and agreements of debt bondage, all wrapped in batches with the names of the owners in a bag belonging to a certain Esther Eborieme.

Quack lawyers have also been known to draw up agreements, on behalf of sponsors, which say the girls or their family members will be arrested for failure to pay up. Mrs. Osasu was dragged to the Aiyelala shrine to swear that a curse would befall her if she had received any money from her daughter when the sponsor’s debt was not yet paid off.

“A whole generation of children have been brought up on this prostitution money, but it has also destroyed a lot of families,” says the NAPTIP boss. “Even parents fight each other over money sent home by their children. Families have also squandered funds sent for building of houses or buying of cars, only for the poor girls to come home to nothing.”

The people

The Distraught Mother: Caroline Osasu

Well, I didn’t know my daughter would end up a prostitute. The person who carried her there said she wanted to help me. I did not pay, but when my child got there, she started paying her back. My daughter spent about 10 months before she came back from Spain. After about 10 months, she said police arrested her there, they carried her to a cell, then they brought her to Lagos.

She told me everything that happened, but she did not return because of prostitution. She returned because she was deported. She is now in computer school. I will like to tell people that before your child goes abroad, be careful because you cannot allow just anybody to carry your child abroad. Young girls should face their jobs.

The two-time traveller: ‘At least I am a free woman now’- Victoria Ohonbahor

The first time I went to Italy was in 1979. They came to meet me that they would sponsor me. I won’t lie; I knew I was going to do sex work. Business is business. Nobody beat me or treated me badly. I spent six months in Italy, but it was inside the refugee camp. I did not have chance to work because they arrested us immediately we arrived. Our documents were fake.

I went again in 1985, but that time was worse. We were in Libya for three months. They were fighting in the country so the police quickly caught us. When they sent me back again for the second time, I knew that I was not lucky with travelling out. I had to pay my sponsor with a plot of land my parents left for me when they died. I did not want to go to jail. The land is here in Egor.

They have already built a house on it. Since! But at least, I am a free woman. I am not looking for big money in my life again. I have two children, so if I can see small money to support this my fish hawking business, I will be happy.

The Younger Sister: ‘We thought she had contracted AIDS’ -Blessing Smart

We are 10 children; six daughters and four boys. Growing up was hard. My sister is 27. She was approached by someone who told her she can travel. She said the madam someone introduced her to said she should start the prostitution even before they left Libya to go to Italy. When she refused, the madam sent her boys to beat her up. So she ran from them in Libya and came back home herself.

Somebody helped her. Some of the girls that went with my sister died when they went for abortion. The madam was wicked. Her boys even broke her hand before she came. She was so sick we thought maybe she had contracted AIDS. There were a lot of marks on her body.

The government

Abike Dabiri, Chairperson, House of Reps committee on Diaspora

This is a national embarrassment. We have a case of young girls within 13 years and above, in various jails in Libya and Morocco. Some are pregnant and having their babies in prison. Still, they use them for prostitution. The authorities are clamping down on them and putting them in jails. And they are saying they want to go home.

We have met with the Oba of Benin and the governor on the need to educate the people, and in terms of rehabilitating repatriated girls respectively. Even from our conversations with the girls, they didn’t go without the support of their mothers. They go with the knowledge of their families. No matter how bad it is, we should not send our girls into prostitution.

We know that government has to do its job of providing infrastructure and all that, but no matter how bad it is, there is no justification for mothers to send their daughters into prostitution.

Adams Oshiomole, Governor of Edo State

I think we need all our senses and less emotion to deal with this issue. No country changes because its citizens perfect the act of lamentation. Nigeria is in trouble; I do not regard this as Edo problem. It does not matter if majority of the young girls are of Edo State origin. The basic fact is that they are Nigerians. And they are a federal responsibility.

The federal government has a responsibility to any Nigerian stranded outside the country. Foreign relations are exclusively a federal matter. The federal government controls over 51 per cent of our national income. It is about protecting the right of citizens. The first thing is to halt this and put an end to what is becoming a tradition; that people sell their children.

The second challenge is getting those who have migrated back home from continuing prostitution when they get back home. We have to look at this, in the medium and long term, how to get these girls meaningfully engaged. We are not going to wish poverty away. Both the federal, state and local governments must look into this. We have to sustain this campaign.

Adefunke Abiodun, Head, Benin zone office of NAPTIP (which covers Edo and Delta States)

We were set up in July 2004. That same year in December, we secured a conviction against a trafficker. The six girls that the trafficker was carrying were rehabilitated. One of them is now a staff with NAPTIP. We’ve had eight other convictions and 12 cases are pending. We work with overseas partners because in their countries, they have a lot of Nigerians—young girls from this state—and they constitute a nuisance.

NAPTIP is not against migration or emigration. We are against human trafficking, which is modern-day slavery. Taking the proceeds of someone’s prostitution is inhuman. We go to their homes to counsel their parents, ask them to accept their daughters back. These young girls have merely taken the bull by the horns to say ‘Well, there is nothing in Nigeria for me.

I want to go out... whatever it costs.’ Once you see that kind of thing, you know that the government has a responsibility. It is not easy tracking down traffickers because these girls feel that those who traffic them are actually doing them a favour.

It may be their family members, their boyfriends... people close to them. Those who have been really maltreated by their madams know better.

Related story: Video - Documentary on human trafficking between Nigeria and Italy 

Video - Part 2 of documentary on human trafficking between Nigeria and Italy 

Unplanned pregnancies on the rise among Nigerian young women

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Nigerians in China

After the death of a Nigerian during an immigration raid in Guangzhou, China that incited the first ever protest by foreign nationals in the country in July of this year. Reuters has published an article examining the immigration struggle of Africans in China.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the article:

"They don't like black people to stay in China any more. They want us to go," said Frank, one of the Nigerians at the protest on July 15 that was filmed by witnesses.

"They treat us like animals," added Frank, an illegal overstayer, who wouldn't give his name for fear of reprisals.

The spontaneous protest -- a rare direct confrontation between foreigners and authorities in China -- is a vivid reminder of the challenges faced by Beijing's stability-obsessed Communist Party as it engages with the world and builds up trade links abroad.

In the past few years, tens of thousands of African and Arab traders have thronged to export hubs like Guangzhou and Yiwu in eastern China to seek their fortunes -- sourcing cheap China-made goods back home to massive markups in a growing, lucrative trade.

But just as mass Chinese immigration abroad has fanned recent social tensions in Africa and other places, the influx of large numbers of foreigners, particularly Africans, into China is altering the social fabric of cities like Guangzhou and proving a headache to authorities.

While this rising tide of foreigners has brought vast economic gains, the edgy cosmopolitanism of melding cultures and liberal ideals has been laced with racial and social tensions, along with the problem of illegal overstayers resorting to crime.

"While most black people are engaged in valuable trading activities, others are staying illegally, working without valid permits or smuggling," said Peng Peng, the research director of the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, a provincial thinktank.

"How to manage this is becoming a very big problem."

Some neighbourhood committees bar Africans from living in residential complexes, while Internet forums such as Tianya buzz with heated, at times xenophobic, discussions of "black person" issues in the city.

"A lot of Chinese don't like Africans, but there's nothing we can do. They're flooding into Guangzhou," wrote one blogger on Tianya. Others blamed the immigrants for problems from drug peddling and petty theft, to the spread of HIV among prostitutes.

In numerous interviews with African traders and illegal overstayers in the city, frustrations at restrictive and inconsistent visa policies have risen, exacerbating the plight of Africans opting to stay on expired visas to keep their businesses flowing, and thereby avoid costly flights home and back again.

"It's very rough," said Emeka Ven Chukwu, a 30-year-old Nigerian based in Guangzhou. "It's been happening for a long time. Even before the Olympics, it has been very difficult to extend (visas)."

Resentment towards the police has also grown amid the recent spate of overnight raids and perceptions of corruption.

"They just want to arrest you, collect money, then arrest you again," said Paul Omoshola, a Nigerian businessman in Guangzhou.

Visa extensions, seen as critical for traders and fixers to stay beyond the usual 30-day visa period -- while difficult to obtain through official channels -- can be arranged relatively easily through Chinese agents for large fees of $2,000 (1,200 pounds) upwards.

Ademola Oladele, a spokesman at the Nigerian Embassy in Beijing, noted the need for authorities to crack down on illegal overstayers. But he also expressed concern at the recent police raid that sparked such anger among hundreds of Nigerians.

"If there is any clamping down on illegal immigrants it's fine. That's their law. But it should not be done in an inhumane way or a way that could affect a life," said Oladele.


Sino-Africa trade exceeded the $100 billion mark last year, a jump of 45 percent on the year before, fuelled at one end by China's demand for Africa's energy and natural resources, and Africa's love of cheap Chinese goods at the other.

Despite all the problems facing Africans hoping to lay deeper roots in Guangzhou, securing short-term visas for events like the Canton Fair, Asia's top trade fair, is comparatively easy.

"It's a piece of cake," said Nampewo Sylivia, a young single businesswoman from Uganda happily browsing clumps of wigs made from real and fake hair at the Canaan Wholesale Trading Centre.

"It's still far easier to get a China visa than an American one," she added.

While African traders say business has fallen sharply this year given a slump in African demand during the downturn and sliding exchange rates, many remain drawn to China's potential.

"China produces nearly everything that you need in the world, said Omoshola, the Nigerian trader who was also at the protest.

"We are still here doing business," he added.

For the article in its entirety please check it out here

Related stories: Nigerian executed in China

Video report of Nigerians rioting in China

Friday, August 21, 2009

Video report on Nigeria promoting marriage between HIV couples to prevent spread of the virus

Nigeria's latest attempt to combat the spread of HIV is to promote marriage between HIV positive couples. According to the United Nations Nigeria has the third largest HIV population in the world.

Related stories: Nigeria ranks second in the world in HIV infected countries

Unplanned pregnancies on the rise among Nigerian young women

Man sets Pregnant Wife on Fire

The 25-year old pregnant woman named Chibuzor managed to tell her father, Mr. Samuel Obioha the reason she was burnt alive by her husband before she died from her sustained injuries.

She told her father that it all started when she answered a phone call meant for her husband Nnamdi Obioha Amadi.

"She also told me that when her husband noticed her reaction because the call came from his girl friend, he took offence and both of them exchanged words and her husband started beating her up", Mr. Obioha said.

According to Mr. Obioha, Amadi emptied a bottle of petrol on her, set her on fire, then jumped out of the room and locked her inside.

It was gathered that when Amadi saw the flames of fire coming from the room, he unlocked the door and his pregnant wife ran out and cried for help but she had already sustained fatal injuries before the door was unlocked.

Neighbours made frantic efforts to save Chibuzor's life but her husband allegedly refused to give anyone his car key to rush her to the hospital.

The Imo State Police Command in Nigeria spread its dragnet across the country in order to arrest Nnamdi Obioha Amadi.


Related story: 50 year old man beheads his wife

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Nigerian bank spends 5 Million Naira on Scholarships for 100 students

The Intercontinental Bank spent N5 million on scholarships for about 100 students from Katsina state studying in various higher institutions across Nigeria.

Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Dr. Erastus Akingbola issued the cheques to the state government and said each beneficiary would get N50,000 a year until they finish their studies.

According to Dr. Akinbola, the gesture was the bank's way of partnering with state governments towards enhancing access to quality education.

Governor Ibrahim Shema thanked the bank for partnering with the state to develop the sector, and said that his administration made the sector its priority to ensure continuity in developmental efforts.

The Governor said the state had exceeded the United Nation's 25 percent appropriation to the sector, as it allocated about 28 percent of its annual budget to education alone, adding that the emphasis on the sector was because no society could develop without investing in the education sector.

The state renders free services to students and pays the examination fees for students in secondary schools according to Governor Shema. It had also constructed 102 secondary schools across the 34 council areas of the state in the last two years, adding that more structures were under way as part of the effort to ensure that children in the state got access to quality education for a better tomorrow.

This Day

Related story: Nigerian Philanthropist gives 5,000 students scholarships

Firm plans to use Solar Power to Light up Nigeria

A leading Pan-African technology service called Private Networks Nigeria Limited (PNN) has announced plans and ability to provide 100% visibility in Nigeria through the use of solar powered lights that will help solve the electricity crisis currently in Nigeria.

PNN Head of Business Development Uche Anajemba said at a news conference this past Monday that her company's decision to power the country through solar powered lights was spurred by non availability of constant electricity supply in most parts of Nigeria where business activities grind to a halt during the day and also makes it hard for citizens to move around at night.

According to Uche Anajemba this is the reason PNN has been involved in the development of solar power as a cheaper, more cost effective, reliable and durable alternative for the provision of street lights:

"Due to the non-availability of constant power supply for street lights and continue failings of various alternative street lighting products being deployed across Nigeria, PNN spent over 2 years in the research and development of a solar powered lighting technology that is cost effective, reliable and durable for keeping our streets lit at all times. We are lighting up Nigeria by deploying our unique solar street light to various places to ensure all our streets are well lit 100% of the time." She said.

Uche Anajemba said "solar powered street lights are a very good example of what can be done with solar energy as they present the perfect and cost-effective solution for metropolitan, urban and residential streets, car parking lots, security lights, and other general area lighting applications. PNN Solar street lighting solution can be economically viable and efficient in a number of applications, especially in areas where the cost of providing electricity is expensive or problematic".

Daily Trust

Related stories: Nation in Darkness

Nigerians face more electricity blackouts as Militants blow up gas plant

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pete Edochie shares his experience of being kidnapped

Nollywood star Pete Edochie was released by his abductors yesterday after he was kidnapped on Sunday. He said "no one should pray to have that type of experience."

Pete Edochie said he did not pay his abductors anything to be freed and did not lose anything either, not even his mobile phone. He did not know where he was taken or where he was dropped off by his abductors:

"All I know is that I was able to pick a cab that took me to a hotel in Awka."They told me they had no business kidnapping me at all. They did not manhandle me. They did not blindfold me, they did not gag me. They did not hack me. They did not tie me as they said I was their father.

"And somehow they knew a lot about me that I am good to people and that I assist people, particularly, the down-trodden. They did not hide their faces and discussed freely with me.

"They bought me some drinks, made sure I did not 'get alchoholically dry'. You know as an individual, if you find yourself in a situation like that under siege, you complicate your situation if you experience internal alcoholic drought. But I was praying in my heart.

"So, by the grace of God they lubricated my system and at the same time encouraged me to feel the pulse of their heart.

Pete Edochie said crime would be reasonably checked if the government could set up facilities to take care of unemployed youths like in developed countries. He noted that his kidnappers were young graduates who were unemployed and were looking for any means to survive.

Daily Trust

Related stories: Nollywood star Pete Edochie Kidnapped

American doctor kidnapped in Nigeria sympathizes with his abductors

Chinese threaten to flee Nigeria if their safety can not be guaranteed

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Nigerian Banks

CNN reports on how the Nigerian government is attempting to prevent an economic meltdown by going after troubled banks that have been suffering from chronic mismanagement.

Related story: CNBC covers investment in Nigeria

Monday, August 17, 2009

Nollywood star Pete Edochie Kidnapped

Pete Edochie's son, Uche Edochie, confirmed that his father was travelling by car with family members this past weekend when armed robbers stopped them at Nkpor Village in Onitsha and kidnapped him.  "Our family is still in shock, and making attempts to contact the police; there is no handbook on what to do when your fathers is kidnapped," he said over the telephone in an interview with Leadership.

related stories: Kidnapping culture in Nigeria on the rise

Pete Edochie shares his experience of being kidnapped

American doctor kidnapped in Nigeria sympathizes with his abductors

512 kidnappings in Nigeria this year

Wole Soyinka says Nigeria is becoming a Failed State

Over the weekend, Wole Soyinka appeared on a current affairs show in Edo state in which he criticized the government's amnesty deal with the militants of the Niger Delta, blamed the government for the continued religious crisis facing the country, and how he considers Nigeria is inching closer to becoming a failed state. The entire interview with the Nobel laureate below:

The raging issue today is amnesty for Niger Delta militants. Is that the way out of the Niger Delta crisis?

We have a little problem there with the amnesty. Many people are upset with the word, amnesty . The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) for instance, sees it as the term applicable to criminals or somebody who have been convicted and they insist that they are liberation fighters.

If you read most of their releases or communiqué, you find that they are interested in the larger picture of Nigeria. So, the word terrorists, they reject.

In South Africa, the Apartheid government labeled Nelson Mandela terrorist, Jomo Keyata of Kenya was labeled a terrorist and these people became leaders of their countries. The important thing is this: The Federal Government had the opportunity to have resolved the problems of the oil producing areas, a long time ago, now it has led to loss of lives and property and more insecurity in Nigeria and that for me is what really matters.

Is there any end to it at all?

First of all, I think the present government has come to realize that the solution does not lie in the use of force, but force of rationality. But I understand government using the word amnesty to engage in a kind of dialogue, to redefine its status and the motivation of those who felt compelled to take up arms against the federal nation. The militants on the other hand by accepting amnesty also recognize exactly the same thing.

In other words, you endorse the amnesty?

Government seems to have come to realize that the context of the militancy struggle has to do with the fundamental misconstruction of the entity known as the Federal Republic of Nigeria; that is where I think there is a slight problem with the Federal Government because it has not mentioned anything at all about the larger context about the geographical expression called Nigeria.

What is the relationship of the part to the center, and what is the relationship of the part to the entirety? How are issues of revenue derivation going to be resolved? You talk only in the context of one area. Yet this problem affects all of us.

What would you recommend as the solution to all these problems?

Look at the position of the South -South governors in the alleged transfer of the Petroleum University to Kaduna, this is part of the blunders of the Federal Government. Why do you complicate matters and turn round to isolate one problem and think you will proffer solution. In other words, government is still not thinking comprehensively.

The South- South people are from minority tribes and the governors met in Asaba to chart a course and there was no solidarity from other parts of the country. When MEND struck in Lagos, you said property belonged to the Federal Government and condemned their action, OPC also rebuked them. What informed your taking that position if you hold these views?

OPC is a state organization. I do not accept their statement and I expect the elders to look at the issues holistically and in any case there was a problem before between the Ijaws, Ilajes in the past, we expect historical recollection, so you don't trigger off bad memories. So objectively speaking then it was not an ethnic issue.

The struggle of MEND is simply PRONACO by other means. In other words, we talk about restructuring the entire nation.

It is just that one section bears the consequences of lack of restructuring more brutally than other through years of neglect, poisoning of their fishing ponds, pollution of their environment, and so on. I have been to the entire region on the invitation of different stakeholders, travelled through the creeks, local governments.

So, I can understand that they feel this lack of equitable restructuring more keenly than we do for instance in Abeokuta. Nobody has come to poison my farming land, but one must have the capacity to show empathy to the people. People must recognize some actions when those events actually reflect the aspirations of other parts of the nation.

Is the union of Nigeria waxing stronger or is it being weakened?

I will say it is being weakened. And the union was weakened more in the eight years of Obasanjo than any other time in the history of this country.

How do you mean?

We had the most unrepresentative government, which proceeded to act militarily. In other words, democracy participation, having a voice in your own destiny was simply rubbished. We had one man rule and that one man rule played one group against the other whenever it was convenient.

The religious exacerbation, which we are witnessing today is a result of lack of strong action against the intolerant elements of this nation and this got to a peak in the Obasanjo regime.. Atrocities waged by one group against another on religious ground were not handled firmly and justly. There was too much appeasement and the consequence is what we are witnessing today.

If you appease sections of a community at the expense of the other, you weaken the unified structure completely. So that is another element. We talked about revenue allocation which divided the country. We talked about exacerbation of religious sensibilities in the country and the promotion of ethnicity divides and rule policy.

In all these, the role of the civil society is very important to achieve democracy in this country. But in the last 20 years, just mention them: NADECO, PRONACO and CD. Do you see these groups providing opportunity and hope to achieving an all-inclusive democracy in Nigeria?

I believe so, if only those who are in power listen. Ultimately, responsibility and decision lie with government. Civil Society is critical to the foundation of democracy. People will get together in civil cociety, I will give an example.

PRONACO spends a year in trying to fashion a draft constitution that is people-driven. What did Obasanjo do? First of all, he began his own alternative political conference which was to give him a third term. So, the leadership has never been serious.

They feel threatened when civil society act in the interest of the nation. I am not saying what PRONACO did is a perfect answer. No, but we are part of this country and we have a stake in it. You are very busy managing the country, let civil society give some ideas and treat those ideas with some respect. Don't come with diversion, pretending that you have a solution when in fact your own agenda is a very different one.

Let us take you back to the 'heart beat' of the nation where there is triumph of democracy via judicial improvement. What is your take on that?

Well, for me personally, I am happy to see democracy triumph in Edo State, but democracy has not triumphed in the rest of the nation.

In fact, the game that is being played right now is that; it doesn't matter what you do at elections as long as you are able to force your way into power. You continue through the tribunal, the appeal processes and by the time the appeal processes are over you would have enjoyed the gains of office maybe for two years, three years by which time you have loaded as much as you want.

So, there is a game being played with us. We are being made fools of in this nation and that is why violence will become inevitable sooner or later, when people feel that they are being treated like dirt, that they are being made fools.

In one of your books you wrote 'give me more of Umaka Yam', in our match towards democracy, would you say give me more of Adams Oshiomhiole?

Oh! Very definitely, I have known Adams for quite some time and I like people who are dogged and people who have a vision and I have seen a number of people around him, I have spoken to some people before coming to Benin and there is no question at all. That is, he is heading in the right direction.

In other words, South Africa and Ghana has dwarfed Nigeria in terms of ideals of democracy?

Oh yes! No question at all about that. South Africa after apartheid, Zuma, who so many people don't like is now the President of South Africa. The change over peacefully in Ghana is a best practice to Nigeria and we sit here calling ourselves the giant - a giant with clay feet, in fact, gangrenous feet.

Are you saying there is going to be an implosion in the country?

I don't like to say an implosion but we are heading on a path of a risk. This nation is heading towards what is known as a failed state. It is heading there. That is the direction we are heading.

Father Hassan Kukah responded to your comments about the Obama visit to Ghana?

I feel sad. Kukah is somebody I respect a lot. I feel very sad if he should allow himself to become very sentimental 'uncritically patriotic'.

So, how do we overcome becoming a failed state?

We have, in the course of this interview already touched on part of malaise that would make us not to head there. Perhaps, there should be respect by government for civil society. What is the overt manifestation of that? We have to create structures that guarantee respect of individual potentials.

As long as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Maurice Iwu, this proven failure and collaborator in the electoral malfeasants, as long as he goes around the world parading himself as the ultimate democratic headmaster without any sense of shame at all, then it means the government is not serious about the respect for peoples hope.

I have touched on revenue derivation. We got to sit down and decide whether we are a federal entity or not and that hinges more on principles like revenue derivation.

Will a federal arrangement or confederacy of some sort solve the problem?

Let us look at what we call ourselves now - Federal Government. Is this a federal system where the President will sit down and use a despotic language on his pears - you don't use that kind of arrogant frightening language on your colleague because he is primos interperes (first among equals).

The language the President used on the governor of Lagos State on the number of local governments was totally unacceptable. It was provocative, and unbecoming of the head of a federal government. You are not talking to slaves; you are talking to your equal. The avoidance of these kinds of languages is the beginning of true federalism. We need to start practising what we say we are.

But even more critically, how can one state produce 60 percent of the Value Added Tax of this nation, because we don't talk of oil alone, yet that state cannot decide how it is going to spend that VAT. You generate VAT through non-white collar economy, small, small industries and you can only generate VAT by providing the facilities for them to thrive.

You spend your money on providing and maintaining the facilities so you can sustain the VAT generation. And you insist that VAT must first go to the center? No, no, no. This is not federalism.

What about attitude to religion?

So, we have to sit down in this country to a conference of interests, of classes, of ethnic nationalities. Some of the things we tried to do in PRONACO is to establish some codicils of co-existence, which will include of religious tolerance at the maximum possible level. We want to see a country with churches, temples, shrines all operating with freedom. It is wrong to write off any religion.

If you say Islam is nothing, it means you want to wipe away centuries of human existence. If you say Buddhism is nothing, it means you want to wipe away centuries of human existence and so is Christianity.

But on a very personal note, what religion do you subscribe to?

I believe in freedom of information (general laughter). I was raised in a Christian family, but I became disillusioned with Christianity very early. My first prize I won in an essay competition in secondary school was entitled 'Ideals of an atheist'. I went through that phase when I didn't believe in the existence of any deity.

Now, this does not mean even at that time that I did not believe in spirituality. I believe that there is a dimension to human beings.

There is awareness larger than our capabilities as mortals and for me that is a very positive thing. So, these days, I no longer call myself an atheist. I just say I believe in humanity. And I believe there is something bigger in human beings. So what you conceive as bigger than yourself is real for you. So, that reality can be made a communal.

And that reality has a better meaning for me in the traditional religion and that is why you find me invoking traditional Oritse (in Yoruba). I appreciate the equivalent in Igbo, Edo. So, all of us are trying to have that expression that is larger for ourselves. That is what I call spirituality.

So, the idea of paradise, hell, heaven purgatory...

(Cuts in) they are all here! You better make people to be aware of it.

What happens when we die?

Your brain ceases to function.

There is no other metaphysical explanation to that?

As a place you go to after death? Me, I have already been through hell here (general laughter)... I doubt if there is any other one outside.

I thought we saw that in 'The Man Died' and 'The Lost Generation'?

Let me tell you what I consider immortality. My expression of immortality is the future. In other words, immortality is expressed in the younger generations and the works that we produce in any field whatsoever. Immortality exists in the enhancement in the quality of existence_ the development of the human being in all spheres.

How would you want to be remembered?

I think that is the wahala of you people (general laughter). I will be gone.

So what will be your message for Edo people?

Well, take advantage of what you have right now. Also be on your guard. We must never let our guards down. For those who are intelligent, power benefits by criticisms.

You dress without ties, no suit and it is not western?

I dress comfortably. (Laughter)


Related stories:

Video - Christiane Amanpour talks to Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka on CNN's special African Voices

Nigerian Legend Wole Soyinka on Democracy

Nigeria ranked 15th in the 2009 index of failed states in the world

Friday, August 14, 2009

Boko Haram Declare Total Jihad in Nigeria

The Islamic group Boko Haram released a statement in which the group threaten to Islamise the whole of Nigeria. In what seems to be a declaration of war on Nigeria, Boko Haram threaten to unleash terror in the Southern Nigeria this August, beginning with the bombing of Lagos, Ibadan, and Enugu.

Here is the statement by Boko Haram as reproduced by Vanguard:


For the first time since the Killing of Mallam Mohammed Yusuf, our leader, we hereby make the following statements.

1) That we have started a Jihad in Nigeria which no force on earth can stop. The aim is to Islamise Nigeria and ensure the rule of the majority Muslims in the country. We will teach Nigeria a lesson, a very bitter one.

2) That from the Month of August, we shall carry out series of bombing in Southern and Northern Nigerian cities, beginning with Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu and Port Harcourt. The bombing will not stop until Sharia and Western Civilisation is wiped off from Nigeria. We will not stop until these evil cities are tuned into ashes.

3) That we shall make the country ungovernable, kill and eliminate irresponsible political leaders of all leanings, hunt and gun down those who oppose the rule of Sharia in Nigeria and ensure that the infidel does not go unpunished.

4) We promise the West and Southern Nigeria, a horrible pastime. We shall focus on these areas which is the devil empire and has been the one encouraging and sponsoring Western Civilisation into the shores of Nigeria.

5) We call on all Northerners in the Islamic States to quit the follower ship of the wicked political parties leading the country, the corrupt, irresponsible, criminal, murderous political leadership, and join the struggle for Islamic Society that will be corruption free, Sodom free, where security will be guaranteed and there will be peace under Islam.

6) That very soon, we shall stir Lagos, the evil city and Nigeria's South West and South East, in a way no one has ever done before. Al Hakubarah


Mallam Sanni Umaru

Acting Leader Boko Haram

Signed: August 09, 2009


Related stories: Video and transcript of Boko Haram leader Mohammed Yusuf interrogated before his execution

Video report on the widows of Boko Haram

Family of executed Boko Haram leader threaten to Sue Police

Nigerians face more electricity blackouts as Militants Blow Up Gas Plant

Suspected militants blew up the Utorogu Gas Plant in Delta state yesterday. This latest incident has caused a set-back in the current amnesty deal between Nigerian militants in the Niger Delta and the Nigerian government and has also worsened Nigeria's capability of producing electricity.

The Utorogu Gas Plant operated by Shell Petroleum Development Company supplied 300mm standard cubic feet of gas which was equivalent to 1,000 megawatts of electricity. Now that the plant has been shut down, power generation in Nigeria has dropped to 1,400 megawatts while the country needs about 6000 megawatts for stable power supply.

The Egbin plant in Lagos has also been affected by this latest incident. The plant which is capable of producing 1,320 megawatts had actually been producing just close to 600 megawatts, but will now lose about 400 megawatts due to the what happened to the Utorogu Gas Plant.

The Utorogu Gas plant and Chevron's Escravos Gas plant are the two major sources of gas supply to the Nigerian Gas Company which supplies gas to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria for the generation of electricity across the country.

The goal put in place by the Nigerian government to increase Nigeria's electricity supply to 6000 megwatts by the end of the year is now unattainable.

The Power Ministry Spokesperson, Mrs. Olubunmi Badejo, who confirmed the attacks said the incident may lead to a drop in generation capacity by about 1,000mw:

"Nigeria currently generates between 2,200 and 2,400mw, but this ugly development, which affected the only major source of gas, means a further reduction in generating capacity.

"The Utorogu gas plant in Warri was blasted in the early hours of today (yesterday). The plant was shut down at 04:12 hours. Our team in the company of the Joint Task Force has gone to assess the damage to proffer fastest repair options. The ministry will keep you informed about further developments," She said.

The General Manager of Public Affairs at the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Mrs. Efuru Igbo, said the incident would result in about 500mw reduction from the current generating capacity. She released this statement:

"The Management of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria regrets to inform the general public that just as the nation had started recording improvement in the supply of electricity, it received notice from the Nigerian Gas Company on Thursday, 13th August 2009 to further reduce output from the Egbin Power Station. According to NGC, this was caused by vandalism of the Utorogu pipeline, which supplies gas to the Egbin Power Station.

"The disruption means a further reduction in generation capacity from the station of about 500 megwatts. It is on record that due to gas supply limitation. Sapele Power Station has been shut down since November 2008, while Geregu, Omotosho and Olosunsogo Power Stations are similarly affected. In the circumstance, we are appealing to our esteemed customers, the media and other stakeholders for understanding and continued support as the NGC has assured us of immediate repairs. We promise to keep you informed of further developments and assure of our determination for a sustainable power supply to the nation."

This Day

Related story: Nation in Darkness

Deji Badmus reports on electricity crisis in Nigeria