CNN's Christian Purefoy talks to Nigerians about the rising unrest around the country.
Related stories: Nigerian militants end truce in Niger Delta oil region
CNN's Christian Purefoy talks to Nigerians about the rising unrest around the country.
Related stories: Nigerian militants end truce in Niger Delta oil region
Justice Abimbola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Gudu, Abuja, on Thursday ordered that Victor Osita Uwajeh, arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for forgery and impersonation, to be remanded in prison.
The court also fixed of February 9 for the adoption of written submissions and hearing of the bail application in the case brought against him by the anti-graft agency.
Uwajeh was arraigned on a four-count charge of forgery and for parading himself as a staff of the EFCC with the intent to defraud unsuspecting members of the public.
A statement by EFCC spokesman, Femi Babafemi, said Uwajeh's offence contravenes section 363 of the Penal Code Act Cap 532 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990, adding that it is punishable under section 364 of the same Act.
The statement explained that when the matter came up in court, Uwajeh pleaded not guilty to the charges, adding that soon after he took his plea, counsel to EFCC, Mike Bul, asked the court to fix a date for hearing of the case as the commission has enough evidence to prosecute the matter.
Attempts by defence counsel, Chris Onwugeonu, to move for bail was unsuccessful as the presiding judge turned down the request.
According to Banjoko, bail application was not ripe as the prosecuting counsel is statutorily entitled to 48 hours to respond, having just been served the application in court.
It will be recalled that Uwajeh was arrested at his Wuse II, Abuja, residence on January 13 following an intelligence report indicating that he was parading himself as an official of EFCC.
His arrest led to the recovery of incriminating items.
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The main rebel group in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta says it is ending the ceasefire it declared last October.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said it did not believe the government would restore control of resources to local people.
Mend has demanded that residents be given a greater share in profits from oil resources and land.
It warned oil companies to prepare for what it called an all-out onslaught against installations and personnel.
In a statement announcing the end of the ceasefire, Mend said that the decision had been taken "after careful consideration and extensive consultation".
"All companies related to the oil industry in the Niger Delta should prepare for an all-out onslaught," it went on.
"Nothing will be spared," it added.
Militants have carried out a series of attacks which have cost Nigeria millions in lost revenue over the years.
The attacks have meant that facilities in the area have been unable to work beyond two-thirds capacity, costing $1bn a month in lost revenue.
Despite the ceasefire, one Mend faction attacked a pipeline in December, saying it was a "warning strike" over what it called government delays in progressing with peace talks.
Talks have been held up by the long absence of President Umaru Yar'Adua in Saudi Arabia, where he has been undergoing medical treatment.
Related stories: MEND resumes attacks
The queen of Nollywood Genevieve Nnaji stars along side Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde in IJE The Journey. Director Chineze Anyaene takes Nollywood in the right direction with IJE showing respectable production values.
IJE tells a tale of Chioma, a child growing up in the Nigerian countryside, who warned her restless sister, Anya, about the trappings of the American Dream. Now ten years later, Anya is accused of killing three men in a Hollywood Hills mansion—one of them her record producer-husband. Chioma travels from Nigeria to Los Angeles, and with the help of a young, unproven attorney, discovers that the dark secret her sister wants to keep hidden might be the only thing that can win her freedom.
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Ghana have booked their place in the Africa Cup of Nations final for the first time in 18 years after beating west African rivals Nigeria 1-0 in Luanda on Thursday.
The Super Eagles controlled large parts of the semifinal, but were unable to find a goal after Asamoah Gyan had given Ghana the lead midway through the first half.
The Nigerians have been far from convincing in this tournament, bar perhaps the 3-0 win over Mozambique in the group stages, and they could not turn that poor form around against a young, inexperienced Ghana side who appeared to be living off adrenalin alone.
These are heady days for Black Stars fans, with the juniors having won the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt recently, and the senior team having first sealed World Cup qualification in South Africa, and now a place in the final of the continental championship.
Ghana saw little possession in the early stages of tonight’s semifinal, but were ahead on 21 minutes. A Kwadwo Asamoah corner was curled to the near post and Gyan stole in ahead of his marker to nod the ball home.
Nigeria should have been level seven minutes later as Peter Odemwingie tried his luck from 35 yards out. But he succeeded only in hitting it straight at Obafemi Martins, who controlled brilliantly just inside the area but could not beat Richard Kingson in the Ghana goal despite having the time and space to pick his spot.
Odemwingie then missed a fairly simple headed chance, before shooting wide when well placed as Nigeria began to create some clear-cut openings.
It was then Martins' turn to miss two further chances, first completing a “fresh air” shot after John Obi Mikel's cushioned header, and then finding the out-stretched right arm of Kingson as he was put clean through on goal.
Elderson Echiejile drove a ball across the box, but it hit Yakubu Aiyegbeni on the thigh right in front of goal and went wide, with the Everton man having no chance to control it despite having the goalmouth at his mercy.
Yakubu and Martins both had chances behind the Ghana defence, but the Super Eagles’ frustration mounted as they repeatedly failed to get a shot away from inside the six-yard box.
Ghana proved able to ride the wave of pressure and deservedly booked their place in Sunday's final, while Nigeria will have to be content with a place in the third-place play-off on Saturday.
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The 2010 Global Monitoring Report (GMR) of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which revealed that about 92 per cent of the Nigerian population survive on less than $2 daily, while about 71 per cent survive on less than $1 daily, is a major embarrassment for the supposed 'Giant of Africa.'
Interestingly, the report, entitled 'Reaching for the marginalized,' came against the backdrop of fears earlier expressed by many concerned individuals and organizations, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that unless urgent steps are taken by Nigeria and other African countries, they will not meet the 2015 target date for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger is Goal No.1 of the development strategy produced under the umbrella of the United Nations to enable member countries, especially the developing countries, to reduce the poverty rate by at least 50 per cent in 2015.
Sadly, current indices show that Nigeria and most countries in Africa are not even moving in the direction of achieving the MDGs by the set target date.
That Nigeria, with its enormous resources and potentials, is sitting 20th among the world's poorest countries, is to say the least disgusting.
The truth is that there is, indeed, widespread poverty in the land, and the consequences of this to the development of the nation have been grave.
Nigeria moved from a per capita GDP of US$1,200 in 1981, to about US$300 in 2000 with about 70 percent of its population falling below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.
Considering that nothing much has changed development-wise in the country since then, the latest report would not have come as a surprise to many, except government officials, who dissipate more energy denying the obvious than they expend on addressing the frightening problem of poverty.
Indeed, most of governments' poverty alleviation programmes, which receive billions of naira in grants and allocation, have been roundly criticized as mere direct transfers of cash to politically selected beneficiaries.
As a result of large scale corruption, the quality of life of most Nigerians has been progressively on the decline.
While the generality of Nigerians continue to wallow in abject poverty, however, a privileged few, live in opulence.
Poverty has, indeed, become the face of Nigeria and poses a serious threat to the development of the country.
Although poverty is more acute in rural areas where the people hardly have access to any basic infrastructure, city dwellers, especially those who live in urban slums, still grapple with this unfortunate situation.
Going by the UNESCO latest report, it is clear that Nigeria is still very far from meeting the global economic development target.
The situation is so bleak that an average salary earner cannot earn enough to support a family because of rising cost of food items, transportation, healthcare, among numerous other challenges.
Added to this, is the fact that the material condition of women, who comprise 50 percent of the population, is even worse than that of men.
The well being of women in general, including their education, and active participation in political activities, has been so neglected over the years that the few concessions being made to them now, have not been enough to make any difference.
While government officials may continue to kick against these statistics by international organizations, the basic fact is that the quality of life of most Nigerians has been on the downward trend. The rising poverty level is the consequence of mass unemployment and corrupt leadership, which denies the people access to basic infrastructure such as roads, potable water, electricity, healthcare among others.
This may well explain the alarming level of insecurity and crime in the country, leading to high incidences of kidnapping, political violence, sectarian violence as well as prostitution and child trafficking.
We acknowledge that one way out of poverty is not to indulge in these vices. We, however, stress that government must take seriously, the saying that an idle mind is the devil's workshop.
Our youths must be trained and be engaged in productive ventures for the benefit of the nation. In doing this, girl-child education must be given serious attention, since a nation that ignores the potentials of its female population is obviously planning to fail.
To reduce the poverty level in Nigeria to the barest minimum, government should, as a matter of urgency, work towards the diversification of the country's economy, to reduce dependence on oil revenue, especially in the face of the current global financial crisis.
There must be more investments in intensive mechanized agriculture just as efforts should be made to develop small scale and medium scale enterprises, which are important for the growth of the economy.
There should, also, be credible elections where people will be free to choose their leaders. The war on corruption, which at the moment, seems to have slowed down must be fought more vigorously.
Mass literacy programmes must be embarked upon since education is a potent weapon against poverty.
Above all, government must create the enabling environment for business to thrive.
Nigeria, with its enormous resources, has no business making the poverty list. The gap between the rich and the poor should not be as wide as it has continued to be, in the interest of all.
Related stories: Poverty rate dropes in Nigeria
On Monday, both the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike, and the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Abdurahman Dambazau, warned military personnel not to plot a coup d'etat against President Umaru Yar'Adua, whose health condition Senators will debate today.
Dike pledged at the commissioning of the Nigerian Army Forward Operational Base in Abuja that the military under his leadership will stick to its constitutional role of defending Nigeria's territorial integrity without meddling in politics.
He said reports that the military seeks to take over governance because of Yar'Adua's poor health and incapacitation are not true.
His words: "I am compelled to remind everyone of the constitutional role of the Armed Forces, which is primarily anchored on the protection of Nigeria's territorial integrity. Meddling in political issues does not complement our constitutional role in any way, shape or form.
"I therefore warn all members of the Armed Forces to steer clear of politics. Ours is a military that is mindful of its past, conscious of its present, and hopeful of the future. The Nigerian Armed Forces will therefore not depart from their chosen path of honour.
"I urge all of you to remain focused and committed to the service of our fatherland. We must always remind ourselves that politics is better played by politicians.
"Also, I must not fail to stress that regardless of the imperfection of our political experiments, democracy remains the only acceptable form of governance. And as members of the Nigerian Armed Forces, we must defend it at all costs."
Dambazau also told military officers to beware of politicians who may want to use them to fan the embers of disunity.
"We want to state categorically that, in the Nigerian Army, our religion is espirit de corps while our tribe is the military profession, and our training has placed us above primordial sentiments. The barracks is not a political battlefield, and our soldiers are not tools to be used for creating disunity," he stressed.
He affirmed the Army's commitment to its constitutional responsibilities and to contribute meaningfully to the entrenchment of democracy.
"We have said repeatedly that, the subsisting democratic environment in the country today gives us a lot of advantage in the pursuance of professionalism.
"Let me remind all officers and soldiers of the Nigerian Army to remain loyal to constituted authorities, and be wholly committed to their constitutional responsibilities, and be apolitical at all times."
Dambazau exonerated the Army from the carnage in Jos, in which soldiers are accused of genocide, and warned the sponsors of violence countrywide to have a re-think in the interest of the nation.
He warned that Nigeria should not push its luck too far as any crisis that will make the United Nations to send in peace keepers will likely spell doom for the country.
"The Nigerian Army has in recent times noted with dismay some of the unnecessary, unwarranted, and inflammatory comments, statements, and utterances in some quarters capable of creating a sense of insecurity and dragging us back to the dark days of our nation's history.
"We are equally aware of the attempt by some people to drag the Army, which has remained neutral but absolutely committed to the survival of our nascent democracy, into the political affairs of this country.
"We also noted that some persons, who apparently do not value peace, are hell bent on creating disaffection between the military and the public, particularly with reference to the Jos crisis. Of course, we can safely assume that such persons find it impossible to commit other atrocities whenever we deploy to keep the peace, hence their frustration.
"Lest we forget, the military was swift and decisive in containing the Boko Haram debacle, and will therefore not hesitate to equally deal decisively with any form of mayhem whenever the need arises."
Dambazau said it is imperative that "the trouble makers in our midst," a negligible few, are not allowed to promote anarchy and their personal interest at the expense of the collective national interest and public order.
This is most important, he added, especially because experiences in peacekeeping operation have shown that at the end of it all, it is the poor, the elderly, women, and children who are the victims of such crises.
He reiterated that the military has made a lot of sacrifices for Nigeria's peace and stability, and will continue to maintain its neutral status, despite efforts to discourage that "through the campaigns of calumny recently experienced."
He noted that the military has seen the extent to which ethnic and religious crises ravaged many countries the world over.
"We participated in post-conflict stabilisation in many of such countries, we do not pray that we reverse the position in which citizens of other countries are sent to Nigeria for peace support operations.
"The Nigerian Army urges all stakeholders in our national affairs to eschew violence and promote peace and tranquility in Nigeria. This advice is borne out of our experiences of the consequences visited on countries that have gone through crisis lately."
Danbazau maintained that soldiers deployed in Jos are not given the order to shoot at anyone but maintain the peace.
"I have not received a mandate to enforce peace in Jos but only to maintain peace. We got directives to enforce peace during the Boko Haram crisis, and that was why we had to use minimal force in quelling the uprising.
"In the case of Jos, we were not given a mandate to enforce peace, so I can tell you authoritatively that no soldier deployed in Jos has fired a single shot at anybody. We have rules of engagement and we are sticking to them religiously."
In Abuja today, Senators will meet behind closed doors to deliberate on Yar'Adua's health and his continued absence from duty, 64 days after he was flown to Saudi Arabia for treatment.
They are expected to decide whether to issue a deadline to Yar'Adua to comply with Section 145 of the Constitution or transmit a letter to enable Vice President Goodluck Jonathan act in his absence.
Last Friday, the Abuja Federal High Court ordered the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to "deliberate within 14 days, consider and pass a resolution in accordance with Section 144 of the Constitution, whether the President is capable of discharging the functions of his office."
Daily Independent reported on Monday that Yar'Adua's loyalists are scrambling for a strategy to skirt the order.
It was the day his National Assembly (NASS) Adviser, Mohammed Aba-Aji, denied receiving any letter from the Villa for passage to lawmakers.
However, Northern Governors Forum (NGF) Chairman, Governor Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, has blamed the rotational arrangement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the vacuum in Aso Rock.
He cautioned those clamouring for the implementation of the party's constitution instead of the Nigerian Constitution, and warned of danger if the PDP toys with the future of Nigerians by its failure to respect the Nigerian Constitution.
He reminded them that the Nigerian Constitution is above the PDP constitution.
Said he: "Rotation is not in the Nigerian Constitution, it is only in the constitution of the PDP, and the Nigerian Constitution is very specific in solving the immediate problem we have on our hands today, which states that when the President is not there, the Vice President should take over.
"There is no rotation of the Presidency or any elective position in Nigerian Constitution, except as contained in the constitution of the PDP, which is only a political party.
"Therefore the portion of the Nigeria Constitution which stipulates that the Vice President should take over affairs in the absence of the President should be allowed to take its course."
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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made scathing remarks on Nigeria's corruption and bad governance at a town hall meeting at the State Department in Washington, DC on Tuesday.
Answering a question from a departmental contractor, she described conditions in Nigeria as deteriorating.
"The corruption is unbelievable," she said. "When I did a town hall [meeting in August 2009] in Abuja, people were just literally standing and shouting about what it was like to live in a country where the elite was so dominant, where corruption was so rampant, where criminality was so pervasive."
Nigeria used to have a very high rate of literacy, she added, but in recent years illiteracy was growing and statistics measuring health were declining.
"The failure of the Nigerian leadership over many years to respond to the legitimate needs of their own young people, to have a government that promoted a meritocracy, that really understood that democracy can't just be given lip service, it has to be delivering services to the people, has meant there is a lot of alienation in that country and others."
The town hall meeting in Washington was held to mark the first anniversary of clinton's term of office as President Barack Obama's Secretary of State.
She suggested that poor governance and deteriorating living conditions had made young Nigerians ripe targets for militants looking for recruits to attack the West.
"Nigeria is facing a threat from increasing radicalization that needs to be addressed, and not just by military means."
Clinton had been asked about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who is being held for allegedly trying to blow up an airliner carrying 300 passengers to the U.S. on Christmas Day. The Al Qaeda group in the Arabian peninsula claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for U.S. strikes on Yemeni soil.
Clinton said the U.S. government's information was that Abdulmutallab was disturbed by "his father's wealth and the kind of living conditions that he viewed as being not Islamic enough..."
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President Umaru Yar'adua's controversial two-month stay in a Saudi Arabian hospital will shortly come to an end when he returns to the country later this week, most likely on Friday, Daily Trust learnt from senior officials in Abuja and Jeddah last night.
The sources said elaborate arrangements have been made for the president's return, including a facelift of his office at the State House.
Sources said in Jeddah said Nigerian diplomatic officials there have been running around in recent days making final preparations for the president's impending departure. Although the officials said Yar'adua's health has improved a lot, it was not clear whether his impending return was hastened by increasing political pressure at home, including the two-week deadline given to the Federal Executive Council by Chief Judge of the Federal High Court Justice Dan Abutu to take a position on the president's ability to discharge his duties.
Incidentally, the Senate will tomorrow hold a crucial debate on the relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution and take a final position on the ill health of President Umaru Musa Yar'adua, which has kept him out of the country for 62 days today.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze (PDP, Enugu North) told Daily Trust last night that the Senate would check what its powers are under the constitution and invoke the relevant sections to deal with the crisis.
After a closed door meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mahmud Yayale Ahmed last Thursday, Daily Trust gathered that Senate gave a Tuesday deadline to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to come up with a concrete solution to the president's absence or face stiff legislative action.
Some senators have been pushing for activation of Sections 143 or 144 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution which could see the president either impeached for refusal to comply with Section 145 or have his health status investigated. Ahead of the debate, Senate has denied allegations that some members of the National Assembly have been bribed to compromise their stance in the matter. Reacting to reports that some lawmakers have been paid to influence their views during the debate, Chairman Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze (PDP, Enugu North) said the allegation is false and unfounded.
He said, "The Senate cannot be compromised. Besides, there is no issue to contemplate settling anybody, outside the few individuals who have become accustomed to the culture of being settled on every issue."
Eze also said, "This is false and the figment of the fertile minds of some fifth columnists who think that by discrediting the National Assembly, they will have a field day in the polity.
"The Senate, being a responsible institution, is and will always be guided by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I am aware that our constitution has guaranteed certain freedoms, including the information to hold and impart information. But in exercise of these freedoms we must have respect for other people's freedom."
On the proposed debate on the Presidents' health scheduled for tomorrow in the Senate, Eze said every member shall be entitled to his or her opinion "at the end of which we shall base our action on the aggregate view of all senators.
Even then, we shall be guided by the constitution in whatever we shall do or say. I urge Nigerians to be patient and shun self-seeking people who will always exploit every situation for their selfish gains. I have no doubt that some of the views in the papers were sponsored to cause panic and thereby stampede some people to seek out people for settlement."
Related stories: President Yar'adua hospitalized in Saudi Arabia
A former staff of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Adviser to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the development and implementation of the Microfinance Certification Program in the country, Peter van Dijk, has revealed that 60 per cent of Nigerians are under banked.
Dijk, who made this disclosure in his paper "Inclusive Finance and Savings Mobilisation" presented at the 4th Annual Microfinance Conference and Entrepreneurship Awards at the weekend in Abuja advised the Nigerian government to use all the technology and knowledge it has to address the situation and reduce poverty among its citizens.
He said Nigeria has the best and most important precondition to build a sustainable and inclusive financial sector.
The country, Dijk added, has many people who are economically active with an economy of scale needed for an improvement outreach but government is yet to integrate this huge potential into building an inclusive financial sector.
"Nigeria has the resources financially and non financially to make a change" he observed, adding that "You now have to take it into you own hands: integrate the huge potential you have with around 60 per cent of your population still being un-under banked, use all the technology and knowledge you have and build an inclusive financial sector which will help to reduce the poverty among your citizens".
Dijk called on the highest executive level of government and in particular, the Federal Ministry of Finance to rapidly make the National Microfinance Policy a coherent document in the sense of the inclusive definition of microfinance and integrate it into the national financial sector development strategy FSS2020.
Related story: Video - Nigerian banks
After the riots fueled by religious conflict between the Muslim and Christian community that left hundreds dead in Jos. Residents worry about their safety when security provided by the military eventually stops.
Related stories: Resurgence of religious riots in Nigeria
A lot of funny stuff out there on the interwebs, but this definitely takes the cake for now. Rational conclusions for this fellow not to know anything about such pop-culture references are: he just watches The Ten Commandments and a couple of Nollywood movies on his Telly or he doesn't own one. At least, even a Nigerian televangelist thinks the whole midicholorian thing is rubbish.
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Three British oil workers kidnapped in Nigeria have been freed, it has emerged.
The men and a Colombian colleague were seized at gunpoint last Tuesday on their way to work at a plant near Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta.
Nigerian police spokeswoman Rita Inoma-Abbey said the men, contractors working for Shell, were released on Monday night and "all of them look good". She did not say if a ransom had been paid.
Shell was unable to confirm the men had been freed.
A spokesman for the firm said: "We can't confirm it right now - we are looking into it and waiting for word."
The Foreign Office told the BBC it was aware of the reports and was making inquiries.
The men were kidnapped as they travelled by bus to the plant, and an ensuing gunfight left one police officer travelling with the workers dead and another man injured.
They were the first such workers seized from the unstable oil rich region in months.
Militants in the troubled Niger Delta have attacked pipelines, kidnapped petrol company employees and fought government troops since January 2006.
They want the federal government to send more oil industry funds to Nigeria's southern region, which remains poor despite five decades of oil production.
Related stories: Gunmen seize Britons in Nigeria oil city Port Harcourt
The death toll in the crisis that hit Jos, Plateau State last Sunday, has risen to 40. This is as Muslim community in the city said it lost 16 of its members in the riot.
Also the Red Cross confirmed that about 4,000 refugees are now scattered in three refuge camps in the city.
According to a statement by M. S. Mudi on behalf of Jos North Muslim Ummah, over 150 women and children are now in the central mosque taking refuge, with another 35 receiving treatment, as a result of the attack by some youths.
Meanwhile, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) has condemned the clashes which claimed several lives and property.
The forum in a text message by its national publicity secretary, Mr. Anthony N.Z. Sani said the renewed clash in Jos was senseless and asked government at all levels to formulate policies that will engage the youths in productive ventures.
It said violence of whatever form was not acceptable to God and Nigerians, pointing out that religious, political and community leaders must wake up and inspire cultural renaissance which should be based on core values of humanity.
The text message read: "Following yet another report of violent clashes in the precinct of Nasarawa Gwom of Jos town in Plateau state, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) wishes to say enough of senseless violence leading top loss of lives.
"This is because violence, be it political, religious or ethnic differences are not acceptable to God or Allah as well as the peace loving people of Nigeria and to the atmosphere needed for socio-economic development. Surely, no society can thrive on the basis of its factions but by tolerant accommodation of one another.
"Religious, political and community leaders must brace up and inspire cultural renaissance by working hard to overcome differences that divide the people and this should be based on core values of humanity.
"Our leaders must also think and work harder in order to come up with policies and programmes that would preoccupy our youths in productive ventures.
"ACF commends the security agents and the Plateau state government for bringing the situation under immediate effective control. The government should also go further and investigate the incidences with a view to bringing the perpetrators to book.
"ACF also commiserates with those innocent people who lost lives and properties in the course of the violent clashes. May God provide them with the fortitude to endure the losses and means for replacement", he said.
Meanwhile, commercial activities were paralyzed in the early hours of Monday, with corporate bodies like banks shutting their doors to customers, because of growing tension which enveloped the city centre.
The Red Cross officials said they are in dire need of relief materials and vehicles to cater for the 4,000 refugees now taken refuge at the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) regional academy in Jos.
The NDLEA Commander in Plateau, Mr. Ralph Igwe, said in Jos on Monday that many of the victims complained that their houses had been burnt.
"Those whose houses were not burnt are afraid of molestation by hoodlums. They are feeding themselves. We are constrained by the lack of fund to provide their immediate needs, because we didn't anticipate the crisis," he added.
Igwe said there might be food crisis in the camp, except normalcy returned, noting that the displaced persons had exhausted their foods.
He said the state government's delegation and officials of the Red Cross Society had visited the camp, but had yet to supply any relief materials.
"Many of the children, who slept outside yesterday in the cold, were coughing this morning," he added, and called for humanitarian assistance from well-meaning organisations.
Most of the affected persons alleged that those who attacked them in the Rikkos area of the city, were people they had lived peacefully with for several years.
They appealed for the supply of water and food items by well meaning Nigerians and organisations.
Muslim youths who stormed a church at Nassarawa Gwong Jos said the attacks by the Muslim youths are with out provocation.
They said it was "unfortunate that this hasty remark is coming from a very highly placed security personnel who is supposed to be the custodian of peace in the society who openly shows his bias against the Muslim Ummah when investigation had not commenced to ascertain what actually happen".
The statement said the hasty conclusion was nothing but an open instigation for reprisal attacks on the Muslims by the Christian pointing out that the Muslim Ummah has lost confidence of getting any protection of lives and their properties from the plateau state command under the leadership of the current commissioner of police in the state.
Also speaking, the man who was in the centre of the storm, Kabiru Mohammed said his house was burnt down in 2008 which necessitated it renovation.
He said he brought labourers to the site to effect the renovation and when work commenced on the site, some Christian youth stormed the site to prevent the labourers from working saying the area is mainly for Christian.
He said some people who call themselves indigene said he should be stopped from working on the site which prompted him to report the matter to some soldiers in the area.
He said when this was going on, one of the youths ran from the scene and went to mobilize others to the scene telling them that some Hausa youth beat him to a stage of comma and before he could say Jack Robbin the whole community invaded the site and problem started.
Mohammed added that the soldiers were pleading to the youth to be patient so that it could be sorted out but the youth insisted and there were stoning people in the area, all of a sudden we were told that they are fighting around Baptist that is all I know.
Similar, the Chief Immam of the Jos central Mosque Sheikh Balarabe Dawoud has appeal to politicians, religious and community leaders to caution their followers not to foment trouble in the state.
He also urged the youths to be patient with one another adding that no one should burn people's house or attack people on the street saying they should stop peddling unnecessary rumour which will also fuel the crises in the state.
Related stories: Resurgence of religious riots in Nigeria
The Federal Ministry of Health yesterday warned the public to beware of the deadly HINI Influenza virus, commonly known as Swine flu, as Nigeria has officially recorded its first death from the pandemic.
Before the latest case, there was a suspected Swine Flu death in December last year but the victim had died before samples could be collected, according to the ministry.
A statement signed by the Special Assistant (Communica-tion) to the Minister of Health, Mr. Niyi Ojuolape, advised people with associated symptoms to go for medical check-up without delay.
Giving an update on the incidence of the H1N1 Influenza, he said as at January 18, 2010, Nigeria had recorded 11 laboratory confirmed cases.
Last year, a nine-year-old American girl had the flu sometime last year but she later recovered.
The most recent case was that of a 38-year-old woman from Bayelsa State living in Lagos who tested positive, according to the Ministry of Health.
She was said to have travelled to the US about three months ago. She fell sick six weeks ago and died on Tuesday, January 5, at a hospital in Lagos.
He explained that the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Lagos State Ministry of Health had collected samples from the index case and her contacts for further investigation.
Eight out of the 40 samples of close contacts collected were found to have tested positive to Influenza H1N1.
This, he noted, had prompted a meeting of Epidemiologists of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) States' Surveillance Officers during which vaccine deployment plan was discussed among other important issues.
Ojuolape said enhanced disease surveillance including active case search in some designated health facilities is currently on in all the states of the federation and FCT.
He also said all documentation for the donation of Influenza H1N1 vaccine to the country including vaccine deployment plan had been completed and forwarded to WHO headquaters in Geneva.
In addition, the government is putting together all the required processes for the deployment of the vaccines, he explained.
Swine flu has flu-like symptoms such as coughing, lack of appetite, fever, running nose, vomiting, diarrhea, sore throats among others.
It is highly contagious and is believed to have killed thousands across the world.
There is a troubling dimension to the agonizing state of things in Nigeria today. Despite the magnitude of crippling problems such as poverty, ignorance, hunger, disease and inept leadership ravaging the country, religious fundamentalists and purveyors of violence are still on the prowl. In what has now come to be seen as a recurrent ritual, an Islamic sect, this time known as Kala-kato (meaning "he has said") and claiming to be an offshoot of the original Maitatsine sect of the 1980s, clashed recently with soldiers from the 33 Field Artillery Brigade, Bauchi leaving over 80 people dead, according to reports, and scores of houses and property razed. Innocent victims of the holocaust are still counting their losses.
Yet, as concerned Nigerians ponder over the crisis of internal security mechanism in the country, the pervasive culture of impunity and the government's seeming complacency and lethargic disposition to the menace, certain questions beg for answer: For how long shall we continue with this situation as a nation? What are our national values? Does the country have enough intelligence structures in place to checkmate the recurring religious mayhem? What are the security agents doing to put a stop to this ugly trend? Why do we lack the political will to treat issues that are criminal in nature as such?
Under successive administrations until, perhaps, the military regime of General Ibrahim Babangida in the mid-1980s, religion in Nigeria was practised in the context of a secular state; it was institutionalized and rarely disruptive of the Nigerian public life. But unfortunately, the years since then have brought unanticipated developments in the relationship between religion and the polity.
First, contrary to the constitutional position, religion is very much in evidence in government, which means that the secular paradigm and freedom from religious bias that had dominated Nigeria's official life have come to be questioned. Second, rather than being contained within private endeavours, religion has increasingly been suffusing state institutions, establishing itself firmly in official matters. We strongly believe the country should be wary of this trend. Nigeria does not have an official state religion and no one individual or group should think of foisting it on the country.
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 clearly states: "Every person shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom (either alone or in community with others, and in public or in private) to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance." Regrettably, certain actions or inactions of the Nigerian authorities, concerning their official approach to religious matters in recent times, all point to the contrary.
Besides the official posturing by Nigerian leaders during the regime of General Babangida that Nigeria was a member of the controversial Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and the official representation of Nigeria at a meeting of an organization known as the G8 (group of eight Islamic nations, namely: Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Egypt and Palestine) during the regime of the late General Sani Abacha, there is an embarrassing rumour that Nigeria is a leading member of yet another organization called "Islam for Africa". We are apprehensive that official meddlesomeness in religious matters is at the root of the incessant religious tensions and crises bedevilling the nation.
The 2004 ethno-religious turmoil in Plateau and Kano States exposed the Federal Government's lack of objectivity in handling such volatile matters. The then President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian, chose to tongue lash Christian leaders at the slightest provocation, subsequently imposing emergency rule on Plateau, but leaving Kano, with a record of more violent riots, untouched. Ever since, the frequency with which Islamic extremists have unleashed terror on the nation leaves much to be desired. The danger inherent in such costly misadventure is that Nigeria is continuously on tenterhooks, but apparently unmindful that the thin thread of peace and tranquility might snap without notice.
That Bauchi alone witnessed three violent religious riots in 2009 is not a good omen for the peace of the nation. The deplorable trend persists because government appears helpless and lacks the courage to prosecute offenders and perpetrators of these evil acts. Besides, the government must take further responsibility for its failure to provide jobs for the growing population of idle youths. Until the underlying economic hardships are addressed, desperate youths will continue to be manipulated by selfish politicians and religious bigots to cause trouble. Islamic leaders themselves should not be exonerated from blame in the mass hysteria afflicting sections of the nation.
Community policing will go a long way in arresting this ugly development. Yet, we believe that Nigeria has a functioning intelligence network; the main challenge has always been acting on the available information. We must pull back from the brink. Nigeria cannot afford a religious war.
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A nephew of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, Akilu Musa Yar'adua, aged 18, was expelled by the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola, over his alleged involvement in drug-related offences.
Akilu, son of late General Shehu Musa Yar'Adua, elder brother to the President, who was Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters during General Olusegun Obasanjo's military administration from 1976 to 1979, was one of the 10 students expelled by the elite institution over various offences.
Speaking at the orientation organised for new batch of intakes of about 300 students, weekend, Dean of Students Affairs, Dr. David Kosoko, said the institution has zero tolerance for all vices within and outside its campus and charged the new intakes to strictly conform with the institution's rules and regulations.
He said authorities of the school would not hesitate to show any deviant student the way out, no matter how privileged the family might be.
Kosoko said 10 students were expelled for various offences, out of which six were expelled over drugs, and four over laptop thefts, adding that four others were suspended for various infractions against the school regulations.
He said a disciplinary committee of the university had to invite the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), to test the students involved and ascertain their levels of involvement in drug usage. Kosoko, who declined to mention the type and quantity of the illicit drugs found with the students, said an almost foolproof system of checking vices such as drugs and cultism have been put in place by the institution to check their students and call on other tertiary institutions in the country to come and learn from AUN, Yola.
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At least 17 persons were feared killed and many wounded, as crisis yesterday erupted in Nasarawa Gwong, part of Jos North Local Government Area of Plateau State.
The government has since imposed a dusk to dawn curfew even as the state police commissioner, Mr. Greg Ayangting could not confirm whether places of worship were destroyed. Daily Champion gathered that 35 suspects have been arrested.
This is coming barely three weeks after the presidential panel looking into the killings of November 28 2009 Jos North crisis sat to unravel the causes and implication of the last crisis in some parts of the same local government.
Though there are two versions to the cause of yesterday’s crisis, our Correspondent gathered that problem started when a man whose house was destroyed during the last crisis attempted to rebuild his home. Some youths reportedly attacked him because he did not consult them before embarking on the project.
However, another version said the conflict began from a football pitch where a local match took place among the youths of Dutse Ukwu. The said match ended in controversy as fans and players of both teams engaged themselves in a free-for-all which led to tension in the area.
A statement by the state police command said there was a breach of peace in the afternoon at Nasarawa Gwom, Jos, and that the police have been able to rise up to the challenges.
The statement signed by the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Muhammed Lerama, urged citizens to go about their normal business and warned that the police are ready to deal with anyone who puts the law into his or her hand.
Areas mostly affected by the crisis apart from Nasarawa Gwom include, Bauchi road, Dutse Ukwu, Congo Russia, Sarkin Mangun, Sabon Layi, Alikazaure and Massalacin Jumaa.
Meanwhile, a statement on the imposed curfew signed by the state commissioner of information,. Mr. Gregory Yenlong advised residents to “strictly adhere to this directive as all efforts are being intensified to ensure the safety of live and properties”.
He called on the citizens to “cooperate with the police and security agencies charged with the responsibility of maintaining peace and order and to remain calm as government was doing everything possible to nip in the bud, the prevailing security situation.”
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A group of investors from China's Shan Dong Province has said that the Shan Dong Province would establish granite quarries and sugar cane plantation in Ekiti State as soon as necessary formalities were completed.
Speaking during a meeting with the state governor ,Engr.Segun Oni, over the weekend, leader of the Chinese team,Mr. Zhang Zhi Lin, who said his team was in the state to assess its business opportunities disclosed that his organisation had already established a mega quarry worth N2 billion in Ibadan , the Oyo State capital.
Mr. Lin who said that his team was impressed with what it has seen, stressed their readiness to join hands with the state government in its quest to turn the economy of the state around.
On his part, the governor assured the investors that his administration would continue to provide the necessary incentives for any one wishing to invest in the state.
He said his administration was walking tirelessly towards making Ekiti a haven for investment through the provision of good network of roads, world- class infrastructure, as well as safe, secure and investment friendly environment
Oni further disclosed that apart from taking steps to complete the long abandoned 132/33Kv sub- station in the state capital, his administration had concluded plans to establish six injection sub - stations as part of steps to boost electricity.
Governor Oni urged the august investors to take advantage of the abundant human and material rersources as well as favourable business climate in the state.
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Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) may have decided to sell its multi-million naira sprawling residential estate located in Edjeba, Warri, Delta State.
The company attributed the plan sale to sell off the estate to paucity of fund as it can no longer afford the high cost of its maintenance.
Occupants of the estate have also given quit notice to vacate the building to enable the company estate management carry out valuation of the properties.
A resident of the estate, who feel very concern about the decision of the SPDC management to sell the estate, said, it will not be easy to vacate such a secured area and get exposed to rancourous and insecure environment in the metropolis.
It would be recalled that SPDC had in recent time been making move to halt its operations and investments in Nigeria.
Shell Chief Executive, Peter Voser was recently quoted as saying in the company website, "The company has lost confidence in its Nigeria operations and no longer depends on the country in oil and gas output."
Shell, which has maintained its leadership position in the oil and gas sector in Nigeria since 1958 has recently made move to sell 10 of its Nigerian on-shore oil assets worth between $4 billion and $5 billion.
It was gathered that China National Petroleum Corporation has been reported as a possible buyer of the assets, as the company have shown enough interest to enter the Nigeria oil exploration industry.
The decision by Shell to move out of Nigeria may not be unconnected with high rate of militancy, kidnapping, violence and sabotage of its oil facilities in the Niger Delta region.
Shell production output went down from 300,000bpd to 120,000bpd in the height of violence crisis in the region; this greatly affected the company revenue.
Despite the amnesty granted militants by President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua in 2009, four expatriate workers with SPDC were kidnapped last week in Port-Harcourt by unknown gun men.
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Vice President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday expressed condolences to President René Préval and the people of Haiti over the devastating earthquake in the country's capital, Port-au-Prince.
In a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice-President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ima Niboro, Jonathan expressed Nigeria's sympathy with Haiti, noting that Nigerians shared in the grief of their Haitian brothers and sisters.
He said the international community can count on Nigeria's support on the rebuilding of Haiti.
Also Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Alhaji Jibril Maigari yesterday said Nigeria will donate food items and other relief materials to the people of Haiti who were hit by earthquake.
Maigari told the BBC Hausa service that no Nigerian died in the disaster, adding that the country has been assured by the United Nations that all the 120 Nigerian Police officers serving in the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti are safe.
Also in a statement issued in Abuja, he said the ministry has been in touch with Nigeria High Commissioner to Jamaica Mr Peter Oyedele who was in Haiti to monitor the situation and confirmed that no Nigerian died in the unfortunate incident.
The minister said Nigeria commiserates with the people of Haiti over the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that claimed over a thousand lives and rendered thousands homeless.
"The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria expresses its condolences to the President and People of Haiti on the devastating earthquake," the minister said in a statement issued in Abuja.
Meanwhile, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP) and other United Nations bodies are monitoring the distribution of food and other relief materials to Haitians after the country was devastated earthquake on Tuesday.
FAO said it is "closely monitoring the situation on ground to get a clearer picture on the immediate impacts of food security and food production" as they deal with emergency food aid and nutrition.
Strong indications emerged yesterday that the government of India plans to invest a whooping sum of $1.5 trillion on infrastructural development in Nigeria and other parts of Africa in the next 10 years.
India's Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Anand Sharma, who made the revelation at an exhibition and India-West Africa Business Forum in Lagos, pointed out that bilateral trade between Nigeria and India has for several years been in excess of $10 billion in favour of Nigeria.
He remarked that five out of the 12 fastest growing economies in the world are domiciled in Africa; a continent which he said is richly endowed with natural resources.
Commending the conveners of the forum, the President of ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambers, noted that the event could not have come at a better time, when most nations are emerging from economic failures arising from the global economic recession.
According to him, the 15 countries in the West African sub-region with a combined population of well over 280million people, Africa remains a major economy that must be taken seriously, noting that the continent is blessed with skilled manpower, favourable climate that can be harnessed as an alternative to power and good forest reserves suitable for the pharmaceutical industry.
Also speaking, Nigeria's Minster of Commerce and Industry, Chief Achike Udenwa, noted that India has a lot of success stories that West Africa can learn from, adding that the opportunity the forum avails would go a long way to assist the region in its collective efforts to enhance production capacity and diversity the economic base through the injection of new ideas and technologies, as well as best global practices.
In his opening remark, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, challenged the forum to come up with proposals that would be of mutual benefit between Nigeria and the government of India.
Jonathan, who was represented by Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, said India holds the ace in the area of education and medical science and recalled the role Indians played in the education of many Nigerians.
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Twelve days after his kidnap by unidentified gunmen in Abuja, an assistant director with the National Planning Commission Chief Oluwole Adelana is still missing and his abductors have not yet contacted his family.
Adelana was grabbed at the Garki Area 1 of Abuja at about 10pm on January 3, while he was on his way back from his hometown Idoani in Ose Local Government Area of Ondo State, a family source told Daily Trust yesterday.
Investigations by the FCT police special anti-robbery squad led to the finding along Damaturu-Maiduguri road of the burnt remains of the Toyota Camry car in which Adelana was kidnapped, the source said.
Daily Trust learnt that at least two persons were being questioned at the anti-robbery squad office in connection with the kidnap.
Sources said a friend of Adelana's witnessed the incident and immediately contacted another friend of theirs, who later informed the victim's family about the kidnap. The family in turn reported to the police same night.
The abduction of Adelana was confirmed yesterday by his cousin, Mr Duro Aderobagun, who said that the family was worried especially because no one has yet contacted them for ransom or with information on the missing assistant director.
FCT police public relations officer Jimoh Moshood said he had not been briefed on the matter.
When asked who the family reported the case to, the victim's cousin Aderobagun said the incident was reported to the special anti-robbery squad, and the National Planning Minister had also written to Inspector General of Police Ogbonna Onovo on the kidnap.
But deputy public relations officer at the police force headquarters in Abuja, Mr. Yemi Ajayi, said he was not briefed on whether the IG received a letter from the minister.
A police official, who would not want to be named because he was not in a position to speak to the press, told Daily Trust that the matter was duly reported and was being investigated.
Adelana had served at various times in the office of the Accountant-General of the Federation and the Millennium Development Goals in Abuja.
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Over 70 per cent of the candidates who sat for the 2009 November/December West African Examinations Council (WAEC) examinations failed both English and Mathematics, WAEC announced in Lagos yesterday.
For about five years now candidates have been recording mass failure in WAEC's May/June and November/December diets. Just in the last May/June diet over one million candidates failed the examinations. Announcing the results of the 2009 November/December examinations in Lagos yesterday, the Head of National Office of WAEC Dr. Iyi Uwadiae said out of the 342,443 candidates who sat for the examinations, only 106,413, representing 31 per cent, obtained credits in English Language, Mathematics and at least three other subjects.
According to Dr. Uwadiae, over 70 per cent of the candidates only managed to pass between two and six subjects at credit level but without both English and Mathematics or without either of the two subjects. He said the results of 57,792 candidates, representing 16.87 per cent, were still being withheld based on various reports of their alleged involvement in examination malpractice.
The WAEC head said all reports on cases of involvement in examination malpractice were being compiled for presentation to the Nigeria Examinations Committee of WAEC which is going to act on it in February.
"Out of the total number of candidates who sat the examination, however, 106, 413 candidates, representing (31.0%) obtained credits in both English and Mathematics and at least three other subjects.
"Similarly, statistics show that 265,335 candidates representing 77.48 % have two credits and above; 230, 351 candidates (67.2%) have three credits and above; and 192, 806 candidates (56.30%) have four credits and above. The results of 57,792 candidates, representing 16.87 % are being withheld based on various reports of their alleged involvement in examination malpractice", he said.
He reiterated the council's policy of zero tolerance for examination malpractice, saying WAEC would continue to withhold results of those found guilty of malpractice in any of its exams. He blamed the poor performance of students in public examinations on parents, saying they had continuously failed to monitor their children's performances at school.
The wife of the medical doctor attached to Oleh General Hospital, Mrs.Efe Aluta has been rescued after a fierce gun battle between the kidnappers and Joint Task Force (JTF).
Vanguard gathered that she was rescued by the soldiers attached to the JTF on Wednesday night at Kiagbodo.
It was not however ascertained if the N20m demanded by the kidnappers were paid or not.
State police command spokesman, Mr. Charles Muka when contacted confirmed the story but declined to give details.
Meanwhile the State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan had disclosed that kidnappers now recruit drivers, stewards, cooks and family members into the exercise.
Speaking while receiving reports from the committee set-up to look into the handover of schools in the state to their former owners on Wednesday, Uduaghan said some of those who allegedly kidnapped (doctor's wife) Barrister Mariam Aluta, the daughter-in-law of the Chairman of the State Post Primary Education Board have been arrested.
"I want to assure you that kidnapping is being checked in the state. We have mapped out strong strategy to check the incident and it is reducing."
He said security operatives were still on the trail of the remaining suspects and promised to ensure that they were apprehended in no distant future.
The governor who said victims would always be discouraged from paying ransom said even when ransom has been paid security operatives will still trail and arrest the criminals.
Dr. Uduaghan said his administration has adopted strong strategy that will check kidnap incident in the state and changed Deltans to be vigilant.
He explained that it was as a result of the stringent measures put in place by the police and other security operatives that reduced the rate of kidnapping in the state.
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Prince Malik Ado Ibrahim, co-founder of The Bridge, which introduces renewable energy sources to third world countries, talks to CNN about Nigeria being on the U.S. blacklist.
Related stories: Nigeria to put Air Marshals on U.S. bound flights
CNN's Christian Purefoy reports on Nigeria's missing president.
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Nigeria said it will soon deploy air marshals on its flights to the United States to increase security after the foiled Christmas day attack on a U.S. airliner by a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab.
Nigerian Aviation Minister Babatunde Omotoba told reporters Wednesday that the United States approached Nigeria about putting air marshals on its U.S.-bound flights.
Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority Director Harold Demuren said the decision demonstrates Nigeria’s commitment to aviation security.
“Definitely we believe that this is a demonstration that our country is completely committed to aviation security,” he said.
Since the Christmas day foiled attack on a U.S. airliner bound for the city of Detroit, the United States has moved to place Nigeria on a security watch list and invoked extra screening for passengers from Nigeria to the United States.
Demuren said the Nigerian government has made known its displeasure with the new U.S. restrictions.
“We are not happy that we are listed. We are very dissatisfied about this and we have made it very clear. We hope that this will be revisited very quickly,” Demuren said.
He said since the attempted airline bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner by Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab, Nigeria has taken additional measures to enhance aviation security.
“We have had 100 percent examination at our airports, we are introducing three-D full-body scanners, we are doing second screening of all hand luggage, we have met all ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) security directives,” he said.
Demuren said Nigeria has also passed U.S. Transportation Security Administration audit twice for Lagos and Abuja airports.
He said the request to put air marshals on U.S.-bound flights came from the Obama administration and Nigeria consented.
Demuren said Nigeria will ask the United States to help train air marshals.
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