CNN's Becky Anderson talks to Gov. Godswill Akpabio about stories of children accused of witchcraft in his Nigerian state.
Related stories: Children abused, killed as Witches in Nigeria
CNN's Becky Anderson talks to Gov. Godswill Akpabio about stories of children accused of witchcraft in his Nigerian state.
Related stories: Children abused, killed as Witches in Nigeria
Instructors from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States yesterday commenced a training programme for operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on anti-money laundering and control of terrorist financing.
The Nigeria Police, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and the State Security Service (SSS) are also involved in the two-week training taking place at the EFCC Training and Research Institute, Karu near Abuja. While declaring the training programme opened, EFCC chairman Farida Waziri said it is part of the continuing partnership between Nigeria and the United States in the fight against the twin evils of money laundering and terrorist financing.
"Since the tragic events of 9/11, it has become clear that no country is immune to the evil consequences of money laundering," Farida said adding that "the terror networks that use the dirty money to promote misery and death around the world must be recognized and treated as enemies of humanity.
"To weed out the culture of corruption on which money laundering and terrorism subsist, money launderers and the promoters of terror must be denied any iota of legitimacy; they must not be allowed to exploit the poverty and ignorance of our people," she said.
She assured the U.S. that Nigeria remains open and amenable to all the platforms of partnership needed to win the war against economic and financial crimes.
FBI representative, Victor Mc Collum, said the cooperation between the Nigerian law enforcement agencies and the FBI has been quite outstanding. "Everything we have tried to accomplish here so far, we have been able to do. We have had great cooperation from the institutions we have worked with and we have been able to provide the institutions with some assistance and a lot of collaboration," Mc Collum said.
The 40 participants will be trained on interrogation; hostage crisis negotiation, basic forensics and major case management.
Related stories: Video report on the EFCC crackdown on corruption in Nigeria
Members of the outlawed Boko Haram sect appeared to have resorted to guerrilla warfare as they waylaid and shot dead three policemen in Damaturu and Maiduguri, centres of the deadly violence sparked by the group in July last year. In Maiduguri, Borno State, two policemen were shot and their guns taken by four suspected members of the sect, who came riding bikes on Wednesday night, while another cop was killed in Damaturu when other gunmen attacked the private residence of Yobe State Governor Ibrahim Gaidam also on Wednesday.
Inspector Shettima Mustapha and newly-decorated Corporal Ahmed Mohammed, both of the Bulunkutu-Gomari Divisional Police Station in Jere Local Government Area in the outskirts of Maiduguri city, were attacked near the Gomari central mosque by four men dressed in black overalls.
The gunmen drove towards the policemen, who were also riding a bike, thereby felling them, before firing at them at close range, according to accounts of security sources. The sources said 16 shells of used ammunition were found at the scene of the killing.
Borno State Police Commissioner Ibrahim Abdu, who confirmed the shootings, told newsmen yesterday the cops were on their way to their beat at the Gomari bus stop for the routine stop-and-search operation and also the enforcement of the ban on the movement of motorcycles, which was recently extended to 10pm.
"They were on a motorcycle. The inspector was riding and the corporal was backed on the motorbike. As they were moving, unknown to them, two motorcyclists were trailing them from behind. They came very close to them, opened fire and killed them. They shot them from behind at the back of their neck," Abdu told newsmen.
He said police investigations are pointing to a particular direction, which he did not mention, following recent series of killings of policemen in similar pattern. "But we do not want to disclose and pre-empt investigations. The SSS and military intelligence are assisting us. The security outfits are all working together to see that the perpetrators are brought to book," he added.
A witness told our reporter that the gunmen might have trailed the policemen "because immediately they swerved across their path with one of their motorcycles, two of them took up positions in separate directions of the fleeing officers and shot at them until they were sure they had died."
Six policemen have so far been killed in Maiduguri in attacks following similar patterns. One civilian was also killed while another sustained injuries. In all attacks, the gunmen rode on motorcycles.
Residents fear that this could be a comeback or revenge attempt by the Boko Haram sect, which recorded heavy losses in days of fighting with security forces last year.
In Damaturu, the gunmen attacked Gaidam's residence at the Gwange area around 8pm on Wednesday, killing Constable Barde Emos, State Police Commissioner Mamman Sule told journalists. The governor is away in Saudi Arabia for the lesser Hajj.
"The attackers were two in number and they went to the house on a motorcycle," he said. "Immediately they arrived, they used gun and killed the police constable who was guarding the house before they fled away. He died shortly after taking him to hospital. We did not arrest anybody but we have recovered some pellets (used bullets) at the scene of the attack," he added.
Emos said incident was exactly like the one that happened few months ago at the residence of former Governor Bukar Abba Ibrahim, where the attackers killed a policeman and fled away.
"As at now, we are yet to ascertain the actual mission of the attackers even though some people have started giving it political coloration. Personally, I feel it is a reprisal attack by the remnants of the Boko Haram sect," he said.
The commissioner said two members of the Boko Haram sect were arrested at the weekend in Damaturu while downloading some speeches of the late leader of the sect Mohammed Yusuf.
"Some of the sect members are resurfacing in town because they have been discharged and acquitted by courts," the commissioner said.
He said security would be beefed up in Damaturu to forestall further attacks. "We would intensify stop-and-search surveillance from 6pm to 6am everyday," he said.
A suspected drug trafficker, Hakeem Adesegun Habeeb, who survived the Surulere fire incident on October 3, 2006 has died of cocaine ingestion.
According to the spokesperson of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Mitchelle Ofoyeju, the deceased, a 45-year-old trader was said to have ingested the drugs preparatory to his trip to Europe when one of the wraps ruptured. He eventually died at the hospital after admitting to drug ingestion on his death bed.
To ascertain his claim, a post-mortem was carried out which was witnessed by operatives of the NDLEA in a hospital in Lagos. The operation eventually led to the discovery of the suspected ruptured wrap of narcotics buried deep down his intestinal tract. When tested at the theatre, the substance proved positive for cocaine.
Chairman/Chief Executive of NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade described the incident as sad. "It is very sad. I sympathise with the family of the deceased."
Giade also urged youths to have the fear of God and consider the consequences of their actions. "If they have no respect for themselves, they should at least consider their loved ones and their Creator", the NDLEA boss charged. The late suspect is survived by two wives and eight children.
A member of the family who preferred anonymity said that the deceased kept everybody in the dark about his activities of late. "Hakeem left home without telling either of his two wives where he was going. Three days later, he returned looking very sick. He did not even say what the problem was until he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. We did not know he had taken drugs".
related stories: Professional tennis player arrested for cocaine trafficking
Just after midnight, the pastor seized a woman's forehead with his large hand and she fell screaming and writhing on the ground. "Fire! Fire! Fire!" shouted the worshippers, raising their hands in the air.
Pastor Celestine Effiong's congregants are being delivered from what they firmly believe to be witchcraft. And in the darkness of the city and the villages beyond, similar shouts and screams echo from makeshift church to makeshift church.
"I have been delivered from witches and wizards today!" exclaimed one exhausted-looking woman.
Pastors in southeast Nigeria claim illness and poverty are caused by witches who bring terrible misfortune to those around them. And those denounced as witches must be cleansed through deliverance or cast out.
As daylight breaks, and we travel out to the rural villages it becomes apparent the most vulnerable to this stigmatization of witchcraft are children.
Related stories: Video - Return to Nigeria's witch children
Royal Dutch Shell said yesterday it had been forced to shut down an oil flow-station in the Niger Delta due to a protest by a group of local women over a lack of development in their community, according to a Reuter's report. The Anglo-Dutch giant said it had shut down the Otumara-Escravos flow-station in Delta State because of the demonstration but was in talks with the local community and the state government to try to end the stand-off. It did not say whether production was affected.
"Dialogue with the women, their community and representatives of the Delta State government continues with a view to resolving the issue," Shell spokesman Tony Okonedo said.
Many remote communities in the Niger Delta, a vast network of mangrove creeks, remain impoverished despite five decades of oil extraction, which have left their land and water polluted.
Such protests are not uncommon.
Royalty payments from oil firms and the sharing of federal oil revenues mean state governments in the Niger Delta have larger budgets than many West African nations, but endemic corruption has meant that little development has been achieved.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and LNG Japan Corporation have commenced preliminary discussion on strategic collaboration on the Brass Liquefied Natural Gas to provide the world's most competitive Finance and LNG marketing opportunity in Asia.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC Austen Oniwon said NNPC would collaborate with LNG Japan Corporation in the value chain and urged them to expedite action as the federal government had given the NNPC a timeline for the Final Investment Decision on the LNG projects.
He said this while receiving the LNG Japan Corporation team led by the President and CEO Mr. Yasunori Takagi in his office yesterday in Abuja.
The interest by LNG Japan Corporation was traced during the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development on Foreign Direct Investment to Nigeria.
"Japan LNG Corporation is welcome into Nigeria and NNPC as a major stakeholder in all the LNG projects in the country is willing to partner with you and do business that will be of mutual interest to both parties", Oniwon said. He expressed hope that when the Petroleum Industry Bill currently before the National Assembly is passed into law, the corporation would transmute into a ring fenced organization that will play in the international hydrocarbon market like other National Oil Companies. He urged Japan LNG Corporation to serve as a vehicle that will help in linking the NNPC to other gas markets in Asia.
President and CEO of LNG Japan Corporation Yasunori Takagi lauded NNPC for selecting LNG Japan Corporation as a strategic investor and expressed their willingness to participate in the realization of Brass LNG which will have a pump-priming effect on the increase of other Japan-led investments in Nigeria.
Related stories: Shell cuts output over attack in Niger Delta
Days before (7-31-2010) officialy annoucning his presidential bid, Wyclef Jean talks about becoming the President of Haiti during his visit to Nigeria.
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An irate police sergeant yesterday went berserk, during an argument with his superior, a Divisional Police Officer, DPO, over a missing N50, 000, shooting himself to death after shooting the DPO with the intention of killing him.
Sergeant Ibrahim Abdullahi who was said to have stolen the N50, 000 from a shop keeper in Bebeji town, Bebeji local government area of Kano State was making away, when the shopkeeper discovered that some money was mising.
An eyewitness account in Bebeji town told our reporter that, trouble started when Sergeant Abdullahi visited a shop in the town and was alleged to have stolen the sum of N50,000.
"He came into the shop, met the shopkeeper Dauda Buhari and asked after his wife Hajiya Hadiza Yahuza. The shopkeeper told him that his wife was not around. As they were discussing inside the shop, somebody came to buy some goods and Dauda left the Sergeant so as to attend to his customer.
"By the time he came back, Sergeant Abdullahi excused himself and left. But when Dauda searched the money box, he realised that the sum of N50, 000 was missing."
The eyewitness further disclosed that Dauda subsequently pursued the Sergeant and inquired from him whether he knew anything about the missing money and an argument ensued.
According to the source, the Sergeant did not take Dauda's confrontation lightly, as he tried to intimidate him.
Police sources however revealed that as the two engaged in the argument, the DPO who was sitting under a tree near the police station, noticed the Sergeant and the shop attendant arguing and summoned them.
"He invited both of them. After listening to their stories, the DPO ordered the station officer, Inspector Abdullahi Mohammed to disarm Sergeant Abdullahi and investigate the case."
The accused sergeant was subsequently disarmed and the Inspector ordered him to lead him where he said he had urinated, "because that was his excuse when he was going out from the station."
It was gathered that the late Abdullahi flared up when the DPO ordered that he be disarmed and searched over the allegation.
The police source added that the Sergeant later played a fast one when he came back to the station and told the person in charge of firearms that the Inspector had instructed that his gun be returned to him as the case had been resolved amicably.
Sergeant Abdullahi in apparent emotion of guilt, actually aimed at the DPO's chest; he dodged but was hit in the shoulder instead.
Apparently thinking that he had succeeded in snuffing life out of his boss, he then aimed the gun at his head and shot himself dead.
LEADERSHIP SUNDAY gathered that the police later discovered the stolen N50, 000 where the Sergeant had hidden it.
The genesis of the estrangement between the DPO and the sergeant was traced to the redeployment of the latter by the former to the station, from the resident of the local government chairman, Alhaji Dankaka Usaini Bebeji.
The Bebeji council boss who spoke on phone confirmed that the late sergeant appeared hostile to him when he was posted to his residence on duty, saying he complained to the DPO that late Abdullahi should be swapped with a friendly policeman and the DPO obliged his request.
Reacting to the incident, the police public relations officer, Kano State Command, Baba Mohammed Azare confirmed the incident.
According to him, the Command has commenced full scale investigation into the matter. He also explainedthat the bullet wound on the DPO is not severe as doctors at AKTH has certified that it did not pierce the vital organs of his body.
"He has all chances of survival," SP Azare assured.
He revealed that a posthumous investigation would be carried out and if the Sergeant is found guilty, he risks a sentence that would lead to his summary dismissal.
Related stories:Police gun down 70-year old man who refused to pay bribe
Operatives of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, at the weekend apprehended a professional tennis player, Dairo Toyin, 30, and a Lagos businessman, Okoliachu Chukwudi Augustine, 46, over alleged drug dealing.
Dairo was apprehended while attempting to board a British Airways flight to London. His final destination was New York where he usually trains in preparation for a tournament. The other suspect, Chukwudi was nabbed in his house at Festac area of Lagos. According to the NDLEA Airport commander, Alhaji Hamza Umar, both suspects have been hiding under the cover of their professions in dealing in narcotics.
"While Dairo Toyin hides under the cover of a sports man, Okoliachu Chukwudi presents himself as an importer of marbles and other building materials. Until their arrests by the NDLEA, no one would ever imagine they are into drugs", Hamza stated. Dairo, who began his professional tennis career in 1996, has represented Nigeria in several Davis cup competitions.
Notable among his international appearances are Italy in 2002, Senegal in 2004, Germany and Nigeria both in 2006. The tennis player, who hails from Ekiti State, has however, blamed his woes on frustration arising from inability to sponsor his trip to international tournaments.
Dairo lamented, "I am ashamed of myself. It was not intentional. My problem began in 2005 when my sponsor died. There was no one to help, things became difficult. In the process, I was introduced into drug trafficking. I have been smuggling drugs to take care of my bills each time I attended international tournaments. This time around, I was caught. I swallowed 100 wraps and when they weighed it, the weight was 1.445kg. It also tested positive for heroin".
Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade said any drug trafficker that rejects the Agency's call for a drug-free society will end up in prison custody. "The dragnet of the Agency is large enough to accommodate all drug barons. Innocent members of the public should also beware of the devices of these enemies of the society to derail them from their destinies.
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CNN's Christian Purefoy reports on the dangers of Nigeria's illegal oil refineries.
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The first anniversary of a deadly uprising by a Nigerian Islamist sect in the north of the country has passed off peacefully. But concerns remain that Boko Haram could eventually replenish its ranks and stage a comeback.
Related stories: Police on alert over Boko Haram mayhem anniversary
Contrary to the claims of Chief James Onanefe Ibori, the Dubai Police has denied promising to grant the former governor of Delta State a fresh bail.
Ibori had claimed in an electronic mail that the police authorities of the United Arab Emirates had promised to free him the same week his bail was revoked. Leadership can authoritatively confirm that there was no such agreement between the Dubai Police and Chief Ibori, who is still languishing in the prison where he has been kept since June.
An e-mail sent to our correspondent by the Dubai Police authorities said the police authorities were forced to look at flight risk, interference with evidence or witness, or the possibility of committing another offence as the three main factors considered when contemplating bail revocation.
The mail further stated that the police revoked his bail and did not promise him a fresh bail because of an actionable intelligence that the former Delta State chief executive might flee Dubai, having become desperate following the sentencing of two of his associates to five-year jail terms.
"We only told Mr. Ibori that he would remain in prison until the conclusion of his extradition hearing in the United Arab Emirates; so, where did he get the promise that he was going to be granted a fresh bail within a week? "The extradiction case may last for more than one year and he will have to remain here till the end of the hearing," the electronic mail signed by one Haliyah Mohamed further said.
It would be recalled that Ibori went to Dubai police headquarters in June for a chit-chat with the Interpol boss in Dubai where he was informed that they would need him to remain in jail just to follow up on some information they received on his case.
The former Delta State governor is currently fighting the battle of his life, as members of his legal team are trying to get him bail, and subsequently stop his imminent extradition to the United Kingdom to face sundry money laundering charges.
But in a new development, the United Arab Emirate Court which rejected the no-case defense filed by Ibori at the beginning of last week, also gave the British Police 30 days to file further evidence against the former governor.
A source close to Ibori's camp stated that efforts by his lawyers are on a top gear as many arguments have been raised by them to make the Dubai Police authorities understand the need for them to grant him bail before the conclusion of the extradiction case.
Related stories: Dubai to extradite Ibori to Britain
Nigeria yesterday called on United States to assist the nation in countering some negative and destructive stereotypes about the country.
Addressing the Council of Foreign Relations (US most influential non governmental organisation), where he presented a paper on "Challenges and Prospects: Perception and Reality of Nigeria at 50", Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, said negative perception is a significant challenge Nigeria faces as a nation.
He cited as example, a scathing indictment of the country by a journalist, Richard Bowden, in his book : Africa Altered States, Ordinary Miracles", where he described Nigeria as a country with a terrible reputation, and where foreigners dread to go to.
Noting that such negative reports about the country may not be true reflection of situation on ground, he said negative stereotypes represent part of the challenges the nation faces in trying to build a better, stable, prosperous and just country founded on rule of law.
He said such negative perceptions do not also create opportunity for the acknowledgment of the efforts of the Nigerian government in addressing problems militating against the development of the country.
He said: "The unconstructive and prejudicial negative portrayals, images and generalisations of the country that are syndicated through global media networks and by journalists with new stories to tell totally ignore the progress that the country has made against all odds."
He therefore called for America's support for the country's efforts in getting things right. "For one thing the US can help us in countering some of these destructive negative stereotypes. America's perspectives and official pronouncements influence opinions and decisions in board rooms around the world", he said
While acknowledging that Nigeria, like some other countries, may have missed some opprtunities, he said the dawn of a golden jubilee celebration calls for a certain amount of introspection.
"Taking a stock, five decades after Nigeria gained independence from great Britain in october 1960, many of its friends and well wishers have continued to wonder why a country endowed with so much - a large vibrant population and landmass, an array of mineral resources and vast arable land, easy access to the sea etc., has been unable to harness and deploy its huge material and human endowment and potential into rapid development and prosperity.
"There is infact palpable frustration, even anger, amongst some of Nigeria's best friends that progress has not occured fast enough in a country that providence appears to have favoured. To those friends and well wishers, let me say this: we truly appreciate and understand your concern and sometimes visceral criticisms of our suboptimal performance as a country", he said.
Yesterday's event, presided over by former US Ambassador to Nigeria Princeton Lyman, was attended by present and former top US officials and foreign diplomats. Ajumogobia who arrived in US on Tuesday also met with the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Mr. Johnie Carson, yesterday and will be meeting with Secretary of State, Senator Hillary Clinton, and the National Security Adviser, Gen. James Jones, today.
The brewing face-off between movie makers in Nigeria and Ghana is one development that seasoned entertainment practitioners knew would happen sooner than later. Only recently, Nigeria's House of Representatives had cause to condemn the imposition of $5,ooo and $1,000 levies on Nigerian film producers and actors/actresses respectively, either operating in Ghana or featured in their films. The reasons for this ugly trend may not be far to seek.
After witnessing phenomenal public acceptance since the release of the epoch-making Nigerian home video, Living In Bondage, back in 1981, Nollywood has been decried by critical observers for several lapses believed to be militating against its structural growth. These include sloppy story lines, lack of technical finesse and depth, dearth of state-of-the art equipment as well as the recycling of popular faces.
Some other obvious constraints include the lack of government infrastructural support and inadequate private sector funding. Add these to the criminal challenge of piracy, which the government is yet to fight frontally, and the pitiable plight of film producers becomes clearer. That a world-renowned film maker like Tunde Kelani has had to threaten to relocate out of Nigeria because his recent movie, Arugba, has been massively pirated is disheartening. Yet, the Nigerian film industry is a potential gold mine that, properly developed, could rival crude oil in revenue generation.
In spite of these institutional problems, Nollywood has recorded a remarkable impact in terms of employment generation and social re-engineering. It is currently widely regarded as the world's second largest in quantity. Many of the industry's exquisite works, including Afolayan's The Figurine, have won prestigious awards within and outside our shores. We cannot but salute the typical Nigerian courage and resilience exhibited so far, in the face of all odds. But there has always been a growing concern from relevant stakeholders for Nollywood to re-invent itself.
It was in the film makers' bid to expand their business in the West African sub-region and create a more global distribution network that they reached out to their Ghanaian counterparts. According to Mr. Paul Obazele, President of the Association of Movie Producers (AMP) in Nigeria, the average film maker desires a profitable foray into new markets, as shown in the global spread of American (Hollywood) and Indian (Bollywood) films. The move was also in tandem with the goals of the ECOWAS treaty on free trade. In using Ghanaian actors and actresses, Nollywood succeeded in making stars out of some of the artistes like Jackie Appiah, Nadia Buari, Van Vicker and Majid Michel, who were hitherto unknown faces.
Within the short span of five years such actors became hugely popular with Nigerian movie fans. Coincidentally, this came at a time when the likes of Genevieve Nnaji, Omotola Ekehinde, Ramsey Nouah and Pete Edochie had been sidelined for some years by Nigerian film producers, sometimes replaced by the Ghanaian stars.
In this light, we consider the Ghanaian film makers' decision to impose stiff levies on their Nigerian counterparts as ungrateful. It is also a breach of the spirit of the ECOWAS free trade agreement. To extort such fees from Nigerian movie producers and insist that they (Ghana's film makers) will not market Nollywood films except they feature Ghanaian actors will not promote the cordial relationship existing between the two countries.
While the right of the Ghanaian authorities to fix levies or taxes, within that country's legal framework, is acknowledged, it should not be projected as plain xenophobia. We say this against the backdrop of similar complaints from other Nigerian entrepreneurs in Ghana that they are being made to pay exorbitant fees to register and operate their businesses.
In the end, these discriminatory practices against Nigerians in some neighbouring countries only challenge the Nigerian government, financial institutions and venture capitalists to take another look at repositioning Nollywood. Infrastructural deficits here in Nigeria imply, for instance, that a Ghanaian film maker, enjoying steady electric power supply, will spend far less to produce a film than his Nigerian colleague, who must rely on self-generated power at a prohibitive cost. There is need for the stakeholders - from the Ministries of Information, Culture and Tourism, Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) and the AMP - to jointly fashion out a viable way forward.
In this era of re-branding Nigeria, what role should the movie industry play? How do we tackle the growing menace of piracy in order to guarantee good return on investment? In what ways should the private sector come in so that adequate financing on favourable terms, similar to the government's N150 billion stimulus package to the manufacturing sector, is made available to Nollywood's entrepreneurs? How do we upgrade the quality of the industry's technical equipment to reduce capital flight to South Africa with more stable infrastructure?
Nigeria has the right calibre of film makers to take Nollywood to the next level. It is time to supply the missing link by exercising the required political will and providing the right infrastructural support, so that less endowed countries no longer take us for a ride.
Related stories: Nollywood slams N250,000 clearance fee on foreign Actors
As part of efforts to boost power supply in the country, the federal government said it is compiling studies of all the abandoned dams across the country in order to resuscitate them for electricity generation.
The Minister of State for Power, Ach. Nuhu Somo Wya, made this known during a stakeholders' workshop on electricity efficiency, standards in Abuja recently. The minister who was represented by the Director of Electrical Inspectorate, Newton Olagbade, stated that the need to revive these dams was coming on the backdrop that government have realised the amount of electricity to be generated from them to add to the national grid.
Listing the dams to include Oyo Dam in Ogun State, Kere Dam in Oyo State and Dadinkowa Dam in Gombe State, he said the dams can generate 10 mega watts, 6 and 34 mega watts of electricity respectively.
In his words, "Government is concentrating on small and medium hydros. All over the country we have a lot of dams managed by respective agencies through the federal ministry of water resources, this dams were conceived for irrigation, and water supply purposes only.
Related stories: CNN reports on Nigeria's electricity crisis
African Heads of government, scientists and scholars have been urged to develop and diffuse the excitement and promise of the 21st century in science and technology that could lead to an "African Renaissance", if the continent's aspiration for self-sustainability is to be achieved in no distant time.
Managing Director of the WorldBank Group and Chair, Nelson Mandela Institute (NMI)'s Board of Directors, Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala made the call shortly after the second distinguished lecture series, organised by the NMI in collaboration with the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), at the AUST campus in Abuja recently.
The acquisition of knowledge, she said, was not enough. Its utilisation in solving African peoples' problems should be a paramount priority of Africans both at home and in the Diaspora. Okonjo-Iweala delivered the first lecture in the series held last year.
Delivering the Second Distinguished Lecture titled, 'New Frontiers in Science and Technology for African Development, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University, USA, Oluwole Soboyejo presented some examples of recent collaborations between African and international scientists in the area of science and technology, which were yet to be tapped by successive governments in Africa.
Such findings include, possible strategy for African solar cell /LED manufacturing, scaled up pilot plants to manufacture solar cells, early detection of cancer mechanism using therapeutical drugs manufactured from magnetic fields, to mention a few.
Soboyejo, thanked NMI and the leadership of AUST, for finding him fit to deliver the lecture and promised to make himself available in the call for self- independence by Africa in science and technology-related fields.
Guests at the lecture include, Chief Executive of NMI, Prof. Funmi Arewa; Hamza Isa Baba from the FCT Agency for Science and Technology; Dr Boubou Cisse of the WorldBank and NMI Liaison to AUST; Nwosa Lucky of NOTAP, Resident Surveyor, FCDA, Joe Odoh and a host of AUST leadership, led by the Acting President, Prof. Charles Ejike Chidume.
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The scars are still visible, the people are still scared, Governments are still cautious, and the victims are still waiting for some kinds of relief, one year after the sectarian insurgency that claimed thousands of lives in Borno, Bauchi, Yobe and Kano states. The mention of a planned anniversary protest by members of the dreaded sect, Boko Haram, recently was enough to cause a lot of panic, with the deployment of intelligence officers to fish out suspected members across Borno state. Nobody is ready to take another chance with Boko Haram, even with the death of its leaders.
Suspects arrested during the crisis have not been convicted, while their victims still cry for justice. Those who lost properties are claiming that they have not been compensated. Religious leaders are still busy trying to reorient their followers and build their confidence in adherents of other faiths. Islam as a religion which name was dubiously employed to execute that devilish act has been trying hard to clear its name and make others realize that it is indeed a religion of peace. Indeed, Boko Haram has left a sour taste in the mouths of Nigerians, especially in Borno state where it had its operational headquarters.
The Nigerian Police, the biggest casualty of that war, is still suffering with its personnel being dismissed for their alleged roles in the elimination of the ring leaders of the sect, even as it is being cajoled to pay compensations to aggrieved families of the supposed victims of the violence. At the last count, all principal officers of the police who held sway during the crisis have suffered some form of punishment or deprivations, even as the fate of many junior officers hang in the balance. The same police that sacrificed their lives to save citizens from the sect are today being persecuted, and nobody seems to have any kind words for them.
As Nigerians mark the first anniversary of that mindless war, the police have become increasingly passive and apparently uncooperative because of what has befallen its officers and men in the aftermath of the uprising. The second in command to the sect leader is reported to be hiding out somewhere within the shores of Nigeria from where he gives instructions and even granted press interviews, with apparently no fears of any possible arrest. With the agency that is supposed to arrest him decapacitated, it is very unlikely that if a similar crisis occurs today, no security agency will be willing to intercede for Nigerians given the fate that has befallen the Nigerian police for suppressing the Boko Haram insurgency.
Members of Boko Haram are having the last laugh, now that they are no longer under any sort of threat. Even those arrested and are being prosecuted do not appear to be under any threat whatsoever of being convicted for killing fellow human beings, given the shoddy manner the prosecution is going on. More worrisome to many people, especially victims of the carnage, is the apparent sympathy those facing trial for involvement with the sect seem to be enjoying from highly placed Nigerians. And against a recent judgment to the effect that the Police and Borno state Government were ordered to pay money to the family of a suspect killed during the fracas, Nigerians are beginning to despair in fighting Boko Haram.
Whether adherents of Boko Haram mark the anniversary or not, and even if their victims mark one of the demise of their lost one, and attendant loss of property or not, the fact remains that the post Boko Haram era is being badly managed, and the Nigerian police that deserves a pat on the back for suppressing it are being persecuted. Short of defending the Police, I hasten to say that the authorities are gradually killing the spirit of gallant men and women in the Police who are willing to lay down their lives in the defense of citizens.
Policemen, as the initial primary target of the sect, coupled with the fact that the force lost men and officers, including trainees while the crisis lasted was enough provocation for the police to kill their attackers, no matter the mode of killing. That today residents of Borno state are clamouring for a return of the Anti Crime squad, Operation Flush II, following renewed threats of another insurgency and other related security problems, is an ample pointer to the fact that the police did the right thing after all. It is rather unfortunate that people failed to appreciate the actions of the police within the context of the threats to it as an institution, and to the lives of individual policemen on or off duty in Borno state at that time.
In a war situation like the one the police found themselves, there are no ground rules; those killed deliberately or mistakenly fall under what is regarded as casualties of war. I know as a matter of policy that there are provisions for casualties in crisis situations and nobody bears the blame for incurring casualties, especially in trying to suppress an insurrection against the state. I know that those who lost their commissions or jobs as fallout of the boko haram crisis have grudgingly accepted their fates, but the truth remains that they are victims of a wrongly conceived situation.
Perhaps, the confidence of many other policemen who may be called upon for similar assignments may be restored if those punished or dismissed are treated as gallant officers, called to duty as a response to an obvious threat to national security. I think the police authorities have been playing to the gallery in punishing their men over the Boko Haram debacle.
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President Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday praised the Nigerian Falconets for their historic performance at the just concluded 2010 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup in Germany, saying he looks forward to hosting them on heir return.
In a message to the team after the final match which Nigeria lost to Germany, Jonathan expressed the nation's "sincerest appreciation of the exemplary dedication, patriotism, commitment to national service and excellence which the Falconets displayed".
He saluted the courage, determination, doggedness, stamina, skills and sense of national pride which were visible in all the matches they played in the tournament.
Noting that doing one's best whenever the opportunity presents itself to serve one's nation is the most any country can ask of its people, the President said the entire nation was proud of the Falconets in spite of their loss to the hosts in the final match.
This is because "the girls clearly tried, to the very best of their God-given abilities, and against all odds, to win the ultimate prize of the competition for Nigeria", said Jonathan.
According to him, "wearing our national colours as you did in Germany, with self-belief, patriotic commitment, discipline and a burning desire to achieve victory for our dear nation is what we expect from all our sportsmen and women.
"The entire nation followed your matches with keen interest and we were all positively inspired by your very apparent dedication and commitment to national service.
"I fully believe that with the great human and natural resources our country is blessed with, there can be no limits to our progress as a people if more of our compatriots follow your fine example and put their very best effort into all that they do in whatever area of human endeavour they are called upon to serve Nigeria".
Tension has enveloped the sleepy village of Akabor, Ahiara in Ahiazu Local Government Area of Imo State after 45-year-old Bernard Anyanwu beheaded his only son, Chikaodi, in a forest on Wednesday.
The incident, a reminiscent of the infamous "Otokoto" saga of Owerri, has sparked off fear and apprehension as some Akabor residents have started fleeing home for fear of being arrested.
The Otokoko saga emerged from the killing of one master Ikechukwu Okonkwo for rituals, which triggered a chain of violent protests in Owerri in 1996. Indigenes of Owerri, particularly the youths, women and children, took to the streets en masse to burn and destroy property believed to belong to suspected ritual killers who are today referred to as the Otokoto Seven.
The fearful Otokoto drama reached its peak in 1997, when about six men were publicly executed by firing squad over alleged armed robbery charges and ritual killings. Those executed were: Obidiozor Duru, Chidi Onuoha and Amanze Onuoha (brothers); Collins Ndulaka, Sydney Onyechege and Mac Donald Ebere. Former Military Governor of Imo State, Colonel Tanko Zubairu (rtd), quickly signed their death warrants in an effort to rid the state of the rising cases of suspected ritual killings.
In the latest case, police sources said the wife of the suspect, Charity, has already made a statement at the Ahiazu Police Station and that the suspect, a motor mechanic, is now being detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) in Owerri, the state capital.
An eyewitness account narrated that Anyanwu had told the wife that he wanted their only son, aged 13, to accompany him to the nkporo (local name for the village's forest) near a river to fetch some woods for the repair of their dilapidated building.
But the suspect later returned from the forest allegedly carrying a cellophane bag containing human flesh with blood dripping down.
Confronted by an insane man on arrival to the village, the suspect was said to have rebuffed the insane man and proceeded home where, with the combined efforts of the insane man and another drunkard, the villagers were alerted .
The suspect was said to have overpowered those that initially came to arrest him on discovery of what the two men were raising alarm for. He was however arrested on Thursday, 24 hours after the incident by the police and Akabor vigilante group.
A native of the town who sought anonymity said Anyanwu once suffered from insanity and that a similar incident occurred in the same family two years ago.
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