CNN's Christian Purefoy reports on the business behind the worst-ever recorded lead poisoning outbreak in Nigeria.
CNN's Christian Purefoy reports on the business behind the worst-ever recorded lead poisoning outbreak in Nigeria.
Her name is Comfort Sunday, but she is presently in dire need of comfort. Indeed hers is the heart-rending story of a young girl who was declared a witch and member of a secret cult by some members of her family.
And in a bid to compel her to confess to being guilty as charged, she was bathed with an acidic substance by her father, James Sunday.
As a result, Comfort was not only disfigured but has become a horror figure, a far cry from her former beautiful self. Here she tells her story, while pleading with relevant authorities and indeed all Nigerians to rally to her aid.
I am Comfort Sunday; I am 14 years old and in Junior Secondary School 1, Akwanga South. I played volley ball and I am a fast runner. I will like to be a scientist when I grow up. I presently don’t have any of my past pictures; I had to tear all of them because they no longer represent who I am.
Some two years back, when we were on holidays, my dad said I should go and help my maternal grandfather on the farm. He lives somewhere not far from here. But my grandfather said that he did not need help on the farm at that time. He said I should return after a week or so to help one of his daughters (my aunty) harvest beans.
So I left to visit one of my sisters who was staying with my paternal grandfather. I was to spend my holidays there. I stayed for a few days. I returned home one Friday so that I ccould attend a wedding on Saturday before going to my maternal grandfather to help his daughter on the farm.
When I came home that Friday, I saw a fresh grave behind our house. I asked what happened and was told that my grandfather who had not been too well, fell ill and died. That it was his grave. I wept so much, because he was a very good Baba to me. He loved me very much. Anything I asked of him, he tried to give me.
Then the following day, being a Saturday, my father’s sister, Aunty Barmani, came with one pastor from Abuja. She works in Abuja. I don’t know what kind of work she is doing.
She and that pastor called me. They asked me if I was in the secret cult. I told them that I am not in any secret cult. I told them that I don’t know anything about secret cult.
The pastor came with a bag. I don’t know what was inside. He asked me several questions, but I told him I don’t know anything about what he was asking me. He then called my sister aside. My sister came back and told me that I was in the secret cult.
The pastor left that afternoon. Aunty Barmani slept in the house.
But, early in the morning, she woke us up for prayers. It was then she told us that I was in the secret cult; that one of my grandfathers who lives at Alushi should come and hear about what she has found out about me.
Later, the grandfather came with one of our brothers. Barmani told them that I was the one that killed my grandfather. My father was very angry with me. He ordered me to pack my things from my other grandfathers’s house and return home.
I did so. After about two weeks of my return, one of my step brothers took ill. His name is Abel, and he is five years old. My father said that I was the cause of my brother’s sickness. But I said I was not the one.
The next day, I went to school. But I was very sad, so I returned home. The next morning, around 4 o’clock, my father woke me from sleep. He said that I should escort him to the village.
My step mother woke up and ask where we were going, and my father told her that we were going to the village. We left and followed the path that passed through the home of Mary Ewungulu (a member of the Nasarawa State House of Assembly).
As we walked on my father asked me when we would be writing our exams. And I told him it would be next Monday. He was carrying something in a bag. I didn’t know what was in the back. We arrived an uncompleted building that night. It was the only building around the place. He then told me that it was the village we were visiting. And I said I have never been to this village.
He said I should sit down. At that point I became afraid. He looked at me and shook his head. He then started folding his trousers. He then opened the bag and removed a container with some liquid in it. He poured some in a cup and gave it to me. He said if I was a witch and I drank it I would vomit. That If I was not, I would not vomit.
I said I was not a witch. I took the cup. I first tasted it with my tongue and the thing burnt my tongue. So I refused to drink it, and I poured it away. He said I must drink it, but I refused. So he held me and we struggled.
I started to run, and he was pursuing me. As I was running, he threw the liquid on my hands and my legs. I felt it burning my skin. I ran very fast, and then I hit something and fell. That was when he reached me. He grabbed and pulled me up, and I started begging him to have mercy on me. I told him that If I was a witch, he should take me to our Reverend Father to pray for me. But he dragged me back to the uncompleted building. When we reached there, he poured the liquid on me again. By now my hands and legs were burrning, and my back too. He said I must drink the liquid. I said I would not. He started forcing me to drink, but I refused.
He was shouting: “You must drink this”! But I pleaded with him, saying: “I don’t want to drink it, please Baba “.
When he could not force me to drink it, he splashed the liquid in the cup he was holding on my face. I started shouting. He poured some more on my body and I started running, not seeing where I was going.
I opened my eyes, and it was already getting bright. I saw a man riding Okada. I ran to him and begged him to help me. As he was asking me what happened, my father emerged from the bush. I ran back in the direction of the remote house. From there I managed to get back home.
When my stepmother saw me, she gave me water to bathed with.
I could not talk at this point. My step mother thought that I was beaten. But, some boys around our house told her that it was acid that was poured on me. I don’t know who told them. There were some dark, round swellings on my face and body.
My father returned home and found me. He called me into the room. When I went in he started to cry. He said that I should forgive him. I told him I had forgiven him.
He then took me back to my grandfather at Alushi and left me there. He said he did not want my mother’s people to see the way I was looking. He never visited me again. I don’t know how long I was there. But one day, one of my mother’s brothers came; his name is Luka. He works at Our Lady of Apostle (OLA) Hospital.
He heard what happened so he came to see me.
When my uncle saw me, he was very angry. He went to our house and made trouble for my father. He threatened to deal with my father if he did not treat me. The following day, my father came with two men, who gave me injection. I think they were doctors.
But, the growth on my face and body only seemed to increase the more. Then one retired doctor came again, gave more injections and rubbed the places with engine oil. I felt no improvement
I was taken to a pharmacist who gave me another injection. The next day I was taken to one Sister Franka. She is a Police woman.
She was to pray for me. The woman told me that I was a witch; that I was a wicked person. While, there, our most senior sister, Alice who is a teacher, came there. I don’t know the name of her school. She said that if she ever saw me at home, she would not allow me go to sleep; that she would pour petrol on me and burn me. I ran to one Ibo man who is a pastor by name, Pastor Chukwu. His house is on the way to Wanba. I told him about my problem.
He said that if he allowed me stay with him, people may start gossipping about it. The pastor, however, went to our Reverend Father and told him about me. The Father promised to help treat my wounds, but told the pastor to take me to the police station.
At the station, the pastor wrote down what happened to me.My father was invited to station. He was put behind the counter.
My father spoke in our language and told me not to say that he poured something on me. But one of the police men happen to come from our area and understood what he said. He was very angry. He told the other police men what my father said. They started beating my father and later locked him up.
The police men said that I should call any of my mother’s relations. So, we called Luka. The DPO said that Luka should take me with him. But, Luka was also angry. He said that my father never allowed me to visit him. That my father had killed my mother when I was small. That my father should just go on and kill me too.
I had to return home. But my father was eventually taken to Lafia Police Station. He later returned. I was told that one of his nephews who is a lawyer, stood bail for him.
I have forgiven my father because it is good to forgive people. But I want to go back to school. Please tell the government to help me. I want the public to help me too. I don’t want to live like this.
All attempts to meet the father for his side of the story were not possible, as he played hide-and-seek with Vanguard Metro team.
When Vanguard Metro visited the Divisional Police Headquarters, Akwanga, its Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Mr Damon Peters (SP) confirmed the case. He told Vanguard Metro that the case was brought to the Station before he was posted to Akwanga.
He brought the case file, and corroborated all that Comfort told Vanguard Metro.
On why the suspect was still moving free, he said: “The case is now with the Criminal Investigation Department in Lafia. I cannot say he is free of the charges yet. But, this Station has no more hand in that case. The only place you can get more information is in Lafia”.
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The Nigerian Immigration Service has decried the reactivation of slavery and slave trade through human trafficking and child labour with international networks where Nigerians have been traffickers and victims as well.
As a result of the high frequency of trafficking in persons and child labour, the service said the practice has caused the stigmatisation of Nigerians in world view and has become a huge embarrassment to the nation.
The service praised the legal commitment of the country in establishing the National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Person and other Related Matters as well as ratifying the flurry of legal frameworks for the combat against traffic in person and the child rights Act.
It, however, regretted that its hands were tied by the "legal and administrative limitations as well as inadequacies as veritable partners "of the sole body set up to combat the crime because the Immigration Acts of 1963 and other legal documents have not adequately accommodated the security challenges of trafficking persons and child labour.
Disclosing the development in a communique in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, after the Immigration Stakeholders' Conference, it said "the situation has thus intensified the call by the NIS for among other things, the establishment of immigration courts to take care of these security presentations.
Further, the service said there was "the need to make all the country's 147 approved land border control posts operational, in order to checkmate irregular migration, human trafficking and trans-border crimes.
The communique reeled out scores of constraints "mitigating against the performance of the NIS, including inadequate funding, lack of opportunities for the personnel to administer visa in many of Nigeria's diplomatic missions abroad.
There is also the present challenge of the service to reduce the influx of irregular immigrants, most of whom are of the Asian extradition into the country by way of quota trafficking. Also, the need to fully computerize NIS with regards to the expatriate quota administration".
Participants agreed that "there is need for attitudinal change on the part of security operatives, particularly immigration officers which will enhance the rights and dignity of Nigerians and indeed all immigration publics in a democratic environment".
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The federal government has charged Charles Okah and his brother Henry Okah for the abduction of nine expatriate oil workers in the restive Niger Delta this year.
According to papers filed in the magistrate court in Abuja yesterday, Henry Okah, who is on trial in South Africa over the Nigeria Independence Day bombings, was shown as being at large.
Charles, arraigned with three others at a magistrate court in Abuja, was accused of "criminal conspiracy, criminal intimidation, threat to lives and causing grievous bodily harm."
They were accused of kidnapping and abduction of nine expatriate oil workers of Addax Oil at the Bonny Anchorage in Rivers State this year.
The kidnapped workers according to the prosecution counsel Charles Osagie are four Indians, three French men and two Russians.
Charles and three other men denied taking the hostages, as all the accused pleaded not guilty when the charges were read to them by court officials.
The magistrate Mrs Oyebola Oyewunmi ordered that they be remanded in State Security Service custody until December 24th.
Charles was arrested last month over the Indepe-ndence Day attacks in Abuja. His brother remains in custody in South Africa and is accused of masterminding the car-bombings that killed 12 people and left several others injured.
The oil workers were freed last week in a raid of militant camps in the Niger Delta spearheaded by the Joint Task Force. Nineteen oil workers were rescued unhurt in the military operation.
The city of Lagos, Nigeria, is running out of space, but a land reclamation project could help tackle the problem.
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With a projected 12.4 million inhabitants in 2015, Lagos is set to become Africa's most populous city, ahead of Cairo's 11 million inhabitants. The projection was contained in a report released on Wednesday by the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT).
The report urged African nations to prepare for massive urban population growth, the UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria.
According to UN-HABITAT, Cairo, home to 15 per cent of Egypt's population is presently ranked Africa's most populous city with 11.1 inhabitants, ahead of Lagos's current population of 10.9 million. However by 2020, Kinshasa's 12.7 million would also have overtaken Cairo's then 12.5 million population.
Also, Kinshasa will be the fastest-growing city in absolute terms, by no less than four million, a 46 per cent increase for its 2010 population of 8.7 million.
The report said Lagos was the second fastest with a projected 3.5 million addition, or a 33.8 per cent increase.
"Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Ouagadougou, Cairo, Abidjan, Kano and Addis Ababa will all see their populations increase by more than one million before 2020," it said.
With the average for the 10 proportionally fastest growing cities put at about 51 per cent, the report said, Abuja, Bamako, Luanda, Lubumbashi and Nairobi are projected to grow at rates between 47 peer cent and 50 per cent over the current decade. Similarly, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Mbuji_Mayi and Niamey are projected to grow between 50 per cent and 57 per cent.
Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN_HABITAT, said: "urbanisation is here to stay and within a few decades Africa will be predominantly urban.
"The issue now is for regional and national governments, local authorities and all other stakeholders to pull together to ensure the efficient management of urban agglomerations.
'Smart urban policies could help spread the benefits and lift the continent out of poverty.
The report, entitled "The State of African Cities 2010: Governance, Inequalities and Urban Land Markets", highlighted some positive developments on urbanisation in the continent.
It noted the general reduction in the number of slum dwellers across Africa and the potential of urban corridors across the continent to drive growth, especially of land-locked countries.
However, the report warned that Africa would suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change and that accurate counting of slum dwellers is very difficult, because many poor people move between urban and rural locations in search of work.
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Catholic Pontiff, Pope Benedict XVI, has bestowed an honour on Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi.
The award is said to be in appreciation of Obi’s selfless, remarkable and distinctive contributions to human development and nation-building.
Pope Benedict XVI approved the recognition on the recommendations of the Bishops of the Association of Episcopal Conference of Anglophone West Africa, AWCAWA.
The pontifical honour was conferred on behalf of His Holiness by His Grace, Archbishop Joseph Ukpo of Calabar during the 6th convocation of Catholic Institute of West Africa, CIIWA, Port Harcourt.
The governor, whose award was received by the State Commissioner for Works, Mr. Calistus Ilozumba, thanked His Holiness for the award which, he said, would inspire the governor to do more for humanity.
Established in 1981 by the Catholic Bishops of Anglophone West Africa, CIWA has a tradition of “pioneering inculcation within the framework of contextualizing theology.”
Created with a dual pontifical and civil charter, there are currently plans to elevate the institute to an ecclesiastical university.
Speaking on Governor Obi’s acceptance of the award against his perceived reluctance to accept honours by organizations and communities, Senior Special Assistant to the governor on Communications, Mr. Ifeanyi Ubabukoh, said every rule had an exception.
“The governor is mindful that he is still at work; some awards are genuine and will inspire him to work harder; some others are anything but noble and will only distract him,” he said.
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The Nigerian army has arrested at least 50 militants suspected of involvement in kidnappings of oil workers.
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CNN's Christian Purefoy reports on the containers of drugs and weapons seized in Nigeria.
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Former first lady of Delta State, Chief (Mrs.) Theresa Nkoyo Ibori has bagged a five-year jail term for money laundering.
Reports monitored on www.saharareporters.com yesterday said a London jury in her Southwark Crown Court trial returned a guilty verdict against her.
Mrs. Ibori was found guilty on two counts of money laundering while her husband's United Kingdom (UK) lawyer, Mr. Bhadresh Gohil, who was on trial with her, was also found guilty on all counts of money laundering. He has been remanded in police custody.
Gohil will be sentenced after the conclusion of another trial involving the laundering of proceeds of V-Mobile shares by James Ibori, Henry Imashekka, David Edevbie and former Akwa Ibom governor, Victor Attah. The trial, according to the report, will open on Monday.
The court had, in a previous trial, sent Ibori's sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie, and his mistress, Udoamaka Okoronkwo-Onuigbo to jail. They will be joined in jail by Mrs. Ibori.
UK authorities are also awaiting final outcome of an appeal against an extradition ruling against Ibori, in the United Arab Emirate.
In the course of the trial, attempts by Mrs. Ibori's lawyers to make her escape justice failed at her prosecutors painted a detailed portrait of her detailed role in her husband's looting of public funds. The prosecutors also implicated Emmanuel Uduaghan in the multiple fraudulent deals through which Mr. Ibori looted the treasury.
Lead prosecutor Sasha Wass, told the jury that Mrs. Ibori paid £2.2 million pounds in cash for a swanky home in Hampstead less than two years after her husband's inauguration as governor. Wass told the jury that not only did Ibori obtain the house by fraudulent means but also that Mrs. Ibori was aware of it since her husband put her in charge of the transaction.
The Crown prosecutors described the fraudulent acquisition of the Hampstead property as the beginning of Mrs. Ibori's rise to extreme wealth.
Wass asked the jury to consider the Iboris' criminal record, including their conviction in the UK for alleged petty theft a few years before Mr. Ibori maneuvered his way into the governor's mansion in Asaba. Prosecutors also laid out how US authorities investigated Ibori's million-dollar deposit in a US bank in 1994. She told the jury that US law enforcement agents concluded that Ibori lied when he claimed to have received the funds for consultancy work. Earlier, Ibori had forfeited $400,000 out of the $1 million to the United States (US) government.
A legal analyst in court said the prosecution "did a superb job of portraying Mr. and Mrs. Ibori as a tag-team criminal partnership." He added: "Money is seized in the US only when there's probable cause -or what UK law calls reasonable suspicion."
UK prosecutors told the jury that Ibori was asked to provide evidence of the legitimacy of the funds, but he opted to part with a huge chunk of it in order to settle the case. Ms. Wass said the transaction marked Ibori's entrance into the criminal big leagues. She also observed that contrary to Mrs. Ibori's attempt to deny knowledge of Ibori's criminal activity, the former First Lady was fully aware of her husband's illicit financial deals in the US as well as the UK.
Ms. Wass reminded the jury that Mrs. Ibori went along with her husband's decision to falsify his date of birth in order to conceal his criminal past and convictions in the UK. Under cross-examination, Theresa Ibori had acknowledged that she found her husband's action to be wrong, but said it was against the tradition in her adopted culture to challenge him. However, Ms. Wass reminded the jury that Mrs. Ibori had indeed challenged her husband on other issues.
Prosecutors revealed how Mr. Ibori made misleading declarations of his assets. He did not declare his foreign bank accounts. In 1999 he only declared his homes in Nigeria as well as a flat in Abbey Road, St Johns Wood area in London. For cash in bank, he declared a debt of more than N1 million while cash in hand was about N400, 000 thousand. In 2007, Mr. Ibori declared another house in London, but understated its value. Even though the house was worth £3 million, Ibori declared it as worth £300,000.
Prosecutors accused the former governor, with his wife's knowledge, of systematically misstating the value of his property. They also told the jury that, by 2007, Mr. Ibori had added three more properties in the UK as well as homes in Texas and South Africa. He also had established a series of off shores trust funds in safe haven islands for himself, his wife and children. Yet, in his assets declaration form in Nigeria, when he was asked to indicate cash abroad, he entered "non-applicable."
Ms. Wass revealed how Mr. Ibori established several companies, including MER Engineering, and used them as fronts to award contracts to himself. Ibori's companies also received contracts and revenues from the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.
Investigators accused Emmanuel Uduaghan, who prior to 2007 served as secretary to the state government (SSG), of facilitating the illicit deals. Most of the contracts that went to one of Ibori's front companies -Sagicom, Rivbed or Sigares - were heavily over-inflated. Prosecutors revealed that most of the contracts were for N1.8 billion or above, including for the supply of fine wine and beverages.
Ms. Wass said Ms. Okoronkwo was responsible for transferring the proceeds out of Nigeria where the funds were invested for Ibori. Ms. Okoronkwo was also often used as a conduit to pay for Ibori's properties in the UK. It was revealed that, by the end of 2003, Okoronkwo had deposited more than £3 million in the trust fund that was meant to benefit Theresa, her children and Mr. Ibori. Sagicom was the corporate vehicle Okoronkwo used to channel the funds.
Prosecutors showed that Ms. Okoronkwo engaged in forgery of documents on her computer that Mr. Ibori then signed. The forged documents were meant to deceive bankers in the UK as well as safe havens around the world. Ms. Wass said Okoronkwo worked for both James and Theresa Ibori, dismissing Mrs. Ibori's suggestion that she and Udoamaka were fighting over Mr. Ibori. Instead, according to Ms. Wass, the two women helped the same man to siphon money that belonged to the people of Delta State and Nigeria.
On a day filled with legal drama, including defense protests that the prosecution had unfairly tarred Mrs. Ibori by tying her to the convicted Udoamaka Okoronkwo, prosecutors also pressed their case against Ibori's attorney, Bhadresh Gohil. Mr. Gohil, who decided not to testify after observing the methodical way the prosecution dismantled Mrs. Ibori during cross-examination, was described as Mr. Ibori's launderer-in-chief.
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Governor Baba-tunde Fashola of Lagos State has said that in the next couple of months the state government, in collaboration with Nollywood, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the Brazilian Government to teach Brazilian artistes movie production.
Governor Fashola made this known in Alausa during a courtesy visit by Nollywood actors and actresses under the aegis of Lagos Artistes for Fashola, LAFF, led by Mr. Segun Arinze who are championing the campaign for Fashola’s second term in office.
His said: “There is an offer on the table from the Brazilian government which the state government is yet to harness. The last time I visited Brazil, the Brazilian Minister for Tourism asked that they will like to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with Nigerians to teach Brazilians on how to produce home videos.
“That offer is still on the table and we are yet to harness it because we are yet to have this type of forum where we can work out the necessary modalities. As soon as the artistes are ready, I will re-establish the contact and open up the network.”
so that whatever benefits comes from the contract, the credit goes to the country and the movie industry.”
Fashola, however, commended the artistes for their support during the 2007 electoral campaign and urged them to promote the ideals that would better the lots of the people in the society.
The Governor said: “By sheer deed of commitment, you have found a way where there seems to be no way. You have helped to address youth restiveness and unemployment.”
adding that lots of youths had not been harnessed in the area of cinematography.
“How many Nigerian universities offer courses in cinematography? I champion this course that Nigerian universities should offer courses in such area. Many of you were probably forced into acting out of necessities.”
He appealed to the actors and actresses to use their movies to shape and fight the ills in the society rather than negative exposure, citing several cases were Police were portrayed in bad light in movie scenes.
He said: “Maybe you may not pay attention to the values you portray, but I do. Your work is influential and you can use it to promote the image of this country. For instance, our Police are doing well.
“Any time you produce movies and you get to a police scene, they are always portrayed as badly dressed, that is the image you are sending out.”
Speaking earlier, Arinze also commend Fashola. He said: “Governor Fashola had done tremendously well and is an actualiser. And that is the reason why I have gathered my colleagues who have made impact in the movie industry in the state to come together to support your Second term bid.
“We have come together for the actualization of your second term. I don’t care whose ox is gored. We will stick with you throughout the campaign period until the victory is won,” he said.
Arinze added that the artistes would release album, jingles and the rest to sensitise the people and ensured that they voted for the governor next year, stressing that “there is now a brand called ‘BRF.’
“We will go to the grassroots to mobilize the people, we will support you; you will get our backing and support,” Arinze said.
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FIFA's Ethics Committee has finally released its ruling on the allegations of vote selling against Nigeria's Dr. Amos Adamu and others.
Dr. Amos Adamu got a three year ban from all football-related activites plus a $10, 000 dollars fine as punishment for his role in the scandal.
In a quick reaction, Dr. Adamu in a statement reiterated his innocence and expressed displeasure with the Ethics Committee's findings.
"I am profoundly disappointed with the Ethics Committee's findings and had honestly believed I would be exonerated of any charges by now," he said.
"I am innocent of all the charges levelled against me by the Ethics Committee and I completely refute the decision they have made.
"I will be lodging a full appeal against it with immediate effect." He said.
The Committee also found Tahiti's Reynald Temarii, Tunisia's Slim Aloulou, Mali's Amadu Diakite, Botswana's Ismael Bhamjee and Tonga's Ahongalu Fusimalohi guilty.
In addition to a $10,000 dollar fine, Bhamjee was banned for four years, Diakite and Fusimalohi for three and Aloulou for two.
Temarii got the least punishment - he was suspended for one year and got slammed with a $5,000 fine.
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Former Eagles defender, Michael Emenalo was yesterday confirmed as Chelsea number two. He is to replace Ray Wilkins, whose contract expired this month.
According to reports from Stamford Bridge, Emenalo was elevated to this position following the "great work" he has been doing for the Blues since he joined as chief scout in 2007.
Emenalo who won 14 caps for the Eagles was part of the team that shook the world at the USA'94 World Cup. He played against Argentina and Greece in the group preliminaries.He was brought to Chelsea by Avram Grant with whom he shared a player and coach relationship in Maccabi Tel Aviv.
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Nigeria and Chelsea midfielder, John Obi Mikel in a veiled response to suggestions by Eagles' coach Samson Siasia for him to quit Chelsea, Mikel has vowed to end his career at Stamford Bridge.
Mikel who has been adjudged the best passer of the ball in the English premier league, said that it was Chelsea that made him the professional player that he is today. He added that teammates at Stamford Bridge are like brothers to him and coach Carlo Anceloti is like a father.
"I love playing here. There are so many nice guys, the players and the staff, everyone. It is more like a home for me.
"I love England and I love London so why go somewhere else? I want to see this club win trophies and I want to be part of it. I want to stay here for the rest of my career,"said Mikel.
He added that when he joined Chelsea from Lyn Oslo, things were difficult because of the transfer tussle between Chelsea and Manchester United.
"It was a hard time, a difficult time, for me. "It put a lot of pressure on me. I didn't expect it to go that way I just wanted a normal transfer, but obviously it went on for more than a year.
"I went to Lyn Oslo and played maybe just five or six games and then it all happened. I've always said this is where I want to be. People said you're not going to get games because there are lots of big players.
"People were putting pressure on me, about the decision of whether to go to Chelsea or United. I made my choice and stuck by it."
He said that former Chelsea coach, Jose Mourinho helped him to be focused.
"Every time I did something wrong, every mistake I made, he would get Didier Drogba to talk to me. I was off it, I didn't know what I was doing. It was hard for me to take responsibility,"
He said Ancelotti has also given him equal attention."Carlo's always talking to me. He's always there to give me advice and I take it, whether he's criticising me or giving me positive advice. He played the same role I played so maybe he is trying to make me be a bit like him."
Siasia said last week that Mikel's game has taken a dip following his stay at Chelsea. He urged the former under-20 star to join a new club if he is to rediscover himself in football.
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By the African supergroup "ONE8" which includes artists JK (Zambia), Fally Ipupa (DRC), 2Face (Nigeria), Amani (Kenya), Navio (Uganda), Movaizhaleine (Gabon), 4x4 (Ghana) and Alikiba (Tanzania) along with the American RnB superstar, R. Kelly.
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The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the attack on the ExxonMobil Ibeno oil facility in Akwa Ibom State, six weeks after it hit Abuja with bomb blasts that killed and maimed.
The MEND warned that it would, in the coming weeks, launch a major operation to cripple oil business, a reminder of the attacks on oil facilities that began in 2006 and lasted till the amnesty deal was struck in October last year.
MEND Spokesman Jomo Gbomo said the latest incident began at about 2040 hours Nigerian time and ended at about 2237 hours after its fighters detonated explosives earlier rigged to the facility, causing damage.
Seven employees were abducted, as happened in another attack at the Okoro oil field on November 7.
The MEND explained that hostages were taken to prevent the government from attributing the damage to an industrial accident.
Gbomo issued a statement which drew the attention of the international community to Nigerian troops' "indiscriminate bombing and strafing of communities" in the Niger Delta and locations in the creeks and swamps suspected of accommodating militia camps.
He alleged that at about 1400 hours on November 15, soldiers "carried out such an attack as described above, in one of our camps in Rivers State.
"Expatriate hostages held at this location had to be removed and relocated for their safety as rocket attacks by the Nigerian military came very close to these individuals.
"The Nigerian Government should be mindful of the fact that these activities are endangering the lives of these hostages who otherwise would come to no harm in our custody."
The statement said no amount of military activities will secure the release of the hostages, who will be set free when the MEND decides to.
It noted that Abuja "has refused to dialogue over addressing the injustice in the Niger Delta preferring instead to deceive the world into believing that the Niger Delta issue has been resolved by the government of Goodluck Jonathan who has only been successful in bribing a few miscreants."
Related stories: Video - MEND attack on independence day
Nigeria Football Association (NFA) has set a 2014 World Cup semi-final target for Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia.
Eagles reached the second round qualification in 1994 and 1998, crashing out at the group stage in the 2002 and 2010 editions. Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2006 edition in Germany.
No African team has reached the last four of the World Cup with Ghana's Black Stars coming within a whisker of this milestone at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Cameroon reached the quarter-final in 1990 while Senegal repeated same feat at the 2002 World Cup
But the NFA has asked Siasia to ensure that the team reaches the semi-final of the 2014 edition in Brazil.
MTNFootball.com has scooped that the four-year contract, which Siasia will sign on his formal presentation at the end of November, set out this target for the coach.
Interestingly, Siasia's Dutch assistant, Simon Kalika, has also disclosed their target is to reach the semi-finals of the next World Cup.
"What Samson has in his mind is that the Eagles must surpass what they have achieved so far. For him, Nigeria must play in the final of the 2012 Africa Nations Cup and must also play in the semi-final of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil," Kalika told MTNFootball.com.
"This may look like a tall order but it is achievable. Everything is a matter of good and long-term planning."
Siasia's contract also spells out semi-final targets at the 2012 and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations for the new coach.
The renewal of Siasia's for another two years is dependant on he reaching the semi-finals at the tournament to be staged in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea in 2012.
Nigeria is three points behind Guinea in the qualifying campaign for the competition after two rounds of matches with only the group winners guaranteed automatic ticket to the finals.
The Super Eagles has won the biennial championship twice, in 1980 on home soil and in 1994 in Tunisia. Nigeria have at least reached the semi-finals of the tournament 13 times.
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Nigerian filmmakers hope to entice new audiences with stronger stories and production quality.
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Nigeria's lenders reported mixed results for the 9 months to September this year while reflecting a nascent recovery amid continuing challenges. ABN's Wole Famurewa looks at what these numbers tell us about the changing landscape of banking in Nigeria.
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New Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia, on Monday blurted out at Chelsea, criticising the premier league side for destroying John Mikel Obi's game. In this report, Salifu Usman x-rays Mikel's commitment to his club and fatherland.
Samson Siasia, shortly after his appointment as the Super Eagles coach, voiced his opinion about the effect of Chelsea's playing tactics on Mikel John Obi. Siasia lamented that Mikel's natural attacking instincts have been stamped out of his game entirely since moving to the English top flight. "The system in Chelsea actually destroyed Mikel's game," said Siasia. "Mikel is an offensive player, but when he moved to Chelsea, they changed him because they had a better player offensivewise, like Frank Lampard, who can score goals. What Jose Mourinho did was to bring Mikel back, because how many goals has Mikel scored? He brought him back so that Lampard and Ballack could play in the offensive."
Coach Siasia wasn't done: "I don't think he is playing in his natural position, because we all saw what Mikel played in 2005 and everybody loved him for what he did; he can keep the ball and create chances for the strikers to score goals."
Siasia's comments were born out of his frustration to find a creative midfielder who will drive his new Super Eagles. The 23-year-old Mikel, who was five years ago in Holland adjudged the second best player at the Under-20 World Cup behind Lionel Messi, is expected to play a big role in the Super Eagles under Siasia. Since the exit of Austin Jay Jay Okocha from the Super Eagles, Nigeria has been left without a consistently fine creative midfielder to direct Eagles' midfield, and after Mikel's superlative performance at the Under-20 level, it was largely expected by Nigerian soccer fans that the former young African Player of the Year would step into Okocha's shoes. But that did not come be, as the player's attacking instincts have been changed to defensive contentment by Chelsea's compelling structure.
Siasia advised the 23-year-old player to quit Chelsea and move to a club which can accommodate him in an attacking midfield position. However, the player himself is happy at the Bridge and does not intend to move away from his current club. "He has to start playing more offensive to become the Mikel we knew, because it would be difficult to change the way he is playing; he has to move to another club," Siasia said, matter-of-factly.
It has often been a topic of public debate by Nigerians on how Mikel's game is radically different when he pulls on Chelsea's shirt compared to when he plays for the national team. And now, Siasia has added his voice to it by asking the player to do more to his game. "Mikel is a fantastic player, but if you want to be a great player, you have to take risks, do something extra. As a defensive midfielder, you do not have to do much; you just win the ball and pass to the other player. The offensive player takes on more responsibilities," said the man who knows enough about the player.
In the summer of 2005, Mikel, after having an excellent tournament with Nigeria at the FIFA U-20 World Cup where they lost 1-2 to Argentina in the final, had the opportunity to join Manchester United which would have turned him to a better player of Nigeria's dream. Manchester United announced that it had struck a deal with Lyn Oslo to sign the player. United claimed that they had done a deal directly with the teenager and that he had signed a contract to join them. Mikel's agents were bypassed as the club persuaded the youngster to sign a 4-year contract without representation. Lyn Oslo allegedly sent a fax to his agents abroad, claiming their services were no longer required by Mikel. Reports said the deal was initially worth Â£4m and would see the player arrive at Old Trafford in January 2006.
Premier League rivals, Chelsea, later issued a counter-claim, suggesting that they already had an agreement with Mikel and his agents. But Lyn Oslo denied this claim. However, subsequent reports indicated that Chelsea claimed to have been involved in arranging the player's original move to Europe with a view to signing him at a later date. Further substance was added to this claim after it was revealed that the player had impressed then Chelsea manager, José Mourinho, while training with the club's first-team squad during the summer of 2004.
Mikel expressed his delight at joining United at a hastily arranged press conference, where he was pictured holding up a Manchester United shirt, which bore the squad number 21. But Mikel later insisted he was
Related stories: Samson Siasia appointed as new Super Eagles coach
From award winning director comes Black Gold, a powerful story of greed, murder and corruption in the murky waters of the volatile oil rich Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
Black Gold is an epic film about environmental justice and the fight over the control of the scarce oil resources that the world runs on. The line between good and evil is blurred as corrupt government officials, greedy oil companies and violent rebels go on a war path over oil spills and degradation of the land caused by oil exploration.
Starring Billy Zane, Mbong Amata, Hakeem Kae Kazim and Sarah Wayne Callies. Produced by Jeta Amata, Wilson Ebiye, Dede Mabiaku and Hakeem Kae Kazim. Original score and trailer by Joel Goffin.
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The first day of a planned three-day countrywide strike over pay went ahead in Nigeria Wednesday, despite last ditch attempts by President Goodluck Jonathan to avert it.
Federal government offices were deserted whilst banks were shut and public bus services were cancelled.
Schools and gas stations however remained open and privately run taxis were operating as usual as tens of thousands of commuters ignored the strike call.
Jonathan on Tuesday cut short a business visit to Lagos to fly back to the capital Abuja to personally take part in emergency late night talks with the country's main unions.
Those talks ended with the unions saying the strike would proceed as planned, but labour leaders said they would meet again later on Wednesday.
"The only thing we can say ... is that the strike is on until it is called off," said Promise Adewusi, acting president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
The unions had initially demanded an almost 700 per cent pay rise on the national minimum wage, which has stood at 7,500 naira (36 euros) for the past decade despite double-digit inflation.
After months of negotiations, they settled for a 240 per cent pay hike to 18,000 naira (87 euros), but some three months on the government has yet to accept the recommended figure.
It is feared the strike could shut down Nigeria, the world's eighth-largest oil exporter and Africa's most populous country.
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The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has threatened to launch fresh attacks on oil installations across the Niger Delta soon, an online medium, www.oyibosonline.com posted yesterday.
In the report titled, "Mend Plans Serial Attacks on Oil Rigs", the medium said MEND had issued a statement claiming its readiness to turn the table on the amnesty programme by launching new attacks.
"In the coming days, our fighters will launch series of attacks on oil installations across the Niger Delta," the group said in the statement e-mailed by Jomo Gbomo, MEND's spokesperson, the report also said. It also reported that MEND has claimed responsibility for Sunday's hostage taking of seven expatriates after a swoop on oil workers at a coast line in Akwa Ibom State.
The online report posted a letter said to have been issued by mend saying its fighters on Sunday caught some oil expatriates working with Afren, a company engaged in drilling at the Okoro oil field in Akwa Ibom.
Meanwhile, the United States and France have called for the prompt release of all the hostages. "We're, of course, concerned about their safety and hope for their immediate release," U.S State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. Also, the French foreign ministry spokesman confirmed it had received information indicating that two of its nationals had been taken hostage.
"We have indications concerning the abduction... and the possible presence of two French nationals among the people abducted," said ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.
Our correspondent called Lt. Col. Timothy Anthigha, the spokesman of JTF in the Niger Delta to speak on the report but he didn't respond.
Related stories: Video - MEND attack on independence day
Former Technical Director of the Nigeria Football Association, NFA, coach Kashimawo Laloko has described Samson Siasia 's appointment as the new Super Eagles coach as a beginning of a new era in the country's football.
Laloko said that Siasia knows where the shoe pinches, pointing out that he is on ground and has the knowledge on how to get the best out of the players while his consistency with Nigerian football would bring the problem of the game to an end.
Laloko urged Nigerians to be patient with the former Super Eagles striker saying he is not a magician but has the charisma to bring back the country's lost glory in football both in Africa and the world.
The former handler of the defunct Stationary Stores football club of Lagos said appointing Stephen Keshi would have looked like hiring a foreign coach .
"Siasia's appointment is going to bring change to the country's football. He knows where the problems lie and he is presently handling Heartland football club of Owerri in our local league.
"I know what Siasia can do, he has the charisma to carry the players along and as well transform the Super Eagles. He goes to the nooks and crannies of the country to fish out talents from nowhere. We all saw it with the U-20 team in 2005 both in Benin during the Africa Youth Championship and World Youth championship in Holland.
"Again the same happened when he qualified the country for the Beijing Olympics football game final three years later and the team won silver medal. What I am saying is that the right man has been given the job.
"I am not saying that Keshi is not good for the job, but bringing him to take over as the coach is like hiring a foreign coach to handle the team", Laloko surmised.
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Five people were taken hostage on Monday from an oil rig off the coast of Nigeria.
Two of them are believed to be French, according to a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson. The rig in the Delta region was attacked early Monday morning, according to the company that overseas it.
"We have indications concerning the abduction off Lagos and the possible presence of two French nationals among the people abducted," said French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero. "We are looking to confirm these indications."
The British company that oversees the rig, Afren, said only that the oil rig in the Okoro oil fields was attacked and five crew members were likely taken hostage. Two other crew members were wounded.
"Two crew members are stable after receiving wounds to the leg, and have been evacuated by helicopter to a shore-based clinic," said the company in a statement.
The nationalities of the five hostages were not given, but a security source told the AFP news agency that there were two French, two Americans and a Canadian.
Kidnappings are frequent in the Niger Delta, Nigeria's oil production heartland, with groups calling for a better distribution of the country's oil wealth.
Related stories: Three French nationals kidnapped off Nigerian coast
A senior FIFA figure has condemned an undercover investigation into World Cup bidding as "unethical".
The probe by the Sunday Times led to the suspension of two FIFA executive committee members, Nigeria's Amos Adamu and Tahiti's Reynald Temarii.
They were suspended after allegations that they asked for money for projects in return for World Cup votes.
The newspaper also alleged that Qatar's 2022 bid has colluded with the Spain/Portugal 2018 bid.
Mohamed Bin Hammam, the Qatari president of the Asian Football Confederation and a member of the executive committee which will vote on the 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts, has now expressed doubts about the fairness of the newspaper's investigation.
His remarks will increase concerns that England's 2018 bid may suffer from a backlash by Fifa members unhappy at the Sunday Times sting and a programme currently being worked on by BBC Panorama.
Bin Hammam said on his website: "Forging identity, fabricating evidence and setting traps are unethical behaviours in my point of view.
"One thing about Middle East media, these are rare happenings there.
"Is it ethical to use unethical measures to protect the ethic?
"How can we serve justice and look for fairness by not acting justly and fairly? How will we clean dirty laundry by using dirty water?"
Bin Hammam also echoed FIFA president Sepp Blatter in conceding it was a mistake to have the 2018 and 2022 votes on the same day, 2 December.
He said: "We all underestimated the passion for the game around the world; we miscalculated how much football has influence over the feelings of people.
"By admitting that mistake, FIFA executive committee members realised how much it is impossible to demand from their member associations not to talk to each other about their bid.
"The World Cup is the largest business of FIFA. Collusion will always have a chance to happen as far as two bids will be decided together, but we all pray that no corrupted collusion will find its way to the bids."
Bin Hammam also revealed it was Uefa president Michel Platini who made the decisive intervention to prevent the 2022 vote being postponed until next year when he told last Friday's meeting 'we cannot change the rule of the game during the game'.
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Panic gripped the people of Moferere, a suburb of Ajilosun quarters in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State at the weekend as a five-year-old boy, Feranmi Oloyede, hanged himself on a tree within the compound his parents lived.
The development has heightened the suspicion in the State Capital that some dare devil men must have perpetrated the act.
Though, the deceased, whose mother trades in wine at a shopping complex at Moferere junction, was suspected to be playing with a rope hanging from the tree when the incident occurred.
It was reliably gathered that the little boy, identified as a pupil of St. Luis Nursery and Primary School, Ikere-Ekiti, got access to the rope by mounting a high bench which had long been abandoned near the tree.
His lifeless body was said to have been discovered on the tree, which precluded anybody from rendering any help that could bring him back to life.
Feranmi's parents were said to have been kept in an undisclosed location within the state, probably to prevent being disturbed by sympathisers and other interested individuals.
Responding to the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Mr. Mohammed Jimoh, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), said the incident was not reported to the police.
Sources close to the parents of the boy said his remains had since been buried.
Nigeria security services seize hundreds of weapons in shipping containers. CNN's Christian Purefoy reports.
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Nigeria is still awaiting a formal confirmation from world football governing body FIFA that tit has fully lifted the ban on the country.
The Nigeria Football Association (NFA) has informed FIFA that it has met all the demands that would avert a ban on the country.
NFA Acting secretary general, Musa Amadu, has disclosed that he is still waiting on FIFA to pronounce total lifting of the ban now that all impediments have been cleared.
"FIFA announced that the ban on Nigeria has been provisionally lifted until Tuesday, October 26. That is a day after the matter in the Federal High Court in Lagos. That matter has been struck out and we quickly let FIFA know that there is no legal impediment stopping the NFF board from functioning," said Amadu.
"If the ban were to be imposed permanently, FIFA would have contacted us to inform us that those provisions have not been completed and as a result the ban will come into effect.
"We are waiting patiently and positively for FIFA to get across to us and let us know that there is no problem whatsoever, and that the board can continue to function and that Nigeria can return to the comity of football-playing nations of the world."
It has been gathered that a final pronouncement with regard to the ban on Nigeria will be made public at the end of the executive committee meeting of FIFA this week.
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