Monday, January 31, 2011

100 Nigerian Girls Trafficked Out Daily for Prostitution

Authorities in Nigeria should investigate and close down networks that traffic Nigerian women and girls to Côte d'Ivoire and Mali for forced prostitution, Human Rights Watch said yesterday.

The group also called for collaboration among regional leaders to improve border patrol efforts in combating trafficking in person.

In its 2010 end of the year review report, made available to LEADERSHIP in Lagos on Tuesday, the group said it traveled across the length and breath of Nigeria and interviewed over 30 Nigerian women believed to have been trafficked out for prostitution in neigbouring Cote d'Ivoire and Mali, but the victims managed to return back home.

Scores of similar cases involving Nigerian women and girls were documented by interviews with Ivorian officials, United Nations personnel, and Nigerian embassy staff. Most of the victims were either between the ages of 15 and 17 or had been minors when brought to Côte d'Ivoire and Mali.


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Obafemi Martins Returns to England

Nigeria striker Obafemi Martins has joined Premier League side Birmingham City on a six month loan deal from Russian club Rubin Kazan.

The striker, who last played in England for Newcastle, will stay with Birmingham until the end of the season.

Martins became a father for the first time in December, and his desire to be close to his young family is said to be the major reason behind the move.

He joined Rubin Kazan from German club Wolfsburg at the start of the current campaign, but has yet to light up the Russian top division.


Related stories: Obafemi Martins gets career back on track at Wolfsburg

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Video - Life on the Edge: Meet Lagos's Area Girls

Every big city has gangs of young people on the margins. In Lagos, Nigeria, it's the Area Boys, bands of children and teenagers who scratch a living from petty crime and the informal economy.

But when you're an Area Girl, life can be even tougher, especially in Lagos's teeming Ajegunle ghetto.

We follow one charismatic Area Girl, Onyinye, as she tries to make a life amid the Area Boys, learning about adolescent sexuality, ethics, and social responsibility.

Onyinye and her friends take us into the Area Girls' world of street runs, bottle fights and internet cafe dreams of breaking out into another world of schooling, modelling, family, or simply a decent wage.


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24 Killed in Bauchi, Jos Attacks

Sectarian crises yesterday rocked Plateau and Bauchi states, claiming over 24 lives.

In Gombe State, security reports last night indicated that there was palpable political tension over the arrest of a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Robinson Wasa, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). A source alleged that the arrest was engineered by Senator Ajuji Waziri, husband of Farida Waziri, the executive chairman of the anti-graft agency.

Some thugs suspected to be nomads had invaded four Berom villages in Barkin Ladi Local Government of Plateau State, killing 14 people in what a security expert described as coordinated attacks.

A military task force official said some persons had been arrested. Among those arrested by the special task force was a mobile police officer serving in Abuja.

However, the special task force confirmed that two of the fleeing nomads were killed in an exchange of gun fire with soldiers.

Captain Charles Okeocha, the spokesperson of the task force, told newsmen that some of the weapons seized included an AK 47 rifle and a pistol found in a place of worship in Dorowar Babuje, as well as the arrested police man who had in his possession four live cartridges and a sickle, a box of matches and catapult.

According to him, the mobile police man whose particulars were given as "F.No.220015" bears the name Corporal Mohammed Uba of 44 police mobile force, Abuja.

Capt. Ekeocha further said the STF had received a distress call around 1am early yesterday and sector seven of the team which oversaw the area, went into action by pursuing the fleeing Fulani nomads on top of the Dorowa Hill, where gun battle ensued.

He pointed out that two fleeing nomads were gunned down, while one soldier was shot in the leg and another nomad was wounded; both are receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital in the state.

STF commended the youths in the area for their cooperation and the women for the support which led to the arrest of the attackers in the area, adding that they would be handed over to the police for proper investigation.

LEADERSHIP gathered from eyewitnesses that apart from Dorowar Babuje, three other villages were attacked in the same locality and a number of deaths were recorded in those attacks.

The villages included Nding Susut, which recorded two deaths, Nding Jok, one and Fan Loh, three with Dorowa recording eight as against the task force figure's of two.

Worried by the cycle of violence, Human Rights Watch has appealed to the federal government to "act swiftly to protect civilians of all ethnicities at risk of further attacks or reprisal killings."

It also urged the government to allow Francis Deng, the United Nations secretary-general's special adviser on the prevention of genocide, to visit Plateau State.

"This terrible cycle of violence and impunity has to stop," a press statement signed by Corinne Dufka said.

Bauchi State governor, Malam Isa Yuguda, had yesterday summoned religious leaders in the state over fresh crisis that erupted in Tafawa Balewa local government in the state. The state commissioner of police, Muhammad Indabawa, confirmed that at least four persons were killed while a few others sustained injuries during the crisis. But eyewitnesses said over 10 persons were killed.

The commissioner of police said that the unit commander was able to find only two corpses. "As I am talking to you now, we are going to the scene of the crisis with the GOC 83 division, Jos, Plateau State, Major Gen. Sunday Idoko, to ascertain the situation".

The commissioner said the problem started in the area on Wednesday evening when two youths who were playing snooker had a misunderstanding, a situation which led to this unfortunate situation, adding that the situation was brought under control. He said that yesterday morning some unidentified youths went on rampage to the market and set the place of the snooker ablaze, but that policemen had been deployed to the area and the situation is under control.

Governor Yuguda appealed to religious leaders to always preach the gospel of peaceful coexistence, saying, "Islam and Christianity are religions of peace. This shall be the last disturbance anywhere in Bauchi State. I shall not tolerate any disturbance anymore", he said.

In Gombe State, security agencies were put on the red alert last night over what a security source described as "build-up of political tension", caused by the arrest of Mr. Robison Wasa by the EFCC yesterday.

Wasa, who was picked by the EFCC at about 2pm, is the executive chairman of Billiri Local Government Area, in the state. He was said to have frustrated the recent bid by Senator Ajuji Waziri to return to the Senate in the April general elections.

An insider in the unfolding political saga accused Senator Waziri of engineering the arrest of Mr. Wasa as a "pay-back option".

The source added: "The PDP stakeholders, including Governor Danjuma Goje, are to meet tonight (Thursday) to ratify Mr. Robinson Wasa as running mate to the PDP governorship candidate of Gombe State Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo. Senator Waziri got to know about it and immediately directed his wife to arrest him.

"It is very unfortunate that Farida Waziri could allow her husband to use her to fight a political cause. It is only in this country that this kind of a thing happens."

The source, who did not want his name mentioned in the print, said Mr. Wasa's refusal to work for Senator Waziri, who comes from the area, was based on the gentleman's agreement by the party in the senatorial district.

According to him, "Senator Waziri was elected as a senator via bye-election; we agreed that he would only serve out the tenure of his late predecessor, but Waziri failed to keep that agreement when he insisted recently in contesting the primaries."

In a swift reaction, the spokesman of the EFCC, Mr. Femi Babafemi, refuted the allegation of political persecution of the chairman.

In a text message sent to LEADERSHIP last night, Babafemi said Wasa was arrested in connection to a case of forgery and money laundering "for which he has been under investigation for over a year and has been reporting every week to our office in Gombe."


Related stories: Secret Killings - Jos Residents Devise Survival Strategies

Video - Attacks in Jos kill 38

More killed in Jos intercommunal violence

Ameobi Will Be Available for Friendly - Siasia

Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia has made assurance that Newcastle forward Shola Ameobi will make his debut for Nigeria in the friendly match against Guatemala on February 9.

Reports in the Nigerian media had speculated that Newcastle manager Alan Pardew had spoken to Ameobi about dropping the game for pressing domestic challenges, but Siasia has assured that the striker will be in his team.

"I have told you this repeatedly that Ameobi is keen on playing for Nigeria," Siasia told Complete Sports.

"We exchange text messages everyday and he kept assuring me that we will see him in the United States of America where the match will be played. So I don't know why people are just speculating wrong information."

Siasia said that he has assurance from the other invited players that they will make the trip to the US for his first game in charge of the team.

The coach also said that the Guatemala game will help in team bonding before the all important AFCON qualifier against Ethiopia in March.

"It is important for both the coaches and players to meet as one family and discuss on how to plan for the future," Siasia said.


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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Video - Nigerian becomes first black Polish MP

A Nigerian has become the first black man to become a member of parliament in Poland.

John Abraham Godson has lived in Poland for almost half his life and has become a Polish citizen.

Mr Godson's success has been hailed as a landmark in a country where there are just 4,000 black people. 


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London's 'FELA!' to stream live in Ann Arbor

Following the spectacular success of the Metropolitan Opera's live HD transmissions to cinemas, London's National Theatre has quietly developed its own international broadcast series, and Ann Arbor's Michigan Theater is drawing patrons to that big-screen stage.

In the second season of collaboration with Ann Arbor's University Musical Society, Michigan Theater will present an HD transmission of the Afro-beat musical "Fela!" on Sunday, then Shakespeare's "King Lear" on Feb. 20.

The splashy, colorful revue "Fela!" is based on the life of Nigerian composer-activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti and his struggle to prevent government soldiers from shutting down a legendary Lagos nightclub called The Shrine. The show's Broadway production received 11 Tony Award nominations in 2010, including Best Choreography by Bill T. Jones.

"King Lear" is the tragedy of a vain, aging monarch who retires from the throne and divides his kingdom among his three daughters in proportion to their flattering protestations of love, only to discover too late the cheapness of words and value of true affection.

The current National Theatre Live series winds up with playwright Danny Boyle's adaptation of "Frankenstein" on April 6 and Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" on July 17.

The National Theatre's HD series is the first electronic presentation in UMS' long history. UMS programming director Michael Kondziolka says the experience can only induce patrons to attend UMS' live theater events.

"I believe the HD productions deepen the engagement of an audience with these very well produced stage works," he says. "Early on, some people seemed to be afraid of this sort of electronic experience, as if it were not a real theater experience. But now patrons are urging us to offer the HD series again next year."

UMS handles promotion and ticket sales for the cinema productions, and Michigan Theater manages the logistics of linkup and screening.

Kondziolka says attendance has jumped from about 300 at the first presentation last season to nearly 900. Thus far, he says, ticket sales have covered costs. There's also plenty of room for growth. Michigan Theater seats 1,700.

"I have found it personally to be a very rewarding and exciting experience," says Kondziolka, "and it's my hope that National Theatre is in it for the long term. A project like this really needs three to five years to seed itself. We certainly intend to continue."


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Jay Jay Okocha Laments Fallen National Team

Nigeria are no longer a giant in African football, the players are over-rated and officials have failed in their responsibilities, according to the country's former skipper Austin 'Jay Jay'.

"Everything is wrong, right from the players, coaches and the management. And the fans expect too much," moaned Okocha as a guest on a programme of pay television channel SuperSport.

"The best way forward is for Nigerians to accept that we are no longer one of the giants in African football as we have lost the dominance.

"We must also accept the fact that Nigeria does not possess the kind of talents we used to have and we must go back and get our football administration right."

Nigeria are presently ranked fourth in Africa by FIFA, but the last time the team won a major championship was 17 years ago when they clinched only their second Africa Nations Cup in Tunisia.

Okocha, who led Nigeria to the 2002 World Cup, was most critical of the current crop of the country's stars, saying they have struggled to establish themselves at their various European clubs.

"Our players are overrated. When you look at the way they play for their various clubs, I don't think we have up to five players who are regulars at their clubs," said the 37-year-old Okocha now a Lagos businessman since he quit the game in 2008.

"Take Yakubu Aiyegbeni example. He's one of Nigeria's finest but he has not been consistent maybe because of his injury which has of course slowed him down.

"And you can't tell me that his recent loan move from Everton to Championship team Leicester City is a good one, rather your desire as a player is to play in the top class league."

Okocha has now been appointed to head a scouting unit of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to discover fresh talent for the country.

Daily Trust

Related stories:  Jay Jay Okocha appointed Football Ambassador

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Video - Nigerian interest rate rise with CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido

Nigeria raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 6.5 percent.
The Central Bank says this is part of the normalisation of monetary policy after the financial crisis.

The CBN took aggressive measures to tighten liquidity as its seeks to get inflation down to single digits. It raised the cash reserve requirement for banks to 2 percent from 1.

ABN's Wole Faumera spoke to CBN Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi about whether this monetary tightening is necessary considering the fact that inflation has been on a downward trend and private sector credit has contracted.

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Former Super Eagle Uche Okafor Was Murdered - FBI

There has been a twist in the death of former Eagles' defender, Uche Okafor as the Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI) claimed in a report yesterday that the player was murdered.

Uche was found hanging at his Dallas, Texas home earlier this month and a preliminary report by the Dallas police ruled that the easy-going defender hanged himself. But his family, friends and the Nigerian community in America rejected the suicide claims as they suspected foul play.

The FBI stepped into the controversy last week after protests from the family members who even alleged racism for the shoddy investigation over the death of the player. And the latest findings have confirmed the suspicion of murder held by many of the former Eagles' admirers. The FBI report however, did not state who killed Uche Okafor or why his life was terminated.

This piece of information from the USA, will interest the Nigerian government. The foreign affairs Minister, Odein Ajumogobia declared only on Monday that Nigeria was awaiting the result of the FBI report, before the country could take necessary action.

A source close to the family disclosed that the latest twist in the death of the player was quite a relief to his tribesmen who are holding on to an ancient myth that it was a taboo for an Ibo man to take his own life.

Uche Okafor's Eagles colleagues and indeed Nigerians also struggled to come to terms with the death of the player who was comfortably living with his wife and daughter. He was into business and also into football commentary with ESPN sports.

It was gathered that the corpse of the departed player will be flown in for burial next month.


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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Video - How to make a Free Calls to Africa

You can now make a free call to anywhere in the world for Africa thanks to Olayemia

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Yar'Adua Had Kidney Transplant - Wikileaks

The late President Umaru Yar'Adua had a kidney transplant in 2002 while still a state governor, but avoided having another one while he was president over fears it would cause unrest, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

According to the online medium, the cables suggest that power brokers in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) knew about Yar'Adua's condition, but still propped him up to become the winning presidential candidate in 2007.

Aides to the president, the cables stated further, stuffed Yar'Adua's clothes to hide his weight loss and used makeup to hide his pallor, but his illness ultimately led to a long absence from the oil-rich nation that fueled public discontent.

Yar'Adua died in May 2010, propelling the then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan into the presidency.

Jonathan recently became PDP's presidential candidate for the coming April election, upsetting a balance of power between the South and North.

"What is clear is that the president's health is a matter of growing concern, particularly on the minds of the northern Nigerian elite," a diplomatic cable from February 2009 reads. "We have noted a considerable uptick in what appears to be behind-the-scenes machinations and back-room dealing."

WikiLeaks publicly released the cables late Saturday night. A spokesman at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja has said officials would have no comment on anything released by the website.

A diplomatic cable from June 2008 claims Yar'Adua first began experiencing renal failure in 1999, just as he became governor of Katsina State. The cable said German company Julius Berger, one of the dominant road construction firms in Nigeria, set up a dialysis clinic in Yar'Adua's home. The firm later would fly German experts in and out of Nigeria to privately treat Yar'Adua, the cables claim.

The cables claim Yar'Adua received the transplant in 2002 from donor Sayyadi Abba Ruma, who would serve as minister of agriculture and water resources when Yar'Adua came into power. Ruma could not be immediately reached for comment yesterday.

LEADERSHIP investigation, however, indicated otherwise as the late leader had his kidney transplanted in Hungary with a foreign donor coming to the rescue.

Information available to LEADERSHIP show that Yar'Adua was first diagnosed with the ailment in Saudi Arabia in 2001.

The discolorations long noticed on Yar'Adua's face, fueling rumours about his ill health, came from the steroids doctors gave him to help his body accept the transplant, according to the cables.

At a December 2008 event, Yar'Adua "appeared to weigh no more than 140 pounds, his skin was very taunt, his handshake was weak, voice was fainter than on previous meetings, his eyes were deep set with dark circles underneath, and his teeth were also very badly tarred," the February 2009 cable reads.

Doctors apparently told Yar'Adua he needed a second transplant and the minister's brother was sent to Germany to be checked as a possible donor, according to the cable. However, a planned trip got put on hold over political calculations.

"Yar'Adua did not take this planned trip given public reaction to rumours about travel and concerns about his ability to govern," the February cable reads. "We have no information on whether this trip may be rescheduled."

The president's health continued to worsen. Yar'Adua left Nigeria on Nov. 23, 2009, to seek medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. His physician later told journalists Yar'Adua suffered from acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the sac surrounding the heart.

However, Yar'Adua's stay in Saudi Arabia drifted from days to weeks to months, stalling government activity in a nation vital to U.S. oil supplies.

Yar'Adua returned to Nigeria in late February 2010, but never appeared publicly. He died May 5.


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5,000 Victims of Jos Crises Resettled in Bauchi

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said yesterday that about 5000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from the crises in Jos have been absorbed into Bauchi State following the launch of a resettlement programme between the agency and the Bauchi State government. Director General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani-Sidi said that majority of them are victims of the crises that erupted in Jos, Plateau State between January and March 2010 where over 10, 000 of the displaced persons crossed over to the neighboring Bauchi State.

Sani-Sidi noted that some of the displaced persons had returned back to their homes while those being resettled have opted to remain permanently in Bauchi State.

A statement singed by Yushau A. Shuaib NEMA Head Press and Public relations, stated that Sidi who was represented at the Launch of the Resettlement programme by the Director of Administration Dr Zanna Muhammad said after the initial relief intervention, the agency and Bauchi State government decided to embark on the resettlement programme following the request of the IDPs to permanently settle in Bauchi.

While urging Nigerians to learn to live together in peace and to resolve their differences through dialogues rather than from violent confrontations, Sani-Sidi commended the Bauchi State government for the absorption of the IDPs and assistance provided towards their permanent resettlement in the state.

In his remark, the state commissioner for local government affairs Alhaji Idris Halilu who represented the governor said a total of 748 plots of land have been allocated to the IDPS for resettlement in Lere Community of Tafawa Balewa Local Government Area of the state.

While thanking NEMA for the collaboration toward the success of the programme, the state government appealed for more assistance to resettle other IDPs who have also indicated same interest to permanently remain in the state.


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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Secret Killings - Jos Residents Devise Survival Strategies

Residents of Jos have adopted various survival strategies as the warring parties resort to secret killings in the troubled city.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that one of the strategies, known as "chameleon tactics", involved the use of clothes "acceptable to each of the warring territories.

"I wear my jeans trousers and T-shirt if I move to Christian settlements and change to caftan, trouser and cap when returning to the areas inhabited by Muslims," Shehu Mohammed, an undergraduate of the University of Jos told NAN.

Mohammed, whose campus is in a Christian-dominated area, resides at Bauchi Road, populated by his fellow Muslims.

He added, "The dressing has helped me a lot. It helps me from attracting the attention of hoodlums."

A female journalist, Mrs Zainab Babaji, who reports for the Voice of America Hausa Service, also told NAN that the "chameleon tactics" had helped her to survive while carrying out her professional duties.

"Depending on where I am going for the day, I have the right dress to match whatever dress code is safe," she said.

Babaji said that it was "highly dangerous"for her to wear traditional Hausa dress and enter certain areas to perform her duties.

Another resident, Mr Bulus Pam, told NAN that he usually changed his dressing whenever he was going to the market to purchase meat and vegetables.

"If I want to buy meat, I wear jumper, cap and trousers because those items are sold in Hausa-dominated areas."

A civil servant, Adams John Auta, told NAN that many of his friends had adopted the "chameleon style"and moving around successfully in various parts of Jos. Auta, however, appealed to the security agencies to work toward ending the incessant secret killings in Jos and its environs so as to ease the fear that had become the lot of the people in the past few months.

Meanwhile, hotel operators in Jos are experiencing a drop in business activities following the prolonged crisis that engulfed some parts of Plateau in recent times.

NAN correspondent, who went round some of the hotels, reports that patronage is at its lowest, with few or no customers in many of the hotels visited.

Mrs Best Mildred, General Manager, Hill Station Hotel Limited, Jos said that hotel business was "completely dead in Jos".

"As you can see, the hotel is empty, few people occasionally come around and this is not good for the business," she said.

She also said that people were no longer patronising the hotels for fear of the unknown and described the situation as very sad.

Mildred, therefore, called for peace and appealed to the people to forgive and forget the past.

"Peace is the responsibility of everyone, so individuals and the government must put heads together to give it a chance," she said.

Mr Ajayi Dotu, Manager, New Era Hotels, Jos, said, "New Era is experiencing zero patronage."

According to him, the present situation is the worst ever. Ajayi prayed for God's intervention in the lingering crisis and called on the people to bury their differences.


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Wikileaks Set to Name the Country's Treasury Looters

Details of treasury looters and legitimate wealthy Nigerians with secret Swiss bank accounts are up for grabs and may be revealed in the latest round of documents to be published by whistle-blower website, WikiLeaks.

A Swiss banker has handed over what he said are secret Swiss banking records to the website dedicated to revealing state secrets as well as those of individuals.

Rudolf Elmer confirmed that he handed two discs to WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, in London, and that WikiLeaks could release the details in "a matter of weeks" if it can process them quickly enough.

Elmer said he would not reveal the names and is not able to say how many people are involved.

A source disclosed that those on the list include the late Head of State Sani Abacha and several politicians - and about 2,000 clients' records are included, but because of the way trusts and corporations are set up, the number of individuals involved cannot be determined.

Elmer describes himself as an activist, and banker.

"I think, as a banker, I do have the right to stand up if something is wrong," he said, explaining why he gave the documents to WikiLeaks.

Elmer is due to go on trial today in Switzerland for violating the country's banking secrecy regulations.

Unfazed, he insists that he wants "to let society know what I do know and how this system works because it is damaging our society in the way that money is moved" and hidden in offshore jurisdictions.

He began looking into the issue when he was a banker in the Cayman Islands, he added.

When he first looked into the problems of offshore banking it seemed to him like "a mouse tail," but as he investigated in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, it became a "dragon's tail," and finally a many-headed dragon.

Elmer stated on his website that he wants to "challenge Swiss Bank Secrecy at the European Court of Human Rights and the Swiss courts."

He has worked at six offshore banking centres, he said, and has been engaged in a long-running battle with Swiss banks over secrecy.

Elmer had approached tax authorities and universities with his data, but no one was interested.

He was about to give up when he learned about WikiLeaks from a friend.

He said he is "grateful" to WikiLeaks for helping him "send the message which I wanted to send," but that he is not trying to use it for "protection" as he faces prosecution.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) disclosed in Abuja on May 20, 2009 that up to $450 million of the over $3 billion allegedly looted by Abacha could not be traced.

The disclosure was made by Tim Daniel, a legal expert from the United Kingdom brought in by UNODC to help the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) draft the Bill on Non-Conviction Based Forfeiture of Proceeds and Instrumentalities of Unlawful Activity.

Daniel announced that even though there was proof the $450 million was stacked away somewhere, it was yet to be traced.

According to him, while the $1.9 billion recovered from the Abacha family by the Federal Government was a major success story in assets recovery, there were still funds stolen from Nigeria yet to be recovered.

He said $300 million was still to be repatriated to Nigeria from Luxembourg where it was siphoned by Abacha, despite the letters of request by Abuja.

Daniel added that Abacha also stashed $400 million in Liechtenstein which Nigeria was yet to recover.

"The cases of Luxembourg and Liechtenstein are cases of monies frozen or lost by banks," he stressed.

Daniel noted that Abuja and its partners had intensified the search for the funds, with hope for positive results.

Breaking down the $1.9 billion recovered from Abacha, he said $750 million came from voluntary surrender by the family while $570 million was recovered from Switzerland.

"$380 million was recovered from Jersey and $150 million, which was the Ajaokuta Steel plant debt was recovered from the UK," he added.

He explained that asset recovery involves criminal and civil mechanisms, mutual legal assistance in criminal proceedings, international enforcement of confiscation orders, civil forfeiture, and private civil proceedings.

However, Abacha's son, Abba, on May 10 last year began a fresh appeal against a court order to return $350 million in illegally gained assets in Switzerland.

Abba was also convicted of being a member of a criminal organisation and given a suspended custodial sentence.

A Geneva Magistrate convicted Abba, 41, in November 2009 of participating in a criminal organisation, handed down a suspended prison term, and ordered he surrenders $350 million in illegally obtained assets.

Under the Swiss legal system, the appeal brings the case to a court.

"This is the first time this monumental embezzlement case is being heard in court," wrote the Le Temps, a Swiss newspaper, noting that Abacha was seeking to be acquitted.

The Swiss authorities pursued Abba for six years before extraditing him from Germany in 2005.

Nigeria sent Switzerland a request in 1999, the year after Abacha died, to help it recover some $2.2 billion the dictator is suspected of having siphoned from the treasury when he ruled from 1993 to 1998.

Switzerland began investigating the Abacha family in 1999 and has handed back about $700 million to Nigeria.

Daily Independent

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Video - Goodluck Jonathan wins primary

Nigeria's ruling party declares incumbent Goodluck Jonathan its presidential candidate, reports CNN's Christian Purefoy.

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Shola Ameobi to play for Super Eagles

At last it appears that Newcastle United's Nigerian born forward Shola Ameobi has finally decided to play for his fatherland after his name was included in the list of players invited for next month's international friendly against Guatemala.

For years the player, who was born in Nigeria but moved to England with his parents at five when his farther gained admission to the University of Newcastle to read agriculture, had repeatedly snubbed efforts to get him to commit his future to the Eagles instead insisting that he would prefer playing for England's Three Lions.

However, last month newly appointed Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia travelled to England to meet the Newcastle striker after which he announced that the 29-year-old player has had a change of heart and was now ready to play for Nigeria.

Also included on the 20-man list is another England based player, Victor Moses, who plays for Wigan Athletic.

The list, which is Samson Siasia's first since being appointed as Super Eagles manager last month, also has Karabukspor striker Emmanuel Emenike, who recently committed his international future to Nigeria rather than Turkey where he presently plies his trade. Completing the cast of newcomers to the squad are the Italy based duo of Inter Milan's Obiora Nwankwo and Siena's Michael Odibe.

Heartland's Bartholomew Ibenegbu, who scored in a kickabout as Siasia's local Eagles were held to a 2-2 draw by John Obuh's Under-20 team on Thursday in Abuja, is one of two players from the domestic Nigerian league called up by the national team handler. The other is full back Chibuzor Okonkwo, who joined Heartland at the start of the campaign from Bayelsa United.

Full back Adefemi Olubayo, who was a member of the U-23 team, which reached the final of the Beijing 2008 Olympics, gets a surprise call up after languishing in the international wilderness in the wake of his club troubles with Skoda Xanthi of Greece.

The younger brother of Portsmouth striker, John Utaka, Peter, who has enjoyed a prolific spell in Denmark over the past two seasons, returns to the fold to stake a claim for a permanent position.

Seven members of the Super Eagles who were part of the side that did poorly at South Africa 2010 including Joseph Yobo, who replaced Nwankwo Kanu as skipper after the World Cup, are also part of Siasia's Guatemala friendly list.

Full squad:

GOALKEEPERS: Vincent Enyeama (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel), Dele Aiyenugba (Bnei Yehuda, Israel)

DEFENDERS: Chibuzor Okonkwo (Heartland), Ayodele Adeleye (Metallurh Donetsk, Ukraine), Taye Taiwo (Olympic Marseille, France), Michael Odibe (A. C. Siena, Italy), Olubayo Adefemi (Skoda Xanthi, Greece), Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Braga, Portugal), Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce, Turkey)

MIDFIELDERS: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea, England), Obiora Nwankwo (Inter Milan, Italy), Victor Moses (Wigan Athletic, England), Bartholomew Ibenegbu (Heartland), Olufemi Ajilore (FC Groningen, The Netherlands)

FORWARDS: Ahmed Musa (V.V.V. Venlo, The Netherlands), Osaze Odemwingie (West Brom, England), Obinna Nsofor (West Ham, England), Shola Ameobi (Newcastle, England), Emmanuel Emenike (Karaburkspor, Turkey), Peter Utaka (Odense Boldklub, Denmark)

This Day

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Another Cocaine Haul Uncovered in Lagos Port

The porosity of the nation's seaports and international borders was once more brought to the fore as another cocaine haul was yesterday discovered in Lagos port. Officials of the National Drug La Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said that with the support of the United States Drug Administration (USDEA) it has uncovered a large consignment of concentrated cocaine at Nigeria's second busiest port, Tin Can Island Port (TCIP), Apapa, Lagos.

Yesterday discovery made it the third time hard drugs would be intercepted in TCIP as cocaine and heron worth billion of naira concealed in machineries were intercepted by security operatives last year.

The management of NDLEA in statement signed by its Head of Public Affairs, NDLEA, Mr. Ofoyeju Mitchell confirmed the development.

Giving an insight to the discovery, the agency pointed out that the narcotics were discovered on Thursday evening during physical examination of a 20 feet container.

The agency said the hard drugs were hidden in floor tiles and cement originating from Bolivia.

"The drug was concealed in twenty-five (25) packs of floor tiles containing 4 parcels each of powdery substance that tested positive to cocaine. A total of 100 parcels weighing 110 kilogramme with an estimated street value of N1.1 billion naira were found in the container", it said.

The Chairman and chief executive officer of NDLEA, Mr. Ahmadu Giade lauded the management of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) at the port for their support and cooperation during the search operation.

The NDLEA boss who described the seizure as a positive start in the New Year also gave credit to the USDEA for supplying the intelligence report that led to the successful tracking of the illicit consignment.

His words: "This is a good start for the agency. Drug barons do not need any other warning that the clime is unsafe for their criminal act. I appreciate the role of the USDEA and the Nigerian Customs Service. This spirit of cooperation is good for our collective security interest".

The NDLEA boss stated that investigation was in progress and the suspected consignee was being interrogated by narcotic investigators.

"This search operation is a continuation of undercover work that commenced since November 2010. Investigation is in progress. Already, the suspected consignee is being interrogated and more arrests are in the offing. Together, we shall make the country drug free as no drug baron will go unpunished," he said.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Troops deployed after 13 killed near Jos

Soldiers rushed to restore calm in a village near Jos yesterday after 13 people were reported killed in an attack on a village and unrest flared in other areas.

I am told that 13 people died in the dawn attack, said Plateau state police commissioner Abdulrahman Akano, adding that officers had been sent to the mainly Christian village of Wareng to verify.

Details of the attack were not immediately clear. The commander Joint Military Task Force (JTF) said unrest had occurred in other areas of the region as well and soldiers had been deployed to restore calm.

"We have quite a number of people killed, Brigadier General Hassan Umaru told AFP. We are trying to contain each of these crises. He could not immediately provide details on the unrest. Umaru first reported incidents in several villages, but later said two villages had been hit.

A local politician also told AFP that 13 people were believed killed in Wareng, alleging Fulani Muslims had attacked Christian Beroms in the village. Emmanuel Danboyi Jugul also accused soldiers of being involved in the attack, though Umaru strongly denied the claim.

Plateau state, including its capital Jos, has long been on edge, but unprecedented Christmas Eve bomb blasts added a frightening new dimension to the unrest. A sect blamed for a series of attacks north claimed responsibility for the Christmas Eve explosions, but authorities cast doubt on the claim and attributed it to political motives with elections set for April.

Scores of people have been killed in clashes in Plateau in unrest many attribute to the struggle for economic and political power between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups.

Christians from the Berom ethnic group are typically referred to as the indigenes in the region, while Hausa-Fulani Muslims are seen as more recent arrivals.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

More killed in Jos intercommunal violence

Christian youths attacked a car full of Muslims returning from a wedding in Jos, Plateau State, seven people inside the vehicle and sparking retaliatory violence that left one other person dead, AP has reported, quoting a Muslim lawyer.

It was the latest unrest in a fertile region that saw more than 500 people killed last year in massacres pitting Christians against Muslims.

AP reports that on Saturday, gunshots echoed through the troubled city of Jos, causing store owners to close their shops and families to hide inside their homes.

The violence began as Christian youths blocked a road leading from a neighboring village Friday night, trapping the Muslims inside their car, said lawyer Ahmed Garba, a member of an Islamic religious council. Garba told journalists Saturday that seven people died in the attack and one person survived.

Garba said once news of the attack spread, Muslims began retaliatory violence in the streets of Jos that has left at least one person dead.

Plateau state police commissioner Abdurrahman Akano said investigators received word of the Friday night attack, but had not found any bodies.

Manassie Panpe, the Red Cross' state secretary, said officials from the aid organisation had found several injured people in the streets Saturday but that information remained scarce.

On Christmas Eve, two bombs went off near a large market in Jos where people were doing last-minute Christmas shopping. A third hit a mainly Christian area of Jos, while the fourth was near a road that leads to the city's main mosque.

Officials initially said at least 32 died from the blasts, while an official with the National Emergency Management Agency told journalists that he had counted 80 deaths from the explosions and the retaliatory violence that followed.

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Friday, January 7, 2011

Former Super Eagle Uche Okafor Is Found Dead

A report on said that he had taken his daughter to school earlier in the day and was later found to be hanging from a rope in his home.

“Seriously I still find it hard to believe when I got the call from the US yesterday (Thursday) evening. This is a really sad way to begin the year,” former team mate Ben Iroha was quoted by the website.

Dallas coroners have cordoned off the area while carrying out investigations into possible suicide.

Okafor was a member of Nigeria's victorious Super Eagles at the 1994 African Cup of Nations. He also played a game in the country's World Cup run in 1998.


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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Siasia makes Shola Ameobi approach

Newcastle striker, Shola Ameobi could yet get a chance to play international football, with Nigeria.

It is understood that Nigeria coach Samson Siasia has made contact with Ameobi, who has publicly declared his intention to cast his lot with the Super Eagles.

Siasia is on the path to rebuilding the team after a calamitous World Cup and Ameobi, despite his intermittent goalscoring, may get a chance to stake his claim.

Sources close to the coach informed that discussions have been held with Ameobi's father John, with a view to meeting up with the player when Siasia visits England later this month.

Ameobi, 29, was born in Zaria, Nigeria, but moved to England at the age of 5.

Siasia is also said to have had fruitful telephone conversations with Sunderland defender Nedum Onuoha, although a final decision on the player's future will not be made until both men meet face to face.

Both players, born in Nigeria, have represented England at Under 21 level but remain eligible to represent their country of birth.

Daily Champion

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Nigeria to sign trade pact with Pakistan

Federal government of Nigeria has promise to finalise a trade agreement with Pakistan as soon as necessary processes have been completed.

Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Abubakar Mohammad stated this during a courtesy visit by the Acting High Commissioner of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Mr. Ahmed Ali Sihorey to the Ministry's Headquarters in Abuja.

Receiving the envoy, Dr. Muhammad said the volume of trade between both countries has improved tremendously compared to the previous years. "The trade volume between Nigeria and Islamic Republic of Pakistan has improved that we are ready to strengthen the trade bond between the two countries," he said.

He assured the High Commissioner of Federal Government's readiness to create a conducive environment for trade and investment to thrive in the country. He as well sympathized with the government of Pakistan over the recent flooding in the country on behalf of government and people of Nigeria.

Earlier, the Acting High Commissioner, Mr. Ahmed Sihorey said he came for a follow-up to the re-opening of the Pakinstani Trade Mission and Office in Lagos and called for stronger relationship between the two countries adding that Pakistan is ready to cooperate with Nigeria in the area of trade and investment.

He also sought for joint venture between private sectors of both countries and urged the ministry to fast tract the signing of the draft Bilateral Trade Agreement between both countries and opening of trade missions in both countries saying that opening of the commercial centre will go a long way in boosting trade and investment in Nigeria and Pakistan.

Daily Trust

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Monday, January 3, 2011

Video - ZR7 trailer

TJ is a young man in his late twenties, the first draft of his book titled ZR-7 is long overdue for the publisher to review. He decides the entire draft will be recorded on a tape recorder and only his butler (Alphonso) is an actual witness, he begins to tell his story as the action comes alive.

The story is a classic life in boarding school adventure involving TJ with six of his friends (Rolly-D, Chiedu, UK, Tokunbo, Femi & James) while in JSS 1 (7th grade). The boys are initially shocked by all the hoops they have to jump in order to survive teachers, prefects, wicked seniors, dining hall food, thieves, cutting grass, washing toilets, discovering a Bushbaby, puppy love and all the other regular experiences anyone in a public Nigerian boarding school would experience. But when TJ and the boys accidentally see a man and two students in an uncompromising position, what they do with that information is not their only problem in school, but the resulting scandal would change their lives far beyond their wildest dreams...

RELEASE DATE: Coming soon in 2011

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59 yrs old widow excretes 99 wraps of heroin

Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA has paraded a 59-year-old woman, Mrs Fati Akande who allegedly excreted 99 wraps of substance suspected to be heroin in Port Harcourt after she was arrested at the Port Harcourt international airport on her way to the United States of America as her final destination.

The suspect, Mrs Akande who said she is a mother of three and a widow was arrested during the outward clearance of Air France flight AF 3051 to Paris at the Port Harcourt international airport.

According to the suspect who is HIV positive, she went into the illicit trade to raise money to manage her HIV status. “I did not need to do it. I went into it because I was sick and needed money for my treatment.“

“I am HIV positive. I was tested at LUTH in Lagos and I was found to be HIV positive,” She said, adding that she was ferrying it to her business partner in Netherland who she alleged is also a Nigerian.

Speaking on the arrest, Mr Julius Parah, of the NDLEA  office in Port Harcourt said the suspect excreted a total of ninety nine wraps of heroin which translates into  1.408 kilogramme and the value put at  N15 million.  He said she was arrested on December 27

“Her flight was scheduled from Paris to the United States of America, being her final destination. Unfortunately for her, the eagle eyes of the anti-narcotic officers fished her out, having spotted her as a drug courier,” he said.


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President Goodluck Jonathan accuses Al Jazeera of evil plot

The presidency has accused a foreign based media outfit, Aljazeera of seeking to destabilise Nigeria through false reports, saying it would not condone any further reckless and deliberate falsehood.

In a statement yesterday, presidential spokesman, Ima Niboro said it was pure lie the report that President Goodluck Jonathan fingered the notorious Boko Haram sect of masterminding the bomb blast.

He said, "Our attention has been drawn to the unfounded and sensational news item on Al Jazeera television, claiming that Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, has blamed the fundamentalist group, Boko Haram, for the bomb blast which occurred in Abuja yesterday. This is an outright lie. Nowhere, and at no time has the President held any particular group responsible for the attack."

Additionally, he added that neither the Nigerian security services nor the Nigerian government have confirmed those behind the attacks.

It amounts to sheer sensationalism to attribute to the president or the federal government any such claim. It is irresponsible journalism and we condemn it out rightly.

The statement from the president's media office was clear when it said that "Evil people, determined to turn the joys of fellow Nigerians to ashes detonated a bomb at a barracks market in the Federal Capital City."

If we meant Boko Haram, or any other group, we would state it very clearly.

But Al Jazeera's unique journalism in Nigeria is not strange to us. When the

tragedy of the October 1, 2010, bomb blasts occurred, they went to town with outlandish claims against the presidency that were unfounded and unsubstantiated. This brand of journalism defies reason.

For the purpose of clarity, neither the President nor the security agencies have come out to state those behind the attacks. Investigations are on, and at the end of the day, the real culprits would be unmasked.


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