Friday, September 30, 2011

President Goodluck Jonathan pledges to eradicate polio within 2 years

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan pledged on Thursday to set up a special government team to ensure the eradication of polio from Africa's most populous nation within two years.

"I can assure you that we will work very hard on polio with the objective of eradicating it in the next 24 months. It is now limited to about six states and eradicating it within our tenure is a goal we will pursue with full commitment," Jonathan said during a visit to the Nigerian capital by Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

Gates and his wife have a $34 billion foundation devoted largely to health projects in poor countries, including efforts to wipe out polio globally.

The disease spreads in areas with poor sanitation, attacks the nervous system and can cause irreversible paralysis within hours of infection. Children under five are the most vulnerable.

Polio is endemic in just four countries -- India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan -- and there has been a 99 percent reduction in cases since 1988, when the World Health Organization and its partners formed the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to fight it.

At that time, polio was endemic in 125 countries and caused paralysis in nearly 1,000 children every day.


Related stories: Bill Gates signs Memorandum of Understanding on Polio eradication

Ted Turner commits U.S.$1 billion to polio eradication

Nigeria will be the first African nation to get HIV vaccine

Nigeria will be the first African country to access the benefit of a new protective vaccine  that will stop people from developing the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, AIDS as indication yesterday emerged that Cornell Micheal Nelson, one of  the scientists who discovered the vaccine will be in Nigeria  next month.

In a telephone chat with Vanguard, Director General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, NACA, Professor John Idoko disclosed that Cornell Micheal Nelson, will be in Nigeria by  October 12, to attend a symposium, where he would be presenting a keynote addrees on the newly discovered vaccine.

The choice of Nigeria for this landmark event, is not unconnected with the country’s  large population and notable contribution to the fight against the HIV virus. With the discovery of  the vaccine, the world may be on the verge of finally overcoming the threat posed by HIV and AIDS.

However, indications from the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, NIMR, revealed that Nigerian Scientists are excited over the vaccine which shows great potential to reduce the burden of  HIV across the world.

According to former Director General of NIMR, Prof. Oni Idigbe, all is set for the symposium which would address other areas of the discovery.

Before now, various type of vaccines have been discovered in the past but none has shown great potential like the present vaccine discovered in Thailand.

According to the researchers, the AIDS vaccine could cut down the risk of developing the disease by a third.

Already, scientists across the world have hailed the breakthrough, saying it could be the first step to even better protection.

The new vaccine which works by stimulating the immune system — is a combination of two previous treatments which had proved ineffective when used alone.

It was tested on 8,000 HIV negative male and female volunteers aged 18 to 30 in Thailand.

They were checked for infection every six  months. The results found that the chances of catching HIV were almost 32 per cent lower if a person had been given the vaccine rather than a dummy injection.

The breakthrough — funded by the US Military HIV Research Program and the Thai Ministry of Public Health — is regarded as a first step towards an effective vaccine against AIDS, which hits two million people a year.

Prof Aine McKnight, a viral expert from the University of London, said: For a quarter of a century the scientific community has been divided on whether a vaccine against HIV could be produced.

“Today that question is settled. This is exciting news, but the battle is far from won.”

A spokesman from the World Health Organisation said: “The results are the first demonstration that a vaccine can prevent infection and are of great importance.

“These results have instilled new hope in the HIV vaccine research field and promise that a safe and highly effective HIV vaccine may become available for populations throughout the world.”

The scientists, however advised that for now, the best protection remains having sex with a condom.


Related stories: Nigeria's HIV Prevalence Rate Drops to 4.1 Percent

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

Security forces amass in Abuja in preparation for Independence Day celebration

With 24 hours to Nigeria’s 51st Independence anniversary celebrations, the Federal Government is taking no chances on the security threat posed by Boko Haram sect and Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, as the Nigeria Airforce and the Nigeria Police have deployed helicopters to commence air patrols of the Federal Capital Territory while night patrol by the Army, Navy, Airforce and Mobile Police personnel in the city is now round the clock.

Already all security agencies including para-military agencies have been directed to commence the evacuation of all broken down or abandoned vehicles in all the roads in Abuja while more cordons are being erected on possible and suspicious spots that might be utilized by hoodlums.

Following the threat issued last Wednesday by MEND to bomb the Eagle Square, venue of the Independence celebrations, President Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, recalled the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika who was already on his way to Ibadan and Lagos to attend important military functions.

Ihejirika who was scheduled to declare open the Nigeria Army Corps of Finance 8th Bi-ennial Conference in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, had made the about 45 minutes journey by road to the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport and was about boarding the plane when the President called him back apparently because of threats by both the Boko Haram and MEND.

Besides the Chief of Army Staff, Vanguard was told that President Goodluck Jonathan summoned selected governors of some states whom he felt were strategic to the fight against terrorism in the country for a special meeting ahead of October 1, to stress the need to take recent threats by the Boko Haram sect very seriously as intelligence had confirmed that the group was bent on not only embarrassing government but also making the nation ungovernable.

In line with the threats, it was gathered that security agencies have upped the alert status to that of ‘red’ to ensure the planned bombings by both Boko Haram and MEND did not see the light of day.

Meanwhile Lt. General Ihejirika has expressed worry that “the increasing wave of socio-political and ethno-religious crises threatening the nation’s security lately has assumed a higher dimension”.

In a speech read on his behalf by the Chief of Administration, Army Headquarters, Major General BS Usara, the Army Chief noted the nation was witnessing spates of bombings and attacks on key points, vulnerable points, and other strategic areas of interest in the country and “this has left serious demands on the Nigeria Army resources”.

“We also know that funding is fundamental to containing these security challenges. Success in this pursuit, therefore calls for prudent and efficient management and application of available funds” he said adding, “I envisioned an army that would effectively manage its available resources to be able to meet contemporary challenges”.


FG seeks Divine Intervention


In a related development, the Federal Government yesterday gathered Muslim and Christian Clerics to seek God’s intervention in the wake of independence bomb threat by militants.

The prayer session was held simultaneously at noon in all the 774 local governments of the federation to seek for forgiveness of sin, preservation, protection and unity of Nigeria in spite of all challenges.

Declaring the National Day of Prayer for Nigeria open in Abuja, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Chief Edem Duke said the security challenges are minor in the sight of God and if we bring it to Him, He is able and willing to solve them.

The minister said at 51 Nigeria has a lot of reasons to celebrate, because God has sustained the country through immense challenges. Therefore, people should be thankful and grateful to God, adding that “one of the greatest problems we have is that we are too exposed to negative information given to us by outsiders”.

The Director General of National Orientation Agency, NOA, Alh. Idi Farouka said the prayer “is essentially to seek God’s intervention, bring about sustainable peace and security and help our political, religious and traditional leaders at all levels to provide leadership that is anchored on fear of God and honest service to the people, as we all know that only the peace, security and good governance can guarantee the transformation of our nation.”

The Bishop of Kaduna diocese Anglican Communion, Rt. Rev. Idowu Fearon noted that God is one and until every believer comes to the conclusion that we all serve one God, both Christians and Muslims, there would be no peace.

Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, Muslim Ummah of South West Nigeria, MUSWN, Prof. Dawud Noibi said Nigeria pays lip service to religion despite the fact that it is not a secular nation but a multi-religious one.


Minister expresses concerns over threats


Minister of state for finance, Dr. Yerima Lawan Nagama, also expressed concern over the increasing spate of bombings and other criminal activities in the country warning that they pose a great challenge to national security which also encapsulates the investment environment.

Speaking at the 8th Biennial Training Conference 2011 of the Nigeria Army Corps of Finance in Ibadan, the minister called on the Nigeria Army, as a major instrument of the Nigerian National Security and Defence Policy institution, to be at its best in carrying out its constitutional roles in support of government.


Oct 1: Egbesu warns MEND over blast threats


Following its threat to detonate explosives in Abuja during tomorrow’s 51st independence anniversary celebrations, the Egbesu Fraternity has warned the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) to be ready for reprisals if it carried out its threat.

A twin-bomb explosion rocked the nation’s 50th anniversary celebrations in Abuja last year, claiming some lives and a faction of MEND said it was responsible.

Stating that President Goodluck Jonathan was not a party to the agelong destruction of the Niger Delta and should be allowed to govern peacefully, Egbesu, in a statement by Okin Sele told Jomo Gbomo, “you can’t threaten Jonathan; we’ll go after you.”

His words: “We Egbesu Mightier Fraternity read with utmost concern the press statement issued by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta through its spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, dated September 28, 2011 ‘On October 1, 2011 to bomb Eagle Square again.’Remember, we are all generals in the field for the struggle to liberate the oppressed Niger Delta Region. But the focus has been diverted without clear agenda for our struggle. We were oppressed without consideration for the wealth in our region by the previous administrations in this country, but God in His infinite mercy turned the glory to Niger Deltans. You have used bomb threat on Mr. President who is innocent about our previous marginalization. Leave President Goodluck Jonathan alone to steer the ship of leadership in the country. We know ourselves. Note, if any bomb blasts as a result of this October 1st Independence day celebration occurred and you (MEND) claim responsibility, we shall not hesitate to meet you one on one. We know your true identities in the struggle. We know our homes. None of us comes from different countries.”


Related stories: MEND Threatens to Bomb Abuja, Lagos

Boko Haram claims responsibility for UN bombing

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Italian Embassy deny Nigerian athletes visas because they suspect them being members of Boko Haram

Coach of the Nigeria Beach Eagles, Adamu Aoudu, has accused the Italian Embassy in Nigeria of refusing to issue visa to some Nigerian players allegedly based on their names, religion and the suspicion that they belong to the dreaded Islamic militant sect, Boko Haram.

The players had wanted to join the Nigerian team that participated in the recently held FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Italy.

Speaking in an interview with The Moment in Abuja, Adamu maintained that the information he gathered after returning from the World Cup was that the Italian Embassy did not issue visa to the players because of their religion.

The three players who were refused visa for the Beach World Cup were Abu Azeez and Shehu Jamal from Wikki Tourists and Emma Zavi from Adamawa United.

'When I came back from the World Cup, I heard that the embassy refused to give the players visa because of their names and religion.

It is not fair because they denied me the use of some of my best players who would have made a very big difference in the team if they had been around', said Adamu.

The coach exonerated the Nigeria Football Federation from the visa hitches, declaring that it was a premeditated action from the Italian Embassy.

'There were insinuations that it was the football house that did not press hard for the players to be given visas, but it was when I returned from the World Cup that news filtered to me that they were stopped from the tournament because of their names and religion,' he said.

Nevertheless, Adamu praised the determination of his players during the World Cup, saying that they displayed the spirit of true Nigerians.

'Those boys were wonderful players. It was very hectic but they never allowed the situation to overwhelm them as they gave their best', he said.

The Moment

Related stories: 

Video - Four Boko Haram members to face death penalty for UN attack

Boko Haram suicide bomber attacks police headquarters

Law makers in Nigeria are highest paid in the world

Nigerian parliamentarians were yesterday described as the highest paid in the world. A job that pays $100,000 a month in a country where half the people earn less than $1 a day.

While basic pay for legislators was set at between 1.9 million naira ($12,250) and 2.4 million naira a month, the lawmakers in 2007 approved legislation that gave them monthly allowances of as much as 400 percent of their salary for 21 items including cars, furniture and housing, enabling them to collect as much as 15 million naira a month each.

Richard Dowden, Executive Director, African Royal Society, United Kingdom (UK) said this yesterday as guest speaker at this year’s Nigeria Independence Anniversary Lecture hosted by the Ministry of foreign Affairs.

Dowden who described the situation as "obscene" said it is unacceptable that the country spends so much on parliamentarians while having well over 10 per cent of the world’s maternal mortality rate and 10 per cent of world’s children who are out of school

"More than 100 million Nigerians live in poverty- which is a quarter of the total poverty in sub Sahara Africa. Nigeria has over 10 per cent of the world’s maternal mortality and child mortality and 10 per cent of world’s children out of school. This is unacceptable. It is even more unacceptable that in a country with those statistics, the politicians are the highest paid in the world. $1millioin for a Parliamentary salary with another $1million in expenses is obscene"

While noting that the discovery of oil in Nigeria has become a "curse" rather a blessing, he called on government to build strong institutions that will not only promote the efficient utilisation of resources but also ensure consistency and continuity in governance.

He warned that unless the disparity between the rich and poor are narrowed, the nation stands the risk of witnessing a mass revolt similar to the one currently going on in the Arab world.

"I think there are good reasons why the Arab spring has not happened south of the Sahara. But I think it will if the young, globally- connected generation coming up through now, are unable to fulfill their potential. It is a matter of time.

"Think of development as a project not for next week but for your great grand children. But start now"

Dowden, who is currently the Director of Africa Royal society, identified "unfairness in the system of resource allocation" as reason for the fierce competition" which the country is currently experiencing.

He also identified corruption, poor reputation and flight of human capital as other factors that have worked against the country’s economic prosperity.

He blamed past government for engaging in wrong economic policies which he said were done for political reasons.

He said: "But the fifth and main problem that Nigeria faces is politics often, Nigeria and much of Africa has followed the wrong economic policies for political reasons. Adding "this has accounted for the over one hundred million Nigerians living in poverty.

"After oil and corruption which are closely linked, I would say that Nigeria’s reputation in the past still puts off investors and tourists.

"What I see here is that perceived or real unfairness in the system of resource allocation has led to fierce competition for success- or just survival. I would say that the competitive, creative spirit this creates is far more powerful than in any other country in the world".

He said Nigeria at Independence had a trade surplus with the U k and substantial reserve.

"In the 1970 oil was only 60 per cent of export. By 1982 it was 99 per cent of export and almost the same proportion of fiscal revenue. Almost all other exports like Cocoa, rubber, cotton and ground nuts had been wiped out"

He said between 1970 and 2001 per capita income fell from $264 to $256 in constant dollar rate.

"By 2000 Nigeria became an oil rich deeply indebted country and experience of the vast majority of Nigerians became poorer and concluded that oil is a curse to the country".

Daily Champion   Bloomberg

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bill Gates signs Memorandum of Understanding on Polio eradication

Chairman of Microsoft Computers Worldwide, Mr. Bill Gates, yesterday visited Kebbi State, where he signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the state Governor, Alhaji Saidu Dakingari, to eradicate polio cases in the state.

The polio eradication signing agreement was attended by the Chairman of the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Mansur Shehu; the state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Aliyu; commissioners, traditional rulers; including the Emirs of Gwandu and Argungu; Alhaji Iliyasu Bashar; and Alhaji Samaila Mera, respectively.

Gates said his association was determined to eradicate polio world wide and other related diseases. According to him Indian with a population of over one billion had one polio case recently due to measures taken by his foundation. He said the situation in Nigeria needed urgent attention with about six cases by 2010.

According to him, the situation in Kebbi State demanded urgent attention because government had taken drastic measures to make the state totally free.

“However, you would all agree with me here that a number of conditions need to be met to ensure successful implementation of our programme for revamping the primary health care system in Kebbi State,” Gates said.

He also stated that with such measures in place, Kebbi State would rank among the best in the country, adding that: “To meet these conditions, the collaboration and support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, our development partners are  more than a welcome contribution in the right direction. The foreigner looked forward in the next two years the eradication of polio in Kebbi and other 35 states in the country.”

Responding, Dakingari said his government had constructed over 200 primary healthcare facilities across the state in an effort to ensure that the necessary system or platform for routine immunisation was brought closer to homes where women and children live.

“Now that the election is over, as from 2012 the government will be serious to commit a lot of resources on polio like in the previous years,” he said.

It would be recalled that a statement signed by Michal Fishman of the Bil and Melinda Gates Foundation, had said Gates was accompanied to Nigeria by the foundation’s chief executive officer, Mr. Jeff Raikes.

The statement also said Gates visit was essentially based on how to end polio and strengthen immunisation against other vaccine-preventable diseases with a follow up on the Abuja Commitments to Polio Eradication.

“Nigeria has achieved important success with polio over recent years and we are confident it can finish the job,” Gates said.

This Day

Related story: Bill Gates meets Goodluck Jonathan

Army chief confirms foreigners involved in Boko Haram bombings

AHEAD of the 51st Independence anniversary and continued threat posed by Boko Haram, Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Onyeabor Azubuike Ihejirika, said yesterday, that despite successes recorded by the Army in its onslaught against the group, there was still need for better performance.

General Ihejirika spoke  even as he declared that there was foreign collaboration in the activities of the terrorist group, especially in the area of training of sect members in some African countries and funding from abroad but chose not to mention names.

The Army chief, who spoke at the 2011, third quarter, Chief of Army Staff Conference, also disclosed that he had taken the issue of welfare of officers and soldiers of the Army under his command as priority.

Reasons for grumbling

Iherijika who said no soldier could say his welfare or salaries and allowances were being toyed with, noting that there should be no reason for grumbling in that regard, noted: “Yes, it is true people say we (Army) have been doing well in handling the Boko Haram menace.

This quarterly conference is, however, borne out of my belief that, in spite of the commendation, the expectation, both from my office and the public, is that a situation where bombings continue to go on in spite of measures put in place is unacceptable.

“So we (General Officers Commanding, Principal Staff Officers, Corps Commanders, Brigade Commanders and Formation Commanders) need to really dissect our modules of operations and then we work and cooperate with others so as to come up with measures that will enhance security.”
Asked if it was true that foreign nationals from Niger, Sudan and Chad have been arrested in connection with the Boko Haram bombings and attacks, Ihejirika said: “Let me start with the involvement of Boko Haram or terrorist activities in Nigeria. It is definite that the groups that call themselves Boko Haram or terrorist receive training and possibly funding from elements abroad.

“This was evident from the type of weapons we have captured from them; the type of communication equipment we have captured from them; and the expertise they have displayed in preparation of improvised explosive and these are pointers to the fact that there is foreign involvement in the terrorism going on in Nigeria.”

On whether security agencies would ever contain and curtail the terrorist menace and restore the country to normalcy, he said: “What I want to say is that the Army will live up to the expectations of Nigerians and the army is prepared to carry out any task assigned to it. The issue of curbing security is a collective thing running from government at various levels, well meaning citizens and all the security agencies. But what I want to assure you is that the Army will cooperate and collaborate with other security agencies to improve on our present performance.”

When asked if he was aware that issues of allowances and welfare was raising dust among soldiers, the Army chief said: “As far as I am concerned, the officers and soldiers are getting their welfare as at when due and at the right time. Before I took over, the Army used to be paid last but today, there is no service that pays salaries and allowances before the Army.

In any case if there are complains on welfare, I want that to be brought to my knowledge but there is a general improvement in the welfare of officers and soldiers and in the provision of accommodation, a lot is going on now and most of the projects will be commissioned before the end of November.”


Related stories: Video - Four Boko Haram members to face death penalty for UN attack

Boko Haram suicide bomber attacks police headquarters

Boko Haram claims responsibility for UN bombing

Nigeria's growing middle class

A new detailed survey and report on Nigeria’s expanding middle class, issued by the leading emerging markets investment bank, Renaissance Capital, has portrayed Nigeria as a nation that is optimistic about economic growth, values entrepreneurship and is positioned to capitalise on a boom in consumption.

The survey, released in Lagos, also noted that Nigeria’s per capita gross domestic product (GDP) at market exchange rates has already increased from $390 in 2001 to $1,541 in 2011 based on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) figures, and would reach nearly $2,000 by 2016 “if the pessimistic IMF forecasts are accurate, or $2,500 in our more benign scenario”.

The survey and accompanying report, authored by Renaissance Capital’s Global Chief Economist, Charles Robertson; Head of Sub-Saharan Research, Nothando Ndebele; and Sub-Saharan Economist, Yvonne Mhango, drew attention to the wealth of opportunities presented by one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, as an expanding middle class fuels GDP growth in Africa’s most populous country.

The report drew out the investment opportunities and implications presented by Nigeria’s rapidly growing middle class, against a highly favourable macroeconomic backdrop.

It noted that GDP rose five fold from $46 billion in 2000 to $247 billion in 2011, according to IMF estimates, while the population increased by more than one-third over the same period, from 119 million to 160 million.

Nigeria’s middle class accounts for about 23 per cent of its population, according to African Development Bank data.

Renaissance economists added that, “The magnitude of the increase in Nigeria’s population between now and 2016 is the equivalent of adding another Romania; while, based on cautious IMF forecasts, the increase in Nigeria’s GDP in five years will be equivalent to the addition of another Vietnam or Bangladesh.”

The Renaissance Capital survey was conducted with 1,004 middle-class Nigerians, residing in the cities of Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, 70 per cent of whom were aged 40 or younger.

“The Nigerian middle class we surveyed has a monthly income of some $500-600 and nearly half will be buying fridges, freezers and other white goods, suggesting a consumer boom is under way,” said Charles Robertson. “We cite the upside for consumer lending retail, white-goods retail, lifestyle and leisure, housing development and home improvement.”

The survey made various findings on Nigeria’s middle class. Among them were the following: Average monthly income is in the range of N75,000 - 100,000 ($480-645, or roughly $6,000-7,000 pa).

It also found that the middle class are well educated: 92 per cent have obtained post-secondary education or have studied at an institution of higher learning. Educating their children well is a top priority, and over half send their children abroad to complete their education.

“A sizeable 76 per cent of Renaissance’s sample works in the public sector; of those working in the private sector, 38 per cent run their own businesses. Most of them live in leased/rented accommodation (68 per cent) with an average household size of 3.7 people. The average number of children in each household is 1.6 (excluding those away at school) vs a national average that is closer to 3; larger families are more common in rural areas,” the survey revealed.

According to the Rencap survey, nearly half of the middle class have no immediate plan to move house, 18 per cent are planning to move to a newly completed self-owned apartment, and eight per cent are planning to move to another rented apartment.

“The average number of cars per middle-class household is 0.8 (around one third of middle-class Nigerians have a car that is less than five years old); 5 per cent of homes have two cars. Car ownership remains well below levels seen in Zimbabwe, among others.

“The Nigerian middle class has a culture of saving: they care little about the deposit rate and do not expect to borrow from a bank. If they had the funds, they would rather invest in land/property than shares or bonds.

Most do not have mortgages (which represent approximately 1 per cent of GDP) or credit cards, although many expect to apply for the latter.

As in many emerging markets, the consumer lending sector is woefully underdeveloped,” it stated.

Their principal sources of information, the survey noted, are TV and radio. “Forty-eight per cent have internet access, but only 2 per cent shop online at least once a month. There is huge scope for internet shopping, if logistics allow. The majority shop at open-air markets (73 per cent), as well as use convenience stores (62 per cent). Twenty per cent dine out at least once a week,” it added.

From the detailed findings, only 15 per cent of this class have travelled abroad; 35 per cent of households have at least one person with an international passport, while the United Kingdom is the most favoured travel destination.

“Their key areas of concern over the next 12 months are the supply of electricity and unemployment, with between 19-23 per cent citing these as concerns; while crime (5 per cent) and corruption (3.5 per cent) are seen as far less concerning. Three-quarters are optimistic about the future of Nigeria,” the survey added.

This Day

Related stories: Video report on growing middle class in Nigeria

Middle class in fear as kidnappings rise

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Video - Navigating Nigeria's petroleum industry

Oando CEO Wale Tinubu talks about the Nigerian oil company’s expansive operations.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Suspected Pro-Gaddafi mercenaries arrive Kaduna, Nigeria

Over 100 people, suspected to be mercenaries that fought for the sacked Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi, have arrived Kaduna through the Nigeria - Niger Republic border at the weekend.

They were said to have been conveyed in two luxury bus owned by transport companies located in the South-eastern Nigeria.

There weren't any official comments from the Kaduna Zonal Comptroller of Immigration, Suleiman Umar, as he kept reporters waiting for hours without attending to them.

However, a source in his office explained that the command had to obtain clearance from Abuja and liaise with other relevant security agencies, like the State Security Service (SSS), Police and Army before speaking to the press.

"We are yet to ascertain whether they are Gaddafi's fighters but we know they are Nigerians from Libya. They came in through Niger-Nigeria border. As I am talking with you now, another set are at the Kaduna toll gate coming.

"What we want to do now is to keep them in our custody and await directives from government on the way forward. We don't have money; certainly, the state will cater for them until further directives.

"Right now, high level security meeting is going on at the government house and our zonal comptroller has gone there."

One of the victims, who pleaded anonymity, claimed they were wandering in the desert for the past three weeks before they were apprehended by Immigration officials at the Niger-Nigerian border.

"We left Libya about two weeks ago wandering in the desert before our arrest and subsequent conveyance here (Kaduna) from the Niger-Nigeria border," he said.

They have however been taken to Abuja.

This Day

Related stories: Foreign Minister says no no Gaddafi men in Nigeria

Video - Nigerians mistaken by Libyan rebels to be mercenaries for Pro-Ghadafi forces

Shell shuts in 25,000 bpd of oil due to sabotage and theft

Anglo-Dutch oil group Shell said Monday it has shut in 25,000 barrels per day of crude in a southern Nigerian oil field due to spills caused by sabotage and theft.

"The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) has shut in production from Imo River Field due to a recent upsurge of illegal bunkering and refining activities which have impacted the environment," the company said in a statement.

"Some 25,000 barrels of oil per day is affected," Shell said, adding it took the action on August 28 "to starve the illegal bunkerers of crude oil in order to prevent further environmental pollution."

Theft of crude is commonly referred to as "bunkering" in Nigeria.

Shell said the field which straddles oil-producing Abia and Rivers states, has five flow stations, a gas compressor station and several kilometres of pipelines among other faculties.

The thefts were first noticed in the field two years ago, prompting government security forces to move in to dislodge the perpetrators and destroyed their barges and canoes.

The military deployed in the oil delta has in recent months reported busting hundreds of illegal refineries.

"But the criminal act has now resumed, with crude thieves inflicting hacksaw cuts on pipelines to siphon crude to waiting barges and canoes, some of which can hold as much as 40,000 barrels," it added.

Pipeline vandalism and associated spills are common in the Niger Delta, Nigeria's oil and gas producing region, to feed a lucrative black market.

Shell, one of Nigeria's major oil operators, has seen frequent shut-ins in recent years.

Last month, it was forced to shut down its Utorogu gas plant following a leak on its trunkline in western Niger Delta.

Activists say oil firms such as Shell have not done enough to prevent such incidents.

A UN report in August said decades of oil pollution in the Ogoniland area of the Niger Delta, located in Rivers state, may require the world's largest ever cleanup.

Nigeria is Africa's largest oil producer, accounting for 2.3 million barrels of crude per day according to the latest report of the International Energy Agency.


Related stories: WikiLeaks cables: Shell's grip on Nigerian state revealed

Shell suspends operations in Nigeria

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Foreign Minister says no no Gaddafi men in Nigeria

There is no confirmation that some Muammar Gaddafi loyalists have entered Nigeria from neighbouring countries such as Niger,  Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru has said.

Ashiru told Nigeria reporters covering the 66th UN General Assembly in New York that speculations that Gaddafi’s men had entered some states in Nigeria were untrue.

“Our security agencies are on the alert and I can assure you that anybody who enters Nigeria will be promptly deported from wherever he or she came from,’’ the minister assured.

The minister also said he did not believe Gaddafi or any of his associates would seek asylum in Nigeria.

“I don’t believe that will happen, maybe they will prefer not to come to Nigeria for obvious reasons and I don’t think anyone should express that kind of anxiety,’’  the minister said

Niger, which borders Nigeria in the north, confirmed the presence of some senior Gaddafi officials and at least one member of his family in the country.

Nigerien authorities also confirmed that they were keeping one of Gaddafi’s sons,Saadi, under surveillance along with several others who fled to the country, including Gen. Ali Kana, who commanded Gaddafi’s southern troops.

Interpol has issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, all wanted by the International Criminal Court for suspected crimes against humanity.

About  200 Nigerians still in Libya

Ashiru also told reporters in New York on Saturday that in spite of   the “massive evacuations’’ authorised by the Federal  Government in February and March, some Nigerians still chose  to remain in Libya.

The minister quoted said that  “the last plane that left Libya was virtually empty.”

In March, the National Emergency Management Agency revealed that 4,000 Nigerians were evacuated from Libya.

The minister, however, said he was in touch with some Nigerians still in Libya and had received information that none of them had been killed .

He said the government had contacted Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) authorities on the need to ensure the safety of her nationals that were still in the country.

The minister said the TNC had assured him of their safety, adding that his interaction with them confirmed that “they are fine.’’

“There was particular guy (Nigerian) in Libya who sent an SMS to Nigeria which was also forwarded to me.

“I have been in touch with him several times and each time I call him I will ask him how Nigerians there (in Libya) are doing and he will assure me that they are fine.

“I have also asked to know the problem of some those who were arrested and later released, but no one was killed.

He said the Nigerian government was still assessing the security situation in the North African country.

“We will continue to assess the situation and we want to make sure that everything is stable and secure.

“At the appropriate time when we think the situation has stabilised we will take a decision,’’ he added. (NAN)


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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Massive amounts of explosives smuggled from China seized

Nigerian officials seized a sizable amount of explosives hidden inside a shipping container from China at one of the West African nation's major ports, an official said Saturday, amid continued unrest and bombings across the oil-rich country.

The container arrived at Nigeria's Tin Can Port on June 14 on the MV Seng-Shi, with its bill of lading claiming the shipment from Huangpu, China contained industrial sockets and valves, said Wale Adeniyi, a spokesman for the Nigeria Customs Service. However, discrepancies on the shipping paperwork raised suspicions of the customs service, which kept watch over the container to see if someone came to pick it up, Adeniyi said.

Officials opened the container Friday to check its contents, he said, adding that they worried whatever could be inside of the containers could grow unstable during Nigeria's continuing rainy season, he said. Officials remain unsure whether the explosives were of a military or commercial grade.

"We saw them in different dimensions with cables, wires (and) some bolts," Adeniyi said.

The customs service handed the explosives over to Nigeria's federal police force. Authorities have launched an investigation into the shipment, Adeniyi said, though no arrests have been made.

Nigeria's chaotic ports in its megacity of Lagos see tons of cargo move through them daily, providing cars, imported food, refined gasoline and other products needed for the nation of 150 million people. Drugs and other illegal goods also flow through the ports, often aided by officials receiving bribes in a country considered by analysts to have one of the world's most corrupt governments.

It isn't the first time a shipment that could be used as weapons have been found in the country. In October 2010, authorities at Lagos' Apapa Port found a hidden shipment of 107 mm artillery rockets, rifle rounds and other weapons from Iran. The shipment was supposedly bound for Gambia. A Nigerian and an Iranian face criminal charges over the shipment.

The explosives shipment also comes as Nigeria faces an increasingly bloody sectarian challenge from a radical Muslim sect known locally as Boko Haram. The sect, which wants strict implementation of Shariah law across the nation split between Christian and Muslims, claimed responsibility for the Aug. 26 suicide car bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria that killed 23 people and wounded 116 others.


Related stories: Truck Load of Explosives Seized in Jos 

NDLEA intercepts N4b cocaine in Lagos 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Interview with British Nigerian Hollywood actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje may just be the most badass actor in Hollywood. To "Oz" fans, he's gang leader Simon Adebisi. To "Lost" fans, he's former war lord turned man of god, Mr. Eko. And if you sat through rapper 50 Cent's acting debut, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," he's the twisted drug lord Majestic.

In his latest television stint on Cinemax's explosive new show "Strike Back," Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays a brutal militia leader named Tahir, who holds an innocent aid worker hostage in the Sudan.

Tahir shows little mercy to those who disobey his leadership. For as uncompromising and brutal as Tahir seems, Akinnuoye-Agbaje, who also learned Arabic for the project, was drawn to the project because of the character's many dimensions.

"It's such a rich character," Akinnuoye-Agbaje told The Huffington Post. "This character has many layers. He's a man of absolutely uncompromising principles, and what was intriguing to me was what would drive a person to such extremes?

I was interested in exploring what his motivation was, and why he was committing such seemingly heinous crimes. And then finding out that there was a real, substantive purpose behind it was really intriguing to me.

Nobody is good or bad. Everybody has shades of both, and he is a character who's got both, and he's just extreme in both. He's fighting for a cause. He seems to be an old vestige of a warrior."

Judging from his credits, Akinnuoye-Agbaje walks the line between good and evil quite often, giving seemingly twisted characters emotional depth and understanding.

"Multifaceted and textured characters are always more intriguing to me," said the actor. "You never really just want to play one note. It becomes a bit monotone and boring. I think the most appealing characters for the audience are the ones that you never know whether to root for them or whether to hate them.

That's what keeps people drawn to their television sets. As with Eko, as with Majestic, as with Adebisi, these are characters that you want to hate, but there's a part of them that you secretly want to root for, and that part is called humanity."

Akinnuoye-Agbaje has the ability to give a voice to certain tormented and twisted characters that other actors would shy away from -- such as Tahir and Adebisi -- which is what makes his portrayal of such characters so endearing and authentic.

Yet, he's proven that he can play tortured and twisted quite well, but what about playing someone, well, more normal? In the star-studded "Killer Elite," coming out this fall and starring Robert De Niro, Clive Owen and Jason Statham, Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays Agent, someone who's not a drug lord, criminal or militia leader in the Sudan.

"For the first time really, I played a British character in a shirt and tie," laughed the British-born actor. "He's more behind-the-scenes and pulling the strings, so that was really interesting for me. I also have another film coming out this fall, called 'Best Laid Plans,' and it's a British modern adaptation of 'Of Mice and Men.'

I play the character Lenny, and he's a 37-year-old man with a 7-year-old mentality. And it was a challenge for me, and it was a very tricky task, but that's the rewarding part of what I do -- the exploration of different personalities, traits and characters. Ultimately, you have to just take the plunge and follow your instincts on these characters."

By taking the plunge, Akinnuoye-Agbaje plays bad like no one else -- with vulnerability and depth -- and sometimes, these tormented and twisted characters tend to go against his Buddhist faith. The actor admitted that he had to chant more than usual while playing the brutal Majestic in "Get Rich or Die Tryin'."

"Sometimes I do question it because if you do your job well, the public will associate you with that person," said Akinnuoye-Agbaje, "But then I have to take a step back from it and say, this is my job, this is what I do.

I'm here to play certain characters and give them a voice that they might not have had. That's my job, and like it or not, that's what I'm here to do."

This Day

Related story: Video interview with Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sex worker burns her baby alive

The Oyo State Police Command confirmed on Sunday that a newborn baby (name not given) was set ablaze by unknown persons in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

The parents of the baby and the accomplices were yet to be traced at the time of filing this report.

The Police Public Relations Officer in Oyo State, Mr. Femi Okanlawon, who confirmed the incident, said two hoteliers had already been arrested in connection with the crime.

According to Okanlawon, information about the incident was received by the police around 11:00 am on Saturday. He explained that the baby was burnt at Lemomu Street, Ekotedo Iyaolobe area of the city.

The Police spokesman said the two male suspects, who were arrested worked with a hotel in the area thereby fuelling suspicion that the baby might have been born by a commercial sex worker.  It is suspected that the mother of the baby who is a hooker set the baby on fire for unknown reasons, then fled the scene.

Ekotedo, a community near the Dugbe Central Business District, is home to many sex workers.

Okanlawon said the command had launched an investigation into the incident and promised that those behind the cruel action would soon be unmasked and be made to face the law.

He said, “A case of suspected murder is in our hands. Our men in Mokola were informed around 11:00am that a newborn baby was set ablaze by unknown persons at Lemomu Street in Ekotedo Iya Olobe area.

“We have arrested two men in connection with the incident. An investigation has also been launched into the criminal act and we believe the people behind the act would soon be tracked down.”

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Video - FOX News covers Nigeria as new home of Terrorism

FOX News covers Nigeria as new home of terrorism.

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Britain to help Nigeria fight Boko Haram

Britain has pledged to help Nigeria fight terrorism after Nigeria solicited her support in addressing the security challenges facing it.

Dr Bello Mohammed, the Minister of Defence, made the request in Abuja yesterday when he received the British High Commissioner, Mr Andrew Lloyd, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office.

He said the support could be in the areas of intelligence sharing and supply of surveillance equipment necessary for curbing the menace of terrorism.

"I will also like to urge you to appeal to your government to strengthen our cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

"We have some security problems in Nigeria as you are aware and we believe that the Americans, the British as well as the EU are putting a lot of attention in the bid to curb terrorism in all parts of the world.

"If our security agencies work together with your agencies in the exchange of information, may be in the deployment of equipment for detection, it will help not only in ensuring security in Nigerian but world security", he said.

The minister also appealed to the British government to assist Nigeria in resuscitating its defence industries to enable it meets some of its military needs.

"Our defence industries have been moribund for a long time; part of our reform programme is to reactivate them, so that our defence needs that can be produced locally instead of importing them", he said.

Mohammed also appealed to the British government to support Nigeria's quest for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Responding, Mr Andrew Lyold said his visit to the Ministry was prompted by his country's desire to strengthen military relations with Nigeria.

Lloyd said among other areas of interest, Britain would remain a strategic partner of Nigeria in the area of defence.

He said Britain recognised Nigeria's importance in the quest for global peace, and pledged his country's support for its bid for permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Lloyd said Nigeria's role in the Security Council had been a benefiting one for global peace, adding that this had been evident in its role in restoring peace in war torn Liberia, Sierra Leone and other African countries.

He advised Nigeria to protect its nascent democracy against security challenges, saying that no modern democracy in the world was immune to such challenges.

The High Commissioner promised that Britain would partner with Nigeria to sustain its democracy and curb emerging security challenges.

Lloyd, who was on a working visit to the Ministry, was accompanied on the visit by some British military officials.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has reaffirmed its support for Libya's Transitional Council, in spite of being absent at a United Nations (UN) General Assembly that allowed the former rebels to represent the people of Libya at the world body.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the attention of the Minister, Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru had been drawn to the "inadvertent absence of Nigeria" at last Friday's UN voting session.

"Government welcomes the decision of the General Assembly to accept the credentials of the Transitional National Council of Libya (TNC) to the UN as the legitimate authority now in Libya" Mr. Damian Agwu, spokesman for the ministry said in the statement.

The overwhelming support given to the TNC by members of the General Assembly, the highest legislative body, vindicates the wisdom of the decision taken by Nigeria earlier on this delicate matter," the statement added.

It said: "Appropriate diplomatic steps" had been taken to register Nigeria's voting preference supporting the NTC to speak for Libya at the debate of the UN General Assembly taking place in New York.

"This will form part of the UN record on the subject," the statement added.

The former rebels recently forced Dictator Muammar Gaddafi to abandon his headquarters in Tripoli, following five months of violent conflict sparked by Gaddafi's brutal crackdown on his citizens.

The NTC declared itself the legitimate representative of the Libyan people on March 5 and mandated Mahmoud Jibril, its leader, on March 23, to form an interim government.

Daily Champion

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Swiss court orders retrial of son of Sani Abacha N54.88bn money laundering case


The highest court in Switzerland has ordered retrial of Abba Abacha, the son of ex- military ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha, who died in 1998, against the order of a lower court to return the sum of $350 million (about N54. 88 billion) illegally acquired by his family.

Following the inability of the son of the ex-military ruler to obtain a Swiss visa to attend the trial, Abba Abacha appealed against the earlier ruling ordering him to return the money and the highest court obliged him.

The Swiss Federal Tribunal annulled the sentence and ordered the retrial on the grounds that Mr. Abacha's rights had been violated and because of procedural irregularities.

A source said that the appeal started at a court in Geneva’s on Monday.

According to a Swiss  newspaper, LeTemps, Abba Abacha, who is currently in Nigeria, would not be attending the hearing.

He was said to have been refused a visa to go to Switzerland because he did not apply for it in time, the newspaper said. 

Jersey’s Royal Court had earlier sentenced an Indian, Raj Arjandas Bhojwani, believed to be in money laundering business deal with late Sani Abacha, to repay N26.5 million.

The convict laundered £28million through the Jersey branch of the Bank of India. He was jailed in 2010 for eight years, but in February, it was cut to six years for Bhojwani's good character.

The money was laundered in a business deal with the late Nigerian military dictator, who died in 1998.

The Royal Court ordered the confiscation of £26.5m and for  Bhojwani to contribute to the prosecution costs.

A statement released by the Royal Court said it represented the end of a long investigation into serious money laundering in Jersey.

HM Attorney General Timothy Le Cocq, QC, said: ‘This is not the first time the attorney general has brought a successful prosecution for money laundering and we hope that it will send out a clear message that Jersey will deal very seriously with such offences.’

The case began following an investigation into the activities of General Abacha.

The Moment

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Former Delta Governor James Ibori to stay in Prison Till 2012

Former Delta State Governor, Chief James Onanefe Ibori, standing trial in London on a 14 count charge of fraud and money laundering, will remain in prison custody till February 13, 2012, when his case opens.

The alleged crimes were reportedly committed between 1999 and 2007 when Ibori served as Delta State governor.

The decision to remand him in prison followed the successful pleas of his defence lawyers that they need more time to go through 65,000 pages of evidence and also to travel to Nigeria to speak to witnesses.

The former Delta State governor appeared in court, clean shaven and wearing a grey linen jacket and shirt without a tie. He had freshly shaved, getting rid of the small moustache he at one time spotted.

He waved to supporters, and managed to smile at the police officers who led him to court, and also at one point flashed a smile at the police officers who have worked to amass tens of thousand pages of evidence against him.

In legal hearings before the trial, Ibori's defence team told the court that they intend to argue that he cannot be tried in the United Kingdom, since a court in Nigeria has already decided there is no evidence he has committed any crime in Nigeria.

One of Ibori's defence lawyers, Mr. Benjamin Aina (QC), told Southwark Crown Court that they could not begin the trial as planned in November because they need more time to go through the approximately 65,000 pages of evidence and travel to Nigeria to speak to witnesses.

'Mr. Ibori has the right to be competently defended,' Judge Anthony Pitts said, setting the new date. Ibori's defence team did not object to the prosecution's request to extend the time Mr. Ibori could be held in custody.

Without such agreement prisoners in custody on remand for non violent offences can be released on bail after six months.

Ibori was extradited to the UK from Dubai in April 2011, and prosecutors decided he would be tried alongside a co-defendant, Emmanuel Preko, who was already slated to be tried in November.

His lawyer, Nicholas Purnell, referred to in court by other members of the defence team and the Judge as 'one of the finest legal minds of this generation,' told the court he had been forced to withdraw his services from Ibori because of the schedule.

'This has caused some considerable distress to the defendant,' he said. 'The delay to the start date allowed Mr. Purnell to represent Ibori as originally planned,' he said.

The prosecution said the defence team had already had adequate time to prepare, as many of the legal representatives had also worked on the trials involving associates of Ibori.

His wife, mistress and lawyer, were all convicted in London last year. Much of the complex evidence has been agreed over the course of the previous trials, the prosecution said.

Before the trial the court will convene to hear legal arguments, where Ibori will apply to have the case thrown out.

The Moment

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Newly appointed commander of the Special Task Force promises to bring peace to Jos

Maj.-Gen. Oluwaseun Oshinowo, the new Commander of the military Special Task Force, STF, maintaining security in Plateau, on Monday in Jos vowed to ensure the return of peace to the troubled state.

Oshinowo made the promise when he paid a courtesy call on Gov. Jonah Jang, saying that he understood the terrain of Plateau having lived in the state since 1981.

“I’m here to work for Plateau State because I’ve settled here with my family and my two kids were born here. I’m not living in the barracks but in my own house in Bassa.

“I’m here at the bidding of the Commander-in-Chief and I am ready to work with you. I seek your cooperation so that we can bring peace back to Plateau.”

Oshinowo described Plateau as his home and said he would like his children and family to grow in a peaceful atmosphere that used to pervade the entire state in the past.

“We need to bring peace back to Plateau; we can do it and we will do it. I do tell my friends that crisis met me in Jos and crisis will leave me in Jos by God’s grace.

“Plateau used to be the envy of everybody in this country. Many of us come from other states but Jos is the best place you can stay in this country whether you believe it or not and the peace must return.”

The STF commander, however, said that he would not be able to do anything without the cooperation of Jang, his senior colleague in the military.

Responding, Jang expressed dismay at accusations that he, as an experienced military officer, had not been able to end the crisis because of the many intricacies involved.

“When a similar crisis erupted in Numan in the then old Gongola State, it didn’t take me one week to put it under. I didn’t need anybody’s permission to order the brigade commander and the head of state congratulated me for a job well done.

“But as an elected governor, the constitution has changed the position of the chief security officer of a state to that of a general without troops because all the security forces are under the president.”

Jang said that the president’s directive to the Chief of Defence Staff did not presuppose that he (Jang) had failed but that the defence chief was only being reminded by the president to come and do his work properly.

The governor, however, said that the president had not relieved him as the chief security officer of the state since it was a constitutional issue.

He said that all the security heads met regularly at the Security Council but noted that security issues agreed on at the council were not carried out by the appropriate authorities.

Nigeria loses Trade Union hosting rights

Meanwhile, following the spate of bombing in the country by Boko Haram sect, Nigeria has lost the hosting rights of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa) Congress which was scheduled for Abuja from October 24 – 26, 2011.

Nigeria was granted the hosting rights in October 2010. President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Comrade AbdulWaheed Omar, who disclosed this in a press conference yesterday said , “this congress would have brought trade unionists from across Africa to Nigeria as well as their comrades from all continents.

Unfortunately, due to the spate of bombings especially that of the United Nations House in Abuja, the hosting right has been withdrawn and is to be taken to either Cotonou, Johannesburg, Nairobi or Dakar. What this tells us is that rather than government creating more problems in the country, it should engage in problem- solving schemes”.


Related stories: Video - Secterian killing in Jos

President Goodluck Jonathan Declares War On Terrorism

Monday, September 19, 2011

Video - Four Boko Haram members to face death penalty for UN attack

And now on to Nigeria, where four members of a radical Islamist sect face trial for bombing the U.N. headquarters in the Nigerian capital. If found guilty, the men face the death penalty for their role in the attack, which killed 23 people.

Four suspected members of a radical Islamist sect have been charged with orchestrating a suicide bombing on United Nations headquarters in the Nigerian capital last month.

The attack killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 100.

They face the death penalty if found guilty.

The men are accused of being members of Boko Haram, whose name in the Haussa language means "Western education is forbidden."

They were among 19 men brought to a magistrates court in Abuja on Friday accused of carrying out separate attacks as members of the sect.

The sect is also blamed for almost daily killings around its home base in the remote northeast.

The U.N. attack was the first known suicide bombing in Nigeria.

It marked an escalation in the group's tactics and revealed a step-up in the sophistication of explosives it uses.

Intelligence officials have said evidence suggests some Boko Haram members have trained in Niger and have connections with al Qaeda's North African wing.

The United States has become increasingly concerned about the threat posed by Boko Haram and its cooperation with al Qaeda.

Nigeria's population of more than 140 million is split roughly equally between a largely Muslim north and a mostly Christian south.

Boko Haram, which wants Islamic sharia law more widely applied, does not have the support of the majority of Nigerian Muslims.


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Britain's most wanted fire arms and drug dealer arrested by the NDLEA

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on Friday said that it had arrested Britain's most wanted fire arms and drug suspect.

A statement issued by the Chairman of the agency, Alhaji Ahmed Giade, said the suspect was arrested on Sept. 13, in Lagos.

The statement said the suspected fugitive, was apprehended by officers of the Joint Task Force (JTF) of the NDLEA during an intensive manhunt for him around the country.

"The NDLEA has a statutory mandate to partner with other countries and International organisations in the global fight against illicit drugs.

"We shall continue to partner with all stakeholders in the drive to halt the trade in narcotics as the country is not a safe haven for drug barons," it said.

The statement also quoted the commander of the JTF, Mr Sunday Zirangey, who coordinated the operations, as saying that preliminary investigation had commenced into the incident and that additional information was being gathered and processed on the suspect.

"The suspect, an indigene of the Lancaster area, in the UK, is wanted by the Operation Greengage Team for his alleged involvement in the importation of cocaine, cannabis, firearms and ammunition into the U.K. from Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

"A European arrest warrant was issued in May 2008 because it was believed that he had links with the Netherlands," it said.

The statement quoted the Lancashire Constabulary Police, as saying after the arrest, that the suspect would be extradited to face criminal charges in the U.K.


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Friday, September 16, 2011

President Goodluck Jonathan Declares War On Terrorism

President Goodluck Jonathan has once again reaffirmed the Federal Government's commitment to ensure that those behind terrorist acts in the country will be brought to justice.

The President, who was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, while performing the traditional laying of wreaths at a memorial for victims of the United Nations (UN) House bomb blast, stated that 'now is the time to strengthen our cooperation and faith in the United Nations' despite the attack by 'evil minded persons.

Laying the wreaths at exactly 11:30 a.m., he said,'We shall continue to march on until global peace and security is achieved.'

He vowed that government would ensure that all those responsible for the terrorist attack were brought to justice.

Jonathan also reaffirmed government's commitment to continue to work with the UN as partners for peace, development and progress, he also assured the immediate rehabilitation of the UN building.

He told the bereaved families to take solace in the fact that there was no wound that Heaven could not heal, and promised to support them in their future endeavours.

He said: 'It is our solemn prayer that this sad incidence will never happen again. Evil will never triumph over good nor darkness over light.'

However, Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, confirmed the re-assessment of security in the country by the UN in his tribute and stated that such attacks on UN premises around the world have increased in recent years.

He said the exercise personified the deep commitment that characterises the work of the UN in Nigeria and globally.

'At this time of sorrow and loss, let us pledge to honour their sacrifice by continuing to make the United Nations' presence in Nigeria a beacon of peace and hope,' Ki-Moon said.

The UN scribe noted that the terrorist attack showed utter disregard for human life and it was an assault not just on the UN premises but also on her values and work.

'There can be no justification for such wanton killing and destruction. The victims were concerned only with helping Nigeria's poor and vulnerable, and supporting the country in addressing its varied challenges.

Colleagues working on crime prevention, health services and many other urgent issues had their lives cut short.

'I am told of one young man who died on his last day at work before departing to further his education, a path he chose because he had been so inspired by his association with the UN. There are many more of such stories,' he said.

The country coordinator of the UN, Mr. Daouda Toure, reassured the bereaved that their loved ones did not die for nothing but rather they died because they believed in a world of peace, tolerance and social justice.

He said their deaths should 'spur all of us as one family to continue to live the ideals for which they died for.'

Toure described the bombing as an attack against the principles and values of the body, and it was a demonstration of ignorance about the work and mission of the UN as a global moral voice.

It is a non political and non sectarian organization, committed to working with different partners to alleviate human suffering, promote peace, human rights and solidarity, as well as improve the structures and capacity of governance to deliver human and economic development for countries of the world.

'In all we do, we stand with the people, no matter their colour, race, standing, religious or political persuasion.

The very victims of this heinous act of August 26, 2011 themselves represent the diversity of the UN in terms of reach, content and partnership,' Toure said.

'On the August 26, 2011, lives were not only cut short, dreams were shattered.

Though we mourn, we also celebrate the virtues, values and valour which our departed colleagues, friends and partners brought to their work,' he added.

Tributes also came from 12 year old Edward Dede, who spoke on behalf of the bereaved families.

The president, UN Staff Association, Uzoma Abudu, who described the victims as martyrs of development, said the names will be engraved on the wall of the UN House when it rises again.

Eulogies also came from the UNDP administrator, Helen Clark; UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake; DG, UNESCO, Irina Bokova; Executive Director, UN Women, Michelle Bachelet; and Executive Director, UNFPA, and Prof. Tunde Osotimehin, among others.

The 11 dead UN staff and their designations included Ms Rahmat Abdullahi (Registry Clerk, UNDP); Mr. Musa Ali (Zonal Logistics Assistant for the North West, WHO); Mr. Johnson Awotunde (Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, UNICEF); Dr. Edward Dede (National Professional Officer, WHO) and Mr. Elisha Enaburekhan (Driver, UNAIDS).

Others were Mr. Ahmed Abiodun Adewale-Kareem (Shipping Assistant, UNICEF); Mr. Iliya David Musa (Receptionist, UN Common Services, UNDP); Mr. Ingrid Midtgaard (Associate Expert, UNODC); Mrs. Felicia Nkwuokwu (Receptionist, UN Com- mon Services, UNDP); Mr. Stephen Obamoh (ERT Radio Operator, UNDP); and Mr. Abraham Osunsanya (Administrative Assistant, WHO).

Some of the 10 non UN staff included Mr. Sunday James Ebere (Shipping Agent, Balast Agency); Mr. Ndubisi Bright (Hospitality Industry Consults); Mr. Paul Waziri (Nigerian Cleaning Services); and Ms Kate Demehin (Federal Ministry of Health).

The Moment

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

50 Cent loses legal battle to Chinua Achebe

Seems like 50 Cent had the perfect title for his new movie. Already dealing with one lawsuit over $200,000 in unpaid services for the film, Fif also recently lost a legal battle against an iconic Nigerian author over the movie's title.

Via Broadway Ghana, 50 Cent was recently forced to change the title of the film, Things Fall Apart, which took its name from a classic 1958 novel by author Chinua Achebe. Upon learning of the film's title, Achebe threatened to sue 50 and the film's producers for copyright violations. Fif and friends tried to settle out of court, offering the Chinua Achebe Foundation $1 million to use the title, but the Chinua Achebe Foundation turned down the offer.

"The novel with the said title was initially produced in 1958 (that is 17 years before rapper 50 Cent was born), [is] listed as the mostly read book in modern African literature, and won’t be sold for even $1 billion,” Achebe's legal reps said.

As a result of the setback, the film's backers have convinced 50 to rename the film All Things Fall Apart to head off any more legal battles.

The Mario Van Peebles–directed movie, set for a 2012 release, tells the story of a college football player whose sports career is cut short by cancer. All Things Fall Apart stars Peebles, Ray Liotta and 50 Cent in the lead role.

Nigerian Films

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Video - Secterian killing in Jos

14 members of one family were killed in Plateau state, Nigeria, in what appears to be a religiously-motivated attack.

Locals say they were a Christian family, shot or hacked to death, by Muslim herdsmen. To these villagers, this is part of a cycle of revenge killings that have left dozens of people dead in the last two weeks.

While killings motivated by religion, or battle for land, have dogged the area for many years, there now appears to be a new, more determined pattern; pitting communities who have lived together for decades against each other.

The murders are another headache for President Goodluck Jonathan, who is also dealing with more bombings, after last month's attack on the UN compound in Abuja.


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Baby factory discovered in Anambra

Proprietress of Divine Mercy Motherless Babies Home Obosi , Lady Ifeoma Okolo allegedly escaped arrest yesterday as police raided the home in connection with alleged child trafficking.

Found at the home were 8 babies , and about 20 pregnant young girls .

The Anambra state Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development after the raid took charge of three babies. The ministry's Director of Child Development, Mr Emeka Ejide led his team alongside the police for the raid.

The home located at Enic Foam road has a very big warehouse . The building has several rooms . in the decrepit rooms were 20 young pregnant girls waiting to deliver their babies for sale.

Investigation had it that one Miracle -a three year old boy was already sold at N400,000 to a woman who was desperately looking for a baby boy. Ifeoma however defaulted in delivering the boy to her client even after she had paid the amount both parties agreed. That was to mark the genesis of the problem of the home.

When contacted on phone , Lady Ifeoma Okolo said she went to the hospital with the 5 babies (initially at Nkpor but later Onitsha) but did not say anything about the pregnant girls harboured there. His workers had said Awada hospital.

But on investigation, Daily Champion discovered that clothes , make up, and bags of young girls were in the various rooms in the warehouse which had secret key locks and confusing entrance.

A source at the scene confided to Daily Champion that the home takes care of pregnant young girls and about 12 of them were there as at last week she visited and a good number of babies present. She informed claimed that the home specializes in selling babies to baby seekers.

But a Home care in the home, Mrs Elizabeth Okoroji and Cleaner, Mrs Mercy Amadi denied knowledge of such deals of selling babies and keeping pregnant young girls in the home but later claimed they were new and may not give accurate account of happenings at the home.

A woman ( names withheld ) who hails from Enugu state confessed to buying a baby from the home at the cost of over N400, 000 , praying that she be forgiven as she was not the only one that engaged in that even as she blamed her predicament on a protracted quest for a baby boy . She argued that in Igbo land a family without a baby boy was not regarded, explaining that she had given birth to a baby girl. She denied ever thinking of using the child for ritual.

The two tender babies were taken to Tenderlove Motherless babies home Awka while the other one was taken to Model motherless babies home Awka . police said they are on the trail of the home owner.

Speaking to journalists later, Commissioner for women Affairs and Social Development, Dr Mrs Ego Uzoezie reaffirmed the commitment of the ministry to clean up the mess by those running illegal homes in the state.

Daily Champion

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