Friday, December 30, 2011

Rick Ross sued for cancelling show in Nigeria

Rapper Rick Ross could face a lawsuit over a canceled performance in Nigeria that was supposed to take place on December 28.

Rick Ross was supposed to be the featured performer at the annual Calabar carnival celebration in Cross River State, Nigeria.

Reps for the Cross River State government released a statement to local media, slamming Rick Ross for canceling his appearance unannounced, due to “unforeseen contractual obligations.”

“The rapper, Rick Ross, has issued a statement cancelling his performance at the Calabar Festival, scheduled for December 28, 2011, for reasons not related to his recent surgery and seizures,” the statement read. “The performer’s cancellation is unexpected and the reasons are unknown to Cross River State since he has confirmed receipt of his entire performance fee many weeks ago.”

The government of Cross River State Government has hired lawyers in the United States to explore other options to sue Rick Ross for breach of contract and to recover the performance fee.

Representatives for Rick Ross told that the rapper was forced to cancel his appearance at the Calabar Christmas carnival celebration Monday (December 26), just days before the event.

“Rick was very excited to attend this event as it is the biggest festival in Nigeria and he is quite disappointed that he will not be performing,” a rep for Rick Ross told

Reps for Rick Ross were not available to comment about the possible lawsuit as of press time.


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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Video - Healing the wounds from Christmas Day Boko Haram attack

Victims of Nigeria's Christmas Day bombings recall the day as fears rise of more sectarian violence in Africa's most populous country. 


Related stories: Army sent to guard Abuja after Christmas bombings 

U.S. promises to hunt down Boko Haram bombers 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Security forces warn of Boko Haram terrorist plot for New Year's Day

Federal Government has been advised to change its counter-terrorism strategy from the current law enforcement-reactive model to a security pro-active model, with a view to minimising casualties each time Boko Haram sect strikes.

A chartered security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu, gave the advice, yesterday, in Lagos. He expressed fear of a likely re-occurrence of the Madalla Christmas day bomb explosion on January 1, 2012.

Ona called on the Federal Government not to just aim at arresting and prosecuting members of the Boko Haram sect after they must have committed the act, but to adopt measures to prevent the attacks.

Calling on security agencies to be on their toes, Ona said: "Since Boko Haram struck on Christmas day, they may likely strike on New Year's day. This is based on the fact that terrorists struck on Christmas eve and New Year's Eve in 2010. However, the suicide terrorists changed to Christmas day this year.

"Since past is prologue to the future and the masters of Boko Haram tend to strike on anniversaries and on celebration days in order to maximise fatalities, they will probably carry out more spectacular attacks on New Year's day 2012."

Ekhomu regretted that despite intelligence report on the sect's intention to attack churches on Christmas day, nothing was done to stop them.


Related stories: Army sent to guard Abuja after Christmas bombings 

 Boko Haram claims responsibility for UN bombing 

Army sent to guard Abuja after Christmas bombings

Soldiers have been deployed to guard key places in Abuja, in the wake of the christmas Day bombings.

Independent observation by Daily Trust reporters reveals that apart from the stop and check points along high ways coming into Abuja, the most significant change is the tape blockade of Moshood Abiola road by Defense headquarters building.

Another obvious security beef up is the red and white tape barricade of the Tafawa Balewa way by Naval headquarters Abuja.

Our reporters observed that the byways and front entrances of many embassies and government buildings show the same level of security checks even before the yuletide season attacks.

On the road that takes motorist pass several foreign Embassies, including the American Embassy in Abuja, some armed soldiers man security posts.

At the International Conference Centre, soldiers are seen checking motorist driving into the centre, using explosive detection devices to scan under their cars, after also checking their booths.

At major shopping malls in the city, private securities out fits do the checking while soldiers are on standby in their army trucks.

However, notable is the increased security checks with metal scanners and metal detection devices at several city parks and recreational gardens across the city, where despite the apprehension many residents still venture go to relax.

Daily Trust

Related stories: U.S. promises to hunt down Boko Haram bombers 

Video - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

U.S. promises to hunt down Boko Haram bombers

The US has promised to help Nigeria hunt down the terrorists who killed at least 39 people on Christmas Day, most of them at a church.

"We have been in contact with Nigerian officials about what appear to be terrorist acts and pledge to assist them in bringing those responsible to justice," White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement yesterday.

And two months after the death of Sunday Nwachukwu in a South African hospital, another victim of the August 26 bomb attack on the United Nations House in Abuja, is dead, bringing the death toll to 25.

A source at the UN headquarters in Abuja told THISDAY at the weekend that the latest victim - Fred Simiyu Willis, a Kenyan - died on Friday, December 23, at the Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.

THISDAY gathered that following the August 26 bomb attack, Willis, who was a health officer with the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), was among the victims flown to the South African hospital, and was said to have undergone multiple operations after which he developed several complications.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has condemned the deadly bomb blasts that occured in some parts of Northern Nigeria on Christmas day and "called for an end to all acts of sectarian violence in the country".

A militant religious sect, Boko Haram, had already claimed responsibility for these deadly attacks.

A five-paragraph statement issued in New York said the UN scribe "strongly condemned" the bombings and reiterated his firm conviction that nothing could justify this resort to violence.

Ki-moon also expressed his sympathy and condolences to the people of Nigeria and to those who lost loved ones in the attacks.

In the statement, Ki-moon recalled that, "Last month, at least 65 people were killed in the North-eastern cities of Damaturu and Potiskum after Islamist insurgents bombed churches, mosques and police stations and fought hours of gun battles with police."

This Day

Related stories: Boko Haram attack Churches on Christmas day - 40 dead

Video - Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Boko Haram attack Churches on Christmas day - 40 dead

Boko Haram Islamic sect early Sunday morning launched twin bomb attacks on churches in both Abuja and Jos reportedly leaving at least 40 people dead and many more injured.

There are conflicting figures on the numbers of worshipers killed or injured by a bomb blast that exploded in the premises of St. Theresa Catholic Church, Madala, Niger State close to Zuba, FCT, shortly after the 6am Mass of Nativity.

Unconfirmed sources gave NEMA account of 25, while a security officer who was at the scene where evacuation was going on gave another figure of 41. However, Rev. Fr. Isaac Achi who pastors the church pointed to at least 17 vehicles, the wreckage of the aftermath explosion said Fr. Achi. " The owners of these vehicles cued up to drive home after the early morning mass where the message of love, peace and joy was delivered to herald the Feast of Nativity. Sadly, what we met was this ugly situation.

A victim was found on the roof of the church. Dead bodies were found in gutters. And many families were burnt beyond recognition inside these vehicles. I do not have the exact number of those recorded dead or injured. The victims have been moved to different hospitals but at St. Lucas hospital, 9 of my parishioners were recorded dead. At Gwagwalada, six were recorded dead, while at Diamond Hospital, a little baby of 5 years who was injured could not locate his parents. Among the victims could have been okada riders and kabukabu taxi drivers who come here to pick passengers  every Sunday. I dont usually cry, but today i wept with my house-hold of 5000 worshippers, seeing some of our brethren  bombed out of existence. Nigeria must intensify its efforts in the area of security and guarranty freedon of movement and worship."

According to eyewitnesses, the Abuja blast tore through St Theresa's Church in Madalla as worshippers gathered for Christmas services.

The second explosion, which occurred shortly after the Abuja attack, hit a church in Jos, killed at least one policeman and destroyed three vehicles.

The area around the scene of the Abuja blast degenerated into chaos after the explosion, with angry youths starting fires and threatening to attack a nearby police station.

Police shot into the air to disperse them and closed a major highway. Emergency officials called for more ambulances as rescuers sought to evacuate the dead and wounded.
An emergency official told reporters that the authorities were struggling to cope with the casualties.

National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman, Yushau Shuaibu told the BBC that the explosion had happened in the street outside the church.

But he said the church had been badly affected by the blast, and the number of dead was likely to rise.

Earlier he told Reuters news agency: "We are presently evacuating the dead and the injured, but unfortunately we don't have enough ambulances.

"Most of our ambulances have gone to operate on the major highways of the country."

Officials at the local hospital said the condition of many of the injured was serious, and they were seeking help from bigger medical facilities.

Businessman, Munir Nasidi was in a hotel opposite the church when the blast occurred.

He told the BBC: "When I came out of the hotel, people were running around. Everyone was crying. They were bringing out casualties. Nobody was getting near the building as there was a fire."

Security had been beefed up in recent time following recent skirmishes between Boko Harem gunmen and soldiers in Yobo and Borno States have killed over 50.

Eye witnesses said windows of nearby houses had been shattered by the explosion.

Officials at the local hospital said the condition of many of the injured was serious, and they were seeking help from bigger medical facilities.

Boko Haram - whose name means "Western education is forbidden" - often targets security forces and state institutions.

The group carried out an August 2011 suicide attack on the UN headquarters in Abuja, in which more than 20 people were killed.

A string of bomb blasts in Jos on Christmas Eve 2010 were claimed by Boko Haram.

Meanwhile, in Rome, the Catholic Church has condemned the latest terror attacks by the Islamic religious sect.
Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi damned the latest attacks as blind, absurd "terrorist violence" that enflames hate.

"We are close to the suffering of the Nigerian Church and the entire Nigerian people so tried by terrorist violence, even in these days that should be of joy and peace," Lombardi was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Our correspondent who visited some churches in the Federal Capital Territory however reports that the incident did not dampen the enthusiasm of worshippers as most were full as expected.

Rather, there is heightened security consciousness as unknown people entering some of the church premises were screened by local security details.

This Day

Related stories: Video - Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram 

Video - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Arik Air hostess arrested for smuggling cocaine

An air hostess for Arik Air, Ms Chinwendu Uwakaonyenma Ogbonnaya, was arrested at Heathrow Airport on Sunday over an allegation of smuggling four kilogram's of cocaine into the United Kingdom.

The airline promptly promised to support the British police and the magistrates in the matter even as it regrets that the incident is the first involving its crew.

A statement by the British High Commission in Abuja Tuesday said the drug was discovered in an item of luggage conveyed by 30-year-old Ogbonnaya.

"She had arrived into Heathrow Terminal 4 having travelled on an Arik Air flight from Lagos in Nigeria," the statement said, adding that she was charged with attempting to import a class A substance, and appeared before Uxbridge Magistrate court Tuesday.

The British High Commission quoted the Director of UK Border Agency operations at Heathrow, Marc Owen, as saying: "UK Border Agency officers are on constant alert, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to keep class A drugs and other banned substances out of the UK."

According to him, the agency is determined to prevent this terrible trade which can have "such a destructive impact on the lives of so many".

This Day

Related stories: Nigerian government moves to restrict British airways flights to Lagos 

Another Cocaine Haul Uncovered in Lagos Port

John Obi Mikel frustrated at Chelsea


Super Eagles midfielder John Obi Mikel admits he is frustrated to find himself on the fringes of the Chelsea first-team, but realises that the club's search for collective team success is more important than personal gain.

The 24-year-old midfielder is the latest Blues star to have been overlooked by Portuguese tactician Andre Villas-Boas, following the likes of Frank Lampard and Fernando Torres, who have also been forced to settle for a place on the bench in recent weeks.

"It has been hard, but the most important thing is that the team keeps doing well," confirmed Mikel. "As much as I want to play, the team comes first."

Mikel has lost his holding midfield place in the Chelsea side to summer signing Oriol Romeu following the club's 2-1 loss to Liverpool at Stamford Bridge.

The former Barcelona man was Villas-Boas' first signing as Blues boss, and is highly regarded by everyone in west London. Romeu has impressed when called into the first-team as he looks to cement his place in the starting line-up.

"If the team keeps winning, then I shouldn't complain," Mikel continued. "Any time I am called upon, I just want to help the team win."


Related stories: John Mikel Obi says Chelsea will win Champion League this season 

Video - John Mikel Obi's family speak about kidnapping

Mikel Obi - between club and country

Monday, December 19, 2011

Wole Soyinka advises anti-gay bill legislators to go back to school

As controversy continues to trail the recent passage of the Anti-gay Marriage Bill, Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, has asked lawmakers in the National Assembly to go back to school in order to clearly understand the difference between public and private affairs.

A bill banning same-sex marriages was recently passed by the Senate. The bill, which makes same-sex marriage punishable by a 14-year jail term, still has to be ratified by the House of Representatives before it is signed into law by President Goodluck Jonathan.

Soyinka, who spoke with journalists on Friday in Calabar, Cross River State, shortly after he had delivered a lecture titled Faith, Science and the Morality of Knowledge, to mark the fifth convocation of the Cross River University of Technology, said he did not see any reason why lawmakers should bother themselves with legislation that deals with the private life of adults.

He said, "The problem with legislators is that they fail to distinguish between personal bills and interventions in private lives. That is the problem. I see no reason why they should intervene in the private lives of adults. What people do in their bedrooms is no business of mine. It should not be the business of legislators.

"But at the same time, I think other countries who are pointing fingers should look inwards and see whether they also do not practise the same kind of discrimination. That is where I disagree, but I think it is important we learn to distinguish between what is a public affair and what is a private affair.

"The legislators need to go back to school to learn the difference before they waste their time with what people do in their private bedrooms."

On the activities of the fundamentalist Boko Haram sect, Soyinka, who restricted himself to the aspect that affects higher institutions, wondered why the security situation had degenerated to the extent that it affected one of the country’s earliest universities.

He said, "The aspect of Boko Haram that affects me in this environment is what is happening to institutions. I think it is a disgrace that we allow an institution to be closed down by a bunch of fanatics. I think it is a disgrace to the government; it is a disgrace to the entire university system. It is a disgrace to you and me that we accept to be intimidated out of what is our own proper environment of learning.

"University of Maiduguri as far as I am concerned is like the University of Ibadan, Ife, Lagos and we should be concerned about that. To talk about Boko Haram outside that concept requires a larger picture. Self-respecting people should never allow their institutions of learning to be closed down by a bunch of fanatics."


Related stories:  European Union Commission states anti-gay bill violates human rights

Anti-gay bill to make it easier for asylum seekers

Nigeria rejects U.S. criticism over anti-gay law

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14 years jail term for same sex marriage offenders

Bill banning gay marriage approved in Nigeria

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde praises President Goodluck Jonathan reform plans


IMF chief Christine Lagarde met President Goodluck Jonathan, Monday, on her first visit to Africa as head of the fund, with the trip to focus partly on potential fallout from the European debt crisis.

Lagarde held talks with President Goodluck Jonathan after meeting Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a respected former World Bank managing director, and other Nigerian economic officials earlier in the day.

The International Monetary Fund managing director said she was impressed with economic reform plans being pursued by the government in Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer and the continent’s most populous nation.

“My mission is to come and listen and appreciate and understand exactly what economy programme will be implemented in Nigeria, and the initiative and the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan,” she told journalists after the meeting.

“I was extremely impressed with … the energy and pace at which he wants to transform the economy, create jobs, focus on agriculture …”

Lagarde is expected in the economic capital Lagos on Tuesday for a forum on Africa’s future before moving on to the neighbouring nation of Niger.

She is also expected to visit South Africa in the coming weeks, but details are to be released later, an IMF official said.

Nigeria has long been held back by corruption and mismanagement despite its vast oil wealth.

Most of its population lives on less than $2 per day and electricity blackouts occur daily, while the country’s mainly Muslim north has been hit by scores of deadly attacks attributed to Islamist group Boko Haram.

The government is seeking to enact reforms, including a deeply controversial measure which would lead to an increase in petrol prices, that would allow the country to invest more in its badly neglected infrastructure.

Lagarde’s trip is expected to focus on issues such as addressing youth unemployment in Africa, the world’s fastest-growing continent, as well as potential fallout from the European debt crisis.

Many African nations rely heavily upon European investment and trade.


Related stories: Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala affirms Nigeria will overcome its economic challenges

Nigeria's middle class growing


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

European Union Commission states anti-gay bill violates human rights

The European Union Commission in Nigeria has expressed fear that passage of the same sex bill by the National Assembly would cause serious conflicts with various human rights conventions to which Nigeria is a signatory.

The Head of EU Delegation in Nigeria, Ambassador David MacRae, said at a media luncheon in Abuja yesterday, that the EU was concerned about the consequences of such a bill.

He noted that it may jeopardise some rights such as the freedom of association. “We are of the view that sexual orientation is a private matter and we respect the rights of individual persons, so it is a matter of human rights,” he said.

MacRae, however, conceded that Nigerians and people in some parts of Africa have difficulty accepting the issue of gay rights because of their cultures.

Speaking on the proposed removal of fuel subsidy by the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan, MacRae expressed the EU's support for the proposal.

He added that it was better for the government to seek to help the masses by providing basic services such as education, healthcare, water and infrastructure than retain the subsidy that benefits a few.

He however noted that it is necessary for the government to adequately inform the populace about the issue so that they would be in a better position to judge whether it was good for the country or not.

“In a general context, in any economy, subsidising petroleum is not something governments do to help the poor. EU countries do not subsidise fuel; rather, we impose heavy taxes," he added.

MacRae also advised that the government should work hard to improve other sectors such as agriculture so as to improve employment.

This Day

Related stories: Anti-gay bill to make it easier for asylum seekers

Nigeria rejects U.S. criticism over anti-gay law

Britain won't accept Nigeria's anti-gay law

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Bill banning gay marriage approved in Nigeria

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nigerian student wins best artificial intelligence research award

Muhammad Abdulkarim, a Nigerian from Yobe State, received the best student paper award at the Advanced Topics in Artificial Intelligence conference in Singapore for his research project which uses artificial intelligence tools to prospect for oil in shallow and deep waters. The conference was attended by eminent scientists from all over the world. Besides Abdulkarim, the only other awardee is a professor from Switzerland.

"When I saw how the first presenters were grilled as if by an examination panel," Abdulkarim said, "I was intimidated and scared. But when I finished my presentation and answered all the probing questions of other researchers and everybody stood up and applauded, I couldn't help giving gratitude to Allah for His help. Finally, when my name was called as the recipient of the best paper award, my tear bags burst and tears freely ran down my cheeks."

Abdulkarim, a PhD student of Universiti Teknologi Petronas Malaysia was the only African at the conference which was attended by scientists from New York Institute of Technology, University of Tulsa, University of Bedfordshire, University of Surrey and many others.

"When I got there, it was immediately apparent to me why the conference rejected many papers - some of them written by professors with decades of experience in the field," Abdulkarim said of his first impression. "The participants didn't take claims by presenters lightly; markers were even provided in case there's the need to show your work. And they asked every question imaginable."

Abdulkarim was a junior lecturer with the University of Abuja in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science before leaving for Malaysia for a doctorate programme at the Department of Computer and Information Sciences of Universiti Teknologi Petronas.

"I am a research fellow in the Electro-Magnetic (EM) research group. The EM research group members are mainly into deep and shallow water technology and enhanced oil recovery. My research domain is actually electrical and electronics engineering, but my specific area is data mining which deals with application of artificial neural network techniques for modeling seabed logging environment," Abdulkarim said.

No help from Nigeria

Abdulkarim said that rather than getting help from his university when he told them he was going for a PhD, he was discouraged. "I faced many challenges before coming to Malaysia. As a lecturer with University of Abuja, I had to take a study leave but when I applied, the HOD of my department said I should defer my admission, it took the intervention of the then DVC, Professor Nwabueze to extricate me from the obstacles the HOD placed on my path. After that, I applied for the ETF sponsorship through the university and Professor Nwabueze assured me that my name was on the list of those getting it, however, his tenure as DVC ended. Up until now, my application for ETF has not been approved. They have also refused to pay my salary.

"Malaysians on the other hand pay me almost N200,000 a month just for my research work, besides paying for materials, conferences and workshops. Further, while my country which needs me the most only discourages me, I've received offers of research collaboration from all the continents of the world except Africa. After the conference, professors from renowned laboratories were eager to give me their cards and promising incentives if I joined them.

Some wanted to know if I intended going back to Nigeria. At the last count, there were 10 professors that wanted me to work with them after my PhD. They're precisely from Germany, Japan, Sweden, Iran, Jordan, USA, New Zealand, Taiwan, Czech Republic and Switzerland.

"I really need to say here that even though I am not a Malaysian, Universiti Teknologi Petronas, being the number one in oil and gas research in Malaysia, gave me all the necessary and enabling environment to operate and achieve this success. They sponsored all the workshops that I attended on learning how to use some simulators, they also paid for my training anywhere I wished to go. Therefore, on my own side, I also make sure I don't disappoint them."

What makes his research unique?

"I think my research won the prize because the EM wave I am working with has no color, we can also not see it; and since it produces no sounds, we can't hear it. It has no scent and no taste, so we can't smell or taste it. But I believe that with mathematics, one can work miracles. So I determined to intelligently find the mathematics and statistics surrounding SBL environment and then computerize it since I am a product of three departments."

How does his research make life easier?

"This research is a marine exploration and it can help humanity immensely as it has to do with energy. Everyone knows the importance of hydrocarbon or petrol and gas (to a lay man). These are major sources of energy today. Therefore, any technique that can facilitate the detection of this commodity is very essential to humanity.

This technology can also help Nigeria in many ways. We have a lot of both deep and shallow waters in Nigeria and Nigeria is blessed with a lot of unidentified hydrocarbon reservoirs. This research is all about offshore remote detection of the presence of oil and gas reservoirs.

"Furthermore, researchers have already speculated that shallow reservoirs are about to dry up; therefore it is very necessary for the oil industries to start thinking of how to search for deeper targets. And I am happy to inform you that our research group has already successfully developed some powerful new design transmitters using nano materials that can be used for that purpose. Due to the non-disclosure agreement that I signed, I do not want to say much in this respect but sincerely, we have gone far."

Daily Trust

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Anti-gay bill to make it easier for asylum seekers

Several persons seeking compromise means of travelling and settling in parts of Europe and United States of America may have had a travel-made-easy process, as their claim to being gay could brighten their chances of seeking asylum in such countries.

Following the recent passage of the Same-Sex Prohibition Bill by the Senate, where a jail sentence of 14 years is prescribed for any offender, several Nigerians desperate to obtain entry visas to occidental countries, now claim persecution and discrimination on account of being homosexuals.

The United Kingdom and America have opposed the passage of the anti-gay bill in Nigeria, with the UK threatening to withhold aids to Nigeria if gay rights were not restored. The American President Barrack Obama has charged the US ambassadors to fight for the protection of gay rights, across board.

The strategy of hanging on to this window of curious opportunity is already playing out as a Nigerian student studying in the UK, who was facing deportation threat, recently claimed that he would be persecuted and even jailed in Nigeria if he was deported, because he is gay.

The student, Hope Nwachukwu, studying at Warwick University in the UK has claimed that he faces being whipped and jailed for up to 14 years in Nigeria after he was threatened with deportation by British authorities.

The 34 year-old asylum seeker, convinced fellow students to hold a candlelit vigil in Coventry to escape the wrath of the authorities and drive home his quest to remain in the UK.

Nwachukwu was apparently taking advantage of the recently passed bill by the Senate which stipulates a 14-year jail term for a person who enters the contract of marriage with a member of the same sex.

According to the Senate, a person – or group of persons – who witnesses, abets and aids the solemnisation of a gay marriage may receive up to 10 years imprisonment or a fine of N5,000. The bill is, at present, with the House of Representatives for endorsement.

Coventry Telegraph reported that for Nwachukwu’s sake, students at Warwick University staged a talk and a candlelit vigil on the piazza outside the student union building to highlight his case.
He came to Britain in 2009 and began working in a warehouse with fake ID but was found out and kept in a detention centre for six months.

However, his supporters said UK’s Home Office views his case with suspicion because he has not been in a relationship since arriving in the UK.

Elsewhere at the Nigerian House in London, a demonstration was organised by Nigerians who wanted the Senate to reverse its earlier decision to ban same-sex marriage. But opposition against the practice has continued to mount as it is largely considered as a taboo and an act described as “grossly ungodly”.

The demonstration called “kiss-in” is organised by Nigerian gays in the Diaspora Against Anti-Same-Sex Laws. The group's Nigerian Coordinator, Yemisi Ilesanmi, said: “Outside the embassy, Nigerian LGBTI people and our allies will hold hands, hug and kiss as a gesture of defiance against the proposed ban on same-sex marriage and in solidarity with our Nigerian LGBTI brothers and sisters. Come and join us to kiss goodbye to this bill and the sodomy laws. International solidarity knows no borders.

“The new Nigerian bill aims to further criminalise same-sex relationships. Already, consensual same-sex conduct between adults is a criminal offence carrying up to 14 years imprisonment and in some parts of the country there is the death penalty under Sharia law.
“Lawmakers are fast tracking the bill. The bill has already passed its second reading," she added.

Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights lobby, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, will attend the kiss-in.

“This proposed new law violates the equality and non-discrimination guarantees of Article 42 of the Nigerian Constitution and Articles 2 and 3 of the African Charter on Human and People's Rights, which Nigeria has signed and pledged to uphold," Tatchell said.

But hard as the gay community is fighting to kick against the coming law, most Nigerians from all walks of life and class have continued to commend the courage of the Senate in knocking a long nail in the coffin of gay practice in Nigeria.

Over the weekend, President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, declared that the Senate did Nigeria proud by passing the bill against same-sex marriage. Indeed, the Senate had dared the Western nations to withhold their financial aids, if it will be given in exchange for the desecration of the cultural values of Nigerians. Pastor Oritsejafor described the move to legitimise same-sex marriage as “an aberration and an abomination and it is evil like this that is shutting the heavens on us as a nation, because really something is not right with us as a nation”.

Another clergyman, Rt Rev Peter Adebiyi, the Anglican Bishop of the Lagos West Diocese, who has been virulent in his opposition of same-sex marriage especially in the church, has remained opposed to the practice and explained that homosexuality is a hindrance to the work of God among mankind.

This Day

Related stories: Nigeria rejects U.S. criticism over anti-gay law

Britain won't accept Nigeria's anti-gay law

14 years jail term for same sex marriage offenders

Bill banning gay marriage approved in Nigeria

Arsenal to tour Nigeria in 2012

English Premier League side, Arsenal FC will be playing some Nigerian Premier League clubs next year as part of a tour in Nigeria.

This was disclosed by the club's Marketing Director, Angus Kinnear, who was part of a delegation that paid a visit to the Nigeria Football federation today to make arrangements with stakeholders ahead of the proposed tour.

Receiving the delegation NFF's Acting General Secretary, Barrister Musa Amadu informed the Arsenal officials that football is an intense passion in Nigeria.

Amadu told them that Nigeria is "a nation of 167 million passionate football fans who come together and identify with themselves much better when the issue on the table is the round leather game."

He recalls that two years ago, Manchester United FC and Portsmouth FC delegations were pleasantly surprised at the reception they got from ordinary Nigerian ball fans in this country.

Kinnear revealed that the Club's biggest fan base outside England might be Nigeria - an assertion which Amaduu agrees with - an says the delegation was overwhelmed by the support for the club, pledging to ensure that the bar wouldn't drop.

"We are pleasantly surprised at all that we have seen. Ours is a Club with strong values and strong tradition, with over 20 nationalities involved, and we have a Manager who values talent. We also believe in building strength rather than buying", stated Kinnear.

Amadu urged the English club to be ready to provide advice to the Nigeria Premier League and technical support to some Nigerian Clubs.

"This visit, I want to observe, will definitely provide a strong platform for a much better relationship between the English Premier League (EPL) and the Nigeria Premier League (NPL)" he noted.

Incidentally, the NPL is just returning firmly to its feet after protracted crisis and will welcome tips and suggestions on how to re-position powerfully for the upcoming season.

"It is also important that I mention that some of our football Clubs, particularly those in the Premier League, would welcome some form of technical partnership with Arsenal Football Club", said Amadu.

Daily Trust

Related stories: Jose Mourinho begins tour of Nigeria

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Google localizes youtube for Nigeria

Search engine Goodle has localized its online video platform, YouTube, to allow over 44 million internet users in Nigeria view videos most relevant to them from Nigerian content creators on the platform.

Popular among the Nigerian YouTube channels are NollywoodLove, ChocolateCity and 37th State.

YouTube is the place on the web where people with video camera and an internet connection can share their art and voice with the world.

At the launch in Lagos, Google country Manager, Juliet Ehimuan disclosed that Google had more interest in getting online among Nigerians and there was a steady increase in the number of Nigerians getting online.

According to International Telecommunications union (ITU), Nigerian internet users currently are at 28.9 per cent or 44 million of the population as against 6.7 per cent in 2008.

Ehimuan said Google was focusing on local stakeholders to build an online ecosystem, saying the company's strategy centered on three things which include access; how to get more people online and how to remove barriers to internet access.

She named one of the company's initiatives as Google apps supporting programme for Universities, disclosing that they worked with universities to support them in building local campus infrastructure, provide funding for international bandwidth, provide free software and Google apps for education and also render trainings.

Specifically, she said the company had successfully worked with six Nigerian Universities and more are in the pipeline.

She explained that the second area was on relevance- aimed at ensuring that internet was made relevance to the users everyday's life, noting that YouTube had become a phenomenon platform for online video sharing and expressed that Nigeria had a lot of creative talents and fantastic local contents such as Noollywood movies, Nigerian Music, comedy and educational materials, stressing that the country had much valuable contents with global demand and that the YouTube provided the platform for Nigerian content creators to share their works with the global audience.

Ehimuan explained that another Google's initiative around relevance which was launched in September was Get Nigerian Businesses Online (GNBO), which was targeted at supporting local businesses in creating a digital presence, helping Nigerians to create a professional websites, registering domain, providing free hosting and training that would help Nigerians optimize their businesses online.

"The third focused area is sustainability which is really around building a vibrant and sustainable ecosystem," she said.

Patrick Walker, YouTube, Senior Director, Content Partnership, for Europe, Middle East and Africa pointed out that with over 3 billion views a day, YouTube is the world largest audience, and a mode of communication that allows everyone's voice to be heard, saying Nigerians are passionate about music, entertainment and many other genres that YouTube offers.

Daily Trust

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Tech expert Saheed Adepoju featured in WIRED

Nigeria gets first female fighter pilot

She's a blessing to womenfolk, the military and the nation, judging by her achievement - and her name. Blessing Liman, a 25-year-old lady from Kaduna State, has become Nigeria's first female military pilot.

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) at the weekend commissioned her along with 126 others who completed the Direct Short Service Course 2010/11 Cadets of 325 Ground Training Group at the NAF Base, Kaduna.

Liman said she was very excited and proud to make history. She said: "It is very uplifting and I feel very proud of myself though it has been very challenging. Coming from the civil war and the civil mentality, the Air Force has done a great job because it has changed our orientation.

"I believe that all females have equal opportunity to dignify their rights in whatever adventure they choose they can do."

Blessing, who wants to encourage other females, called on other womenfolk to see her feat as a challenge for them to explore their capabilities "for nation-building".

Speaking at the occasion, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar, said the successful passing out from cadet training of the first female pilot was "a very laudable achievement" to the nation.

The armed forces were directed to produce female combatants, he said, in order to give impetus to gender equality in the polity as part of President Goodluck Jonathan's transformation agenda - as well as affirm the belief that women can make valuable contributions to nation building.

Umar said by producing the first female military pilot, NAF had given a good account of itself and justified the vision of its founding fathers as a veritable tool for nation-building.

He noted that although the Federal Government had taken steps to address the internal security situation across Nigeria, there was the need for the armed forces to be abreast of the general security situation in the country.

"Your primary responsibility is ensuring national security and the territorial integrity of our dear nation; hence I need to remind you where your loyalty lies," he said, charging members of the armed forces to cultivate harmonious relationships with the populace without compromising military values.

This Day

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Late President Umaru Yar'Adua last few weeks as President

Nigeria's late President Umaru Yar'Adua grew so weak while in office he needed once to be carried by a soldier off a runway during a state visit to Togo, ultimately becoming unable to speak in the last weeks of his life, according to a new book by his former spokesman.

The book by Olusegun Adeniyi tells of how the ill leader became a political pawn in a charade that saw soldiers deployed without authorization and rumors of a possible coup float among the elite in the oil-rich nation. It also describes the rise of militancy in the oil-rich country's crude-producing southern delta, including how a militant leader stole thousands of machine guns from Nigerian army depots.

Though portraying his former boss in a largely flattering light, Adeniyi's book shows how tenuous democracy is in a nation plagued by vote-rigging and that cast off military rule only 13 years ago.

"If we will be honest with ourselves, we all know how we rig elections in this country," Adeniyi quotes Yar'Adua as saying during a closed-door January 2008 meeting about the corrupt election that saw him become the nation's leader. "We compromise the security agencies, we pay the electoral officials and party agents while on the eve of the election we merely distribute logistics all designed to buy the vote."

The Associated Press obtained an advance copy of "Power, Politics and Death: A Front-Row Account of Nigeria Under the Late President Yar'Adua" from the author, who now writes a column for ThisDay newspaper. Reuben Abati, a spokesman for current President Goodluck Jonathan, declined to comment on the book. A spokesman for the ruling People's Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment.

In the book, Adeniyi acknowledges Yar'Adua's ascension to power through a rigged 2007 presidential election. Yar'Adua, already sickly from a chronic kidney condition, weakened quickly under the strain of the presidency.

Those around him tried to protect his image. Adeniyi recounts instructing a cameraman from the state-run television network to film the president from the side only in one instance in 2008 to hide Yar'Adua's swollen face after an allergic reaction.

Yar'Adua then had "minor surgery" in Germany, but could only work a few hours a day, if at all, after the procedure, Adeniyi writes. As he grew sicker, Yar'Adua began receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia with government officials suspecting that "American security agents had penetrated the (German) hospital and had gained access to the president's health profile," according to the book.

At one point during a trip to Togo, the military officer assigned to Yar'Adua had to drape traditional robes over his arm to hide the fact he needed to nearly carry the president off a landing strip, the book claims.

Yar'Adua departure in late November 2009 for a several-month stay at a hospital in Saudi Arabia set up a constitutional crisis that saw government grind to a halt in the OPEC member nation. The National Assembly ultimately voted to empower then-Vice President Jonathan to serve as acting president. Yar'Adua was whisked back into Nigeria's capital Abuja under the cover of darkness days later, apparently unable to talk. He apparently was brought back so those close to Yar'Adua could exert control over Jonathan.

Soldiers deployed to the Abuja airport to escort Yar'Adua home in an ambulance without Jonathan's knowledge, the book claims. The next day, rumors of a possible coup flourished.

"There were fears among (Jonathan's) closest aides he could be shot by the soldiers," the book claims.

It later adds: "Signals from the military were also hazy, with fears that some soldiers could take out both Yar'Adua and Jonathan."

Yar'Adua died on May 5, 2010. Jonathan was sworn in as president the next day.

The book also describes the Yar'Adua-led amnesty program offered to militants in the country's Niger Delta, where foreign oil firms have pumped crude oil for more than 50 years. Despite the billions of dollars earned yearly from oil sales, the region remains desperately poor and polluted.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta was the region's premier militant group, its rise aided by a series of weapons thefts engineered by the group's alleged leader Henry Okah from Nigerian military depots, Adeniyi writes. The theft of thousands of weapons, including pistols, machine guns and rocket launchers, "was so staggering and the crime so well organized that the investigating team could hardly determine the exact amount of arms removed," Adeniyi writes.

Okah, who denies leading the militant group, now faces terrorism charges in South Africa over a dual car bombing Oct. 1, 2010, in Abuja that killed at least 12 people. Six soldiers were sentenced to life in prison over the arms thefts.


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20 million unemployed in Nigeria

Twenty million Nigerian youths are unemployed and are a security threat, the Federal Government has warned.

The Minister of Youths and Social Development Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi in a presentation to the Senate Committee on Youths and Women Affairs yesterday also lamented what he described as the negligible return on the annual N43 billion expended on the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.

The Minister at an interactive session also revealed that security had become a primary consideration in the deployment of corps members even as he disclosed plans to redirect the scheme towards national priority areas as agriculture, education, rural health and infrastructure.

Abdulahi told the Senator Helen Eseune led committee that the unemployment figure estimated at 41.6% was about the highest in the world noting that the lack of employment opportunities coupled with a sense of hopelessness make the youth susceptible to violence, crime, and terrorism.

Abdulahi told the Senators that besides the medium- to long-term impact on national productivity that the high rate of unemployment portends real and present danger to the sanctity of the country. He asserted that the figure in Nigeria was well above the 25% average rate for North Africa and the Middle East which have been rocked by civil unrest largely spearheaded by unemployed youths in those regions.

He said: "there are clear intimations of this already, given the role of the youths in the 2011 post-election violence and the increasing incidence of religious extremism typified by the Boko Haram menace. But there is even a danger of escalation, at a high political, economic, social and security cost to our country."

The Minister who noted that there were developmental initiatives across various sectors and tiers of government aimed primarily to address the problem of unemployment in Nigeria, however, regretted that the efforts were hardly visible.

"Unfortunately, most of these initiatives fall short in terms of scope and scale. All put together, current interventions in the public, private and non-profit sector reach fewer than 100, 000 youth per year (out of more than 20 million unemployed youths).

"In addition, the subsisting initiatives are limited by not being youth-specific, by poor collaboration and cooperation across the sectors, by outdated and theoretical training models, and by distance from the grassroots."

Speaking on the NYSC programme, the Minister who disclosed that plans were on to reposition it, stressed that the focus of the service would now be on national priority such as Agric, Education, Rural health and infrastructure, adding that the greatest challenge facing the NYSC was that it was no longer possible to send corps members to states without first putting in mind, the issue of security.


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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Nigeria rejects U.S. criticism over anti-gay law

The Federal Government of Nigeria, yesterday, rejected the criticism by the United States Government following Senate’s outlawing of same sex marriage, insisting that same sex marriage is not only alien to Nigeria’s social and cultural believes but also undemocratic since majority of Nigerians are against it.

The government, therefore, asked the US and other countries opposed to the Senate’s passage of the bill banning same sex marriage, to respect Nigerians’ independence, democracy and sovereignty.

This came as the Senate, yesterday, insisted that the law banning same sex marriage in Nigeria remains while members of House of Representatives have vowed that the decision by President Obama to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians abroad by using foreign aid and diplomacy would not deter the House from passing the bill on same sex marriage.

Meanwhile, the US also vowed to use diplomacy and $3 million in foreign aid to help expand the rights of gays.

Disclosing this during the World Human Rights Day, US Secretary of States, Mrs Hillary Clinton, argued that the definition of human rights must be amended to account for sexual diversity.

Fielding questions from State House Correspondents, after a prolonged weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku, maintained that Nigeria was an independent country and reserved the right to make laws through democratic institutions to govern the country.

While urging the US government and citizens to respect Nigeria’s democratic institutions such as her elected lawmakers, the minister said if the ban on same sex marriage eventually becomes law, it therefore means that majority of Nigerians want the existing ban legalised.

Maku said although the Senate action alone had not made the bill a law, Nigeria reserved the right to make laws based on the peoples’ values and culture.

Maku said: “We reserve the right to make laws without apologies to anyone. Our laws will be guided by our own interests and values.”

He also noted that foreign countries that were not happy with laws made in Nigeria were free to express their views “but they should also know how our democracy works.”

According to him, “let me say this, the reported comments by the US Government about the proposed law by the Senate about same sex marriage in Nigeria has not fully come to government for a position. But let me say this, we live in a democracy, we live in a free country, we live in an independent country. And in every democracy, as you know, there are institutions, there are laws and also there are cultures, there are beliefs and values in every nation.

“The proposed law by the Senate, as you know Senate has passed a version of a law relating to same sex marriages, that law has not yet gone through House of Representatives not to talk of becoming a law that will be forwarded to the president for assent.

“It is a process that is going on normally through the Nigerian legislature, the same way every law is passed in every democracy, we have not reached that point where it has become law.

“But even if it does become law, as you do know, Nigeria reserves the right as an independent nation to live under laws that are democratically passed by the National Assembly.”

Ban stays—Senate

Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who reacted to a memo by the President of the United States, Obama, calling on US missions abroad to resist any discrimination against same sex marriages, said the action of the Senate was for the interest of Nigeria.

Abaribe maintained that the US directive did not in any way affect Nigeria, noting that the Senate has completed its work on same sex marriage law.

He further ruled out the possibility of diplomatic row between the two countries on account of the law, adding that both countries are sovereign states with jurisdictions to make law to govern themselves without outside interferences.

He said: “The Nigerian Senate will have no reaction to a directive that was given by the President of the United States to their employees. They are giving directives to their missions abroad; we have nothing to say about that. It is their internal affairs.

“Whatever they do is their own business, the business of the Nigerian Senate is to make laws, good laws for Nigeria and for those living within the territory boundaries of Nigeria and the Nigerian Senate has already done what it feels it is in the best interest of Nigeria and the matter has ended in the Senate as far as we are concern and now we move to the next stage of law making which is to be passed in the House of Representatives subsequently to go to the President of Nigeria for assent.”

In interviews with Vanguard in Abuja shortly after the Bill on same sex marriage was officially read on the floor of the House, a cross section of members of the House remained adamant in their opposition to same sex marriage, saying “American values cannot be imposed on us by the American government.”

In his reaction, Minority Whip of the House, Hon. Samson Osagie, said Nigeria could not be arm-twisted by America to trade its value system just because it wants to play to the sentiments of the American public.

“It is only appropriate that as Africans we uphold out cherished traditional values. It is scriptural that marriages are recognised between a man and a woman. It debases our value when you begin to tolerate marriage between people of same sex. For me, I believe this is one bill that is popular and will enjoy the support of majority of members of the House.

On his part, Chairman, House Committee on Capital Market and Institutions, Hon. Herman Hembe dismissed the American position as a non-issue that would have no impact on the decision of the House.

He said: “How can the American president want to dictate to us how to make laws in our country? The whole issue smacks of colonial arrogance which will only serve to galvanise all members of parliament to ensure that the Bill is passed.

Deputy Leader of the House, Hon. Leo Ogor said: “President Obama has goofed in his reaction. Why would America want to dictate to a sovereign country which law to make and which one not to make? How can the depraved ways of a minority become the standard for law making in Nigeria? The bill will enjoy overwhelming support in the House of Representatives and no amount of threat can make us change our mind.”

US earmarks $3m to expand rights of gay

According to her, “some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct, but in fact they are one and the same. Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.

“Today, I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world today. In many ways, they are an invisible minority. They are arrested, beaten, terrorized, even executed. “

In addition, Clinton said, “Many are treated with contempt and violence by their fellow citizens while authorities empowered to protect them look the other way or, too often, even join in the abuse.

They are denied opportunities to work and learn, driven from their homes and countries, and forced to suppress or deny who they are to protect themselves from harm. I am talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, human beings born free and given bestowed equality and dignity, who have a right to claim that, which is now one of the remaining human rights challenges of our time.”


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nation in darkness - Government grants license to independent electricity producers

In a practical move to take the nation out of darkness through private sector-driven scheme, the Federal Government yesterday issued a total of 20 licences to independent power producers in the country.

And going by the provisions of a new set of regulations being finalised by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), state governments would from January 2012 have the power to generate and distribute electricity in their states.

The independent power producers are expected to add a total of 6,258 megawatts (mw) of electricity to the national grid within the next 36 months. A distribution licence was also issued to Aba Power Limited in Aba.

To give further confidence to the new entrants, the government also issued a special trading licence to the Nigerian Bulk Trading Company Plc., assuring the operators that the bulk trader had started operations and would procure whatever power they produce. The Federal Government has also announced a N20 billion take-off fund to the Nigerian Bulk Trading Company Plc.

Perhaps, the most remarkable of the licences was the one issued to Zuma Energy Nigeria Limited to produce 1200mw from coal deposits in Itobe, Kogi State. The licence represents a concrete manifestation of government’s resolve to utilise the nation’s mix for power generation.

Eight of the licences were for off-grid generation, 10 are grid-connected licences and two for embedded generation.

Chairman of the NERC, Sam Amadi, stressed that five other licencees were undergoing scrutiny for the possible issuance of similar licences.

He described the issuance of the licences as a landmark event for the sector, noting that the approval to the bulk trader to start operations was also a major boost to the reforms in the sector.

Chairman of the Independent Power Producers Association of Nigeria, Prof. Jerry Gana, expressed joy that some of the impediments that had hindered independent power producers from operation in the last one year had been resolved by the government.

He urged the owners of the licences to ensure speedy start of work “such that Nigerians will begin to enjoy stable power sooner than expected.”

He charged the Federal Government to fund the bulk trader, stressing: “That is our key agency. We sell to them when they produce and they make the investment worthwhile.”

Presenting the licences, Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, expressed joy that government had addressed most of the challenges independent power producers were facing in the country.

“From the budget of the Ministry of Power, we are giving N20 billion to the bulk traders so that they will have money to pay for power from power producers. We are also giving N20 billion to NELMCO to assist in buying over most of the liabilities of the government power operators in preparation for the privatisation.    The privatisation is moving forward and we expect that by the second or third quarter of next year, we should have concluded the process and handed the sector over to private concerns,” he said.

On the challenges with the electricity workers, Nnaji said:  “The Federal Government is addressing all the concerns of Labour. We want to, once again, assure them that it is from their midst that the workforce for the sector would come. The operators will, no doubt, require the immense experience many of them have gathered over the years.”

The minister charged the independent power producers to take advantage of government’s efforts in addressing their challenges to give power to Nigerians.

The issue of power generation and distribution had pitched the states against the Federal Government. The states had felt discouraged by their inability to generate and distribute power in their states.

The NERC will present the document on this to the National Economic Council (NEC) at its next meeting. After its review by stakeholders, the regulation is to be sent to the Ministry of Justice for gazeting. The regulation will set the standards for independent electricity distribution network operators. Before now, the Federal Government held on to the exclusivity of power generation and distribution for commercial purposes apart from some big industries that were given the licence to produce limited units for industrial use.

Chairman of NERC, Amadi, who spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting on the review of the draft document in Abuja yesterday, noted that states which had the capacity to generate electricity would now be able to do so from January.

The regulations, he added, would ensure that “all the cost associated with transmission is bypassed. It is embedded with the distributor locally. It can cure acute shortages of power in the short and long run. A state that has the capacity can have partnership with private sector, set up a power plant to carter for the need of the state.”   He said the regulation was motivated by the agitation of states that had clamoured for the devolution of the exclusivity of the Federal Government to generate power.

“Instead of running parallel lines through the cities, you can have power embedded in your state, if you have enough capacity. For instance, Rivers has sufficient capacity. Instead of taking it to the grid, you can have power embedded in the state and the surplus you can sell to the grid if you like. What is required is that you have sufficient capacity to distribute that power. That is why we are bringing these new regulations. The cost of evacuating power to the grid and later transmitted back for use locally will be removed.”


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Christians still being killed in Jos

Fulani Muslim herdsmen and soldiers killed at least 45 ethnic Berom Christians in Plateau state last week.

Many churches cancelled worship services as almost all area Christians have fled Plateau, which has long been hit by ethnic property conflicts fueled by anti-Christian sentiments. Last year, ethnic Berom Christians farmers were attacked by Fulani nomads who deliberately graze their cattle on Christian farmland.

The Fulani Muslims were shouting "Allahu Akbar," said farmer Choji Pamjamo.

David Gyang, 51, an elder at the Barkin Ladi church, said Muslims first attacked the church Nov. 23 and then launched an all-out offensive the next morning.

"Some of the Christian victims in this attack that I know include a Christian police officer, one Mr. Bulus, who is the station officer of the Barkin Ladi police station," Gyang said. "He was inside his house on that day, and these Muslims broke the walls of his room and went inside to kill him and his son."

Gyang said Muslim soldiers brought into town to restore order instead joined in killing the Christians.

"Muslims soldiers took sides with their fellow Muslims and were shooting and killing Christians," he said. "They also had soldiers guarding mosques in the town, but none was sent to watch over our churches, and that is the reason Muslims were able to burn the Baptist church."

Bitrus Davou and John David, two young Christian men who live near the church, said they barely escaped with their lives.

"Bullets fired at me by a Muslim soldier missed me and killed my dog," said Davou.

David said he and five friends were sitting in front of their house when a Muslim soldier began shooting at them.

"My friends ran inside the house, but I could not … so I jumped into an unfinished building beside my house," he said. "While there, the soldier spotted me and began shooting at me. It is a miracle that I escaped unhurt."

The Rev. Daniel Moses, pastor of the Evangelical Church Winning All, said the violence was started by Muslims who had support from co-religionists from other regions of the Barkin Ladi Local Government Area.

"As of this morning ( Nov. 27) corpses of Christians killed are still being recovered, but we can confirm that 37 corpses have been recovered already, and even as I talk to you the burial of some of them is going on in the surrounding Christian villages," he said.

Emmanuel Kyesmen, secretary of the ECWA congregation, said the government was loathe to address security concerns.

"As a church, we have become targets of attacks," he said. "Our pastors and members are being killed in Plateau state by Muslims, while thousands of others have become refugees in their fatherland. There is the urgent need for the Nigerian government to find a lasting solution to this problem."

According to Kyesmen, religious conflicts in Plateau date back to 2006 when several investigating committees were first instituted to investigate and report on the causes, but none of these reports has been implemented, and no individual has been made to face legal consequences.

David Alamba, 48, a technician, said many churches in town have been closed as most Christians have fled.

"Most Christians who live in Muslim quarters … have to get soldiers to accompany them before they get their few belongings to leave the town," he said. "You have to pay the soldiers at least 2,000 naira ($12) before they escort you to your house to get a few belongings before you move out of the town."

Alamba said Muslims are moving onto former Christian farms and destroying their crops.

"This is to chase us out of the town and make us homeless, and at the same time starve us to death, since we now have no food to eat," he said.

Worthy News

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nigerian professors cripple universities with indefinite strike

University lecturers across the country begin an indefinite strike from today.

National President of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie who made this known Sunday in Port Harcourt said this time the strike would be" total and comprehensive".

According to him, there would be no grading and marking of scripts during the duration of the strike action.

He explained that their decision stemmed from what he described the refusal of the federal government to implement the core components of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement.

According to him with the failure of federal government to address the issues even when ASUU granted it a two months grace period it had become clear that the government was not willing to honor the agreement.

Describing the decision to embark on the indefinite strike as very painful Prof Awuzie who was flanked by other members of his executive said the union would alien with allied unions in the country to resist the proposed removal of fuel subsidy by the government.

"NEC, having noted that the federal government neglected, ignored, failed and refused to implement the core components of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement after more than two years of its signing, having squandered two months it requested without achieving any progress in the implementation of the agreement, having sacked the Implementation Monitoring Committee that served as the forum for dialogue with ASUU on this dispute, is convinced that the government is terribly insincere and is manifestly unwilling to genuinely implement the agreement it freely entered into with ASSU.

The government has abandoned the main tenet of industrial democracy- that all agreements freely entered into must be honoured.

"Therefore, ASUU resolved, painfully, to direct all members of ASUU in all branches nationwide to proceed on a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike, beginning from the midnight of Sunday, 4th December, 2011.

For the avoidance of doubt, a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike means: no teaching, no examination, no grading of script, no project supervisions, no inaugural lectures, no appointment and promotion meeting, no statutory meetings (Council, Senate, Board etc) or other meetings directed by government or their agents",

"The World Bank and IMF were decisive in sponsorship and constitution of the Economic Team, which was put in place following the inauguration of Mr President after the April 2011 elections.

"The ruling class has failed. It cannot provide jobs, education, healthcare, affordable transportation, roads and so on. It is incapable of uniting the people; it uses ethnic origin as a political weapon. The ruling class violates the integrity of the judiciary.

The faction in power, with President Jonathan as head, is unable to protect the people from hunger, robbery, murder of innocent citizens and generalised insecurity. Politically, Nigeria is in a precarious position in spite of the 2011 general elections.

"In recent months, federal government has intensified its campaign for devaluation, privatization and petroleum price increase, which the Nigerian labour movement, including ASUU, shall resist", he said.


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Monday, December 5, 2011

Afro Beat singer Femi Kuti gets third grammy nomination

Nigerian musician and respected Afrobeat singer Femi Kuti has been nominated at the 54th edition of the prestigious Grammy Awards.

Femi picked up his third ever nomination in the World Music Category for his 'Africa for Africa' album last night Wednesday, November 30, 2011 when the list was unveiled at the 'Grammy Nominations Concert Live!' in Los Angeles, US.

In 2003, Femi, eldest son of late Afrobeat pioneer Fela Anikulapo Kuti picked up his first ever Grammy Award nomination but lost out to Panamanian salsa singer Rubén Blades.

He similarly lost in 2010 when he was nominated in the same category. US banjo player Bela Fleck walked away with the award.

His recent nomination sees him up against Latin/Roots music band AfroCubism, South African male choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Malian band Tinariwen.

'We're extremely happy, and hoping they give him this time around' Femi's elder sister and Positive band veteran Yeni Kuti told us this morning over the phone. 'It's his third time and he has really worked hard'.

Femi Kuti himself, currently touring Europe, is unreachable for now. 'I can't say if he'll attend or not, but I hope he will. He did not attend last year," Yeni says.

US rapper Kanye West leads the pack with seven nods, making it the second year in a row a Hip-hop artiste has reached that feat. (Eminem topped the nominees list in 2010, with 10nods. He walked away with two wins).

Kanye is closely followed by UK singer Adele who is tied with Foo Fighters and Bruno Mars with six nods each. But the controversial rapper-producer was, surprisingly missing on the biggest award category 'Album of the Year'.

Other notable acts that missed out on the big prize are Taylor Swift and veteran singer Tony Bennett.

The awards ceremony is billed to hold on February 12, 2012, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.


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John Mikel Obi says Chelsea will win Champion League this season

Nigeria international John Mikel Obi has said his English club Chelsea will win the UEFA Champions League for the first time this season.

The London club were beaten finalists in the 2007/08 season.

"We are doing well in the competition and I think we will win it," said Mikel.

In an interview with Nigerian sports paper Soccer Star.

"The Champions League is the ultimate. That is the only trophy we have not won and everybody wants it. We have come close to it, but winning it this term would be great.

"We talk about it every now and then. The owner, the manager, the fans and the players and everybody around here talk about winning the Champions League. I'm sure that is our main target this season."

However, Chelsea would first have to qualify for the next round of the competition from Group E by beating Valencia at home Tuesday night.

They are locked on eight points with closest rivals Valencia after five matches.

"We are walking a tight rope now and have to go all out to win the last game at home against Valencia. We need to win because any scored draw won't be good for us," Mikel revealed.

Mikel too has not given up on his club reclaiming the English Premier League crown even though they are 10 points adrift of leaders Manchester City after some indifferent showings.

"The league is still young and anything could still happen. We can win it. We have what it takes from the technical bench to the players on the pitch," he insisted.

"We are getting back to good form. We made some costly mistakes which we have worked on. The 3-0 victory over Wolves in our last game was a good boost."


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Friday, December 2, 2011

Nigeria now ranked 40th in most corrupt countries

Nigeria inched up four notches on the world corruption index, ranking as the 40th most corruption nation on earth, according to a report released by the Transparency International yesterday.

The nation ranked 143 of 183 countries scored on the 2011 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), with 2.4 points on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (highly clean).

Last year, Nigeria ranked 134 of 178 countries with 2.4 points, making it the 44th most corrupt nation in the world.

This year's index scored 183 countries and territories based on perceived levels of public sector corruption, using data from 17 surveys that look at factors such as enforcement of anti-corruption laws, access to information and conflicts of interest.

The CPI shows some governments failing to protect citizens from corruption, be it abuse of public resources, bribery or secretive decision-making, TI said in a statement posted on its website.

Transparency International warned that protests around the world, often fuelled by corruption and economic instability, clearly show citizens feel their leaders and public institutions are neither transparent nor accountable enough.

"This year we have seen corruption on protestors' banners be they rich or poor. Whether in a Europe hit by debt crisis or an Arab world starting a new political era, leaders must heed the demands for better government," said Huguette Labelle, chair of Transparency International.

New Zealand ranks first, followed by Finland and Denmark. Somalia and North Korea (included in the index for the first time), are last.

Since 1995, TI publishes the CPI annually ranking countries "by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys. The CPI generally defines corruption as "the misuse of public power for private benefit."

Daily Trust

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