Monday, January 30, 2012

Major Hamza Al-Mustapha sentenced to death by hanging

Embattled former Chief Security Officer, CSO, to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and a protocol officer in the MKO Abiola campaign organisation, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, today, at the Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere, were sentenced to death by hanging for  the conspiracy to murder and murder charge preferred against them.

Justice Mojisala Dada of Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere delivered the judgment Monday afternoon.

“Evidence proves  Al-Mustapha, Sofolahan  killed Kudiratu Abiola”

Judge Mojisola Dada of the Lagos high court ruled that Army Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, chief security aide to Abacha, was guilty of conspiracy and murder of Kudiratu Abiola, wife of late presidential candidate Moshood Abiola.

“Evidence was manifestedly heavy that they killed Kudiratu Abiola. In view of this, they are guilty of conspiracy and murder,” Dada said in her ruling which lasted several hours.

“The prosecution has proved its case beyond all reasonable doubt. In view of this, they should be hanged.”

The annulment of the 1993 elections helped paved the way for Abacha’s rise to power.

Al-Mustapha was the powerful chief security officer to Abacha, who ruled Nigeria with iron hand from November 1993 to July 1998 when he died.

Abiola was a wealthy businessman and presidential candidate jailed in 1994 after he challenged the military’s decision to annul the vote. He died in jail a month after Abacha’s death in circumstances yet to be clarified.

The judge said Sofolahan “acted as Judas Iscariot. He was friend to the Abiola family in the open and enemy in secret. He sacrificed his master (Abiola) because of his personal greed. He was a viper.”

Al-Mustapha’s defence lawyer Olalekan Ojo said he would appeal the court judgement.


Related story: Former Chief security officer Major Hamza Al-Mustapha claims video evidence of Abacha death

Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote looking to end cement imporation

The importation of cement may soon come to an end in Nigeria as the expected six-million tons per annum Dangote Cement from Ibese plant commences operations.

Nigeria's cement demand in 2011 was put at 17.6 million metric tons per annum. Its total local production was 14.5 metric tons while 3.1 million metric tons was imported to bridge the gap.

Available records indicate that as Nigeria's cement demands increased by the year, its local production also improved. In 2009, the demand was 14.4 million metric tons per annum while local production stood at 8.5 million metric tons with the importation of 5.9 million metric tons.

In 2010, the demand was 16 million metric tons per annum with local production at 11.28 million metric tons per annum. In that same year, 4.72 million metric tons was imported.

A statement from Dangote Group said that the commissioning of the Ibese Plant near Ilaro in Ogun State next month which is reputed to be the largest in Africa, will make Nigeria not only a producer of the commodity, but also a net exporter in months to come.

"We are marking the closing ceremony of cement import in Nigeria with the coming on stream of our Ibese cement plant which will be producing a combined six million tons per annum from its initial two lines while additional two lines will be added immediately to increase its production to 12 million tons per annum", the management of Dangote Cement said at the weekend.

President of the Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote had said that his organization was taking up the challenge to lead the way in the effort of making the nation self-reliant in cement production as the nation was losing a huge sum in foreign exchange on import.

He said: "Our long-term ambition is to develop 46 million metric tons of production and terminal capacity in Africa by 2015. We want to become a truly pan-African champion in the sector, capable of competing globally with the largest cement companies in the world."

Group Head, Corporate Communication of the Dangote Group, Anthony Chiejina said considering Nigeria's cement need of 17 to 19 million tons per year, Dangote Group alone will be producing far more than the country's demand, with the coming on stream of Ibese plant.

"That will set the pace for exportation of our products which will lead to increased products, more revenue for the company and better returns for the shareholders," he said.

Related stories: Aliko Dangote is Africa's Richest Man 

Aliko Dangote makes Forbes rich men's list

Boko Haram - No dialogue until government adopts Sharia law

The leadership of the dreaded Boko Haram, has rejected the olive branch that the Federal Government extended to it, vowing to continue its attacks, until the country adopts the Sharia legal system.

President Goodluck Jonathan had urged members of the group to come forward with its grouse to government so it would be to work out an agreement that would foster peace in the country especially in the wake of ceaseless attacks by the group on key government and private institutions, particularly in the northern part of the country.

The President in an interview session with a cable news media, Reuters at the Presidential Villa on Thursday said, "If they clearly identify themselves now and say this is the reason why we are resisting, this is the reason why we are confronting government or this is the reason why we destroyed some innocent people and their properties, why not."

His (President Jonathan's) position came as a result of the inability of the security agents, especially military personnel that have been deployed to the various flashpoints in the north to bring the activities of the group to a halt.

Reacting to the gesture, spokesman of the group, Abu Qaqa told a British Newspaper, the Guardian in an interview monitored in Lagos that Boko Haram will continue its attacks until the government succumbs to its demand.

Expressing the resolve of the group, Qaqa told the newspaper that "We will consider negotiation only when we have brought the government to its knees. Once we see that things are being done according to the dictates of Allah, and our members are released (from prison), we will only put aside our arms - but we will not lay them down. You don't put down your arms in Islam, you only put them aside."


Related stories: Video - President Goodluck Jonathan wants dialogue with Boko Haram

United Nations says Boko Haram must not divide Nigeria 

Video - Boko Haram leader declares war on Christians

Friday, January 27, 2012

Video - President Goodluck Jonathan wants dialogue with Boko Haram

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan challenges the violent Islamist Boko Haram sect to identify themselves and state clearly their demands as a basis for talks.

Related stories: Video - Wole Soyinka and Femi Kuti comment on Boko Haram at town hall meeting

Death toll in Boko Haram Kano attack rises to 215 

 Video - 120 killed in bomb blasts in Kano, Nigeria

Former President Ibrahim Babangida retires from politics

Former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, has said that he has quit partisan politics, but added that he will, henceforth, provide advisory services to the nation as a statesman. He made the disclosure at the Daily Trust 9th Annual Dialogue at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja Thursday.

Drawing inspiration from former US President Richard Nixon who once told the US media he would no longer be in the public glare for bashing, Babangida said: "I have news for you my media friends: you will never see Ibrahim Babangida again. Today, my dear media friends, although I will continue to be involved by playing advisory role, I have decided never to seek political office in this country again."

He added that though, he had left office more than 20 years ago, "I am still a substance for bashing from the media."
Chastising the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, for departing from his known radical bent to public policies while he (Maku) was a student leader, Babangida said Maku had changed and had become the champion of government’s deregulation policy.

He said: "I have my brother here, Labaran Maku, who was a young student leader always leading demonstration against Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), always demonstrating against minor increases in fuel prices. Today, he is in government, he is now government spokesman.

"Maku was also one of the restless reporters against IBB transitional programme, I hope Labaran Maku will use his wealth of experience to reverse all the hot phrases and coinages used by protesters, the Lagos youths, critics and civil right activists. Most of the phrases used in the protest were coined by Labaran, as a student."

Also speaking at the event, Senate President David Mark said the African continent has no alternative to democracy, as it remains the only platform for sustainable development.

Mark, who was represented by the Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), added: "Democracy is a must for Africa. The Senate has shown its commitment to both democracy and the media by enacting the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act."

Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole, on his part, urged the media not to give priority to profit making at the expense of national interest.

The governor further said that the exigency of national security should compel the media to work hard so as "not to allow Nigeria go under”, adding: “when national interest is at stake, I think there is need to ask questions".

Representative of the Minister of Information, Kingsley Isadalor, said the duty of the media is to embrace the profession in such a way that both the led and the leaders become beneficiaries of the development of journalism.

Chairman of Media Trust, publishers of Daily Trust, Mallam Kabiru Yusuf, told the gathering that this year’s event was organised to x-ray the role of the media in politics, and how it affects governance and development.

This Day

Related stories: I'll run for 2011 Presidential Polls, says Babangida

Babangida to quit politics in 2015 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

President Goodluck Jonathan sacks police chief Hafiz Ringim

There are strong indications that President Goodluck Jonathan has relieved Police IG, Hafiz Ringim, of his

According to Villa sources who confided in Vanguard, the President summoned the embattled Police chief to his office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja Wednesday morning for a brief meeting, following which Ringim was told his services would no longer be needed.

The meeting between Jonathan and Ringim which reportedly lasted over thirty minutes, caused an unusual delay in the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council meeting.

Vanguard learnt that President Jonathan directed Ringim shortly after the meeting to immediately handover to his next in command and proceed on compulsory retirement.

Although the Force Headquarters in Abuja could not  immediately confirm Ringim’s sack, it also did not deny it
as the Deputy Force PRO, CSP Yemi Ajayi, told Vanguard: “I cannot confirm that yet.”

Before today”s ill-fated meeting with the President, Ringim was seen at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday evening with some big wigs, ostensibly to prevail on the President to lend Ringim more grace.

Sources told Vanguard that the President, who hitherto condoned the slips of Ringim because the police chief was due to retire in March this year, could not however pardon Ringim’s recent goof involving the escape of Kabiru Sokoto, the Boko Haram suspect linked with the deadly Christmas Day bombings in Madalla, near Abuja, which claimed over forty lives.

The President’s initial soft spot for Ringim, it was learnt, may also not be unconnected with their close ties right from the days when President Jonathan was deputy governor and governor in Bayelsa.

Vanguard also learnt that aside being abruptly relieved of his duties, Ringim may also be quizzed by the security
agencies to divulge all he knows about the controversial escape of Sokoto.

It could not be immediately ascertained who is likely to succeed the embattled Ringim yet.


Related stories: Death toll in Boko Haram Kano attack rises to 215 

Boko Harram attack foiled - Police seize bombs

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Nigerian native Adekunle Adetiloye given 18 years in jail for one of the most sophisticated fraud schemes in U.S. history

He was unemployed and receiving welfare, but Adekunle Adetiloye was somehow still living lavishly, complete with a Range Rover vehicle, extended trips to England and an expensive condominium.

That alone piqued authorities' interest, but then there were two credit cards tucked away in his wallet that seemed to confirm suspicions that the Nigerian-born Adetiloye, a Canadian citizen, was up to something nefarious. The pieces of plastic each bore different names — Donald Douglas and Vincent Andriole — and helped authorities prosecute a case they describe as one of the largest high-tech bank robberies in U.S. history.

"Characterizing this fraud scheme as massive, if anything, is an understatement," Assistant U.S. Attorney Nick Chase from North Dakota said in court documents.

Adetiloye, 40, was sentenced Monday to nearly 18 years in prison on fraud charges. He was convicted of mail fraud, but authorities believe he masterminded a scheme to open nearly 600 fraudulent bank accounts and bilk 22 major banks out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Federal prosecutor Nick Chase said during the sentencing hearing in North Dakota that Adetiloye had an "insatiable hunger for other people's money."

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson handed down a 214-month prison term and scheduled a Feb. 15 hearing to discuss returning the nearly $1.5 million in losses to credit card companies and banks.

Defense attorney Richard Henderson had asked for a sentence of fewer than 16 years. Henderson said any prison time for his client, a native of Nigeria, is more difficult than it would be for American citizens because he has no family in the United States.

Investigators' efforts to deconstruct the multifarious case are laid out in the nearly 12,000 pages of court documents filed by lawyers in federal court.

Greg Krier, lead credit card fraud investigator for U.S. Bank, testified that it was the most complex case he had ever seen. His company, which has its own fraud unit, launched special training sessions focusing on the case in hopes of catching the culprits.

The case wound up in North Dakota after U.S. Bank's customer service center in Fargo intercepted calls by Adetiloye and others. The complexity of the scheme, which took five years to investigate and litigate, was highlighted in a sentencing phase that has lasted nearly a year and included numerous hearings and briefings.

The lead investigator, one of 25 people who worked on the case, put in 2,000 hours, authorities said.

Defense attorneys had argued that their client, the only person charged in the case, was a "marginal and minimal participant" whose role was to handle mail and withdraw money from ATMs. The government and the judge have said otherwise.

Investigators said the operation accessed information of nearly 16,000 people, about 500 of whom had their identities stolen for the purpose of obtaining credit cards. It's alleged that more than 100 commercial mailboxes were opened under false or stolen identities.

The government said Adetiloye went so far as to mask his handwriting after a judge ordered a test of his calligraphy

Erickson, the federal judge, said in court documents ahead of the sentencing that the evidence "indisputably demonstrates" that Adetiloye was a leader or organizer of the scheme. The judge has calculated losses to banks at about $1.5 million, but said it could have been as high as $5 million if credit limits had been maxed out.

The trauma cannot be measured, Erickson said.

"The non-monetary harm to the victims was substantial," the judge wrote. "They lost sleep, they lost time with their families, they lost time at work, and they lost their sense of security. Some victims spent hours trying to reclaim their credit record and their identities."

Court documents show that U.S. Bank suffered the most number of tainted accounts, at 130, for a total loss of about $76,000. The companies alleged to have lost the most money were Citibank, at about $271,000, and Discover, at about $248,000.

Brett Bogan, the security investigations manager at Reed Elsevier, the parent company of LexisNexis and ChoicePoint, told the court that data breaches of this type are extremely rare and knew of only one other case like it. He said the company sent out notices to more than 32,000 people whose personal information was compromised by the scheme.

"With their combined extensive and nationwide perspective, those entities place this fraud scheme at or near the top of their historical lists in terms of size and complexity," Chase said in court documents.


Related stories: Fraudsters who conned pensioner out of £245,000 jailed 

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Nigerian Fraudsters targeting football youth

Video - Wole Soyinka and Femi Kuti comment on Boko Haram at town hall meeting


Nigerian Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka and Afro beat musician Femi Kuti reacted to Boko Haram attacks.

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Boko Haram attack Churches on Christmas day - 40 dead

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Death toll in Boko Haram Kano attack rises to 215

The death toll arising from the multiple explosions that rocked Kano metropolis last Friday has reportedly hit 215 counting still goes on, with several other victims lying critically injured in various hospitals, LEADERSHIP SUNDAY findings have shown.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY had exclusively reported in August 2011, about a planned attack on the ancient city by the Boko Haram sect. The sect had sent a letter to the Kano State governor, Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, and the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, warning them that they were prepared to launch an attack on the city.

The letter which was signed by the sect's spokesman, Abu Zaid, claimed that the Kano State government was conniving with security agents and some district heads, to arrest their members. The sect who demanded the immediate release of their members, also threatened to make Kano State more ungovernable than Maiduguri, the Borno State capital and hot bed of the sect's attacks.

Our correspondent reports that the mortuary of the Murtala Muhammad Specialist Hospital has recorded the highest number of dead bodies followed closely by that of the Muhammad Abdullahi Wase Specialist Hospital all in Kano metropolis. Other notable hospitals where dead bodies have been deposited are Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and Sir Muhammadu Sanusi Hospital.

It was learnt that more than 95 percent of the dead bodies were removed from the streets yesterday morning as people were afraid of venturing out of their homes, owing to the 24-hour curfew imposed on the state after the explosions.

An official of the Red Cross Society who craved for anonymity put the death figure at 121. Effort to speak with the Kano coordinator of the society, Musa Abdullahi, failed as he refused to respond to our reporter's several calls.

Kano police command refused to speak on the death casualties. But Executive Secretary of the state Hospital Management Board, Dr Bello Umar Dikko could only confirm to LEADERSHIP the death of 20 persons with 40 injured.

"We have recorded 40 injured and up till now we can't ascertain the actual number of those that died as we are still conducting body count. We have 20 dead bodies so far.

"Due to the 24-hour curfew, there is panic and pandemonium and so people are afraid to collect dead bodies from the streets. It is therefore premature to say how many people have died. The victims died of gunshot, burns and stampedes", he said.

Bombai area, which houses the headquarters of the state police command, police barracks and official residence of AIG Zone One of the Nigeria Police Force, recorded the highest casualties because of the intense encounter between the police and Boko Haram members who had claimed responsibility for the Friday's deadly onslaught on the metropolis.

A resident of the Bompai area, for example, said he saw five dead bodies right in front of Pink Peacock Chinese Restaurant on Umaru Babura Road while another resident around the place claimed to have seen seven corpses near the official residence of AIG Zone One of the Nigeria Police Force at St. Louis Avenue.

A female police source said she saw many corpses being evacuated from the Bompai police barracks to various hospitals. An assistant Inspector of Police was killed in the compound while another officer was killed inside a toilet. The female police personnel also said they took cover in one corner within the barracks not knowing the place was so crowded with dead persons, saying the entire barracks was thrown into confusion as almost every person was mourning the loss of his or her loved ones.

It was learnt that the high casualties inside the barracks followed another onslaught on the police personnel and their families in the night by Boko Haram members who were said to have worn police uniforms to gain easy access into the huge compound.

A resident of Tudun Wada area that shares boundary with the barracks said the death toll recorded as at yesterday morning rose to more than 50, saying most of those killed were passersby.

Failed attempt To Abduct AIG Family members

An eye-witness told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY how the sect members engaged security operatives in a shoot-out after their attempt to take them into hostage, the family members of the Assistant Inspector General of Police, (AIG), Zone One, Abubakar Muhammed. The AIG's Personal Assistant PA and his driver were killed in the shoot-out.

It was revealed that the Boko Haram members, disguised as police officers had visited the AIG's residence and requested to take the family members into protective custody following the confusion in the city. The security men at the gate of the AIG were said to have smelt a rat and refused them entrance.

"As they came to the house, they were all in police uniform but one of the security guards suspected their plan and declined to cooperate with them. They said they came to the residence and wanted to go along with the family members on the orders of the AIG and said they would give them adequate protection", our source disclosed.

The security guards were said to have objected to their request insisting on hearing directly from the AIG. "As the guards refused to cave in, one of the Boko Haram members said let one of the security men speak with the AIG to get them convinced but they refused the entreatise," the source added.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY learnt that while the disagreement was going on, the sect members suddenly brought out their weapons and started shooting at the guards. The Personal Assistant and the AIG's driver who ran from the AIG's office to give cover to his family were killed. Two other security men were also killed during the shoot-out.


When the merchants of death came calling at the headquarters of the Zone One of the Nigeria Police Force last Friday, they knew that the AIG in-charge was right in his office within the premises. As the bomb exploded and the massive building began to shake, the AIG's orderly swiftly moved in and grabbed his boss. They practically jumped down from the one storey building and scaled the fence from behind.

An eyewitness told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that the AIG's shirt was bloodied.

"Once they scaled the fence, they ran to a tarred road that passed by the office from behind and flagged down a Keke-NAPEP, popularly called A Daidaita Sahu in Kano.

By then, about five other officers had joined them, and they all squeezed into the small vehicle and drove straight to the Police Divisional Office in Sharada. No sooner had they arrived than they were informed that the police station could also be targeted by Boko Haram, and they left for the residence of a retired police commissioner - a member of Kano royal family, Alhaji S. K Bayero. It was there that first aid was administered the AIG and the other officers that went with him, after which they were ferried to safety.


Many Kano residents spoken to by LEADERSHIP SUNDAY confirmed that on their way to various mosques to pray, about three hours to the first attack on the AIG's office on Friday, they saw flyers on the ground. Alhaji Muhammadu S. Gabari told this newspaper that on his way to Al-Furqan Mosque on Alu Avenue, he saw a flyer on the ground.

"I picked it and saw that it was written in Hausa. The authors claimed to be Jama'atu Ahlis Sunnah Lidda'awati Wal Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram, and in it, they recounted the efforts they made to draw the attention of Kano authorities to what they called arbitrary arrests of their members and their threat to attack Kano if nothing was done about it." The source added that though there was nothing in the letter to suggest an attack was in the offing, he expected the security services to intensify on intelligence "which might have averted the disaster that befell the state," he said.

Excerpts From the Boko Haram Letter To Kano People and authorities:

"Everybody knows that a lot of our people were killed in Kano State, especially in Wudil town. We had perfected plans to take revenge but some notable scholars intervened by pleading with us. They also assured that our members would never be persecuted again and we took them by their words. Unfortunately however, about five months ago, security agencies began trailing and arresting our members who are carrying out their legitimate businesses, alleging that they were thieves and armed robbers.

The statement was signed personally by Imam Muhammad Abubakar Shekau, leader of the group.


Checks by LEADERSHIP SUNDAY confirmed that among the many targets hit was a famous secondary school on St. Loius Avenue, Bompai GRA, a stone throw from the AIG's residence. They pursued someone they thought was a policeman up to the gates of the school. As it was locked, he scampered out of the vehicle and scaled the fence. But once they arrived, the Boko Harma members bombed the gate and gained entry. They then bombed a hall usually rented by Muslims and Christians in organising social events and razed down the school's store, located within the premises. They killed the only person they sighted in the premises.

Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday vowed to get to the root of the multiple bomb blasts and acts of violence, saying those behind these acts of terrorism would be made to face the full wrath of the law.

In a statement by his Special Adviser On Media and Publicity, Dr. Rueben Abati, the president expressed his condolences to all victims, including the management and staff of Channels Television, saying he was greatly saddened by the incident which led to the loss of lives of innocent Nigerians.

"As a responsible Government, we will not fold our hands and watch enemies of democracy, for that is what these mindless killers are, perpetrate unprecedented evil in our land. I want to re-assure Nigerians, the international Community, and members of the fourth estate of the realm, who lost one of their colleagues, a reporter with Channels Television, that all those involved in that dastardly act would be made to face the full wrath of the law", Jonathan stated.

In another development, a new and violent chapter was yesterday opened in the political crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa state following the detonation of multiple bombs in some parts of the state capital, including the Peace Park positioned opposite the State Government House and an iron bridge linking the hometown of the former Governor D.S.P Alamieyeseigha with the state capital.

While the authorities of the State Police Command headed by Commissioner Hillary Opara has ruled out the possibility of the involvement of the Boko Haram sect in the bomb explosions, a cross section of residents and politicians viewed the bombing as an off- shoot of the battle of wits between the Governor Timipre Sylva group and the President Goodluck Jonathan faction of the party.

The explosions are coming few days to the tomorrow's presentation of party flag to Hon. Seriake Dickson as the flag-bearer of the party for the February 11th Governorship election in the State by a campaign committee to be led by Vice President, Namadi Sambo.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY gathered that the explosions, which occurred few minutes from one another, started at about 11pm. One of the bombs, reportedly drilled into a part of the iron bridge, exploded and shook the foundation of most of the buildings along the Tombia roundabout. Clubbers at the popular Camp Murphy bar were thrown into panic and hurried home in fear.


Related stories:  Video - 120 killed in bomb blasts in Kano, Nigeria

Boko Haram attack Churches on Christmas day - 40 dead 

Boko Harram attack foiled - Police seize bombs

Eight vehicles fully loaded with various improvised explosives have been impounded by the police in Kano State.

The vehicles were found to have been abandoned by their owners.

Another vehicle also loaded with explosives, was impounded along with the owner at Gwauron Dutse in the state capital.

THISDAY in Kano reliably gathered from security sources that the vehicles were said to have been abandoned by their owners since last Friday at various locations within Kano metropolis.

It was learnt that a Honda Civic car was found abandoned close to NNPC Mega Station in Hotoro adjacent to Kano deport with improvised explosives while the second car, a Kia, was discovered at Tula in the suburb of Kano by the eastern by pass.

It was also learnt that the vehicles were discovered and evacuated safely from the area by security agents with the help of residents of the area.

The third car which is a Honda car Brahma series packed with explosives was found abandoned on Sunday at Sheka quarters. It was with the cooperation of the residents of the area who reported the unusual presence of the car since Friday to security agencies who immediately removed the car from the area.

THISDAY also reliably informed by source who pleaded anonymity that the fourth car, a Toyota Camry, was intercepted Monday during security's wait and search at Goron Dutse quarters in Kano city.

When both the car and its driver were impounded, items found in the car were; bullet proof verse, a gun and some chemicals believed to be used in making improvised explosives.

THISDAY efforts to get the police to comment on the discoveries proved abortive as several phone calls made to the Kano police command's PPRO, ASP Magaji Musa Majiya could not go through.

But according to AFP, a senior police officer confirmed the frightening finds.

"We have discovered eight bomb-laden cars in different areas of the city," a senior police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity Monday. "We are still facing serious security threats."

Another car was found filled with explosives outside a government-run fuel station in Kano on Sunday, as President Goodluck Jonathan paid a visit of solidarity to the city.

Meanwhile, special prayers were conducted in various mosques throughout Kano Monday to seek divine intervention in order to prevent recurrence of last Friday's bomb blasts that claimed several lives.

The prayer session conducted at Kano Central mosque was led by the Chief Imam of Kano, Professor Sani Zaharadeen, Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero, Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and all ulamas in the state.

"I will pray to God that we should never re-live the catastrophe that resulted in the deaths and maiming in our city," Kano State governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso said.

Kano's emir Ado Bayero told the clerics: "I enjoin you to continue praying for peace and stability in our city. I call upon you to use any religious fora to pray for peace in our land."

A purported spokesman for Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were in response to a refusal by the authorities to release its members from custody.

Some detainees being held at a police station in Kano were thought to have been freed during Friday's attacks.

Boko Haram is a shadowy group believed to have a number of factions with differing aims, including some with political links and a hard-core Islamist cell.

Jonathan has said some Boko Haram members have infiltrated government -- from the security agencies to the legislature and the executive arm of government.

Senate president David Mark said he and the speaker of the House of Representatives Aminu Tambuwal, had ignored security risks to travel to Kano.

"We want to ensure that a few misguided Nigerians who have been led into this action don't take this country hostage... it is not about religion, this affects the entire nation," he said.

However, former president Olusegun Obasanjo sought to downplay the crisis.

"Even though it is a big challenge to the Nigerian people and its government, it is not one that... shakes Nigeria to its foundation," Obasanjo said in Banjul on Sunday.

Relief workers said the death toll from Friday's attacks was at least 166 but a doctor at a major hospital said the toll could soar to 250.

Around 50 people were gathered Monday outside the main hospital's morgue waiting to collect remains of their loved ones for burial.

Lying on a bed in a ward at the hospital with a bullet wound in his leg, tannery worker Monday Joseph, 29, said he was driving home from work with four colleagues when one of the bombs went off.

They abandoned the car and started running.

"The four of them died. I am the only one who survived," he told AFP.

Nigeria's supreme Muslim leader, the Sultan of Sokoto Sa'ad Abubakar, said the attacks were "perhaps the worst in terms of the loss of lives".

"It is evidently clear that Nigeria is passing through a trying moment of general insecurity of overwhelming magnitude," he said.

Most of the recent major attacks have occurred in the northeast of the country, with many taking place despite the state of emergency.

Boko Haram claimed a Christmas Day bombing at a church near the capital Abuja which killed at least 44 people and an August attack against UN headquarters in Abuja that killed 25.

Attacks targeting Christians have given rise to fears of a wider religious conflict in Nigeria, which is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

But attacks blamed on Boko Haram have included a wide range of targets, including Muslims.

This Day

Related stories: Video - 120 killed in bomb blasts in Kano, Nigeria

Video - Boko Haram leader declares war on Christians 

Video - Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram

Monday, January 23, 2012

1,000 Nigerians detained in Chinese prisons

Minister of Youths Development, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, at the weekend, said there were about 1,000 Nigerian youths detained in various prisons in China for drug-related offences.

Abdullahi, said in Ilorin during a chat with journalists, that he had already written to the government of China for the details of their offences so that the Federal Government could use them as a form of campaign to discourage Nigerian youths from embarking on drug trafficking.

“This is a very serious matter. I have written to the government of China and I am planning to actually travel there on behalf of the Federal Government to have the details of their cases,” he said.

The minister expressed regret that many Nigerian youths who indulged in drug trafficking business in a bid to get rich quick were not always aware of the dire consequences and the risks involved.

According to him, “The risks far outweigh the benefits, in fact there is none. Whoever gets involved will get caught sooner than later and whatever that might have been acquired will go with it. So where is the benefit?”

Abdullahi added: “The only way to good living is to be involved in legitimate business where nobody is running after you for committing an offence. There is nothing like getting rich quick and there is no short cut to it.”

The minister, however, commended the initiative of Lagos State Government where youths and others found guilty of committing certain offences were made to serve the community, instead of sending them to prisons.

“Lagos State is doing great thing in this particular area and I think it should be commended and others should emulate it,” he said.

This Day

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Video - 120 killed in bomb blasts in Kano, Nigeria

The death toll has risen from the series of co-ordinated bombings and attacks in the northern Nigerian city of Kano.

According to the government and the Red Cross, at least 120 people were killed. Hospital officials say more than 140 died.

The city has been put under a curfew after police stations across the city were targeted on Friday.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

President Goodluck Jonathan apologizes to international community over fuel subsidy protests


The Federal Government yesterday apologised to members of the diplomatic community and the international community resident in Nigeria for the inconveniences caused by the withdrawal of fuel subsidy and the protests.

President Goodluck Jonathan, speaking during the Annual Diplomatic launch held at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa, in Abuja, assured that the government will work hard to ensure this does not repeat itself. He added that the experience of the past week has made Nigeria stronger and better.

'We will make sure we work hard to ensure we will not experience that again. We appreciate your understanding, I know some people must have come to you and send all kinds of messages to your various governments. I believe that you know that the position of the government is the best for the people.

'I can assure you that it has even made us stronger and indeed better. We promise that we will continue to grow from strength to strength and the incident of last week, we have put them behind us and we are moving forward. We will not experience that kind of situation again,' he said.

The president also said government will ensure that while adjusting the pump price subsequently, it will not do it in a way that will bring suffering to the people. 'We know we were misunderstood; prices couldn't have gone up that way. But that is a human society and is a human factor.' he said.

He said, 'I regret the inconveniences some of you passed through because of the government attempt to see the way we can look at our oil industry by adjusting the pump price and the issue of deregulating the oil sector that led to demonstrations by labour and civil societies.

I believed some of you suffered some inconveniences because you couldn't go out for a week, you couldn't visit people you would have loved to visit.'

While recalling the bombing of the United Nations building by members of the Boko Haram sect, he said Nigeria will continue to work together with the members of the diplomatic corps and their organisations and countries to ensure world peace.

'Let me assure all of you that Nigeria will continue to maintain a very warm relationship with all the organisations and all the countries in spite of our experiences with the Boko Haram. Nigerian government is totally committed to the maintenance of peace and order in line with UN Charter.

'We believe that all citizens of the world should live freely and peacefully wherever they find themselves. We will work with you and all your countries and organisations to make sure that the world is a place where all of us will live without fear or favour,'he stated.

He stressed that the world over was facing similar challenges, but 'collectively, we will work towards that.'

He thanked them for the role they played during last year's elections and assured that democracy has not just come to stay in Nigeria, 'but democracy that is sanctioned by an election that is credible, election that is free and fair. And using our own slogan, election that the votes of Nigerians must count, where we say one man one vote, one woman one vote and one youth one vote.'

He noted that 'democracy that is not dictated by the vote of the people is not good democracy, adding that until the votes of the people account that is when we can say this is a democracy.

And I believe also that it is difficult for you to topple such a democracy because it is the people that elect those that are ruling. But if people impose themselves on ordinary people of course such a democracy may not be able to stand on a solid ground.

'With a little turbulence such a government will fall. In Nigeria we are totally committed to democracy and enduring democratic culture that the votes of individuals will count.

At the end of our elections in April, we did promise the whole world that our subsequent elections will even be better and promising. But as we march towards 2015 for another round of elections, the elections will be conducted better than the elections in 2011,' he said.

Earlier the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Yamego Dramane, the Ambassador of Burkina Faso to Nigeria, commiserated with the President on the happening of the past week, stating that Nigeria, which is playing a major role not only in Africa but the world over, has their support.

The Moment

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

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Nigerian labor groups suspending their nationwide strike after hearing from the president.

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 National strike called off by Nigerian unions

Monday, January 16, 2012

President Goodluck Jonathan slashes price of petrol by 30 percent in response to protests

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Monday announced a 30% cut in petrol prices as soldiers moved to disperse activists in a bid to end more than a week of nationwide strikes called by unions to protest against the end of fuel subsidies.

Nigerian soldiers seized protest sites and used armoured vehicles to disperse demonstrators after the president watered down a hike in petrol prices Monday in a bid to end an eight-day nationwide strike.

About 1,000 protesters in the economic capital Lagos had gathered on a road near the main protest site, which armed soldiers seized early on Monday. None of the protesters appeared to have been wounded.

Some 10,000 protesters had been gathering daily at the main site last week.

Troops began by driving trucks toward the protesters, but later used armoured vehicles, an AFP correspondent reported. Around 200 demonstrators were seeking to regroup nearby, but soldiers were moving in their direction.

Soldiers also Monday seized the main protest site in the capital Abuja where hundreds of people had been gathering daily, an AFP journalist reported.

President Goodluck Jonathan announced Monday that petrol prices would be cut by about a third in a bid to end the strike triggered after the government removed fuel subsidies. 

Unions vowed to press ahead with the strike which is now in its second week but called off street protests in response to security concerns voiced by Jonathan. However demonstrations have been organised by a range of civil society and political groups.

A number of groups vowed to continue protests.

Jonathan announced the price cut in a televised national address after a week that saw him remain largely silent in public as the strike and mass protests shut down Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer.

The president's announcement came after talks with unions had failed to resolve the dispute, with labour leaders demanding a return to pre-January 1 petrol prices.

He charged that the protests had been "hijacked" by those seeking to promote "discord, anarchy and insecurity".

"Government will continue to pursue full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector," Jonathan said in his address.

"However, given the hardships being suffered by Nigerians, and after due consideration and consultations with state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly, government has approved the reduction of the pump price of petrol to 97 naira (about 60 US cents) per litre."

He added: "I urge our labour leaders to call off their strike and go back to work."

The government had ended fuel subsidies on January 1, causing petrol prices to more than double from 65 naira per litre to 140 naira or more, sparking the strike and protests that began on January 9.

Most in the country of some 160 million people live on less than two dollars a day, and Nigerians weary after years of blatant corruption view the subsidies as their only benefit from the nation's oil wealth.

Besides seizing main protest sites, soldiers on Monday also set up roadblocks at key points in the economic capital Lagos for the first time since the protests began, stopping cars and searching them.

One senior police officer at the main Lagos protest site made no pretense of the aim of the deployment.

"It is total surrender to the might of the federal government," he said. "They cannot come here again today in view of this situation."

One protest organiser said musical instruments were destroyed at the site, where Seun Kuti, son of late legendary musician and harsh government critic Fela Kuti, had been playing regularly.

"Soldiers have destroyed our instruments in Ojota and brought down our stage," said rights activist Jo Okei-Odumakin. 

She added: "I have been receiving strange calls threatening me with death. They send these texts to me with unknown numbers."

Jonathan had late Sunday sought a deal with labour leaders aimed at ending the strike. Unions did not call off the strike after the talks, but said they were cancelling street protests after Jonathan expressed security concerns.

Nigeria Labour Congress chief Abdulwahed Omar said: "We came to a conclusion that we will stay at home, that is stay off the streets, in order to make sure that we don't in the first instance endanger innocent lives because of the security situation in the country."

Nigeria has faced spiralling violence, most of it in the country's north and blamed on Islamist group Boko Haram, prompting warnings of a wider religious conflict and even the possibility of civil war.

But the main fuel protests have been largely peaceful, although at least 15 people are believed to have been killed in various incidents.

While the strike was suspended for the weekend, labour leaders had warned it would resume Monday if a deal had not been reached. An earlier threat to shut down oil production however has been put on hold.

Government officials and economists have said removing subsidies would allow much of the $8 billion a year in savings to be ploughed into projects to improve the country's woefully inadequate infrastructure.


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National strike called off by Nigerian unions

Union leaders in Nigeria have called off a week-long nationwide strike that has been paralysing the country's economy, following a decision by Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian president, to roll back fuel-price increases.

Jonathan announced on Monday that he would reduce fuel prices, while soldiers moved to shut down demonstrations in the country's major cities. 

His government will reduce the prices by 30 per cent, to around $2.75 per gallon, by restoring some subsidies that it removed at the beginning of January. Prices will still be considerably higher than they were before the subsidies were removed. 

The removal of subsidies sparked street protests and, as of last week, the national strike. Unions announced early on Monday morning that they would halt protests after being warned by Jonathan that "people outside organised labour may try to hijack" the demonstrations, Abdulwahed Omar, the head of Nigeria Labour Congress, said.

Earlier security forces opend fire into the air and used tear gas to disperse protesters in the country's commercial capital, Lagos, and other parts of the country.

An AFP news agency correspondent said soldiers first shot into the air to disperse the protesters before police fired tear gas, forcing them to flee. No injuries were reported.

'Protests hijacked'

In an address on national television, Jonathan said provocateurs had hijacked the protests and demonstrations, which had seen tens of thousands march in cities across the nation.

"It has become clear to government and all well-meaning Nigerians that other interests beyond the implementation of the deregulation policy have hijacked the protest,'' he said.

"This has prevented an objective assessment and consideration of all the contending issues for which dialogue was initiatefd by government. These same interests seek to promote discord, anarchy, and insecurity to the detriment of public peace.''

The nationwide strike and protests since January 9 have brought much of Africa's most populous country to a standstill.

While the strike was suspended for the weekend, labour leaders warned it would resume on Monday if a deal had not been reached. An earlier threat to shut down oil production however has been put on hold.

Roots of crisis

Unions launched the strike after the government deregulated the downstream petroleum sector and ended fuel subsidies on January 1, which more than doubled petrol prices overnight, angering many who saw the subsidies as one of the few public benefits of the country's oil wealth.

The costs of food and transportation also largely doubled in a nation where most people live on less than $2 a day.

At least 10 people have died as a result of the violence, while Red Cross volunteers have treated more than 600 people injured, officials said.

Jonathan and other government officials had argued that removing the subsidies, which were estimated to cost $8bn a year, would allow the government to spend money on badly needed public projects across a country that has pot-holed roads, little electricity and a lack of clean drinking water in many areas.

However, many remain suspicious of government as military rulers and politicians have plundered government budgets since independence from Britain in 1960.


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Friday, January 13, 2012

Video - Christians and Muslims unite to protest fuel subsidy removal


The leader of Nigeria's Islamist group Boko Haram has defended recent attacks on Christians, and warned of more to come.

In a video posted on Youtube, he warned that Nigeria's security forces would not be able to defeat the group.

The rise in religious tensions is another headache for President Goodluck Jonathan who's facing a fourth day of nationwide strikes over the rising cost of fuel.


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President Goodluck Jonathan's address to the Nation on fuel subsidy removal 

United Nations says Boko Haram must not divide Nigeria

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mrs. Navi Pillay, has urged Nigerians not to allow the violent activities of Boko Haram to precipitate retaliatory attacks that will divide the country.

Pillay said this yesterday in Geneva, Zurich in a briefing while reacting to the violence across Nigeria, following the increasing attacks by Boko Haram sect.

She said, "The religious tolerance that has been a central tenet of Nigeria's federation is being threatened, and I urge all Nigeria's leaders to avoid falling into the trap of calling for, or sanctioning, retaliation or making other provocative statements. Everybody will be the loser if Boko Haram succeeds in its aim and efforts to sow discord between Muslims and Christians, or pit Northerners against Southerners.

"The fact that people are already leaving some areas where they are in a minority, out of fear of reprisal attacks by the majority, shows just how dangerous this is becoming for the country as a whole. Anyone inciting violence or hatred must be held accountable, no matter who they are."

In its video message released on Wednesday on You Tube, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, had claimed that the sect carried out attacks against Christians to revenge the killings of Muslims by Christians in some parts of the North.

On how to fight the group, Pillay urged the government, religious and opinion leaders to make a bold and concerted effort to halt the spread of sectarian violence as a result of Boko Haram attacks.

She said, "It is essential that the country's leadership, and especially its Muslim and Christian leaders, join forces to unequivocally condemn all violence, including retaliation, and encourage their followers to identify and help arrest all those involved in killings and other acts of violence that have been taking place."

She, however, called on security forces not to violate the fundamental human rights of people while conducting operations in areas under threat of attacks. "

On the legal implications of Boko Haram attacks, the UN High Commissioner said, "Members of Boko Haram and other groups and entities, if judged to have committed widespread or systematic attacks against a civilian population - including on grounds such as religion or ethnicity - could be found guilty of crimes against humanity.

Deliberate acts leading to population "cleansing" on grounds of religion or ethnicity would also amount to a crime against humanity." She pointed out that the International Criminal Court was established to hold individuals and groups accountable for violent activities. "There must be no impunity for any acts of violence, including those committed in retaliation for earlier attacks," Pillay added.


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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Video - Boko Haram leader declares war on Christians

Leader of the militant Islamic sect, Jama'atu Ahlus Sunnah Lid Da'awati Wal Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, has broken his silence and revealed why his organisation has continued to attack government agencies and Christians in the country.

In a message posted on YouTube, Shekau said the recent attacks carried out by his sect were revenge attacks over the killing of Muslim in Jos and other northern states.

In the 15-minute video, in Hausa language, titled "Message to Jonathan 1 Shekau, wearing a red and white turban, a bullet-proof vest,with two Kalashnikov rifles, at the background, warned President Jonathan that the government forces would not be able to defeat his militant sect.

Imam Abubakar Shekau was the second-in-command to Mohammed Yusuf, who was killed by the police in July last year after days of fighting between security forces and the sect's followers.

The police said in 2009 that Shekau was shot dead in the clashes. But a 25-minute video clip, shot on April 19 and obtained by the media showed Shekau answering questions from a journalist at his hideout believed to be in Maiduguri.

Proclaiming himself as leader of the sect, Shekau said during the interview that with the death of the former leader, he "being the deputy (to Yusuf), stepped in and assumed leadership to continue in the pursuit of religious knowledge." Shekau was, besides being a second-in-command of the sect, the most influential and feared member of the Boko Haram group.


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 Boko Haram gives ultimatum to Christians

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Video - Three shot dead in fuel subsidy protests

Three people have been shot dead during a nationwide strike in Nigeria against the government's decision to scrap fuel subsidies.

The price of a litre of fuel has more than doubled from 31 to 66 euro cents after regulators made the move on January 1.

Protesters say they will continue striking until the old price is restored.

Two demonstrators were killed and thirty injured during a rally in the northern city of Kano, whilst one person was shot dead by police officers in the economic capital, Lagos.


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Monday, January 9, 2012

Video - Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks on fuel subsidy crisis

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan is facing opposition to his decision to cut fuel subsidies, which saw petrol prices double overnight when the decision was made at the start of the year.

Labour unions have now called for a nationwide strike to begin on Monday. This comes following a series of demonstrations held over the past week.

Sectarian violence in the country has also worsened recently, causing a rise in tensions on the street.


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 President Goodluck Jonathan's address to the Nation on fuel subsidy removal 

United Nations supports President Goodluck Jonathan on subsidy removal

The United Nations (UN) yesterday, said the decision of President Goodluck Jonathan on fuel subsidy removal was a 'bold and correct policy.'

The UN's position was made known when the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General, Ban kimono, Prof. Jeffery Sachs, visited the president at the State House, Abuja yesterday.

Sachs said the funds realised from the subsidy removal would go a long way in fast-tracking rapid infrastructural development in all sectors of the economy.

The UN envoy also commended President Jonathan for the conditional grants being made available to local governments for the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, describing it as "one of the most innovative schemes of using national resources for local government development".

President Jonathan said the country's 2010 capital budget was funded with borrowed money, the equivalent of which was used to fund the subsidy last year, adding "no meaningful infrastructural development is possible in such an environment.'

He said that his administration was committed to making significant and enduring interventions in the areas of power generation and supply, roads, railways, capacity building and health, adding that these sectors have already been opened to private sector participation.

The President expressed appreciation to Prof. Sachs for his concern for the development of Nigeria and Africa.

The removal of the subsidy has led to an increase of over 100 per cent in petrol prices across the country, with an accompanying multiplier effects on transportation fares and prices of goods and services in the country.

President Goodluck Jonathan said deregulation of the petroleum sector was a necessary change that Nigeria must make if government will have a significant impact in the lives of its citizens.

The Moment

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President Goodluck Jonathan's address to the Nation on fuel subsidy removal


1. A week ago, I had cause to address Nigerians on the security challenges we are facing in parts of the country, which necessitated the declaration of a state of emergency in 15 Local Government Areas in four states of the Federation. That course of action attracted widespread support and a demonstration of understanding. With that declaration, government had again signaled its intention to combat terrorism with renewed vigour and to assure every Nigerian of safety.

2. The support that we have received in the fight against terrorism from concerned Nigerians at home and abroad has been remarkable. We believe that it is with such continued support that progress can be made on national issues. Let me express my heartfelt appreciation to everyone who has expressed a commitment to support us as we strive to improve on the country's security situation, and build a stronger foundation for the future. The recent mindless acts of violence in Gombe, Potiskum, Jimeta-Yola and Mubi are unfortunate. I urge all Nigerians to eschew bitterness and acrimony and live together in harmony and peace. Wherever there is any threat to public peace, our security agencies will enforce the law, without fear or favour.

3. This evening, I address you, again, with much concern over an issue that borders on the national economy, the oil industry and national progress. As part of our efforts to transform the economy and guarantee prosperity for all Nigerians, Government, a few days ago, announced further deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. The immediate effect of this has been the removal of the subsidy on petrol.

4. Since the announcement, there have been mixed reactions to the policy. Let me seize this opportunity to assure all Nigerians that I feel the pain that you all feel. I personally feel pained to see the sharp increase in transport fares and the prices of goods and services. I share the anguish of all persons who had travelled out of their stations, who had to pay more on the return leg of their journeys.

5. If I were not here to lead the process of national renewal, if I were in your shoes at this moment, I probably would have reacted in the same manner as some of our compatriots, or hold the same critical views about government. But I need to use this opportunity as your President to address Nigerians on the realities on the ground, and why we chose to act as we did. I know that these are not easy times. But tough choices have to be made to safeguard the economy and our collective survival as a nation.

6. My fellow Nigerians, the truth is that we are all faced with two basic choices with regard to the management of the downstream petroleum sector: either we deregulate and survive economically, or we continue with a subsidy regime that will continue to undermine our economy and potential for growth, and face serious consequences.

7. As you all know, the subject of deregulation is not new, we have been grappling with it for more than two decades. Previous administrations tinkered with the pump price of petroleum products, and were unable to effect complete deregulation of the downstream sector. This approach has not worked. If it did, we would not be here talking about deregulation today. I understand fully well that deregulation is not a magic formula that will address every economic challenge, but it provides a good entry point for transforming the economy, and for ensuring transparency and competitiveness in the oil industry, which is the mainstay of our economy.

8. As a President, elected and supported by ordinary Nigerians, and the vast majority of our people, I have a duty to bring up policies and programmes that will grow the economy and bring about greater benefits for the people. Let me assure you that as your President, I have no intention to inflict pain on Nigerians.

9. The deregulation of the petroleum sector is a necessary step that we had to take. Should we continue to do things the same way, and face more serious economic challenges? Or deregulate, endure the initial discomfort and reap better benefits later? I want to assure every Nigerian that whatever pain you may feel at the moment, will be temporary.

10. The interest of the ordinary people of this country will always remain topmost in my priorities as a leader. I remain passionately committed to achieving significant and enduring improvements in our economy that will lead to sustained improvement in the lives of our people.

11. I am determined to leave behind a better Nigeria, that we all can be proud of. To do so, I must make sure that we have the resources and the means to grow our economy to be resilient, and to sustain improved livelihood for our people. We must act in the public interest, no matter how tough, for the pains of today cannot be compared to the benefits of tomorrow. On assumption of office as President, I swore to an oath to always act in the best interest of the people. I remain faithful to that undertaking.

12. To save Nigeria, we must all be prepared to make sacrifices. On the part of Government, we are taking several measures aimed at cutting the size and cost of governance, including on-going and continuous effort to reduce the size of our recurrent expenditure and increase capital spending. In this regard, I have directed that overseas travels by all political office holders, including the President, should be reduced to the barest minimum. The size of delegations on foreign trips will also be drastically reduced; only trips that are absolutely necessary will be approved.

13. For the year 2012, the basic salaries of all political office holders in the Executive arm of government will be reduced by 25%. Government is also currently reviewing the number of committees, commissions and parastatals with overlapping responsibilities. The Report on this will be submitted shortly and the recommendations will be promptly implemented. In the meantime, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies must reduce their overhead expenses.

14. We are all greatly concerned about the issue of corruption. The deregulation policy is the strongest measure to tackle this challenge in the downstream sector. In addition, government is taking other steps to further sanitize the oil industry.

15. To ensure that the funds from petroleum subsidy removal are spent prudently on projects that will build a greater Nigeria, I have established a committee to oversee the implementation of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme. I sincerely believe that the reinvestment of the petroleum subsidy funds, to ensure improvement in national infrastructure, power supply, transportation, irrigation and agriculture, education, healthcare, and other social services, is in the best interest of our people.

16. Fellow Nigerians, I know that the removal of the petroleum subsidy imposes an initial burden on our people, especially the rising cost of transportation. Government will be vigilant and act decisively to curb the excesses of those that want to exploit the current situation for selfish gains. I plead for the understanding of all Nigerians. I appeal to our youth not to allow mischief-makers to exploit present circumstances to mislead or incite them to disturb public peace.

17. To address the immediate challenges that have been identified, I have directed all Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to embark immediately on all projects which have been designed to cushion the impact of the subsidy removal in the short, medium and long-term, as outlined in the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme Document.

18. Tomorrow, 8th January, I will formally launch a robust mass transit intervention programme to bring down the cost of transportation across the country. The programme will be implemented in partnership with state and local governments, labour unions, transport owners, and banking institutions, and supported with the provision of funding at zero interest rate as well as import duty waiver on all needed parts for locally-made mass transit vehicles, which will create additional jobs in the economy.

19. We will keep these incentives in place for as long as it takes. I want to assure you that Government will not rest until we bring down the cost of transportation for our people. Let me thank the transporters' associations that have agreed to reduce transport fares. I have directed the Minister of Labour and Productivity to work with these associations to come up with a sustainable plan to guarantee this within the shortest possible time.

20. In addition, I have ordered the mobilization of contractors for the full rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt -Maiduguri Railway Line and the completion of the Lagos-Kano Railway Line. I have also directed the immediate commencement of a Public Works programme that will engage the services of about 10, 000 youths in every state of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory. This will create an additional 370, 000 jobs.

21. Government has taken these decisions in the best interest of our economy, so that we not only have benefits today, but to ensure that we bequeath even greater benefits to our children and grandchildren.

22. Let me assure Nigerians that every possible effort will be made to ensure that we march forward, with a collective resolve to build a Nigeria that can generate greater economic growth, create and sustain new jobs, and secure the future of our children.

23. This Administration will aggressively implement its programme to reposition and strengthen our economy, while paying adequate attention to the immediate needs of our citizens.

24. I assure you all that we will work towards achieving full domestic refining of petroleum products with the attendant benefits.

25. As I ask for the full understanding of all Nigerians, I also promise that I will keep my word.

26. Thank you. May God bless you; and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR


Federal Republic of Nigeria

January 7, 2012


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Mass protests across Nigeria over fuel subsidies

Friday, January 6, 2012

Video - Authentic Nigerian food at New York restaurant Buka

Nigerian Chef Lookman Mashood cooks up a traditional Nigerian feast.