Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nigerian pirates rob cargo ship and hold crew hostage

A maritime monitoring group said Wednesday that pirates have kidnapped at least two members of a cargo ship anchored off the Nigerian coast.

The International Maritime Bureau said eight Nigerian pirates opened fire on the Dutch-owned vessel Tuesday, robbing the 14-member crew before escaping in a small speedboat with the ship's captain and engineer.

It said an additional crew member was missing following the attack and another suffered unspecified injuries.

Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea have become increasingly bold in recent months. IMB says there has been seven reported pirate attacks in the region this year.

Two weeks ago, pirates carried out a deadly hijacking on a cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria, killing the ship's captain and chief engineer.

IMB has warned vessels in the region to keep strict anti-piracy watch, saying at least one group of pirates appears to be preying on ships in the area.

West African pirates are not as active as their counterparts in Somalia, but a rising number of attacks prompted the IMB to post warnings about traveling through the Gulf of Guinea.


Related stories: Kidnapping culture in Nigeria on the rise

MEND kidnap crew from oil tanker 

Nigerian sentenced to death for illegal truck trafficking in Malaysia

A Malaysian High Court on Monday sentenced a Nigerian man to death after he was found guilty of drug trafficking.

Judicial Commissioner, Mohd Zaki Abdul Wahab said the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against 34-year-old Oluigbo Eric Chimeze.

Mr Oluigbo allegedly distributed 22.159kg of cannabis at a traffic light in Napoh, heading to Bukit Kayu Hitam at about 6.45am on Sept 1, 2010.
He was charged under Section 39 (B) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 which carries a mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

The accused was represented by Counsel B. Murthy while prosecution was conducted by deputy public prosecutor, Noor Fadzila Ishak.
According to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 of Malaysia as amended in 2006:

1. No person shall, on his own behalf or on behalf of any other person, whether or not such other person is in Malaysia —

(a) traffic in a dangerous drug,

(b) offer to traffic in a dangerous drug, or

(c) do or offer to do an act preparatory to or for the purpose of trafficking in a dangerous drug.

2. Any person who contravenes any of the provisions of subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence against this Act and shall be punished on conviction with death.

The number of people executed in Malaysia remains unknown, even as reported death sentences for drugs appear to be increasing in recent years. While Malaysia is generally not considered to be a high-volume executing state it has sentenced people to death in high numbers, mostly for drug related offences.

Provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Act also give Malaysian authorities the power to detain drug trafficking suspects without warrant and without a court appearance for up to sixty days. After such period, the Home Ministry can issue a detention order, which entitles the detainee to an appearance before a court to argue for his or her release. Without the court’s release of the suspect, the person can be held for successive two-year intervals. An advisory board reviews the suspect’s detention, but such a process falls far short of the procedural rights of a court proceeding. It has been alleged that police detain people under this Act after they have been acquitted by the courts.

Only High Courts have the jurisdiction to sentence someone to death. Juvenile cases involving the death penalty are heard in High Courts instead of the juvenile court where other juvenile cases are heard. Appeals to the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court are automatic. The last resort for the convicted is to plead pardon for clemency. Pardons or clemency are granted by the Ruler or Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) of the state where the crime is committed or the Yang di-Pertuan Agong if the crime is committed in the Federal Territories or when involving members of the armed forces. Death sentences are carried out by hanging as provided in Section 281 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Pregnant women and children may not be sentenced to death.

Malaysia sentenced 50 people to death for drug offences in 2009 – more than double the figure from 2008.

Channels Television

Related stories: Two Nigerian drug traffickers excrete 160 wraps of Cocaine while in custody

NDLEA Arrests 103 Drug Traffickers 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Former Delta state governor James Ibori pleads guilty to money laundering

Former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, pleaded guilty to 10 charges of fraud and money laundering in a London court Monday, paving the way for the British police to confiscate his assets and return them to Nigeria.

Under the plea bargain agreement he entered with his British prosecutors, he is expected to get a lighter jail sentence which he may serve in Nigeria under the proposed UK Prisoner Transfer Agreement with the Federal Government.

Monday, with his trial at London's Southwark crown court about to begin, Ibori changed his original plea and admitted stealing money from Delta State and laundering it in London through a number of offshore companies.

Ibori admitted to fraud totalling more than $79 million (N12.6 billion), said to be part of total embezzlement that could exceed $250 million (N40 billion).

He will be sentenced at the same court on April 16 and 17.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass told the court Ibori had accepted he was involved in "wide-scale theft, fraud and corruption when he was governor of Delta State".

When he ran for the governorship of Delta State, Ibori allegedly used a false date of birth to conceal previous convictions because a criminal record would have excluded him from taking part in the election.

"Mr Ibori tricked his way into public office. He had tricked the Nigerian authorities and the Nigerian voters. He was thus never the legitimate governor of Delta State," said Wass.

"We are pleased with today's guilty pleas which mark the culmination of a seven-year inquiry into James Ibori's corrupt activities," said Detective Inspector Paul Whatmore of the Metropolitan police. "We will now be actively seeking the confiscation of all of his stolen assets so they can be repatriated for the benefit of the people of Delta State."

Ibori, whose address in England was given as Primrose Hill in north London, was working as a cashier in a branch of a DIY store in Ruislip, Middlesex, when he moved to Nigeria and worked his way up through the political ranks to become a state governor in 1999, the court was told.

The court also heard that as governor of Delta State, Ibori racked up credit card bills of $200,000 a month and owned a fleet of armoured Range Rovers.

He was trying to buy a plane for $20 million at the time he was arrested in 2010 in Dubai at the request of the Metropolitan Police and extradited to London last year.

His wife, Theresa Ibori; sister, Christine Ibori-Idie; associate, Udoamaka Okoronkwo; and London-based solicitor Bhadresh Gohil have all already been convicted of money laundering.

Britain's Department for International Development (DfID) funds the Metropolitan police's proceeds of corruption unit (POCU), which investigated the case, at a cost of approximately £750,000 a year. The unit began investigating Ibori in 2005, working alongside the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The British police had earlier dropped corruption charges levelled against Ibori, leaving him to face money laundering charges.

A source had told THISDAY at the weekend that both the prosecution and Ibori had become trial weary and were looking forward to a quick resolution of the case, which began about seven years ago.

According to the source, the investigators had not made much progress in their search for evidence that has cost the British taxpayers over £14 million.

In June 2010, a Southwark court in London convicted his sister, Ibori-Ibie, for money laundering and mortgage fraud.

The 12-member jury held that she was guilty as charged for helping her brother to embezzle about $101.5 million while he was in office.

Ibori-Ibie and Okoronkwo-Onuigbo were later sentenced to 21 years in prison in London for their different roles in the case.

This Day

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bomb blast rocks Church in Jos

The police in Jos have said that "at least" six persons were killed by the bomb blasts that rocked the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN) headquarters on Sunday.

The command's spokesman Samuel Dabai, who disclosed this, however he said he was not sure of the total number of those injured.

Some of the cars affected by the blast

But the Plateau Chapter of the Red Cross, who also declined to be specific on the number of those killed, put the casualty figure at 50.

According to the chairman of the Red Cross, Mr Manasseh Pampe, the figure comprised victims taken to Plateau Specialist Hospital, Sauki Hospital and the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH).

"The Red Cross took 35 victims to Plateau Specialist Hospital, 10 were taken to JUTH and five were taken to Sauki Hospital.

"But the Plateau Government later directed that all the casualties hospitalised at Sauki Hospital be moved to the State Specialist Hospital. That we have done," Pampe said.

He said that three of the victims taken to JUTH had been treated and discharged while seven were still at the hospital.

Pampe, however, said that he could not comment on the figure of those killed in the explosion as he declared that "it is not part of the responsibility of Red Cross".

Dabai, while speaking on the number of those killed, said that the two suicide bombers were killed in addition to four others including two women who died at the scene.

Two others died at the Plateau Specialist Hospital, he added.

He confirmed that one of the bombers died in the vehicle that conveyed the explosives, while the other was killed at the scene of the blast by the angry worshippers.

Dabai, however, refused to react to reports that some suspected Boko Haram members were arrested with explosives around Gada Biu area of Jos.

"I will get back to you on that. For now, I have been busy handling the explosion situation."

He said that the police were on top of the situation and urged members of the public to go about their lawful activities but warned against taking the laws into their hands.

Efforts to speak with the military Special Task Force (STF) maintaining security in the state proved abortive as the spokesman, Capt. Mdahyehya Markus, did not answer several calls to his phone.


Related stories: Video - Bomb blast near Church in Suleja

Boko Haram attack Churches on Christmas day - 40 dead

Man discovers wife's body in freezer

Chief Sa'adu Abdullahi, an Auchi-based legal practitioner, on Friday told an Abuja High Court how he and two of his in-laws discovered the corpse of his wife, Afshatu, in her deep freezer.

Mrs Abdullahi, a mother of three and a top NNPC staff, was murdered on Nov. 5, 2011 in her house located off Ladoke Akintola Boulevard, in Garki II.

The office of the Inspector-General of Police on Feb. 16, arraigned Chiwendu Hart-Amanya, 30, Kenneth Chigozie, 21, and Ejike Igbe, 18, before Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf on a six-count charge including felony and murder of Mrs Afshatu Abdullahi.

The prosecution counsel, Sam Lough told the court that Hart-Amanya was the driver of the deceased, while Chigozie was the steward.

Igbe was arrested for being in possession of the deceased's cars.

The prosecution said the offence contravened Sections 315, 316, 317 and 318 of the Penal Code.

It would be recalled that all the three accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.

At the resumed hearing on Friday, Abdullahi, husband of late Afshatu, told the court how the corpse of his wife was discovered in the kitchen freezer with deep cuts on her neck and other parts of her body.

Abdullahi told the court that during the last Eid-el Kabir holiday on Nov. 6, 2011, Afshatu had called to say that she would be in Auchi for the celebration with her family.

He said she had called to tell him that she would come to see the family, and that after waiting for three days without hearing from her, he decided to come to Abuja to check her.

"When I got to Abuja, I went straight to the NNPC where she works and was told that no one had seen her."

Abdullahi told the court that a search party that was organised, found only the security man, Ali Alpha in Afshatu's house, while the first and second, who live in the boy's quarters, were nowhere to be found.

He said that Alpha said he had not seen his madam for a few days and assumed that she had traveled.

"We broke into the house and found the place in disarray, with many expensive furniture missing and her jewelry gone; it was obvious the house had been burgled.

"While searching, my brother-in law, Tahiru Momoh, opened a deep freezer in the kitchen and we discovered my beloved wife's body inside it.

"We called the Police and in the cause of their investigations, neighbours told them (Police) that they saw the driver driving my wife's Infinity Toyota SUV some days earlier.

"The security man also told the Police that the driver (first accused) came back on the same day to take away the second 2011 brand of Toyota SUV."

Abdullahi said that he was hospitalised for three days after the corpse of his wife was found in the freezer.

"I was shocked and shaken to my bone marrow," he said.

During cross-examination by counsel to the three accused, Mr Paul Esewomo, Abdullahi debunked any rumours that he and his wife were separated.

Abdullahi also told the court that he loved his wife "100 per cent".

Justice Baba-Yusuf adjourned further hearing in the suit to Thursday and Friday, March 8 and 9.


Related stories: Two Kids Found Dead in Mother's Freezer

Employee kills boss and hides body in family freezer

Wife beats husband to death

Tears flowed freely Friday from a 13-year-old boy Steven Imagbe, as he watched with disbelief his mother allegedly beat his father to death during a heated argument over payment of school fees.

The argument, according to report, was prompted by the refusal of the victim to play the traditional role of a father when he turned down request by his wife, Mrs. Stella Imagbe to pay the two terms school fees of their only child.

The victim, Andrew Imagbe, a casual worker with a wood treatment factory Sapele, Sapele Local Government Area had bluntly told his wife that he had no money for the school fees of his child following a pending case of an allegation of infidelity against her when the woman allegedly threw the first punch.

Mr. Andrew Imagbe who was said to be having a meal of Eba and Okro soup stood up and was advancing towards the woman obviously to teach her a lesson of her life when the woman allegedly hit the man on his head with a broken wooden door.

Weekend Champion gathered that the victim who reportedly slumped, and died instantly before medical attention could be provided for him.

The woman Mrs. Stella Imagbe, a petty trader and a politician attempted to escape when she observed that her husband was bleeding through the nostrils and mouth but was over-powered by neighbours who were attracted to the scene by the alarm raised by the child.

Already, the suspect has been handed over to the Delta State Police Command for prosecution.

The home of the couple at Okpe road, Sapele was completely deserted yesterday when our correspondent visited.

Delta State Police Public Relations Officer Assistant Superitendent of Police, ASP Charles Muka said investigation on the incident had commenced.

Daily Champion

Related story: 69-year old man beats wife to death over rent money 

Friday, February 24, 2012

419 scammers scammed by Australian woman

Sarah Jane Cochrane-Ramsey, 23, was employed by the Nigerians as an "agent" in March 2010 but was unaware they were scam artists, the Brisbane District Court heard today.

Her job was to provide an Australian bank account through which they could funnel any payments they received through their dodgy account on a popular car sales website.

Cochrane-Ramsey was to keep eight per cent of all money paid into her account and forward the rest to the Nigerian scammers.

However, the court heard she kept the two payments she received - totalling $33,350 - and spent most of it on herself.

The car buyers who were ripped off reported the matter to police, who traced the account to Cochrane-Ramsey.

Police inquiries found her employers were based in Nigeria but had been using a web server in New York to run their dodgy car sales listings.

Cochrane-Ramsey pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated fraud on Thursday.

Judge Terry Martin described her as having a "dishonest bent" after hearing she had a history of stealing and property offences.

He adjourned the sentence to allow her time to provide further details of money she claimed was in a bank account that would allow her to make some repayments.

Cochrane-Ramsey will be sentenced next month.

She was allowed bail until then.


Related stories: 10 indicted in $1.5M Nigerian 419 e-mail scam

Video - Hacker attempts to help woman recover money from 419 scammers

Militant group set school ablaze in Maiduguri, Nigeria

Unknown gunmen on Wednesday night set ablaze some classrooms and a store at Budun Primary School in the outskirt of Maiduguri metropolis.

Residents said there was a similar incident at Kulagumna Primary School along Ali Kotoko area of the metropolis on Tuesday.

No group has claimed responsibility of the attacks and this is the first time that a school was set ablaze by some people.

Resident Dahiru Musa ruled out the possibility of electrical fault at Budun Primary School. "There was no electricity in the school and no one sleeps in any of the classes," he said.

Musa said four classrooms and a store were set ablaze at the school shortly after Isha'I (night) prayer and the raging flames lasted for over three hours. "The fire burnt everything in the affected classes," he said.

Daily Trust

Related story: Video - Boko Haram attacks keeping Christians in hiding

KBR former CEO sentenced to 30 years in prison for bribing Nigerian officials

The former head of US construction company KBR was sentenced to 30 months in prison over the bribing of Nigerian officials to win contracts, the US Justice Department said Thursday.

Albert Stanley, the former chief executive officer of the engineering giant, also must pay his former company $10.8 million in restitution under the judgment handed down in a Houston federal court.

Stanley, 69, pleaded guilty to violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud.

KBR and its parent company, Halliburton, have also agreed to pay a $579 million fine after pleading guilty to corruption charges in Nigeria.

Stanley was accused of participating in a bribery scheme between 1995 and 2004 to obtain construction contracts worth more than $6 billion, according to a US Justice Department statement.

KBR was part of joint venture TSKJ — which also included French firm Technip SA, Dutch and Italian firm Snamprogetti Netherlands BV and Japanese firm JGC Corporation — to build a liquefied natural gas facility on Bonny Island in the Niger Delta.

The joint venture allegedly paid $183 million in bribes to a variety of Nigerian government officials, according to the Justice Department.

Stanley, who was fired by Halliburton in 2004, cooperated in the investigation in exchange for a lighter sentence.

The case sparked criminal investigations in France, Switzerland, Nigeria and Britain.

Two British men, attorney Jeffrey Tesler and businessman Wojciech Chodan, also were sentenced on criminal charges by a Houston judge. Tesler is getting 21 months in prison while Chodan is sentenced to one year of probation.

Last month, Japanese trading house Marubeni, which the TSKJ joint venture hired to help get the engineering contracts, agreed to pay a $54.6 million fine in the United States, the Justice Department said.

In 2010, Technip and Snamprogetti each agreed to pay $240 million fines while JGC settled for a nearly $219 million fine.


Related stories: Nigeria to charge Dick Cheney in $180 million bribery case, issue Interpol arrest warrant 

EFCC drops charges against Dick Cheney

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chevron's disastrous gas well fire in Nigeria may burn for months


A gas-fuelled fire, with flames as high as 5m, may burn for months in waters off the Niger Delta in south-east Nigeria.

Two workers died after January's explosion at the KS Endeavour exploration rig, owned by the US firm.

Friends of the Earth says this is the world's worst such accident in recent years.

Chevron spokesman Lloyd Avram says, despite the fire, the situation is now under control and no oil is leaking.

Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa.

A fire is burning in a 40m-wide area on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, 10km off the Nigerian coast.

The company is trying to put out the fire by piercing a hole in the original gas well - through which cement will be poured.

"There'll be 10,000ft of drilling and interestingly we need to hit an area that is approximately 12sq inches," Mr Avram told the BBC.

"It is going to take some time, but I cannot predict how long that is going to be - conceivably months," he said.

Scientists are conducting tests to find out if local food and water has been contaminated by the gas in the ocean - after local people raised concerns.

Almost 100 people have left towns close to the fire and local chiefs are asking Chevron to relocate more.

A major build-up of gas pressure from drilling caused the explosion that set the rig on fire in the middle of January, according to the Nigeria's state run oil company.


Related stories: Video - Chevron oil drilling disaster in Nigeria enters fourth week 

Video - The Tragedy of oil spills in the Niger Delta of Nigeria

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Disaster if Chelsea fail to make it into top 4 - John Obi Mikel

Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel has admitted that it would be a "disaster" if the Blues fail to attain a top four spot come the end of the season. The west London side currently lie fifth in the Premier League, 17 points behind leaders Manchester City, and face a difficult task away from their domestic worries in the Champions League.

Their status in next year's tournament is being threatened by their poor domestic performances and the Blues have won just once in their last five games.

But the Nigeria international insists the Blues must finish in the top four to ease the pressure on the club and, from there, they can look to establish a fresh title bid next season. Mikel told The Sun: "We must finish in the top four, anything less than that is a disaster. That will ease the pressure off us to look forward to a better season where we can think of winning the title."


Related stories:  John Obi Mikel frustrated at Chelsea

Video - John Mikel Obi's family speak about kidnapping

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Boko Haram attack leaves 30 dead in Kano market

Security forces patrolled an extensive market in Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri on Tuesday where an assault by suspected Islamists killed some 30 people, vendors and residents said.

Gunmen believed to be members of the Islamist sect Boko Haram on Monday afternoon stormed the fish section of Baga market and sprayed stallholders and vendors with bullets, traders said.

The market opened on Tuesday but security forces shut all entry gates except one directly overlooking a police station.

"Most traders in this section of the market have not opened largely out of mourning for their colleagues killed in the attacks of yesterday. We have lost many colleagues," Bunu Ahmad said on the phone.

Witnesses and medics said some 30 people died when the gunmen opened fire and set off bombs inside the market, in what appeared to be a retaliatory attack for the arrest of a suspected Islamist inside the market last week.

The military denied there were any civilian victims, saying it shot eight of the attackers.

Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Mohammed, spokesman of a special military unit in the city said the military "immediately came to the rescue of the situation and safely detonated three bombs planted by members of the sect and shot and killed eight members of the sect."

Some funerals of civilian victims of the attack took place on Tuesday.

One fish vendor who asked not to be named said he lost two brothers in the attack. He said there was an explosion but he and his brothers chose not to run away at that stage.

"A few minutes after, one of my brothers shouted 'Oh! they have killed me', then another one similarly shouted, 'they have also shot me'. That was when I fled," he said shortly after burying the brothers aged 29 and 31.

"More than 25 people were killed," he said.

Due to the emergency rule imposed on Maiduguri on December 31, only the military responds to any emergency situations in the city, but a relief agency source said from accounts given by witnesses "the death toll from the attack is around 30."

A nurse at Maiduguri hospital on Monday told AFP "the number of dead could not be less than 30," adding it was difficult to establish a precise death toll as security forces did not take the bodies to the morgue but allowed relatives to claim their loved ones for immediate burial.

Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and the home base of Boko Haram, has seen some of the worst violence blamed on the extremist sect, which has focused its attacks on the mainly Muslim north.

The insurgency blamed on Boko Haram has killed more than 200 people already this year, including at least 185 in coordinated gun and bomb attacks in Nigeria's second city of Kano on January 20, its deadliest ever strike.

The shadowy sect has said it wants to create a Islamic state across Nigeria's deeply-impoverished mainly Muslim north and some analysts believe the Islamists are tied to like-minded extremist groups such as Al-Qaeda.

Other analysts insist the sect is pursuing a narrowly domestic agenda.


Related stories: Video - Bomb blast near Church in Suleja 

Video - Anti-bomb squad member gets blown up by Boko Haram IED 

Power generation in Nigeria has increased by 40 percent

The Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, says the nation’s current power generation is 4, 400 megawatts, representing more than 40 per cent of the expectation in 2012.

Nnaji disclosed this on Monday at the opening ceremony of a gymnasium built for workers at Egbin Power Station in Lagos.

He said that the power generation had increased by more than 40 per cent since President Goodluck Jonathan was elected in May, 2011.

“So, this is a tremendous achievement for the president and the government to have improved power supply that way.

“That is why you see people all over the country saying there is availability of power and that they are receiving power now better than before,’’ he said.

Nnaji said that Nigerians should not bother about the amount of power generated, stressing that there were many things to show for it.

He said that discussions were going on between government and electricity workers union in respect of their severance packages and salary increase.

It will be recalled that the minister, had on Feb.17,  said that the nation could achieve 9,000 megawatts by December.

Nnaji had also said that the country was losing 1,500 megawatts of electricity due to gas shortage (NAN).


Related stories: President Goodluck Jonathan promises steady power before May 2015 

Power generation drops to 3,200MW 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Video - Bomb blast near Church in Suleja

Five people were injured in a bomb blast near a church in the Nigerian town of Suleja. 

Soldiers cordoned off the area maintaining a high profile presence on the streets.

Officials say the region has been infiltrated by militants from the Boko Haram Islamist
sect which is waging an insurgency against the Nigerian government.

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

Video - Boko Haram attacks keeping Christians in hiding

Friday, February 17, 2012

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab "Underwear Bomber" sentenced to life in prison

A Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is being prosecuted by a United States federal court for trying to blow a Detriot-bound airline on December 25, 2009, has been sentenced to life imprisonment

Delivering his judgement yesterday over the matter, Judge Nancy Edmunds held that the convict, who pleaded 'guilty' in October last year to about eight -count charge, deserved to be put behind bars for the rest of his life for terrorism.

Judge Edmunds added that the courtroom had "heard some moving testimony" yesterday but noted that Abdulmutallab did not show remorse for his actions. "This was an act of terrorism that cannot be quibbled with," Edmunds said.

According to Edmunds, the court will have no ability to control Abdulmutallab from further acting on his intentions.

"I believe he poses a significant ongoing threat to safety of American citizens everywhere. There is no rationale, no excuse for blowing up a plane and trying to kill hundreds of innocent people," the US Prosecutor Cathleen Corken argued on Thursday.

During the sentence hearing in the court, passengers aboard the Christmas Day 2009 flight confronted AbdulMutallab who entered the courtroom wearing khaki clam diggers, white socks, slip-on shoes, a white skull cap and handcuffs, telling him he had failed as a terrorist.

Though the convict ignored the dramatic statements from fellow passengers aboard the flight, one of them named, Shama Choper from Montreal shouted and said: "I'm standing here today to see goodness win over evil,"

When contacted, the Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Prof. Ade Adefuye declined comments, saying he would not want to comment on the sentencing without the directives from the appropriate quarters.


Related stories: Umar Farouk 'Underpants Bomber' Abdulmutallab pleads guilty 

Defiant Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab calls U.S. a cancer

Video - Trial of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Militant group storm prison in Kogi and free 118 inmates

Attackers have stormed a federal prison in Nigeria with heavy gunfire and explosives, killing one guard and freeing at least 118 inmates in a new assault, according to an official.

The details of the prison attack in Koton-Karifi, a town in Kogi state, just south of Nigeria's central capital Abuja, were announced on Thursday.

According to Kayode Odeyemi, the Nigeria Prisons Service spokesman, the men attacked just after 7pm local time on Wednesday, fighting through the prison gate and killing one guard in the process.

Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege, reporting from Abuja, spoke to witnesses who described the attackers as heavily armed and riding motorbikes.

"Witnesses said the group basically bombed its way into the prison, creating a scene of complete carnage. In the ensuing chaos, between 100 and 200 prisoners escaped," Ndege said.

Hadijha Aminu, a local prison official, said guards still had not completed a head count and did not know how many prisoners actually were inside the prison at the time of the attack.

Investigation launched

The government said an investigation into the attack had begun.

"One does not really know why'' the men attacked, Odeyemi said. "It might be that some of the armed robbers are trying to free the armed robbers there awaiting trial.''

Odeyemi said he did not know if the prison held any members of the radical Islamist group known as Boko Haram, which has been plaguing the country with violence over the last year.

But Al Jazeera's Ndege said: "The belief is that they were trying to free Boko Haram suspects; there were about 20 Boko Haram suspects awaiting trial inside the prison."  

Boko Haram launched a similar massive prison break in Bauchi state in September 2010 that freed about 700 inmates there.

The style of the attack on Wednesday, which apparently used explosives and heavy gunfire, matched that
previous assault by Boko Haram.

Members of the group have been blamed for killing at least 286 people this year alone, according to an Associated Press news agency count.

Violent campaign

Boko Haram's violence comes as part of a campaign which its leader, Abubakar Shekau, says is aimed at avenging Muslim deaths, freeing imprisoned members and pushing for strict Islamic law across multi-ethnic Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the prison attack, and authorities no suspects were immediately in mind.

If Boko Haram carried out Wednesday night's attack, it would be the farthest strike south the group has made. Nigeria is largely split between a Christian south and a Muslim north.

Most of Boko Haram's previous attacks have taken place largely in the north.

Nigeria's prisons remain overcrowded and understaffed, with the majority of those imprisoned awaiting trials for years that likely will never come.

A 2007 study by Amnesty International, the UK-based rights organisation, called the system "appalling", with children remaining locked up with their parents and guards routinely bribed by inmates.

Despite pledges by the government to reform the system, it remains largely the same today.

Our correspondent said Thursday's prison attack will be another public relations setback for the government.

"Nigeria's security services are under tremendous pressure to control Boko Harem and this prison break will be a huge embarrassment," Ndege said.


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

Video - Nigeria's fight against Boko Haram 

Video - Anti-bomb squad member gets blown up by Boko Haram IED

Anti-bomb squad member Sergeant Sunday Badan died in the line of duty as he was trying to disarm an improvised explosive device at unguwar Sarki Kaduna.

Related stories: Video - Boko Haram attacks keeping Christians in hiding

Death toll in Boko Haram Kano attack rises to 215 

United Nations says Boko Haram must not divide Nigeria

Video - Boko Haram leader declares war on Christians

Super Eagles drop rank in FIFA rankings


Nigeria has continued to drop in position in the world football ranking. In a February ranking by FIFA, Nigeria dropped from 45th which it was in January to 56th position, even as current African champions, Zambia climbed to 43rd position.

However, despite losing on penalties in the African Cup of Nations final, Côte d'Ivoire moved up to 15th remaining Africa's highest-positioned team.

Aside from the two finalists, third-placed Mali now 44th, as well as host nations Gabon 45th, and Equatorial Guinea 110th have made considerable ground.

The results of 51 international matches have been taken into account in compiling the current edition of the FIFA/Coca-Cola Ranking, of which 32 took place as part of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and 19 were friendlies.

The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be issued on 7 March 2012, one week earlier than originally planned.


Related stories: Medical practitioner advises Nigerians to take their mind off National football 

Super Eagles drop two places in FIFA Rankings


Federal Government to give power sector N60 billion subsidy

As the new electricity tariff comes on stream April 1, this year, the federal government says that it has budgeted the sum of N60 billion to subsidise the effect on the rural urban poor this year.

Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji, disclosed this yesterday in Abuja.

Only recently, the federal government announced that from April 1, this yearthe tariff on electricity will be increased by 88 per cent. It is expected that this new rate would be announced before the privatisation of the 18 power generating, distribution and transmission companies this year.

Confirming the development, the minister said:"This year the sum of N60 billion will be made available to ensure that the urban and rural poor do not feel the tariff."

The minister however, said that Nigeria was ranked second to the last in the countries that pay electricity tariffs in Africa.

"What we want is for Nigeria to be in the middle, tariff-wise. The tariff is for the middle class. The urban poor will not be affected. Even when the subsidy is finally removed, there will be some cushioning for the poor," the minister explained.

The subsidy, he said, would be classified -residential and commercial, for easy reference, just as they would attract different rates. The classifications for the residential tariffs are R1, R2 and R3, while that of commercial are C1, C2 and C3.

To ensure that all users of power benefit from the tariff subsidy, Nnaji, said that government planned phasing out the practice of estimated billing by electricity users. This would ensure that they have meters.

The minister said that presently, power generation stood at 4,400 megawatts, adding that an additional 1,000 megawatts would be added by the end of the year when four power plants would be commissioned.

He said that the improvement in the megawatts being generated became possible due to the refocusing of dormant capacities which ensured that power supply was no longer epileptic.


Related stories: Canada to invest in Nigeria's power sector

President Goodluck Jonathan promises steady power before May 2015

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton says Nigeria can overcome security and economic challenges

Struggling against apparent security and economic challenges that have caught the attention of the world, Nigeria and her leaders received words of encouragement and hope from former American President Bill Clinton who spoke in Lagos Monday at the 17th Annual THISDAY Awards for Excellence.

Clinton said it takes a long time to grow democracy. According to him, what deepens democratic ethos is the recognition that people belong to different factions. He argued for respect for the majority, as well as minority and individual right.

As he parted the country Monday night with more words of encouragement, Clinton said Nigeria is not alone in its challenges. “Even if you have economic successes, you will still fight for political freedom,” he said.

Pinpointing his source of concern for Nigeria, Clinton said, “I’m really worried about your security problems. I hope the president and the appropriate ministers can figure it out.

“But from my experience as a public servant, I know that it is almost impossible to cure a problem based on violence without giving people something to say yes to.”

In a veiled reference to the Boko Haram menace, he warned that the rampant poverty that is plaguing the country is felt most acutely in the Muslim north and is fuelling the religious violence now tearing at the nation.

“You can’t just have this level of inequality persist. That’s what’s fuelling all this stuff,” said Clinton.

“It is almost impossible to cure a problem based on violence with violence,” Clinton said. “You also have to give people something to look forward to when they get up in the morning.”

However, Clinton acknowledged Nigeria cannot rule out using military or police force when dealing with the instability.

Making references to startling discoveries recorded by scientists working with the Clinton Foundation, the former U.S. president said genetically what the entire world has and needs in common are important.

He ended his submissions by insisting that Africa and the world needs Nigeria, stressing the fact that Nigeria contributes the fourth largest contingent of soldiers to UN peacekeeping operations around the world.

The former U.S. president, who had to be excused to proceed on his journey to Colombia Monday night, was persuaded to carry out the very important function of handing over the pristine trophies to the honourees, beginning with the Lifetime Achievement Awards.

There were 25 of them in this category adjudged by THISDAY’s Board of Editors as having made gigantic contributions to the progress and development of Nigeria.

Only two women, Mrs. Priscilla Kuye, a legal practitioner and Mrs. Aduke Alakija, a former ambassador, were recognised in this category.

In handing out the awards, Clinton was assisted by Mrs. Cherie Blair, wife of the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair.

However, the 17th THISDAY Awards held at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos, was more a celebration of 45 Nigerian women of distinction.

Each of them, according to Mr. Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman/Editor-in-Chief of Leaders and Company Ltd., publisher of THISDAY Newspaper, who moderated the event, said the honourees broke barriers, touched lives, and made a difference in a world dominated by men.

As the women were called to the podium to receive their awards, Obaigbena justified the recognition accorded them, while congratulating them for shattering the glass ceiling.

Responding to a question by the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former President Clinton said it was becoming old-fashioned for anyone, whether as a husband or in any other capacity, to believe that he can only have the advantage by keeping the other person down.

Clinton added that one of the ways to maintain the presidential system of government and make it less expensive is to have a shorter political campaign period, discouraging big campaign financiers and encouraging smaller contributors.

This Day

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Boko Haram threaten attack on telecom firms

A purported spokesman for Nigeria's Boko Haram Islamists late Monday threatened the group would soon launch attacks on mobile telephone firms for their alleged complicity with security agents.

In a phone conference with reporters in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, a man who claimed to be Boko Haram spokesman Abul Qaqa said the sect would "soon launch attacks" on mobile phone operators and state-run regulator Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

He accused them of complicity with security agents in bugging the phones of sect members to track them.

"We have realised that the mobile phone operators and the NCC have been assisting security agencies in tracking and arresting our members by bugging their lines and and enabling the security agents to locate the position of our members," he said.

Boko Haram has previously used similar conferences with journalists in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, the group's base, to make public statements.

"It was with the connivance with the mobile phone companies operating in Nigeria and the NCC that the security agents were able to locate Abu Dardaa and Kabiru Sokoto and arrest them," Qaqa said in the local Hausa language.

Nigeria has five major mobile phone operators with a total subscriber base of around 90 million.

South Africa-based MTN is the largest mobile operator in Nigeria. Other operators include the United Arab Emirates' Etisalat and Indian-owned Airtel.

Early this month, security sources said they had arrested Abul Qaqa, but the Islamists rejected that claim, saying another senior Boko Haram member, Abu Dardaa, was the one in custody.

On Friday, Nigerian security agents re-arrested Kabiru Sokoto, a prominent sect member in a village in eastern Taraba state, four weeks after his escape from police custody in suspicious circumstances.

Sokoto is believed to be the mastermind of the Christmas day bombing of a church near Nigeria's capital Abuja that killed at least 44 people.

Boko Haram's deadliest attack yet occurred on January 20, when coordinated bombings and shootings killed at least 185 people in Nigeria's second-largest city of Kano.

The group also claimed responsibility for the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja that left at least 25 people dead.

It has in the past claimed to be fighting for an Islamic state in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, but its demands have repeatedly shifted.


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

Boko Haram threatens to kill Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka

Rainstorm kills 15 in Lagos

AN early morning rainstorm, which began at about 7.10 am, yesterday, wreaked havoc in several parts of Lagos, killing 15 persons, destroying many houses, cars, electric poles and uprooting many trees.

Among the dead were 10 children, who drowned at Shibiri Ekunpa area of Ojo when a passenger ferry conveying them to school capsized due to a gust of wind that assailed it. Also, two students of Goodness Comprehensive High School in the area were killed when the storm destroyed their school building.

A teacher at St Gregory College, Obalende was reportedly killed by a mast that collapsed on him while four others were injured. Also, around Radio Nigeria, Ikoyi office, several trees were uprooted by the storm, which caused severe damage to some cars parked in the area.

At Jakande Estate, Oke-Afa in Isolo Local Council, two persons were killed by a tree felled by the rainstorm.

At Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, LCDA, over 100 buildings including Jakande Low Cost Housing Estate Primary School, Oke Afa Junior and Senior Colleges and the Area office of Ejigbo LCDA in Jakande Estate had their roofs blown away by the rainstorm, which lasted for about 15 minutes.

The Third Mainland Bridge was also blocked for most of the morning as street light poles felled by the storm lay on the road, obstructing free flow of traffic. It took the intervention of men of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, to prevent motorists from running into the poles.

At press time, a combined team of the police and LASTMA operatives was seen making efforts to clear the bridge of the debris caused by the storm to make way for free traffic flow.

Reminiscence of the July 10, 2011 rainfall that killed scores of people and destroyed property worth millions of Naira, other local government areas equally hit by yesterday's downpour include Ejigbo, Onipanu, Obalende and Lekki.

The Lagos State Office of Public Defender (OPD) in Surulere billed to be inaugurated by Governor Babatunde Fashola today was not spared by the rainstorm as a section of its roof was ripped open.

Also some Mega BRT bus stops on the ever busy road were destroyed while three Multi-media bill boards pulled down by the storm lay on the road. The situation led to traffic gridlock as traffic officials worked frantically to ease traffic.

Wind travelled at 120 km/hr

The winds from the storm reached about 74 miles (120 kilometers) an hour, the threshold for hurricane wind speeds, said Mary Iso, the Meteorological Manager of Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. Further inland, winds reached up to 40 miles (about 65 kilometers) an hour, she said. About two-thirds of an inch (about 1.7 centimeters) of water fell during the storm, which lasted about 15 minutes, Iso said.

The Nigerian Meteorological Agency had previously issued warnings about the possibility of a storm coming through as the seasons begin to change in the nation, Iso said. Nigeria remains gripped by Harmattan winds, which carry sand from the Sahara Desert over Africa's most populous nation. The country's rainy season typically begins in several weeks. "Within a transitional period like this, we normally have erratic weather," Iso said.

The cause of the rain

Another metorologist, Mr. Abayomi Oyegoke, with Nigeria Meterorogical Agency (NIMET), Oshodi, said the rain was not unusual in terms of scale and attributed the destruction to the wind. "The rain was not massive. When measured, it was 18.6 mm. It is not a massive rainfall. It is the wind that caused the destruction."

He said the rain came as a result of a micro scale system that developed over the Delta area, grew and propagated into the West towards Lagos. "In the process of that movement, another cold system developed around the inland of the South West. Because of the one coming from the Delta area, it invigorates and merges and became a massive system. This massive system now caused a downdraft. The downdraft was associated with the strong velocity of wind that led to the maximum wind gust that caused the destruction we witnessed today."

Lagos opens relief camp

As of press time, the identity and total number of the victims were still being sought by the state government officials saddled with rescue operations.

The General Manager of Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Mr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, who confirmed the incident said the state government was on top of the situation as rescue operation was ongoing.

He added that in the interim, the state government has declared open the Agbowa Relief Camp, in Ikorodu suburb for all willing Internally Displaced People, IDP, for accommodation as part of measures to mitigate their loss pending permanent solution to their plight.

Osanyintolu, added that the state government was working out a form of compensation for all the enumerated victims of the latest disaster.

He explained: "As soon as we got the information in the early hours of the day, my men (LASEMA) rushed to the scene to save the situation from getting out of hands. Our early arrival saved the situation from recording higher casualties.

"My men are also on ground at the other locations across the state where the ugly incident also occurred. It is quite unfortunate that Lagosians have to pass through this kind of natural disaster again after the July 10th, 2011 tragedy as a result of heavy rainfall.

"I therefore, wish to assure Lagosians that government has put everything in place to ensure prompt response to any disaster in the state."

According to him, yet to be identified corpses had been deposited at the mortuary.

The Shibiri mishap

Unaware of what lay ahead of them, 14 school children had boarded the ferry which took them to school as usual. But tragedy struck at about 8 a.m when the ferry, which could not withstand the gust of wind capsized. The rescue team that raced to the scene was able to recover 10 dead bodies while four were brought out alive and they are currently receiving intensive medication in various hospitals.

Disaster at Oke Afa

About 200 families were rendered homeless as their roof tops and ceilings were completely pulled off by the wind which blew for close to an hour in some areas. Several buildings were partly damaged with some fences collapsed. Some vehicles' windscreens were shattered by hard objects which fell on them.

Residents of the area were greeted by a dark cloud which enveloped the atmosphere, followed by the raging wind which blew off their roofs, a situation that caused panic, as some of the residents rushed out of their apartments, for fear of collapse of their buildings.

Commercial motorcyclists were not left out, as some of them took cover under a tree at Oja Bus-stop. But the unexpected happened as a roof which pulled off landed on one of them. He was rushed to the hospital in an unconscious state. Some students who were also running to safety were reportedly hit by a tree, which fell around the Low Cost Housing Estate public school, killing one of them in the process.

Chairman of the Ejigbo Local Council Development Area, Mr Kehinde Bamigbetan, who visited the estate to assess the level of damage, said that work on the affected buildings would begin before the day ran out.

Said Bamigbetan: "We are here to assess the damage and respond to the damage by restoring as much as we can within the shortest time. Our carpenters are already on ground and we are going to assess the situation, based on which we will look at the cost and try to respond to it".

A total of 100 blocks, he said were affected.

Adding that work would first begin on buildings which had their roofs completely pulled off. But for those whose roofs were partially affected, vanguard gathered that they were asked to fix them themselves but would be compensated by the state government.

Most of the affected occupants appreciated what they described as the state government's quick response but expressed doubt on whether those partially affected would get compensated at the end of the day.

A register for those affected was opened at the Landlord Association Civic Centre at about 1 pm and over 100 persons had registered as of press time.

Bamigbetan, however, advised the victims to evacuate their properties to a safe place in the interim.

As part of arrangement to assist victims, the chairman has directed the victims to register their complaints at a special centre opened by the LCDA within the estate with photographic evidence of their claims

Also, Hon Omowunmi Olatunji Edet, member Lagos State House of Assembly, Representing Oshodi-Isolo Constituency II joined the council boss at the meeting and also expressed her sympathy assuring the victims of the state government's support even as she commended the swift response of Bamigbetan to the situation.

Some residents in Onipanu, Palmgrove, Fadeyi and other communities along Ikorodu, whose buildings were affected were seen salvaging some of their properties while others lamented the damage done to their belongings by the rainstorm.

The beautification projects of the Lagos State Government were affected at the Iganmu garden as some of the storm uprooted some newly planted trees.

Mrs Risikat Adeyanju, a resident of Okokomaiko in Ojo Local Government Area of the state also said no fewer than nine houses in the area were damaged by the rainstorm.


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Monday, February 13, 2012

Nigeria's Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi turns 50


Head Coach of Nigeria's senior football team, Stephen Keshi marked his Golden jubilee with the team on Thursday night.

He actually hit his 50th birthday in late January but the former international said he felt duty bound to celebrate it with the team because of the joy they have brought him.

The mini-party took place at the Eagles' camp, Bolton White Apartment in Wuse Zone 7 of the nation's capital.

"My wife and children had expected that we will mark my golden jubilee together but national duty calls and here I am. I could not also mark it on the day it fell on because the team was not in camp and I was also away from the country. So this is an opportunity to say a big thank you to God and to the Super Eagles for attaining the golden age", he said.

Demands victory

Keshi demands victories against Liberia and Rwanda as a birthday gift from the National team.

"This is the national team of Nigeria and I'm honoured to be the Head Coach, the best birthday gift I demand from you is to always win the matches we have ahead of us and I can assure you money will surely come."

He added that; " There are millionaires and billionaires out there expecting victory from you, so that they can bless you with their money. Lets make Nigerians happy again by winning all our games and get blessed".

Daily Trust

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The cost of electricity in Nigeria goes up 88 percent

The federal government has completed plans to almost double the cost of electricity from April 1, 2012.

A kilowatt hour of electricity, which costs consumers N10 currently, will soon cost about N19, an increase of 88 per cent.

According to a report by the Financial Times yesterday, the new rates would be announced before the privatisation of the 18 power generation, distribution and transmission companies this year.

The newspaper quoted the federal government as saying that higher "cost-reflective tariffs" for residential and commercial electricity customers were necessary to ensure that investors could make profits.

Under the new pricing regime, tariffs will rise 25 to 88 per cent, though most customer classes will see a 50 per cent increase in their bills. The government hopes that cushioning the blow on the poorest consumers - a policy absent during the fuel subsidy removal - will ensure that there is no repeat of the public outcry.

"We are making sure that the urban poor and rural dwellers be provided a subsidy so that they don't see a significant increase in tariff," Bart Nnaji, the minister of power, told the Financial Times in an interview in Abuja. "The rest should be able to pay for it."

The chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Dr. Sam Amadi, confirmed the report in an interview with LEADERSHIP yesterday.

Amadi said, however, that not all customers would have their tariff increased by 88 per cent.

According to the NERC chairman, customers are classified based on energy consumption, the type of metering and cost of service.

He said: "When people upgrade and consume more power, their consumption level will spike and the distribution company will automatically migrate the customer to a higher customer class, and they will pay more."

Despite having large reserves of natural gas that can fire thermal plants, the country's electricity supply and service is among the world's worst, with half of the 160m population lacking access to the grid. Peak output is little over 4,000MW, with per capita consumption just 3 per cent of that of South Africa, Nigeria's rival for the continent's biggest economy.

Frequent blackouts mean that most of Nigeria's power comes from privately owned petrol and diesel generators, greatly increasing business costs and deterring potential investors. It is hoped that privatisation will greatly improve service and output, with the government targeting 18,000MW output by 2016.

The new tariff was calculated to reflect the real cost of supplying electricity, with a return of investment factored in, according to the NERC. This comes to about N23 per kWh, which Nnaji said was near the average price in Africa and less than half the cost of self-generated power in Nigeria.

The biggest consumers of electricity, wealthy individuals and businesses, will pay the highest rates, cross-subsidising the less well-off. The government will also provide a N60 billion subsidy this year, allowing the tariff for the poorest customers to be fixed at N3.3.


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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Nigerians seek refuge in Cameroon due to Boko Haram violence

Nigerians have fled in droves to neighbouring Cameroon to escape violence claimed by the Islamist Boko Haram group and revenge attacks by Christians.

“Everybody is insecure in Nigeria. The fear is all-pervading,” said a Christian priest, speaking on condition of anonymity, in Fotokol, a Cameroonian border town where dozens have taken shelter in the last few weeks.

It is located about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, the bastion of the shadowy Boko Haram sect which has been blamed for a slew of terror attacks that have sowed panic in Africa’s most populous nation.

Boko Haram has claimed to be fighting for an Islamic state in the north, but its demands have varied.

“Many Nigerians like myself have fled their villages in the south. We feel secure in Cameroon,” the priest said in Fotokol.

“That is why I am sheltered here,” he added.

He has rented a house which is about 10 minutes by motorcycle to the nearest town in Nigeria, Gamboru Ngala, where he heads the local Catholic church.

It is difficult to gauge the exact number of Nigerians who have fled to Cameroon as they cross the border illegally, but there are easily dozens sheltered here since the attacks and tit-for-tat ripostes by Christians.

Mahamat Tujani, a Muslim trader from Maiduguri, fled to Kousseri near Fotokol.

“I abandoned my business and my family to seek refuge at the home of my cousin,” a Cameroonian, he said. “I escaped out of fear.”

He hoped to return home soon, he said, “but if the killings continue, I will bring over my family members here.”

Boko Haram has been blamed for scores of bomb attacks in Nigeria’s Muslim-dominated north. It claimed responsibility for January 20 coordinated bombings and shootings in Nigeria’s second-largest city of Kano that left at least 185 people dead — Boko Haram’s deadliest attack yet.

The August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in the capital Abuja which killed at least 25 people was also attributed to the group.

“When you scent danger, you must escape,” the priest said.

“Even in the Gospel, the Lord says the moment you sense danger, you must escape. If you don’t it’s suicide,” he said.

The priest said two Christians from the mainly Christian Igbo ethnic group were killed in Mobi in Adamawa state about three weeks ago.

“When the other Igbos went to reclaim their bodies the Boko Haram struck and killed 29 others,” he said.

Sectarian violence has been rising since elections in July last year. He urged both Christians and Muslims to “return to God.”

The priest said Muslims were also targeted by Boko Haram. Between January 28 and 30, three people — including a Muslim — were killed in Gamboru Ngala, Nigerian and Cameroonian police and medical sources said.

The priest was following an Africa Cup of Nations match on television at a bar, along with six other compatriots. In another room, eight other Nigerians sat, drinking.


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Four Nigerian banks make it in top 500 banks of the world ranking

Four Nigerian banks - First Bank of Nigeria Plc, GTBank Plc, Zenith Bank and the United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA), had been ranked among the top 500 'World Bank Brands' in the February edition of The Banker magazine of the Financial Times Group, London, United Kingdom.

A statement made available to THISDAY, said First Bank was ranked as the number one bank brand in Nigeria and followed by other commercial banks mentioned earlier in that order.

According to the statement, apart from the four, no other Nigerian bank made the ranking.

The ranking was done by Brand Finance Plc - a brand valuation consultancy with support for business needs in different areas including technical valuations for accounting, tax and legal purposes.

According to the report, First Bank had the highest brand value in the country, at $170 million and was closely followed by GTBank with $169 million.

It also said that Zenith Bank had a brand value of $147 million while the UBA had brand value of $121 million.

It explained: "The banks' brands also do Nigeria proud as the country is among the World's Top 50 by Total Brand Value by Country. Nigeria leads the continent outside of Southern Africa. South Africa has a total brand value of $8,207 million followed by Nigeria's $607 million with Morocco completing the Africa representation with $463 million. In the top 500 World Bank Brands 2012, South Africa has ten banks, Nigeria has four banks and Morocco has two banks.

"Total global bank brand value is $746,752 million dollars with Africa contributing $16,283 million representing 2.18 per cent of the world's total brand value."

Chief Executive Officer, Brand Finance, Mr. David Haigh, said the financial crisis "has thrown up the issue of the brands' origin" and that "the ones that have maintained their reputation can be characterized by country."

This Day

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Nuhu Ribadu appointed Head of Petroleum Task Force

Former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Mallam Nuhu Ribadu has been nominated to chair the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force to determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues due and payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria.

Other members of the task force are: Mr. Steve Oronsaye (Dep. Chairman), Mallam Abba Kyari, Ms. Benedicta Molokwu, Mr. Supo Sasore (SAN), Mr. Tony Idigbe (SAN), Mr. Anthony George-Ikoli (SAN), Dr. (Mrs.) Omolara Akanji, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) Mr. Ituah Ighodalo, and Mr. Bon Otti.

The rest are: Prof. Olusegun Okunnu, Mallam Samaila Zubairu, Mr. Ignatius Adegunle, Mr. Gerald Ilukwe, and representatives of the Federal Inland Revenue Service and Federal Ministry of Finance.

The committee, according to a statement from the Ministry of Petroleum, is "To work with consultants and experts to determine and verify all petroleum upstream and downstream revenues (taxes, royalties, etc.) due and payable to the Federal Government of Nigeria;

"To take all necessary steps to collect all debts due and owing; to obtain agreements and enforce payment terms by all oil industry operators;

"To design a cross debt matrix between all Agencies and Parastatals of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources;

"To develop an automated platform to enable effective tracking, monitoring, and online validation of income and debt drivers of all Parastatals and Agencies in the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources;

"To work with world-class consultants to integrate systems and technology across the production chain to determine and monitor crude oil production and exports, ensuring at all times, the integrity of payments to the Federal Government of Nigeria; and,

"To submit monthly reports for ministerial review and further action."

Daily Trust

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Video - Chevron oil drilling disaster in Nigeria enters fourth week

It used to be a Chevron natural gas rig in Nigeria. Now it is an inferno, entering its fourth week ablaze off Nigeria’s Atlantic coast, polluting nearby waters and making local people sick.

The fire began on Jan. 16, killing two workers and forcing Chevron Nigeria Limited to evacuate 152 others. In a statement on its website, the company says it does not know exactly what caused the fire, or how long it will take to extinguish it.

The Associated Press reports dead fish surfacing in surrounding waters and increasing skin and gastrointestinal problems reported among the Nigerians living in the villages on shore. At its hottest point, the fire is 1,340 degrees Fahrenheit (nearly 730 degrees Celsius), which is “hot enough to soften steel.”

The increasing illnesses are a result of warmer water temperatures causing bacteria to grow rapidly, according to Dr. Oladipo Folorunso, the only doctor treating patients in Ikebiri, a town affected by the fire.

“The community here has no other source of water apart from the river water, which on its own isn’t even safe enough to drink, but the pollution has made the water even worse,” he told the AP.

International Business Times reports that on Jan. 26, company officials said the fire could take another month to extinguish. The company says plans to build a well to put out the fire have been finalized, and it is monitoring the environmental impact.

In a statement posted on Feb. 2, Chevron said it had hired people to search the beaches to for crude oil, and found none.

“The fire is still burning at the well, but continues to diminish,” reads the statement.

The company also said it was moving food and supplies into the area — home to tens of thousands of people — but Environmental Rights Action, a Nigerian activist group says the actions are not enough. The group called for increased government intervention, saying the fire is also having a political impact in Nigeria, a country already in turmoil.

“The failure of government to compel prompt actions has started generating bad blood among the youth,” reads a report posted on the Environmental Rights Action website.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with 160 million people and the continent's largest oil exporter, is already facing several security crises, including near daily attacks from Islamist militants that have killed hundreds this year alone.

In a separate incident, President Goodluck Jonathan's government today identified seven suspects in an oil pipeline bombing over the weekend, and denied that a former rebel militia was responsible for the attack, according to Reuters.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) originally took credit for the attack on the Italian-owned pipeline, which stopped the flow of 4,000 barrels of oil daily. The group warned it was planning more attacks on foreign-owned entities in the Niger Delta. The government said criminal gangs posing as rebels were behind the attack, Reuters reports.

Global Post

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Boko Haram threatens to kill Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka

Following a threat by the Boko Haram sect that Professor Wole Soyinka would be their next target for attack, the Nobel laureate has raised the alarm, urging security agencies to take action immediately or risk possible disintegration of the country should the sect carry out its threats.

Soyinka, who disclosed this to journalists during a heart-rendering interview in Lagos, said he had reported the series of threats to the security operatives in the country, noting that the operatives had confirmed the information but have not taken action on the threat.

He said: "The reason for this programme (elimination), which I know is very much in the third phase, is that those pushing this agenda know very well that this could be the last straw that will break the camel's back.

"And they would rather this country broke up and possibly in an inferno than continue to accept the loss, even though temporary loss, of power in this country. For these people, government is the only business around."

Obviously unruffled by the threat, he noted that he was not averse to any form of dialogue and negation with the highly dreaded sect, pointing out that the sect ought to have sat at a roundtable with government and make their demands public.

The frontline freedom fighter fondly called "Kongi" by his teeming admirers said he is above any form of human destruction, adding that no violent group including the so called Boko Haram can frighten him to submission.

"I believe that one should not beg for existence. If the price of not coming to table is that you want to eliminate me, and you can do so, please do so. I am 77," he stated. "Please, come to the debating table, but you will not persuade me simply because you have the capacity to blow me and my family up. You can simply go ahead, blow us up if you think that is the way you can do your conversation. But you will not bomb me to sit with you at table."

He lamented that President Gookluck Jonathan is treating the desperation of the forces behind the masquerading Boko Haram sect with kid gloves by not considering the enormity of Islamic struggles in countries like Iraq where fundamentalist Islamic groups had unleashed mayhem on the people.

While noting that dialogue with the sect could be done without resorting to violence, he reminisced that PRONACO, which he joined during former President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration, successfully organised its conference, amended the constitution of the country and presented the document to the government without violence.


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