Monday, April 30, 2012

11 killed as suicide bomber hits police convoy in Taraba

A bomb blast struck a police chief's convoy in eastern Nigeria on Monday, killing 11 people, a witness and an official said, a day after attacks in other areas killed at least 19.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in the town of Jalingo but Islamist sect Boko Haram, which wants to carve an Islamic state out of Nigeria, has been blamed for many such previous attacks.

A string of bombings and shootings in the last five days has dampened hopes that arrests and killings of Boko Haram members by the military in recent weeks had stemmed its ability to carry out large-scale attacks in Africa's largest oil producer.

Jalingo is the capital of Taraba state, which borders Cameroon and had previously been spared the insurgency plaguing Nigeria's north.

"At least 11 people were killed and 22 people injured near police state headquarters Jalingo at 0830 (0730 GMT) when the police commissioner was on his way to office," said Ahmed Bello, a local Nigeria Red Cross official.

He said the blast happened between the state government finance office and the police headquarters.

Abubakar Moyoyo, a Jalingo businessman, told Reuters by phone he had seen 11 dead bodies at the scene.

The police commissioner, Mamman Sule, said his team were investigating whether he was the target of the attack. He confirmed three deaths and said the windscreen of his car had been shattered by the blast.

Nigerian police are often cautious over death tolls until official figures are agreed with senior officers in Abuja.

In the past year, Boko Haram has tried to extend its reach beyond its northeastern heartland, mounting attacks in and around the capital Abuja. The Jalingo strike followed two attacks on Christian worshippers in other parts of the country on Sunday that killed at least 19 people.


Related stories: Boko Haram attack church at Kano University - 20 confirmed dead 

Boko Haram claim responsibility for This Day offices bombing

Boko Haram claims responsibility for UN bombing

Video - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram? 

First Nigerian female pilot gets her wings

History was made in Abuja as Nigerian Air Force produced the first female military pilot in the sub-region, when Flying Officer Blessing Liman and 29 others joined the list of military officers at a well attended ceremony hosted by the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Dikko Umar.

The training programme that included attending several courses, both within and outside the country, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Pakistan, and Egypt. Those that were winged included 14 JET Flag Officers, 8 Transport Flying Officers, and 8 Helicopter Flying Officers.

The history making officer, Blessing Liman, an indigene of Kaduna state, was born on 13 March, 1984 in Zangon Kataf and enlisted in the Nigerian Air Force in July 2011. She was commissioned on 9th December, 2011. Her outstanding performance helped her in attaining the historical height.

The leadership of the National Council for Nigerian Society (NCNS), the Presidential Adviser to the President on Ethics and Values, Mrs. Sarah Jubril and the Minister of State for Defense, Mrs. Olusola Obada led other women in celebrating the young female flying officer.

In her speech, she disclosed her awareness of the enormous responsibility on her shoulder as a record maker, but was optimistic that God would help her to live up to the expectation of the society and the Nigeria Air Force. According to her," I am going to work, with prayers, dedication and hard work, I know I will succeed."

In his speech, the Chief of Air Staff said the occasion "symbolizes our efforts towards ensuring mission oriented force development to meet the requirements of all operational engagements. To meet our pilot-production target as enumerated in our 10-Year Strategic Plan, we embarked on various initiatives including the novel idea of enlisting qualified pilots from the civil sector."


Related stories: Nigeria gets first female fighter pilot

15 year old Nigerian teenager gets admission to Harvard

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Boko Haram attack church at Kano University - 20 confirmed dead

Attackers armed with bombs and guns opened fire at outdoor church services at a Nigerian university on Sunday, killing around 20 people as worshippers tried to flee, witnesses and officials said.

A powerful explosion and gunfire rocked Bayero University in the northern city of Kano, with witnesses reporting that two church services were targeted as they were being held outdoors on the campus.

Officials were unable to confirm casualty figures, but an AFP correspondent counted six bullet-riddled bodies near one of the two sites.

At least another dozen bodies could be seen on a roadside by the university, but the exact number was unclear.

Musical instruments and half-eaten meals could be seen at the site of one of the services.

An army spokesman confirmed the attack but could not provide a casualty toll. Lieutenant Iweha Ikedichi told AFP that it appeared the attackers used bombs and gunfire in the assault.

Witnesses said the attackers arrived in a car and two motorcycles, opening fire and throwing homemade bombs, causing a stampede. They said worshippers were gunned down as they sought to flee.

"They first attacked the open-air service outside the faculty of medicine," one witness said. "They threw in explosives and fired shots, causing a stampede among worshippers. They now pursued them, shooting them with guns. ... They also attacked another service at the sporting complex."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although the attack was similar to others carried out by the Islamist group Boko Haram.

Boko Haram claimed January 20 attacks in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, when coordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 dead in the extremists' deadliest attack yet.

On Thursday, bomb attacks at the offices of the ThisDay newspaper in the capital Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna left at least nine people dead.

The group has previously targeted churches, including on Christmas day when at least 44 people were killed in a bombing at a church outside Abuja.

A bombing on Easter Sunday in Kaduna near a church that killed at least 41 people was a stark reminder of the Christmas attacks, but Boko Haram is not known to have claimed it.

Boko Haram's increasingly bloody insurgency has claimed more than 1,000 lives since mid-2009. Police and soldiers have often been the victims of such attacks, although Christians have been targeted as well.

It also claimed responsibility for an August suicide attack at UN headquarters in Abuja which killed at least 25 people.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south.

Boko Haram initially claimed to be fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria's north, but its demands and structure have become less clear in recent months.

It is believed to have a number of factions, including those with political motives as well as a hard-core Islamist wing. Criminal groups are also believed to have carried out violence under the guise of Boko Haram.

An attempt at indirect dialogue between the group and the government in March collapsed, with a mediator quitting over leaks to the media and a spokesman for the Islamists saying they could not trust the government.

President Goodluck Jonathan, during a visit Saturday to the newspaper offices in Abuja hit by Thursday's suicide attack, did not answer directly when asked whether dialogue was necessary to stop the violence.

"You may dialogue, you may not dialogue depending on the circumstances," Jonathan told reporters, adding: "But we will exploit every means possible to bring this to an end."


Related stories: Video - Boko Haram threatens President Goodluck Jonathan on youtube

Boko Haram claim responsibility for This Day offices bombing

Boko Haram claims responsibility for UN bombing

Video - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram? 

Friday, April 27, 2012

Nigeria may start importing fuel from Niger Republic

Nigeria may soon start importing fuel from the Republic of Niger as the latter plans to evacuate its excess petroleum products.

Niger Republic's minister of petroleum, Mr. Foumakoye Gado, is in the country to sign the African Petroleum Producers' Association (APPA) Statute, which will make Niger become a bonafide member of the association.

Gado told journalists during the signing ceremony yesterday in Abuja that Niger's present refining capacity is 20,000 barrels of oil per day, out of which the country can only consume 7,000 barrels, an equivalent of 1.113million litres of fuel, while the excess of 13,000 barrels, an equivalent of 2.067million liters of fuel would be exported to Nigeria.

The minister who spoke through an interpreter said, "We currently refine 20,000bpd and we consume only 7,000 barrels leaving an excess of 13,000 barrels. We hope to evacuate the excess to Nigeria. That is the major reason we are here.

He said the country in 2011 signed a contract for the commercialisation of crude production, adding that a feasibility study has been concluded to commence oil exportation which would boost its crude production from the current 20,000bpd to 60,000bpd.

He adding, however, that Niger presently does not have any specific target country for its crude export, but said it would be done according to international standard.

The minister who was accompanied to the event by Niger's ambassador to Nigeria, H.E Mansourmanan H.D, explained that his country resolved to join APPA, despite being a small oil producing nation, in order to tap into the experience of other member countries and ensure that her oil prospecting is a source of blessing to the country and not a resource curse, based on lessons learnt from other countries.

While noting that the association's objective will impact on the country's technical know-how and help build local capacity, Gado said his country will ensure that oil proceed is used to accelerate development. He said the country would begin the construction of its oil export pipeline which will be routed through Cameroon in 2013, after which exportation will commence in 2014 or 2015.

The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum, Engr. Goni I. Sheikh, who represented the minister of petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, while welcoming Niger to the association, noted that signing the APPA Statute was mandatory for all member countries who wish to benefit fully from oil and gas exploration through the association's support.

He said the objectives of the association include the promotion of cooperation among member countries in hydrocarbon exploration, promotion of technical assistance, coordination of marketing policies and strategies as well as studying ways of providing assistance to the oil importing African countries to meet their energy requirement.

While expressing optimism that the opportunity will further strengthen the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and Niger Republic, Sheikh added that the association operates a fund which is dedicated to financing studies and projects in the hydrocarbon and energy sector of APPA member countries.


Related stories: Nigeria fuel subsidy report shows $6.8bn lost due to fraud 

Nigeria loses $20bn in oil theft yearly

Boko Haram claim responsibility for This Day offices bombing

The Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal — Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, said yesterday that it attacked Thisday newspaper's offices in Abuja and Kaduna to send a strong message to the media that it would no longer condone reports misrepresenting it in the press, or blaming it for acts it knows nothing about.

Abul Qaqa, spokesperson for the sect told Premium Times, in an exclusive interview, that his organisation was fed up with the deliberate misinformation being peddled about it in the Nigerian and foreign media.

"We have repeatedly cautioned reporters and media houses to be professional and objective in their reports. This is a war between us and the Government of Nigeria; unfortunately the media have not been objective and fair in their report of the ongoing war, they chose to take side," Mr. Qaqa said.

He identified three instances where he claimed his group was deliberately misrepresented by the media. The first, according to him, was the rumour of his capture by the Nigerian intelligence agencies.

"Some reporters are aware that I am Abul Qaqa, they know my voice through our long interactions and they also know the role of Abu Darda who heads the enlightenment committee and sometimes facilitates interviews; yet they (media) go by the unsubstantiated view of government that Abul Qaqa is in custody and I am the new spokesman or number two," he said.

Premium Times had continuously reported that Abul Qaqa was not arrested contrary to reports and that it was Abu Darda, another member, that was arrested.

The second misrepresentation, according to Mr. Qaqa, was the reporting on the kidnappings of foreigners in the Northern part of Nigeria.

"Another issue was the recent kidnappings in the north; we were clear with our position as a group during a teleconference with reporters but we were shocked the next day when newspaper headlines added a lot of things which I never said during that interview."

The third example, Mr. Abul Qaqa said, is the mistranslation of the video the group posted recently.

"Another example is the recent video posted on YouTube by our Imam; I challenge every Nigerian to watch that video again. There is no place our imam either said he will crush President Jonathan or issued an ultimatum to the government in Nigeria; but nearly all papers carried very wrong and mischievous headlines."

When asked why ThisDay appeared specifically chosen for the attack, Mr. Qaqa said ThisDay's "sins" are more grievous.

"It is not only THISDAY that has been engaged in negative media campaign, fictional stories and constantly promoting fake stories by the JTF to give an impression that they are making headway against us yet there is no time the media investigated further as an objective and responsible bystander in this war.

"But the sins of THISDAY are more," he said.

"They once insulted the Prophet Mohammed in 2001 and we have not forgotten. They recently said our Imam executed me which is false. Here I am speaking to you, I am alive and healthy."

Expect more media attacks

The group's spokesman further warned of more attacks on the media.

"We have just started this new campaign against the media and we will not stop here, we will hit the media hard since they have refused to listen to our plea for them to be fair in their reportage," he said.

Mr. Abul Qaqa also said his group would give further information on biases by the media.

"In the coming days we will give details and instances where the media have not been fair to us and why we are going to attack them as well."

Media should be neutral

"The media in Nigeria are not a problem to us if they will do their job professionally without taking sides," Mr. Abul Qaqa said.

"But each time we say something, it is either changed or downplayed. But when our enemy says something even without logical proof, it is blown out of proportion."

"We have repeatedly asked some reporters to retract some stories or even give us the right of reply but none of these requests were given to us."


Related stories: Boko Haram release video celebrating bombing of media houses and warning of more attacks 

This Day publication offices hit by suicide bombers

Boko Haram claims responsibility for UN bombing

Video - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram? 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

This Day publication offices hit by suicide bombers

ThisDay’s editorial board  chairman said has confirmed that the explosion at a newspaper office in the capital Abuja on Thursday and where at  least six people people were killed was a suicide attack.

“The suicide bomber came in a jeep,” Olusegun Adeniyi told reporters at the scene. “(Security guards) opened the gate for them … The guy drove in through the gate and rammed into the building and exploded.”

The two guards were killed in the blast along with the bomber, he said. Five support staff were wounded.

“Fortunately the newsroom is a bit far from the back of the building,” said Adeniyi. “So all the people in the newsroom … are all safe.”

The privately owned newspaper is one of Nigeria’s most prominent and influential. It is based in the economic capital Lagos, but has a major operation in the capital Abuja.

Another bomb attack at roughly the same time in the northern city of Kaduna targeting a complex that also includes a ThisDay office left at least three people dead as well, making a total of six.


Related stories: Boko Haram release video celebrating bombing of media houses and warning of more attacks 

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

Boko Haram claims responsibility for UN bombing 

Video - Effort underway to build schools for begging children in Nigeria

Nigeria's federal government is building 100 new schools in the north to deal with the growing problem of young boys roaming the streets begging for food and money.
The boys are supposed to be in Islamic schools learning to recite the Quran, but many of them are going astray.

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

Training school belonging to Islamic radical group Boko Haram found in Taraba, Nigeria 

President Goodluck Jonathan will not spare culprits of subsidy fraud

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday threw his weight behind the report of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee which probed the management of subsidy funds, assuring that any proven culprit would not be spared.

Similarly, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it is endorsing the petroleum subsidy probe being undertaken by the House of Representatives, adding that all guilty persons must face the music.

The House of Representatives, meanwhile, yesterday concluded the consideration and adoption of the 62-clause report of the ad-hoc committee with the recommendation that former ministers of finance Dr. Mansur Muktar and Dr. Olusegun Aganga be prosecuted for their involvement in the extra-budgetary expenditure under the Petroleum Support Fund, PSF, Scheme between 2009 and 2011.

The president, who also assured that there were no moves to scuttle the report of the ad-hoc committee, stated that both the executive and the legislative arms of government were on the same page on the issue and would collaborate towards ensuring that any rot in the oil sector was fully addressed.

Jonathan, who spoke through his special adviser on National Assembly matters, Senator Joy Emordi, told a press conference in Abuja that it was a wrong claim "in some quarters of uneasiness in the administration over the recommendations of the House ad-hoc committee on the utilisation of petroleum subsidies."

She said: "The issues that led to the investigation predated President Jonathan's administration. The president is poised to sanitise the oil sector and give it a new breath of life through enhanced probity, transparent governance and zero corruption.

"But for the fact that Mr. President ab initio initiated the move to rid the petroleum industry of the rot because the bane of this society today, the bane of maladministration in the petroleum sector is nothing but corruption.

"The fact that he appointed a person like Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to head another panel looking into the rot is a clear manifestation that Mr. President is determined to rid the sector. He is not going to spare anybody, otherwise, why would he appoint Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, the ex-EFCC chairman and his very rival in the last presidential election? I am sure of that; he is not going to spare anybody found wanting and there are no moves... I am the special adviser to Mr President on National Assembly matters.

There is no slightest moves against the report here, of course. If there is any, I would be the channel. I am sure no move is being made and Mr. President has zero tolerance for corruption."

The House of Representatives, while recommending that former ministers of Finance Dr. Mansur Muktar and Dr. Olusegun Aganga be prosecuted for their involvement in the extra-budgetary expenditure under the PSF Scheme between 2009 and 2011, also demanded the prosecution of the recently sacked accounting and auditing firms of Akintola Williams, Deloitte and Olusola Adekanola & Partners for professional negligence on the particular assignment of recommending firms for payment for products supplied.

The House also moved that the firms be blacklisted from being engaged by any federal ministry, department or agency, for a three-year period and an independent auditor appointed to take over the job.

The lawmakers however exonerated the present Governor of Gombe State Ibrahim Dankwambo, who was the accountant-general of the federation, from involvement in the 'unusual' payment of N999 million for 128 times within 24 hours on January 12 and 13, 2009, recommending instead that the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) should be investigated by relevant anti-corruption agencies for authorising the payment.

The recommendations were amended from the original recommendations of the committee during the consideration and adoption of the report in the Committee of the Whole presided over by the deputy speaker, Hon Emeka Ihedioha.

Explaining why Governor Dankwambo should be excused from the recommendations, chairman of the ad-hoc committee Hon. Farouk Lawan informed his colleagues that the Central Bank of Nigeria, the PPPRA and the governor had written separately to the speaker of the House of Representatives, each stating that the payment for which he was being indicted was authorised by the PPPRA and the payments cleared duly by the CBN in their various clearing houses before payments were made via 128 cheques.

Armed with this information, the legislators substituted the accountant-general's name with that of the PPPRA and adopted it.

Also among the recommendations adopted by the House was that the National Assembly should commence the process of making specific laws that would criminalise extra-budgetary expenditure as the specific provision does not specify the exact penalty to be applied.

This section created a stir among some lawmakers who argued that there was no need to compel the lawmakers to do what they already know is their responsibility and advised that it should be deleted, but, after some arguments, the recommendation was adopted.

Just like it did in the previous day's consideration, the House went soft on marketers who it had earlier asked to return funds to the federal treasury for making discharges that suffered one or more infractions which were adjudged as not sustainable and therefore not good enough to attract subsidy.

Chairman of the Business and Rules Committee Hon. Albert Sam-Tsokwa noted that some of the names reflecting on the list of the disqualified claims companies which is in the tune of N230,184 billion also appeared on the list of companies which filed to appear to defend their involvement in the PSF scheme and therefore falls under the category of those re-invited to defend their involvement.

He therefore prayed the House to include the 71 firms in the two-week grace to give them an avenue for fair hearing before action is taken on whether they should refund the monies and be prosecuted by the relevant anti-corruption agencies or not.

Earlier, some notable PDP big-wigs like former chairman Ahmadu Ali and petroleum minister Diezani Allison- Maduekwe have been recommended for prosecution by the House.


Related stories: Nigeria fuel subsidy report shows $6.8bn lost due to fraud

Video - Reaction to reinstated fuel subsidy

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Nigeria fuel subsidy report shows $6.8bn lost due to fraud

Nigeria’s parliament has discussed a report said to reveal that $6bn (£4bn) has been defrauded from the fuel subsidy fund in the past two years.

The debate, which was televised live, made official findings that have been widely leaked in recent days.

The fuel sector probe was set up in the wake of angry nationwide protests in January after the government tried to remove a fuel subsidy.

Nigeria is a major oil producer but has to import most of its fuel.

“We are fighting against entrenched interests whose infectious greed has decimated our people,” House of Representatives Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal said as he opened the two-day debate.

“Therefore, be mindful they will fight back and they normally do fight dirty.”

The 205-page parliamentary report uncovers a long list of alleged wrongdoings involving oil retailers, Nigeria’s Oil Management Company and the state Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.

According to the leaks, a total of 15 fuel importers collected more than $300m two years ago without importing any fuel, while more than 100 oil marketers collected the same amount of money on several occasions.

The leaked report also says that officials in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan were among those who benefited from the subsidy fund.

Many of the people named in the document have denied any involvement in fraud, with some taking out full-page adverts proclaiming their innocence in local newspapers.

The BBC’s Bashir Sa’ad Abdullahi in Abuja says at least some of the findings are likely to be adopted by Nigeria’s lawmakers because of the huge public anger over the attempt to withdraw the subsidy.

Many Nigerians were livid when they were told by their government that the fuel subsidy was economically unsustainable – only to now find out the scale of fraud in the operation of the fund, our correspondent says.

Despite being a major oil producer, Nigeria has not invested in the infrastructure needed to produce refined fuel, so has to import much of its petrol.

The annual $8bn subsidy means prices are lower than in neighbouring countries – and correspondents say many Nigerians see cheap fuel as the only benefit they get from their country’s oil wealth, much of which is pocketed by corrupt officials.

After a week of street protests and a general strike, the government agreed to restore some of the subsidy – and reduce the pump price of petrol to 97 naira (about $0.60) per litre after it had doubled to 140 naira when the subsidy was removed without warning on 1 January.

But President Jonathan defended the subsidy cut, saying Nigeria must either “deregulate and survive economically, or we continue with a subsidy regime that will continue to undermine our economy.”


Related stories: Mass protests across Nigeria over fuel subsidies

Video - Reaction to reinstated fuel subsidy

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Winners of the 2012 African Movie Academy Awards

Ghanaian play boy actor, Majid Michel and Nigerian actress Rita Dominic last Sunday night won the top prizes as they walked away with the 'Best Actor' and 'Best Actress' awards at this year's edition of the prestigious African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA).

Majid picked up the coveted award for his lead role in the 2011 movie 'Somewhere In Africa' while Nigerian Dominic won the 'Best Actress' award for her lead role in the Kenyan film 'Shattered' beating the likes of Nse Ikpe-Etim, Uche Jombo and Yvonne Okoro to clinch the prize.

South African actress Terry Pheto was also named Best Supporting Actress for her role in Charlie Vundla's debut film noir thriller, "How To Steal 2 Million" which also won Best Achievement in Editing (Garreth Fradgely), Best Director, Best Film and Supporting Actor(Rapuldna Seiphemo). With five awards, "How 2 Steal 2 Million' was the most awarded film at this year's AMAA.

Lancelot Oduwa Imaseun's 'Adesuwa' followed closely, winning three awards which includes 'Best Nigerian Film'. Kunle Afolayan's 'Phone Swap' wasn't left out as it won the 'Achievement in Production Design' award while Akin Omotoso won the 'Special Jury' award for 'Man on the Ground'.

Nigeria won a total of 12 awards out of 25 awards given out at this year's AMAA, which held at the Expo Hall of the Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos and attended by a host of Nollywood actors, film makers, musicians, comedians and other stakeholders iincluding outgoing president of Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN)Segun Arinze, former AGN boss Ejike Asiegbu, Tee-Mac, Fidelis Duker, Florence Ita-Giwa, Airtel Chairman Oba Otudeko and many others.

Other winners were Sara Bletcher's "Otelo Burning" which picked two awards; Cinematography and Best Child Actor (Tsepang Mohlomi) awards. The film had led with 13 nominations.

There were a number of other double award-winners. State Of Violence by South African Khalo Matabane won for Best Film in an African Language and Best Sound. Just as Danny Glover's "Toussaint Louverture" was named Best Diaspora Film. Kenyan's "Shattered" film also won the Best Make-Up. "Alero's Symphony" won for Soundtrack and Young/Promising Actor (Ivie Okujaye).

According to the jury, headed by Dr. Asantewa Olantunji, Director of programming of The Pan African Film Festival, AMAA received 328 entries from across Africa in 2012, up from 220 in 2011.

On this year's awards, the jury observed thus; "this year may prove to be the beginning of a new era for AMAA. Not only did AMAA witness an unprecedented number of film submissions from more countries throughout the African continent and its Diaspora, it also witnessed a remarkable increase in the quality of the films submitted. From their technical qualities to the acting and directing, the 2012 film slate is most impressive. Indeed, for the jury, the task of selecting the "Best" in each category has been challenging."

Some of the biggest names from black Hollywood who graced the awards night were Emmy Winner and Golden Globe nominee Lynn Whitfield (The JosephineBaker Story and Without a Trace); Morris Chestnut (American Horror Story, Boyz in the Hood); Rockmond Dunbar (Prison Break, Sons of Anarchy) and Maya Gilbert (General Hospital, Days of Our Lives).

Hollywood actor Jimmy Jean-Louis and Ambo awards winner O.C Ukeje hosted the prestigious awards, which included performances from Asa, 2Face Idibia, yinka Davies, Edge and Senegal's Viviane Ndour.

Here is a complete list of the winners:


JAMAA – Uganda
Look Again – Kenya
Maffe Tiga – Guinea
Winner: Braids On Bald Head – Nigeria
Hidden Life – South Africa
Mwansa The Great – Zimbabwe
Chumo – Tanzania
The Young Smoker – Nigeria


Winner: African Election – Nigeria / Germany
Beyond The Deadly Pit – Rwanda
Awa Ogbe An African Adventure – Algeria
Dear Mandella – South Africa
White & Black, Crime And Colour – Tanzania
The Niger Delta Struggle – Ghana
There Is Nothing Wrong With My Uncle – Nigeria
How Much Is Too Much – Kenya


Winner: Toussanat Louverture – France
Ghetta Life – Jamaica
High Chicago – Canada
Elza – Guadelupe
Better Must Come – Jamaica
Kinyanrwanda – USA


Winner: The Education Of Auma Obama – Germany
White Wash – USA
Almendron Mi Corazon – Guadeloupe
All Me The Life And Times Of Winfred Hubert – USA


John Doe – USA
Winner: White Sugar In A Black Pot – USA
The Lost One – USA

Winner: The Legend Of Ngog Hills – Kenya
Oba – Nigeria
Climate Change Is Real – Kenya
Egu – South Africa
Chomoka – Kenya


Winner: Mystery Of Birds – USA / Nigeria
Housemates – United Kingdom / Nigeria
Ben Kross – Italy / Nigeria
Paparezzi Eye In The Dark – USA / Nigeria / Ghana


Somewhere In Africa – Ghana
Winner: Phone Swap – Nigeria
Otelo Burning – South Africa
Adesuwa – Nigeria
How To Steal 2 Million – South Africa


The Captain Of Nakara
Winner: Adesuwa – Nigeria
Rugged Priest – Kenya
Somewhere In Africa – Ghana
Queens Desire


Rugged Priest – Kenya
State Research Bureau – Uganda
Adesuwa – Nigeria
Somewhere in Africa – Ghana
Winner: Shattered – Kenya


Otelo Burning – South Africa
Winner: Alero’s Symphony – Nigeria
Adesuwa – Nigeria
How To Steal 2 Million – South Africa
Somewhere In Africa – Ghana


Behind The Mask
Somewhere In Africa – Ghana
Winner: Adesuwa – Nigeria
State Research Bureau – Uganda
Otelo Burning – South Africa


Winner: State Of Violence – South Africa
Otelo Burning – South Africa
How To Steal 2 Million – South Africa
Man On Ground – South Africa
Algiers Murder – South Africa


How To Steal 2 Million – South Africa
Winner: Otelo Burning – South Africa
Rugged Priest – Kenya
Masquerades – Ghana
Man On Ground – South Africa / Nigeria


Algiers Murder – South Africa
Man On Ground – South Africa / Nigeria
Unwanted Guest – Nigeria
Winner: How To Steal 2 Million – South Africa
Otelo Burning – South Africa
Alero’s Symphony – Nigeria


Winner: Ties That Bind – Ghana
Mr & Mrs – Nigeria
How To Steal 2 Million – South Africa
Otelo Burning – South Africa
Unwanted Guest – Nigeria
Two Brides And A Baby – Nigeria


Unwanted Guest
Family On Fire
Alero’s Symphony
Winner: Adesuwa
Phone Swap

Chumo – Tanzania
Winner: State Of Violence – South Africa
Family On Fire – Nigeria
Otelo Burning – South Africa
Asoni – Cameroun


Rahman Junior Bande (Greg) – Behind The Mask
Winner: Tsepang Mohlomi (Ntwe) – Otelo Burning
Reginna Danies (Jenny) – Bank Job
Benjamin Abemigisha and Racheal Nduhukire (Derick and Margaret) – JAMAA
Ayinla O Abdulaheem – ZR-7


Neo Ntatleno (OJ) – State Of Violence
Winner: Ivie Okujaye (Alero) – Alero’s Symphony
Iyobosa Olaye (Adesuwa) – Adesuwa
Martha Ankomah – Somewhere In Africa
Thomas Gumede and Sihle Xaba – Otelo Burning


Rapuldna Seiphemo (Twala) – How To Steal 2 Million
Winner: Fano Mokoena – Man On Ground
Hafiz Oyetoro – Phone Swap
Okechukwu Uzoesi – Two Brides And A Baby
Godfrey Theobejane – 48
Lwanda Jawar – Rugged Priest


Winner: Terry Phetto – How To Steal 2 Million
Ebbe Bassey – Ties That Bind
Empress Njamah – Bank Job
Ngozi Ezeonu – Adesuwa
Thelma Okoduwa – Mr & Mrs
Omotola Jalade Ekeinde – Ties That Bind


Menzi Ngubane – How To Steal 2 Million
Winner: Majid Micheal – Somewhere In Africa
Chet Anekwe – Unwanted Guest
Jafta Mamabolo – Otelo Burning
Karabo Lance – 48
Wale Ojo – Phone Swap
Hakeem Kae-Kazim – Man On Ground


Nse Ikpe Etim – Mr & Mrs
Yvonne Okoro – Single Six
Ama K. Abebrese – Ties That Bind
Winner: Rita Dominic – Shattered
Uche Jombo – Damage
Millicent Makheido – 48
Kudzai Sevenzo-Nyarai – Playing Warriors


Adesuwa – Lancelot Oduwa Imaseun
Ties That Bind – Leila Djansi
Rugged Priest – Bob Nyanja
Winner: How To Steal 2 Million – Charlie Vundla
State Of Violence – Khalo Matabane
Man On Ground – Akin Omotoso
Otelo Burning – Sara Bletcher


State Of Violence – South Africa
Adesuwa – Nigeria
Otelo Burning – South Africa
Rugged Priest – Kenya
Winner: How To Steal 2 Million – South Africa
Ties That Bind – Ghana
Man On Ground – South Africa / Nigeria

AMAA Special Jury Award-Akin Omotosho


Related stories: Nigeria lead in the 2012 Africa Movie Academy Awards nominations

Nollywood humbled as Congo, South Africa rule at the African Movie Academy Awards 

Central Bank governor Lamido Sanusi accused of plagiarism

A Nigerian professor based in the United States, Victor Dike, Monday, dragged the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, to a Federal High Court in Abuja accusing him of plagiarism.

Dike, an Adjunct Professor at the School of Engineering and Technology, National University, Sacramento, US, in a statement of claims filed by his lawyer, Mr. E.U. Chinedum, said that Sanusi breached his copyrights on two different occasions on November 26, 2010 and December 10, 2010 when he presented lectures.

The first occasion was at a lecture he delivered at the 8th convocation ceremony of Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, on November 26, 2010, where Sanusi presented a paper titled “Growth Prospects for the Nigerian Economy.”

The second occasion was on December 10, 2010 at the Convocation Square, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi, where Sanusi again, presented a paper titled “Global Financial Meltdown and the Reforms in the Nigerian Banking Sector.”

The plaintiff, who is also the Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Centre for Social Justice and Human Development in California, USA, said the CBN governor copied verbatim from his works in the two articles he presented without referring to him as the original author.

He gave the name of the articles from which Sanusi copied from as “Review of the Challenges Facing the Nigerian Economy: Is National Development Possible without Technological Capability?”, “Global Economic Crisis and Power of Productivity” and the “Governance and Nigeria’s Weak Institutions: Is the 2020 Project Achievable?”

The plaintiff averred that Sanusi copied from pages 98, 99 and 100 of his work titled, “Review of the Challenges Facing the Nigerian Economy: Is National Development Possible without Technological Capability?”

He stated the copied lines as follows: “The challenges facing the economy is in-effective institutions and dilapidated infrastructure (bad roads, erratic power supply, limited access to potable water and basic healthcare, and in-effective regulatory agencies, etc). The plethora of reforms and policies are in-effective due to institutional failure (Hoff, 2003).”

The above is just an example of sentences from one of the publications in which Sanusi is alleged to have plagiarised.

The plaintiff alleged that Sanusi also copied verbatim articles originally written and published by him without acknowledging him as the author of the works from where he (Sanusi) sourced the materials that made up his lectures.

He said that the articles wherein Sanusi used his works were still at the CBN website,

He alleged that the CBN governor was in breach of the Copyright Act when he copied his materials without acknowledging him as the original author of the works.
In the “Governance and Nigeria’s Weak Institutions: Is the 2020 Project Achievable?” the plaintiff said that Sanusi copied about four pages and presented them as his own in the lecture he delivered at the Igbinedion University’s eighth convocation ceremony.

It is the further averment of the plaintiff that from his work titled, “Nigeria: Reform Efforts and the Unresolved Socio-Economic Problems”, Sanusi also copied works that formed pages 22-28 of the lecture he delivered at the Igbenedion University.

He asked the CBN governor to produce the two lectures he delivered for the use of the court.

He said that he wrote to the CBN governor informing him of the infractions and that Sanusi replied that he acknowledged one “Victor E.D.” in one of the lectures.

But the plaintiff said he told him that more than four of his works were recklessly copied by him (Sanusi) and asked him to stop further copying of his works and requested him to tender an unreserved apology but that Sanusi did not offer any such apology.

The plaintiff said he caused another letter to be written to Sanusi and that four months later, the Legal Department of the CBN wrote to him denying the alleged plagiarism by Sanusi but however apologised to him for wrongly citing one of his article as E.D. Victor instead of Victor E. Dike.

The plaintiff said that his articles and publications were no longer valued by his readers and colleagues after the discovery by his readers that some opinion he expressed were also contained verbatim in another person’s work who claims the authorship.

The plaintiff said that he had lost a great deal of royalties since the incidence of this plagiarism came to the fore, as the journal that looked forward to his articles had become sceptical about accepting articles from him.

He said that unless Sanusi was made to retract those lines copied from his works and adequately compensate him for the  breach of his copyrights, his readers and indeed the whole world would no longer take his opinions serious as same would be seen as not original.

Recently, the Hungarian President Pal Schmitt resigned after losing his doctorate in a plagiarism scandal.

Schmitt, who was elected to his largely ceremonial office in 2010 for a five-year term, said in a speech at the start of parliament's plenary session that he was stepping down because his "personal issue" was dividing Hungary.

His 1992 doctorate was revoked last week after an investigation at Budapest's Semmelweis University found that most of his thesis about the modern Olympic Games had been copied from the works of two other authors.
According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to "plagiarise" means: “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own to use (another's production) without crediting the source to commit literary theft; to present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

Plagiarism is therefore an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else's work.

The plaintiff subsequently asked for N15 million as compensation, the cost of filing the suit and the cost of travelling to Nigeria.

He also asked the court to declare that Sanusi plagiarised his works and breached his copyright.

He further asked the court to issue a perpetual injunction restraining Sanusi from citing his papers as his (Sanusi's).
He asked the court to direct Sanusi to retract the papers from the public by removing them from the CBN website.

The plaintiff asked the court to make a publication in a national daily denouncing the authorship of the articles.

Yesterday, the court ordered the bailiff to paste the court's processes at the CBN after the bailiff deposed to an affidavit that the security at the office did not accept service.
The case has been adjourned by Justice Adamu Bello to May 31 for mention.

This Day

Related stories: Time Magazine Lists Lamido Sanusi on World's 100 Most Influential People

Monday, April 23, 2012

D'Banj signs with Mercury Records UK

African pop giant and former Mo'hits boss Dapo 'D'banj' Oyebanjo has signed with Mercury Records, an imprint in the UK under the Mercury Records Group of Universal Music UK.

Mercury Records is a record label operating as a standalone company in the UK and as part of the The Island Def Jam Music Group in the US; both are subsidiaries of Universal Music Group.

Mercury Records lists D'banj on their official website as one of their acts alongside the likes of UK rock singer-songwriter Elton John, Soft Rock singer Taylor Swift Irish rock group U2, former The Beatles musician Paul McCartney and others.

Although his publicist and management are yet to respond to our E-mails concerning the signing, D'banj seems to have confirmed the news himself as he has updated the bio section profile on his Twitter page.

D'banj has also launched his personal website where the Mecury Records logo boldly appears in the bottom right corner.

The new bio reads 'DB/Good Music/ Mercury/IDJ' (IDJ meaning Island Def Jam). When asked by a fan on Twitter what 'IDJ' means, he responded 'island Def Jam bro'.

D'banj is however not listed on the G.O.O.D Music/Def Jam official roaster on the label's website.

D'banj who recently parted ways with his former Mo'Hits label partner Don Jazzy has relocated to the US where he will continue to push his brand and music in the foreign music market.

The entertainer is set to officially release his smash single 'Oliver' (which recently made Scott Mills' Radio 1 'Record Of The Week') in the UK on May 14.

D'banj as announced earlier will also perform at the 2012 Barclaycard Wireless Festival which holds at the Hyde Park, London, on Saturday, July, 7 2012 and at the BBC Hackney Weekend 2012 in London come June 23 and 24.


Related stories: Video - D'Banj signing record deal with Kanye West 

Video - D'Banj talks new album and Kanye West 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Video - How ex-governor of Delta state James Ibori started as petty thief in London

On April 17, 2012, former Delta State governor, James Ibori was sentenced to 13 years in prison for money laundering. What many do not know is that the former governor started his stealing career in London as a petty thief at a Wickes Hardware store before he became a governor.

Related stories: Former Nigerian governor to Delta state James Ibori sentenced to 13 years in UK 

Former Delta state governor James Ibori pleads guilty to money laundering

Video interview with James Ibori about corruption charges

World Bank grants Nigeria $900 million to boost agriculture

Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Thursday said the World Bank had granted a $900 million facility to Nigeria as part of its assistance towards food security in the country.

Adesina, who made this disclosure in Abuja while briefing the media on the outcome of the just-concluded Nigeria Forum in the United States of America, also said Agco, one of the largest tractor companies in the US, had agreed to establish a tractor assembly plants in Rivers and Kaduna States.

The minister said both the $900 million facility and the engineers from Agco would make their presence known in the country within two weeks.

He expressed the optimism that with the number of participants at the show, which he said included Nigerians in Diaspora, the country would not only be food self sufficient, but that the teeming unemployed youths would get employed within the shortest period of time.

He added that Cardol, a US-based food processing company, is set to invest in cassava production in the country within the shortest period of time.

He, however, regretted that despite the fact that Nigeria needed over 300,000 tractors for mechanised farming, only about 20,000 were currently available.

In his words: “The present day farmers are ageing and the onus is on us here in the ministry to encourage our teeming unemployed youths to be interested in agriculture. But the major problem is that none of them would want to farm with cutlass and hoe. That is why we are getting modern day equipment readily available for them to farm.”

While enjoining the unemployed youths to grab this opportunity by getting involved in mechanised farming, the minister called on both state and local governments to assist them to get land and other necessary incentives for them

He said: “Agriculture accounts for about 44 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and responsible for over 70 per cent employment. The time has come -- and I know it is now - for every Nigerian to contribute his own quota in ensuring that the sector booms. Nobody drinks oil, but we all eat at one point or the other. We should join hands in ensuring that agriculture moves from peasant farming to mechanised one. The state and local governments should ensure that there is abundance of incentives for the business to thrive in their jurisdiction.

“One of the good news is that Nigerians in the Diaspora are interested in the sector, as well as foreigners. We at home should do everything possible to ensure that the business thrives. Our message on agriculture is ringing louder in the international community.”

This Day

Related stories: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala concedes to Jim Yong Kim for World Bank top job

Government borrows $1 billion from world bank 

Video - Report on 2012 Abaji fishing festival

The second Abaji fishing festival in Nigeria sees hundreds of people participate in a series of unusual local sports.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Video - Documentary on the women of the Niger Delta who use threat of stripping naked to protest unaccountability of oil companies

Fueled by the determination for a better future, grassroots women in Nigeria's Niger Delta use the threat of stripping naked in public, a serious cultural taboo, in their deadly struggle to hold the oil companies accountable to the communities in which they operate.  The women, at the risk of being raped, beaten or killed, are trained and armed, but not with anything you can see.  Through the leadership of the courageous, charismatic, and inexhaustible Emem J. Okon, these women are taking over where men have failed, peacefully transforming their ‘naked power’ into 21st century political action and mobilization.  THE NAKED OPTION: A LAST RESORT celebrates the perseverance and power of an organized group of women!

“Our weapon is our nakedness.”  Through the personal stories of Mama Bata, Aret Obobo and Lucky Ogodo, residents of Ugborodo and Amukpe, communities where oil giants Chevron and Shell operate, THE NAKED OPTION reveals the strength, the power, and the drive of the women to fight environmental ruin, loss of livelihoods, brutality, and corruption perpetrated by these corporate giants. Living in the only militarized zone in Nigeria and cemented firmly on the bottom rung of an already impoverished social and economic ladder, these women constantly struggle to maintain healthy, equitable, and self-sustaining livelihoods. We witness the hurdles that drive them to risk their lives taking over major oil-producing flow stations.

“We are the women who decided to take over the Chevron yard,” states 70-year-old Mama Bata, of  Ugborodo.   “We’ll go naked.  We’ll do our naked.  Shell wants us to suffer and we’re not taking it. Fear will come”, threatens Lucky Ogodo of Amukpe.  Fed up with the oil giants dismissing their demands to clean up the environmental destruction and to provide jobs for their husbands, the women were pushed to the wall. With nothing to lose they decided to risk everything and fight back using the lessons taught by their female ancestors. Stripping naked in public, a sacred weapon of last resort, has given them unprecedented power over both government and oil through landmark moments in Nigerian history. Their anger erupted July 8, 2002 when for ten days, 600 rural peasant women, ages 20 – 90, took over Chevron, the largest oil producing facility in Nigeria, which is the third largest oil supplier to the United States. Unarmed, they held 700 male workers hostage.  The women blocked the flow of a half million barrels of oil a day by threatening to strip naked in public. Actual footage of events combines with first-hand accounts from Mama Bata, Lucky, and Aret who, in the summer of 2002, joined the wave of women’s uprisings that swept the Niger Delta.  We discover how Emem Okon plays a crucial role in the women’s ability to negotiate with Chevron.
“Education doesn’t reduce the risks but it provides women with the skills and knowledge to confront that risk.  It makes them bolder. In my organization, we don’t promote that option (of stripping naked) but if it gets to the point where stripping naked is the only way they can get government attention, we will not stop them.” Emem, founder of Kebetkache Women’s Development and Resource Centre is championing a new vision for women and a safer way for their voices to be heard. Reaching across ethnic divides, she fights injustice with education, mobilization, and perseverance. Set against this backdrop, where government sends paramilitary soldiers to protect multinational oil companies from protesters, THE NAKED OPTION shows Emem as she travels to rural communities where women are prepared to use their weapon of last resort. Encouraging women to step up to decision making positions in government, she spearheads democracy and peace building trainings, teaches negotiating skills, and continually challenges the nexus of power created by the collusion of ‘Big Oil’ and a brutal Nigerian government through non-violence.

"Now, today a woman can be president.  Before these workshops we had no thoughts. The only thing we knew was every morning carry your cassava, every morning go to your farm…but today with ‘the awareness’ in us most families are training their children,” says Stella Fyneface, Emem’s protégé. Dedicated leadership, a passion for women’s rights, and new opportunities merge in THE NAKED OPTION as Emem passes the baton to hundreds of rural women, inspiring and mobilizing them to take charge of their futures, to stand up against injustice, and to become leaders.

Snag Films

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Video - Chevron oil drilling disaster in Nigeria enters fourth week 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

President Goodluck Jonathan makes it into TIME 2012 list of most influential people in the world

Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan exemplifies the African political renaissance at a time when the people of the continent are starting to reap the fruit of their resources and their hard work. President Jonathan, 54, possesses the qualities needed at this moment of great challenges, having come to power at a crucial moment in the history of Nigeria. The country has grown out of its past of corruption, mismanagement and brutality, but the foundation of good governance is still fragile.

In two short years, President Jonathan has shown the same dexterity he demonstrated as governor of Bayelsa, the same ability to find the remedies to the many complexities of running a nascent democracy. He has spearheaded the fight against corruption and turned Nigeria into an example of good governance. He has also made a significant impact on consolidating peace and security in West Africa. From the onset of our own crisis, Liberia has benefitted from the support of Nigeria. President Jonathan not only upheld the trend but added to it. With leaders like President Jonathan, Africa is sure to move toward prosperity, freedom and dignity for all of its people.


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

Video - President Goodluck Jonathan wants dialogue with Boko Haram

President Goodluck Jonathan delighted with facebook page 

US warns of Boko Haram attacks coming to Abuja

The US embassy in Nigeria warned on Wednesday that Islamist group Boko Haram may be planning attacks in the capital Abuja, including against hotels frequented by Westerners.

“The US embassy has received information that Boko Haram may be planning attacks in Abuja, Nigeria, including against hotels frequently visited by Westerners,” an emergency message to US citizens on its website said.

“The US government has no additional information regarding the timing of these possible attacks. The Nigerian government is aware of the threat and is actively implementing security measures.”

It gave no further information on the threats.

A police spokesman told AFP “we are not aware of any special threat of attacks by Boko Haram or any individual or group.”

“However, police are ever ready and prepared to deal with any situation and security threat to Nigerians and foreigners living in Abuja or any other parts of the country,” said Olusola Amore.

The US issued a similar message in November that drew harsh criticism in Nigeria. No attacks occurred in Abuja in the wake of the November warning.

A US diplomat at the time however said the warning was based on specific and credible information, adding that the embassy had no choice but to warn American citizens.

Boko Haram has carried out scores of attacks, mainly in Nigeria’s predominately Muslim north, that have killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2009.

It claimed responsibility for the August suicide bombing of UN headquarters in Abuja which claimed at least 25 lives.

The group’s deadliest attack yet occurred in the northern city of Kano in January, when coordinated bombings and shootings left at least 185 people dead.

Despite heavy-handed raids and a number of high-profile arrests, Nigerian authorities have appeared unable to stop the attacks.

An attempt to hold indirect talks between Boko Haram and the government in March collapsed after a mediator quit over leaks to the media and the Islamists said they could not trust government officials.

Authorities blamed the deaths of a British and an Italian hostage in northwestern Nigeria in March on a faction of Boko Haram. A spokesman for what is believed to be the main branch of the group however denied any involvement.

US Ambassador to Nigeria Terence McCulley recently urged Nigeria to focus on development in its impoverished north as well as security to bring an end to an onslaught of deadly attacks blamed on Boko Haram.

Analysts say poverty and frustration in the north have pushed young people toward extremism.

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and largest oil producer with some 160 million people, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominately Christian south.

The oil-producing south is wealthier and more educated, stoking resentment in the north.


Related stories: Video - Boko Haram threatens President Goodluck Jonathan on youtube 

Car bomb explosion in Kaduna, Nigeria on Easter Sunday

Death toll in Boko Haram Kano attack rises to 215

British Airways admits to evading tax in Nigeria


Major foreign airlines in Nigeria, especially the British Airways (BA), and Air France-KLM Nigeria, Tuesday admitted that they had failed to remit the five per cent Passenger Fuel Surcharge (PFS) on their tickets to Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) as required by global aviation practices.

Country Manager of BA, Mr. Kola Olayinka, told the Senate Committee on Aviation that organised an investigative public hearing on the violation of aviation laws by foreign airlines that, "no airline, as we speak, is remitting the five per cent charged on air fares to the NCAA. It is not only BA."

But the General Manager of Air France-KLM Nigeria, Mr. Christian Herpi, said if an extant Nigerian law required the airline to pay five per cent from the PFS, it was ready to comply, noting that it had been a practice by airlines worldwide and was not peculiar to airlines flying from Nigeria.

Olayinka also argued in the same line, assuring the committee that it was ready to comply with the directive, provided the legal requirement was clearly spelt out.

However, the Senate Committee on Aviation has threatened to recommend for prosecution BA for tax evasion.

The committee chairman, Senator Hope Uzodinma (PDP, Imo), said tax evasion is a criminal act and must be prosecuted accordingly.

The committee found that foreign airlines, including the BA, were not remitting the five per cent of PFS charged on air tickets to the NCAA as provided by law.

Uzodinma said: "Refusal to remit taxes is not a civil matter, it is a criminal offence which should be investigated by the appropriate department and we may have to do so."

The committee chairman however faulted the argument of BA's country manager, saying "That others are not paying doesn't make it right. The problem is that the NCAA continues to treat this matter as civil. Refusal to pay revenue to government is a criminal matter and we must treat it as such. We will invite relevant department to investigate the matter for possible prosecution."

Uzodinma frowned on the refusal of BA to pay the five per cent tax even when the company enjoys tax relief due to the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) between Nigeria and Britain.

Although the airlines had argued that the PFS was charged by the airlines to cover the cost of aviation occasioned by global increases in crude oil, the committee noted that the airlines never reflected in the value of the PFS any fall in the price of crude at the international market.

According to the committee, it has been established that the PFS is the revenue accruing to the airlines, since it usually appeared in their account books as a major revenue source to the airline, which is taxable.

Uzodinma, however, tasked the NCAA to immediately commence the recovery of the taxes from the airlines as soon as possible.

Some members of the committee suggested that the refusal to pay the money amounted to tax evasion and should be treated as a financial crime.

Meanwhile, the foreign airlines have advised the country to establish a national airline as a step towards boosting the aviation industry.

They suggested that although some smaller African countries own national airlines with difficulty in management, Nigeria should be able to run a national carrier.

Herpi said he had travelled around Africa for many years and would advise strongly for Nigeria to own its national airline.

Olayinka said a national carrier would be an ideal project to be pursued by the present administration.

He said: "We need more airlines and a national carrier. If not we need to ensure that existing local airlines were supported to be able to fly the nation's flag."

Olayinka had argued that the law of demand and supply was responsible for the increase in the air fares as it affects First and Business Classes, recommending that more frequencies be allocated to airlines flying the routes concerned.

But the consultant for NCAA, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, said more frequencies would not address the problem which was created by the fact that most of the airlines do not have directed flight from Lagos to London.

He said 90 per cent of the travellers from Lagos to London go by BA and Virgin Atlantic, adding that passengers flying Air France and KLM to London are those who could not fly BA because of the cost.

Nigerians flying to London had little or no choice to make, given that only BA and Virgin Atlantic operate direct flights to and from London.

Irukera argued that although the BA and Virgin argue on the basis of economics, the issue transcended economics as it was a matter of law and legality.

The committee however noted that since the foreign airlines admitted to not paying the statutory 5 per cent from the PFS, the NCAA should endeavour to commence the collection of the levies from the airlines.

This Day

Related stories: Ultimatum given to British Airways for unfair business practice

Nigerian government moves to restrict British airways flights to Lagos

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Former Nigerian governor to Delta state James Ibori sentenced to 13 years in UK prison

Former Delta state governor, Chief James Ibori was Tuesday jailed by a British court for 13 years on  for his part in a $250 million fraud of state funds.

James Ibori, 49, who was governor o foil-rich Delta State between 1999 and 2007, was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court in London.

Scotland Yard says that during his two terms as governor, Ibori “systematically stole funds from the public purse, secreting them in bank accounts across the world”, in a fraud worth $250 million.

In February, Ibori pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money, five of money laundering and one of obtaining a property transfer by deception.

He also admitted conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to make false instruments, and one count of money laundering linked to a $37-million share fraud surrounding the sale of shares in Nigerian company V Mobile.

Ibori “deliberately and systematically defrauded the people whose interests he had been elected to represent”, said Sue Patten, head of Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service central fraud group.

Britain’s International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said corruption was a “cancer” in the developing world and the sentence sent a strong message to people eying Britain “as a refuge for their crimes”.

“We are committed to rooting out corruption wherever it is undermining development, and will help bring its perpetrators like Ibori to justice and return stolen funds to help the world’s poorest,” he said in a statement.


Related stories: Trial of ex-governor James Ibori gets rowdy - Police called in 

 Former Delta state governor James Ibori pleads guilty to money laundering

Video interview with James Ibori about corruption charges

Dubai set to extradite Ibori

Trial of ex-governor James Ibori gets rowdy - Police called in

Police were called to a London court yesterday, where  former Delta  State Governor, James Ibori, was due to be sentenced over a fraud involving $250 million of state funds.

He will learn of how many years he will remain behind bars today.

Three police vans, five cars and a helicopter were deployed to Southwark Crown Court on the first day of a two-day sentencing hearing, after reports of a disturbance inside, an AFP correspondent said.

Witnesses said supporters of Ibori, who was governor between 1999 and 2007, became loud and aggressive when they were excluded from the packed courtroom.

“We were there to provide assistance because it was oversubscribed that there were just too many people to get in,” a police spokeswoman told AFP, adding that order had been quickly restored.

A court spokesman confirmed there had been overcrowding and that the hearing had been delayed.

Ibori had faced corruption charges in Nigeria and in Britain, where he was pursued by a police unit which investigates the activities of foreign officials who seek to launder stolen assets in Britain.

Scotland Yard said during his two terms as governor, Ibori “systematically stole funds from the public purse, secreting them in bank accounts across the world”, in a fraud worth $250 million.

Despite earning less than $25,000 a year, his portfolio included a £2.2 million house in the upmarket London district of Hampstead and a £3.2 million mansion in Johannesburg’s wealthy Sandton district in South Africa.

He owned a $20 million jet and a fleet of armoured Range Rovers and spent money on fees for exclusive British boarding schools and expensive hotels.

In February, Ibori pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to launder money, five of money laundering and one of obtaining a property transfer by deception.

He also admitted conspiracy to defraud,  make false instruments, and one count of money laundering linked to a $37 million share fraud surrounding the sale of shares in Nigerian company V Mobile.

This Day

Related stories: Former Nigerian governor to Delta state James Ibori sentenced to 13 years in UK prison 

Former Delta state governor James Ibori pleads guilty to money laundering

Video interview with James Ibori about corruption charges

Nigerian government decides against 100 percent subsidy removal

The President Goodluck Jonathan administration has quietly bowed to pressure from the Nigerian public and withdrawn its decision to implement a total fuel subsidy removal policy, at least for now.

In the 2012 budget signed by President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday, a provision of N888 billion was made for fuel subsidy which he admitted was due to pressure from the public.

His words: "The initial 2012 Budget proposal assumed full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. However, after listening to the voice of Nigerians, we opted for partial subsidy removal.

This meant that we had to review the budget's revenue and expenditure projections to make some provisions amounting to N888 billion in the budget."

Many Nigerians had engaged in panic buying of petrol at the beginning of this month in anticipation of an announcement of the full subsidy removal by the Federal Government, going by its earlier agreement with organised labour.

Although the president did not categorically say that the policy of 100 per cent subsidy removal has been abandoned, sources at the corridors of power said "there are no serious discussion in that regard anymore" and that the trouble that the administration passed through in January over fuel subsidy was not one that should be desired so soon.

Going by the N888 billion provision for fuel subsidy in the 2012, the president and his National Economic Management Team are likely to face another huddle over the issue in no distant future.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, claimed that over N1.3 trillion was spent on fuel subsidy in 2011, precipitating a public outcry and a public hearing organised by the House of Representatives.

State Commissioners of Finance have already rejected the deductions made in that respect for the months of January and February and have advised their governors to protest it before President Jonathan as they argued that the figures don't add up.

They pointed that if about N1.3 trillion was spent in 2011 when a litre of Premium Motor Spirit, petrol, was sold at N 65, why would the subsidy paid by government increase, rather than decrease in 2012 when a litre of petrol sells at N97.


Related stories:  President Goodluck Jonathan attacked on facebook over fuel subsidy 

Video - Fuel subsidy protests turn violent in Nigeria

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Jim Yong Kim winning the bid for World Bank president

I would like to congratulate Dr Jim Yong Kim on his emergence as President of the World Bank Group. I look forward to working with him, staff and stakeholders of the World Bank Group for the benefit of poor people around the world. Their plight is at the heart of the mandate of the institution and we must never lose sight of that.

With regard to the selection process, it is clear to me that we need to make it more open, transparent and merit-based. We need to make sure that we do not contribute to a democratic deficit in global governance.

Nevertheless, by our participation we have won important victories. We have shown what is possible. Our credible and merit-based challenge to a long-standing and unfair tradition will ensure that the process of choosing a World Bank president will never be the same again. The struggle for greater equity and fairness has reached a critical point and the hands of the clock cannot be turned back.

I congratulate Dr Jose Antonio Ocampo for being a worthy participant and for his decision to withdraw his candidacy in my favour.

I am proud of Africa for displaying great unity in supporting my candidacy. I am proud of my country Nigeria for standing by me. I want to thank all the African leaders, but particularly President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for his resolute support, along with other leaders - President Boni Yayi of Benin Republic, President Alassane Ouattara of Cote d'Ivoire, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Chair of the African Union, Mr Jean Ping. Africa has stood for the right principles throughout these processes. I am proud to be African.

I want to thank other developing countries who supported my candidacy. I also thank the Nigerian public, the National Assembly and the Nigerian and international media for their analyses and support. I am deeply grateful to the numerous groups and individuals in different parts of the world that worked so hard and so passionately in my support.

It was a worthwhile battle. Now it is time to move on and contribute to the search for solutions to the many developmental challenges that confront the world.

Daily Trust

Related stories: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala concedes to Jim Yong Kim for World Bank top job 

 Video - Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks to CNN's Richard Quest about her bid for World Bank top job