Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nigerian black market oil traders offer huge discount to international traders

Criminals in the country’s oil sector, who claim to have privileged access to crude oil, are offering the commodity at huge discounts to interested traders.

Oil traders, however, view the deals as too good to be genuine, as documents from the criminals’ companies show that spot cargoes of several hundred thousand barrels of crude can be picked up at discounts of up to $10m.

Traders in the oil sector told Reuters that the documents were suspiciously flawed.

According to them, this indicates that financial crimes in the country have definitely hit the oil industry.

The obscure firms involved in the fraudulent activities include one United-Kingdom registered company purporting to be near the top of a sales chain in which oil cargoes can change hands up to half a dozen times before being refined.

Two of the firms said they were able to sell oil cheaply because of special access to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s contracts.

The NNPC, in a bid to warn oil marketers of scammers in the sector, had placed a “Scam Alert” on its website drawing attention to the “unsavoury characters purporting to be bona fide staff of the NNPC or contractors to NNPC or purchasers of Nigerian crude oil or contractors to the Nigerian government.”

Industry analysts said the difficulty faced by the present administration in making reforms during time of considerable doubt over who was responsible for selling oil was one factor enabling the fraudsters.

Though some measures were recently adopted to streamline the entry for participation in NNPC’s 2012-2013 term allocations, the results have not appeared since the initial tender document was released in March.

Five written offers from some of the firms showed a close resemblance to official paperwork circulated among traders, including documents attributed to NNPC, stamps from terminal operators and shipping lists with vessels and loading dates.

“They are full of imagination,” a West African oil trader told Reuters, while commenting on the document.

Another oil trader with a London-based oil firm suspected that some of the offers were attempts to resell the oil siphoned off by thieves in the Niger Delta, since the majority of offers were for the local grade Bonny Light.

“A lot of this oil on the side may be bunkered (stolen) and does go to people in the Delta to sell. It is a side business and I think some buyers are doing good business there,” the source, who preferred not to be named, said.

Nigeria’s oil is sold by equity holders including oil majors Total and Royal Dutch Shell, which have a stake in production and via term contracts handed mostly to oil trading firms.

The large number of companies involved in selling oil via term contracts means it can be tough for even experienced traders to tell the difference between real and fake offers.

Industry sources said the number of companies selling Nigeria’s oil increased dramatically after Jonathan’s election as part of a strategy to broaden local participation in the country’s oil sector.

But critics point to this as an example of the cronyism that is helping to buttress support for Nigeria’s political elite.

“It will be interesting to see whether the issuing of the latest crude tender to include Nigerian companies is a return to the political patronage of the past dressed up as increasing Nigerian content,” said an oil industry consulting source in Nigeria.


Related stories: Nigeria loses $20bn in oil theft yearly

Nigeria number 1 in crude oil theft 

Arsenal to play Super Eagles in Abuja, Nigeria

English Premier League club Arsenal will play the Super Eagles of Nigeria in a pre-season match in Abuja on 5 August. It will be the first time the Gunners have played in the West African country.

Nigeria ranked 60th in the latest Fifa rankings face Arsenal who finished third in the English top flight last season. According to promoters, DanJan Sports, agreement has been finalised with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

"We are delighted to announce that Arsenal Football Club will face the Super Eagles of Nigeria in Abuja," David Omigie of DanJan Sports said.

"The NFF have agreed that the country will present a strong side as coach Stephen Keshi continue his development process.

"The Arsenal manager [Arsene Wenger] will also use this game to showcase his full squad for the 2012/2013 football season."

The London club traditionally hosts an annual pre-season tournament at the Emirates Stadium, but they opted to postpone the event for a year because of the 2012 London Olympics.

The visit to Nigeria will conclude Arsenal's pre-season tour after playing in both China and Malaysia in July. On their official website Arsenal said: "The club last visited Africa during a tour to South Africa in July 1993, and is returning as a result of the fantastic support which exists for the team, not only in Nigeria, but across the entire continent."

Meanwhile, DanJan Sports also revealed that tickets for the upcoming friendly match with Nigeria will go on sale from July 4 across outlets to be announced soon.

In July 2008, they brought two other English clubs, Manchester United and Portsmouth, to the Nigerian capital Abuja for a pre-season friendly.

As well as the match between the two, Portsmouth also played against Nigeria Premier League side Kano Pillars.


Related stories: Doubts on Arsenal tour of Nigeria due to security issues

Arsenal coach Arsene Wengers says Nigeria not producing good players anymore

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Convicted Ex-Governor James Ibori's mistress released from UK prison

Udoamaka Okoronkwo-Onuigbo, the mistress of a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, has been released from a United Kingdom Prison after serving two years.

Okoronkwo-Onuigbo, who was tried alongside Ibori’s sister, Christine Ibori-Ibie, was found guilty of money laundering and mortgage fraud and was sentenced to five years by Judge Christopher Hardy of a Southwark London Crown Court on June 7, 2010.

The two women were accused and subsequently convicted of handling proceeds of criminal transactions on behalf of Ibori while he was governor of Delta State.

The court however ordered that their sentences be served concurrently and Okoronkwo-Onuigbo was released in May.

The ex-convict has since returned to Nigeria and was seen in Abuja recently.

Ibori is presently in a UK prison where he is spending a 13-year jail term.


Related stories: Former Delta state governor James Ibori pleads guilty to money laundering 

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

Video - How Nigeria should tackle Boko Haram

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has fired his defence minister and national security advisor, saying the government needed new tactics to fight the armed group, Boko Haram. The group has intensified its attacks recently. What kind of new tactics will end the violence and is dialogue still an option?

Al Jazeera 

Related stories: Video - Violence in Nigeria spiraling out of control

Video - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

$6.25 billion US spent a year by Nigerians travelling abroad for medical treatment

Minister of State for Health Dr. Mohammed Ali Pate says Nigerians spend about $6.256 billion per annum to access medical care abroad, regretting that some of the medical services Nigerians spend hard currencies to access abroad are available locally.

Delivering a keynote address at a one-day private sector health summit on 'Unlocking the Market Potential of Nigeria's Private Health Sector' held in Lagos yesterday, the minister said "up to half a billion US dollars leaves Nigeria annually in the form of foreign hospital treatment; a recent study shows that $500 million is spent on medical care in three sub-specialties alone; also a recent study shows that about $250 million per annum is estimated to flow to providers through health insurance system in Nigeria. By extrapolation, this points to about $6.25 billion per annum flowing private health expenditure" he said.

The minister also said most of the facilities Nigerians access broad are privately owned, saying the private health care sector in Nigeria should build capacity and provide superiority services to attract Nigerians to stay home for medical care.

Part of the solution to unlocking the market potential of the health sector, he said, is creating opportunities for the financial institutions to invest in health care delivery in Nigeria. This, according to him, will enable Nigeria to harness the resources and expertise of our medical experts in the Diaspora.

The second main constraints he said is development and enforcement of regulation and policies that stimulate the sector, reduce bottlenecks to effective private sector engagement and cost of doing business in health care.

Reacting on the call by the stakeholders in health care delivery for the government through Central Bank of Nigeria to provide rescue funds for the health sector like other sectors, he said while the option would be explored, government is more disposed to creating the enabling environment so several funding streams could flow in the health sector.

"Our private sector needs to up their game in the quality of medical care that they provide so that Nigerians will stay and access their care here in Nigeria, so we can retain our foreign currency and grow our economy" he said.

Daily Trust

Related stories: Nigerian government to ban foreign medical trips by civil servants 

Governor of Lagos state fires all doctors on strike 

Nigerian Emmanuel Ohuabunwa breaks academic record at John Hopkins University, USA

A 22-year-old Nigerian, Emmanuel Ohuabunwa, has made history at John Hopkins University, United States of America.  Ohuabunwa from Arochukwu, Abia State, has done the nation proud by becoming the first black man to make a Grade Point Average of 3.98 out of 4.0 to bag a degree in Neurosciences in the university. He was also adjudged as having the highest honours during the graduation that was held on May 24 this year.

For his efforts, he has won a scholarship to Yale University to pursue a degree in medicine. Besides, he has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society, a prestigious honour group that features membership of 17 US Presidents, 37 US Supreme Court Justices, and 136 Nobel Prize winners.

According to Wikipedia, The Phi Beta Kappa Society is an academic honour society. Its mission is to “celebrate and advocate excellence in the liberal arts and sciences” and induct “the most outstanding students of arts and sciences at America’s leading colleges and universities.”

 It was founded at The College of William and Mary on December 5, 1776, and thus it is the oldest honour society for the liberal arts and sciences and among the oldest undergraduate societies in the US.

In an online interview with our correspondent, Ohuabunwa, who was born in Okota, Lagos and attended Lilly Fields Primary School, Lagos, said he left Nigeria after his junior secondary school education at Air Force Comprehensive School, Ibadan, Oyo State. 

“My parents moved the whole family when I was 13 years old. I was about to begin SS1 at Air Force, Ibadan. When I got to the US, I was enrolled with my age mates, which meant at 13, I was in middle school. I went to Fondren Middle School, which was in the middle of the ghetto. That was one of the darkest years for me because I encountered a lot of peer pressure. Some of the students, ignorant about Africa, bullied me and called me names such as ‘African booty scratcher’ because to them, Africans were dirty and scratched their butts all the time.

“Some asked me if I lived in mud huts and ate faeces for breakfast. I remember one day, when I was walking to the school bus, a boy came from behind and punched me in the face, called me an African and walked away. It took everything in me not to retaliate. I knew that God had put me in the U.S for a purpose and it did not involve fighting or selling drugs or doing the wrong things.

“My experience during that year gave me a thick skin. I learned to stand for what I thought was right even when the opposition seemed insurmountable. I also learned to look at the positive in all situations. Even though these kids were bullying me, I was still gaining an opportunity to school in America and nothing would stop me from making the best of this opportunity.

“The shocker was that the kid that punched me in the face was black. I would have expected the blacks to be nicer to me. Nevertheless, I don’t blame those kids because they were ignorant about Africa. All they knew about us was the stuff they had watched on TV or documentaries, showing primitive African tribes, living in the jungle and making noises like monkeys.

 “In regards to the whites, there might have been some minor episodes but again I don’t blame them for it because it is a problem with stereotypes,” he said.

But in spite of this humiliation and racial prejudice against him, the first in a family of three was not discouraged. He faced his studies and was always coming top in his class. After he completed his middle school education, he passed the entrance examination to DeBakey High School for Health Professions. It was at this school that his interest in neurosciences and medicine started.

“By the second year of high school, we were able to interact with doctors, nurses and other administrators in the hospital. The more I learned about medicine, the more it felt like the thing God was calling me to pursue and by being in the US I got a lot of people to support me to do this. Even though in high school, I got to see first-hand what it meant to be a doctor. We studied advanced anatomy and physiology, learned medical terminology, and learned important skills, such as checking blood pressure, pulse rate, and many more.

“I knew I wanted to go to the best school in the US. I had heard that Johns Hopkins Hospital had been ranked the number one hospital in the US for the past 21 years and I wanted to be in that environment.’’

Worried that his parents might not be able to sponsor him to the university, Ohuabunwa purposed to work very hard. He did and when the result of the PSAT came, he performed so well that he won the National Achievement Scholar.

By virtue of this award, he received certificates of recognition from various organisations including senators from the Congress of both Texas and the US. He also received scholarship from the University of Houston; Rice University, Texas A&M Honors College and many more.

He had also won the Principal’s Award during the annual awards ceremony at DeBakey High School.

“During our graduation ceremony at DeBakey, I also won the Award for the Most Outstanding Senior Young Man and the student volunteer award for my volunteer activities in the State of Texas,” he said.

 But his breakthrough came when he won the Bill and Belinda Gates Foundation full scholarship to any university of his choice. He worked hard and gained admission to Johns Hopkins University to study Neurosciences.

But why Neurosciences, Ohuabunwa said, “I studied Neuroscience, because I was fascinated with the brain, its control of our behaviours and how various diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, lead to a decline in its activity. I also minored in Psychology because I wanted to understand disorders in the psyche. What causes bipolar disorders or schizophrenia. I did not just want to label them as crazy but to understand what causes these conditions and how we can treat them,’’ he explained.

 But what does he consider to be the missing links in the education sector of Nigeria when compared with that on offer in US, Ohuabunwa said unpredictable academic calendar, corruption, examination malpractice and inadequate funding were some of the problems confronting his home country’s university sector. These, he said, were absent in the US.

 “There were a few problems with Nigerian higher education that contributed to our emigration in 2003.  The first was the number of strikes that occurred in schools. It took my uncle seven years to graduate with a degree that should have taken him only four years. A second problem was the corruption. We had heard of people going into universities, because they paid someone to look the other way. I also heard of a few cheating scandals, where people would pay someone to take their exams for them or get a copy of the exam a few days before,” he said.

But is he saying that US university system has no such problems at all? Ohuabunwa said, “Although this sometimes occurs in the U.S, it is less common because of the strict security. I remember when taking the Medical College Admissions Test,  test required before one can matriculate into medical school, each student had to get his fingerprints taken every time we entered and left the hall. The whole place was packed with cameras and security staff that monitored everything we were doing. The exam was computerised to make sure that no one saw the test before the actual date.”

Another difference, he said, is that America rewards hard-work while the system also emphasises on a balance between academic life and extracurricular activities.

On how he won the scholarship to Yale, Ohuabunwa said his 3.98 GPA in Neurosciences, and many awards he had won and God’s grace, contributed to his winning the scholarship.

“As at the time of my application for medical school, I had a 3.98 GPA of a 4.0. This made me  the only black student inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa. I was also awarded the Becker Family Scholarship for being the most outstanding student in the Neuroscience major at Johns Hopkins University. Furthermore, by God’s grace, I took the MCAT and scored in the top five percentile.

“That, combined with my hours of volunteer service in different hospitals across the US allowed me to gain acceptance into every medical school I applied to, including Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Cornell. As the time came to make a decision, I had narrowed it down to Harvard and Yale. Both schools, I enjoyed visiting. Nevertheless, while my parents prayed, they asked God to give us a sign of what school to attend. A few days later, I received a letter from Yale Medical School, offering me a full ride scholarship for all four years. That was the sign from God,” he said.

But would he come back to Nigeria after the completion of his programme, he said yes.

“I am absolutely interested in the health care policy decisions in Nigeria. Because there are many changes that need to occur, I will not rule out the possibility of coming back after my studies, in order to join hands with the leaders to make these changes possible.’’

He added that his ambition is to become a medical doctor specialising in brain surgery.

 “Two weeks ago, my grandmother passed away after a long battle with strokes. Even during emergencies, it was difficult for her to get to the hospital, let alone get treatment. This is a common theme not only in the health care system of Nigeria, but in different countries in the world, where the poor get neglected.

“Second, Nigerian hospitals lack the infrastructure required to compete with major hospitals around the world. It would be an honour to one day contribute to this transformation that is necessary for improvements in Nigeria’s health care sector,” he said.

He, however, advised Nigerian youths who have the wherewithal, to go abroad to study. Ohuabunwa also called on  wealthy Nigerians to invest more in the education of the poor rather than in acquisition of material things.

Ohuabunwa, however, said that his parents, who he described as his greatest role models,  contributed a lot  to his academic feat through Godly training, counsel and guidance. He also did not forget the impact  that his short stay at Air Force school had on him.

 “I was definitely not the brightest at Air Force. At that time, I felt like I spent more time running away from seniors than focusing on my studies. Nevertheless, I learned three things at Air Force that have served me well in the US. I learned discipline, adaptability and resilience. These attributes helped me a lot in US,” he said.


Related stories: Video - 15 year old Nigerian girl gets admission to Harvard

Nigerian immigrants have highest level of education in the U.S.

Nigerian student wins best artificial intelligence research award 

Foreign diplomats in Nigeria ask for protection

Following increasing wave of terrorism in the country, foreign diplomats, yesterday, cried out to the Federal Government for protection.

The diplomats took their case to the government on a day Senate President, David Mark warned the Boko Haram sect that there is a limit to which the country can tolerate their bomb attacks which have claimed several lives.

The Senate President therefore challenged northern leaders to own up if the problem of Boko Haram is beyond them, saying the sect's terrorist activities will break up Nigeria if they fail to stop them.

The foreign embassies in Abuja, worried by the security challenges in the country, yesterday, took their worries to the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Administration for proper assurance on the security of their offices in the territory.

High Commissioners of Trinidad & Tobago, Rwanda and Mali who visited the FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed in his office sought improved security around the diplomatic community in Abuja and appealed to the minister to ensure improved protection of lives and property of diplomats in Abuja. The three diplomats are High Commissioner of Trinidad & Tobago to Nigeria, Ambassador Nyahuma Obika; Rwanda High Commissioner, Joseph Habineza and Malian Ambassador, Mahanane Amadou Maiga.

Though, the ambassadors promised to strengthen trade ties between their various countries and Nigeria, they, however, called for enhanced security of the diplomatic community.

The FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed assured the ambassadors of the safety of the members of the diplomatic community saying their safety is of utmost importance to the government and that security agents are on top of the security challenge in Nigeria.

According to him, "we will do all it takes to protect lives and property of all residents of the Federal Capital Territory, including members of the diplomatic community".


Related stories: U.S. identifies Boko Haram leaders as global terrorists 

Video - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram?

Monday, June 25, 2012

United Nationes warns secterian violence in Nigeria could amount to crimes against humanity

The United Nations human rights office today condemned the repeated attacks on churches in Nigeria by the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram, and warned that acts against civilians, including on grounds such as religion or ethnicity, could amount to crimes against humanity.

It is estimated that over 100 people have been killed when several churches were attacked by Boko Haram in Kaduna state, in the country's centre, last Sunday and in its aftermath, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Boko Haram is the same group that claimed responsibility for the bombing last year of the UN offices in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Some 30 people were killed in the initial attacks on Sunday and subsequent retaliation by Christian youths who set up checkpoints. The rest were reportedly killed in clashes between the security forces and Muslims protesting at the deadly retaliatory acts by the Christians, and most recently in clashes between the security forces and alleged insurgents in the Damaturu area.

"We condemn the repeated attacks by Boko Haram on places of worship and on religious freedom, as well as its blatant attempts to stir sectarian tensions and violence between two communities that have lived together peacefully for so long," OHCHR's spokesperson in Geneva, Rupert Colville, told reporters.

Mr. Colville added that members of Boko Haram and other groups and entities, if judged to have committed widespread or systematic attacks against a civilian population - including on grounds such as religion or ethnicity - are likely to be found guilty of crimes against humanity.

"Deliberate acts leading to population 'cleansing' on grounds of religion or ethnicity would also amount to a crime against humanity," he noted.

OHCHR urged the authorities to take measures to curb inflammatory or hate speech and to work with all stakeholders including civil society and religious leaders to help deal with this deadly threat.

It also encouraged Muslim and Christian leaders to redouble their efforts to contain such extremely dangerous manifestations of religious intolerance and inter-communal violence.


Related stories: Video - Violence in Nigeria spiraling out of control

Video - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram?

Video - Curfew brings uneasy calm to Kaduna, Nigeria

Days after fighting between Christian and Muslim youths in northern Nigeria, many of those wounded in the bombing of three churches are still in hospital.

Things have calmed down in many parts of Kaduna, but a strict curfew remains in place throughout the state.

Some feel curfews will not address the dangers posed by the Islamist sect Boko Haram, and the retaliatory violence that sometimes follows the group's attacks.

Al Jazeera

Related stories: Video - Violence in Nigeria spiraling out of control 

Video - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram?

Nigeria number 1 in crude oil theft

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday described Nigeria as the only country in the world where crude oil is stolen at an alarming rate, saying the situation has reached the stage of a full-blown cancer.

He also said he has not decided whether to run for the presidency in 2015, as he needed more time to attend to security and economic matters plaguing the country before thinking of 2015 politics.

While responding to questions at a "Presidential Media Chat" televised live last night, Jonathan said while the issue of whether he will seek a second term in 2015 was overheating the country's political environment, "it is not proper for a Nigerian president to make comments on 2015 at this stage".

Hinting that he would make his decision public by the end of 2013, the president urged Nigerians to allow him to use two years-plus to tackle economic and security issues. He cited a country like Ghana where, he said, things are haphazard because, right from day one after their general elections, campaigns begin in top gear for the next one.

"Let us leave 2015 issue. When INEC opens the gate we will know who is to contest and who will not contest," he said, adding that he should not be dragged into making statements that the media could begin to mis-interpret the next day.

Expressing worry over crude oil theft in Nigeria, Jonathan said: "The stealing of crude oil appears to be in Nigeria. It is not happening elsewhere. It is like a cancerous cell. A cancerous cell starts developing somewhere in your body, either in your prostate region or in your breast and they won't notice it still; or probably when they notice it, they think that it is ordinary boil. It gets to a point where, when they know, they cannot control it.

"We have held serious meetings between security services, the private sector like Shell and all the key oil players. We have been holding meetings. They will have to stop it. But it is like allowing a cancerous cell to develop a major tumour that even spreads to the critical organs. So, we need stronger effort. We need to spend more money than to spend more days in the hospital. That is where we are. We will crush it; we are on it. Because there is no county where they are stealing crude oil the way they are stealing in Nigeria."

Noting that classifying the stealing of crude oil as oil bunkering was not proper, the president said, "the word bunkering I knew when I was in the customs in Port Harcourt, happens in a way that when ships come, there are big companies that are legalised to go and sell them in water. But, here, somebody goes there to open a pipe and steal crude oil and they call it bunkering. I don't know whether, technically, it's bunkering. I call it crude oil stealing. It is not bunkering. Those who still crude oil are thieves. They are common criminals."


Related stories: Nigeria loses $20bn in oil theft yearly

 Shell raises concern on unprecedented oil theft in Nigeria

Sunday, June 24, 2012

40 prison inmates escape as gunmen attack prison in Damaturu, Nigeria

The Police in Damaturu have confirmed the attack by armed gunmen on a satellite prison in Damaturu where 40 inmates were set free.

Yobe state Commissioner of Police Patrick Egbuniwe told reporters in Damaturu on Sunday: "Yes there was a jail break in the early hours of this morning (Sunday 24/06/2012) which was assisted by some armed gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Harama sect.

"The armed gunmen freed 40 prisoners, killed one prisoner and one prison warder was injured in the process.

"Our men arrived at the scene and fought to re arrest some prisoners and arrest the attackers but at the moment, no prisoner is re arrested nor any arrest made.

"Some of the gunmen were killed but their members carted away with their bodies," the Commissioner Police informed.

Commissioner of Police Mr. Egbuniwe disclosed that a combined team of the Police and Army are after the attackers whom he said are being traced to Bundigari and Pawari wards of Damaturu the state capital.

Leadership Newspaper recalls that Sunday's attack on a prison facility is the second with the first at Damagum satellite prison in Fune Local Government where 14 inmates were freed.


Related stories: Boko Haram snipers kill three policemen

Gunmen kill 19 villagers in Zamfara

Friday, June 22, 2012

India becomes Nigeria's major trading partner

India has overtaken the United States of America (USA) to become Nigeria's major export trading partner, according to the First Quarter 2012 Trade Statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

It came as the Indian government yesterday expressed interest in higher volumes of term contracts of crude oil supplies with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The NBS report, which put the total value of the nation's exports in Q1 2012 at about N4.9 trillion, showed that total value of exports to India reached N688.5 billion compared to N607.7 billion credited to the US in the period under review.

The US was trailed by the Netherlands with N482.1 billion followed by Spain with N390.4 billion and Brazil which recorded N328.9 billion.

The relegation of the US to the second position is seen as a major development for Nigeria and India trade relations given that the US had remained the former's biggest trading partner since 1964.

However, the N4.9 trillion total export mark for the country in Q1 represented a decrease of about N2.1 trillion or 30.3 per cent over the figure in the preceding quarter.

The report blamed the decline in value of exports on decrease in the value of Non-crude oil exports (especially Products of the Chemical and Allied industries; Plastic, Rubber and Articles, wood and textile among others.

Reacting to the new trend in bilateral trade, Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Mahesh Sachdev, told THISDAY in an exclusive interview Thursday that India was determined to hold on to its new position for as long as it could.

He said: "India's arrival as the largest market for Nigerian exports does not come as a surprise as India has been Nigeria's second largest market for many years. Given steady increase in our demand for Nigerian exports, India is likely to maintain this pole position in the foreseeable future."

But in terms of balance of trade between India and Nigeria, the report indicated a trade deficit of N575 billion against the former within the period. This means that India was buying a lot more than Nigeria currently does from India.

According to him: "This figure of over 3.5 billion is obviously too high to be sustainable."

He argued that to maintain the current momentum of growth, both countries must ensure that more Indian products were imported into Nigeria.

The Indian High Commissioner said the surge in Nigerian exports to India had been aided by the openness and transparency of the Indian market to Nigerian products urged the Nigerian side to also ensure that Indian goods and services received similar embrace in the country.

This, according to him, could only be achieved by ensuring level playing ground, transparency, proper customs treatment as well as steps to curb faking and counterfeiting of Indian products.

He said:"During the Q1/2012, Indian exports increased by nearly 4 per cent over previous quarter. In recent weeks, India has permitted global unrestricted exports of agricultural products such as Wheat, rice, sugar, milk powder, etc-which are needed by Nigeria. We hope that Nigerian stakeholders would take steps to source these items from India as this would promote a more balanced bilateral trade."

Meanwhile, Sachdev maintained that expanding the volumes of term contract of supplies with NNPC would reduce India's current huge reliance on spot market purchases of various Nigerian crude adding that "If this is done, it would help engender greater stability to Nigerian crude exports to India, already their largest buyer."

The report further noted that: "Classification of the value of total Exports by region revealed that Europe lead in regional contribution to total exports with N1,816.8 billion or 36.6%,

by the Americas with N1,385.0 billion or 27.9%, and Asia with N1,113.9billion or 22.4%. Exports to African countries amounted to N535.0 billion or 10.8% of total exports with ECOWAS Countries contributing N246.7 billion or 46.1% of this amount."

This Day

Related stories: India plans $1.5 trillion investment in Africa

Nigeria to sign trade pact with Pakistan 

China invests $6 Billion in Nigeria

Video - Violence in Nigeria spiraling out of control

The latest wave of violence in Nigeria started after three churches were bombed on Sunday in Kaduna, a city which lies on the border between the Muslim north and the mostly Christian south. Boko Haram, the armed group that is opposed to Western ideology and which wants to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria, claimed responsibility for Sunday's suicide attacks.

Although the group says it is trying to wipe out Western influence in the country, the attacks have a distinctly sectarian hue. Just how much of a threat is the Boko Haram to Nigeria? Guests: William Okoye, Alhaji Garba Sani, Buba Misawa.

Al jazeera

Related stories:  Video - Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram?

Another bloody Sunday - Suicide bombers attack 3 churches as youths launch reprisal

Thursday, June 21, 2012

U.S. identifies Boko Haram leaders as global terrorists

The Department of State designated Abubakar Shekau, Abubakar Adam Kambar, and Khalid al-Barnawi as Specially Designated Global Terrorists under section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224.

Shekau is the most visible leader of the Nigeria-based militant group Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, commonly referred to as Boko Haram.  Khalid al-Barnawi and Abubakar Adam Kambar have ties to Boko Haram and have close links to al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Under Shekau's leadership, Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in northern Nigeria, its primary area of operation.  In the last 18 months, Boko Haram or associated militants have killed more than 1,000 people.

Boko Haram is credited with the August 26, 2011 attack on the United Nations building Abuja that killed at least 23 people and wounded scores more.  Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for the December 25, 2011 attack on the Saint Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, Nigeria, that killed at least 35 and wounded dozens more.  Boko Haram's deadliest violence occurred on January 20, 2012 in Kano, Nigeria, with a series of attacks that killed more than 180 people.  Boko Haram's victims have been overwhelmingly civilian.

The designation under E.O. 13224 blocks all of Shekau's, Kambar's and al-Barnawi's property interests subject to U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with or for the benefit of these individuals.

These designations demonstrate the United States' resolve in diminishing the capacity of Boko Haram to execute violent attacks.  The Department of State took these actions in consultation with the Departments of Justice and Treasury.

All Africa

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

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

Suicide bomber - We're doing God's work

A suicide bomber who was blown off with an explosive device he was carrying on Tuesday said on his deathbed that the group was doing “God’s work” and would not stop.

The suspected suicide bomber  however died in the hospital on Wednesday, police in Bauchi said.

The police  said  the suspected suicide bomber died at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, where he was receiving treatment after the bomb he was carrying exploded.

They  said the suspect was taken to the hospital by the Police, following injuries he sustained from the blast.

A  statement  by the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Idris Abubakar, said  the suicide bomber died in the hospital, where he was receiving treatment.

He said, “On June 19, at about 5.05pm, an anonymous caller informed the Divisional Police Officer, Township, Bauchi, that there was an explosion opposite ANPP Secretariat along Gombe road, Bauchi.

“The police went to the scene and on arrival, a young man was found at the scene seriously injured.

“Upon search by the police bomb experts, it was discovered that the unidentified man was hit by an improvised explosive device he was carrying.

“We recovered one revolver pistol and five rounds of life ammunition on him.’’

The statement  added, “The bomber was rushed to the ATBUTH but died in the course of treatment.

“Before his death, the suicide bomber confirmed that he was member of Boko Haram Islamic sect.’’

On Tuesday, the suicide bomber had travelled by public transport for more than 393 km with the device from Yola, Adamawa State.

He was said to have concealed the bomb in his backpack.

The bomber was unfortunate when he carelessly dropped the bag on the floor to urinate in a corner.

 The device subsequently detonated, dismembering his lower limb and fingers.

Shortly after the incident, while conscious and in pains, the bomber told onlookers – including police officers who had come to arrest him – that he was part of a larger cell of the terrorist Boko Haram sect who are infiltrating the city to carry out an assignment in “God’s name.”

He said his colleagues were on their way to the city from other towns.

When thoroughly searched, a gun was found on him, which the police reportedly took away.


Related stories: Another bloody Sunday - Suicide bombers attack 3 churches as youths launch reprisal

 Suicide bomber attacks church in Jos, Nigeria 

President Goodluck Jonathan defends trip to Brazil amidst insecurity

President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday took up critics of his trip to Brazil to attend the United Nation's Earth Summit Rio+20 despite the troubling security situation in Kaduna and Yobe States, which both came under terrorist attacks a few days to his departure.

Jonathan, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, from Rio de Janeiro, dispelled criticism that his trip amounted to abdicating his responsibility to Nigerians.

He also cautioned the opposition against cashing in on every crisis in the country to score political points.

His trip also got the backing of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), which after its weekly meeting yesterday in Abuja, said through the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, that the president could discharge his responsibility from anywhere in the world, given the technological advancements in telecommunications.

The president has come under fire since he left for the summit on Monday, a day after Boko Haram, in coordinated attacks, bombed three churches in Kaduna and Zaria.

The attacks, carried out by suicide bombers, triggered reprisals that forced the Kaduna State government to impose a 24-hour curfew on the state.

However, since his departure, the House of Representatives, Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), among others, have strongly condemned the trip, contending that it was unnecessary given the security situation in the country.

They had insisted that the president could have delegated any other government official to represent him at the UN Earth Summit.

But the president faulted the position of the opposition, saying that before his departure for Brazil on Monday, he had met with security chiefs and was satisfied with their plans to control the security situation in Kaduna and Yobe, where Boko Haram had launched attacks on troops deployed in the state, shortly before the president's departure.

"The crisis in Kaduna and Yobe occurred almost on the eve of the president's departure for this event and commitments had been made," the presidential statement said, adding: "The conference, Rio+20, is very important and nobody can doubt that.

"The issues that will be discussed at this conference are also issues that are relevant to Nigeria's interest. It is also an opportunity for Nigeria to promote its interest in terms of its place in global community.

"In any event, it is not as if government has abandoned the situation at home. Security agencies are there, they are on top of the situation. Before the president left, he met with security chiefs. The business of leadership cannot just stop because there is a crisis there.

"I think what we can do is to appeal to the opposition not to always play politics with everything; that is the major challenge we face, people always want to play politics with everything.

"If the president had refused to come to Rio, the same persons will turn around and say that there was an important conference attended by world leaders and the Nigerian president stayed away from it.

"It is as if there is nothing you can do to please our people. It is not that Nigeria is going to lose anything by Mr. President's presence here; rather, the country is going to gain a lot from his presence here.

"He is here serving the interest of Nigerians, it is not as if he has abandoned his responsibility," the statement said.

Jonathan, who met with the Nigerian community in Brazil soon after his arrival, assured them that Nigeria would make faster progress in its quest for development if all Nigerians back his administration's efforts to transform the country.

Also Wednesday, Maku told State House correspondents at the end of the FEC meeting that there was nothing wrong with the president's trip to Brazil in the face of the security situation in the country as his absence had created no vacuum in governance.

Maku flayed critics of the Brazilian trip, saying Vice-President Namadi Sambo has the constitutional backing to take over whenever the president is absent.

"The president can take decisions from anywhere in the world. His absence will not hamper his power to act. The vice-president effectively takes charge of affairs once the president is out of Nigeria and he is in touch with the president on an hourly basis.

"There is no vacuum, the most important thing is that the president and the vice-president work harmoniously and are in constant touch.

"If the president panics, what will the people do? We must stop making politics out of the unfortunate incidents going on in Northern Nigeria. The world is now a virtual society; that the president is out of the country, doesn't mean he cannot make decision on a matter," Maku said.

He said that the president has provided leadership on this matter, adding, "Let people make meaningful contributions on how to end this and not play cheap politics and engage in political blackmail. For those turning this to politics, they should re-examine their level of patriotism to this country."

Maku accused the president's critics of ignoring the terrorists and haranguing the president, adding that the debate had not shown solidarity with the president.

"What is required at this time is cooperation with the president. He is on a working visit to Brazil and not on a holiday," he added.

On whether the government would continue to subsidise petrol, Maku said if the government continues to do that, the endemic corruption in the sector would not abate.

This Day

Related stories: Outrage over President Goodluck Jonathan's trip to brazil during crisis

Brazil vs Nigeria friendly cancelled due to Boko Haram

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Brazil vs Nigeria friendly cancelled due to Boko Haram

The activities of terror group, Boko Haram, in northern Nigeria have denied the Super Eagles of a high-profile friendly against Brazil.

The Eagles were due to play the former world champions in Nigeria during a FIFA window in September but the recent bombings in some northern states forced the Brazilians to reconsider their proposed visit to Nigeria and sought another African side for the friendly.

The Selacao thus settled for the Bafana Bafana of South Africa, but the match will be played either in Brazil or the USA on September 7.

The Nigeria Football Federation however said the Nigeria versus Brazil friendly would still hold as planned. An official of the football body told The PUNCH that the organisers had not given up on bringing the Samba Boys to Nigeria.

“The friendly has not been cancelled; the organisers are still hopeful of sorting out a few details in order to bring the Brazilians to Nigeria. It is actually Guinness The Match arrangement and the agent that is putting the match together is confident it will hold,” the NFF official said.

Nigeria are looking to play a high-profile friendly as coach Stephen Keshi continue to strengthen the team ahead of their crucial qualifiers for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 World Cup.

The bombings in the north have also affected the hosting of league matches in the region. The Nigeria Premier League was forced to suspend the Week 28 match between Jigawa Golden Stars and Ocean Boys indefinitely due to the crisis in Kaduna. Both sides were scheduled to play in Jigawa on Wednesday.

Ocean Boys were forced to return to Abuja on Tuesday when they turned back from their journey to Dutse, the capital of Jigawa State.

The new date for the match has yet to be decided by the NPL.


Related stories: President Goodluck Jonathan makes way to Brazil for UN Earth Summit

Brazil to Play in Lagos, Nigeria

Kidnapped son of the Secretary to the State Government of Delta freed

Markson Macaulay, son of Secretary to Delta Government, Mr Ovuozourie Macaulay, abducted by suspected kidnappers in Owhelogbo community in Isoko North Local Government Area on Sunday, has been released.

The state Commissioner of Police, Mr Ikechukwu Aduba, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Asaba.

He said Macaulay was released by his suspected abductors at about 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

Aduba said that the victim was released at Ofoma-Kokori in Ughelli South Local Government Area.

He explained that his release was made easy by the information given to the police by three suspects earlier arrested in connection with the incident.

Aduba said a fourth suspect, a lady, also from Owhelogbo, had also been arrested.

"With the information from the three suspects in our custody, we swung into action, trailing the remaining abductors as they took the boy from one location to another.

"We followed them and when they could no longer withstand the ‘heat’ we unleashed on them, they released him this evening at Ofuoma-Kokori in Ughelli South Local Government Area.

"As we rescued him, we also arrested another suspect, the fourth and a lady, while two of the kidnappers fled,” the commissioner said.

He said that no ransom was paid before the boy was released, stressing that Macaulay’s freedom came “through purely police operation.''

"I repeat and I want to make it clear, no ransom was paid,” he stressed.

Aduba said the command was "tightening all loose ends” in the security network in the state, assuring that with cooperation from the public, criminals would be chased out of the state.

Macaulay, who is a student in a foreign country, was in the village to visit his grandmother.

He was reportedly abducted in front of his father’s house.


Related stories: Son of the Secretary to the State Government of Delta kidnapped 

 Former Super Eagle Christian Obodo kidnapped


Outrage over President Goodluck Jonathan's trip to brazil during crisis

THE news that President Goodluck Jonathan jetted out of the country amidst violence in Kaduna and Yobe states provoked public outrage on Tuesday.

Jonathan on Monday travelled to Brazil to take part in a United Nations’ Earth Summit, leaving behind killings in Kaduna and Yobe. Opposition parties and other eminent citizens who spoke to The PUNCHon Tuesday described the trip as disappointing.

The House of Representatives also said the President could have delegated the trip to Vice-President Namadi Sambo or any of his senior aides since the trip was “not special or of economic interest.”

The spokesman for the House, Zakari Mohammed, told our correspondent, “A trip like that could have been delegated by Mr. President so that he can stay at home to take charge of security.

“We know that security agencies are supposed to do their job, but we cannot afford to compromise security. If our security is compromised, it is a failure of governance.”

Mohammed added that investors would not come to Nigeria if the country was not safe.

But the Senate said Jonathan was in order since he would need to honour international commitments. Spokesman for the upper legislative chamber, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, said it was not the business of the Senate to determine whether Jonathan travelled or not since the Executive and legislature are different arms of government.

The Action Congress of Nigeria, in a statement by his National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, faulted Jonathan’s journey amidst what it described as a “national tragedy.”

“We are constrained to ask whether this President is getting quality advice from a myriad of aides surrounding him, or whether, like his benefactor, Olusegun Obasanjo, he has decided he may not even take any advice from his advisers. In other climes, the usual thing is for leaders to cancel foreign trips or rush home from such trips when their countries suffer tragedies,” the ACN said.

It described the President’s decision to travel “two days after innocent Nigerians, including women and children, were killed as a sign of insensitive and confused leadership.”

The ACN said that Nigeria’s paramount interest should make the President stay at home and oversees efforts to prevent the precarious situation in Kaduna from degenerating into an all-out religious war.

The Congress for Progressive Change also faulted the President, saying it was wrong for him to leave the country at the moment. It said the President’s trip was disappointing.

According to the National Publicity Secretary of the Party, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, who spoke with one of our correspondents, Jonathan ought to put off his scheduled travel because of the crises in the country.

He said, “President Jonathan got a mandate to defend or enhance the interest of the State, including diplomatic visits. However, it is impolitic for the President to leave the shores of the land at this time for any meeting, irrespective of the emergency situation in the nation.

“There is a dire security challenge in the nation. The President promised the nation that Boko Haram insurgency shall end in June. But with the recent escalation of the problem, that promise of Mr. President appears to be of no effect.”

Lawyer, Itse Sagay, noted that although the constitution permitted the President to travel anytime he wished, the timing of his Brazilian trip was wrong.

Sagay expressed concerns that Jonathan’s pronouncements on the activities of the Boko Haram sect suggested that he had lost control of the situation.

Sagay said, “Honestly, I don’t know. The situation in the country is very serious. He should sit down and face it.

“The impression one has now is that he has lost control; his responses have been weak. We expected something more forceful. We expected a decisive attitude towards a very serious problem.

“I don’t think it is the right time for him to travel because the situation is very critical.”


Related stories: President Goodluck Jonathan makes way to Brazil for UN Earth Summit

24 hour curfew re-imposed in Kaduna as fresh violence breaks out 

Another bloody Sunday - Suicide bombers attack 3 churches as youths launch reprisal 

24 hour curfew re-imposed in Kaduna as fresh violence breaks out

The Kaduna state government has re-imposed the 24 hour curfew it relaxed yesterday.

This follows fresh reports of violence in several areas this morning.

A statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media Reuben Buhari said the curfew affects all the 23 local government areas of the state.

"In view of certain new security challenges that came up today, and based on the need for the state government to continue with its responsibility of safeguarding

the lives and properties of it citizens, the state government is hereby re- imposing a 24 hours curfew in all parts of the state.

"As unpalatable as this decision is the state government is doing it in the best interest of the state. Consequently, everybody is strongly advise to go back home

now, while security agencies continue with the task of ensuring total peace in the state," he said.

Christian and Muslim youths launching reprisal attacks around Tudun Wada, Badarwa, Kawo, Barnawa and others have reportedly burnt cars and houses. There are also yet to be confirmed reports that many people have been killed.

Soldiers have moved into some of the troubled spots to try to restore order but are seriously hampered in their operations because some of the attacks are taking place in streets that are not easily accessible. Military helicopters are also hovering overhead trying to provide support to the soldiers on the ground.

Daily Trust

Related stories: Another bloody Sunday - Suicide bombers attack 3 churches as youths launch reprisal

Suicide bomber attacks church in Jos, Nigeria 

Africa's richest man billionaire Aliko Dangote re-instated as head of Nigeria's stock exchange

Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote will assume leadership of the governing board of Nigeria's stock exchange after an appeal court overturned the annulment of his 2009 election.

"We are a law abiding organisation and since the court has reinstated him (Dangote), we will surely abide by that," Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) spokesman Dante Martins said by telephone.

Martins said there would be a meeting of the board on Tuesday and Dangote will be there as its president.

Dangote, Africa's richest man currently with an $11 billion fortune and a cement empire stretching from Senegal to Ethiopia, was elected to head the bourse's board in August 2009.

But just before his tenure was to begin in March 2010, shareholders of a fuel importer Forte Oil Plc obtained a High court ruling preventing him from taking it up.

They had accused the billionaire of manipulating Forte Oil's share price on a day in which it fell the maximum 5 percent allowed. The stock exchange regulator had previously cleared Dangote of any involvement in manipulation, but the court upheld the case against his election nonetheless.

Dangote owns three companies listed on the bourse -- Dangote Cement, which makes up a quarter of the exchange's market capitalisation, Dangote Flour and Dangote Sugar.


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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Italian fraudster Mauro Zanin commits suicide while in custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission

Mauro Zanin, an Italian arrested for alleged involvement in $111,000 fraud has reportedly committed suicide in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Abuja.

The 52-year-old Italian took his life in a bathroom by strangling himself with a bedsheet in the EFCC detention facility in Abuja on Tuesday, a day before his scheduled arraignment before a Federal High Court in Abuja.
The agency confirmed the development in a statement issued by its spokesman, Wilson Uwujiaren.

It reads, “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC regrets to announce the passing of 52-year-old Italian, Mr. Mauro Zanin, a suspected fraudster two days before he was scheduled to appear in court.
“He was found motionless in the bathroom of the Commission’s detention facility in Abuja at about 4.50 am on June 19, 2012. He had apparently committed suicide using his bedsheet.

“All efforts by the duty officers and a team of EFCC medical personnel led by Dr. Gideon Osi of the commission’s Medical Unit to revive him with cardiopulmonary resuscitation proved futile. He was subsequently certified dead at about 5.45 am.

“Though all clues point to suicide, the incident has been reported to the Nigeria Police Station, Maitama for investigation.

“The deceased was arrested by Officers of the Nigerian Immigration Service following a complaint by one Ahamefula Chibuzor Ewuzie that he fraudulently obtained the sum of $111,000 from Gladwaters Nigeria Limited, and transferred to the commission on 30th May, 2012 for further investigation.

“The commission had filed a five count charge against him in court and got a Wednesday, June 20, 2012 as hearing date. He was served the court papers to prepare his defence yesterday.

“His arrest was officially communicated to the Italian Embassy on 31st May, 2012. The same day, the suspect was granted provisional bail, but he could not get a surety to take him on bail.

“While in detention, Mr. Zanin was visited on May 30, 2012, by Mr. Nicola Bazzani, First Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission at the Italian Embassy; and everyday by his lawyer, Mr.Ugochukwu Onyejiuto. “ It is important to say that I took this matter pro bono, with the hope that he will pay my fees when he is free.

I was spending my money feeding him… to my amazement; he refused to let his family know what was going on. He has a 30 year-old son who is a lawyer in Italy but he was always telling them all was well”, Onyejiuto said.
“Zanin took his own life a day to his scheduled arraignment. He was supposed to be arraigned before the Federal High Court (5) in Abuja on Wednesday, June 20, 2012.

“Dr. Mma Wokocha, the complainant expressed shock at the news of the death of the suspect, wondering how she would recover the huge sum of money obtained from her by the deceased. However, she absolved the Commission of any blame in the death of the suspect.

“Nobody should blame the EFCC. The Commission has done what it has to do, you cannot blame the EFCC…there was total human care for this guy,” she said.

Facts of the Case
The deceased, a confirmed fraudster, allegedly obtained the money from Wokocha under the guise of selling used Dredger Italgraghe SGT 200 to them, to execute some dredging contract in the Niger Delta. The suspect sent them a Bill of Laden but their long wait for the ship, MSC Trinidad to berth was futile. Unknown to the complainant the Bill of Laden was forged as the ship indicated had ceased to exist long before they ever met the deceased three years ago.

The remains of the suspect have been deposited at the mortuary awaiting an autopsy.


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

Protesters siege national assembly over $3 million bribery scandal

As the National Assembly resumed from its recess Tuesday, scores of youths under the umbrella of Nigeria Youth for Good Governance (NYGG) stormed the National Assembly to protest against corruption in the legislative arm of government.

Speaking to newsmen at the premises of the National Assembly, the Leader of the group Comrade Joe Mesele berated legislators for repeatedly getting involved in acts of corruption.

Several of the protesters carried placards bearing different inscriptions. Some of the inscriptions read: "We don't want corruption any more"; "We say no to corruption in the National Assembly"; "No more honourable looting"; "Nigerian Youths say no to legislative corruption"; "Let's sanitise the parliament, the last hope of the masses".

The NYGG leader said the group was comprised of conscious Nigerian youths who believe in the tenets of democracy, good governance and development and as such "we believe that our democracy must be sanitized of corruption.

"The type of allegations and counter allegations coming out of the National Assembly is unacceptable for an institution that should represent the people of this country.

"We feel that as responsible and patriotic Nigerians we should come here today to formally make a presentation in the form of a protest to the National Assembly so that the members would know we are watching them keenly and we are not happy about what they are doing", Mesele stated.

He however, denied that his group was sponsored to embark on the protest. According to him, "we have not seen any Nigerian who can sponsor this group to embark on a protest because we have conscience. Although we are not as organized as we should be, this is not the first time we have marched on the streets to protest against ills in the society."

The group was prevented from entering the chambers of the National Assembly by security operatives, however, a police officer collected their placards for onward submission to the leadership of the NASS.


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Man lynched for being gay

A 60 year old man alleged to be a homosexual was lynched by an angry mob in Yelwa Ward in Yola, Nigeria.

The 60 year old man was suspected to have had a relationship with a 20 year old man.

The deceased identified as Hassan Buba, a resident of Yelwa Ward in Yola North Local Government, according to sources, admitted having sex with the man for over four years.

Eyewitness account disclosed to Vanguard in Yola that the Late Hassan Buba met his untimely death when his victim confessed to his parents about the relationship.

It was at this junction that the deceased was invited to the victim's family house where he admitted to having a long standing sexual relationship with the man.

Angered by the revelations, the father of the man identified as Shuaibu alongside irate youths pounced on the confessed homosexual.

He was beaten to a state of coma and abandoned by the roadside close to where the incident happened.

Police from the Jimeta Division headquarter took the man to the Yola Specialist Hospital where he died before medical attention was administered on him.

Adamawa State police Command Spokesman Nemuel Yoila (ASP) confirmed the incident, but, he however disclosed that the matter has not yet been officially reported to the headquarters from the Divisional Headquarters.


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Woman dumps baby in toilet

An Abuja magistrate last Thursday sentenced a 30-year-old female apprentice to 360 days imprisonment without fine option for dumping her two-day -old baby inside a pit latrine.

The woman, Mariam Sulieman, had earlier pleaded guilty to wrapping her baby in a polythene bag and dumping it inside a pit latrine.

She told the court that the father of the child denied responsibility for the pregnancy and she had no means to look after the child, adding that she has two other children in Nasarawa and could not cope with an additional one.

Police Prosecutor, Philip Appolos, told the court that the accused was arrested on June 12, after a complaint by one Mariam Abubakar at Life Camp Police Station.

The prosecutor said that the accused who reside at Daki Biyu village, Jabi, Abuja, abandoned the child at an unknown location, adding that the baby is yet to be found till date.

He said the offence contravenes Section 325 of the Penal Code.

Magistrate Sadiya Mayana sentenced the accused to 360 days imprisonment and ruled that she should be taken to any government hospital for medical check up before serving her sentence.

Meanwhile, two suspected accomplices of the convict, Mamuna Buhari, 35 and Abuseitu Saidu, 29, pleaded not guilty and where granted bail in the sum of N10,000 each with a surety in like sums.

The police prosecutor had told the court that the two allegedly gave support to the convict to commit the crime.

Their case was adjourned to June 25 for hearing.

Daily Trust

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President Goodluck Jonathan makes way to Brazil for UN Earth Summit

President Goodluck Jonathan will depart Abuja on Tuesday for the UN Earth Summit, RIO+20, opening in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, on Wednesday.

A statement by Dr Reuben Abati, the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, in Abuja on Monday, stated that the President would participate in the summit's four plenary meetings at Rio Centro Plenary Hall on Wednesday and Thursday.

Brazilian Indian Chief Raoni smokes during the People's Summit at Flamego Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on 18 June, 2012, in the framework of the UN Rio+20 gathering. The UN conference, which marks the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit -- a landmark 1992 gathering that opened the debate on the future of the planet and its resources -- is the largest ever organized, with 50,000 delegates. AFP PHOTO

The statement noted that the President would also attend a reception to be hosted by the Brazilian President for Heads of State and Government.

It added that Jonathan would use the opportunity of the summit to open the Nigerian/Brazil RIO+20 Business Forum, and also hold talks with selected Brazilian businessmen and captains of industry.

Abati said the President would meet with representatives of the Nigerian community in Brazil and return to Nigeria on Friday.

The President would be accompanied by the First Lady, Dame Patience, Gov. Ibrahim Shema of Katsina and Gov. Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa.

Also on the President's entourage are Sen. Benedict Ayade and Hon. Eziuche Ubani of the National Assembly.

The Ministers of Environment, Hajiya Hadiza Mailafiya, that of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe, Trade and Investment, Dr Olusegun Aganga and Niger Delta (State) are also on the entourage.


Related stories: Brazil to Play in Lagos, Nigeria 

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Son of the Secretary to the State Government of Delta kidnapped

The son of the Secretary to the State Government, SSG, Delta State, Comrade Ovuozourie Macaulay was kidnapped, Monday, at his home town, Owheologbo, near Ozoro, in Isoko North Local Government Area of the state.

Macaulay who also spoke to Vanguard at about 1.45 pm said, “The news of the kidnap of my son has just reached me”.

The SSG said he just returned to the country and was still in Lagos when he got a report on the kidnap of his son. “I have been away on medical treatment and I just returned when I got  the news this morning ”.

Asked what his son went to do in the village, he said; “Is it not his home town? Won’t he go to his home town again? He had just finished his Master’s programme outside the country and had been shuttling between Asaba and Owheologbo”.

Vanguard gathered that the kidnappers has not established contact with Macaulay or any member of his family as at 2.00 pm.

Meanwhile, it will be recalled that Pa Samuel Uduaghan, a cousin to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan was kidnapped last week, at his home in Asaba and was released Saturday evening. This was days before former Super Eagles player, Christian Obodo, was kidnapped and later released at Effurun, near Warri, penultimate week.


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Another bloody Sunday - Suicide bombers attack 3 churches as youths launch reprisal

Suicide bombers have attacked two churches in Zaria, and another in Kaduna. In Zaria, ECWA, Wusasa and Christ the King Church, Sabon Gari were bombed.

So far, 15 persons have been confirmed dead in the CKC attack, with several others injured. At ECWA church, Wusasa, tthe Sunday School teacher and ten children were killed while the Shalom Pentecostal attack left five persons dead.

LEADERSHIP gathered that the Zaria bombings were coordinated as they happened almost at the same time in both locations.

Eyewitnesses told our correspondent that the suicide bombers arrived at the churches in bomb-rigged cars, pretending to be worshippers.

The ECWA suicide bomber drove in a Honda Accord popularly referred to as 'End of discussion'. When he tried to gain entrance into the church premises, he was stopped by the security agent at the routine check point. But he refused to stop. He then forced his vehicle towards the Church; the vehicle exploded between the main church and the children section of the church.

Barely an hour after the Zaria blasts, another suicide bomber attacked Shalom Church in Tirkaniya, Kaduna metropolis.

Although details of the attack are sketchy, LEADERSHIP gathered that the soldier and security man stationed at the entrance of the church denied the bomber entrance. The bomb went off and all three were killed.

The third bombing sparked fury among Kaduna youths who took to the streets in protest.

As at the time of filing this report, three persons have been confirmed dead from the reprisal attack. Our correspondent reports that a bus and several smaller cars as well as seven motorcycles have been burnt.

Soldiers are still shooting sporadically to disperse the rampaging youths.


Related stories: Suicide bomber attacks church in Jos, Nigeria 

Bomb blast at Church in Bauch, Nigeria - 9 dead

Friday, June 15, 2012

Air Nigeria resumes flight

Air Nigeria says it has resume flight operations, after NCAA's announcement earlier this week that the airline was suspended to give way for the safety audit of its aircrafts.

"This is to inform that Air Nigeria recommences local and regional flights on 14th June, 2012 after passing NCAA safety audits," Samuel Ogbogoro, its Media Relations Manager said in one of its official tweets.

In its press release twitted few minutes ago, the airline says "the resumption of normal flight operations across the domestic and regional routes is coming after the successful audit and clearance of its fleet of aircraft by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) following the suspension of the week-long strike action embarked upon by a section of its aircraft pilots and engineers."

"The post strike audit is a standard practice in civil aviation to ensure safety standards," and promises to offer "safe and secure air services at all times and will always adhere to international recognized practices."


The Media Assistant to the Director General of NCAA, Mr. Sam Adurogboye, who confirmed the suspension last Tuesday, said it was a routine action to allow NCAA look at the airline.

"It is a routine action to enable us look at them before allowing them to go back to operations having been on strike for days ,this is normal" he said.

The NCAA had taken the decision because Air Nigeria had not flown its aircraft in the past week following a strike action embarked upon by its pilots and engineers under the auspices of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE) which was called off last week.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the pilots and engineers of the airline had embarked on the weeklong strike to press for improved conditions of service.

Mr Isaac Balami, the National President of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), also told NAN that he was aware of the suspension placed on Air Nigeria's operations by NCAA.

"This will to allow NCAA to carry out proper auditing of Air Nigeria, as the airline's pilots and engineers have yet to receive their outstanding salaries.

"We called off the strike embarked upon by NAAPE members in Air Nigeria last week to allow the union and the management to resume negotiations on the contentious issues that led to the strike," Balami said.

Daily Trust

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