Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Arsenal FC thrill fans in Lagos, Nigeria

Arsenal fans in Lagos were treated to great dance steps by three of the clubs players, defender Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker and new signing Lukas Podolski on Sunday.

The players were in Lagos for the launch of the Malta Guinness Low Sugar Workout, which took place at the Ball Room of Eko Hotel. Gunners’ forward Tomas Rosicky missed the trip after he sustained an injury in a pre-season game.

The trio were put through their paces by Nigerian dance star Kaffi in the Malta Guinness Low Sugar Workout same time Arsenal were being held to a 2-2 draw by little-known Kitchee of Hong Kong.

Senegalese-born France right-back, Sagna, described the experience as wonderful, saying he hoped to visit Nigeria again next year.

“I am quite happy to be here (Nigeria); it’s a homecoming for me. I’m back to my roots because I am black and from Senegal,” Sagna said.

“Even if I am not Nigerian, we are all brothers; we are blacks. Hopefully I will be part of the team when they visit again next year.”

Mertesacker hailed former Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu, saying African players were very technical.

“I have only watched Kanu on TV and I believe he can be a role model to us at Arsenal. I played against a player like Chinedu Obasi in the Bundesliga; he is very technical, strong and quick,” he said.

Malta Guiness Head of Innovation, Sola Oke, said there were plans to bring the entire Gunners team to the country in future.

He said, “The rest of the squad are currently on pre-season tour; they all can’t be here at the same time. But sometime in the future, we will be bringing the team back to Nigeria again because of our partnership as the official malt drink of the club.”

The Malta Guinness Low Sugar workout tour will be coming to:

Lagos on 4th of August
Abuja On 18th of August
Aba on 25th of August
Benin on 8th of September

Video - Johny Akinyemi: First olympic canoeist of Nigeria

Johny Akinyemi is Nigeria's first Olympic canoeist. Now Johny Akinyemi is embracing his roots and reaching for gold.

Nigerian government evacuates 50 Nigerians from Syria

Mr Olugbenga Ashiru, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Monday said about 50 Nigerians had so far been evacuated from Syria following the ongoing crises in the country.

Ashiru said in Abuja that the evacuees complied with government’s directive to leave Syria and he advised others to vacate the Middle East nation.

“We have evacuated quite a lot of Nigerians from Syria, it was not an airlift exercise like we did in the case of Libya because they are very few.

“From the report I got, those moved so far are less than 50, long before the situation deteriorated we advised them to move.

“Some have decided to stay behind but it is their choice.’’

The minister also said that the families of the Charge d’Affairs and officials at the embassy had been relocated to the neighbouring nation of Lebanon “and they are very safe there.’’

It will be recalled that the Syrian conflict began on March 15, 2011 with public demonstrations as part of the wider Arab spring and developed into a nationwide uprising.

Nigeria and Syria established diplomatic ties in 1961.

Nigerian diplomat detained in Venezuela for alleged fraud

A senior diplomat with the Nigerian mission in Venezuela, Dr. Olarotimi Ajayi, has been detained by Venezuelan immigration authorities for over two weeks now over allegation of fraud.

LEADERSHIP gathered that Ajayi has been detained since July 19, 2012, when he returned to Venezuela from the United States of America, where he had gone for a promotional examination at Nigeria's mission there.

According to an online news website thenigerianvoice.com, Ajayi's travails are as a result of his running battle with Nigeria's ambassador in Venezuela, Felix Oboro, over management of the mission's finances.

It was gathered that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is aware of the quarrel between Ajayi and Oboro and that the case is even before a court in Venezuela where Ajayi's lawyers had gone to secure an order to stop his deportation from the country since he has a legal permit to stay in the country.

A source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told LEADERSHIP that the ministry was trying to resolve it as both men had made written testimonies.

It is reported that Ajayi is not receiving any consular assistance because he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in his suit in Venezuela.

When contacted, the acting director (public communication) and spokesperson of the ministry, Mr. Ogbole Amedu-Ode, said that his office was not formally aware of the matter.

Recently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement that it would not be stampeded to recall Oboro despite reports of misconduct bordering on drug trafficking and misappropriation of funds against him.

The ministry said that the reports against Oboro are allegations and "will remain mere allegations until proven to be true on the basis of factual evidence, which in this case had not been adduced. The ministry does not dwell on rumours that are not backed by evidence".

It said that until such matters against Oboro are investigated by the Foreign Service Inspectorate, the ministry would not take any hasty decision that is not in consonance with due process and rule of law.

Sani Abacha's family lose bid to recover $800 million looted funds from government

The family and 19 close associates of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, have lost their bid to recover $800 million seized by the Federal Government.

The fund, allegedly looted by Abacha's family, was recovered by the General Abdulsalami Abubakar - led government.

The family and 19 companies owned by the family had gone to the appellate court seeking to upturn the decision of the Federal High Court Abuja, which dismissed their suit, challenging the constitutionality of the letters written by the Federal Government to governments of some foreign countries.

Justice Suleiman Galadima, who delivered the lead judgment recently at the Supreme Court, threw out the appeal saying it is incompetent and lacking in merit.

With this decision, the apex court has re-affirmed the decision of the trial court and the Court of Appeal.

The money was recovered by the government from Muhammed Sani Abacha and nineteen (19) other companies between 1999 and 2000.

The companies are Juinin Finance, Savard International, Venfold Investment, Sulgrave Holdings INC, Raw Materials Development and Trading Co. Ltd., Technical Management Service Ltd, Allied Network Ltd and Blue Rock Properties.

Others are Barven Holdings, Olmar Establishment, Peltora Establishment, Glotar establishment, KRH Capital establishment, Kurita Establishment, Tadil Overseas, Rike Limited, Warnbeck Holdings, Arwood Overseas and Larberidge Trading.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Video - Thousands homeless after forced eviction from Makoko slum in Lagos

Thousands of people from Nigieria's Makoko slum are being forcibly removed from their homes. The move part of the government's campaign to get rid of the almost 200 year-old floating shantytown. Many are seeking refuge on boats and in churches.

300 children rescued from child trafficking in Kogi State

More than 300 children from Benue State have been rescued from human traffickers by the Quick Response Group Team (QRP) of Nigeria Army along Itobe-Ajaokuta and Okene road.

Parading the children in Lokoja at the Weekend, Major General Alphonsus Chukwu told journalists that the vehicles transporting the children was intercepted along Itope - Ajaokuta - Lagos road by the Quick Response Group (QRG) of his command during a stop and search operation.

He said the children, who are between ages 10 and 15, and both male and female were heading to Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Ondo and Ekiti for holiday jobs, saying that they were however not coherent in their explanations.

Major General Alphonsus said it was shocking when buses were arrested with well over 300 children heading for the same destination, describing it as unfortunate.

One of the officers, who spoke to our reporter in confidence, said they stopped the buses when they discovered that the vehicles were carry many children, saying that they boarded the buses at parks in Benue and that agents who would receive them were already waiting for them in their destination.

On Friday last week one Mr. Sunday Agbo from Benue State was arrested with 10 children by a task force along the same route. Sunday had during interrogation confessed to have been trafficking children close to a decade and that he was an agent to a woman in Lagos.

He said he was trafficking children with the consent of their parents who are being paid N5, 000 per child with the promise of helping them secure job as maids in Lagos and other states.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Nigeria rated top economic performer in Africa

The Global Economic Conditions Survey has rated Nigerian economy as the leader in African economic performer in the second quarter of 2012.

The survey conducted by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) also rated Malawi performing well in early 2012 and maintaining confidence.

According to the report, the economic recovery has slowed down again in early 2012 but Nigeria and some countries in Africa remain the most confident of the world's regions.

The report noted that Africa has long been the most confident of the regions and despite a setback in the second quarter of 2012 it has held on to this distinction, with 34 per cent of respondents reporting confidence gains, down from 39 per cent three months earlier.

"Respondents here are also more optimistic about the state of the global economy than in most of the world. Forty five per cent (down from 54 per cent) believe that the global recovery is on track. Statistically speaking, the actual drop in economic performance implied by these figures is very small," the report said.

The report noted that in Africa, overall, there has been some improvement in business conditions on the ground in the areas of business revenues which is improving while capital spending has consistently increased over the last three quarters and lay-offs are becoming less common, although job creation is still coming in fits and starts.

Meanwhile, the study has cautioned that growth across the world's most developed economies has stalled once again and that the global economy is as fragile as it has ever been in the last three years.

The global survey of 2,700 professional accountants, now well into its third year, suggests that hints of a stronger recovery in early 2012 were mostly down to misplaced optimism and that most of the gains made at the time have since been reversed.

According to the report, China's slowing economy has dominated the survey findings this quarter, although ACCA and IMA stressed that there are few signs of the hard landing many commentators had feared.

Survey Editor and Senior Economic Analyst with ACCA, Manos Schizas, said: "The point now is to see how far and how fast the Chinese slowdown will travel. Our members in Africa tend to feel any fallout from Asia fairly quickly and there could be implications for other markets which trade with China."

Nigerian army engineers anti-bomb device to defend Churches and Mosques

Nigerian Army, Thursday, unveiled and presented vehicle stoppers to some Churches and Mosques, as part of its corporate social responsibility in curtailing the spate of suicide bombing at worship centres across the country.

Presenting the devices in Abuja, the Chief of Civil Military Affairs, Major Gen. Bitrus Kwaji said the vehicle stoppers were designed to stop any vehicle from all angle at any speed.

Chief of Civil Military Affairs, Nigerian Army, Maj.-Gen. Bitrus Kwaji (L), presenting the New Vehicle Stopper, Donated by the Nigerian Army to Pastor Monday Chukwuemeka Okonkwo of the Methodist Diocese of Nyanya in Abuja on Thursday.NAN Photo

He added that the anti-bombing devices would be distributed to the representatives of Christian and Muslim bodies, who should in turn produce it in mass for distribution, while stressing that security is everybody's business.

His words, "it has been discovered that most attacks of suicide bombers are being carried out with vehicles loaded with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The mode of operation is simple as a suicide bomber drives his vehicle straight into his target and explosion occurs.

"In order to disallow bombers from reaching their targets, this invention comes in handy as it forcefully stops any vehicle that comes in contact with it at whatever speed.

"The unfolding security challenges confronting the nation amongst which is the Boko Haram terrorist menace have continued to hinder the congress of the transformation agenda of Mr President as well as the development of the nation at large.

"The terrorists over the years have continued to attack places of worship (churches and mosques) in order to destabilize the nation. This has necessitated the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to charge all corps and services of the Nigerian Army to provide ways and means of curtailing this menace.

"This charge has yielded a lot of responses as we witnessed the commissioning of an indigenous Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) by the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces during the recently concluded Nigerian Army Day Celebration in Kaduna.

Receiving the devices on behalf of the Religion Bodies, Very Rev. Monday Okonkwo of the Methodist Church, Nyanya and the Executive Secretary of the National Mosque Abuja, Alh. Ibrahim Jega expressed satisfaction with Military Authorities, just as they promised to be security conscious, to complement the efforts of security agents, in riding the country of terrorism".

They also called on faithful to join hands with authorities in their various churches and mosques, to prevent any further attack, and report any suspicion to the relevant authorities, insisting that, government can not do it alone.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Video - Is conflict in Nigeria religious or politically motivated?

For the last decade Plateau state in central Nigeria has been a hotbed of ethnic tension between the Fulani, who are traditionally Muslim, and the Berom, who are Christian. Police blamed the latest violence on tribal differences over land but the Boko Haram group claimed responsibility for the attacks. What is the real reason behind the conflict, and can it be resolved? Guests: Darren Kew, Michael Amoah, Isaac Olawale Albert.

U.S. seize former Delta governor James Ibori Houston mansion and two bank accounts

Through an application to register and enforce two orders from United Kingdom courts, the US Department of Justice has secured a restraining order against more than $3 million in corruption proceeds located in the United States related to James Onanefe Ibori, the former governor of Nigeria's oil-rich Delta State, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton.

The application, which was filed under seal on May 16, 2012, in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, seeks to restrain assets belonging to Governor Ibori and Bhadresh Gohil, Ibori's former English solicitor, that are proceeds of corruption.

Specifically, it seeks to restrain a mansion in Houston and two Merrill Lynch brokerage accounts. U.S. District Judge Lamberth granted the application and issued a restraining order under seal on May 21, 2012. The department was notified today that its application to unseal the restraining order was granted.

The United States is working with the United Kingdom's Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police Service to forfeit these corruption proceeds.

According to the application, Governor Ibori served as the governor of Nigeria's oil-rich Delta State from 1999 to 2007, and misappropriated millions of dollars in Delta State funds. He laundered those proceeds through a myriad of shell companies, intermediaries and nominees in several jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, with the help of Gohil.

Although Nigeria's Constitution prohibits state governors from maintaining foreign bank accounts and serving as directors of private companies, Governor Ibori and his associates accumulated millions of dollars in assets in the United Kingdom and the United States, according to the application.

Governor Ibori was convicted in the United Kingdom of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced by a British court on April 18, 2012, to 13 years in prison. Gohil was also convicted in November 2010 of money laundering and prejudicing a money laundering investigation and was sentenced by a British court to 10 years in prison.

The case is being prosecuted by trial attorneys Woo S. Lee and Elizabeth Aloi of the Criminal Division's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section. The case was investigated by ICE HSI's Foreign Corruption Investigations Group, HSI Asset Identification and Removal Group in Miami and HSI Attaché London.


Related story: U.S. to seize $3million of James Ibori looted funds

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

EFCC to prosecute 23 oil marketers for subsidy fraud

In keeping with the Federal Government’s promise to prosecute those that were alleged to have abused the fuel subsidy scheme, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will finally set the stage for the arraignment of oil-marketing firms and their directors at the Lagos High Court today.

The EFCC Tuesday  named the suspects to include seven oil companies and 12 individuals who have been indicted during investigations into the management of the fuel subsidy scheme and would be arraigned before judges of the Lagos State judiciary.
Some of the suspects are scions of chieftains of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and party supporters.

EFCC’s disclosure confirmed THISDAY exclusive story yesterday on the plan to arraign the suspects the same day.
However, THISDAY checks revealed that the suspects could not be arraigned as planned due to logistic problems on the part of the prosecution that are being addressed preparatory to the arraignment of some of them in Lagos today.

The suspects, comprising seven oil companies and 12 individuals, are: Nasaman Oil Services; Eterna Oil and Gas Plc; Ontario Oil and Gas Plc; Nadabo Energy Limited; Pacific Silver Line Limited, Axenergy Limited and Fago Petroleum and Gas Limited.

The 12 individuals involved in the scam are: Mamman Nasir Ali, Christian Taylor, Mahmud Tukur, Ochonogor Alex, Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer, Ezekiel Olaleye Ejidele, Abubakar Ali Peters, Jude Agube Abalaka, Abdullahi Alao and Oluwaseun Ogunbanbo.

Mamman Nasir Ali, who runs Nasaman Oil Services, is the son of former PDP National Chairman, Col. Ahmadu Ali (rtd), who was also the chairman of the Petroleum Products Pricing and Regulating Agency (PPPRA) board.

Mahmud Tukur, who runs Eterna Oil and Gas Plc, is the son of the current PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, while Abdullahi Alao of Axenergy Limited is the son of popular Ibadan-based tycoon, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola-Alao.

Ugo-Ngadi, on her part, is the Managing Director of Ontario Oil and Gas Plc, where its founder, Wagbatsoma, is the executive vice-chairman. 

But whilst the individuals were identified as directors of the oil-marketing firms, Ejidele is a director of the accounting firm, Akintola Williams Deloitte, while Ebenezer is a member of staff of PPPRA.
Also, some of the suspects such as Alao may be tried twice for allegedly conniving with different companies to defraud the government.

According to a statement from EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren, Nasaman Oil Services; Ali and Taylor are to face charges bordering on obtaining N4,460,130,797.94 from the Federal Government under false pretences.

The sum was alleged to have been fraudulently obtained as subsidy payments from the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) for the purported importation of 30.5 million litres of petrol from SEATAC Petroleum Limited of British Virgin Islands.

Also, Alao and Axenergy Limited will be tried for allegedly obtaining by fraud N2,640,141,707.75 from the government, being payments received from the PSF for the purported importation of 33.3 million litres of petrol.

Others, including Tukur, Alex, Alao and Eterna Oil and Gas Plc, will be arraigned for fraudulently obtaining N1,899,238,946.02 from the PSF for the purported importation of 80.3 million litres of petrol.

Also, Nadabo Energy Limited, Peters, Abalaka and Pacific Silver Line Limited are to be prosecuted for allegedly obtaining N1,464,961,978.24, being payments fraudulently received from the PSF for the purported importation of 19.4 million litres of petrol.

Wagbatsoma, Ugo-Ngadi, Ebenezer, Ejidele and Ontario Oil and Gas Nigeria Limited will be arraigned for fraudulently obtaining N1,959,377,542.63 from the PSF for the purported importation of 39.2 million litres of petrol.

On their part, Fago Petroleum and Gas Limited and Ogunbanbo are to be arraigned for fraudulently obtaining N979,653,110.20 from the PSF for the purported importation of 33,627,840 litres of petrol.

As exclusively reported by THISDAY, some of the suspects will appear before Justices Habeeb Abiru and Adeniyi Onigbanjo both of the Ikeja Division of the Lagos High Court for trial.

Those to be arraigned before Onigbanjo on a nine-count charge bordering on conspiracy, obtaining money by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents are Tukur, Alex, Alao and Eterna Oil and Gas Ltd.

The company and the individuals were alleged to have on April 28, 2011, in Lagos, fraudulently obtained N676.9 million from the Federal Government purporting same to be payment accruing to Eterna Oil under the PSF.

They are also accused of falsifying claims to have purchased 33,288,388 litres of petrol from Mercury Energy Trading AS and imported to Nigeria through Ex-MT Fulmer, Ex-MT Emirates Star and Ex-MT Panther.

Those to appear before Justice Abiru are Wagbatsoma, Ugo-Ngadi, Ebenezer, Ejide and Ontario Oil and Gas Nig. Ltd. The second case before Justice Abiru also involves Alao and his Axenergy Oil.

Alao, who is also to be charged before Justice Onigbanjo will face another nine-count charge bordering on obtaining by false pretence, forgery and use of false documents before Justice Abiru.

He is accused of fraudulently obtaining N2.5 billion in December 2010 from the Federal Government as subsidy payments for supplying13,364,284 and 20,014,627 litres of petrol from Ex-MT Gavros and Ex-MT Nippon Princess. The accused persons before Justice Abiru are facing a nine-count charge for conspiracy, obtaining money under false pretence, forgery and use of false documents.

They are accused of fraudulently obtaining over N1.9 billion from the Federal Government under the PSF from July to December 2010. All the accused persons were also alleged to have forged bills of lading and other vital documents, which they allegedly used in perpetrating the fraud.

The EFCC said their alleged offences contravened Sections 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act of 2006 and Sections 467 and 468 of the Criminal Code Laws of Lagos State 2003. Part of the charges preferred against Wagbatsoma and his co-accused, includes conspiracy for obtaining N1.9 billion under false pretence, contrary to Section 8, punishable under Section 107 of Advance Fee Fraud & other related offences.

They are also accused by the government of altering and forging documents contrary to Section 468 and 467 of the Criminal Code Cap. C17, Vol. 2, Laws of Lagos of State of Nigeria, 2006, respectively.
The charge read in part: “That you, Walter Wagbatsoma, Adaoha-Ugo-Ngadi, Fakuade Babafemi Ebenezer, Ezekiel Olajide Ejide and Ontario Oil and Gas Nig. Ltd. did conspire to obtain property by false pretence contrary to Section 8 punishable under Section 1 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Related Offences on 7th July, 2010, within the jurisdiction of this court, conspired to commit an offence to wit: obtaining the sum of N340,178,111.231 from the Federal Government of Nigeria, purporting to be Petroleum Support Fund, which sum was in excess of the actual value of the product imported into Nigeria by Ontario Oil and Gas Ltd.”

They were also said to have collected N340,015,198, being “Excess of the value of the actual product (12,070,706 litres) delivered by Mt. Union Brave to Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd on your behalf as against  19,681,731 litres you falsely  claimed to have discharged”.
The suspects are among over 140 individuals and organisations involved in the ongoing investigations into the subsidy payments by the EFCC.
“More suspects will be arraigned periodically as the investigation progresses,” the EFCC said in its statement.
Meanwhile, the EFCC yesterday filed a separate suit before Justice Samuel Candide-Johnson of the Lagos High Court against Durosola Omogbenigun, Peter Mba, Integrated Resources Limited and Pinnacle Oil and Gas. It was gathered that all the four defendants are to appear in court tomorrow for arraignment.

They were alleged to have conspired to obtain money under false pretences punishable under Section 1 of the Advance Free Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006. They were also alleged to have on February 4, 2011 obtained from the Federal Government N986,154,970.41 purported to be subsidy payable to Integrated Resources Limited for the importation of 19,347,753 litres of petrol which they claimed from NIMEX Petroleum Limited of Gibraltar.

They will also, among others, be charged with the intent to defraud the Federal Government, for obtaining N343,182,230.20 on or about September 15, 2011, purporting to be subsidy payable to Integrated Resources Limited for  4,115,951 litres of petrol which they claimed to have purchased from Alcamo Integrated Limited/Vitol SA Geneva and allegedly imported to Nigeria through the mother vessel MT Box and MT Althea Ex MT Sea Power as the daughter vessels.

Indicted Oil Firms
  Nasaman Oil Services
   Eterna Oil and Gas Plc
   Ontario Oil and Gas Plc
   Nadabo Energy Limited
  Pacific Silver Line Limited
   Axenergy Limited
   Fago Petroleum & Gas Ltd
   Integrated Resources Ltd
   Pinnacle Oil and Gas

Indicted Persons
   Mamman Nasir Ali
   Christian Taylor
   Mahmud Tukur
   Ochonogor Alex
   Walter Wagbatsoma
  Adaoha Ugo-Ngadi
   Fakuade B. Ebenezer
   Ezekiel Olaleye Ejidele
   Abubakar Ali Peters
   Jude Agube Abalaka
  Abdullahi Alao
   Oluwaseun Ogunbanbo
   Durosola Omogbenigun
   Peter Mba

Video - Hundreds displaced by flood in Nigeria

At least 35 people have been killed in flooding in central Nigeria's Plateau state. Heavy rain has washed away many homes in the area. Rescue forces expect the death toll to rise further.

Video - Army deployed to combat piracy in Nigeria

Vladimir Duthiers spends a day with the Nigerian navy as they patrol waters in an effort to deter pirates.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Video - Ethnic violence continues in Nigeria

Tension is high in central Nigeria two weeks after the killing of more than 100 people in violence between rival ethnic groups. A military operation is under way in Plateau State to find those who carried out the attacks. According to reports, however, the region's leaders have little confidence in it.

U.S. to seize $3 million of James Ibori looted funds

The United States Department of Justice has secured a restraining order against more than $3 million looted funds and a mansion in Houston, Texas owned by former Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori, in the U.S.

Ibori is currently serving a 13-year jail term in the United Kingdom for corruption and money laundering.
The department got the powers through an application filed under seal on May 16, 2012, in U.S District Court in the District of Columbia, to register and enforce two orders from United Kingdom courts against more than $3 million in corruption proceeds related to Ibori.
This was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton in a statement on the U.SDOJ website on Tuesday.
“The application, which was filed under seal on May 16, 2012, in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia, seeks to restrain assets belonging to Governor Ibori and Bhadresh Gohil, Ibori’s former English solicitor, that are proceeds of corruption.
“Specifically, it seeks to restrain a mansion in Houston and two Merrill Lynch brokerage accounts. U.S. District Judge Lamberth granted the application and issued a restraining order under seal on May 21, 2012.
“The department was notified today that its application to unseal the restraining order was granted.
“The United States is working with the United Kingdom’s Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police Service to forfeit these corruption proceeds,” it said.
According to the application, Ibori served as the governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State from 1999 to 2007, and misappropriated millions of dollars in Delta State funds.
He laundered those proceeds through a myriad of shell companies, intermediaries and nominees in several jurisdictions, including the UK, with the help of Gohil. Although Nigeria’s Constitution prohibits state governors from maintaining foreign bank accounts and serving as directors of private companies, Ibori and his associates accumulated millions of dollars in assets in the UK and U.S, according to the application.
Ibori was convicted in the UK of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced by a British court on April 18, 2012, to 13 years in prison.
Gohil was also convicted in November 2010 of money laundering and prejudicing a money laundering investigation and was sentenced by a British court to 10 years in prison.
“Instead of working to benefit the people of the Nigerian Delta, Governor Ibori pilfered state funds and accumulated immense wealth in the process,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.
“He conspired with Mr. Gohil to funnel millions of dollars in corruption proceeds out of Nigeria and into bank accounts and assets maintained in the names of shell companies and nominees.
“Through the Criminal Division’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, our message is clear: the United States will not be used as a safe haven for the ill-gotten gains of corrupt foreign officials.
“This serves as a warning to those corrupt foreign officials who abuse their power for personal financial gain and then attempt to place those funds in the U.S. financial system,” said ICE Director Morton.
“ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents will continue to work with our law enforcement partners at the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section to investigate and prosecute those involved in such illicit activities and hold corrupt foreign officials accountable by denying them the satisfaction of their illegal earnings.”
The case is being prosecuted by trial attorneys Woo S. Lee and Elizabeth Aloi of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section.
“The case was investigated by ICE HSI’s Foreign Corruption Investigations Group, HSI Asset Identification and Removal Group in Miami and HSI Attaché London.
This case is part of the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
“This initiative is carried out by a dedicated team of prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, working in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and where appropriate return those proceeds to benefit those harmed.
“Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through institutions in the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an email to kleptocracy@usdoj.gov.
“ICE HSI’s Foreign Corruption Investigations Group in Miami targets corrupt foreign officials around the world that attempt to utilise U.S financial institutions to launder illicit funds.
“The group conducts investigations into the laundering of proceeds emanating from foreign public corruption, bribery or embezzlement.
“The objective is to prevent foreign derived ill-gotten gains from entering the U.S financial infrastructure, to seize identified assets in the United States and repatriate these funds on behalf of those affected by foreign official corruption,” the statement added.
More details later.

President Goodluck Jonathan to clampdown on oil thieves

President Goodluck Jonathan has vowed to intensify the Federal Government's efforts to stamp out crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region, promising to deal decisively with anyone caught in the criminal activity.

The president, who spoke at a presidential retreat on the maritime sector with the theme, 'Harnessing the Potential of Nigeria's Maritime Sector for Sustainable Economic Development', at the Presidential Villa in Abuja yesterday, said that the rising incidents of illegal oil bunkering had decelerated economic development and was causing embarrassment to the nation in the eyes of the global community.

Jonathan's threat came in the wake of revelations that the country loses over N2 trillion annually to foreign countries through capital flight, as a result of the inability of indigenous ship owners to fully participate in lifting over 150 million tons of cargo from the country, including crude oil exports.

Jonathan, who lashed out at both Nigerians and foreigners crude oil thieves, added that they will have no place to hide as his administration was determined to fish them out and bring them to justice.

According to the president, oil thieves should "throw their heads under the pillow" in shame, for their nefarious activities.

"It is embarrassing that it is only in Nigeria that crude oil is stolen. It is very bad news and I believe that Nigerians and foreigners who indulge in the act need to throw their heads under the pillow because all over the world it is only in Nigeria that crude oil is stolen.

"We are not the only oil producing country why is it that it is only in Nigeria that people steal crude oil? This must stop and we will be decisive in putting an end to this malaise.

Turning to the maritime sector, Jonathan said: "The sector without doubt, facilitates approximately 90 per cent of world trade with Nigeria, creates millions of jobs and generates billions of dollars in economic output. The sector, to say the least, is a major engine in our national growth strategy.

The president said that owing to the importance of the maritime sector in the national economy, the Federal Government has an uncompromising obligation to safeguard the country's territorial waters against all threats.

These, he said, included poaching, piracy, pipeline vandalism, coastal insecurity, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, non-payment of statutory levies and charges, illegal entry of ships into our territorial waters, illegal importation of arms and hard drugs, and other sundry crimes.

"Even though it is generally known that the West African coast has the richest fishery resources in Africa, our inability to take advantage of our endowment has been attributed to inadequate law enforcement and industry capacity.

"The cost of piracy to our economy is unacceptably high. Pirates frustrate fishing activities and threaten investments in the West African coast. Higher insurance premiums and charges on ships sailing along the Gulf of Guinea impact negatively on our economy and image.

The president assured that the government was determined to reverse this situation, to protect the country's natural resources and ensure their sustainable use for the benefit of present and future generations.

Speaking at the occasion the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, lamented that the country was losing a lot to inadequate maritime safety and insecurity, stressing, "You will hear more as we look as the issue of oil theft and piracy. The numbers are up on piracy incidence in the Gulf of Guinea from 45 in 2010 to 64 now and this is worrisome.

On the issue of increasing local participation in the sector and carbortage, the minister quoted the Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria as stating that the country now loses over N2 trillion annually in capital flight to foreign countries, which own vessels used to lift about 150 million tons of cargo, including oil products, due to absence of a Nigerian flag ship to ply international routes. "Nigerian owned vessels make up less than one percent of the global fleet and are quite old with an average of 30 years of age," hse said.

Iweala disclosed that though the presidential retreat would focus on harnessing the potentials of the nation's maritime sector and "come up with concrete initiatives that we can implement over the next six to 18 months to allow Nigerians to harness the opportunities we have in the sector."

On the significance of the sector, she noted that the maritime sector facilitates trade and commerce and enables the country export its goods as well as earn foreign exchange amongst other.

"The sector also generates significant revenue for government basically through customs and excise duties, and by leveraging our maritime resources

such as fishing. In addition, a significant number of Nigerians are employed by the sector," she added.

At the end of the retreat, the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, disclosed that an executive bill that would compel international companies operating in the country patronise indigenous vessel owners was in the offing.

Making this known to State House correspondents yesterday, the minister said that once the bill is drafted it will be sent to the National Assembly.

Idris explained that the bill was an executive effort to harness the potentials in the maritime sector, which was being eroded through a conspiracy of multinational oil corporations who own vessels but refuse to do business with Nigerian firms.

According to the Minister, "There are people who are complaining that they have acquired vessels but their vessels are not patronised by the oil companies. So we are going to look at this, if it is legislation, if it is a policy issue we are going to look at this."

Idris further assured that government has put in place the enabling environment for investors in the transport sector to thrive, saying, "If the private sector was not faring well under the present policy, the concessions at the ports would have been a total failure and all of them would have backed out of the agreement. So the government is living up to expectation."

In his contribution, the Director General of the Nigeria Maritime Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi blamed civil service bureaucracy as the factor militating against what would have been an excellent performance by the agency.

"The greatest challenge in the maritime sector is bureaucracy; it is a little bit frustrating. Getting things done is frustrating. Maritime administration should be run as maritime administration," he insisted.

Meanwhile, a 15-man committee that will be responsible for charting a course for the effective running of the maritime sector has been inaugurated by the President at the end of one-day Presidential Retreat on Maritime Security, Monday.

Chaired by the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, with popular maritime lawyer, Olisa Agbokoba (SAN), as the vice-chairman, the committee is expected to draw up roadmap for effective maritime operations in the country.

Similarly, it is charged with the responsibility of specifically looking at all the issues deliberated on at the retreat and recommend workable solutions that are feasible within a timeline.

The members of the Committee are the Director General of NIMASA, Mr Patrick Akpobolokemi, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Maritime, Mr Leke Oyelese and the Managing Director of the Nigeria Maritime Authority, Alhaji Omar Suleiman. Others are the Chairman of Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria, Chief Isaac Jolapamo, the Chairperson Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria, Mrs Vicky Harstrup and former Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr Jim Ovia.

Also in the committee are the Comptroller-General of Customs, Alhaji Dikko Umar and the Special Adviser to the President on Project Monitoring who will represent the Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-weala, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Attorney-General of the Federation and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation would send a representative each as members of the committee.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Video - The Burma Boy: Documentary on the forgotten Nigerian soldiers that fought for the British Empire in World War 2

In December 1941, the Japanese invasion of Burma (now Myanmar) opened what would be the longest land campaign fought by the British in the Second World War. It began with defeat and retreat for Britain, as Rangoon fell to the Japanese in March 1942. But the fighting went on, over a varied terrain of jungles, mountains, plains and wide rivers, until the Japanese forces surrendered in August 1945.

Some 100,000 African soldiers were taken from British colonies to fight in the jungles of Burma against the Japanese. They performed heroically in one of the most brutal theatres of war, yet their contribution has been largely ignored, both in Britain and their now independent home countries.

In the villages of Nigeria and Ghana, these veterans are known as 'the Burma Boys'. They brought back terrifying tales from faraway lands. Few survived, even fewer are alive today.

Al Jazeera's Barnaby Phillips travels to Nigeria, Burma and Japan to find a Nigerian veteran of the war and to talk to those who fought alongside him as well as against him. He even finds the family that saved the life of the wounded veteran in the jungles of Myanmar.

Nigerian football fans to interact with Arsenal FC players

Malta Guinness, the official malt drink of Arsenal in Nigeria, yesterday announced a series of activities taking place in Lagos, giving fans of Malta Guinness an incredible opportunity to interact with four of Arsenal FC's first team players whilst they are in Nigeria.

Tomas Rosicky, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker and new signing Lukas Podolski will be in Lagos at the end of July, and the nation's favourite malt drink will be helping to show them the energy and vitality of their Nigerian fans.

Emmanuel Agu, Marketing Manager, Malta Guinness, commented: "As the Official Malt Drink of Arsenal in Nigeria, we are looking forward to welcoming the players to Lagos.

We are sure that they will have a most enjoyable visit and we are delighted to be able to give fans of Malta Guinness the opportunity to interact and get involved with their idols at a number of exclusive events during their stay. We have more exciting activities planned with Malta Guinness Low Sugar over the coming months, make sure you like our Facebook page to be amongst the first to find out about our plans."

Throughout August, Kaffy will be taking her crew on a tour of the country, giving consumers across Nigeria a chance to join in the Malta Guinness Low Sugar workout sensation. Consumers will be able to attend live demonstrations, as well as film and upload their own workout videos to the Malta Guinness Facebook page for a chance to win airtime and other exciting rewards.

It is well documented that Arsenal's manager, Arsène Wenger, believes the work that the players put in away from the training pitch is crucial to a successful career; that if a player does not have a healthy diet, they will not be able to train as hard or play as well.

For that reason he is a big advocate of ensuring the squad follow a specialised dietary regime to get the best nutrition and stay at the top of their game.

Also, James Collins, Arsenal FC nutritionist said: "Working with world class football players, we understand the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise. The Malta Guinness Low Sugar workout is a great way to encourage people to stay active in a fun way and give them tips and ideas of what they can do on a daily basis to get moving!"

With a great taste and no compromise on quality, Malta Guinness Low Sugar is the drink of choice for those who follow a healthy lifestyle regime, but still want the refreshment and top of the world goodness, energy and vitality that Malta Guinness provides.

Malta Guinness Low Sugar is available in stores and bars across Nigeria with a recommended retail price of N100 for a 330ml bottle or can.


Related stories: Arsenal FC tour to Nigeria this year cancelled

Arsenal FC postpones Nigerian tour

Rick Ross set to tour Lagos, Nigeria

Come Friday, August 17,2012, American born international rapper, William Leonard Roberts II popularly known as Rick Ross, will storm the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, Lagos for the Summer Jam Fest 2012 concert at the exquisite Eko Hotel and Suites.

The Florida native who made headlines with his debut album in 2006 titled "Port of Miami" will headline the music concert alongside other Nigerian acts. The music concert is powered by St. Eve Concepts Limited, the owner of popular magazine, St. Eve.

Summer Jam Fest 2012 is geared to set the tone for an annual concert to promote health and proper lifestyle, and this year, some of the hottest Nigerian artists of the year will be performing alongside the aforementioned big acts. St Eve Concepts aims to promote healthy living through music and entertainment.

St. Eve Concepts is an internal Wellness and Enzymatic Weight Management Company which was founded in 2006 and remains the first and only Enzymatic Health care service provider in West Africa. In 2010, St. Eve Concepts launched a quarterly magazine about health, beauty, fashion and lifestyle called St. Eve Magazine.

It would be recalled that Rick Ross released his fifth studio album "God Forgives, I Don't" earlier this year and also collaborated with hit Nigerian duet P-Square on the remix of the well-known song "Beautiful Oyinye, a song that has dominated the airwaves since it debuted.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Video - Gold mining killing scores of children in Nigeria

Hundreds of children in northern Nigeria's Zamfara state have died because of gold mining.

More than 400 have perished in the past two years, and thousands of young children are at risk of disability as they are being poisoned by lead, which is used in the mining process.

And non-compliance of safe mining options and lack of simple low-tech machinery has not helped the cause.

International medical humanitarian group, Doctors Without Borders, believes it is "the worst outbreak in modern history".

Tanker explosion in Rivers state, Nigeria - 30 dead

At least thirty people have lost their lives while five others were rescued as more tankers exploded today at Abuloma waterside and Rumuokehi around Eneka area of Rivers state.

The thirty people who were burnt to death and the five rescued alive were trapped in the vessel that caught fire at the Abuloma water front.

Our correspondent in Rivers says NEMA advance teams are moving to the Abuloma scene while fire fighters are battling that of Rumuokehi already.

Officials of NEMA's information department are asking for help from the fire service and multi-national companies around Abuloma for urgent assistance to battle that fire.

At Rumuokehi, a total of three tankers were seen still in flames while one had been successfully put out by men of the fire service.

A source told Daily Trust that the tankers were set ablaze by men of the JTF because they were being used by bunkerers.

Efforts are still being made to contact the JTF spokesman to get confirmation about their involvement.

However, FRSC's sector commander in Rivers state Kayode Olagunja said this about the Abuloma fire; " An oil vessel, around 9:45am, caught fire and exploded at the Abuloma water front, Trans Amadi in Port Harcourt.

"Fire is still restricted to the water area. FRSC, NEMA, Police and other rescue agencies are on ground. Casualty figures are yet unknown."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nigerian government signs $1.49 billion construction deal with China

The Federal Government yesterday disclosed that it had signed a $1.49 billion contract with China for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail Double Track.

The rail line with Double Formation under Addendum No. 2 (2nd segment) is for the modernisation of the Lagos-Kano railway project.

It also approved other contracts covering the transport, power and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Briefing journalists in company of his colleagues after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga, Transport, Idris Umar, Power, Bart Nnaji, and Urban and Housing Development, Ama Pepple, the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, said council approved contracts including the implementation of Addendum No. 2 (2nd segment: Lagos-Ibadan to the main contract for the railway modernisation project (Phase 1; Lagos-Kano).

Messrs China Civil Engineering Construction Company Nig Ltd which clinched the job, is expected to complete the project in 36 months.

The variation of the scope of work for the contract for design and construction of Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project (Lots 1&3) from the initial work span of 60.67km to 45.245km (Lots 1A &3) upped the amount payable from $841,645,898.00 to $823,540,545.87 payable at the prevailing exchange rate inclusive of 5 per cent VAT and 5 per cent variation on prices.

"The contract is in favour of Messrs China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC), with a completion period of 36 months", Maku said.

On power: Council, in line with accepted best practices in the operation and maintenance of hydropower plants, approved the supply and installation of parts for the 2 x 140MW units 411G3 Generators at Shiroro Hydroelectric Plc, in favour of Messrs AsNDRITZ Hydro GmbH, in the sum of €2,075,754.00.

This is in addition to the N13,326340.68 to be retained by Shiroro Hydroelectric Plc to cover one per cent CISS fees and two per cent Port and Handling charges, with a completion period of eight months.

Council also approved the restoration of four Plant units and balance of plant at Omotosho Power Plc in favour of China Machinery and Engineering Corporation in the sum of USD 10,092,771.15 payable at the prevailing exchange rate at the time of payment, plus N78,753,893.30 for 5 per cent VAT with a completion period of 6 months.

On investment, Aganga said Nigeria has improved in the FDI attraction index to 23rd position making it a first quarter country for FDI attractiveness.

Nigeria is ranked first in the top five host economies for FDI in Africa at $8.91 billion in 2011 in comparision to $6.09billion in 2010, followed by South Africa with $5.9 billion in 2011 and Ghana with $3.2 billion.

Nigeria accounted for over one-sixth of flows into Africa as a whole. Only Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana attracted FDI inflows above $3 billion in 2011.

Meanwhile, Nigeria makes the final list of Common Wealth Association of Public Admnistration and Management (CAPAM). It is the first time Nigeria is partiparting in the international innovations award.

The Ministry of Health made a summation on their midwives services scheme. The scheme is meant to address one of the goals of the MDGs that has to do with the reduction of maternal and infant mortality.

It is a federal government programme by the ministry of health that employs qualified midwives, some of them retired and newly qualified ones.

"So far they have employed 4000 midwives and they are meant to work only in the primary health care centers. They are deployed to states and federal government pays their salaries while the states provide accommodation and transportation to enable them do their work. So far the 4000 midwives have been sent to 1000 primary healthcare centers across the country. Ministry of health submitted this scheme for the innovation award, there were 111 submissions from nine countries, we made it to the semi final of 40 submissions and now the scheme is among the twelve finalists who will make a presentation at his yeas biannual in India.

"The Minister of Health has assured that they will work hard to ensure that they win the award. It is the first time we tried and we are among the finalists", says Pepple who has been representing Nigeria on the board of CAPAM since her days as the Head of Service of the Federation.

Nigeria is the largest market for fake drugs in the third world

The Director-General of the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Dr. Paul Orhii, yesterday said that Nigeria has the largest market for counterfeit drugs in developing countries.

Orhii, who disclosed this in Abuja at the sensitization lecture for FCT corps members at the Kubwa NYSC Orientation Camp, said the country also has the highest purchasing power of such drugs.

He said to encourage local production of drugs, the agency has proposed to the Presidency N200 billion pharmaceutical intervention funds to assist local pharmaceutical companies.

He said the country being an oil producing nation and the most populated country in Africa Nigeria is prone to the usage of counterfeit drugs.

Earlier, FCT NYSC co-ordinator, Mr. Frank Ekpunobi, assured that the corps members especially those in NAFDAC community development group would take the campaign to various households in their primary places of assignment.

Rashidi Yekini immortalized in Nigeria

Kwara State Government on Wednesday said it has named the newly rehabilitated Ola-Olu/Central Bank Quarters phase of Gaa-Akanbi Roads after the late former Super Eagles striker, Rashidi Yekini.

Yekini died about two months ago at the age of 48. He hailed from Ira in Oyun Local Government Area of the state.

The government disclosed this in Ilorin at a media briefing on Wednesday after the state’s weekly executive council meetings.

The media conference was attended by the Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Isiaka Gold; the state Commissioner for Education, Alhaji Saka Onimago; his counterparts from Information, Mr. Tunji Morounfoye; and Sports, Mr. Kayode Towoju.

The government also posthumously honoured the former governor of the state, Muhammed Lawal by naming the Ilorin Golf Club after him.

Towoju said the government named the golf club after Lawal because he encouraged and promoted the growth of golf game in the state during his administration.

He added that Lawal’s administration rehabilitated and upgraded the golf club to international standard.

The commissioner said the Ola-Olu/Central Bank Quarters Road was named after Yekini because of his contributions to the growth of football in the country.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

200 homeless after demolition of Makoko slum in Lagos

No fewer than 200 people were rendered homeless, yesterday, when the demolition exercise that commenced at Makoko area of Lagos entered day two. Many of the residents said the exercise took them unawares as there was no prior notice from Lagos State government before it started around 10am, Monday.

Most of the structures were makeshift shanties built on waters, which most of the residents claimed were built to make life easier for them. The residents, who are mainly fishermen who migrated from Badagry, said there was no alternative provision by Lagos State government.

As at 6.30pm, yesterday, many displaced victims were seen hanging around in canoes on water as there was no place to lay their heads.

Evacuees speak

A mother of five, Mrs. Christiana Agbogla, was seen lying down on some of her belongings, saying one of her children, who is two years old was receiving treatment from a nurse when a flying boat arrived the area and some men came out to demolish their structure.

Another victim simply called Zende, who was heavily pregnant, lamented that she could not salvage her belongings as there was no one to assist her when the exercise began in her area. Some of the victims also said they will remain on the water as long as they were alive.

They chorused: "We are used to the river due to the nature of our business. We need a place to park our canoes and nets, hence our reasons to be closer to waters. No life was lost in the exercise, because we have trained our children to swim. In this place, a one-year-old baby can swim very well."

The Alase of Egun, Baale Francis Agoyon, said their grandfather inherited the land from University of Lagos many years ago and there was no plan for relocation.

Baale of Sogunro Community, Chief Johnson Idunsa, said they were given about nine days notice by the state government.

He said: "The community is mourning because many of our residents have been rendered homeless."

Quit order

The quit notice stated that the owners of the shanties occupying and developing shanties and unwholesome structures on the waterfront, thereby constituting environmental nuisance, security risk, impediment to economic and gainful utilisation of the waterfront such as navigation, entertainment, recreation, among others, should vacate the area within 72 hours.

Lagos justifies demolition

As the ongoing clearing of Makoko waterfront in Yaba Local Council Development Area, LCDA, continues, where thousands of residents have been displaced, Lagos State government, yesterday, explained that it embarked on the exercise to save lives and property of residents and also to aid execution of government's original plan for the area.

It would be recalled that thousands of Makoko/Iwaya residents of Waterfront community, whose structures were built close to a power line on the lagoon, were Monday displaced following the expiration of a 72-hour quit order. The joint task force comprising policemen, soldiers and officials of Kick Against Indiscipline, KAI, carried out the demolition exercise.

Most of the residents, who lived and make a living from fishing on the water and petty trading have been rendered homeless as a result of the demolition.

Giving the clarification about government's intention, state Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Prince Adesegun Oniru, said the government took the decisive step to ensure the safety of residents, adding "their continuous stay leaves them at the mercy of being victims of environmental hazards."

Oniru, who dismissed the insinuation that the exercise was being carried out to prevent occurrence of dreaded activities of the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, added that the forecast of rainfall for the year and its attendant consequences, if they remain on the water ways, was the motivating factor to the clearing exercise.

He said: "It is true that the state government issued them notice to quit. However, we had met the community leaders about a month ago and government's plan was conveyed to them. They knew what the government was planning for the area and beyond that the LCDA leader in the area also met with us and we told them the same thing about government's plan for the area.

"They got quit notice from the state government before we embarked on what is going on now in Makoko.

Our plan for evacuees

Oniru, in explaining what the state plans to do with the affected area, said: "The question is why we are doing what we are doing now? The reason is not far-fetched. We are doing it for the safety of the areas and dwellers.

"First is to clear the environment and the entire vicinity of the danger that is looming in that area. I'm talking about rise in water level, global warming and the danger looming in that area with regards to thunder storms and heavy rains that we are having in that area and in Lagos generally.

"If you look at that area properly, there are electric cables and other structures that run across the shanties on the water. All you need is one spark and everything will disappear overnight. We all live in Lagos and we know the thunderstorm that we have been experiencing; the lightening, too. So, what we are doing there is to protect lives of the people on that water.

"Should they be there at all? The answer is no.

"It is not a fixed address for anybody. If you are to ask me what plans we have for them, where we are relocating them to for example; my answer to that is that these people came from somewhere.

"They didn't just grow up on that water and wherever it is that they came from they can easily go back to the place. That area is not a safe place for anybody to reside in."

After demolition

Oniru said: An assessment will be done by Ministry of Physical Planning and the Environment, Environmental Impact Assessment, EIA, will be carried out by Ministry of Environment before government can actually come up with a scheme or proposal for the entire area. That is the plan we have for now."

Neighbours rejoice

Meantime, residents of neighbouring communities such as Akoka and Bariga, expressed joy over the demolition exercise, noting the operation would eliminate the security problem they encountered from criminals who often attacked them from the waterfront, which had become hideouts for criminals who live within the community.

Some of the residents of Bariga, Makoko, Iwaya and Akoka also stated that the demolition exercise would stop the flood problem they faced, adding that the shanties erected on the water front obstructed free-flow of water into the Lagoon, thereby making the community prone to flooding during the rainy season.

The community

Makoko is a small community in the Yaba Local Government Area of Lagos State. Majority of the people who live there are the Ilajes and the Eguns, from the Western part of Nigeria. Their main occupation is fishing. This is largely because their structures virtually float on water.

One won't understand the depth of poverty there until one visits the community. Their homes are made of wood and built on water. When it rains, their safety is better imagined than described. The residents move from one part of the community to the other with canoes. Walking long distances is usually not encouraged, except one is a good swimmer because the planks used in construction of bridges are weak and could give way at any time. However, the single-plank bridges are inevitable for short distance.

Exercise has no human face-PDP

Meanwhile, Lagos State chapter of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has condemned the way in which Makoko settlers were displaced by the state government. In a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Mr. Gani Taofik, the party argued that previous eviction of settlers, just like this one, has never been with a human face.

While it faulted the way the settlers were "dispossessed of their abodes and area of occupation," the party expressed concern over the ordeal of the traders.

It said: "Lagos PDP views the sudden demolition of the Makoko area as a surprise. This is coming on the heels of the fact that the ACN-led Lagos State government is supposed to be a government of progressives as acclaimed.

"There cannot be any justification for the eviction of people from their abode and area of occupation; people of Makoko are known to be riverine-based and fishermen."

3 babies drown-Residents

The displaced residents, yesterday accused the state government agents of drowning three babies while several others were injured during the exercise, which they said came as a surprise.

When Vanguard visited the scene of the clearing exercise, it was gathered that three babies got drowned in the confusion that ensued when officials from the state government stormed the area for demolition.

It was also learnt that the babies were between the ages of one week and three months.

According to the aggrieved former residents, one of the babies was on his bed and got drowned when his mother went out to buy foodstuff for the family. It was also learnt that the baby was in company of his sibling, who was two years older.

Produce evidence-Lagos

However, Oniru, whose ministry is supervising the exercise, debunked the claim that some babies got drowned in the process of clearing the shanties, yesterday.

He said: "The story can not be true. I am not aware of such reports as I speak to you now. The story is untrue, unfounded and baseless. In a community like that where everyone, including a toddler, is a great swimmer.

"Those spreading such news are mischief makers. I will implore you to ignore them. We challenge them to produce the evidence."

Confirming the development, the Baale of the Sogunro-Pedro, Chief Johnson Agbojeti, said the incident occurred immediately the exercise commenced.

Agbojeti said: "The baby was in the house when the officials came. The mother was out to buy food stuff for the family."

He added that the house was among those first demolished by KAI and other security officials.

One of the parents, who said his baby died during the demolition, Mr. Celetine Aginsu, declined commenting on the child's death, but confirmed that his structure was the first to be demolished.

However, Mr. Peter Ajape, who said his own baby eventually got saved, said that his wife went out when the demolition started.

He said: "Unknown to the officials, they demolished the structure with the baby fast asleep in the house. Immediately they cut off one of the pillars that held the structure, the baby fell into the water."

Ajape noted that it took the intervention of those around to rescue the baby.

Explosions hit Jos

A rocket explosion and unknown gunmen again hit Jos, Plateau State capital, yesterday morning, leaving no fewer than six persons dead, including a 10-year-old pupil of Jos Nura Islamic School, who was hit by a rocket fired at his school.

The development came just as two rocket launchers were said to have been launched around 7pm in Bukuru Jos south local government of plateau around the Bukuru Market

The spokesman of the special task force on Jos crisis Captain Salisu Mustapha confirmed the incidence and said it happened around the Gyel area of the locality and there was no casualty. He also said that large scale investigation is going on.

An eyewitness who did not want his name in print told LEADERSHIP in Jos that a man drove a Vectra Opel car, stopped close to the school, brought out a rocket-propelled gun, and fired at the school, killing the little boy who was sitting for examination alongside his classmates who narrowly escaped death but were injured in the attack.

The bursar of the Islamic school, Alhaji Usman Danlami, in a telephone conversation with LEADERSHIP, said there was no doubt that the school was the target of the attack, but the damage was minimal as the attacker missed his target and hit a house close to the school. It was the impact of the explosion that collapsed part of the wall which fell on the dead minor, he said.

Confirming the incident in Jos to LEADERSHIP, the spokesman of the Special Task Force on Jos crisis, Captain Salisu Mustapher, said there were attacks on Nura Islamic Private School in the Kerana area of Bukuru in Jos South local government Area of the state.

LEADERSHIP investigations revealed that four persons were killed in a particular attack by unknown gunmen at Sabon Gida Kanap in Bukuru, Jos South LGA.

The attackers stormed a house, killing a widow and her three children. They were reportedly killed at about 2am.

One person was reportedly killed by some youths in skirmishes following the explosion that rocked Jos Nura Islamic Private School and killed the 10-year-old boy.

The victim, Alhaji Boye, was allegedly killed at Jos Building Materials Market, along Bukuru Road.

However, in its report made available to LEADERSHIP, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said "only one person died in yesterday's crisis in Jos, particularly in the blast at an Islamic school in the Bukuru district of Jos, Plateau State, according to claims by a resident, which were corroborated by a security operative".

The statement quoted the spokesman of the agency, Yushua A. Shuaib, as saying "the explosion occurred in the morning in the Bukuru area of Jos South," but was silent on casualty figure thus far, though he confirmed that one person died from the explosion.

According to a NEMA report a resident of the area, Gyang Moses, confirmed that a high-calibre weapon was fired at a building from a distance, targeting the Islamic school not far from a government building in the area.

"The explosion was thrown out from a moving vehicle about 500 metres away from Islamic High School, Karen, Bukuru," it said.

There were also confirmed reports of sporadic gunshots in the area as people scampered for safety amidst confusion.

Meanwhile, Plateau State stakeholders have expressed dismay over the unending crisis in Jos and have called on prominent northern leaders to refrain from making inflammatory comments on the military intervention in five villages in Barakin Ladi and Riyom local government areas of the state.

In a 14-point communiqué issued after a meeting held at Government House in Rayfield, the stakeholders noted that recent comments by northern leaders fell short of reality of security challenges in the state, cautioning them to be careful in commenting on a matter they have little knowledge of.

The communiqué signed by chairman of the session, Rear Admiral S. B. Atukum, took exception to the incessant attacks on the people of the state, acknowledging that the state was under siege and that the terror attacks were not only aimed at the Berom but the state at large.

It called for synergy among the federal, states and local governments for effective border policing, observing that most of the nation's borders are porous, making it easy for infiltration into the country by foreign mercenaries.

The communiqué called on the State House of Assembly to enact an enabling law to empower traditional institutions through capacity building to effectively take charge of their domain and monitor activities of strange elements in their domain.

While calling on the federal government, through the NEMA to provide immediate assistance to victims, it called on government to provide employment opportunities, constant education and sanitisation programme for the youth.

Longest reigning monarch in Nigeria dies at 102

Dr. Aliyu Ocheja Obaje, Attah of Igala, Nigeria's longest reigning First Class traditional ruler, is dead, Governor Idris Wada of Kogi State announced yesterday.

In the statement by Governor Wada, the Kogi State Government said Dr. Obaje died yesterday at the age of 102.

Obaje, who ascended the throne on November 2, 1956 was the paramount ruler of Igala, the dominant ethnic group in Kogi State and was chairman of Kogi State Traditional Council until death.

Dr. Obaje was honoured with the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR and was appointed a minister without Portfolio by the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello in the First Republic . He was also a member of two Constitutional Conferences in London in the build-up to Nigeria's independence.

According to the governor: "The Attah was renowned for his quiet but effective administration of the traditional institution in the state and for his humble and humane disposition to the affairs of his people.

"The late Attah of Igala who was highly revered by his people, enjoyed wide spreadrelationships in various parts of Nigeria. A devoted Muslim, the late Attah is survived by his widows and many children, among whom is Chief Abdullahi Obaje, a National Ex-Officio member of Peoples Democratic Party. The Kogi State Government is finalising burial arrangements with the family," he disclosed yesterday.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nigeria's first female Chief Justice Maryam Mukhtar sworn in

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan Monday swore in the first female Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Maryam Aloma Mukhtar, and also conferred on her the national honour, Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).

Mukhtar was the first female lawyer in the defunct Northern Nigeria and first female high court judge in the North before rising to become the first female Justice of the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court.

Describing the ceremony as "historic", the president advised the new CJN to acclimatise to her new portfolio so as to tackle the numerous challenges of reforming the Nigerian judiciary.

He called on her to adapt to the synergy already created with the judiciary and legislature by the presidency to tackle emerging national challenges like terrorism and corruption, adding that she must give attention to the thorny issue of the trial of corruption cases and terrorism by appointing special courts using her prerogative.

"Today we are witnesses to history with the swearing in of Justice Aloma Mukhtar as the first female CJN. I join millions of our country men, female and youth in congratulating the Nigerian judiciary and your lordship as we record this important milestone in the annals of our nation judicial history.

"Although this administration has remained focused in projecting women, the learned CJN achieved this outstanding feat on account of her brilliance, resilience and hard work," the president said.

He added that his administration would continue to accord excellence and give it its deserved place in the service of the country.

He recalled that the hand of destiny had played a big role in the life of the new CJN, stating that "her lordship has always been a trailblazer in her judicial journey.

"She was the first female lawyer of northern extraction, the first female high court judge from the North, first female second-in-command in the Kano State judiciary, and the first Nigerian female judge to be elevated to the Court of Appeal where she served for over 17 years

"Today, she has risen to the pinnacle of her judicial career as the first female CJN in further service of our great country. My lord, I congratulate you."

He added that Mukhtar's achievement is an inspiration to all citizens, especially womanhood not only in Nigeria but also in Africa and the rest of the world.

"The honourable CJN now joins an eminent and exclusive list of achievers recognised throughout the world as beacon of hope in this century. She will after leaving office become a member of our nation's highest advisory council, the Council of State. Here again, she will make history as the first female permanent member of that council.

"We are confident that this exceptional achievement will herald an era of institutional transformation in judicial activism and strengthen our socio-economic and political system," the president said.

He reminded the CJN that she was assuming office at a time when the nation is undergoing reforms in all critical areas of governance and that it is particularly gratifying that "Your Lordship pledged during her Senate confirmation hearing to pursue judicial reform.

"I am therefore confident that Your Lordship will quickly settle down to work and commence the urgent task of reforming and repositioning the judiciary for effective and efficient discharge of constitutional mandate.

"I have no doubt that your work at our nation's apex court will benefit from your essential character of integrity, humility and courage.

"Your lordship will preside over the judiciary at a time of profound changes that demand a united response. We believe that the judiciary can play a crucial role as we confront the critical challenges.

"We are dealing with security challenges occasioned by sporadic acts of terrorism in some parts of the country. The three arms of government must work together to overcome this terrorist threat and act in the country.

"The war against corruption is another endeavour that calls for concerted action by all arms of government. I am confident that the judiciary under your able leadership will rise up to the challenge and provide the most needed support for government to address these challenges.

"Our citizens have complained of delayed trials particularly in cases of corruption, terrorism and other matters of serious concern.

"These complaints have led to frequent calls for special courts or designation of special judges to handle them with the required experience and speed.

"It will be your prerogative to consider and decide on this call. But I am sure that the entire country is in agreement that justice delayed is justice denied."

The president assured Mukhtar of his administration's continued support and cooperation and commended the immediate past CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, for his effort within the short period he was in office.

He said: "I will like to place on record our immense gratitude to the immediate past CJN, Justice Dahiru Musdapher. Despite his short tenure, he made spirited efforts to restore public confidence in our courts.

"We wish Justice Musdapher a well deserved retirement and hope that he will avail his wealth of experience in the continuous service of our nation especially as he is now a member of Council of State."

Speaking to reporters at the end of the ceremony, Justice Mukhtar re-iterated her earlier stand during her Senate screening that there was no need for a special court.

According to her, "I think I talked about that at the Senate that there is no need for a special court.

"A judge, two or three in the states can be designated to take care of that. I will again go back to what I said in the Senate, that I will lead by example and I will hope and pray that the others will follow."

On the nation's security challenges, she again repeated her presentation at the Senate screening, stating that the judiciary would partner the authorities to ensure that the menace is curbed.

In attendance at the swearing in was the First Lady of the country, Dame Patience Jonathan, who was accompanied by female ministers. This is the first time the First Lady would be attending a function of this nature.

Also in attendance were Vice-President Namadi Sambo; the Senate President, Senator David Mark; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal; Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu; and Deputy Speaker, Emeka Ihedioha.

The governors of Bayelsa and Kano States, Seriake Dickson and Rabi'u Musa Kwankwaso respectively, were among other dignitaries at the ceremony.