Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Williams sisters visit Nigeria to promote women empowerment

The much publicised visit of the Williams sisters' visit to Nigeria turned to reality after one of the world tennis icons, Venus Williams, arrived the Murtala Muhammad International Airport Tuesday.

Venus, who was dressed in black pants and a gray top to match, came out of the arrival hall at about 3.38pm local time with tight security in place and was barred from speaking to journalists. She however murmured to THISDAY that she was delighted to be in Nigeria.

"I'm delighted to be in Nigeria and the people look very lively," an obviously shy looking Venus murmured.

She was later driven away in a black Mercedes Benz E360. Her sister, however, arrived later at about 9 pm.

In a chat with Jaiye Opayemi, chief strategist, Chain Reactions Nigeria, which is the consultant for the Williams' visit, said their visit is a women empowerment initiative.

"The visit is targeted at women to encourage them at breaking whatever obstacle that may be standing between them and their dreams, as the Williams have some interesting stories to tell about themselves. Their personal experiences to life and their journey to the top," Opayemi said.

Meanwhile, the Williams sisters will Wednesday meet with the Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola at the State House, Marina and will be involved in a tennis clinic at Ikoyi Club.

While the sisters will Wednesday visit a public school and there will be a gala night organised for them at the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Meanwhile, Always, a brand of Procter & Gamble Nigeria, is supporting the visiting Williams Sisters to empower women and young girls to believe in themselves in a bid to achieve their full potential in life.

The Williams sisters: Venus and Serena are international tennis stars who arrived Lagos Tuesday as part of the African 'Breaking the Mould' tour; a programme that aims to empower women and young girls to believe in themselves and achieve their full potential.

Serena and Venus Williams embody the meaning of "Mould Breakers" as the story of their lives exemplifies how determination, passion, hard work and self-belief can turn dreams into reality.

Thursday, the duo will partner with feminine hygiene brand Always for a joint girls empowerment event at the Government Secondary School in Osborne, Ikoyi.

Together, Always and the Williams sisters aim to empower girls and inspire them to live their life to the fullest by: stressing the idea of sisterhood and that girls teaming up and supporting each other may achieve great things; teaching young girls the value of hard work, passion, determination and self-belief and leading by best example that neither colour or gender shall be reason enough to hold girls back and keep them from wanting the best in life and succeed.

Venus and Serena Williams will provide the school girls with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only meet their idols but also be inspired and empowered by them. The William sisters will attend an Always puberty education class and talk to the girls before performing with the schoolgirls the Always song "Little Big Steps" to empower them through a shared singing and dancing experience.

Their visit will also help raise awareness of the Always School Care Programme that has helped empower millions of girls in Nigeria and across the globe by educating them on proper feminine hygiene and puberty over the last 12 years. Last year alone, the programme positively impacted 1.5 million girls across Africa.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

English FA investigate alleged racial abuse of Mikel by referee

The wave of racial abuse of black players in football leagues around the world took a new dimension Monday as the English Football Association launched an investigation into claims by Super Eagles midfielder, John Mikel Obi, that he was abused by Premiership referee, Mark Clattenburg during Chelsea's 3-2 defeat by Manchester United last Sunday.

This is the first reported case of a referee allegedly racially abusing a footballer. Previous cases have been between players or fans.

But Monday, the English FA who are custodians of the Beautiful Game decided to launch an investigation into the matter to prevent it from further creating tension in the Premiership that is gradually becoming notorious for racial abuses.

An FA statement posted on the FA's website read: "The FA has begun an investigation relating to allegations made following Sunday's fixture at Stamford Bridge between Chelsea and Manchester United. The FA will make no further comment at this time."

Chelsea made a complaint to the Premier League after Mikel stormed into the referee's room to demand an apology after claiming referee Mark Clattenburg made a racist slur when he booked the midfielder in the 76th minute.

One of Chelsea's Spanish stars is also involved after players claim they heard Clattenburg refer to him as 'a Spanish t**t'. Spaniards Fernando Torres, Juan Mata and Cesar Azpilicueta all played against United.

It has also emerged that Clattenburg has been stood down from this weekend's Premier League action, according to The Daily Mail.

The FA will now request all footage from Sky Sports from the game.

While not all are recorded, they should help confirm whether Clattenburg made an inappropriate or racially aggravated comment.

However, these discussions are not recorded - meaning it could come down to one man's word against another, like in the John Terry and Anton Ferdinand race row.

Chelsea, United and anti-racism group Kick It Out all refused to comment on the unfolding story Monday morning.

However, 'The Blues' did confirm they had decided against holding a press conference Tuesday to preview Wednesday night's Capital One Cup clash with United. Lee Mason is the referee for that meeting.

Former England Captain, John Terry was involved in a spat with Antone Ferdinand that led to his ban for four games. Last season, Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra similarly engaged in a war of word over racial abuse. Suarez was banned for 10 matches in addition to a hefty fine.

It was the handling of Terry's affair that led Antone's brother, Rio Ferdinand to refuse to wear the shirts denouncing racism in football recently.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Video report on suicide bomb blast at Church in Kaduna

Goodluck Jonathan, Nigerian president, has condemned an attack on a church in northern Nigeria, and has vowed to crush terrorists in his country. At least eight people were killed when a suicide bomber drove a car filled with explosives into the church packed with Sunday worshippers. Two two more people died later in reprisal attacks.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Suicide bomber attacks church in Kaduna

A suicide bomber drove a vehicle packed with explosives into a Catholic church in Kaduna on Sunday moring, killing at least five people, wounding nearly 100 and triggering reprisal attacks that killed at least two more, officials said.

The bomber drove a jeep right inside the packed St Rita's Church, in the Malali area of the city, a volatile ethnically and religiously mixed city, in the morning.

A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Kaduna said that five people had been confirmed killed, while 98 people were receiving treatment for wounds at two local hospitals, reports Reuters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Islamist sect Boko Haram has claimed similar attacks in the past and has attacked several churches with bombs and guns since it intensified its campaign against Christians in the past year.

"The heavy explosion also damaged so many buildings around the area," said survivor, Linus Lighthouse, saying he thought there had been two explosions in different parts of the church.

Other witnesses and the police said there was just one bomber. A wall of the church was blasted open and scorched black, with debris lying around. Police later moved in and cordoned the area off.

Shortly after the blast, angry Christian youths took to the streets armed with sticks and knives. A Reuters’ reporter saw two bodies on the roadside lying in pools of blood.

"We killed them and we'll do more," shouted a youth, with blood on his shirt, before police chased him and his cohorts away. Police set up roadblocks and patrols across town in an effort to prevent the violence spreading.

At least 2,800 people have died in fighting since Boko Haram's insurrection began in 2009, according to Human Rights Watch. Most were Muslims in the northeast of the country, where the sect usually targets politicians and security forces.

Another witness to the bombing, Daniel Kazah, a member of the Catholic cadets in the church, said he had seen three bodies on the bloodied church floor in the aftermath.

A spokesman for St Gerard's Catholic Hospital, Sunday John, said the hospital was treating 14 wounded. Another hospital, Garkura, had 84 victims, the NEMA official said.

Many residents rushed indoors, fearing an upsurge in the sectarian killing that has periodically blighted Kaduna. A bomb attack in a church in Kaduna state in June triggered a week of tit-for-tat violence that killed at least 90 people.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lagos city ranked as one of the most innovative cities in Africa

The rapid transformation of Lagos state in the last five years got the world’s attention over the weekend as Citigroup and Urban Land Institute, ranked her as one of two most innovative cities in Africa.

The two bodies which assess cities worldwide in terms of sustainability and livability, ranked Lagos and Cape Town the most innovative cities in Africa in the list of the world’s 25 most innovative cities.

They also predicted that the Nigerian commercial capital may soon overtake Johannesburg as the continent’s business hub.

According to the ranking, Lagos got the nod of the international bodies for its population, rapid progress and potential as well as positive economic climate and potential for investors while Cape Town was ranked for its green space and massive investment in public transportation, technological research and the environment.

In terms of Economic potential, Apapa Port was ranked for accounting for 80 per cent of Nigeria’s seaport activity while the city itself accounts for about one quarter of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with $33 billion and the population in excess of 18 million making it the most populous city on the list of 25.

Lagos was also included in recognition of the innovative and transformational leadership of the the city’s leadership led by Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN) who, according to the international ranking bodies,“spearheaded the introduction of the Innovative Advisory Council which deals primarily with Science and Technology”

A statement from Urban Land Institute which said the shortlisted cities “provide new avenues which reflect remarkable, forward-thinking decisions on the part of municipal leadership”, also described Lagos as one of the “biggest” cities in Africa.

Nuhu Ribadu uncovers large scale oil fraud

A leaked report of the Ribadu-led petroleum revenues task force says Nigeria lost about N4.64 trillion over the last decade from cut-price deals struck between multinational oil companies and government officials.

Former EFCC chairman Nuhu Ribadu headed the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force, set up by Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke in January to retrieve outstanding oil revenues payable to the Federal Government.

Reuters news agency reported yesterday that the committee produced a 146-page report covering the period 2002 to the present, providing new details on long history of corruption in the oil sector.

Alison-Madueke told Reuters on Tuesday she had received the report last month but that it was a draft and the government was still supposed to give input. The one seen by Reuters was labelled "Final Report."

The report concluded that oil majors Shell, Total and Eni made bumper profits from cut-price gas, while petroleum ministers handed out licences at their own discretion. This, while not illegal, did not follow best practice of using open bids. Hundreds of millions of dollars in signature bonuses on those deals were also missing, it said.

It said also the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) made N86.6 billion over the 10-year period by using overly generous exchange rates in its declarations to the government. There was no sign of the money.

"We have not seen this report and are, therefore, unable to comment on the content, but we will study it if and when it is published," a Shell spokesman told Reuters.

Shell spokesman Precious Okolobo did not answer calls by a Daily Trust reporter yesterday and did not reply to text messages.

Spokesman for Total, Charles Eberionwu, told Daily Trust that he would not comment on a report that is not yet published or approved by government.

For his part, ENI spokesman Tajuddeen Adigun said he did not understand what

the report is talking about and he needed to have details before he could make any comments.

When Daily Trust contacted NNPC spokesman Fidel I. Pepple, he said the petroleum minister has already addressed the issues in the report and therefore he had nothing to add.

2 male university students arrested for the kidnap, rape, and murder of female student

Two students of Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, Henry Edewo, 21 and Emmanuel Isikhuime, have been arrested by the Police for kidnapping, raping and murdering a female student, one Mercy Peter, 21, also a student of the institution.

They were alleged to have buried their victim in a shallow grave in a forest at Ugbor village, Oredo Local Government Area of Edo State, after killing her.

Vanguard gathered that the victim, who was kidnapped on July 29, this year, was killed four days later after she was serially raped by the suspects.

They were also alleged to have continued to demand for ransom from her parents after killing her.

State Police Public Relations Officer, Anthony Airhuoyo, however, told newsmen that the police made a breakthrough in the case on October 17 when two of the suspects were arrested.

He added that a third suspect, whose name was given as Charles, was still on the run.

Airhuoyo disclosed that the suspects took the police to the spot where they buried Mercy and her corpse was exhumed. He said they were awaiting autopsy report.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

12 year old pupil flogged to death by teacher

A 12-year-old pupil of a secondary school in Awka, Anambra State, Miss Chidimma Ukachukwu, has died after she was allegedly flogged by her teacher for failing to do her homework.

A reliable source in the school told theNews Agency of Nigeria in Awka on Tuesday that the girl died on Thursday last week after she was flogged.

The source explained that the girl fainted after being flogged severally by a female teacher and was subsequently rushed to an undisclosed hospital, where she died.

The source also told NAN that the Commissioner for Education, Mrs. Uju Okeke, then ordered the closure of the school as a result of the incident.

A NAN correspondent, who visited the girl’s family home, soon after she was buried on Tuesday in Awka, reports that the family was in grief.

The girl’s father, Mr. Simeon Ukachukwu, confirmed the incident, saying it was a sad development. He added that it was an act of God.

But when Okeke was contacted, she denied ordering the closure of the school and said that the school was on midterm break.

NAN investigation, however, revealed that schools in the state were not on midterm break.

This fact was corroborated by an official of the Nigerian Union of Teachers in Akwa South Local Government Area.

The Chairperson of the union in the local government, Miss Buife Ndigwe, told NAN that primary and secondary schools in the state would go on midterm break next week.

When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the state police command, Mr. Ralph Uzoigwe, said that the matter had not been reported to the police, but promised that it would be investigated.

Deranged passenger causes bomb scare on Arik Air flight

There was pandemonium yesterday on an Arik Airline flight from Maiduguri, Borno State, en route Abuja, when a passenger, Mallam Aminu Galadima, stood up mid-air and shouted 'Allah Akbar' (God is great). Suspecting Galadima to be a suicide bomber linked to the Islamic sect, Boko Haram, other passengers panicked, triggering a melee on board the aircraft.

Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, is the major operational base of the sect that has killed close to 2,000 since 2009 when it began its terror attacks.Some of the passengers, alarmed by the behaviour of Galadima, who is said to have a history of mental disorder, rushed to apprehend and possibly disarm him.However, nothing dangerous was found on him after he was thoroughly searched by passengers and crewmembers.

On arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the pilot immediately radioed air traffic control and airport security operatives who whisked him away. Galadima was later handed over to security operatives, who swung into action to verify his mental state.

The State Security Service (SSS), Ministry of Aviation and Arik in different statements Tuesday, dismissed rumours that the plane was about to be bombed and assured the public of safety.

The SSS in a statement by its Deputy Director, Public Relations, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar, said Galadima was allowed on the flight due to negligence by his guardians who failed to notify airport authorities as previously agreed, before he boarded the plane.

Ogar said: “On Friday, October 19, 2012, the wife of the SSG (Secretary to the State Government) to the Borno State Government, Hajia Yachilla Jidda, travelled to Maiduguri in company of one Aminu S. Galadima, an interior decorator based in Abuja, to do some interior decoration work.

“On arrival in Maiduguri, he was lodged at Greenland Hotel. During the course of his stay, he exhibited unusual behaviour by smashing a window, and ended up with lacerations on his hands.

“The SSG was contacted, and in collaboration with the hotel management, the subject was taken to Atal Hospital, also in Maiduguri, where he received treatment.

“His family in Abuja was contacted and they gave confirmation that Galadima has been mentally unstable. In addition, his elder brother who lives in the UK was contacted and he requested that the subject be returned to Abuja for medical attention.

“On Sunday, October 21, 2012, he was taken to the airport to be returned to Abuja, but he missed the flight. However, the airport management was informed of his state of health, and they advised that whenever his return is scheduled, the management should be notified.

“Unfortunately, when Galadima was taken to the airport on October 23 (yesterday) for his return trip, the management of the airport was not informed, and 10 minutes into the flight, due to slight turbulence, his condition was triggered off. Meanwhile, Galadima is in the custody of security forces.”

The Minister of Aviation, Ms. Stella Oduah, through her spokesman, Mr. Joe Obi, in another statement, corroborated the SSS narration and described the rumour of a bomb attempt on the flight as a hoax.

The statement said Galadima, an indigene of Minna, Niger State, boarded the Maiduguri-Abuja bound Arik Air flight with registration number 5N MJE after going through all mandatory security screening and nothing incriminating was found on him.

“However, mid-air, the passenger began to act strangely, loudly screaming ‘God is great’. The plane landed safely at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at exactly 1253 hours and the suspect was handed over to the SSS at about 1445 hours where he is currently being interrogated.

“We wish to reassure the flying public of the continued focus of the Federal Ministry of Aviation on the safety and security of the nation's airspace, while cautioning fellow Nigerians on spreading dangerous rumours. These rumours do not help to make our airspace either safer or more secure,” he said.

The airline, in its statement, explained that the passenger was not caught with any bomb or dangerous object. It also disclosed that all the passengers on board the flight, including Galadima, had all gone through the normal security checks at the Maiduguri International Airport and nothing incriminating was found on anyone.

“However, when the aircraft landed in Abuja, another security check was conducted on the passenger and nothing incriminating was found on him. A further security search was conducted on the operating aircraft, a Boeing 737-700 NG (Next Generation) and no trace of bomb or explosives were found. The aircraft went back to service immediately.

“Arik Air wishes to assure guests that all its flights undergo strict security checks and passengers have nothing to fear.

“The airline’s Aviation Security Department is one of the most sophisticated in the industry and its commitment to security and safety of passengers is second to none in Africa,” it said in the statement.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top buyers of stolen Nigerian oil are in the Balkans and Singapore

The main buyers of the 180,000 barrels of oil that thieves steal from Nigeria each day are organised criminal networks in the Balkans and refiners in Singapore, according to a former Presidential adviser, who launched a campaign against the practice on Monday.

Mr. Patrick Dele Cole, a politician from the oil-rich Niger Delta, at the heart of Nigeria’s two million barrel a day industry, toldReuters that 90 per cent of oil snatched was sold on world markets, based on estimates from oil firms and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

Just 10 per cent was being refined locally by gangs operating in the creeks and swamps of the delta, he said.

Oil companies say so called bunkering or tapping into oil pipelines to steal the crude, and other forms of oil theft are on the rise in Nigeria, despite an amnesty that was meant to end a conflict there in 2009 over the distribution of oil wealth.

Yet while local gangs hacking into pipelines to steal small quantities for local refining are the most visible sign, it is industrial scale oil theft involving collusion by politicians, the military, Western banks and global organised crime that is the real drain on Nigeria’s resources, he said.

“International theft is diverting huge quantities … and the sophistication of the exercise –from breaching the pipeline, to having barges, to knowing when ships are at the port, to being paid – is major,” he said.

Cole, who has passionately argued for a global solution to the problem in the past, opened a campaign on Monday to raise awareness and try to nudge the government into action.

“It’s been a problem for a long time, but when it was 50,000 barrels, people thought that was tolerable. Now we’re at a totally different level,” he said.

Nigeria relies on oil for more than 95 per cent of government revenues. The figure of 180,000 bpd stolen comes from the upper end of an estimate by Shell, the biggest operator in the country, which frequently complains about the practice.

“Some estimates go as high as 25 per cent of oil revenue. The oil companies are going to realise they’re working for these bunkerers and the government that is losing revenues to them.”

The Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said in May that the government lost a fifth of its oil revenues to theft in April.

Cole said much of the oil sold had been traced to criminal networks in the Balkans, especially Ukraine, Serbia and Bulgaria, better known for things like cigarette smuggling or trafficking sex workers.

“On the evidence we have, the Balkan mafia organisations are well represented in Nigeria … You can’t chase these guys easily. They’re as slippery as the proverbial eel,” he said.

Singapore, the world’s top refiner, was also taking a large chunk. He urged Nigeria to confront the Singaporean authorities.

The 2009 amnesty sharply reduced militancy in the Niger Delta, a network of creeks and wetlands where the River Niger tips into the Atlantic, but bunkering has worsened since then.

Part of what facilitates it, Cole said, was that neither the state oil firm, nor the government nor the oil companies were publishing transparent figures about how much oil they produced, making it much harder to detect missing cargoes.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Video - Brilliant ball control skills from John Obi Mikel in Spurs vs Chelsea derby

John Obi Mikel showed off some brilliant ball control skills in the Tottenham vs Chelsea derby that took place last Saturday. Chelsea went on to win the match 2-4.

Related stories: John Mikel Obi starts record label with brother

Mikel Obi recalled to Super Eagles squad

Mikel John Obi amongst Nigerian top football earners

Dana Airline wins best domestic carrier award after plane crash disaster that killed all passengers

In what families of the June 3 Dana Airline plane crash victims may find offensive, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) at the weekend named the airline as the best domestic carrier for 2011.

According to FAAN’s Regional General Manager, Mr. Chris Bature, while the airline was chosen for its good customer relations and prompt payment of dues, Lufthansa Airlines was also selected as the best international carrier for the same period.

The Dana plane crash killed the entire 153 passengers and crew members on board, in addition to other victims in the residential area where the doomed plane slammed into. Various buildings were also destroyed. The Federal Government promptly seized its license, but restored it 93 days after the crash, provoking outrage across the country.

Speaking at the occasion, Bature stated that the airline was selected because of its outstanding performance. His words: “Mode of selection includes passenger capacity, frequency of the landing and take-off, their response to payment of bills. Among the domestic carriers, they were the best. They had the best volume, they were punctual in their operations.”

Reacting to a question on the timing of the award, Bature explained that the award would have taken place earlier in the year. He also observed that the reward came after the operator’s license had been restored. “In all fairness, they did their best and we need to recognise that and encourage them to get back to their feet,” he added.

Dana’s Station Manager at the Abuja airport, Mr. Kayode Adeniran, stated that the airline’s commitment to best customer service and timely departure earned it the award. He said: “We have this policy in our company that we must not delay passengers and we introduced another type of system. If your flight is delayed by 40 minutes, we give refreshments to all passengers that already had their boarding passes. So people were so impressed by our service.”

However, he lamented over the loss of lives occasioned by the crash, stressing that the operator visited and commiserated with the families of the deceased.

To prevent a recurrence, the station manager revealed that the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has embarked on an investigation to ascertain when the airline would be allowed to commence operations.

He said the airline has commenced demonstration flights as stipulated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). He also said that the operation would run until NCAA certifies the carrier fit to resume full operations.

Q&A with Nigerian football legend Kanu Nwankwo

What is the latest about the now popular Kanu Heart Foundation?

The Kanu Nwankwo Heart Foundation is doing great. We are trying to raise funds for that is what the foundation needs to achieve its set goals. I want to build a heart hospital in Nigeria. It is not going to be easy. Right as I am talking to you, we are waiting on the Federal government to confirm a date for us to do the launching because we want them to be involved. We are trying to see how we can help our people.

You also have an ongoing bonanza in which a car is up for grabs. How successful is the exercise?
Yeah people who know about it are responding. They are doing but it is not really hundred percent the way we want it. We want to create more awareness. You the media should help us spread the message. It is still going on. But like I said, the major target now is to have the launch and then build the hospital.
Most people now talk about Kanu Heart Foundation in all heart related problems. How does this make you feel?
If you are doing a good job for a good cause, it speaks for itself. The foundation is there to help people. There are a lot of people who do not know the symptoms. So we have to let them know. It is not every sickness that is malaria or typhoid. That's the big problem with us in Nigeria. Whenever we are suffering from any ailment, it is either typhoid or malaria. The heart problem is a big one. This is where I have to play my part to make sure that I educate people in Nigeria and the world so that I can help others.
Should this be considered to be Kanu's contribution to humanity?
Definitely. I am UNICEF ambassador so I have a lot to contribute. So far as I am breathing and alive, I would use my name, my fame and who am I to help others. Not only in health, in sports, not only football, but all other sports. In fact any avenue I can create to help others, definitely I will.
What is your take on the comprehensive victory the Eagles have just recorded against the Lone Star of Liberia?
That's all we have been waiting and looking for. A good performance like what we have just witnessed is what Nigerians want to see. I came on Thursday and I spoke to the boys. The coaches are doing a great job. The Federation is doing a great job. We, which is me and you and others have to believe in this team and support them hundred percent. We do not have to be panicking. They are very good players. They are rebuilding and we have to support them. We have to be behind them. What happened is what everybody wants to see. Football at the highest level, good football, skills and entertainment and then we qualify. It is good for the country. So what we have to do is to pray for them, put the team together, make sure that we have enough time to prepare. You don't have to go and sleep that we have beaten Liberia.
Looking at the talents you are talking about, how far do you think we can go in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa?
Like I said we have to believe in ourselves. I believe that we are going to do well in the nation's Cup. In anything you do you have to prepare very well or u cannot achieve anything. For me this is the time for the federation to sit up, the coaches to sit up and all Nigerians to sit up. We do not have to wait until when we are in South Africa, we start murmuring and talking and such stuffs. We have to push them now. Let them start immediate preparations.
Most Nigerians will like to know if Kanu Nwankwo is still playing active football. Is kanu still playing actively?
If you look at me you will tell. If I am playing you can tell. Do I look like someone who is still playing football?.
But you look fit.....
Do I look fit? (Laughing) which is to say my position in the national team is still there. I can come and train for a shirt. (Laughs).
Whenever you are watching the Eagles, do you have moments you feel you could have done better?
That's life. You can't play football forever but you know your quality and what you can do and when you see things like that you wish you were still there to do it better but you can't and that's life. It comes stage by stage. Now I am not there but I have to perform other duties. I am an ambassador I have to encourage them, motivate them, tell them things that will make them feel good and perform better.
You made a name playing for Arsenal. Do you still follow the club with passion?
Definitely. I follow the club. I wish they are going to win the league but all the same you have top teams like Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City. Well, this is just the beginning. After December you can then say who is going to win the English Premier League.

Nigeria makes top 3 in International Poetry competition

A young Nigerian writer, Okwudili Nebeolisa, has emerged third place winner in the poetry category of the 2012 Asian International Writing Competition. He won with his entry titled Ode to Biafra.

Okwudili, among others, was declared winner after the release, in September, of a long list of sixty (60) entries comprising both the poetry and essay categories.

Okwudili, who also writes prose fiction, is currently a 300 level Chemical Engineering Student of Federal University of Technology Minna (FUT Minna).

The poet expressed his gratitude and appreciated the organizers of the competition. He further added that "it's been a nice start for me in the literary run. And I hope for better chances in the future."

The first prize winner in the poetry category is Shlok Prakash, from India. While other winners cut across several other countries.

Making Africa proud is Faith Pepela, a Kenyan student who emerged overall winner in the essay section.

As made available in the website,, Distinguished Award Certificates will be presented to the winners, as well as monetary awards. For the first prize, is 300 US Dollars; while the second and third prize winners get 200 and 100 US Dollars respectively. Also, a 50 US Dollar consolation prize and Merit Award Certificate, is to be presented to the prizes from 4th-10th in each categories.

Joint Task Force arrest Boko Haram leader

The senator accused by the Joint Task Force (JTF) of harbouring a top Boko Haram commander in his personal residence in Maiduguri, Ahmed Zanna, told a select group of senior reporters in Abuja yesterday that the arrest was actually effected in the residence of a former governor of Borno State.

"Contrary to the claim of the JTF, the boy, Shu'aibu Bama, was arrested in a house at Rabi Street, off Damboa Road," said Zanna.

As to why the JTF would seek to frame him up as he claimed, the senator, who represents Borno Central in the Senate, said: "It obviously was as a result of an interview I granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) last week asking for their withdrawal from the state because they are not working according to the rules of engagement.

"I noticed that they are just killing innocent people, killing them unnecessarily, harassing their families, extorting money. All these have been going on and I became so concerned. Particularly, the killing and burning of houses became the order of the day."

Explaining the extent of havoc allegedly wreaked on Borno by the JTF, the senator said: "At least 300 houses were burnt within the last one and a half months. And it will not be an exaggeration for me to say that up to 500 people were killed by the bullets of the JTF.

"I called for their withdrawal because even Boko Haram cannot do more than that. If they have come to protect us, they are not supposed to eliminate our young ones. Most of the people affected are young ones."

Senator Zanna said from the information he got two days ago, the "JTF has also started killing old men. Somebody who was about 70 years old was even killed. He was sitting down listening to a radio and a JTF man came and he said, 'Baba come'. So, they just took him to a certain distance and shot him. This is the type of things happening. So, my people are helpless. This warranted me to react.

Answering a question as to what exactly transpired when the JTF personnel went to his house, Senator Zanna said: "On Thursday (last week), they went to my house. At that time, I was in Warri on an oversight function of the Senate. My wife called me, saying soldiers were at our gate. Actually, they went with four armoured vehicles and about 40 of them came to my house.

"They searched all the rooms and when they went to the children's room, they broke all their cabinets and searched everywhere. When they could not find anything, they assembled all the boys in my building, took them out and put them under the scorching sun. Actually, before doing that, they beat them up; we had to take them to hospital later.

"Under this traumatised condition, they now asked them whether they knew one Shuaib Bama. They said of course they knew when they saw him.

"One of them was asked to go and show them where he was living. As they were going, when they were about to reach the house, they stopped. In fact, they blindfolded the boy. And one of the officers asked one of the personnel to come down so that they should follow him to the house without the boy telling them where the house was.

"So, as they started going, the other officer sitting down asked him, 'If you know the house, then, why should we pick this boy?' And after some arguments, they went to the house and arrested the boy.

I reacted because they said they arrested the boy in the house of a serving senator along Damboa Road and I am the only legislator living along Damboa Road."

With self-assuredness, the senator retorted: "I really do not understand why they did all these. I am confused. If they want to frame me up, they have failed in that one because they did not get that boy in my house. I have nothing to do with it. Let them go and ask the person where the boy was staying. So, they should not have mentioned my house.

On his actual relationship with Shu'aibu Bama, the senator said: "Yes, he is my sister's son. As for his behaviour, he is a drug addict. He beats up my children, he abuses my friends. He came to my house, so I sent him away. That was almost a year ago. And for whatever reason I don't know, he came to my house last week and I told my wife that he should leave the house.

"Actually, he is a drug addict as I told you. Sometime ago, he even threatened to kill his mother. So, the mother was not even feeling comfortable living with him. And she narrated that to me. That is why I also do not want him to be near me.

"I don't know him to be a Boko Haram member. Never, never! I do not know him to be a member of Boko Haram.

"Since my house was searched and the JTF made the announcement, I have not been contacted by security agencies. But it was only this morning (Sunday) I saw a text that the SSS DG will want to see me on Monday. I will honour the invitation . What I am suspecting is that they want to frame me up. I am going to honour the invitation to clear my name and that of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria."

Northern governors bemoan worsening security situation

Following renewed mass killing of innocent people recently in Potiskum and Dogon Dawa in Yobe and Kaduna states, the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) at the weekend called on all terrorist groups to give peace a chance.

The NSGF said, in a statement, that the senseless killings of innocent citizens in the last two weeks in various parts of the country negated all efforts to restore peace to the country, especially in the north.

The forum appealed to terrorist groups in the country to sheathe their swords, saying that reverting to attacks and other acts of violence after weeks of reprieve would not advance the cause of peace.

The chairman of the forum and governor of Niger State, Dr Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu, made the position of the forum known in a statement signed by his chief press secretary, Danladi Ndayebo, yesterday in Minna.

The statement stated that the forum expressed serious concern at the renewed attacks on citizens: the murder of 34 persons in Potiskum, Yobe State, on Friday, as well as the 22 people killed at Dogon Dawa village in Kaduna State a fortnight ago.

Aliyu said, in the statement, that the forum was particularly alarmed at the shooting which led to the death of 14 persons in Plateau State penultimate week; the same pattern followed during the killing of 40 students at the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, Adamawa State.

The statement recalled that, earlier in the month, there was the murder of two road safety marshals in Kano and four students of the University of Port Harcourt.

It said the overall implication of the rising wave of murders of Nigerians is that the security situation in the country is worsening and people are increasingly willing to resort to violence to settle their differences.

The statement reads in part: "We are worried that the security nightmare currently confronting the nation is capable of scaring off investors from Nigeria and putting the country on the travel advisory list of many countries around the world, thus dimming the country's economic prospects."

The forum, however, commended security agencies for the success recorded so far, but urged them not to relent, saying the little success recorded should motivate them to do more.

It said northern governors were working closely with their colleagues from the south and the federal government, knowing full well that the raison d'ĂȘtre of any government is the welfare and security of its citizens.

Why FG must dialogue with Boko Haram - Shonekan

Former interim head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Nigeria, Chief Ernest Shonekan, has given reasons why the federal government must dialogue with the leadership of the Boko Haram sect.

Shonekan said the country would not make any headway in its economic transformation agenda, unless the insecurity that has pervaded the environment is tackled and the youths provided with gainful employment.

Shonekan made this declaration at the weekend during the graduation ceremony of the 48 participants of the Executive Intelligence Management Course, EIMC, held at the Institute for Security Studies at the Lower Usuma Dam, Abuja. He also raised the alarm about imminent mass migration resulting from the food shortage caused by climate change and drought.

The former head of state, who was chairman of the occasion, pointed out that the way forward for the country was to engage all the militant groups in the country in a robust dialogue to make them see reasons why they must eschew violence.

Shonekan said: "National security is perhaps the most important issue on the front burner of the government and every well-meaning Nigerian today. It is also for this reason that this course was put together to expose participants to security issues and to enable us find solutions to the insecurity in some parts of the country.

"Safety of Nigerians and their property and safety of the economic resources of the country are part of the constitutional duties of the government. It is obvious that a country where there is insecurity of life and property cannot experience sustained economic growth or socio-economic and political transformation.

"It therefore behoves all of us to team up to find a lasting solution to the current insecurity so that we can achieve peace and stability in the polity and sustained growth of the economy. The Boko Haram disturbances in parts of the country, oil thefts by militants in the Niger Delta and the crisis in Plateau State are indications of the level of insecurity in the country."

"One of the immediate steps that we must take is to dialogue with the leaders of those who are perpetrating insecurity in the country. They are Nigerians and we must find ways and means of engaging them in robust dialogue to make them see reason and eschew violence."

The director-general of the Department of State Security, Mr. Ekpenyong Ita, admonished the graduates drawn from all the security agencies as well as some government establishments to deploy their newly acquired know-how to improve the country's security situation, noting that they were graduating at a time when the country was facing complex security challenges like kidnapping, oil theft, piracy, violent crimes and terrorism.

"I do not think that this nation has ever faced a more fluid, more dynamic or more complex threat situations as what is currently being faced, particularly terrorism. The goal is to cause maximum chaos and provoke the other side into desperate over-reaction," he said. "This is a war we have paid the supreme sacrifice for and have no alternative except to sustain the current tempo in order to ensure ultimate victory."

Floods in Nigeria causing death and starvation

The flood disaster in Adamawa state due to the opening of Lagdo Dam in Cameroon has almost taken over the entire state affecting almost all the 21 local government areas in Adamawa and over 150 communities were seriously ravaged by this destructive flood taking away lives, submerging communities, washing away farmlands and rendering people homeless, making them efugees in their own land. Communities worst hit are Guyuk, Demsa, Numan, Lamurde, Yola south, Yola North, Madagali, Gireo, Mayo-belwa, Mubi North, and Mubi south.

In Demsa, almost the entire local government was submerged, while in Madagali about 40 communities were submerged. Yola north had 30 communities and in some villages like Wuro-Bokki, dead bodies of humans and animals were sighted floating in the river- it was reported that over 10,000 people were displaced as a result of the incidence.

Narrating their ordeal to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY, Joseph Emmanuel, a native of Demsa one of the worst hit local governments in the state; he said that the recent flood disaster was the worst he had ever seen in his life.

"I don't know where to begin but honestly I have never experienced this kind of disaster in my life. I never even believed that such devastation could happen to people like us who are only struggling to survive in this frustrated country of ours.

I lost all my means of livelihood and all that I have laboured for in my life and left virtually with nothing. How will I even pick up my life again? I don't know what they are giving us in the name of feeding; it cannot even sustain one person not to talk of other members of my family, so we've become more like beggars and prisoners."

On his part, Mallam Abubakar Mohammed, narrating his ordeal to our correspondent, accused the government of insensitivity over their plight by not doing enough to ameliorate the suffering just as he accused some officials of shoddy deals.

"It is most unfortunate that at a time when we find ourselves in this situation the government has been treating us like animals. We didn't bring ourselves into this condition but despite all the support and assistance being given to us, some people who are saddled with the responsibility of taking care of us keep on short-changing us through fraudulent means. Imagine a situation where a family of three will be given two or three measures of rice? It is heartless and calls for new measures to be put in place, because, even when the federal government's assistance comes, it may not reach some of us."

From the north to the southern senatorial districts of the state the story is almost the same. According to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY findings, one of the predicament and challenges faced by the flood victims was the alleged diversion of relief materials for personal use by some person who were given the responsibilities of ameliorating the suffering of the affected people.

However, in some internally displaced camps visited, the flood victims complained that items being given to them can hardly sustain them and their families considering its quantity and this exposed them to more hunger and starvation as they have no alternative means of survival having lost all their belongings to the flood while some victims, particularly in communities of Bandawa Mutifun, Donti, Koya Insa, Gurmi, Baware , Wudi, Keke all in Lamurde local government area said that the government has neglect them and they are discriminated against.

Kogi and Enugu State IDPs drink from contaminated river

For indigenes and residents of border communities in Kogi and Enugu States including Elele, Ekanyi, Obale, Affa in Analo and Igga, the flood would have claimed many lives if the victims were not armed with swimming skills.The flood, which assumed a dangerous dimension has succeeded in displacing over 5000 members of the affected communities, thereby rendering them homeless and making them refugees.

Currently, they are seeking refuge in neighbouring communities in Idah Local government of Kogi State and Uzo-Uwani local government area of Enugu State.

Also, the refugees are reportedly drinking from the flooded Mabolo River which is very unsafe for human consumption because of its dirty nature, while hunger has become a major problem for them since most of them who were evacuated from their homes in wooden canoes could not carry foodstuffs.

Our correspondent who visited the victims' refugee camps in Enugu gathered that most residents of Ekanyi, Obale and Affa succeeded in crossing over to the Enugu boundary communities of Ogrugu, Ojjor and Iggah in Uzo-Uwani council using wooden canoes.

The people of Elele, Odobo, Nwajala and Ejule whose communities have also been completely submerged have all relocated to Idah town where they are now seeking refuge.

A source also disclosed that people from Odeke community in Ibaji council whose homes were also destroyed by the flood have relocated to Iggah community in Enugu state.

As at the time of filling this report, many Ekanyi and Affa natives were still arriving Ogurugu which has become a major host for the refugees which included aged men, women and children.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY gathered that all the victims of the flood who have arrived Enugu are seeking refuge in primary schools and churches. Some of the buildings have no windows and doors, a development that may expose the victims to serious health hazards.

Already, some old people and children have fallen sick due to exposure to cold while women and teenage girls have lost their privacy as they stay together with men.

Narrating his ordeal, Mr James Oyekwu , a farmer, who is at Iggah Refugee Camp, said he and members of his family left their homes in wooden canoes after the flood . He stated that some of them sleep inside classrooms and Catholic Church building, adding that children have already started falling sick because of poor environment.

"Help us to appeal to the Federal Government to come to our aid urgently. We have not had a bath since we arrived , we need food, money, clothes, shelter and drugs to survive here. Let them come to our aid" he pleaded.

He further disclosed that four persons including a man, his wife and two children were drowned when their boat capsized while they were on their way to one the refugee camps in Enugu. According to him, the boat capsized while the victims were trying to calm down their goat.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY also gathered that a woman gave birth to baby in a canoe while another was delivered of a baby inside a refugee camp in Enugu State.

In Delta, Reptiles, Poor Toilet System, Feeding Rock Various Camps

With over four thousand communities reportedly submerged by overflowing dam spread to Delta, especially in Isoko Local government, communities in the state it was confirmed that over 10,500 adults excluding children have successfully been evacuated and registered in camps.

Over two thousand communities were submerged; investigations by LEADERSHIP SUNDAY revealed that more communities are being submerged as various camps have also been over populated, leaving the victims vulnerable.

At Saint Patrick College camp in Asaba over 3,700 victims suffer congestion and poor feeding system even though the state government has provided adequate facilities.

For instance, there were observations of poor personnel, poor medical attention and no fewer than sixteen expectant mothers were seen in pain.

However, some of the victims who spoke to LEADERSHIP SUNDAY: "We are happy there are relief materials, but there is no adequate security and reptiles visit us at night. "

At Oleh, Isoko South Local Government Area, there were 7,000 victims who may be infested with communicable diseases- a possible epidemic looms.

Although the State health Commissioner allayed fears of the unknown, victims who did not want their names in the print said: "they moved us from Iyede, Emevor, Olomoro and brought us to the Oleh camp, the water we drink is bad, no security, there is serious congestion, all of us will just put our head in one place'.

Food Shortage, Disease Outbreak and Anambra Govt's Efforts

The sight of children clustering in a section of Reverend Father Joseph camp provided for people displaced by flood in Anambra got this reporter thinking; what could be the attraction? While mothers sat in a section, most carrying their suckling babies, and all looking in the direction where the children were clustered, it was hard to tell what was happening there.

Just as this reporter made to move towards the crowd, there seemed to be a combustion and every child scuttled away from the arena in another direction, then the attraction revealed itself... officials were distributing food meant to be lunch to the victims.

As the children clutched plates in their hand and looked nowhere else but at the big cooler of food, it was clear that what held their attraction, and what they cared most for now is the food. While the older children pushed their way to the cooler of rice, ignoring shouts for them to maintain decorum by officials, the younger children were restrained from going near by their mothers to avoid being injured in a stampede.

A mother in one of the camps in Onitsha who gave her name as Mrs Ozioma Uzor told LEADERSHIP SUNDAY that for the past three weeks that she has been at the camp, life has not been easy for her and her three children. She said that her case and that of her children is made even worse because she was unable to rescue anything from her house before it was submerged by flood.

"You see some of our neighbours here, they came with cooking pots, and once in a while when we get visitors who donate food item or money to us, they quickly make a fire and cook something for their children to complement the food that government brings to us here every day. In our case, me and my children have to depend on the food government brings, which most times are hoarded away from victims by wicked people."

Mrs Uzor is not alone in her plight, most of the children spoken to at Father Joseph camp in Aguleri seemed to care a lot about food. That they sleep in open space is not enough trouble to the children like the fact that there is less to eat in the camp. Mrs Theresa Ekwealor told our correspondent that there is discrimination in the sharing of food in camp, she complained that some officials now hoard food, and adduce many reasons not to give food to some victims in camp.

"There is now discrimination in feeding, some of the officials deny us food at day with the flimsy excuse that we did not sleep in the camp at night. Look at the kind of place where hundreds of us sleep every night, there are not enough mattresses, so some people at night leave camp to find where our children can sleep, but when we come back in the morning, we are denied food.

This was not what the governor told them, he (Gov) said he will be providing us food, but the officials find reasons to deny us food, you must tell them o." She cried.

For Mr Anaekwe Chuwuemeka, a victim in the same camp said the problem is not from the governor at all. "The governor is doing his best, he comes here everyday to see us, and promised that he will keep feeding us until the flood recedes, and that he will ensure that our houses are rebuilt so we can move back. I think the problem of food is with the town union officials, they are hoarding the food provided for us, making most of us and our children to go to bed hungry every day.

Though NEMA, Nigerian Red Cross Sociaty and other agencies are trying hard to provide relief materials for the victims, Anambra State government through Governor Peter Obi has championed help for the victims. Obi who has temporarily assigned the Secretary to State Government, Mr OselokaObaze to ensure strict monitoring of the condition of the victims and report to the state government makes daily visit to the camps.

LEADERSHIP SUNDAY observed that true to an earlier warning of the Nigerian red Cross Society on imminent out break of diseases in the camps, some victims in camp were already suffering from some diseases. It was disclosed to our correspondent that the diseases included; pneumonia and cholera among others.

Couple Loses Baby, Seeks Help For Incubated Twin In Benue

Mrs Ifeoma Ibini, a 21-year-old native of Ebonyi state who lives in Makurdi is a victim of the floods which swept away parts of the state recently. Married to Emeka Ibini, a seller of insecticides in Makurdi before the floods ravaged their home, sweeping away all that they had in their one-room flat of their crowded compound.

Many of the flood victims were evacuated to the IDP camp at the LGEA Primary school, Wurukum. That was where Ifeoma, who was 7 months pregnant at the time went into premature labour, delivering twins, one of who later died. At the federal health facility the few incubators at the hospital were in use when Ifeoma was taken there, so they coul not save one of the babies.

Speaking with LEADERSHIP SUNDAY , Mrs Ibini said that the other twin had to be incubated at another hospital where they were later moved to, Madonna Hospital, a private hospital where they charged N3,500 a day to incubate the baby. She is therefore asking for government assistance to save her baby's life. "this is my first pregnancy and I though God would bless us with twins but I lost one.

Since I came to this hospital, we have been struggling to pay medical bills;my husband is a petty trader, I want government to assist us because our surving baby needs to be incubated for three months before he can survive on his own." She pleaded.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nigerians arrested in Bangkok with $33,300 worth of illegal drugs

Two Nigerian men, suspected of being part of a drug smuggling ring, were arrested, yesterday, with 500 grams of crystal methamphetamine, also known as ‘ice,’ valued at an estimated Bt1 million (about $33,300) in eastern Bangkok’s Ramkhamhaeng area, according to narcotics suppression police.

Identified as Ahamefule Cosmos and Iriegbe Chinonso, the two Nigerian nationals were detained at a convenience store near Ramkhamhaeng Soi 24.

Police took them to their apartment for further investigation and found 28 packages of crystal meth, weighing in total 500 grams valued at $33,300.

The arrest followed the arrest of Thai national Polsingha Putthasri, who held 100 grams of ‘ice,’ saying he bought the illegal drug from a Nigerian drug syndicate.

According to the initial investigation, the detainees claimed that their friend smuggled the drug for them to sell it to party-goers and tourists in Bangkok’s Ratchada and Nana areas.

Initially, the two Nigerians were charged with possessing illicit drugs for sale.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

First Lady leaves hospital and is back in Abuja

First Lady Patience Jonathan returned to Abuja yesterday after weeks in a German hospital, saying people who thought she would die in Aso Rock because of previous deaths of Presidential spouses forgot that not all leaders were bereaved while in the Villa.

Mrs Jonathan left Nigeria around August 28 with no public announcement on where she was headed. On September 3 Daily Trust broke the story that she went to Germany on a medical trip, but her aide told the newspaper that the First Lady only travelled abroad to rest after series of tiring official activities.

During her absence, rumours circulated that Mrs Jonathan underwent cosmetic surgery similar to the one that caused the death of Mrs. Stella Obasanjo.

Some messages on social media went to the extent of speculating that she may not survive the surgery because two successive Presidential couples did not come out of Aso Rock together.

"Thank God Almighty for bringing me back safely to Nigeria. Wherever there are good people there are also bad ones," the First Lady said shortly after alighting from a Presidential jet that ferried her back from Germany.

Mrs Jonathan was received at the airport by Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, Petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke, Environment minister Hadiza Mailafia, Education minister Ruqayyatu Rufai, Labour minister Emeka Wogu, some ministers of states, wife of the Senate President, Mrs Helen Mark, some wives of state governors and other government officials.

"There are a few Nigerians that are saying whatever they like not what God planned because God has a plan for all of us," she said into a microphone held by a Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) journalist, amidst cheering by a large crowd that turned up to welcome her.

"And God has said it all that when two or three are gathered in his name that he will be with them. And Nigerians gathered and prayed for me and God listened and heard their prayers. So, I thank God for that.

"At the same time, I will use this opportunity to tell those few ones that are saying that anybody that goes to Villa or Aso Rock will die. They mentioned Abacha, they mentioned Stella Obasanjo, they mentioned Yar'Adua and other people. But those people, why didn't they mention those ones that went there with their families and succeeded and they still came out alive?

"We should remember that Aso Rock is the seat of power and that is where God has ordained for we Nigerians that our leaders should rule from and to rule us right. God is wonderful and his infinite mercy."

While she was away, Mrs Jonathan was reported to be hospitalised at the Horst Schmidt Klinik in Wiesbaden, Germany, for food poisoning and ruptured appendix.

But yesterday she denied being in that hospital or undergoing cosmetic surgery, though she didn't say which hospital she went to or which ailment she suffered.

"At the same time, I read in the media where they said I was in the hospital. God Almighty knows I have never been to that hospital, I don't even know the hospital they mentioned," she said.

"I have to explain what God has done for me. I do not have terminal illness, or rather any cosmetic surgery, talk less of tummy tuck. My husband loves me as I am and I am pleased with how God created me I cannot add."

She called the period of her absence "my trial time" and thanked those who offered support. "God has given be a second chance to come and work with women of Nigeria, children and the less privileged. I have come to save Nigeria, I have come to work with Nigerians, I am there for them. Once more I am pleased to be back. I love Nigerians they are my family," she added.

Soon after her arrival, Mrs Jonathan left the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and headed to the Presidential Villa, where she was received by President Goodluck Jonathan and other well-wishers.

She was seen hugging the President, her children and mother in-law.

Mrs. Jonathan's return, just like her departure, was shrouded in secrecy as there was no public announcement on it.

Yesterday was the first time she was seen in public since sometime in August. But last week, she was shown in a grainy, short video clip on the NTA when the president visited her in Germany.

Video - Nigerian boarding school movie ZR-7 now available on DVD and VOD

The critically acclaimed feature ZR-7 The Red House seven is now available on DVD and VOD:

ZR-7 tells the classic life of boarding school adventure involving TJ with six of his friends (Rolly-D, Chiedu, UK, Tokunbo, Femi & James) while in JSS 1 (7th grade). The boys are initially shocked by all the hoops they have to jump in order to survive teachers, prefects, wicked seniors, dining hall food, thieves, cutting grass, washing toilets, puppy love and all the other regular experiences anyone in a public Nigerian boarding school would experience. But when TJ and the boys accidentally see a man and two female students in an uncompromising position, what they do with that information is not their only problem in school, but the resulting scandal would change their lives far beyond their wildest dreams.

Written and Directed by Olufemi D. Ogunsanwo & Udoka Oyeka

Director Of Photography Bishop C. Kagho Idhebor

Editor Chidi Nwaozomudoh


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Video - Thousands displaced by floods in Nigeria

The people in this region are no strangers to rain. But this has been the heaviest rainfall in 40 years. Many blame the government for their suffering and say the authorities were not prepared to evacuate people, provide shelter and other emergency services - despite a warning that there would be major flooding this year.

Arrests made in student killings

The police on Tuesday announced a major breakthrough in their investigation into the lynching of four University of Port Harcourt students. The videotaped lynching of the students sparked outrage nationwide and the clip of the killings went viral on the Internet.

The IG disclosed the arrest during a security meeting with Chief Executive Officers and security officers of banks at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.

“I want to announce that we have made a breakthrough in the Aluu killings. The two main suspects in the case have been arrested and they will be prosecuted,” he said. The arrest brings the number of suspects arrested by the police to 23.

The students were set upon by a mob in Aluu, a community close to the university, and lynched. They were later identified as 19-year-old Lloyd Toku ( 200 level Civil Engineering); 18-year-old Ugonna Obuzor (200 level Geology student); 20-year-old Chiadika Biringa, (200 level Theatre Arts student); and Tekena Erikena, a 20-year-old a diploma (Technical) student by the management of the university.

The police, on Monday, had named Coxson Lucky, alias Bright, as the mastermind of the lynching. Lucky, who was said to owe one of the students an undisclosed sum of money, reportedly raised the alarm that the students were robbers when they went to his house to demand for the money. The mob, which converged on the venue of the altercation, then beat and burn the students to death.

While the IGP was speaking in Abuja, the Rivers State Police Command was parading some of the suspects. The State Police Commissioner, Mr. Mohammed Ndabawa, gave the names of the suspects as Segun Lawal, Felemo Solomon, Cynthia Chinwo, Ozioma Abajuo, Ikechukwu Louis and Chigozie Samuel Evans. He accused the suspects of playing major roles in the killings.

“It is not the philosophy of the Inspector General of Police to parade suspects. Nonetheless, the gruesome manner in which the crime was committed coupled with the direct and glaring involvement of some of these suspects, and the interest generated by the heinous crime, left the police with no option than to parade them,” Ndabawa said.

He said that an investigation aimed at arresting others involved in the killing of the four students and bringing them to book was ongoing.

However, two of the suspects, who admitted taking part in the mob action, claimed that their involvement was “minimal”. While the first suspect, David Chinasa Ugbaje, said he only hit the students twice, another suspect, Ikechukwu Loius Amadi, claimed that he only beat the students once with a small stick.

Ugbaje, who said he was a cobbler, described one of the students as his customer.

He said, “Around 7am on that day, I saw a crowd beating four boys. I asked who the four men were and they (crowd) said they were armed robbers.

“So, along the line, we went there. I opened the gate and they entered. I could not control the crowd. They pointed at one of our co-tenants; the name of the person is Bright.

“Some people said they wanted to break Bright’s door. So, they started beating the boys very seriously. They took them out from my street. I now left the house. I only beat them twice.”

Ugbaje added that while one policeman at the scene of the incident pleaded with the mob to hand over the students to them, another beat the students.

“Along the line, two policemen arrived. One of the policemen was pleading (for the boys), the other one joined in beating the boys. After beating the boys, the police now said the boys should be handed over to them. The crowd shouted, ‘We no go gree, we no go gree,” he said.

The second suspect, Ikechukwu Louis Amadi, a printer whose business is located within the UNIPORT campus, said that he only hit Toku, Obuzo, Biringa and Erikena once.

He said, “I was ready to go to my work. When I came out to pick a bike, I saw a crowd. I saw four boys, they were already naked. I shifted a bit to verify. They told me that these four boys came to rob, to steal.

“I asked them where they were taking them to. They said they were taking them to Number 9, Coca Cola Street where they lived. They mentioned one of our neighbours that they came to look for him. So, I followed the crowd. At the end, they started beating the boys mercilessly. To be sincere, I hit them once.”

But Segun Lawal, the third suspect, said he did not take part in the beating. He claimed he raised his hands and appealed to the mob not to kill the students. Lawal, a taxi driver, explained that he was arrested after his return from a business trip to Obudu Cattle Ranch on Saturday.

At the parade, the police did not allow journalists to interview the village head of Omuokiri Aluu community, Alhaji Hassan Walewa.

However, Abubakar had said that “Intelligence report implicated the traditional ruler of Omukiri community, Aluu, Alhaji Hassan Walewa, as being the person who incited the mob to unleash terror on the victims.”

On Monday, members of the Aluu community had claimed they had no hand in the killing of the boys. However, Lloyd’s father, Mr. Mike Toku, had described the denial as an attempt to cover up the crime. Toku insisted that his son and the three other students of the UNIPORT were tortured and killed by members of the community.

Toku, on Sunday, told our correspondent that the incident took place in the presence of members of the public and wondered why any Aluu indigene would want to deny the obvious.

He said, “To say they are not involved in the killing of my son is a big lie. It is a white lie and a cover-up for their wicked and unacceptable act. The incident did not take place in one of the community’s bushes.

“They killed my son in a place that looked like a village square, belonging to the community. While the killers were hitting my son and three other students, others stood and watched the incident.”

Toku, who insisted that his son was innocent of any crime, urged the police to arrest the killers of his son and those who watched their torture.

The late Tekena Erikena’s sister, Ann, described her brother as a humble person who had respect for people. Ann wondered why members of the community would brand him a thief and kill him.

“I cannot dictate to government on what it should do, but what we want is justice. My brother was never a thief,” she said.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Super Eagles crush Liberia 6-1

Super Eagles yesterday banished the ghost of 2012 disaster when they walloped the Lone Star of Liberia 6-1 at the UJ Esuene stadium Calabar to qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

Eagles opening goal came in the first minute of the first half from an unlikely source when lanky defender Ambrose Efe rose high to nod home the opener.

Expectations for more goals however waned as the Eagles lost the midfield to the Lone Star with danger man Oliseh Jambateh consistently threatening to break through in the weak side of the Eagles defence.

Ahmed Musa who did much to keep the Lone Star defence under pressure came close in the 15th minute but his effort went wide.

The Lone Star would have equalised in the 34th minute when Oliseh subdued Nosa Igiebor in the midfield but his shot on target was parried for corner by Enyeama.

The Eagles doubled their lead in the 38th minute when CSKA Moscow man, Ahmed Musa made good use of a through pass from Emmanuel Emenike.

The second half witnessed a harvest of goals as Chelsea new boy Victor Moses hit Eagles third goal of the night and his first for the national team in the 48th minute.

Moses Chelsea team mate, John Mikel Obi scored his second goal for the national team and the fourth for the Eagles on the night in the 50th minute when he stepped forward to convert the penalty kick that was awarded the Eagles when Real Betis man, Nosa Igiebor was badly brought down in the box.

In a bid to score more goals, Keshi brought on Ikechukwu Uche in place of lack-luster Emmanuel Emenike.

Shortly after the Lone Star captain, Gobro George Demen was sent off in the 62nd minute for a second yellow card, new entrant, Uche fired in the fifth goal in the 72nd minute.

In the 77th minute, Eagles went in search of more goals when Brown Ideye came on for Nosa Igiebor and went straight into business.

The Liberians consolatory goal came in the 83rd minute when substitute Foday Baakai Eddie cashed in on a defensive mix up to score for the Lone Star.

Lazio boy Onazi Ogenyi got his senior team debut when he came on toward the end of the match for Obiorah Nwankwo.

Victor Moses got a brace in the 87th minute to make it goal number six for Eagles.

From then on it was entertainment for the fans as the Eagles used the remaining minutes of the match to teach their opponents some rudimentary lessons in football.