Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Why President Barack Obama shunned Nigeria

The United States yesterday explained why President Barack Obama won’t visit Nigeria during his upcoming three-nation trip to Africa.

The reason, top US officials said was not unconnected to the current security challenges in the country.

The US government said Obama’s visit would focus on trade and investment, democratic institution-building, young people, and enhancement of economic growth.

American Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, made the clarification at a press briefing on Tuesday.

The briefing was addressed jointly with the Senior Director for African Affairs, Grant Harris and Senior Director for Development and Democracy, Gayle Smith..

The text of the briefing was made available to newsmen in Abuja by the Information Office of the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy.

Rhodes said, “With respect to Nigeria, we certainly believe that Nigeria is fundamentally an important country to the future of Africa. We have put a lot of investments in the relationship with Nigeria through their leadership of ECOWAS, through the significant US business investment in Nigeria and through our security cooperation.

“Obviously, Nigeria is working through some very challenging security issues right now. And in that process, they’re going to be a partner of the United States. We certainly believe we’ll have an opportunity to further engage the Nigerian government through bilateral meetings going forward. But at this point, we just were not able to make it to Nigeria on this particular itinerary.

“I will say that we purposefully designed the itineraries to be able to reach West Africa, South Africa and East Africa, and in West Africa, to visit Senegal, a French-speaking, Muslim-majority democracy that is an important partner of the United States and also provide a platform for the President to speak to the broader region.’

Friday, June 21, 2013

About 200 Nigerian women trafficked to Russia for prostitution monthly

Nigeria’s ambassador to Russia has said that no fewer than 200 Nigerians girls are trafficked every month into Moscow.

Ambassador Asam Asam, who disclosed this in an interview in Berlin, said that the crime had declined in Western Europe following strict laws on illegal migration and joint efforts by the Nigerian government.

However, attention had shifted to Eastern Europe as the new destination for the trade.

“The major consular challenge we face in Moscow is the influx of trafficked persons from Nigeria. Not less than 200 girls are trafficked every month, and we have so many of them exposed to danger,” the ambassador revealed.

“Some are thrown out of the window and treated harshly. There must be a way of stopping these racketeering , these girls are not tourists, students or government officials yet they are given visas from the Russian embassy in Abuja.”

So far we have deported over 240 girls since 2012, you will be shocked, at the extent of resistance from the girls, we tell them Russia is not a destination for prostitutes yet they still come.”

According to him, the mission tries to curb the menace by arranging deportation for those caught, but the challenges are enormous.

“For instance a well known Russian human trafficker who has been in the trade for about 20 years was caught in Nigeria,” Asam said.

“The National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) was on the verge of releasing her before I filed a protest from Moscow to the Comptroller General of Immigration.”

The ambassador said even some of the parents of those trafficked encourage their children

“I spoke to the mother of one of the girls and she said her daughter should remain in Moscow and try to survive the ordeal; this is very sad indeed coming from one’s parent.’’

He tasked the media on sensitising the public on the dangers of trafficking in Russia, saying: “This East European nation has become a new destination for them, and believe me it is a very big crime here.’’

Asam, however, said that other Nigerians who reside in that country were students and professionals in various fields of endeavour.

Video - Uruguay beat Nigeria in Confed Cup

Diego Forlan marked his 100th international appearance with the winner as Uruguay beat Nigeria at the Confederations Cup.

The former Manchester United's strike brought to an end Stephen Keshi's long 18-match unbeaten run in competitve games.

Uruguay captain Diego Lugano opened the scoring in the first half with a scuffed finish from Forlan's cross.

Chelsea's John Mikel Obi equalised just before the break with a curled finish.

But Forlan ended a 12-game international drought with a powerful strike from the edge of the area early in the second half.

The win, Uruguay's first at the tournament, could have been more comfortable but Napoli striker Edinson Cavani was guilty of spurning a couple of decent chances.

Uruguay move level on three points with Nigeria in Group B, three behind leaders Spain.

They take on Tahiti on Sunday in their final group game, while Nigeria play Spain.

Meanwhile, in the first game of the group, Fernando Torres scored four goals and David Villa grabbed three as Spain completed a resounding Confederations Cup win over Tahiti.

Chelsea's Torres beat Tahiti goalkeeper Mikael Roche and waltzed past Roche again after David Silva's finish.

Villa then scored either side of half-time before the Spanish forwards sealed their hat-tricks from crosses.

Juan Mata made it 8-0 and Torres ran in a fourth after missing a penalty before Silva pinched a second late on.

Spain are not assured of their place in the semi-final just yet but they look odds-on to reach the last four after this record win in the competition.

And although the scoreline marked the gulf in class between the two sides, Tahiti once again won new fans with their willingness to get on the scoresheet rather than defend in numbers.

The defeat matched a record loss for the South Pacific islanders, who lost by the same scoreline against New Zealand in 2004, but their endeavour and undoubted class made this occasion far more than a straightforward thumping.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

92 percent of Nigerians support anit-gay law

A new weekly poll has revealed that 92 per cent of Nigerians are in support of the proposed Anti Same-Sex Bill. The weekly poll conducted by NOI Polls Limited from June 4 - 6 in Nigeria also revealed that the reason behind their support revolve around morality and religion.
According to results of the poll, most Nigerians are of the opinion that the proposed bill is not an infringement on the human rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) community because homosexuality is not in their culture as Nigerians. These are two of the key findings from the recent Fundamental Human Rights Poll.
The House of Representatives had on May 30th 2013, passed the Anti Same Sex Marriage Bill that makes same-sex unions in Nigeria a criminal offence punishable by a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. The bill also criminalises public displays of affection by same-gender partners.
The bill also states that "any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organisations directly or indirectly, makes a public show of a same-sex amorous relationship commits an offence and shall be liable to a term of 10 years imprisonment."
Under the existing Nigerian Federal Law, sodomy is punishable by jail, but this bill legislates for a much broader crackdown on homosexuals and lesbians, who already live largely in an underground existence.
But according to Rashidi Williams, the Director of Nigeria's Queer Alliance Rights Group, "The Bill takes away the fundamental rights accorded Nigerians under the constitution. This is really, not a pressing national issue."
However, to explore the views of Nigerians regarding homosexuality and level of ratification, NOI Polls conducted its latest poll on Fundamental Human Rights with the expectation that the results from the poll will contribute to the on-going discussion, and particularly highlight the perceptions of Nigerians regarding rights of the LGBT community in Nigeria.
Respondents to the poll were asked five specific questions. First, in order to ascertain the level of awareness of the new proposed law to make same-sex marriage punishable by imprisonment, respondents were asked: "Are you aware of the recent legislative vote by the House of Representative banning same sex marriages in Nigeria? Why do you think it is an infringement/not an infringement on the human rights of LGBT community?
To what extent do you support or oppose the bill recently passed by the House of Representatives?  To what extent do you agree or disagree with the claim that homosexuality is not part of the culture of Nigerians? Overall, 69 percent of the respondents were aware of the legislative vote banning same sex marriage.
The results showed that the North-central, North East and South-South have the highest level of awareness with 75 percent. Ninety- two percent (92%) of the respondents supported the Bill, 5 percent oppose the bill and 3 percent were neutral. Also, 85 percent of the respondents strongly agree that homosexuality was not part of the Nigerian culture.
On if the proposed law was an infringement on the human rights of LGBT community, majority of respondents were of the opinion that the proposed law is not an infringement on their rights. The poll in conclusion, revealed that Nigerians generally support the proposed bill and mostly agree that homosexuality is not a part of the Nigerian culture and majority do not think that the proposed bill is an infringement on the human rights of the people in the LGBT community.

President Goodluck Jonathan Inaugurates $1 Billion Electricity Manufacturing Facility

President Goodluck Jonathan has inaugurated the General Electric's $1billion service and manufacturing facility in Calabar. The ground breaking ceremony was sequel to the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga; and the Global Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of GE, Mr. Jeff Emmelt, in January.

Represented by the Vice-President, Arch. Namadi Sambo, Jonathan said the groundbreaking ceremony would not only give a fine boost to the administration's Transformation Agenda, it would also strengthen the improved confidence in the Nigerian business environment by both local and foreign investors.

He said it will also confirm the commitment of the Federal Government to revitalising the Nigerian economy within the lifetime of the current administration through policies and projects that would pave the way for increased production activities, job creation and wealth generation.

In his remarks, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment said the GE had, over the past 125 years, evolved to seize new opportunities created by changes in technology and the economy as a frontline multi-business organisation.

In 2009, GE signed a Country-to-Company agreement with the Federal Government of Nigeria, aimed at forging a strategic partnership that would see the two parties working together on high growth opportunities and investment in support of Nigeria's transformation objectives.

Aganga said in a statement that on 31st January, 2013, the nation recorded a milestone in its investment drive as the Federal Government of Nigeria and Messrs GE sealed an investment deal of $I billion (N158 billion) on the establishment of a Best-in-class assembly in Calabar.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

United Nations says $600 Billion Stolen by Nigerian Elite Since Independence

A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has put the estimated amount of looted funds from the Nigerian treasury at $600 billion between independence and 1999.

Making this known yesterday in Abuja at a two-day international conference on "Emerging Democracies in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities", organised by the Nigerian Institute for Legislative Studies, Professor Festus Iyayi of the University of Benin said findings had shown that the estimated sum of money stolen by the Nigerian elite between 1960 and 1999 from the treasury varied between $400 billion and $600 billion.

He recalled a UNODC report, which showed that as far back as 1999, the total amount stolen by members of the ruling class had been put at $400 billion.

He also cited the Director of Office of UNODC, Mr. Tim Daniel, who had reported that $110 billion was being looted annually from the treasury, while stolen monies stashed in foreign accounts increased from $50 billion in 1999 to $170 billion in 2003.

The professor, who disagreed with the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on unemployment statistics in Nigeria, said research had shown that the current level of unemployment in Nigeria was above 40 per cent and would rise to 50 per cent at the end of this year.

However, Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke on "Youth Unemployment and Violence" at the conference, had put the current unemployment rate in the country at 37 per cent.

While noting that the looted sums would have created millions of jobs, Iyayi quoted UNODC in 1999 as stating: "That is a staggering - almost 'astronomical' amount of money because if you were to put $400 billion bills end-to-end, you could make 75 round trips to the moon!

"Concretely, those $400 billion could have translated into millions of vaccinations for children; thousands of kilometres of roads; hundreds of schools, hospitals and water treatment facilities that never came to be."

In her presentation, Okonjo-Iweala put the present unemployment rate in Africa at 60 per cent, adding that by 2035, Nigeria's workforce would exceed that of any other country, including China.

She, however, observed that to achieve this, the country would need to invest massively in education.

She suggested that entrepreneurial studies should be included in secondary school curriculum with a view to helping the youths create jobs for themselves upon leaving school.

While insisting that the federal government had put several measures in place to address youth unemployment, Okonjo-Iweala said the government had concluded the first phase of youth scheme employment through which she said 1,000 youths shortlisted from 24,000 initially invited for examinations, had obtained between N1 million to N10 million grants to set up various businesses.

According to her, the output has been cheering with 15,000 jobs created so far from the initiative, adding that the second round of the scheme, which was essentially for women, had been launched.

While pledging that the third phase of the scheme would commence soon, Okonjo-Iweala said the employment initiatives were parts of the government's interventions in youth unemployment with the intention of creating jobs and averting violence among the youth.

She also said so far, 3.5 million jobs had been created in the agricultural sector of the society.

However, Iyayi recalled that an independent survey conducted by Rise Network showed that unemployment in the country was growing annually at the rate of 16 per cent, recalling also that a report of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in 2011 had put the unemployment rate in both urban and rural areas at 42.7 per cent, with urban unemployment put at 17.1 per cent while rural unemployment was put at 25.6 per cent.

Iyayi described this high rate of unemployment in Nigeria as a time bomb waiting to explode, as he recalled that it was frustration resulting from unemployment that forced a youth in Tunisia to set himself ablaze leading to the Arab Spring in Northern Africa and beyond.

"The Nigerian youth unemployment rate is about three times the sub-Saharan African unemployment rate of 12.6 per cent. These statistics do not include youth unemployment. When these are added, the youth unemployment problem becomes really potentially explosive.

"This situation is not only alarming: it is a time bomb, especially in the light of the fact that while some 4.5 million of the population enter into the labour market annually (most of whom are job seekers) only 1 per cent can be absorbed. In effect, employment growth seriously lags behind labour market growth," he added.

Iyayi also noted that the situation would only be worse with the recent prediction that Nigeria's population would exceed that of the United States in 2050 and also grow further to 914 million at the end of the century.

He warned: "If the current labour trends continue and the labour market growth continues to consistently outstrip employment growth, the implication is obvious: the bomb will detonate!"

Gun trafficking charges dropped against Russians arrested in Lagos

The Federal Government on Tuesday dropped the charges against eight out of the 15 Russian sailors charged with unlawful importation of arms into Nigeria.

They are Zhelyazkov Andrey, Savchenko Sergel, Lopatin Alexey, Baranovskly Nikolay, Llia Shubov, Dimitry Bannyrh, Alexander Tsarikov and Kononov Sergel.

The 15 sailors had appeared before a Federal High Court, Lagos, on a four-count charge for allegedly importing firearms to Nigeria, as well as the refusal to disclose contents of the vessel.

However, the prosecution said it would proceed with the trial of the remaining accused, including, Chichkanov Vasily, Varlygin Igor, Komilov Alexander, and Mishin Pavel.

Others are Korotchenko Andrey, Vorobev Mikhail, Stepan Oleksiuk and their vessel, "MV Myre Seadiver".

When the case was mentioned, the prosecutor, Jane Igurnumbe, informed the court that the charges had been amended to drop eight of the accused as they were not arrested on the vessel.

According to her, the remaining sailors will be prosecuted alongside their vessel. The prosecutor also prayed the court to withdraw the name of the vessel 'MV Myre Seadiver' from the charge, and replace it with its owner 'Moral Security Group Limited'.

Counsel to the accused, Chukwuwinke Okafor, however opposed the application, stressing that the prosecution had exhibited lack of diligence in prosecuting the case.

In his ruling, Justice James Tsoho granted the prosecutor's prayer, but ordered the prosecution to serve the accused with proof of evidence on the issue of substitution of vessel.

He adjourned the case to June 21, for mention. When the accused were first arraigned on February 19 before Justice Okechukwu Okeke, they pleaded not guilty.

Mr. Okeke had released the defendants on bail to the Russian Ambassador in Nigeria, while the vessel was admitted to bail in a bond of $500,000.

At their arraignment, the prosecutor, Ernest Ezebilo had told the court that the defendants were arrested with their vessel by naval officers on October 18, 2012, in Lagos State.

He said that the defendants had entered the Nigerian territorial waters with their vessel, without due license and clearance from the Nigerian Customs Service. He added that the accused had also refused to declare the content of the vessel contrary to the provisions of the Customs and Excise Management Act.

He said that when the vessel was arrested and searched by the naval officers, a cache of firearms and ammunition was discovered in it.

He said the alleged offences contravened the provisions of Section 27 of the Firearms Act, Cap F28, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap M17 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

The offence attracts a penalty of not less than 10 years imprisonment.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Video - Nigeria thrash Tahiti 1-6 in Confederation Cup

Tahiti scored a historic goal in their first match at a senior FIFA tournament, but they could not handle Nigeria, who took no mercy in a 6-1 victory.

The Pacific Islanders went behind in unfortunate fashion. Echiejile hit a speculative effort from distance, which first struck Jonathan Tehau before hitting Tahiti captain Nicolas Villar to take the ball past a stranded Xavier Samin.

Nigeria then doubled their lead with a well-taken effort by Nnamdi Oduamad. A slack Tahiti pass was pounced upon and the ball found its way to the forward, who calmly slotted home.

Nigeria extended their lead shortly after. Ahmed Musa broke down the left and his rather tame cross was spilled by Samin, allowing Oduamadi to tap home the rebound.

There were loud cheers as Samin partially made up for his earlier mistake after a brave challenge at the feet of Anthony Ujah, who found himself one-on-one with the Tahiti goalkeeper.

The moment of the game came when Tahiti scored their historic goal. The side's only professional player Marama Vahirua whipped a corner to the back post, where a rising Jonathan Tehau thumped his header past Vincent Enyeama.

The celebrations by the players on the pitch and from coach Eddy Etaeta on the sideline were something to behold, as the Tahitians revelled in the limelight.

They were quickly brought down to earth though, as the goalscorer of that historic effort poked an Oduamadi cross past his own goalkeeper, with Brown Ideye applying pressure.

Oduamadi then wrapped the game up, and claimed the match ball, completing his hat-trick with a simple tap-in, with Echiejile completing the rout with his second.

Nigeria will face a sterner test when they come up against South American champions Uruguay in their next game. Tahiti, meanwhile, face the small matter of a trip to the Maracana to face FIFA World Cup™ holders Spain.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Video - Thousands of Nigerians flee country due to violence

The UN says thousands of people continue to flee the violence in Nigeria, a month since the start of a military offensive in three northern states against the armed group Boko Haram. So far more than 6,000 refugees have arrived in the town of Bosso in neighbouring Niger. Boko Haram, a radical armed group, has been blamed for the deaths of thousands of civilians.

Nigeria's population to overtake America's in 2050 according to U.N.

Nigeria's population is expected to surpass that of the U.S. before the middle of the century, according to a new United Nations, UN, World Population Prospects report.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the report was made public during a news conference at the UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday. The report said that by the end of the century, Nigeria could start to rival China as the second most populous country in the world.

The U.S. currently has a population of over 300 million and increasing. This implies that the UN estimates Nigeria's population to be higher than 300 million by 2050.

The report said that by 2100 there could be several other countries with populations over 200 million, namely Indonesia, the United Republic of Tanzania, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Uganda and Niger.

The report titled "World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision" recorded the total population of Nigeria to be 173,615 with the figure of male 88,362 while the female was recorded as 85,254. It, however, stated that sex ratio of male per 100 female was 104 per cent.

India to overtake China

The report also indicated that the population of India could surpass that of China in the next 20 years.

"The population of India is expected to surpass that of China around 2028, when both countries will have populations of around 1.45 billion. Thereafter, India's population will continue to grow for several decades to around 1.6 billion and then decline slowly to 1.5 billion in 2100.

"The population of China, on the other hand, is expected to start decreasing after 2030, possibly reaching 1.1 billion in 2100.

The report disclosed that current world population of 7.2 billion was projected to increase by almost one billion people within the next twelve years, reaching 8.1 billion in 2025 and 9.6 billion in 2050.

It added that most of the population growth would occur in developing regions, with their population projected to increase from 5.9 billion in 2013 to 8.2 billion in 2050.

"During the same period, the population of developed regions will remain largely unchanged at around 1.3 billion people.

"Growth is expected to be most rapid in the 49 least developed countries, which are projected to double in size from some 900 million inhabitants in 2013 to 1.8 billion in 2050," the report stated.

It noted that at country level, much of the overall increase between now and 2050 was projected to take place in high-fertility countries, mainly in Africa, as well as countries with large populations such as India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines and the U.S.

"Although population growth has slowed for the world as a whole, this report reminds us that some developing countries, especially in Africa, are still growing rapidly," the UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo said.

He added that compared to the UN's previous assessment of world population trends, the new projected total population was higher, particularly after 2075.

"Part of the reason is that current fertility levels have been adjusted upward in a number of countries as new information becomes available.

"In 15 high-fertility countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the estimated average number of children per woman has been adjusted upwards by more than five per cent," Mr. Hongbo said.

NDLEA says stats of Nigerians in foreign prisons inaccurate

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has accused the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of neglecting to comply with the provisions of Section 45 of its Act, a development which has resulted in the inaccurate statistics of Nigerians in jail abroad for drug relate-offences.

Section 45 of the NDLEA Act mandates all Heads of Nigerian Diplomatic Mission abroad to furnish NDLEA with the statistics of Nigerians in jail abroad for drug related-offences every six months.

But NDLEA's Director of Prosecution and Legal Services, Femi Oloruntoba accused the Foreign Affairs Ministry of failing to ensure compliance with the provisions of the law, which has in effect hampered the agency from gathering accurate statistics.

Oloruntoba said this in Lagos at a workshop organised by the National Association of Judicial Correspondents (NAJUC). The workshop was with the theme: "Government Agencies and Enabling Laws: Review and Overview."

Oloruntoba, who was represented by Yohanna Mshelia, an Assistant Director with the NDLEA, also accused some foreign countries of failing to corporate with the agency in that regard.

He said lack of cooperation from some foreign countries, particularly the western countries "is also a major concern. These countries refuse to provide relevant information relating to Nigerians involved in drug trafficking in their countries on the grounds that double jeopardy exists in Nigeria - Decree 33 of 1990."

Besides, Oloruntoba pointed out that the absence of drug enforcement officers in Nigerian missions abroad also constitutes major factor in the non-accurate statistics of Nigerians in foreign prison.

According to the current statistics available to NDLEA, over 600 Nigerians were arrested in Thailand in 2002 for drug related offences, out of which 521 were transferred to Nigeria between 2003 and 2008.

He said Russia arrested about 229 Nigerians in 2001 and none has been transferred to Nigeria, while between 2003 and 2004, Indonesia arrested 40 Nigerians out of which none has been transferred to Nigeria.

In 2004, 25 Nigerians were arrested for drug related offences in Italy and none of these Nigerians has been transferred back to the country. Oloruntoba added that in Pakistan, only statistics of Karachi Prison was available, and the said statistics revealed that 226 Nigerians were arrested for drug related offences in 2006.

He said better statistics "may be available with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. At present, what the agency has are figures obtained when on visit to the relevant countries. The NIA also sometime provides information to the agency.

"As can be seen above, the statistics available are not up to date and very unreliable as the agency does not have the capacity, or the resources to gather these statistics. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a crucial role to perform in this respect," he said Customs Boss Tasks Nigerians in Diaspora to Help Develop Nigeria James Emejo in Abuja

Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Alhaji Abdullahi Dikko Inde, has appealed to Nigerians in the diasporas to return home and take advantage of the opportunity provided by President Goodluck Jonathan to contribute to the development of the country.

He said the country would be better of if those who studied or worked abroad could come back home to offer their experiences towards the development of the country.

Speaking at the weekend in Abuja while being presented with a special award by the Bulgarian Alumni Association, the customs boss said he was one of those who had studied abroad but returned to commit his experience to impact on Nigerians.

He said:" I am here and I have been given an opportunity by President Goodluck Jonathan and I have excelled. So if they come, they'll also have that opportunity. I think if we have about 10 persons who would come back after studies abroad like me, the country will be better of."

Specifically, he said the experience acquired during his studies in Bulgaria had helped immensely in shaping his current six-point agenda which had repositioned the customs service.

He, however, dedicated the award to the 'hardworking' officers and men of the NCS, adding that the honour would further "motivate us for better performances."

Inde said staff welfare and capacity-building of its workforce were critical to his success in the service. The customs is highly commended for establishing critical reforms that have revolutionised the NCS since his assumption of office.

He had among other things approved a 100 per cent increase in the salaries of officers and men - a monetary incentive which had made the service the envy of all.

"Every customs officer is now computer literate and are motivated to work," he told THISDAY.

He also called for joint effort to secure the country's borders stressing that the "Security of our border should not be seen as the duty of customs alone. We must also see ourselves as stakeholders in Nigeria's security."

On his part, the Minister of Special Duties, Malam Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, described Inde as a workaholic, disciplined and patriotic Nigerian whose competence in the discharge of his duties had significantly transformed the NCS.

Also speaking at the award ceremony, the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Matters, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said the nation was proud of the customs boss whom she described as gentle, hardworking and devoted to his job.

She said Inde had made a difference by transforming the customs and urged other Nigerians in the Diaspora to emulate him and come back home to share their experience and ideas. "A river which forgets its source will dry up," she said, adding that Nigeria must be fixed by Nigerians."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lagos and Abuja among most expensive cities in Africa

A recent ranking released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a sister company of The Economist magazine on 25 African cities has placed Lagos and Abuja among the top four cities in Africa with the highest cost of living.

The key results of the cost of living rankings per city reveal that Abuja is the second most expensive city in Africa with a total expenditure score of 107.4. Lagos comes fourth with 100.8 total expenditure.

Ranking first on the list as Africa’s most expensive city is Luanda in Angola with a score of 131.8, while Addis Ababa came last with a score of 60.8.

In other rankings, Abuja emerged as the 12th city in terms of consumption of alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics, while Lagos took the 21st position among the 25 cities surveyed.

In terms of money spent on transportation, Lagos and Abuja emerged 15th and 22nd out of the 25 cities, scoring 107.5 and 91.7, respectively. Top on this list is Abidjan with 172.0 score spent on transportation, while Alexandra in Egypt came last with a score of 71.7.

The Economist Intelligence Unit produces regular reports on the “reports on the liveability”, and cost of living of the world’s major cities, which receive wide coverage in international news sources.

This Day

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Nigerian cook lone survivor in shipwreck - Survises 2 days under sea

Ship's cook Okene, 29, was on board the Jascon-4 tugboat when it capsized on May 26 due to heavy Atlantic ocean swells around 30 km (20 miles) off the coast of Nigeria, while stabilizing an oil tanker filling up at a Chevron platform.

Of the 12 people on board, divers recovered 10 dead bodies while a remaining crew member has not been found.

Somehow Okene survived, breathing inside a four foot high bubble of air as it shrunk in the waters slowly rising from the ceiling of the tiny toilet and adjoining bedroom where he sought refuge, until two South African divers eventually rescued him.

"I was there in the water in total darkness just thinking it's the end. I kept thinking the water was going to fill up the room but it did not," Okene said, parts of his skin peeling away after days soaking in the salt water.

"I was so hungry but mostly so, so thirsty. The salt water took the skin off my tongue," he said. Seawater got into his mouth but he had nothing to eat or drink throughout his ordeal.

At 4:50 a.m. on May 26, Okene says he was in the toilet when he realized the tugboat was beginning to turn over. As water rushed in and the Jascon-4 flipped, he forced open the metal door.

"As I was coming out of the toilet it was pitch black so we were trying to link our way out to the water tidal (exit hatch)," Okene told Reuters in his home town of Warri, a city in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta.

"Three guys were in front of me and suddenly water rushed in full force. I saw the first one, the second one, the third one just washed away. I knew these guys were dead."

What he didn't know was that he would spend the next two and a half days trapped under the sea praying he would be found.

Turning away from his only exit, Okene was swept along a narrow passageway by surging water into another toilet, this time adjoining a ship's officers cabin, as the overturned boat crashed onto the ocean floor. To his amazement he was still breathing.


Okene, wearing only his underpants, survived around a day in the four foot square toilet, holding onto the overturned washbasin to keep his head out of the water.

He built up the courage to open the door and swim into the officer's bedroom and began pulling off the wall paneling to use as a tiny raft to lift himself out of the freezing water.

He sensed he was not alone in the darkness.

"I was very, very cold and it was black. I couldn't see anything," says Okene, staring into the middle distance.

"But I could perceive the dead bodies of my crew were nearby. I could smell them. The fish came in and began eating the bodies. I could hear the sound. It was horror."

What Okene didn't know was a team of divers sent by Chevron and the ship's owners, West African Ventures, were searching for crew members, assumed by now to be dead.

Then in the afternoon of May 28, Okene heard them.

"I heard a sound of a hammer hitting the vessel. Boom, boom, boom. I swam down and found a water dispenser. I pulled the water filter and I hammered the side of the vessel hoping someone would hear me. Then the diver must have heard a sound."

Divers broke into the ship and Okene saw light from a head torch of someone swimming along the passageway past the room.

"I went into the water and tapped him. I was waving my hands and he was shocked," Okene said, his relief still visible.

He thought he was at the bottom of the sea, although the company says it was 30 meters below.

The diving team fitted Okene with an oxygen mask, diver's suit and helmet and he reached the surface at 19:32, more than 60 hours after the ship sank, he says.

Okene says he spent another 60 hours in a decompression chamber where his body pressure was returned to normal. Had he just been exposed immediately to the outside air he would have died.

The cook describes his extraordinary survival story as a "miracle" but the memories of his time in the watery darkness still haunt him and he is not sure he will return to the sea.

"When I am at home sometimes it feels like the bed I am sleeping in is sinking. I think I'm still in the sea again. I jump up and I scream," Okene said, shaking his head.

"I don't know what stopped the water from filling that room. I was calling on God. He did it. It was a miracle."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Video - Nigeria behind in child education

Several years ago UNESCO set itself a target of getting every child in school by 2015. The organisation now admits that goal woould not be reached, with 57 million children around the world out of education in 2011. In Sub-Saharan Africa the number of children out of school has remained at around 30 million in the last five years. Nigeria has the worst record with over 10 million children were out of school in 2010.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Eagles slump in FIFA rankings

Africa Champions Nigeria were surprisingly three steps down on the monthly FIFA Rankings released Thursday by the world football governing body as they dropped from 28th to 31st spot.

The Eagles played out a 2-2 draw against CONCAF Champions Mexico in a high profile friendly in the United States and also defaeted the Harambee Stars of Kenya barely 24 hours before the latest rankings by FIFA was realeased.

Despite the drop in the world rankings, the Eagles maintained thier status as the fourth highest ranked team in Africa behind Ivory Coast, Ghana and Mali.

Algeria, Tunisia Zambia as well as Burkina Faso, Central Africa Republic and South Africa completes the list of Africa's top ten teams

World champions Spain remained top of the global list, while Ivory Coast, 13th in the world, retained No 1 spot in the African rankings.

It is expected that the upcoming FIFA Confederations Cup and the latest round of qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil will ensure plenty of movement in the next edition of the FIFA Ranking.

For the latest edition of the rankings, FIFA said the results of 30 friendlies up to 2 June were taken into account, while it said the results of the FIFA World Cup qualification matches on 4 June is to be included in the next edition.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Nigeria beat Kenya 0-1 in world cup qualifiers

Nigeria winger Ahmed Musa scored a late goal to dim Kenya’s hopes of reaching the 2014 World Cup final to be held in Brazil after the Super Eagles won 1-0 at Kasarani on Wednesday .

Musa latched onto a through ball from John Obi Mikel to beat his marker David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng’ before beautiful chipping the ball over the advancing goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng’ in Kenyan goal.

The win now takes Nigeria back to the top of Group F with 8 points while Malawi are second on six after battling to a 0-0 draw with Namibia in a match played in Blantyre earlier on Wednesday.

Kenya, who had win to keep alive their hopes of gracing the World Cup final, started the match badly with defender Brian Mandela almost handing the visitors a quick goal in the 1st minute of the match.

The South African-based defender failed to deal with a loose ball after restart allowing Nigerian striker Brian Ideye to charge forward but the Super Eagles' star could not find the back of the net with keeper Ochieng’ to beat.

Five minutes later, Musa Ahmed beat the Kenyan defense but his attempt to pick out an advancing Sunday Mba was blocked by Brian Mandela.

The Kenyans were having a great time in midfield and Oman-based Jamal Mohammed was showing some awesome creativity though he appeared self-fish sometimes.

In the 10th minute with Kepha Aswani advancing towards the Nigerian goal, Mohammed hesitated and allowed the Nigerian defense to recover lost ground.

One minute later, Nigeria had their first free-kick which Chelsea star John Obi Mikel lifting it high towards the Kenyan goal and rested on the side netting.

Duncun Ochieng in goal threw the ball quickly to a running Victor Wanyama but he failed to keep it into play. In the 13th minute, the visitors got their second free-kick just near the Kenyan goal but Musa Ahmed's shot was defended well.

Kenya got the first corner in the 24th minute when Francis Kahata efforts to beat Efe Ambrose in the Nigerian defense ended in vain.

Ambrose was forced to come out and stop Kahata once again in the 29th minute after Jamal Mohammed had picked him out with a splitting pass but Stars could only get a corner from the effort.

Kepha Aswani making his return to the Kenyan team after a long time was a pale shadow of himself and he looked injured as he time and again limped. He never made any effort at goal allowing Vincent Enyeama to have a long rest in the first half.

Nigeria got their first corner of the match in the 34th minute when a goal bound Musa Ahmed was stopped in his tracks by David Ochieng.

Four minutes later, Ahmed's shot was deflected by Mandela and calmly picked by Duncun Ochieng’, who made a throw to Johanna Omollo and he made the first attempt at goal but his effort was stopped by Vincent Enyeama.

The Kenyans were gaining confidence as the first half wore off and Peter Opiyo made the second shot at the Nigerian goal in the 39th minute.

Nigeria got their second corner in the 43rd minute but it was the home team who ended the first half on a high note with Victor Wanyama coming close only to shoot wide.

The worst would come with less that 15 minutes left to play, Stephen Waruru giving away possession cheaply in the opponent’s third, a counter attack resulting in Ahmed Musa lifting the ball over an advancing Duncun Ochieng.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Video - Civilians among dead in Nigeria offensive

Al Jazeera has obtained the first images of the Nigerian army's battle against Boko Haram fighters in the northern state of Borno.

The pictures appear to show the bodies of Boko Haram rebels and many civilians, including women and children.

The Nigerian army have been fighting the group since a state of emergency was declared on May 14 in areas where the fighters have been operating.

Warning: Some viewers may find the images disturbing.

Man arrested for attempting to sell son

The Abia State Police Command has arrested a 25-year-old man, Chisom Ihemebirim from Amuzi Obowo in Imo State, for selling his one and half years old son, Chidubem Chisom for N500,000.

The command also arrested one Abraham Ukaiwe, 27, from Asaga Ohafia in AbiaState said to be Ihemebirim’s accomplice in the deal to sell the boy.

Little Chidubem Chisom was said to have been sold to one Mercy Nwachinemere, 45, of Umudi Abayi in Osisioma, Abia State who has also been arrested.

According to the Police Commissioner, Mohammed Tilli Abubakar, little master Chidubem Chisom was recovered from the buyer.

Parading the suspects, Abubakar said his men moved into action following a report by one Kasarachi John, 23, from Mbawsi in Isiala Ngwa North Council said to be the estranged wife of Ihemebirim.

Kasarachi John, according to the Police Commissioner, reported that sometime in February 2013, she had a misunderstanding with Ihemebirim, her husband which made her to leave his house.

According to her, shortly after, in March 2013, she received information that their son, Chidubem Chisom, has been sold by the father, Ihemebirim.

Speaking to journalists, Ihemebirim admitted selling the boy for N500, 000. According to him, he used the money to process documents he wanted to use to travel to Libya or Spain. He also claimed that he used part of it to renovate his house.

CP Abubakar said that the fraction of the money was recovered from Ukaiwe, the said accomplice.

The command has also arrested a female suspect, Kate Agharanya 41, for conspiring with one and Onyinyechi Nwogu still at large to sell a baby boy for N200, 000.

The matter the police commissioner said was reported by the mother of the baby, one Victoria Nwachukwu, 20 years, of Obazor Asa in Ukwa West area of Abia state who claimed that she delivered the said baby on May 6, 2013, at Chile Maternity Home in Umunka in Ugwunagbo.

Abubakar who said that the matter is still being investigated, announced that both Onyinyechi Nwogu and the unnamed buyer of the baby were still on the run.

Meanwhile, the Abia police Command also arrested and paraded four suspects for robbing a Catholic school, Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy [DMMM] at Mbawsi in Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area of the state.

The suspects were Chimezie Omasi, Odinakachi Ugorji, George Ohia and one Confidence, whose surname, the police said was yet unknown. They were said to have robbed the occupants of the school at gun point.

According to the police Commissioner, they robbed the occupants of the sum of N350, 000 cash, four Nokia Handsets and one Laptop valued at N200, 000.

The police commissioner disclosed that when they were arrested the sum of N97, 200, some of the handsets, one locally made single barrel short gun, the laptop and un registered Ladies Motorcycle said to have bought on the same day by one of the suspects.