Sunday, 31 August 2008

Yar'Adua's Ill Health Puts Cabal In A Quandary

The continued ill health of the Nigerian President, Mr Umaru Yar'Adua has put the cabal, consisting mainly of the President's close friends and relatives, who recently hijacked the Presidency and have been calling the shots in recent times, in a quandary.

The Nigerian President, chidi opara reports can now report is recuperating from a major surgery in Saudi Arabia.

The President whom well placed Presidency contacts informed us was scheduled to visit the moslem holy land for the lesser hajj and from there pay an official visit to Brazil, suddenly took ill and was taken to Saudi Arabia for treatment, because according to our contact, "it was a minor ailment initially", and the President's family and private doctors "thought that he would just get some treatment and continue with the lesser hajj and visit to Brazil", the contact concluded.

"On arrival in Saudi", another Presidency contact volunteered, "serious complications set in, infact the President was unconscious for several hours". A contact close to someone in the President's entourage however informed chidi opara reports that "the President's condition have been critical since after the surgery".

Our investigation have however revealed that the President's ill health is not the major source of worry for this present cabal that rules Nigeria, while the President reigns. The major worry of this cabal is the position of the Vice-president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in the power hierachy. The constitution provides that the Vice-president should assume power in the event of death, physical/mental disability or resignation of the President.

We learnt that this cabal, who have cornered major government patronages and even clears important policies before they are debated in the Federal Executive Council(FEC), have been planning to use its contacts in the National Assembly to compile impeachable offences against the Vice-president, which they hope to use to put pressure on him to resign. "Assasination may even be considered", a security contact in Abuja whispered to us.

The fear of what will be the raction of the Niger Delta militants if any thing happen to the Vice-president, we learnt further have been the major restraining factor. The Vice-president is an Ijaw from Bayelsa State, an oil producing state in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

A senior Presidency official who pleaded not to be named informed us that "in the meantime, Babagana Kingibe is the acting President". Mr. Kingibe is the secreatary to the Federal Government of Nigeria and a peripheral member of the cabal.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Hotel Presidential Portharcourt Resumes Payment Of Protection Fees To Armed Groups

The restiveness in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria have been taking serious tolls on businesses in Portharcourt, a major city in the oil bearing region.

When the crisis started, the focus of the armed groups were the oil majors and subs, whom they kidnap their expatriate staffers for ransom and attack their facilities to make them pay protection fees.

This development made these oil companies to withdraw mainstream services from the zone. This withdrawal of services caused serious economic downturn as well as dwindling the resource base of these armed groups, who depend on the protection fees and ransom to maintain their fighters and replenish their armoury.

With the withdrawal of these oil majors and subs, these armed groups turn their attention to other areas for survival. This resulted in kidnapping of children, wives and relatives of wealthy individuals for ransom. The hospitality industry in Portharcourt was not spared. With threats of attacks on high profile guests of major hotels in the city, the management of these hotels resorted to paying hefty protection fees to these armed groups.

Investigations by chidi opara reports revealed that the Hotel Presidential, the flagship of five star hotels in Portharcourt, owned by Rivers State and managed by the Chagoury group, started payment of protection fees to these armed groups.

One of our contacts inside the Tom Ateke group insists that "hotel presidential was paying ten million naira monthly to our group." Our contact continued, "but they stopped when Amaechi became governor, then we attacked them and now they have started to pay again, even more."

We also learnt from a source inside the hotel management, that the hotel not only pay protection fees to the Tom Ateke group, the management, according to this contact, have added two other groups, the outlaws and the marauders to their payroll. These payments we further learnt, are being disbursed through one Koko, an Okirika Rivers state indegene, said to be in his early thirties. Koko's status in the hotel have not so far been unravelled, but our contact volunteered, "I doubt if he is an employee, only the GM deal with him."

It will be recalled that earlier in the year(2008), when the Tom Ateke group attacked the hotel, we reported that the main reason for the attack was that the hotel management stopped payment of protection fees to the group. The hotel management then in a rejoinder denied such payments.

An e-mail sent to the management of the hotel for comments have not been replied at the time of posting this report.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Africa For Obama Fund; The Real Story

The Africa for Obama fund generated at a recent fund raising at the MUSON hall in Lagos, Nigeria's former capital city and largest commercial centre, organized by a group known as "Africa For Obama", led by the bulky director-general of the Nigerian Stock Exchange(NSE), Professor Ndidi Okereke-Onyiuke was never meant to be used for the purpose of mobilizing voters for the African-American Democratic Party Presidential candidate in the forthcoming Presidential election in the United States Of America(USA), Mr. Barrack Obama. Neither did the organizers have any intention of turning the nearly hundred million naira haul into their private use.

Checks by chidi opara reports revealed that the fund raising was the brainchild of a nascent political group midwifed by the immediate past Nigerian President, Rtd. General Olusegun Obasanjo, with an agendum to mobilize funds for the formation of a political party to challenge the ruling party in the 2011 general elections. The co-ordinator of the group we learnt is Mr. Nnamdi(Andy) Uba, a former aide of the ex-President when he was in power.

We reliably gathered also that faced with harassments from security agencies, which has made it near impossible for anyone connected to the ex-President to access their ill-gotten funds stashed in secret off-shore bank accounts and the need to mobilize early for the 2011 general elections, The Obasanjo backed think tank decided on a scheme to raise funds for this purpose, hence the Africa for Obama fund raising scheme. Professor Okereke-Onyiuke, a member of the think tank and a veteran of sort in camapaign funds mobilization was the natural choice. Okereke-Onyiuke had done similar job for the Obasanjo-Atiku campaign organization in 2003.

The NSE director-general, according to contacts close to her, bidded her time, waiting for a perfect opportunity to come up, since there is need for a subterfuge to hoodwink security agencies. The current Obama rave presented the needed subterfuge, which the group exploited to the hilt.

Unknown to the massively built brainy NSE helms woman, Presidency security hawks had her under close survillance. "When", according to a top security contact, "It was confirmed that the fund raised is actually going to be used to form a political party, we passed the intelligence to EFCC." EFCC is the abbreviation of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Professor Okereke-Onyiuke is presently being interrogated by EFCC. chidi opara reports however gathered from a contact in EFCC, that the anti-corruption body is only interested in scuttling the Obasanjo backed scheme by seizing the fund generated. "But if she refuse to surrender the money, we will prosecute her for fraud" the source volunteered.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Top Military Shake-Up; Yar' Adua's Move To Forestall Coup

The recent shake-up of the top military echelon in Nigeria, which flushed out the Chiefs of the Army, Navy, Defence and elevated the erstwhile Airforce chief to the topmost defence position, was a move by the Nigerian President, Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua to forestall a military coup that would have terminated his Administration.

The coup buzz have been on in the innermost security circles for some time now. The Yar'Adua Administration have been grappling with discontent within very influential power groups, especially the military.

This discontent mainly arose as a result of perception in these groups that the Nigerian Presidency have been hijacked by a tiny but powerful cabal, consisting mainly of the President's personal friends and relatives, who now corner major government patronages and clear major policies before they are presented to the Federal Executive Council(FEC).

These power groups, according to contacts within, feel that the remedy to being shut out of the corridors of power, is to "forcefully change this government." Especially, according to these contacts, "now that the Supreme court is bent on legitimizing Yar'Adua's illegitimate Government."

It will be recalled that chidi opara reports recently published a report titled "Military Coup Immenient In Nigeria." The report ran thus:

"An unconsitutional take over of Government in Nigeria by the Military, appears to be imminent according to buzz in the intelligence community.

The low and middle level officer cadres, especially in the Army have been increasingly restive since the begining of the year, Intelligence sources whispered to us.

This restiveness is partly as a result of poor conditions of service in the Army, considered as the teeth of the military and mainly as a result of the conducts of the Political class.

We gathered that since May,2007 when the Government of President Umar Yar'Adua was sworn into office, the low and middle level officer cadres have been more than ever polarized along political lines.

There are Officers who benefitted immensely from the Administration of the immediate past President, Rtd. General Olusegun Obasanjo, but suddenly discovered that the present Administration is not ready to allow the status quo ante to continue, but have been busy building its own band of loyalists in the Military. These officers according to sources, seeing that there is no possibility of a return of the Obasanjo years have become increasingly restive.

Another group are Officers loyal to politicians who lost out in the last general elections. These officers benefitted from these politicians in the area of lucrative postings.These Politicians normally use their influences to pressurize Defence Ministry authorities to post their godsons to areas considered to be lucrative.Since the last general elections in which most of these Politicians lost their positions and consequently, their influences, their godsons have not been having things easy.

The last group, sources continued, are patriotic officers,whose restiveness have to do with "the way the country is drifting aimlessly since the Yar'Adua presidency came on board".This group mainly point to the Niger Delta Region where security personnels, especially members of the Armed Forces are being killed almost on daily basis,"yet politicians sit in Abuja and negotiate with these criminals". This group had hoped "that the 2007 general elections would usher in purposeful political leadership in Nigeria" but have discovered that the current political leadership is "an old wine in a new wine jar".

One common problem these groups have is how to convince the International Community, Advocacy groups and the general public of the need to change the government through coup.We gathered that one the groups have been trying to recruit influencial news editors and publishers for this purpose.We have not been able so far to confirm this, we are however, on the trail of news editors and publishers suspected to have been contacted.

An enquiry on this sent to Defence Ministry spokesman have not been answered so far, but a senior Military Intelligence source told us that "Military Authorities are keeping close tabs on these groups of officers and will move in if they over step the bounds".

Thursday, 21 August 2008

PDP Set To Re-Capture Cross River State

The ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) is set to re-capture Cross River State in a desperate move reminiscent of its "do or die" philosophy, given life by the immediate past administration of Rtd. General Olusegun Obasanjo.

This "do or die" philosophy was used to capture Nigeria in April 2007 for the benefit of the incumbent President, Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua. Yar'Adua have since embraced and infact perfected this philosophy.

The governorship re-ran elections in Adamawa, Bayelsa, Kogi and Sokoto states removed all doubts as to the ability of the ruling party to continue with this ideology.

The re-ran elections in the states mentioned was ordered by the Court of Appeal, which nullified the previous elections. During these re-ran elections, the PDP had mobilized hefty financial war chests, mostly sourced from sources that were not very transparent, and security agencies to intimidate its opponents, with the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC) always standing by to help its paymaster back to power in those states.

When the Court of Appeal recently nullified the election of Mr. Liyel Imoke, the PDP candidate in the April, 2007 governorship election in Cross River State and ordered a re-run, there wasn't much jubilations in the camps of the opposition parties because of PDP's operation re-capture at all costs tendency. There was rather disquiet within the ruling party arising from the fact that the PDP candidate had been indicted for corruption by the committee probing the National Intergrated Power Project(NIPP) in the House of Representatives. Imoke was a Minister of Power and Steel during the immediate past Administration.

The suspicion that PDP is bent on returning Imoke to power was confirmed when the Presidency pressured Oladimeji Bankole, Speaker of the House of Representatives to indefinitely postpone the presentation of the report of the NIPP probe committee. This move, chidi opara reports authoritatively learnt, was to shield Imoke from arrest and prosecution by the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), till he gets back constitutional immunity.

Contacts in strategic political circles in Abuja and Calabar informed chidi opara reports that "the party was considering droping Imoke as its gubernatorial candidate for the re-run election, before the Imoke group blackmailed the President with documentary evidencies of how the April 2007 Presidential election was rigged in Cross River State." This we learnt, jolted the President whose election is being challenged at the apex court. The President, according to our contacts, "wasted no time in mobilizing all concerned to rally round the Liyel Imoke candidacy."

We can now report that PDP have mobilized cash, security agencies, its faction of Niger Delta militants, in the guise of PDP youths wing, for the August 23rd, 2008 governorship election re-run in Cross River State.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

MEND's Operation Paul And Silas Described As A Hoax

The widely reported "Operation Paul And Silas(OPAS)of the MOVEMENT FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF NIGER DELTA(MEND)have been described as a hoax by our strategically placed contacts.

OPAS is the codename of an operation in which MEND claimed recently via an e-mail to news media organizations that its "elite commando unit" on 14th August, 2008, stormed "the heavily fortified hideout" of the group that kidnapped the two Julius Berger workers and successfully rescued the two Germans, messrs Jungen Vetten, aged 43 and Bernd Mechlen, aged 60 "when it became apparent that the older of the men risked loosing his life from injuries sustained during the initial attack if delayed".

Well placed security contacts however, informed chidi opara reports that OPAS is a face saving propaganda by the Niger Delta main militant group. A security contact in Portharcourt, Rivers State informed us that "MEND, infact as usual through one of its affiliate groups, kidnapped and kept the Julius Berger workers for ransom". "The bubble" the contact continued "bursted when the older hostage became very ill beyond what MEND's makeshift healthcare system could cope with". "Fearing the negative publicity and its attendant implications the death of the man in their custody will generate, it became imperative that the two men will have to be released somehow, but not without ransom".

A security contact in Abuja, Nigeria's capital city who participated in the negotiations for the release of the hostages under cover as a Julius Berger senior staffer told us that the initial demand was fifty million US dollars, which was rejected. "We rejected theirs and offered twenty, this angered them, resulting in the quit order to Julius Berger", the contact averred. "By the time they told us how critical Bernd's health condition was, we upped the ransom to twenty-five million US dollars and they accepted".

A security contact in Warri, Delta State told chidi opara reports that "the ransom was paid outside Nigeria". We were however not able so far to ascertain the exact location and mode of payment. Our contact inside MEND could not offer any clues. He however told us that "there is no elite commando unit or operation Paul and Silas. One of our small groups were keeping the men, when we asked them to release them to us, they did".

When we contacted MEND's spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo for comments via e-mail, he/she informed us that there was no ransom. He/she further told us that the information is a government propaganda to rubbish MEND.

In response to an earlier enquiry, the management of Julius Berger Plc insisted that they do not have a policy of paying ransom to armed gangs, but pleaded that the response should not be published then because their men were being held hostage at that time.

A contact inside the top management cadre of Julius Berger informed chidi opara reports that "we pay ransom through third parties, not directly".

Friday, 15 August 2008

Real Reason Why MEND Issued Quit Order To Julius Berger

There have been love lost recently between the giant German construction firm, Messrs Julius Berger Plc and the MOVEMENT FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF NIGER DELTA(MEND), a coalition of armed groups claiming to fight for the reverse of what it calls injustice to the peoples of Niger Delta region over the years.

News media reports have it that the construction giant, whose two expatriate staffers were kidnapped by one of the numerous armed gangs operating in the restive region, had closed operations in the region citing insecurity. This according to reports angered MEND, who felt that the company should not pull out of the region and yet continue to operate in Abuja, Nigeria's capital city where according to them, construction works are paid for with crude oil from Niger Delta, hence the quit order.

chidi opara reports have however, been informed by a reliable contact in the State Security Service(SSS), who have been on the Niger Delta upheavals over the years that the real reason for the quit order goes beyond what MEND has publicly declared. "MEND is deceiving the public, let them tell the world who is playing the music they are dancing to", the security operative retorted angrily. We were further informed that some competitors of Julius Berger Plc, who are not happy with the way the construction giant have been cornering road construction contracts all over the country, especially in the Niger Delta states were behind the quit order.

Our contact further revealed that these competitors, some of whom are prominent Niger Delta indegenes, who are also into construction business, feel that if the Julius Berger onslaught is not adequately checked, their business interest will be seriously jeopardized. "Have you asked who are the sponsors of MEND?", our contact continued, "it is these same people who are now using them to fight Berger." "Can't you see that when certain people were kidnapped, MEND took the responsibility of finding and handing them over to their families, they even apologised, who is fooling who?", the contact concluded.

When contacted, the spokesperson of MEND, who goes by the pseudonym Gbomo Jomo, denied being sponsored by anybody, and further stated that "the group is focused and cannot be used by anyone".

Monday, 11 August 2008

British Military Trainers Arrive Nigeria

The military assistance agreement, which Nigerian President, Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua signed with his British counterpart, Mr. Gordon Brown in London last month(July), which has been severally denied by Nigerian Presidency spokespersons was given life when five British counter-insurgency experts arrived Nigeria on friday 8th, August, 2008 to commence secret training sessions with operatives of the Joint Taskforce on security(JTF), an adhoc security apparatus created by the immediate past Administration to manage the security situation in the volatile Niger Delta region.

The trainers, all males, between the ages of thirty-five and fifty, arrived Lagos, Nigeria's former capital city in the early hours and were according to a reliable Defence Ministry contact, driven by road to Yenagoa, capital city of Bayelsa State, after a meeting with two British embassy officials,(a middle aged white male and a black lady in her late twenties), and a Defence Ministry representative.

chidi opara reports gathered that on arrival in Bayelsa state, The British military experts met with a middle rank JTF unit commander, a state security service operative and a security personnel from Bayelsa state government house, before being driven to portharcourt, where they were lodged for the weekend in a guest house along Forces Avenue, old G.R.A. A contact in Portharcourt informed us that the British counter-insurgency experts have been moved out of the guest house this morning(Monday 11th, August, 2008) to a secret location outside Portharcourt, where they are expected to meet with some repentant former militants. We are unable to ascertain the present location of the British military trainers at the time of preparing this report, a civilian contact who lives in the military barrack in Portharcourt, popularly known as Bori camp however, suspects that the Brits may be lodging at the military facility in Elele, a sub-urban area, close to Portharcourt.

The Nigerian Presidency have severally denied any military assistance agreement with Britain, but chidi opara reports gathered that these denials may have been a way of deflating negative public opinions against the military option, there was infact a protest by Nigerians in London against the move to bring in the British military into the matter on the eve of signing the agreement. Another reason for the denials according to security analysts, may be due to the need to fully exploit the elements of surprise, necesary, according to these analysts, for the success of the operation, still tentatively code named "operation baby hawk".

We are unable so far to ascertain the mode of training to be given to the Nigerian adhoc security operatives at the moment. One of our Defence Ministry contacts is however, speculating that "the training may start with how to operate sophisticated survillance equipments".

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Executioners Of Anti-Nuhu Ribadu Project

The final routing of Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, erstwhile chairman of Economic And Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), appears to have been completed with the demotion and immenient arrest of the "hotheaded fulani boy" from the rank of Assistant Inspector-general to Deputy Commissioner of Police. chidi opara reports gathered authoritatively that even when he was removed from EFCC and sent on a nine-month course at the Nigerian Institute of Policy And Strategic Studies(NIPSS), Ribadu still remained very influential, "due largely to the hefty dossiers he has on most prominent politicians, especially, state governors who ruled between 1999 to 2007", a contact in Abuja told us.
The anti-Nuhu Ribadu project has already claimed victims of circumstance in the Police.Below are the faces of executioners of the project.

Peter Odili ruled oil rich Rivers State as governor from 1999 to 2007. He is alleged to have corruptly enriched himself while in government. Odili would have been facing trial, if not that he used his high level contacts in the Nigerian judiciary to thwart Ribadu's plan to dock him. He provided the main part of the financial war chest needed to prosecute the project.

James Ibori is a former governor of oil rich Delta State. He allegedly helped himself immensely from the Delta state coffers between 1999 to 2007, when he was governor of the state. Ibori is presently being prosecuted by the EFCC for corruption while in government and have not forgiven Ribadu for his travails. He provided a good chunk of the financial war chest for the project.

Comfort Obi is the Publisher/Editor-In-Chief of The source magazine, she is very close to Peter Odili's family, whom we gathered helped her into membership of the influential Police Service Commission(PSC). We gathered also that she is the anchor person for the anti-Nuhu Ribadu project inside PSC.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Portharcourt Demolitions; Igbo Traders Get Raw Deals

The current demolition exercise in Portharcourt, Rivers state capital city, and Nigeria's major oil city which according to the state government is aimed at restoring the city to its garden city status, may ultimately see Igbo traders holding the shorter end of the stick. The Igbos, one of the major ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, whose homeland is on the south-eastern axis, are mainly a mercantile race.

This present situation has nothing to do with the abandoned property saga, a phenomenon which crept into national consciousness immediately after the Nigerian-Biafra civil war. In the abandoned property era, property owners in Portharcourt who are mainly Igbos, ran away in the heat of the war to save their lifes, only to return after the war to find out that their properties had been declared abandoned and sold to Rivers state indigenes at give away prices.

In the present situation, these properties being demolished are mostly occupied by Igbo traders, many of whom have paid rents in advance up to five years.

chidi opara reports discovered that the interests of these tenants, who in some cases built these shops with the permission of the landowners, are not always taken into consideration in discussions leading to payment of compensations on the properties demolished. We also discovered that property owners even after collecting compensations, do not refund whole or part of the rents that are still subsisting. Accusations have also been made against the state government on targeting Igbos in the exercise, chidi opara reports have so far not seen evidence of this.

An Igbo trader, Mr. Emeka Nwogu who sells men's wears along Rumuola-Rumuokwuta road, whose shop was affected, told us that he has a three-year-rent outstanding in his favour. He further informed us that "my landlord has refused to discuss the issue of refund with me."

Another Igbo trader, Mr. Julius Uche, who runs a restaurant along same road, whose shop is about to be demolished, told us that he has a two-year- outstanding rent in his favour. "My sister, the landlords have collected their compensations through their agents and left us to suffer", Uche complained bitterly to our reporter.

We could not get in touch with any Igbo leader for comments at the time of preparing this report. This is due mainly to the fact that Igbo leaders in the state, according to a contact who does not want her identity published, "are always fighting themselves because of money from the government house. They dont have time for us".

Friday, 1 August 2008

Nigerian Non Governmental Organization To Actualize Vienna Plan Of Action On Ageing

The "negative stereotype images of older persons as suffering from physical and psycological disabilities, incapable of functioning independently and having neither role nor status in society" may soon be a thing of the past.

This is because a Nigerian based international non governmental organization that goes by the name; LIVING WATER FOUNDATION INC.(LWF) have decided to actualize Recommendation 50 of the Vienna international plan of action on ageing.

The President of the Foundation, Rev. Damian Etonyeaku-Nduka, who spoke to chidi opara reports online, said that Recommendation 50 of the Vienna Convention, "gave Organizations like LWF authority to arrest high mortality rate amongst the ageing, especially those in their 50s and 60s in sub-saharan Africa".

Rev. Etonyeaku-Nduka told us further that "LWF is particularly concerned about the older persons who were abandoned by their families or are childless and/or very poor to take care of themselves".

The widely travelled philantropist, whose organization has a German chapter, lambasted successive sub-saharan Africa dictators "who initiate life distroying policies that have pushed older persons beyond poverty borderline".

Investigation by chidi opara reports reveal that LWF has a programe called "sustainable human development". The objective of this programme we learnt is to empower people drawn from the LWF's target group with skills acquisition, which in the words of the LWF President, will contribute to "self reliance, eliminate poverty and promote dignity and human rights".

The Organization we also learnt has acquired a ten-acre parcel of land in Aba, Abia State where it plans to build an old peoples home.