Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Rivers State Government To Establish Statistics Department

The Government of Rivers State of Nigeria will soon establish a statistics department as part of its efforts to ensure accountability. This statistics department will be designed to help government to ascertain accurate data in the planning process of government business.

The government of the main oil producing state in Nigeria is also working with a major Nigerian commercial Bank, Zenith Bank Plc to undertake payroll audit of all Ministries and Departments to ascertain the exact statistics of the workforce in the employ of the State Government.

These revelations were made in Portharcourt recently by the Chief Executive Officer of the State, Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi at a workshop on Economic Empowerment. The Governor who delievered the keynote address at the occasion also revealed that documentation plan for each Ministry, as well as the re-validation of certificates of ocupancy will soon commence.

The State Chief Executive Officer also used the occasion to highlight some of his developmental programmes, which he said included: (1)Building of new primary schools across the State. (2)Building of five health centres in each Local Government Area of the State. (3)Construction of a nineteen kilometre mono rail in Portharcourt on Public-Private Partnership(PPP) basis. (4)Establishment of four libraries in Portharcourt to encourage reading culture, and (5)sponsorship of thirty youths to Republic of Benin, who have already been trained on the Songhai farm model.

Governor Amaechi finally promised to provide a conducive environment for the people of the State to enhance themselves through the various empowerment programmes initiated by the State Government.

In a similar development, the Rivers State helmsman urged Moslems in the State to join hands with him in rebuilding and repositioning the State to meet the aspirations of a developing market economy.
The Governor who made this call in a message on the occasion of Id-El-Fitre celebrattions advised residents and indigenes of Rivers State to be committed to the task of developing the State. He affirmed that his Administration is doing a lot to transform the State and solicited for the support and understanding of all stakeholders.

Oil War: JTF Intensifies Heat On MEND.

The Joint Taskforce on security(JTF) in the Niger Delta region have taken the oil war declared recently by the Movement For The Emancipation Of Niger Delta(MEND) to a new height.

MEND had declared an all out war it code named "Hurricane Barbarossa" whose main aim was to sabotage oil and gas facilities in the creeks of the oil rich region following what it claimed was unprovoked multi-faceted attacks on one of its camps in Rivers State by the JTF. The adhoc security apparatus then debunked the claim, insisting that one of its marine units was on routine patrol on the waterways, when it was attacked by a MEND unit and had to respond.

The oil war which lasted barely one week resulted into casulties on both sides, with each side exaggerating the other side's casualties and downplaying its own. The main casualties were however, oil and gas platforms, which were considerably destroyed, resulting into a considerable reduction in production outputs, which in turn resulted into reduction in revenue earning for the Nigerian Nation whose economic mainstay is revenue from oil and gas. MEND subsequently declared a unilateral ceasefire.

This development roused the Nigerian Presidency who have hitherto treated the issue of militancy in the Niger Delta region as a minor internal problem, into action, resulting into an order to the Defence Headquarters "to find a lasting military solution to the problem". This order to a lay person may not mean much, but top military contacts whom chidi opara reports spoke to, said that the order is equivalent to a declaration of war.

Our investigations revealed that when the new Chief of Defence Staff, Air Marshall Paul Dike visited the restive region recently, what he saw moved him to order "immediate and complete routing of the militants", a mandate that is said to be broader than the former rule of engagement on which JTF was operating. JTF have however, denied this, but strategically placed contacts at the Defence headquarters insist that the adhoc security body's rule of engagement have been expanded.

"They were having upper hand because the former Chief of Defence who is their brother refused to give us order and weapons to clear them, now that their brother is no longer there, let us see how they can out gun us", a JTF unit commander boasted to one of our reporters.

We learnt authoritatively that there is presently, massive deployment of troops and equipments as well as continous bombardment of militants' camps especially in Rivers State. The heat we further learnt have resulted in hurried movements of militants to relatively calm places like Ondo and Cross River States.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Three Nigerian News Websites Receive Funds From A Private CIA Affiliate Agency; Says Preliminary Security Report.

A recent order by President Umaru Yar'Adua to the Nigerian security apparatus to probe the ownership structure and funding of some Nigerian news websites have started yielding revelations.

A preliminary investigations report turned in by the probing body indicated that three of these online news publications(names withheld for legal reasons), are being funded by a private foreign intelligence agency(name also withheld for legal reasons), with strong affiliations to the United States Of America's(USA) Central intelligence Agency(CIA).

According to the preliminary investigations report, one of the three online publications based in USA have not received funds from this agency for the past three months, this is attributed to the fact that the funding agency discovered that the Publisher have been making attempts to get into the good books of the Nigerian Presidency through a top female Nigerian journalist. The other two also based in USA are still receiving funds from the private intelligence agency, the report hinted.

chidi opara reports also learnt that the report traced the real ownership of these e-news publications to a National Democratic Coalition(NADECO) cell that is still secretly active in Europe and America. Two of the Publishers according to the report may not know the real ownership of their publications and the actual source of funds, while the third is said to be fully aware of this arrangement. This third Publisher, according to the report have been directly and indirectly involved in founding, operations and funding of the two other publications.

"These websites are sometimes fed with half truths by their secret service friends, who are here as diplomats, to create tension, so that they can take enough crude oil", a contact inside the investigating body hinted to chidi opara reports.

We also learnt authoritatively that the President was livid with anger when he saw the preliminary investigations report. The oath of secrecy administered to government officials recently is one of the President's reactions to the matter. The President was also said to have ordered speedy conclusion of the investigations and have instructed the National Security Adviser(NSA) to order all sections of the Nation's security establishment "to identify and cover loopholes of strategic information leakages". The President we learnt will in the interim, step up diplomatic pressures on the government of USA to stop the private intelligence agency from releasing more funds to these e-news publications.

A security analyst based in Lagos who spoke to us on condition of anonynmity, volunteered that "Journalists are within the catchment recruitment segments of CIA".

Monday, 22 September 2008

Garden City(Portharcourt) Literary Festival Opening Soon

Portharcourt, capital city of oil rich Rivers state and the garden city of Nigeria will take time off from its current image of cults and militants enclave to host the cream of national and international literati in a festival tagged "Garden City Literary Festival" being organized by the Rainbow Book club and Rivers State Government, in conjunction with the University of Portharcourt, British council and others, between wednesday, the 24th and saturday, the 27th of september, 2008 at the University of Portharcourt campus.

Going by press releases on its website, the festival which has the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the Guest of Honour and the Vice-chancellor of University of Portharcourt, Prof. Don Baridam as host, will be attended by prominent literary figures like: Wole Soyinka, Elechi Amadi, Kaine Agary, Petrina Crockford, Kofi Awoonor, Okey Ndibe and Others.

The programe of events include; opening ceremony, reading/interactive session with Wole Soyinka, open readings and book signing on the first day. The second day will feature, symposium, workshops, reading/interactive session with Kofi Awoonor, fiction, non fiction/journalism and literary evening. The programe of the third day is; reading/interactive session with Elechi Amadi, workshops, fiction, non fiction/journalism, etc. The final day will feature; special students' session, workshops, publishing seminar, etc.

chidi opara reports gathered independently that the Rivers State goverment is poised to use the festival to further acquire positive public image. We also gathered that the online registration to the event have thrown up unexpected challenges to the organizers who did not envisage such level of interest. Contacts within the organizing committee however, told us that "the challenges are being managed".

Friday, 19 September 2008

Crackdown On News Media Organizations In Nigeria Begins

The recent closure of a private television channel and the arrest of some journalists working therein, following a news broadcast which claimed that the very sick Nigerian President, Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua was contemplating resignation, heralded the begining of a carefully planned crackdown on "unfriendly" news media organizations by security agencies, with the endorsement of the Presidency. This crackdown was hinted by chidi opara reports in a report titled "MEND: Defence Headquarters Panic, Plan Crackdown On News Media".

We can now report that a three faceted crackdown on "unfriendly" news media organizations have been planned by security agencies. This scheme is being co-ordinated by the office of the National Security Adviser(NSA).

Strategically placed security contacts informed chidi opara reports that one facet of the crackdown involves divulging seemingly sensitive but spurious information to "unfriendly" news media organizations known to relish scoops. These scoops, which usually end up being hoaxs, destroy the credibility of such organizations and provide ready excuse to close them down. The second facet according to our contacts, is to use governmental regulating organs to pressure "unfriendly" news media organizations in the broadcast sub-sector to abandon their anti-government postures or risk their licenses being revoked or not renewed. The third facet we learnt, involves blackmailing and if it becomes necessary, assasinating "unfriendly" news media executives whose organization cannot be shutdown easily, like internet news sites.

"If you know what they planned for one of you who publishes a popular internet news site, you will shiver", a security contact confided in one of our repoters.

It will be recalled that for some time now, the Yar'Adua Administration have not been happy with the way a section of the Nigerian news media have been reporting issues concerning the health of the President, as well as their coverage of the Niger Delta agitation.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

How MEND Overwhelmed JTF At Alakiri Flow Station: An Eyewitness Account

chidi opara reports have waded through the barrage of propaganda to present the real picture of what happened at the Alakiri flow station operated by Shell on that fateful day, Monday 15th, 2008.

An officer of one of the companies that provide auxilliary and ancilliary services at the flow station, who happened to be on duty when the attack occured, narrated to us on condition of annoynmity how the incident happened. We present below the eye witness account.

"At about 12.45am on Monday, 15th september, 2008, two speed boats apparenty loaded with militants were firing automatic rifles as they approached the JTF houseboat. The JTF fired back at them, and they retreated. The militants were later heard firing sporadically from inside Alakiri village. There are about four routes from the village to the flow station. After some time scores of militants advanced towards the station from the four different locations. On sighting them, three JTF men at the observation post started firing at them but eventually ran out of munnitions and ran away to take cover with their colleagues who have by now left their house boat and took cover in different locations within the station, from where they fired intermittently at the invading militants. The militants who have now gained entrance into and bombed the flow station, continued to throw bombs and dynamites indiscriminately. With no serious resistance, the militants overpowered four station guards, whom they ordered to take them to the Shell residential camp. Inside the camp, they forced open rooms one to twelve and took captive, a female Health, Safety and Environment(HSE)staffer, a station security adviser, a field co-ordinator and a gas plant operator. One Effiong, myself and others who ran inside room fourteen escaped their attention. As they were leaving the camp, they shot and killed one of the station guards named Gray, shot and wounded three shell staffers, one of whom died on Monday, 15th september, 2008 at about 2100hrs. The people taken captive were released after about six hours. While the operation which lasted for about three hours was on, the JTF men did not offer the kind of resistance we expected. The militants even entered their houseboat and made away with their laptop computers and cell phones".

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Faces Of Those Who May Be Minister Of Niger Delta Affairs

Donald Duke is the urbane former Governor of Cross Rivers State. Well connected and respected amongst the current ruling Peoples Democratic Pary(PDP) leadership. His major low point is that he is from a state regarded as a fringe member of the Niger Delta region.

Peter Odili is a former governor of Rivers State. Rich and also well connected. Odili made his vast connections at the top echelon of the Nation's judiciary available to the President, who is currently battling with forces bent on invalidating his election through the courts. His major low point is that his state Governor is likely to work against his nomination.

James Ibori is a dogged political fighter and a former Governor of Delta State. He provided most of the financial war chest with which the President's election campaign was prosecuted. His major low point is his current prosecution for corrupt enrichment of self while in office by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).

Diepreye Alamesigha is a former governor of Bayelsa State, fondly called Governor-general of Ijawland by his kinsmen. Very influential amongst Niger Delta militants. The President usually relies on him to calm upheavals in the creeks. His major low point is his current ex-convict status.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

MEND's "Hurricane Barbarossa" Begins

The Movement For The Emancipation Of Niger Delta(MEND) have today(14th September, 2008) declared war in the Niger Delta region, the War according to MEND's spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo is code named "Hurricane Barbarossa". Below is the text of the press release:

"Following a previous warning that any attack on our positions will be tantamount to a declaration of an oil war, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has declared an oil war in response to the unprovoked aerial and marine attacks on a MEND position in Rivers state of Nigeria on September 13, 2008 by the armed forces of Nigeria.

About 0100 Hrs, today, September 14, 2008, Hurricane Barbarossa commenced with heavily armed fighters in hundreds of war boats filing out from different MEND bases across the Niger Delta in solidarity to carry out destructive and deadly attacks on the oil industry in Rivers state.

By dawn, destroyed oil flow stations, gun boats, burst pipelines, dead and injured soldiers trailed in the aftermath of the "hurricane". Some specific locations include the Soku Gas Plant, Chevron Platform at Kula, over 22 well armed soldiers sent as reinforcement were intercepted, killed and dispossessed of their weapons, a major crude trunk pipeline at Nembe creek was blown up at several points.

The operation will continue until the government of Nigeria appreciates that the solution to peace in the Niger Delta is justice, respect and dialogue. This military style bullying belongs to the past 50 years when the Niger Delta people responded only with their mouths, pens and placards.

All international oil and gas loading vessels entering the region are warned to drop anchor in the high sea or divert elsewhere until further notice. Failure to comply is taking a foolhardy risk of attack and destruction of the vessel.

Again, we are asking that oil companies evacuate their staff from their field facilities because the brief is not to capture hostages but to bring these structures to the ground".

(Jomo Gbomo)

In a related development, the Joint Taskforce on Security(JTF), a security apparatus created to manage the crisis in the oil rich Niger Delta region have described the recent claim by MEND that the security outfit attacked one of its locations in Rivers State as a mischievious propaganda.

The JTF spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa in a telephone interaction with chidi opara reports debunked the claims. We reproduce below Lt. Col. Musa's comments:

"Inorder to checkmate the recurrent sea piracy and other criminal acts on our wateways, the Joint Taskforce operation flush out will maintain a regular marine patrol of notorious sea routes in Rivers State. It was during such patrol that militants opened fire on our patrol team which resulted to an exchange of fire, it was a minor exchange, no casualty on our side and the situation is under control. It happened at about 1035hrs today(saturday 13th september, 2008) at Elem Tombia. The Aircraft seen hovering arround was for survillance and reconnaisance only. Therefore, MEND's claim was just another mischievious propaganda to bastardize our collective effort at securitizing our water ways".

It will be recalled that on saturday, 13th september, 2008, MEND sent an online press release to chidi opara reports and some other news media organizations, claiming attacks by JTF on one of its locations in Rivers state, with helicopter gunships, Jet fighters and Naval boats. It also claimed lost of some of its fighters as well as casualties on the side of JTF and on some earlier rescued kidnapped oil company workers. The Niger Delta main militant group blamed the Governor of Rivers State, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi for its current woes and concluded by warning oil majors and subs to leave the region within twenty-four hours, promising to commence an all out war.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

A Syndicate Of Criminals Now Run Nigeria Customs Service

A syndicate of criminals have now taken over the running of the Nigeria Customs service(NCS), the second highest revenue earner for the Federal government of Nigeria, second to the Oil and Gas sector. NCS is the fulcrum of the import and export sector.

This syndicate operating under a legitimate guise known as Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents(ANLCA), have effectively taken over the running of the strategic Area comands of NCS namely: Onne seaport Areas two and three, Tincan Island seaport Areas one and two, Apapa seaport Areas one and two, Murtala Mohammed International Airport Area, Portharcourt and Kano international Airport Areas and Seme border Area.

ANLCA was formed in 1954 to carter for the interests of clearing and forwarding agents(now also known as freight forwarders). It operated for sometime and went moribund, but was revived in 1993 when it was formally registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission(CAC).

Investigations by chidi opara reports revealed that at the time the Association was revived, most clearing and forwarding agents(freight forwarders)rallied arround it as an instrument of collective bargaining.

The Association according to inside contacts, somehow lived up to expectations till November 2004, "when it was hijacked by these crooks who are now running it," a contact in Lagos who is also a member of the Association told us.

A senior customs officer in Portharcourt told us that "ANLCA national officers now dictate to our Comptroller-general which Comtroller is to be posted to what Area". We also gathered that some Area Comptrollers who owe their postings to "lucrative Areas" to this syndicate, show their gratitude and loyalty by allowing them to have their ways in import and export rackets and also to dictate operational methods in these Areas.

Our investigations in Lagos, Kano and Portharcourt revealed a disturbing scenerio. We discovered for instance amongst other disturbing discoveries that members of this syndicate have had serious issues in the past with law enforcement agencies regarding import and export frauds. We also discovered that most of them have mysterious business and professional backgrounds and run their "Customs Licensed" agencies outside stipulated proceedures. "Go and check how they even obtained their so called licenses in the first place", a Customs headquarters contact whispered to us.

Further checks by chidi opara reports revealed a tendency on the part of this syndicate to exploit the greedy disposition of some security agencies operatives to be bought easily. This syndicate according to our checks, awash with money from import and export rackets, seem to have bought over the top echelon of the Nation's Security Services, the relevant Committees of the National Assembly, the leadership of Nigerian shipper's council, charged with midwifing the new professional body of freight forwarders(clearing and forwarding agents), top officials of Federal ministries of Finance and Transport, as well as top editorial hierachies of mainstream news media, amongst others, hence they can operate freely without let or hinderance.

When we approached our Publisher/Editor-In-Chief, Mr. Chidi Anthony Opara, who voluntarily resigned as a national officer of ANLCA in the year 2000, for comments, he declined on "personal grounds".

Thursday, 11 September 2008

MEND Expresses Reservation Over Ministry Of Niger Delta

The MOVEMEMT FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF NIGER DELTA(MEND), the main militant group amongst the various armed groups claiming to fight for the emancipation of the oil rich region have expressed reservation over the Ministry of Niger Delta created by the Federal government in a gesture seen as aimed at placating the restive indegenes of the region. An online press release issued by MEND spokesperson, Jomo Gbomo this afternoon(11th september, 2008) reads:

"The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) receives with apprehension the announcement by the government to establish a Ministry of the Niger Delta.

The people of the region should receive this latest dish with apprehension and not allow the over five decades of starvation to rule our emotions as this is not the first time such "palatable" offers have been served to the region from the late 50's to date.

Creating a "Ministry" is not the coming of the much awaited messiah. Nigeria has in existence, ministries over 40 years old which has not positively impacted on the people. It will be yet another avenue for corruption and political favoritism.

Some examples of moribund ministries include Energy; with its epileptic power supply, Health; with hospitals that have turned to dispensing clinics such that even the president prefers to be treated in Saudi Arabia or Germany, Works and Transport; responsible for the untimely deaths and maiming of road users due to poorly maintained roads and bridges in spite of availability of funds, Education; with the elites loosing confidence that their children study in foreign tertiary institutions, Special Duties; with a minister that has been made redundant that he spends his time in office watching television. The list is endless.

MEND will know the government is sincere when it offers true federalism in all its ramifications which includes resource control. The unconditional release of all detained activists in its custody is another".

(Jomo Gbomo)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Why Babagana Kingibe Lost Out

An erstwhile peripheral member of the cabal that recently hijacked power in the Nigerian Presidency, Mr. Babagana Kingibe lost his position on Monday, 8th september, 2008 to Mr. Yayale Ahmed, erstwhile Defence Minister in a potracted internal power tussle.

An aide of the Nigerian President incharge of communications, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi in a terse press release announced the removal of Mr. Kingibe as the Secreatary of the Federal Government of Nigeria, a position he has been occupying since the inception of the present Administration on May 29th, 2007.

On assumption of office, the Nigerian President with a credential that is a mixture of conservative and progressive political leaning chose Mr. Kingibe, a progressive and an erstwhile spy/diplomat reputed to be a very astute political strategist with a knack for planning and executing complex political intrigues as the head of the Administration's political bureaucratic hub, mainly according to knowledgeable Presidency contacts, to help him extricate his Administration from the stranglehold of the relunctantly retreating Olusegun Obasanjo political machine that held the reins of governance for eight years. Olusegun Obasanjo is the immediate past President of Nigeria.

Mr. Kingibe's first visible assignment was to retrieve the Nigerian lower Federal parliament, the House of Representatives, whose Speaker then was an Obasanjo protege from the Obasanjo cabal. The successful execution of this assignment, according to these contacts earned Mr. Kingibe peripheral membership of the cabal.

The need for successful execution of more assignments of the type described earlier necesitated the retention of this ex spy/diplomat. The situation made this consumate executor of political intrigues so powerful, "so much so that anytime the President was travelling out of the country, he usually hand over power to him instead of the Vice-president" a contact volunteered.

Mr. Kingibe knew how much the Yar'Adua Presidency cabal depended on him for political survival and he exploited this opportunity to the full to revive his suspended Presidential ambition, he had once sought to be President in 1992 on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party(SDP).

chidi opara reports gathered from reliable top security contacts that the President's desk had for months now been served with security reports about Mr. Kingibe's schemes to succeed him "as soon as possible". "Mr. President viewed this as divided loyalty, but could not do anything at that time because his Administration had not stabilized", a top State Security Service contact in Abuja informed us.

The recent successful reshuffle of the topmost Military echelon and the impending validation of the Presidential election by the Supreme court, according to a Presidency contact "gave Mr. President the confidence to remove Mr. Kingibe".

chidi opara reports can now reveal that the next thing on the card is cabinet reshuffle. "It is going to be a real shake up, those Obasanjo people will have to go", a contact who is a national officer of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) whispered to us. The PDP national officer also informed us that Kingibe may be brought back albeit in a less strategic position. He however, does not seem to be very sure of this, including whether Mr. Kingibe will accept to come back.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Frantic Efforts On To Pad Yar'Adua Up For Public Appearance

There have been frantic efforts to pad up the Nigerian President, Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua for an inevitable public appearance soon. The ailing President was bundled into the country from Saudi Arabia where he underwent the first phase of series of surgery to correct an organ ailment, by some top notchers of his ruling Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), some of his top security advisers and his kitchen cabinet, to stave off attempts to take over government by some middle level military officers.

chidi opara reports can now authoritatively report that the Nigerian President who was still recuperating in a private hospital in Saudi Arabia, had to travel home against the advice of his doctors, when it became imperative for security reasons that his presence is needed at the seat of government to forestall an unconstitutional change of government.

Despite initial objections by the President's two German doctors, the doctors on the intervention of some highly placed Saudi government officials, agreed to the President's return and decided to accompany him to Nigeria.

A Presidency contact who should know, informed chidi opara reports that "the doctors practically turned the Presidential jet into an hospital."

We also reliably gathered from another Presidency contact that when the President arrived Abuja at about 2.30 am on saturday 6th August 2008, "he was almost unconscious and had to be moved into an intensive care appartment, prepared two days earlier for this eventuality to avoid information leakage." The President is said to have returned to his official appartment by 6.00am Nigerian time on sunday.

"Right now, everything is being done to make the President fit enough to appear before the Nation soon", a top security contact in Abuja informed us.

We gathered also that there is an order from the office of the secreatary to the Federal Government to cabinet members and aides of the President to stay away from the Presidential villa for now. We are however, unable to independently confirm this development at this point in time.

chidi opara reports can now also report that two other German doctors flew into the country on sunday, August 7th to compliment the efforts of their colleagues. Low level Presidency contacts also informed us of the presence of marabouts in the villa, commissioned by the President's mother and his wife to offer sacrifices and prayers for his quick recovery.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Murder Of Nigerian Journalist; Group Accuse Police Of Complicity

The recent murder of a Nigerian journalist, Mr. Abayomi Ogundeji, has continued to generate heated arguments between the Police, the Nigerian Union of Journalists(NUJ) and civil liberties groups. Late Mr. Ogundeji, whose death, the Police blamed on armed robbery has since been buried in Lagos. In a recent press release signed by the chairman of Lagos state chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalists and some civil society activists, the group accused the police of complicity in the murder. The press release ran thus:

"We the undersigned are appalled at the reaction of the Nigerian Police Force to the NUJ led protest march to demand for a thorough investigation of the assassination of Mr Abayomi Ogundeji (a member of Thisday Newspapers editorial board).
We noted that the Nigerian Police Force led by the Lagos state Commissioner, Mr Marvel Akpoyibo, was quick to attribute his death to armed robbery, just like many other Nigerians extra-judicially killed at or near police checkpoints all over Nigeria.
The Lagos State Police Commissioner arranged an emergency press conference to end speculations that the police were involved or knew more than it was willing to admit about the death of our friend, Mr. Abayomi Ogundeji.
It is significant to note that, Mr Akpoyibo refused to allow the man that was alleged to have witnessed the murder to be thoroughly questioned or have his picture taken by the media, at the press conference.
Nigerians now know better. The autopsy report clearly indicated that Mr Ogundeji was shot from the back contrary to the account of the Nigerian Police Force.
Hence, we hold the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr Marvel Akpoyibo, responsible for terminating the NUJ protest march and condemn his threat and inability to assure the security of a peaceful protest march to the police command.
We wish to remind Akpoyibo that we are now in a democracy and Nigerians no longer require police permit to embark on peaceful activities.
It is obvious to us that the conduct of the Police Commissioner Mr Marvel Akpoyibo in stopping the protest march also strengthens the suspicion that the Lagos State Police Command is a prime suspect, denting the image of the Nigerian Police Force further.
We wish to warn that there is a growing perception that the Nigerian Police officers are largely responsible for the death of innocent Nigerians, often at checkpoints and incapable of preventing or detecting crimes, particularly when officers are suspected to be involved.
Hence, since men of the Lagos State command may be involved in the murder of Mr Ogundeji, and given the reprehensible conduct of Mr Akpoyibo so far, we demand that the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mike Okiro, should take-over the investigation of Mr Ogundeji’s death. This to some extent may allay our fears of Police cover-up.
We demand that the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Marvel Akpoyibo, should be reprimanded for terminating the NUJ protest march.
We call on LASCO to join forces with Lagos NUJ to demand for justice for Mr Abayomi Ogundeji. Our friend must not be another figure in the statistics of extra-judicial killing".

1. Wahab Oba, Chairman – Lagos State Council, Nigerian Union of Journalists (LagosNUJ)
2. Dr Sylvester Odion-Akhaine, Executive Director – Centre for Constitutionalism and Demilitarisation (CENCOD)
3. Denja Yaqub, Assistant Secretary-Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC)
4. Biodun Sowunmi, Executive Director – Africa Centre for Labour Research and Emancipation (ACLRE)
5. Dr Adewale Balogun, Executive Director – Centre for Constitutional Governance (CCG)
6. Tony Iyare, Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER)
7. Lanre Arogundade, Co-ordinator – International Press Centre (IPC)
8. Comrade Biodun Aremu, Convener – United Action For Democracy (UAD)
9. Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike, Ag. Executive Director – Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO)
10. Sina Loremikan, Southwest Co-ordinator – Zero Corruption Coalition
11. Luke Aghanenu, President – National Association of Democratic Lawyers
12. Olasupo Ojo, President – Committee for Defence of Human Rights (CDHR)

In a separate development, the MOVEMENT FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF NIGER DELTA(MEND), in an online press release, dissociated itself from a group which claimed to be an affiliate of the Niger Delta main militant group. The MEND press release is here reproduced below:

"The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) wishes to dissociate itself from the group, Penninton Dodo Ramos Salvation Front (PENDORA) which claims to be affiliated to MEND.
The group, in a statement signed by one Perekunakuna Braun gave oil companies an ultimatum to accede to its demand of providing some benefits to some oil bearing communities in Bayelsa, failure to which they threatened to destroy oil facilities.
Because the motive for the threat is monetary and we are a regional group whose concerns are for the entire Niger Delta, MEND will not be a part of it".
(Jomo Gbomo).

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Portharcourt Demolition Militia

The good intentions of the Rivers state governor, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi to rebuild the disorderly state capital city and thereby return it to its former garden city status may be misunderstood if those saddled with the task of demolishing structures that encroached on the major roads to make space for rebuilding the city are not called to order.

These people who were initially using marked government trucks, uniforms and identification cards, have now transformed into a militia, without proper identity and out to intimidate law abiding citizens, especially stanger elements, the only thing official arround them now are improperly dressed, ill-tempered, half drunk, rifle-wielding anti-riot policemen.

When chidi opara reports went round the city in August 2008, what was seen in most places visited, was outright vandalism. We saw buildings that were clearly not within the outlawed range from the roads(fifteen feet),being demolished, while some other buildings on same positions were spared. Our investigation revealed that most of the buildings demolished in this manner in the places visited belong to strangers, especially Igbos.

A store situated at the strategic Rumuola Junction for instance, belonging to one Toby Offor from Arochukwu in Abia State was demolished, while other stores on same position, whose owners we learnt are Rivers State indigenes were spared. Some car dealers of Igbo origin at same Rumuola junction had the burglary protectors of their car malls, which were clearly out of the outlawed range destroyed and some of them beaten up for daring to protest, while their counterparts on the opposite side of the road, whom we learnt are Rivers state indigenes were spared the ordeal.

This situation we discovered is fast lending credence to very loud whispers in the town that the demolition exercise is targeted at strangers. chidi opara reports have however, not seen any evidence of official conspiracy against strangers in this exercise so far. What we can now reveal is that some Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) stalwarts in the state are as usual raising a militia to use to intimidate opponents during the 2011 elections. What these stalwarts did according to a contact who is well versed in grassroots politics in the state, is to keep these boys busy with the demolition job. "You know the nature of these boys, they will always overdo things," The contact concluded.

Even though the Rivers state government apparatus like most others across the country operates a policy of secrecy which makes it near impossible to get information officially except when the governor's numerous hangers on deem it necesary, chidi opara reports can now authoritatively report that the governor is not officially aware of this development, but a low level governor's office contact summarized the situation to us in this way; "if you complain, will they allow the complaint to reach the governor and if it reaches him, will they allow him to act?"

E-mails sent to the governor's office and to the commissioner of information for comments have not been replied so far and from our past experiences, may never be replied.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

MEND: Nigeria's Defence Headquarters Panic, Plan Clampdown On News Media

The coup scare that have become the order of the day since the assumption of office of the Nigerian President, Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua on 29th of May, 2007 have continued to amass victims.

The latest victim is the news media, whom the Defence headquarters spokesman recently accused of consorting with the main Niger Delta militant group, MOVEMENT FOR THE EMANCIPATION OF NIGER DELTA(MEND), to destabilize the Nation.

MEND had in a recent online press release, claimed that they had a shootout with the joint taskforce on security(JTF), an adhoc security outfit established to manage the crisis in the oil rich region. The JTF, the release claimed lost twenty-nine soldiers, while MEND lost four of its fighters. The Defence headquarters swiftly denied any encounter with any militant group that would have resulted in any loss of soldiers.

The subsequent wide publicity given to the MEND position which insisted on the authenticity of its claim, sent the Defence headquarters into a state of panic, resulting into a secret resolve by the top echelon of the topmost military institution to clampdown on a section of the news media regarded in security circles as "very stubborn".

A high level Defence headquarters contact who called chidi opara reports on tuesday(2nd september,2008), sounded very worried. The contact who pleaded to us to scale down our Defence reports, revealed that a security report on the desk of the new Chief of Defence staff, indicates that there is increased restiveness in the middle level officer cadre of the services, as a result of the MEND story. This cadre of officers, the contact further told us, have not been happy with the way the Niger Delta crisis is being handled. "These officers are not happy that soldiers are being slaughtered like chicken in the creeks, while our leaders continue to pamper the so called militants in the name of democracy". "According to the security report, these officers have vowed to do something if it is true that MEND killed twenty-nine soldiers", the source concluded.

A contact in the senior editorial cadre of a mainstream news medium in Lagos, whose Publisher is very close to a Defence headquarters topshot informed us that the Defence headquarters leadership have decided to clampdown on a section of the news media, especially Internet news sites.

chidi opara reports have not been able so far to unravel the nature of this planned clampdown. When approached for information on this, most of our security and Presidency contacts drew blank.

MEND have meanwhile insisted on the authenticity of its claim. In an online interaction with us, the spokesperson of the group, who goes by the name Jomo Gbomo, insisted that they killed twenty-nine soldiers in that attack and lost four of their fighters. He concluded with a threat that "the attacks will not stop".