Thursday, 31 December 2009

News Release: Further on President Yar’Adua’s Health Condition and the State of The Nation


For the third time in a month, we concerned Nigerians are constrained to speak out on the Constitutional crisis Nigeria is facing because of the refusal of President Yar'Adua to hand over the leadership of the country to his Vice President when leaving the country on 23 November 2009 for medical reasons as prescribed by the 1999 Constitution.

While we catalogued issues an available President would have dealt with in our second statement, recent events have exposed even further the vulnerability of Nigeria as she goes through an interregnum. These include but are not limited to the following;

I)A Nigerian citizen, son of a prominent Nigerian has recently been involved in an attempt to detonate an explosive device on a plane in U.S. airspace on Christmas Day. There has been no coherent response to this incident from Nigeria capable of calming the anxieties of either Nigerians or the international community because of the vacuum in Nigeria's leadership.

II)Until a few days ago, the 2009 supplementary remained unsigned thereby putting vital programs necessary for the economic well being of Nigeria in limbo, and making unconstitutional, extra-budgetary spending by agencies inevitable. In view of the fact that the proclivities of some members of Yar'Adua's kitchen cabinet for contriving signatures have been catalogued in recent charges now before a London Crown Court, Nigerians should be wary of recent claims of officials purporting to have travelled to Saudi Arabia to get the President's 'signature' on any document. We insist that any such 'signature' must be documented by a notarized and dated video recording, and a sworn affidavit by those that claimed to have witnessed the 'signature'.

III)The fragile peace in the Niger Delta has been shattered, as militants have perceived a weakness and lack of commitment in the Federal government.  They have therefore returned to  the activities  that have crippled Nigeria's Oil and Gas industry.

IV)Violence again erupted again in Bauchi leading to the death of many people has worsened the nation's image as an unstable country whose weak government is unable to maintain law and order or contain religious fanatics.

V)Regrettably, in the face of this leadership vacuum, the security agencies have redefined their jobs away from protection of the liberty, lives and property of Nigerians to political persecution and extortion, arrest and detention of journalists, and disrupting the operations of media houses and civil society organizations.

VI)The lack of a clear and undisputed leader has caused ministers to treat the Vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, with open disdain, flouting his instructions.  For example, Nigerians learned with shock that the senior Minister for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Rilwanu Lukman, took off for Austria in wilful disobedience to the Vice President's directive to Ministers responsible for the energy and petroleum sectors to remain on duty in the country to tackle the fuel and energy crises crippling economic activities in Nigeria.

VII)Chaos looms as some persons have gone to court seeking to declare all actions taken by the Federal Executive Council since the departure of the President as null and void and ultra vires. Meanwhile, the Judiciary which ought to be the last hope of the ordinary Nigerian has become the laughing stock of the world. Today, Nigeria has two serving "Chief Justices"

VIII)The administration has failed to generate and transmit the promised 6,000 MW of electricity by December 2009, and failed to complete a single road construction out of 18 planned for completion in 2009.

And finally;
IX)Unrestrained by any clear supervisory authority, Ministers have made utterances that embarrass the people of Nigeria and lower their repute in the eyes of right thinking members of the global community including self-serving statements by the FEC that President Yar'Adua's absence has not affected governance in any way. This was an open insult to the President since if his absence has no effect on government, it inevitably means that his presence also has no effect, and that he is in fact unnecessary.

Another such careless statement was one claiming that the President could rule Nigeria from anywhere in the world, in complete disregard of the fact that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria makes Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, the seat of government.

In view of all this, we assert that when you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable must be the truth. Thus the only reasonable assumption for now (and we are forced to assume only because the government has not been forthcoming with the truth) is that the President is under some form of incapacity, which forecloses implementing the transfer of power envisaged in Section 145 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

However, in gross dereliction of duty, the Federal Executive Council had earlier refused to implement Section 144 by insisting they would not ask for a medical panel to ascertain the infirmity or otherwise of the President.  We say that this position is no longer tenable.

As we are and always will be committed to a constitutional resolution of this induced crisis, to save our country from needless anarchy, we insist that the FEC must be made to live up to its constitutional obligations, and therefore call upon the Council of State to precipitate such action by the FEC and act in the best interests of Nigeria by:

I) formally requesting the Saudi Arabian hospital authorities to provide details of the medical condition of President Umaru Yar'Adua.  He is not a private citizen but a public officer employed by 150 million Nigerians, and

II) Sending a delegation of its members to Saudi Arabia and determine for itself the true state of health and mind of President Yar'Adua and to act in the best interest of the nation after establishing the true state of things.

If the FEC continues to refuse to act in the face of such delegation's report, its members must either resign or the National Assembly must take action to remove the President for multiple violations of the Constitution and continued absence from duty.

We make this call because all that Nigerians have been told is that President Yar'Adua is in hospital in Saudi Arabia.  We believe that he is in an infirm state and incapable of exercising the judgment needed by the President of Nigeria.  Nigerians have neither seen him nor heard from him directly for over six weeks.  We further believe that the reason his family and aides have refused access to him is because any sight of him will reveal to everyone that he is permanently and irreversibly incapacitated. We challenge those who dispute this to prove otherwise with immediate video and audio evidence.

These times call for all well-meaning Nigerians to sacrifice petty self-interest in favour of the nation. We appeal to our leaders not to continue to leave our democracy and sovereignty at risk because of the megalomania of a clique. Nigeria is more important than any individual or group.
1) Alh. Balarabe Musa. 2) Chief Olu Falae 3) Gen. Alani Akinrinade 4) Prof. Pat Utomi 5) Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, 6) Hon. Farouk Adamu Aliyu 7) Hon. Olawale Oshun 8) Mr. Femi Falana 9) Engr. Buba Galadima 10) Mr. Osita Okechukwu 11) Mr. Yinka Odumakin 12) Chief Supo Shonibare 13) Barr. Sani Hussaini Garun– Gabbas 14) Mrs. Jumoke Anifowoshe 15) Ms. Ayo Obe 16) Dr. Joe Okei – Odumakin 17) Ms. Annkio Briggs 18) Hajiya Najatu Mohamed 19) ) Mallam Nasir Kura 20)Alh. Muta Kabir Usman Nangogo 21) Hon. Bashir Idris Nadabo 22) Mr. Kayode Ogundamisi 23) Hon. Balarabe Wakili 24) Hon. Babatunde Ogala 25) Alh. Amitolu Shittu 26) Mallam Uba Sani 27) Mallam Saliu Lukman 28) Mr. Biodun Sowunmi 29) Ms. Roz Ben – Okagbue 30) Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni 31) Mallam Tanko Yunisa 32) Mr. Morakinyo Ogele, 33) Mr. Achike Chude 34) Mr. Malachy Ugwumadu 35) Hon. Sadiq Ya’ adua 36) Ben Ezeagwu Esq. 37) Hon. Lawal Garba 38) Mr. Saint George – Ekeh 39) Hon. ( Dr.) Ishaq Kurfi 40) Hon. Haruna Yerima 41) Hon. Uche Onyeagocha 42) Mr. Bamidele Aturu 43) Hon. Umar El – Yakub 44) Prince Oye Oyewunmi.45) Mr. supo Ojo 46) Mallam Balarabe Abbass Lawal 47) Mr. Akitoye Brancho Rhodes 48) Reno Omokri 49) Chief Obasi Akpa Obasi 50) Alh. Kabir Yahaya. 51) Mr. Dipo Famakinwa 52) Mr. Ayo Afolabi.53) Chief John Odigie - Oyegun 54) Mr. Fred Agbeyegbe 55) Mr Odia Ofeimun.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

News Release: Release Detainees In The Spirit Of Christmas And New Year

                                         [Lagos state Governor]

Democratic Peoples' Alliance (DPA) has asked the Lagos State Government to free those it is detaining in detention facilities throughout the state in the spirit of Christmas and New Year.

The party also demanded the freeing of all seized vehicles and business implements, like commercial motorcycles and buses, confiscated by the government and its agencies.

In the words of a Press Statement by its Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, DPA said, "Many of these detainees are being held on flimsy excuses and for bail-able misdemeanours.. Yet not a few have been locked up for longer than they would have served had they been found guilty and sentenced by a court of competent jurisdiction. They deserve to spend the New Year at home with their families."

However, DPA advised that if there were suspects who had committed regular crimes, they should be transferred to regular courts.

According to the party, many of such detainees languishing in jail, without facing formal charges before a Judge or a court of competent jurisdiction, could be found in the several detention facilities operated by the state, sometimes in collusion with relevant authorities in the Federal Maximum Prison at Potoki in Badagry, Kirikiri, Alausa and Ikorodu.

"We have said it before and we say it now, these human rights violations are strange in a democratic environment, especially in a state governed by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria," DPA said.

DPA reported investigations showing that people detained by the regular police fared better than those arrested by Lagos-run agencies like the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) Brigade, Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Environmental Task Force and local governments.

The party said because of the inappropriateness of their stay in prisons, people in detention for allegedly violating state regulations were usually held in cramped prison halls, with little or no provision for sleeping, leisure or medicare.

Vilifying Lagos for contributing to the country's sordid human rights records, especially as reported by Transparency International, the DPA statement said: " Lagos has displayed much impunity and arbitrariness in these detentions, which are typical of a military, fascist and dictatorial government. These violations have joined with those of the police, the Federal Government and other states to give the country a bad name in the comity of nations."

Furthermore, the party highlighted that Lagos by these acts had violated the Constitution, the African Charter, the Commonwealth Charter, the United Nations Charter and conventions relating to torture, Fair Hearing, Freedom of Movement, Right to Life, Right to Human Dignity and Right to Liberty .

It said too that victims were often detained for periods exceeding the constitutionally-stipulated 48 hours, without any formal notice to their relations or access to lawyers.

The party insisted the state must seize the spirit of the Yuletide to free all such detainees and pay due compensation to those whose rights had been violated.
Felix Oboagwina
Director of Publicity (Lagos DPA)

News Release: Champions For Nigeria (CFN) Condemn Terrorist Attempts And Activities

Champions For Nigeria (CFN), an umbrella organisation of Nigerians in the Diaspora, incorporated in England and Wales, condemn all forms of terrorist activities. We express deep regret over the attempt by Nigerian-born Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab to blow up Flight 253 with explosive devices at the Detroit , Michigan , USA Airport on December 25, 2009.

Nigerians all over the world are unanimous in their condemnation of this cowardly act. Such action is not representative of the character of Nigerian citizens. We are a peace-loving people who make positive contributions in whatever community we reside.

Champions For Nigeria would like to stress the point that this terrorist incident was an individual action, and does not represent the true character of more than 150 million Nigerians.

Nigeria is definitely not a breeding ground for terrorism of any description; be it domestic or international. We support the Nigerian government's position, preparedness, and commitment to thwart any known or suspected acts of terrorism in our society by working with the governments of the United States of America , and other nations in snuffing out global terrorism.

Champions For Nigeria express our gratitude to God that the attempt to destroy innocent lives and property on Christmas; a day Christians worldwide celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a peace-loving individual, was foiled. We urge the international community to regard this incident as an isolated act of a misguided and radicalised Nigerian citizen who has allowed religious overzealousness to becloud his mind, without regard to the negative impact his actions would have on further tarnishing the global image of Nigeria .

We would like to remind everyone that Nigerians generally are law-abiding citizens. We tolerate diverse political and religious views. We are productive, peaceful, and hard working. These attributes have been demonstrated by Dr Mutallab who, on sensing the strange behaviour of his son, quickly reported him to American Embassy officials and the Nigerian law enforcement authorities.

Nigerians hereby promise to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with the United States , and all responsible nations in the international community in the fight against global terrorism.

Long live Nigeria , Long Live CFN.

Odimegwu Onwumere (Regional Coordinator, Nigeria )
Dr Ken Prince Asagwara (Regional Coordinator, Canada )
Benedicta Attoh ( Eire )
Rufus Kayode Oteniya ( Italy )
Joseph Ochia ( Mexico )
Kola Afolabi (France)
Dr Ehi Agboaye ( USA )
Dr Olayiwola Ajileye (Regional Coordinator, UK )
Bernard Imarhiagbe (Publicity Coordinator)
Akintokunbo A Adejumo (Global Coordinator)

For: Champions For Nigeria(CFN)

Monday, 28 December 2009

Photonews: Maryam Babangida; Elegance Died

Maryam Babangida, late wife of Nigeria's former military President, rtd. Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, known also as IBB, who died yesterday at the University of California Los Angele's (UCLA) Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Los Angeles, United States of America, at the age of sixty-one was reputed to be the most elegant of Nigeria's First Ladies since Independence.

News Release: Terrorist Attempt on Delta Flight 253

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) condemns the attempted act of terrorism on Delta flight 253 into the United States by a misguided Islamic extremist from the Northern part of Nigeria.

Had the plan been successful, it would have left many families across the globe grieving on a day when Christians celebrate the birth of a peace maker, Jesus Christ.

It should by now be evident that the threat to world peace will not emerge from the Niger Delta, a region agitating for justice as is acknowledged by every right thinking human being, but from the Islamic extremist northern part of Nigeria covertly supported by its elite who assume leadership of Nigeria to be the birthright of this region.

This attempted act of terrorism by this northern Islamic extremist does not come as a surprise to any Nigerian. For decades, Christians have been murdered and raped in the north of Nigeria with impunity. No northern Muslim has ever been brought to book for the thousands of Christians killed in this region. Northern Nigeria is fertile ground for international terrorism..

The Nigerian government has persistently turned a blind eye to Islamic extremists coming from Northern Nigeria, choosing instead  to focus and waste its resources on military hardware and troop deployment in the Niger Delta.

The government of Nigeria which unfortunately has been dominated by the north since independence has bred such undesirable elements under false pretexts with the hope of creating a reserve army to counter agitation in the south and other parts of Nigeria.

In spite of this embarrassment to the nation, the government will not re-direct its military to the North, neither will the rights of  these violent people be trampled as is the case in the Niger Delta.

The minister for defense who is a shameless stooge will not dare consider any actions in the north likely to anger the northern elite who have for decades condoned all forms of extremism. If this act of terrorism had been carried out against the christian south of Nigeria, it would undoubtedly have been covered up as the government is so quick to do.

The young man who attempted this cowardly act is not alone and governments around the world should pay more attention to northern Nigeria with its threat to world peace than to agitation for justice in the Niger Delta which only threatens world oil prices.

Jomo Gbomo

Thursday, 24 December 2009

The Nigerian Child Is chidi opara reports' Person Of The Year 2009

For surviving economic, political and socio-cultural obstacles placed on the way by political, business, religious and cultural leaders, The Nigerian Child have been voted as chidi opara reports' Person Of The Year 2009 by our editors and network members.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

News Release: The Nigeria Liberty Forum Condemns The Interference By British MP In The Trial Of James Ibori’s Associates

A few weeks ago, the Nigerian Liberty Forum was alerted to the existence of a five-page letter dated 24 September 2009 written by Mr Tony Baldry, the Conservative MP for Banbury, to the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Rt Hon David Milliband MP, and copied to the Attorney-General, the Rt Hon Baroness Scotland QC, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP, and the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP. In this letter, Mr Baldry apparently sought to persuade these senior Cabinet Ministers of Her Majesty's Government of the need for the Her Majesty's Government to discontinue the ongoing prosecution of the associates of the former Governor of Delta State of Nigeria, Mr James Ibori, for various money laundering offences at the Southwark Crown Court purportedly on the grounds that the prosecution is damaging to the interests of her Majesty's Government.

We understand that the Nigerian Government has refused a request from the Office of the Secretary of State for the Home Department under the terms of the Agreement Between the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria concerning the Investigation and Prosecution of Crime and the Confiscation of Proceeds of Crime, 1990 for the extradition of Mr Ibori to the United Kingdom to face charges of serious breaches of the United Kingdom anti-money laundering laws. However, several associates of Mr Ibori, including his wife, sister, and solicitor are presently facing several charges of conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering at the Southwark Crown Court.

To put this prosecution in its proper context, it is necessary to repeat the words of Judge Rivlin QC while delivering a ruling in the preparatory hearing for the case at the Southwark Crown Court last year. According to him: "All the money laundering offences ... arise in this way, and here I briefly summarise the Crown's case. These ... defendants are all closely connected with a man named James Onanefe Ibori ('Mr James'). Theresa is his wife; Christine is his sister and Adebimpe Pogoson was at the material time his personal assistant/secretary. Mr James has a chequered history. At one time, in the early 1990's, when living in England and working as a cashier, he and his wife were in debt and also in trouble for minor offences of dishonesty; but by 1999 he had risen in the world, and in that year he took office as the Governor of Delta State of Nigeria. In that capacity he was required to make asset declarations, which are said to have been false. He was also paid a salary and expenses, which were expected to his only source of income."

"Notwithstanding these limitations of his office, which were anti-corruption measures, according to the Crown it was not long before Mr James came into personal possession of very substantial wealth, running into millions of pounds sterling. The main thrust of the case against these defendants is that each of them then assisted him in a major money laundering operation, whereby these monies or at least part of them were paid into various bank accounts in the UK and/or used towards the purchase in this country of a number of properties, and/or to fund the luxurious life-styles of one or more of the defendants."

"As it happens, very substantial sums of money have already been frozen pursuant to Restraint Proceedings initiated by the Crown in 2007. The prosecution say that virtually all of this money had been dishonestly plundered from the Delta State or in other ways fraudulently obtained by Mr James Ibori."

The Nigerian Liberty Forum knows that Mr Baldry, who was the Chairman of the House of Commons International Development Select Committee from January 2001 to May 2005, has extensive interests in the extractive industries of several emerging economies especially in West Africa.

For example, he is the Chairman of Westminster Oil Limited (a British Virgin Islands registered company involved in the development of oil licences and exploration) and the Deputy Chairman of Woburn Energy plc (a UK AIM listed company specialising in oil exploration and recovery).

He is also a director of West African Investments Ltd (a company that invests in "infrastructure and natural resource projects in Sierra Leone and elsewhere in West Africa") and a shareholder in Target Resources plc (a company involved in gold and diamond mining in Sierra Leone).

Mr Baldry is also the Chairman of the Advisory Committee of Curve Capital Ventures Ltd ("a sector neutral investment company that predominantly invests in India; China and Africa and advises companies on strategic growth and global expansion").

We also know that the Honourable MP for Banbury is the head of a London barristers' chambers (Chambers Of Tony Baldry MP of 1 Essex Ct, Temple, London EC4Y 9AR) where he practises as a barrister, arbitrator and mediator.

We know that on 28 September 2009, four days after he was said to have written the letter to the Foreign Secretary, he registered the following interest in the MPs' Register of Interests: "Received fee of £22,012.57 from Zaiwalla & Co., solicitors, for advising clients. ... Time worked: 16 hours. (Registered 28 September 2009)."

The interests of the British public (which includes an estimated three million Nigerians) and the Nigerian public in the prosecution of Mr Ibori's associates at the Southwark Crown Court cannot be over-emphasised. Therefore the Nigerian Liberty Forum took the view that it will be completely unacceptable for a British Member of Parliament to use his good offices (in what appears to be a case of conflict of interests) to undermine this prosecution for less than altruistic ends.

We therefore took immediate steps to establish the existence of this letter and to obtain a copy by making applications under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to the relevant government departments.

Apart from acknowledgements of receipt, we are yet to hear from the Attorney-General's Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Justice with a decision on our freedom of information request.

However, the Home Office has confirmed the existence of the letter but refused to disclose it. Their letter, a full version of which is annexed below, states inter alia:
"Your request has been treated as a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act (the Act) and I can confirm that the Home Office holds the information that you requested. However, after careful consideration we have decided that the information is exempt from disclosure under section 27(1)(a), s31(1)(c), s40(2) and s41(1) of the Act.

These provisions provide that information can be withheld if:
- its release would be prejudicial to relations between the United Kingdom and any other state (s27(1)(a));
- its release would, or would be likely to, prejudice the administration of justice (s31(1)(a));
- it constitutes personal data (s40(2)); and
- its release would constitute an actionable breach of confidence (s41(1))

We do not believe that such a letter is exempted as claimed by the Home Office. We will be taking legal advice with a view to applying for an independent internal review of the handling of our request by the Home Office. In the meantime, we have reached the conclusion after very careful consideration that we owe the British and Nigerian public a duty to bring this matter to their attention immediately.

Signed: Kayode Ogundamisi and Zaynab Abubakar
For the Nigeria Liberty Forum.

Open Letter: I Am Not Yet A Senior Advocate Of Nigeria (SAN)

                                                     [Kayode Ajulo]

Since 11th December 2009 when I wrote a letter to the Federal Executive Council of Federal Republic of Nigeria via the Secretary to the Government of the Federation wherein I humbly opined, backed with the provisions of Nigerian Constitution that the Federal Executives Council meetings and all the decisions reached as well as all the contracts awarded without the presence of the President or duly appointed Acting-President are unconstitutional, I have been reported and referred to as Senior Advocate of Nigeria(SAN).

While I most sincerely thank those that reported these patriotic efforts targeted to develop Nigeria polity and jurisprudence, I am however ill at ease by their description of me as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria as I am yet to be qualified to be so appointed considering my years of standing at the bar.

I hereby write to put the record straight as due to the wide coverage of these publications, I have received unprecedented enquiries from numerous Nigerians and non-Nigerians who by telephone calls, mobile text messages and some by personal visits to either confirm or congratulate me on the award of SAN.

Senior Advocate of Nigeria is a prestigious rank that may be conferred on legal practitioners in Nigeria of not less than ten years' standing and who have distinguished themselves in the legal profession.

It is the equivalent of the rank of Queen's Counsel in the United Kingdom, from which Nigeria became independent in 1960 (Republic in 1963), as well as in South Australia, the Northern Territory, and Canada (except Ontario and Quebec). Several countries use similar designations such as Senior Counsel, State Counsel, Senior Advocate, and President's Advocate.

Since these publications, I have severally gone through my letter under reference without success to see anywhere in the letter where I have wittingly or unwittingly suggested or referred myself as Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

I had also extended my search to my past activities to no avail and have therefore come to this conclusion to state unequivocal that I am not a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and consequently wish to correct this incorrect assertion.

I was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2001 which in effect made me to practice in Nigeria as Solicitor and Advocate of Supreme Court of Nigeria and I have since been using the privileges of my noble profession as a lawyer and interest to ensure the followings: (1) The abolition of poverty from the face of Africa; (2) The unqualified need to preserve, defend and protect the fundamental human rights; (3) The governance of our country and other African countries through democratic processes; (4) The subjection of everybody and everything to and under the Rule of Law; (5) The right of the people to free and qualitative education at all levels; (6) The right of the people to free and qualitative health services and facilities; (7) The strengthening of our economy through sound development of infrastructure including power generation (electricity), good roads, good and modern transportation system across the length and breadth of Africa; and (8) To make my dear country, Nigeria a corruption-free country by fighting corruption with all our might and main.

In the course of achieving the above, I have tried to do it with utmost sense of seriousness and modestly considering the rules and ethics of my profession but sometimes of some of these activities are reported by the media.

In as much as I profoundly grateful for the support given to me in actualizing my struggles and crusades I will be most grateful if the above mentioned defect is corrected considering my immediate professional constituency, my appreciation of the ethics of the profession and my deep understanding of the procedures for the award of the prestigious rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

I thank everyone most sincerely for the assistances extended to my cause; rule of law, maintaining, relating to, or based on a belief that all people are, in principle, equal and should enjoy equal social, political, and economic rights and opportunities.

Accept, please, the firm assurances of my highest regards.

Yours truly,
Kayode Ajulo.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Photonews: Do Nigerians Know Its Christmas?

News Release: Save Our Democracy Now

The Group of 53 recently called the attention of Nigerians to the unhealthy development of President Umaru Yar’Adua going on medical trip abroad without handing over to the Vice-President as stipulated by the constitution. While sympathizing with the President and wishing him quick recovery, we did ask the president to consider it a patriotic duty to resign and allow his deputy to carry on with the business of state.

In torrents, all manners of "patriots" of convenience descended on us calling us names.

Today, the same set of “prayer warriors” is reportedly in power play of succession while still prescribing hypocritical prayers for the people.

Quite a number of developments have taken place since our call which have vindicated our stand that Nigeria should not totter on without a head:
(1)The 2009 Supplementary Appropriation Bill addressing critical issues in the Niger Delta among others and duly passed by the National Assembly cannot be signed into law because of the absence of the President;
(2)The Amnesty Programme being personally coordinated by the President has run into a hitch and has led to protests by ex-militants and resumption of hostilities by MEND;
(3)The 2009 National Honours cannot be conferred cannot because the office of the president is not functioning.
(4)The appointments of the new President of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Justice of Nigeria have been confirmed but they would not be able to assume office because their oath of office that should constitutionally be administered by the President cannot be carried out in his absence. Technically, very soon two out of the three arms of government would not be headed by constitutionally recognized heads;
5)Though we are aware that the Federal Executive Council has been meeting under Vice President Jonathan Goodluck but by virtue of Section 148 of the 1999 Contitution which says only the President can preside over such meetings, contractors who are taking approvals from such meeting are running a risk as decisions taken at such meetings are void and illegal;
6)Critical meetings of ECOWAS of which our president is chairman have been cancelled.Of Particular note were the meetings on Niger and Guniea where the Constitutions of both countries have been suspended by dictators.

In the light of the foregoing, we call on President Yar’Adua to immediately comply with section 145 of the constitution which requires him to write to the Senate President and the speaker of the House of Representatives that he has proceeded on medical vacation so that the Vice President can assume Presidential powers and run the country while he is away.

We do not think this country should carry on this way beyond the next SEVEN DAYS.

Signed for the Steering Committee of G-53
Yinka odumakin(O8033004665), Osita Okechukwu(080397388870), Buba Galadima(08037000159)

Open Letter: Seasonal Greetings To Nigerians

Let me start by wishing Nigerians who are Moslems a belated Barkar De Salah. To those Nigerians who are pagans, may the almighty God bless you people this Christmas Season. To Nigerians of other faith(s) and religion, may God bless you people as well. To the Nigerian Christians, of which am one of them, I wish you all a happy Christmas and prosperous New Year (2010). Please permit me to also pray for all Nigerians using Psalm 91 verse 11, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways”. May the good God continue to give his angels charge over our great country.

A lot of activities take place every Christmas period, especially the fact that people at home and abroad visit loved ones. This involves a lot of traveling either by road, sea or air. For those people that will be driving this period, please kindly drive with care and more importantly, avoid drink driving. The state of our road network should be a recipe for careful driving. I expect the Federal Road Safety Commission to do more work in enforcing road safety measures this Christmas period. There is need for the enforcement of road safety measures; this is in order to ensure compliance with the rules or deterrence from committing traffic offences.

For those traveling by the water ways, I urge total compliance with all safety measures. For our airline pilots, please be kind enough to observe all safety rules including observing the alcohol limit. Many airline pilots have violated the alcohol limits. In October 2008, a pilot working for United Airlines was arrested on a flight heading from Heathrow airport ( United Kingdom ) to San Francisco ( America ) for having over the limit alcohol level in his system. In May 2009, an American Airlines pilot bound from Heathrow to Chicago was arrested for failing a breathalyzer test. Alcohol can impair pilots’ abilities to operate an aircraft effectively. In the United Kingdom , the alcohol limit for pilots is the equivalent of a glass of beer. It is stricter in the United States of America .

Many airline operators in the developed countries maintain strict alcohol policies. United Airlines claims its alcohol policy is among the strictest in the airline industry. These and many more other safety measures should be replicated by the Nigerian airline operators and pilots. Safety should be the watch word especially now that a lot of people are traveling. Pilots should avoid being under pressure.

This season (Christmas) usually call for reflections on the year (2009) that is almost ended and resolution(s) for New Year (2010). For the New Year (2010) resolution(s), I will urge Nigerians to love one another. Let us love each other and above all, let us love our neighbor like our self. There is so much animosity and hatred in the land. We need to love one another, because love begets love, and love brings peace. Lets preach peace wherever there is misunderstanding. The nation and the people can only prosper in an atmosphere of peace and harmony. Same should apply to various communities/villages that are at war with each other.

I will also advocate togetherness among Nigerians. There are more to gain by being one big country. Nigeria is in no way near the population or the complexity of China and India , yet these countries have not broken up. United States of America is also a multi cultural country but still remains one country. I also know the case of former Yugoslavia and the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Ironically, most former countries of Eastern Europe/USSR ( Poland , Czechs, Hungary , Romania , etc) and Yugoslavia have joined the European Union. The European Union is a typical example of what togetherness can bring. European Union is made up of twenty seven (27) countries, with headquarters in Brussels . Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is also an example of togetherness in the making. Late Kwame Nkrumah (former President of Ghana) propagated one Africa, whereas late Nnamdi Azikiwe (first Nigerian President) preached one Nigeria .

There are free movement of goods, services and personnel within the European Union. There is a common monetary union and the use of common currency (the euro). Many more countries like Turkey , Ukraine , Georgia , etc have applied to join the European Union, but politics and other strategic considerations are hindering the admissions of these aspiring nations. The European Union remains the main trading partner of all African countries including Nigeria . While advocating togetherness, I will not fail to point out that our togetherness should not be at the detriment of one group/tribe/region or the other. I will want to see justice, fair play, and equity in our togetherness. I had earlier called for the abolition of quota system and federal character. We cannot make a head way as a nation with those systems in place.

I want to see more synergy among Nigerians in business, researches, community services, etc. I believe two heads are better than one, and three should be better than two. I want to see more Nigerians cooperating to build massive business conglomerates so as to create employment opportunities for our brothers and sisters who are unemployed. It will be a good idea to have business mergers that will survive, than having a sole proprietor that will close business. Let us work together to offer community services to our people. There are a lot we can do for our people without the government. Synergy should also apply to our political parties. Let like minded and “true” political groups merge together to form a formidable opposition party. As it is, the opposition parties have not truly taken its position in Nigeria .

I will also propose the United Kingdom form of shadow cabinet for all third tier system of government in Nigeria , that is the local, state, and federal government. I will suggest that all opposition parties should form shadow cabinets in all the 774 local governments, 36 states and also at federal level. The idea will be to provide constructive criticism and provide alternative and better policy framework. Opposition parties/groups are an essential part of every democracy. Lets challenge and change those things that are hindering our development and progress as a people. Let us stop complaining and put efforts together to change our society. Every little effort counts. Let us also remember that its better for us to try and fail than fail to try.

Finally, I wish to appeal to Nigerians to participate and join the fight against global warming. Turn off your electrical appliances/lights when not in use. Plant a tree or sponsor one to plant on your behalf. Government and companies should send less paper work and do more email, telephone, and sms. Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year (2010) to all Nigerians. May God bless Nigeria .

By Chinedu Vincent Akuta.
(Activist and Leader of “Support Option A4 Group” Leicester-UK)

Sunday, 20 December 2009

News Release: Gathering Storms: Comments On The State Of The Country By Change Nigeria (CN).

For almost a month now since the start of the animated debate around the health of Umar Yar’Adua, Nigeria’s President and its constitutional fall-outs, CHANGE NIGERIA (CN) had consciously refrained from the fray, either on the side of those calling for an immediate recourse to constitutional provisions in which the Vice-President assumes the role of the President or on the side of those in government who insist that there is no reason as yet to even contemplate the invocation of the now famous Section.144, how much more seek a resignation. Some insist we must embark on prayer and fasting to prevail on God to heal the man that is our President. Should such supplication fail to pull off the miracle of healing, the Deputy Senate President arrogantly assures us that President Yar’Adua can remain in his medical retreat for a year or more and that the heavens will not fall. It does not matter if the Affairs of State fall into consequential, compassionate coma.

CN’s perspective to the unfolding constitutional circus is to situate the contrived jigsaw within the larger context of the unitarism we have, (undisguised even by the pretentious name ‘federal’) as dictated by the present constitutional arrangements. The dynamics of the current drama have their roots in this false federalism.

There is no doubt that Sections 143-146 of the ‘1999 Constitution’ amply provide for what should be done. The question is: why would the Federal Executive Council and the Senate leadership bluntly refuse to obey the ‘Constitution’ they swore to defend?. This question thrusts at us yet an older question of whether Nigeria does indeed have a Constitution that regulates its affairs and which commands the respect and loyalty of all:- the government and the governed.

CN’s position is that the ‘1999 Constitution’ is no constitution, does not and cannot command such respect and loyalty for the simple reason that it is an imposition by military fiat for which it is being vehemently rejected by large segments of the Nigerian society who do not feel bound by the document. Examples include the armed insurgence of the Niger-Delta (MEND), the Biafran-flag-wielding MASSOB, the OPC, the 12 sharia States of the North, a Lagos State that created and runs 57 local council administrations, the suits in court by eminent citizens seeking to terminate the operation of the ‘1999 Constitution’ on account of its fraudulent origin etc.

All these are overt acts of rejection of the imposed ‘1999 Constitution’ , though the document still enjoys a limited measure of recognition obviously for the sake of order and the avoidance of anarchy. Our concern is that even this waning, limited recognition is now being viciously repudiated by the government and its henchmen by their act of refusing to uphold the document from which they purport to draw authority. This shows that at heart, those in government do not feel bound by the document either.

This creates a very dangerous situation because it could rapidly precipitate a widespread, indiscriminate, unilateral rejection of the further operation of the ‘1999 Constitution’ by those who are just grudgingly tolerating it. The situation can easily degenerate into a violent disintegration of Nigeria.

Already we read in the press of a threat by some militants of the Niger-Delta to pull out their region from the Nigerian Union should their kinsman Goodluck Jonathan, the Vice-President be forced to resign as was being speculated.

Just last month, a rumoured manipulation to procure the governorship of Anambra State through a Court of Appeal judgment that would upturn a Supreme Court ruling had attracted a stern warning of a possible civil war from an angry Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. Only recently, the Danjumas of this world also sounded or is it sang warnings about civil war.

From the international circuit, a worried United States through its Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has emphatically declared that Nigeria has abandoned the federal foundations upon which it was built and that there was no political will to address this (despite widespread demand by its federating nationalities}, reason for Nigeria’s continuing downhill plunge on all positive developmental indices. The earlier US Intelligence Report predicting the disintegration of Nigeria flow directly from these issues.

Driven by same concerns, the recent Chinua Achebe/Brown University colloquium on Nigeria attended by three former US Ambassadors to Nigeria, State Department officials, the Foreign Relations Council and eminent Nigerians including Prof. Wole Soyinka and Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu called for an urgent national dialogue ( popularly canvassed as Sovereign National Conference in Nigeria).

CN fears that in all these, Nigeria is consciously drifting towards anarchy and possibly a violent disintegration as predicted, having already entered the deep waters of a failed state by the latest global country stability rankings.

We reiterate our call for an urgent recourse to a Sovereign National Conference to re-establish the constitutional foundations of our union which currently lie in ruins. This was how South-Africa overcame its apartheid nightmare. It was not by the amendment of the rejected, inapplicable apartheid constitution. Any ‘amendment’ by the National Assembly will go down with the substantive document.

Without prejudice to the imperative of abiding by the so-called 1999 Constitution in this matter, CN is of the view that it will be more profitable to invest the rest of the current administration’s tenure in the enterprise of working out a fresh, negotiated constitution instead of bickering over who will resign, who will take over or which zone’s turn it is to preside over the tottering edifice called Nigeria.

We call the attention of all to the CHANGE NIERIA Declaration of 8th September,2009 which we elaborately diagnosed the sickness of Nigeria to be, in the main, the abandonment of the federal foundations upon which it was originally built. The Declaration also outlined how we can return to a consent-based federation .(see Change Nigeria website full text). The alternative is too grim to tell.

The move to return to a consent-based federation is on. To have a country, Nigeria to exist at all or to continue to exist, change we must.

Tony Nnamdi
Protem Secretary General

Saturday, 19 December 2009

News Release From MEND: Warning Strike

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) can confirm that a warning strike carried out by five boats involving thirty five of its fighters armed with assault rifles, rocket launchers and heavy caliber machine guns was carried out at about 0200Hrs today, December 19, 2009 on a major Shell/Chevron crude pipeline in Abonemma, Rivers state of Nigeria.

This attack was carried out for the following reasons:

While the Nigerian government has conveniently tied the advancement of talks on the demands of this group to a sick president, it has not tied the repair of pipelines, exploitation of oil and gas as well as the deployment and re-tooling of troops in the region to the presidents ill health.

While wishing the president a speedy recovery, a situation where the future of the Niger Delta is tied to the health and well being of one man is unacceptable.

The government through the Bayelsa state governor, ministers for defense and information has been disseminating propaganda aimed at foreign investors claiming that the situation in the Niger Delta is under control. This assertion is far from the truth.

Also the government has been offering bribes to a number of militants who surrendered their birth rights under its amnesty program in the form of contracts. The government perceives this individuals to wield some kind of influence in the region. The group wants to make it abundantly clear that all those who have capitulated are of no significance to the continuation of the struggle.

MEND is committed to continue its fight for the restoration of the land and rights of the people of the Niger Delta which has been stolen for fifty years.

MEND remains open to dialogue, however the indefinite ceasefire ordered by the group on Sunday, October 25, 2009 will be reviewed within thirty days from today, December 19, 2009.

Jomo Gbomo

Friday, 18 December 2009

Videospeak: Copenhagen Climate Conference Collapses

The World climate conference taking place in Copenhagen, Denmark reportedly collapsed yesterday, thursday, 17th December, 2009.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

News Release: Afenifere Mourns Otegbeye, As Fasoranti Leads Delegation To Burial

                                               [Late Tunji Otegbeye]

Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, will tomorrow, Friday 18 December, lead a delegation of Afenifere members to funeral rites holding at Empire Day Field, Ilaro, Ogun State for foremost Yoruba leader, Dr. Tunji Otegbeye.

Commiserating with the family of the elder statesman, Chief Fasoranti described his death as a great loss to the Yoruba race.

Pointing out that Otegbeye would be remembered for the nationalist struggle as championed by the Nigerian Youth Congress that he co-founded in 1960, Pa Fasoranti lamented that, “Otegbeye spent his life in the struggle, and died without his country reaching the Promised Land.”

Pa Fasoranti described the late octogenarian as a worthy compatriot, a great loyalist and an indefatigable subscriber to the progressive ideals of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

“Otegbeye contributed immensely to the progress and development of the Yoruba race in general and Ogun State in particular,” Fasoranti said. “He will be particularly missed for his wise counsel, his gentle disposition, his politics without bitterness and his politics of inclusion.”

According to the Afenifere leader, Otegbeye proved not just a visionary leader of the Yoruba race, but even when he was at the receiving end of political misfortune, he proved so disciplined that he would bow to party discipline and majority will, Fasoranti said.

Pa Fasoranti enjoined politicians to learn from the late Otegbeye, who, he said, never subscribed to do-or-die politics. He also enjoined the people of Ogun State to keep alive the ideals of the late elder statesman who died in October.

Senator Femi Okunrounmu
General Secretary, Afenifere

Nigerian Lawyer's Response To Attorney-general's Opinion On Sick President

                                 [Michael Aondokaa]

I have read and clearly digested the views of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Michael Aondoakaa (SAN) exhibited in several newspapers today in his reactions to my position as contained in my letter to the Federal Executive Council via the Secretary to the Government of Federation on the legal status of the decisions, approvals and contracts awarded by of the Federal Executive Council in the absence of President Umaru Yar’Adua as well as the proper interpretation of the enabling provisions of the 1999 Constitution.

I must first express and register my sympathy with the Honourable Attorney General on the fact that the situation he is facing presently is a sui generis in the history of our nation. I understand his view and what he stands to protect. Nevertheless, history would be reluctant to exonerate me if I fail to defend the grund norm of this country which as a citizen and a legal practitioner has all sacred responsibility to preserve and forbid some uninformed set of individuals and leaders to be torpedoed in its entirety.

Initially, I was very reluctant in joining issues with the proponent of the doctrine which upholds a strange and unhallowed tenets of a political culture that the President of our country can be operating the instrumentality and apparatus of governance from anywhere in the world. Sooner had I snubbed this weird doctrine than I woke up to the reality that my failure to address this issue may leave a horrific standard in political history of the nation I so much love and revered especially considering the fact that the doctrine is emanating from the office of the Chief Law Officer of the Federation.

A glance at the tenet of the proposition that the President of our country can be operating the instrumentality and apparatus of governance from anywhere in the world may sound reasonable but a closer look at the indepth of the assertion and the havoc it would cause to the spirit of our constitution make it illogical and awkward.

I therefore ask the question; Is the proposition saying that just any rogue can rush to Nigeria and in the usual way manipulate our election and rise to the position of president and afterwards want to do what Aondoakaa was saying, so fly away from the country and be ruling from anywhere in the word? Without any hesitation I say a capital NO to this question. In fact it is rhetoric. The answer is clearly manifested than the question itself. I must say that this is against the spirit and tenet of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

I need not to peruse through the Constitution before I understand that there is nowhere in the constitution that expressly states that the president should be ruling from his country, but it is constituent with reasoning that the fundamentals of the president’s functions disallow him from ruling from the diaspora. What then is the purport of Section 145 of the Constitution;

Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representative a written declaration the he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.

I find it difficult to align with the argument of the AGF that Yar’Adua can work from anywhere in the word. The Constitution, in its sacred spirit, envisaged a situation where the president may intend to go outside the country for long time, then the grund norm in Section 145 is finding it knotty to tolerate the absence of President and thereafter prescribe the alternative for the president, and this alternative is contained in Section 145 of the constitution. Then, what else does our AGF want the Constitution to say.

Even when Section 148(2) was specific on the fact that the President should be holding regular meetings with the Vice –president and all the ministers of the government. Does the constitution want the president to be in Saudi Arabia and his ministers scattered all over the nations and are holding the necessary meeting expected of them from abroad? Are they shifting Nigerian Cabinet to Saudi Arabia? Is Aondoakaa saying that we should not compromise our sovereignty and allow our Aso rock to be shifted to Saudi Arabia? No

The jurisprudence of construction of constitution forbids interpretation from a narrow perspective but advance understanding of constitution from the entire intent of the maker. The makers of our constitution cannot mean that we should have president in Diaspora who should be ruling from abroad. No.

I therefore reinstate once more that the decisions and approvals done by the Federal Executive Council in the absence of the President are illegal, null and void as they run contrary to Section 148 of our Constitution.

By Kayode Ajulo, Esq.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Photonews: Crash Of Obama's Brothers

                                                   [Tiger Woods]

Recently crashed out from top slot of world golf championship, following strings of extra-marital flings.

                                                  [William Jefferson]

Former Congressman jailed for thirteen years for receiving bribe money.

                                         [Michael Jackson]

Died while rehearsing for a gigantic multi nations concert to avert a looming bankcrupcy.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Article: Where Is Nigerian President?

                                              [President Yar'Adua]
Nigerians have been driven to the smoky sludge of the beach of the unknown as some sycophatic cabal in the corridor of power are playing on our intelligence especially in the course to find out the whereabout of  the Nigeria president, Umaru Yar'Adua.
One finds it quite knotty to understand that the real truth behind the whereabout of President Umaru Yar'Adua has yet not been disclosed to the innocent Nigerians.
It is consistent with human intellect to reason that it is either our president has been abducted or he has finally abdicated his office.
This singular issue has revealed that the inner sanctum of power in the Nigerian scene is fraught with rot and political decadence, the reason is not far to seek as the entirety of the Nigerian and non-Nigerian citizenry have been wallowing in the thick darkness of ignorance as it affects the President's state of health and the official stance of the presidency.
It therefore suffices to say that no degree of a cloaked defence can avail the Presidency unless and until the truth is told to the people of Nigeria who have saddled the president with the mandate to stir the course of this nation.
President Yar'Adua and his handlers cannot follow the path of least resistance by perpetuating his stay in an unknown hibernaculum. It will therefore be unsafe to say that President Yar'Adua has been abducted in a foreign land or that he has abdicated office and is seeking the wholeness of his mortal body as against that of the national body.
I make bold to say that in these day of electronic communications and Nigeria is not so much out of civilization that an electronic conference address cannot be staged by the Federal Executive Council to enable Mr. President to responsibly respect and assuage the feelings of his people. 
Recently, when the organisers of the FIFA World Cup couldn't get our well-respected Nelson Mandela physically to the draws ceremony, a video conference was done where a sick and over 90 years old Mandela was seen by the whole world and interacted with his people, ditto for Signore Fidel Castro of Cuba who is currently indirectly ruling his country through television and video footages.
Even it will not be too much of an effort beckon on Former President, general Obasanjo to restage the "Umaru are you dead?" episode.
Wither Nigerians, where are our mightiest, where are our intellectuals, our oracles of knowledge and voltrons of our democracy, the non communication of the President is depriving the democratic society of Nigeria a most fundamental right to information and given credence to the unconsciously established belief in the return or unfortunate nonexistence of the President Umaru Yar'Adua again.

By Kayode Ajulo Esq.

Photospeak: Nigeria's(Acting President) First Lady

Mrs Turai Yar'Adua, first wife of Nigeria's President currently hospitalized in Saudi Arabia is reportedly the only link between the bed ridden Nigerian leader and the rest of the Federal Executive Council membership, including the Vice-president. The President as reported first by chidi opara reports travelled without handing over to the Vice-president.

Mrs Yar'Adua is reportedly nursing  Presidential ambition. She may, according to information at our disposal, succeed her husband in 2011, if the latter's health did not permit him to contest for a second term.

Monday, 14 December 2009

News Release: Alarm On Voters' Registration: INEC Assure DPA

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has assured the Democratic Peoples’ Alliance (DPA) that the ongoing voters registration exercise would not be compromised.

The Commission gave the assurance at a meeting it held with leaders of Lagos DPA at their party secretariat in Jibowu area of Yaba Lagos.

Speaking on behalf of the Commission, Public Relations Officer for INEC Lagos State, Mr. Biodun Amosu, regretted reports that some its staff had been involved in underhanded conducts in the registration exercise.

Lagos DPA’s Director of Publicity, Felix Oboagwina, recalled that party members recently complained that INEC field officers were demanding bribes before registering voters, colluding with politicians to register ghost voters and declaring submitted voting slips lost in suspicious circumstances.

The party specifically accused some INEC staffers of colluding with politicians in the Action Congress (AC) to perpetrate card hoarding and proxy registration.

However, Mr. Amosu, who made the fence-mending visit to the Lagos DPA Chairman, Chief Supo Shonibare, and other party executives, promised that INEC would play the unbiased and neutral umpire in the polls. He said the commission would look into the allegations and anyone found culpable would be sanctioned.

According to him, INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Ogbe, had often warned officers against abusing their offices and to desist from being nefariously used by politicians.

Although Amosu wished DPA had brought the matter to the Commission before raising an alarm in the Press, he commended the party for its matured approach to handling issues. He also promised that the Commission would do its best to discharge its functions in the state without denting its image, while he expressed its commitment to building a cordial relationship with politicians and political parties in the state.

Highly appreciative of the visit and the assurances, DPA chieftains threw more light on the allegations, especially in one particular local government in metropolitan Lagos.

They assured the INEC spokesman that the party raised the alarm not because it wanted to embarrass the agency but to ensure that the Commission’s chieftains were brought abreast with facts on the ground to enable them redress and correct the objectionable situation.

DPA chieftains further assured the Commission that they and INEC were partners in progress and were committed to the entrenchment, sustenance and survival of democracy in the country.

Urging the Commission to urgently nip the misdeeds in the bud, the party noted that a similar scenario had played out in previous exercises and had produced flawed elections.

The party further urged the Commission to bring to book staffers whose misconduct threatened the sanctity of the registration exercise.

Lagos DPA had said in its report that: “Any politician knows that electoral rigging begins with the registration of voters. Once politicians have that pinned down, then all other rigging plans simply fall into place and the election is as good as cooked. A cooked voters’ register will encourage the hiring of ECOMOG voters, double voting and fake results. When heartless politicians heap the register with fake voters for which they have cards in waiting, then they can recruit mercenaries on a cash-and-carry basis on Election Day. They can also inflate votes in low-density polling zones.”

Felix Oboagwina
Director of Publicity (Lagos DPA)

News Release:Communique Of The Chinua Achebe colloquium

                                          [Chinua Achebe]

(Being a Communiqué issued at the end of the Chinua Achebe Colloquium in Providence, U.S.A. on December 11, 2009.)

The Achebe Colloquium on Africa at Brown University, recognizing the crisis at the moment in Nigerian history, invited scholars and government officials from Nigeria, Europe and the United States to examine the problems and prospects of the upcoming Nigerian elections and to suggest solutions. The Colloquium was well attended by delegates from around the world. Highlights of the Colloquium included the insistence by the Convener, internationally acclaimed literary icon, Professor Chinua Achebe, “that peaceful elections are not impossible in Nigeria”.

The Colloquium notes the fact that elections in Nigeria have become progressively worse in quality over the years, and that this fact has gravely affected the country’s international strategic significance. Among the resolutions advanced at the Colloquium are the following:

1. National Dialogue.
The Colloquium acknowledges the fact that it has taken over three decades to bring Nigeria to the current decadent state. The country is at a critical moment that requires urgent intervention through a National Dialogue to consider issues of constitutional review and electoral reforms. The present crisis is an opportunity for Nigerians to discuss and adopt a new approach to deal with recurrent socio-political problems. Nigeria’s experience in the last ten years shows that the country’s democratic institutions have dangerously retrogressed. Nigerians as well as members of the international community, including other African nations, are deeply concerned about Nigeria’s fading international significance, Nigeria’s crisis of identity, and her future as a corporate entity.

2. The Colloquium calls for free, fair and credible elections as a way of arresting and then reversing the downward spiral witnessed during the 2003 and 2007 election cycles. The Colloquium notes that the role played by the Nigerian judiciary during this period has been positive but uneven. The forthcoming Anambra elections will be a litmus test of the political will of the Federal Government and her agencies to conduct free, fair and credible elections in 2011 and beyond.

3. The Colloquium calls on the National Assembly to ensure that the Executive arm of government adopts, as a matter of urgency, the report of the Justice Uwais-led Electoral Reforms Commission (ERC). The set of reforms should be enacted into law in time for the 2011 general elections. The Colloquium notes that the autonomy of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as recommended by the ERC is paramount for free, fair and credible elections in Nigeria.

4. The Colloquium recognizes the important role of a credible and accountable political opposition to the survival of democracy in Nigeria, and calls for the emergence of a vigorous opposition in an atmosphere devoid of political violence and intimidation. The Colloquium is concerned by the policy vacuum in the political parties and urges politicians and leaders of thought to begin the process of re-orienting party politics along policy lines.

5. The Colloquium calls on civil society to engage in robust issue-based voter education, longer monitoring of elections, promotion of democratic institutions and protection of the public mandate expressed by the ballot. The Colloquium recommends credible public opinion polling, conducted well in advance of elections, as one way of monitoring candidates’ performance as well as safeguarding the sacred mandate of the electorate. We urge local and international observers to begin monitoring elections in Nigeria right from the crucial party primaries rather than concentrate on Election Day activities. Our collective experience in Nigeria shows that election malpractices begin from voter registration, through the party primaries, climaxing on Election Day in the theft of ballot papers and other criminal activities.

6. The Colloquium notes that widespread disregard for accountability and transparency fertilizes corruption and fosters a culture of violence in electoral contests. The Colloquium recommends that the overall financial package for Nigerian office holders should reflect the services they provide as well as the leanness of the country’s resources. In keeping with the practice in many countries, Nigeria should consider tying legislators’ compensation to the days they sit.

7. The Colloquium recommends an immediate revision of Nigeria’s immunity laws, with the specific end of ensuring that elected officials who criminally abuse their office are not protected from investigation and prosecution. In addition, the Colloquium suggests that Nigeria should abandon the practice of entrusting governors and the president with huge monthly allocations of public funds under the heading of security votes. In line with the practice in many other countries, such budgets for matters bearing on security should be handled by a body made up of various security agencies, and this body should be required to give periodic accounts to an appropriate legislative committee at the state and federal levels.

8. The Colloquium encourages Nigerians in the Diaspora to increase their agitation for credible elections and responsive governance at home through the use of innovative electronic media that have played such an important role around the world in deepening democracy. Widespread poverty and uncertainty in Nigeria continue to promote a culture of corruption and impunity.

9. The Colloquium notes the Obama administration’s proactive engagement with Africa based on the doctrine of reciprocity and shared responsibilities. It reviewed the growing danger of Nigeria’s diplomatic and strategic irrelevance, and observed that this decline can be reversed through credible elections. The Colloquium urges the United States of America, in line with its strategic partnership with Nigeria, to further support the cause of democracy in Nigeria by rebuffing any future Nigerian government that emerges through a questionable electoral process.

10. The Colloquium calls on Nigerians at home and abroad to join hands during this time of crisis and uncertainty and take the necessary steps to build a country of which they can be proud.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Loyalists Of Immediate Past Nigerian President Met Over President's Ill Health

                                                 [Olusegun Obasanjo]

chidi opara reports can now reveal that a meeting was held at a guest house in the Asokoro area of Abuja on friday 11th December, 2009 by a group of politicians of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), loyal to the immediate past Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, "to discuss options in the event of Yar'Adua not being able to continue after his medical trip".

The door of the luxurious guest house said to belong to a young businessman of Yoruba extraction, known to have business links with Obasanjo, was reportedly flung open at about 9.30pm.

Invitees, according to a contact close to one of the invitees, started arriving immediately and by 10.00pm the venue was reportedly filled. The meeting was said to have commenced by about 10.15pm with opening prayers said by a former governor of one of the south-south states. The meeting was reportedly chaired by  a veteran politician from the north-west.

A contact in Abeokuta had earlier told us that the meeting between Obasanjo and PDP governors from south-west at his home in Abeokuta on December 9th 2009 had resolved that there should be an enlarged one immediately, "to dialogue on way forward in the light of the situation in the Presidency". The contact further informed chidi opara reports that Abuja would be the venue "because of its centrality".

The Abuja meeting we learnt ended at about 12.05am "after intensive debates". No decision, according to our information was reached. Another meeting was reportedly scheduled at a date and venue yet to be revealed to our contact.

Independent checks by chidi opara reports however, indicated that the Yar'Adua camp is privy to the meeting and its import and may soon begin series of moves to present their principal as fully recovered and capable of assuming duties in a short frame of time.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Videospeak: Obama Accepts 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

President of the United States of America, Barack Obama receives the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize at Oslo city hall in Norway

Friday, 11 December 2009

Photonews: Nigeria's Latest Furgitives From The Law

Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of Economic And Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC). An International warrant of arrest has been issued on him by the Nigerian Police. Mr. Ribadu is wanted by the Code of Conduct Tribunal in Nigeria.

Nasiru El-Rufai, former Minister of Federal Capital Territory(FCT) , wanted for questioning by the EFCC. An International arrest warrant was also issued on him recently by the Nigerian Police.

News Release: The Recent Federal Executive Council Meetings Without President Yar’Adua Or Duly Appointed Acting-President Are Illegal, Null And Void

                              [Seal Of Nigerian President]

In the past 16 days the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria has been on admission at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where, according to his personal physician, he is being treated for acute pericarditis, an inflation of the outer membrane of the heart.

This singular fact has established the verity that the President is not in Nigeria to perform his functions and has not been in attendance of the (3) three consecutive meetings of Federal Executive Council, where far reaching decisions and approvals were made.

The purpose of this observation is to point out that these recent approvals and decisions of the FEC without the presence of either the President or a duly appointed Acting President definitely ultra vires the provisions of our law and in particular the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and are therefore null and void.

Among the recent decisions and approvals made during these unconstitutionally constituted Federal Executive Council meetings are;
1. Approval of an International Development Association policy credit of $500m for the financial sector and public finance management, a credit facility extended to Nigeria under the World Bank Budget Support facility for bridging the shortfall in the 2009 budget.
2. The award of a contract for the supply of one unit of 1G7 generator assembly and spares for Kainji Hydroelectric Power PLC at a cost of €4.352m and N56.1m in favour of Messrs Alstom Hydro of France.
3. The award of contract for the integrity assessment and rehabilitation of the Oben-Sapele Gas pipeline; and the upgrade/expansion of existing gas metering facilities at the Sapele Power Station in favour of Messrs Kaztec Engineering Limited at a cost of $26.4m, plus N1.1bn.
4. The award of a contract for the procurement of three units of rail road inspection vehicles with spare parts in favour of Messrs Gramet Nig. Limited in the sum of N247.2m.
5. A contract for the appointment of a prime consultant for the dredging of lower River Niger from Warri, Delta State to Baro, Niger State approved in favour of Messrs Royal Haskoning Engineering Consultant Nigeria Limited in the sum of N402.3m.
6. A contract for the rehabilitation of the Onitsha River Port Complex approved in favour of Inter Bau Construction Limited in the sum of N4.1bn.

There is no gainsaying to state the fact that the President is the head of executive service of the Federation as the provision of Section 5 of 1999 Constitution vests in the President “the executive power of the Federation” akin to what Article II Section I (1) of the United States Constitution vests in the President of the United States.

In discharging this enormous function, according to the provision of Section 148 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, the President has discretion to exercise his constitutional powers either directly or through the Vice-President and the Ministers appointed by the President or the officers in Nigerian public service.

In furtherance of the discharge of the Presidential duties and functions, the Executive Council, known as Federal Executive Council as described in Section 144 (5) is established by the President and charged with such responsibilities for the functions of government.

To underscore the importance of the physical presence of the President in the Federal Executive Council, Section 148 (2) of our Constitution makes it MANDATORY for the President to be at the Federal Executive Meetings as Section 148 (2) states thus:

“The President shall hold regular meetings with the Vice-President and all the Ministers of the Government of the Federation for the purposes of -
a) determining the general direction of domestic and native policies of the Government of the Federation;
(b) co-ordinating the activities of the President, the Vice-President and the Ministers of the Government of the Federation in the discharge of their executive responsibilities; and
(c) advising the President generally in discharge of his executive functions other than those functions with respect to which he is required by this Constitution to seek the advice or act on the recommendation of any other person or body".

From the above provision it is apparently understandable that the Constitution forbids any meeting of the Federal Executive Council without the attendance of the President SAVE for the meeting to deliberate on the incapability of the President to discharge his function as provided by the provision of Section 144 of the Constitution.

The Section 144 of the Constitution states thus;
“144. (1) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office, if -
(a) by a resolution passed by two-thirds majority of all the members of the executive council of the Federation it is declared that the President or Vice-President is incapable of discharging the functions of his office; and
(b) the declaration is verified, after such medical examination as may be necessary, by a medical panel established under subsection (4) of this section in its report to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(2) Where the medical panel certifies in the report that in its opinion the President or Vice-President is suffering from such infirmity of body or mind as renders him permanently incapable of discharging the functions of his office, a notice thereof signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall be published in the Official Gazette of the Government of the Federation.

(3) The President or Vice-President shall cease to hold office as from the date of publication of the notice of the medical report pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.

(4) the medical panel to which this section relates shall be appointed by the President of the Senate, and shall comprise five medical practitioners in Nigeria:-
(a) one of whom shall be the personal physician of the holder of the office concerned; and
(b) four other medical practitioners who have, in the opinion of the President of the Senate, attained a high degree of eminence in the field of medicine relative to the nature of the examination to be conducted in accordance with the foregoing provisions.

(5) In this section, the reference to "executive council of the Federation" is a reference to the body of Ministers of the Government of the Federation, howsoever called, established by the President and charged with such responsibilities for the functions of government as the President may direct.”

It is also glaring that our Constitution forbids the meeting of the Federal Executive Council without the attendance of the President under any circumstances as the same Constitution in Section 145 envisages a situation where the President may temporarily be unable to perform his function by providing for a position of an Acting President, who will in effect be able to undertake all the functions of the President as provided by the Constitution.

The Section 145 provides that:
“Whenever the President transmits to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives a written declaration that he is proceeding on vacation or that he is otherwise unable to discharge the functions of his office, until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary such functions shall be discharged by the Vice-President as Acting President.”

Although the Vice-President is a creation of the Constitution, he cannot become Acting-President except upon the activation of the above Constitutional provision and to this extent, cannot presides over the meeting of the Federal Executive Council as many uninformed very senior officials of this current administrations ignorantly want the incumbent Vice President to do.

Whereas, the Vice-President has no constitutional duty assigned to him under our Constitution save the duties as delegated to his office by the President; this lacuna in our Constitution makes the Vice-President and the Ministers appointed by the President over-valued errand boys of the office of the President.

The Vice-President however can only act as President upon the activation of instrumentality and the process of Section 145 of the Constitution, which to the effect that the Vice-President can only act as acting-President when the President declares in writing, duly transmitted to the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives that he is proceeding on vacation or otherwise is unable to discharge the functions of his office.

It is a notorious fact that in going to attend to his ailing health, and as confirmed by the President’s Legislative aide, the President did not transfer his power as provided by the provisions of the Constitution and as such the President did not comply with the Constitutional provisions of enabling the Vice-President to act in his stead as well as chair the Federal Executive Council.

Consequently, the (3) three consecutive meetings of the Federal Executive Council and all the resolutions, decisions and approval made or passed thereof are in contravention of our constitution and it’s therefore illegal and void SAVE for any resolution in accordance with section 144 of the Constitution.

A caveat in the gathering of uninformed is better heed than been boorishly scorned. Our Laws have spoken the ways the govern should conduct themselves to enable governable atmosphere for the governed.

Let all Nigerians, the beneficiaries, recipients of these void approvals and awards, international communities as well as all those that dined on this table of illegalities BEWARE please.

Thank you.

Kayode Ajulo,
Egalitarian Mission (Africa.)