Thursday, 27 October 2011

News Report: Nigerian Senate May Order Arrest of Customs Boss, Minister

Dikko: Nigerian Customs Boss
The Comptroller-general of Nigeria Customs Service(NCS), Alhaji Ahmed Dikko and the Minster of Power, Professor Bath Nnaji have been ordered by Nigeria's upper Parliament, the Senate to within seven days recover a $3 billion worth of equipment belonging to the National Independent Power Project(NIPP), which the Customs sold to a private firm or risk being arrested.
The upper legislative house yesterday threatened to issue warrants of arrest if the order is not complied with, within the stipulated period. The upper parliament also frowned at the suspension of some persons said to have been involved in the secret auction of the said equipment and the setting up of a committee to look into the matter by the Vice-president, Mr. Namadi Sambo. Senate described these actions as inadequate.
The Nigeria Customs Service however claimed that it did not know that the equipment belonged to the Power Holding of Nigeria Company(PHCN) at the time of the auction. Customs told Senate yesterday that the consignment landed at Apapa port consigned to a private firm. NCS said that import/export laws empower it to auction unclaimed consignments after ninety days from the date of landing.
The Customs defence notwithstanding, the Senate reiterated its order that the equipment must be recovered within seven days or the Customs Comptroller-general and Minister of Power would be arrested and prosecuted.

Article: Matters Arising in Lagos State Council Polls

By Nelson Ekujumi
Ever since the conduct of the Local Government council elections in Lagos state on 22nd October 2011, by the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission (LASIEC), the announcement of results by the Chairman has been greeted by acrimony and cries of fraud in some council areas by some of the parties who contested the elections.
While not holding brief for any of the gladiators, it is important for us to do an x-ray of the election in order to put issues in proper perspective as a means of avoiding noted pitfalls in future.
A clear outcome of the election was the low turnout of voters all over the state unlike what obtained in the last general elections conducted by INEC in April 2011. So many reasons can be adduced for this voter’s apathy but as an independent observer who monitored the elections, my observations are purely apolitical.
One realized that unlike the April general elections, the sensitization on this crucial election involving government at the grassroots was very low. The only means of sensitization through which people became aware of the election was the campaign train of some of the political parties some few days to the election, thus leaving the voters with little or not enough time to assess the candidates. This poor communication with the electorates is a serious blunder since democracy is all about the people and should be corrected against future occurrence.
Secondly, a lot of the parties are yet to come to terms with the fact that we are in a democracy and that the only way to protect and engender its growth is through nurturing the people’s interest by being sensitive to their feelings with regards to election of party candidates. Most of the candidates fielded for the election were products of imposition as there were no primaries to choose among the contestants by members even within the parties, thus negating the real essence of participatory democracy. This made a lot of people to lose interest in the whole process and thus refused to come out to vote on Election Day which is inimical to our democracy. This lack of internal democracy is a recurring decimal in our political process and portends grave danger unless the electoral umpire wakes up to her primary responsibility because this is the foundation block of any democracy.
Another reason which can be adduced for the voters apathy is the fact that our people are yet to come to terms with the fact that elections represents a golden opportunity for them to choose those to represent them politically. A lot of us fail to realize that politics is the allocation of scarce resources and therefore it is important to make sure that only responsible and credible persons of integrity get into elective office lest they fritter on frivolities our commonwealth and we remain underdeveloped.
Another notable pitfall of the local council elections was the presence of very few observers who could have given credibility to the process due to their impartiality. This is where, it is important to call on our international partners and organizations to note that election is election, whether at the local, state or national level since it all involves the participation of people.
A major drawback of the election which has generated this entire hullabaloo was the announcement of election results by the chairman in his office rather than on the field. This is unacceptable and is a relapse into the dark days of Maurice Iwu Chairmanship of INEC when election results were allocated based on the whims and caprices of a few individuals instead of the peoples votes. Election results worldwide are publicly announced at the polling units first before transfer to the collation centers for transparency and credibility sake. Whatever must have given room for this serious lapse should be looked into and corrected to avoid misgivings about the process in future if we are really serious of developing our democracy.
Lastly but not the least is the almost breakdown of law and order in the state by some aggrieved parties who feel cheated by the outcome of the election, this attitude of attempting to take law into one’s hands should be condemned by all lovers of conscience since violence does nobody any good because every life is important. As responsible citizens, it behooves on us to admonish any aggrieved party that it is illegal and unconstitutional to resort to self help in a democracy which is built on rule of law but that they should rather gather their facts and approach the courts if they feel that their rights have been infringed upon. We want them to note that we would not fold our arms and watch anybody no matter how highly placed try to ridicule us in the comity of civilized people by resort to might instead of the rule of law just like the NJC, Katsina Alu and President Jonathan did in the case against justice Ayo Salami only recently. The aggrieved parties should borrow a leaf from Governors Kayode Fayemi and Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who fought constitutionally and doggedly for close to four years before retrieving their stolen mandates in Ekiti and Osun states.
(Ekujumi is Chairman, Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM) and Acting Executive Director, Centre for Rights and Policy Development, (CRPD))

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Article: Are Nigerian Leaders Superhuman Or gods?

Some Nigerian Leaders
 By Rufus Kayode Oteniya (
“All gods are homemade, and it is we who pull their strings, and so, give them the power to pull ours.” - Aldous Huxley
They are superhuman. That’s what we’ve made them to believe. Some even live with the illusion that they are gods. They didn’t make themselves so but we did. On ascension to office, we worship them; make them untouchable, unreachable and unquestionable; and expect them to lord over us while they live above the law, at least, for as long as they last in their offices and worst of all, we celebrate them in their mediocrity.
Others are human being, they are not. They are superhuman if not gods. We have made them forget that they are mere mortals who would give accounts for their deeds.
They cannot tread, where we walk; they cannot shop in the same market with us; dine in the same eatery with us and live in the same neighbourhood with us. We are worlds apart.
We allow them absolute power forgetting that it corrupts absolutely. They plunder our commonwealth without any restraints; yet, we celebrate them and beg for crumbs of what is ours.
Whenever they intrude our world, they leave behind bitter memories and pains. Whenever they come to town, we must be kept in traffic for them to move freely; whenever they visit our hotels, their armies of aids security details and entourage relegate us to the background. Whenever they are ‘guests of honour’ at our functions, we are treated with little honour.
We build shield around them, follow them like zombies. Everyone calls them Chairman, Excellency, Rt Honourable, Senator…. We dare not call them by their names even if we had grown up together. And they call us with little respect.
Lo! Those who suppose to serve us are lords over us. They didn’t make themselves so, but we did.
We sell our birthrights for their pots of porridge whenever we look up to them for our daily bread. We give up our rights to ask for their stewardship whenever we queue for the remnants from their ‘unholy’ tables. We become their slaves and they, our godfathers while we wait for them to turn the tides in our favour on the queue for the national looting. We made them so, they didn’t make themselves.
A Nigerian ceases to be a ‘normal human’ as soon as he ascends to the position of leadership and authority. He instantly becomes a god. He forgets so easily that he was human just moments he came to office. We give him all the privileges of a deity. His words become orders. Abruptly, he swells in wealth and power becoming drunk with the latter forgetting that it is transient. We made them so.
We make ourselves available at their beck and call and ready to do any bad for them so that we can be in their good books. We praise them as if they are the best things to have happened to mankind. We also re-write their sad pasts.
We praise them to high heaven and everything about them becomes first. Their wives become first ladies; their children, first children; their parents, first parents; their in-laws, first in-laws; and their dogs, first dogs. We call them so.
This is not new. It has always been! Ogun was a man here ages ago but his people turned him to a god. They bowed to him and made him the god of iron. Shango, no doubt was a great warrior in his days just like Alexander the Great , Julius Caesar and many others in history. While no one worships the European warriors, without soliciting, Some turned to worshipping Shango as the god of thunder.  Nyame, Ala, Yemoja, Osun were people whom others made their gods and goddesses. Every oba was a god. He could kill, take possession of another man’s wife and children; and in a nutshell he practically owned the land and the ‘fullness’ of it. The people made them so.
That was then! And this is now!  We are here today claiming to be done with the idolatory as we openly profess our faiths in Christianity and Islam. But behold, we worship our leaders as if they are gods. We exalt the officials above their offices and place politicians above the laws of the land in the same way that we sometimes reverence the clergies more than God.
We praise their mediocrity in the name of being friends of ‘Any Government In Power – AGIP. We collaborate with them to steal what belongs to all of us while they use and dump us and further weaken our strength by using religious and tribal divide.
The privilege to serve in an office does not make anyone bigger than another. There are no superhuman talk less of being gods.
We should hold this self-evident truth that all men are created equal and they are also equal before the law.
We have to respect those in the positions of authority, not worship them.  We must understand that respect is mutual and reciprocal. We must also demand respect from them the same way we give.
We do not only have the right, but we are also duty bound as the electorate (who are the employers) to say to those whom we have elected to give the accounts of their stewardship. The power to hire and fire lies with us. We must know that it is human nature to stray if unchecked and go out of control if not controlled. The highest form of check in a democracy is the electorate. We are!
We must resist the oppression that we have hitherto accommodated from the political class. If anyone is a god, it is the electorate. We are! And greater is the power in our hand.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

News Report: “We Killed Journalist For Spying” Says Boko Haram

Boko Haram yesterday claimed responsibility for the murder of a Nigerian Television Authority(NTA) cameraman and news reporter.
The cameraman and news reporter Mr. Zakariyya Isa was killed last Saturday at his residence after leaving a mosque in Maiduguri, capital city of Borno state. Maiduguri is Boko Haram’s headquarters.
The message by the group’s spokesman stated that the NTA journalist was not killed by mistake as speculated.
The message, chidi opara reports learned, emphatically stated that Mr. Zakariyya was killed because he was spying on the group.
Boko Haram also said that they have evidence of the late journalist’s spying activities for security agencies.
It would however be noted that the NTA and the State Security Service(SSS) have earlier debunked this allegation.
The statement, which chidi opara reports learned was written in Hausa, further stated that the Islamic sect did not kill the man because he was a journalist.
The message ended with a threat that Boko Haram would kill anybody that stepped on its toes.

Monday, 24 October 2011

News Report: Military Impounds Oil Vessel In Nigerian President’s State

A Nigerian Oil Vessel
The Nigerian military yesterday announced that it seized an oil vessel suspected to be carrying stolen petroleum products in Yenogoa, capital city of Bayelsa state, one of the states in the oil rich Niger Delta region. The Nigerian President is from Bayelsa State.
A military spokesman, Timothy Antigha, told news reporters that "These suspects, who were nabbed by our patrol teams at River Akassa were in the process of loading this vessel with illegally refined petroleum products. Presently, the oil vessel is detained at the government jetty in Yenagoa,"
The spokesman further said that fourteen boats that were positioned  to offload the stolen petroleum products were also seized in the operation which took place last Thursday.
It will be noted that the military in the last few months had arrested several persons in the region, suspected to be oil thieves and had also destroyed a number of illegal refineries.
Illegal oil bunkering operators backed by influential Nigerians, senior military and security personnel have reportedly been having field  days in the restive region. The military and security agencies have however been denying complicity in the racket.
These products are usually sold in the black market.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Special Report: Profiling Ghadaffi’s Children

Muommar Ghadaffi
Gaddafi's eight children have reputations for extravagance like their father. Four are in exile while one is on the run. Their privileged lives have been disrupted or ended by the collapse of their father’s regime of 42 years.

Relationship within the family was hitherto that of mutual suspicion, but in February the anti Ghadaffi protest broke out the late former Libyan strong man’s seven sons and one daughter reportedly closed ranks.

Libyan officials who fell foul of Ghadaffi's children are known to have lost their jobs and forced into exile.


Saif al-Islam, is the best known of the late Libyan strongman's sons, in and out of Libya. He was captured in Misrata.
Saif al-Islam speaks English and studied at the London School of Economics. He was considered heir-apparent to the Libyan seat.
He, like his father, was wanted by the International Criminal Court(ICC) for crimes against humanity.
Ghadaffi's other sons; Mo'tassim, Khamis and Saif al-Arab are dead. Mo'tassim was once a national security adviser.
Khamis was the commander of Libya's best equipped military unit, the 32nd Brigade. He was wounded in the 1986 U.S. bombing of Tripoli. 
 Saif al-Arab who was also wounded in the 1986 bombing of Tripoli was earlier killed in a NATO bombing. The late playboy who once got into a fight with a bouncer in a Munich nightclub studied in Germany. 
Late Ghadaffi's remaining children are reported to be safe in neighbouring countries. Saadi fled to Niger last September, three other ones are said to be in Algeria. The Algerian government gave refuge to Gaddafi's wife, daughter Aisha and sons, Hannibal and Mohammed last August.  Aisha studied law in France, she was in late Saddam Hussein's defence team.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

News Report: Pope Names Italian Prelate As New Envoy To Washington

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano
Credit: Associated Press
Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday named an Italian prelate who has served in Vatican diplomatic missions in Iraq, Britain and Nigeria as the new papal ambassador to the United States.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, 70, who has been serving as secretary-general of the Vatican city-state, takes the place of Archbishop Pietro Sambi who died in July of complications from surgery.
The Washington post is a key one in the Vatican diplomatic corps both for the importance of the U.S. in world affairs and for its large Catholic population, which is counted on for its financial help to the Holy See and its contributions to papal charities.
The appointment comes during the sensitive time of an election year. Catholics make up about a quarter of the American electorate, but they don’t vote as a bloc.
Under Benedict the Vatican has maintained cordial relations with the Obama administration despite deep differences over its support for abortion rights. Some American bishops have taken a harder public stand toward Obama than the Vatican.
Earlier this month, Roman Catholic bishops in the United States released a voter guide for the 2012 election that repeatedly calls abortion “evil” without making revisions that some conservatives had demanded for an even tighter focus on the issue.
Sambi, the late envoy, had helped arrange a meeting between clerical sex abuse victims and Benedict that was one of the focuses of the pope’s 2008 visit to the United States.
The Vatican maintains diplomatic relations with 178 countries, most of which maintain two embassies in Rome: one for Italy and one for the Vatican. In addition to normal diplomatic duties, the Vatican envoy to a country plays an important role in the selection of bishops.