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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Former Liberian leader Taylor jailed for 50 years Globa Reporters Vienna

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2015 and all that Jazz By Chido Onumah

Global Reporters Vienna

Chido Onumah

Shortly after President Goodluck Jonathan was sworn in on May 29, 2011, I noted that his government should at best be a transitional regime and that unless something was done, and urgently too, Goodluck Jonathan would be the last president of Nigeria. One year into the administration, I am even more convinced about my proposition. My  conviction hinges on the mad struggle for 2015 that has enveloped the whole nation.
Let me say from the outset that I have a problem with those who are obsessed with “overthrowing” President Jonathan and taking over in 2015. It shows two things: a lack of understanding of the quandary we are in as a nation; and the lack of forthrightness to confront our problems. The bashing and loathing of the shoeless lad from Otuoke who has made it all the way to Aso Rock is troubling to say the least. Troubling in the sense that it distracts us from the task at hand which is how to reclaim Nigeria.
This piece is not a defence of President Jonathan and the reason is simple: no matter how hard you try, you will find it impossible to conjure something in praise of the current administration. The president himself has rightly admitted that the problems of the country did not start with his government. That he reminds Nigerians of this, is a subtle way of saying he is helpless and that we should look for the solution somewhere else.
As we draw nearer to 2015, the apocalypse as some have described it, we need to take a step back and understand “where the rain started beating us”, to quote Prof. Chinua Achebe’s popular proverb. The stakes are being raised each day. The battle for the soul of Nigeria is on. If the recent statement credited to Chief Edwin Clark, the president’s alter-ego, is anything to go by, then we can conclude that President Goodluck Jonathan will contest the 2015 presidential election. The argument is not in favour of the teeming population condemned to a life of poverty under the current system; it is simply that the country’s ethnic minorities are also entitled to two-terms of four years. 
General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the 2011 election has warned that there will be “trouble” if the 2015 elections are rigged. Of course, the elections will be rigged if ever they are held. There is no possibility of free and fair elections in Nigeria just yet. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is neither independent nor committed to credible elections. INEC under Professor Attahiru Jega has become a huge joke and an embarrassment and nothing but the handmaiden of the ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), notorious for election rigging.
Our regional gladiators are at their atavistic best. In late 2010, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, a founding member of the PDP, responding to the possibility of President Goodluck Jonathan emerging as the presidential candidate of the PDP in the 2011 election, had remarked: "The North is determined, if that happens, to make the country ungovernable for President Jonathan or any other Southerner who finds his way to the seat of power on the platform of the PDP against the principle of the party’s zoning policy".
Alhaji Lawal Kaita has upped the ante. Only recently, he told his audience: “We hear rumours all over that Jonathan is planning to contest in 2015. Well, the North is going to be prepared if the country remains one. That is, if the country remains one, we are going to fight for it. If not, everybody can go his way”. Alhaji Kaita was, perhaps, speaking the mind of the so-called northern establishment. Following on the heels of that provocative and treasonable statement, the amorphous group known as the Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF) rose from its meeting in Kaduna and declared through its spokesperson, Gov. Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, that “the North would not allow the 2015 presidency to elude it”.
“We must be united more than ever to go into the 2015 elections as one entity with the aim of producing the President,” Gov. Aliyu vowed on behalf of his colleagues. While the northern governors are salivating at the prospects of one of them becoming president in 2015, a section of the North, specifically the Middle Belt, says if the presidency must come to the North it should come to them, thus betraying the seeming “unity of the North”.
For the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Ambassador Raph Uwechue, a president of Igbo extraction in 2015 “is not a favour waiting to be granted, but a logically due and legitimate political right justly accruing to it (Ndigbo) within the Nigerian family in a true ‘federal character’ setting”.
Regrettably, in the midst of this geo-political permutations, the ordinary citizen is lost and forgotten. But as President Jonathan has shown, the problem of Nigeria is not where the rulers come from. No matter the zone the next president comes from, if there is no serious effort to tinker with the structure of the Nigerian federation, we will only be moving one step forward and two steps back.
Just as I was rounding off this piece, I came across an interview Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, former minister of the Federal Capital Territory and stalwart of the CPC, granted Premium Times, an online journal. El-Rufai took a swipe at the Jonathan administration as usual and predicted that the country might not “get to 2015 unless those in power change their strategy”. Some people have taken the former minister to task on his recent posturing. Their argument is that he was an integral part of the shenanigans of the Obasanjo era, including the massively rigged elections of 2003 and 2007 that brought us to this sad end.
It is hard to fault this argument. But the former minister raised a fundamental issue in the interview which we can’t ignore no mater our disposition towards the messenger. He averred that Nigeria is a federation only in name; that a federation means having federating units that are strong and independent of the centre. He went as far as saying that we should revert to the era (1963 constitution) when states (sic) controlled half of the revenue that accrued to them internally. Well said! My only addition would be that El-Rufai and other members of the ruling class who share his forward-looking view should put their money where their mouth is, and really support the clamour for true federalism. 
The cacophony of voices we hear about 2015 can be linked to the structural defect of the country. If states stop depending on handouts from Abuja, nobody will be interested in who presides over the country. How do we strengthen the federating units of the federal republic so that they can contribute to the centre, rather than depend on it? Governors are clamouring for a review of the revenue sharing formula while very little attention is paid to how their states can generate revenue to be self-reliant. But it is not just the politics of revenue (specifically petroleum) sharing that oils the current crisis. Equally troubling is the secularity or lack of it of the Nigerian federation.
These are the two issues genuine patriots and democrats should be fixated on as we head towards 2015. Nigerians need to prioritize and choose between our fixation on 2015 and hoping against hope that the 2015 election will be free and fair and building a strong, diverse, and united federal republic. Whether we want to achieve it through a Sovereign National Conference or a new constitution of “we the people”, the urgent task before all true patriots is to look beyond the current regime if they want to save Nigeria.
I believe in Nigeria, but I also share the illuminating view of my friend and colleague, Godwin Onyeacholem, that “except in the eyes of the extremely naive and incurable swindlers in the corridors of power, this country has already collapsed; only that the horror of its probable disintegration would be difficult to face.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

“I am Innocent” - Nigerian Pastor Joshua Esosa Sentenced 15 Months In Austria For Drug Cries For Justice

Global Reporters Vienna

I am Innocent” - Nigerian Pastor Joshua Esosa Sentenced 15 Months In Austria For Drug Cries For Justice

Pastor Joshua Esosa during the interview

This is a sad story of a Nigerian who is a pastor in one of the new generation churches in Vienna called Grace Ministries International. Pastor Joshua Esosa is from Edo State and in the narration of his unbelievable ordeal, he recounted how he had been arrested, framed up and jailed for a crime he said that he had never committed. His experience as he told it could only be likened to the American HOLLYWOOD films packed with action and suspense and as such incredible and scary for most people who are blacks and especially Nigerians living in Austria. We have heard that similar ugly stories happened many years ago but in recent years one can vouch that the Austrian police has made tremendous improvement that experiences like this one of Pastor Joshua Esosa is strange to most of us. Therefore, my worries which should be the feelings of most people are not against the Austrian police as an entity but rather against these few groups of people that have decided to pervert the course of justice by protecting the real criminal if the story of Pastor Esosa should stand. Consequently, I appeal to the Austrian police to help and dig out the truth since the crack down is not against race or colour but rather against evils and agents of Satan within us. We all should be partners in progress in circumstances like this since every system in every country is never completely free from bad ones which Austria is of course not immune to. Therefore, my sincere appeal is not only to the police authority but to the entire Austrian authority, corporate bodies and individuals that are concerned that our society is being threatened by idiots who make hard drugs accessible to our children to help in any way they can to expose the real offender/s in this case so that this innocent man will be set free, that is my humbly appeal.
Globalisation of the world is not only in technology but also in the movements of humans. If Arnold Schwarzenegger who is originally from Steiermark, Austria could go to the US and rose to a point to have governed a state like California, a Nigerian, Pastor Joshua Esosa should not be ruined and destroyed because he could rise tomorrow to be a wonder turning bishop in Austria. Injustice done to one person is injustice done to all. Arise, people of conscience!

Here is the story of Pastor Esosa's tribulation.

“I am Pastor Joshua Esosa from Edo State. My story is so sad, humiliating and painful each time I remember that bitter experience of 2nd February 2011.  On this day, I just closed from the church and went straight home in twelfth district in Vienna to an apartment provided for me by the church because as at of this time I had problems with my wife and because of the nature of the society we are living in, we were trying to sort out things living separately. At about 11pm on this day, my wife called me and said that she was sick and that I should come home to take care of the children so that she could go to the hospital. It was very unusual that I felt somehow. However, I told her that it was already too late because it would take me about an hour to get to there now and whether she could not wait till the next day. She insisted that I should please try to come. So, I now went to see her. When I got there it was around12 midnight and I had to press the bell because I did not have the key. And before I could open the door the police had already accosted and apprehended me and said, ‘You drug dealer, drug dealer, drug dealer’. And I said, what; me a drug dealer?  I did not even resist them as I allowed them to search me. They searched me and found €600 with the church cash card and said, ‘Yeah this is the drug money’. I told them that €400 of that €600 was the money of the church that I had withdrawn few hours ago from AKH and that if they go to the bank they would see that what I had told them was the truth. 

Please  electronics don't tell lies. The full page of the accountstatement  of the churh. The high lighted place shows the day
and time Pastor  Esosa made the withdrawal of the money the
police found with him.
But the judge again reject this as an evidence.  
Part of the full page of the account statement showing
clearly the name of the church and the name of the financial secretary
 who made this document available to me 

They searched my bag and did not find anything and they took me that night to a destination I did not know that it was Burgenland until the next day. In the morning that day, I guess that it was around 10am because I did not have a watch, they took me to their office and started to interview me. They said that they knew me because they had been monitoring me selling drugs for over a year now and that the people I had sold drugs to were all in prison. I said, God forbid! They said that they recorded my voice, I then said good if you did that. So they now showed me some pictures on the computer and asked if I knew the people and I said that I didn’t know them.

They now brought out the picture of the person they said that they had been monitoring, and the background was a winter background because the person was wearing a winter cap that covered his ears. So what they now did was to put me on my own winter cap and arrange it to look like the picture of the person they were looking for and took me pictures and then they said if anybody confirms that they know me in the prison that that would be all they needed. So they went to the prison and came back and said yes two people had confirmed that they knew me. I said what? I am not a drug dealer, I do not deal on drugs and I can never do that. They said that the judge had asked for me to be sent to prison immediately. That was how I was sent to prison on February 3rd, 2011 and I was there till September 23rd 2011.”

When I wanted to know whether he contacted people for help he replied and said “of course I contacted the Nigerian Embassy the same February but the embassy didn’t show up until I was sentenced ending of July 2011 and they now came in August 2011. I contacted people, my fellow pastors and everybody. The letters my wife wrote to the embassy are still here.” I collected copies of the letters from him.

He went on. “I started a German course in the prison and one day while we were on break during one of our lessons I went back to my room and saw some strange people in the room and I turned back because I thought that I had entered a wrong room, but as I made steps to go back my room mate called me to come in that it was our room. I went in and did what I wanted to do and left back to the lecture. When our class was over after hours, I came back to my room and still met these people discussing. I went straight to my corner and was reading my bible when I had a call that I had a visitor who happened to be my wife. By the time I went back to the room these people were no longer there and my roommate now told me that those people that I had seen before, that one of them had been my accomplice. I said what? Why did you not tell me while they were here so that I could confront them? I was very uncomfortable with the development and angry. I said to myself, I had not been allowed to go to the church in the prison with the reason that my accomplice went to the same church but now the same accomplice they had brought to my room perhaps to study me so that he could say that he knew me in the court, I wept. 2 hours later still infuriated, my lawyer came and I told him what had happened and he shared the same fears with me but told me not to worry that he would take care of that. 

This is the pounded yam powder which is very common in every
Nigerian household that the police took as cocain powder. One
of the evidences the police was holding strongly against pastor Esosa.

Before the first hearing they said that they had found powder which I had used in mixing drugs in my room and I told them that the only thing I knew that I had there in my room was powdered yam and I did not have any other powder and if they had found any other thing in my room it meant they had put it there. They said that they had also found black canvas in my room that was exactly the same type the drug dealer had worn and therefore it was evidence against me. On the court day my witness now brought the powdered yam to the court for the police to see that it was not the type of powder they had conceived in their minds. The judge now queried them why had they not done an examination of the powder in the laboratory first before coming to the conclusion that they had found a powder which I had used in mixing drugs? They now brought eight people to come and testify against me that I had sold drugs to them, but I thank God that six of the people said that they did not know me except those two people that were in the prison. And importantly too, one of these people that were supposed to have testified against me told the court that I had not been the one because he still had bought drugs from the person they had been looking for while I was still in prison. Again the judge ignored this information.   
This is the type of shoes the police claimed the drug dealer had worn.
Are you a Nigerian living in Vienna, Austria and having this kind of shoes? 
You could be a suspect. 

After this hearing they brought a strange report they had written about me and I was very upset and down. My roommate, an Austrian who could not stand my tears and the injustice meted to me anymore, pitied my sorrow and looked at me one day and told me that I was not the drug dealer. And I said to him; how did he know that I was not the one? He said that in his former room before he had been transferred to my room that the person they claimed that had been my accomplice had been his roommate and that one night he had heard him talking to someone in a low voice thinking that he had been asleep that I was not the one but that the real drug dealer was outside and that they were trying to protect him. I knelt down immediately, wept and begged him. I asked him; please, will you help me to write down these things you have just said now to the judge or public prosecutor? And he said that he was afraid to do so because he was also in prison. I tried as much as I could to convince him to see reasons why an innocent person like me should not be allowed to rotten in prison, he refused and I decided to allow him but when my lawyer came I told him the story. My lawyer now in his wisdom included him as one of my witnesses without his consent and the day he got a letter from the court as one of my witnesses, he was very upset and I had to beg him close to tears to help me which he reluctantly after much pressure accepted.

On the final hearing day he came and told the court what he had heard and explained further that he had lived with me for sometime now in the same room and that he had studied me and had seen my kind of person, that I was not the drug dealer. But the judge shunned his testimony by telling him to go and sit down because he himself had equally had a drug case before. They now asked me if I knew these people, referring to those people that were supposed to have been my drug buyers, and I told them (court) that I did not know any of them and that I did not deal on drugs and that if I was a drug dealer that these people numbering over 50 here could not have come all the way from Vienna twice now to stand by me. I now asked the judge; in your years of experience, have you ever had the experience where this huge number of people turned out at different occasions to stand beside someone who is a drug dealer? And the judge said that what they were expecting me was to say sorry and I said, to say sorry for what, for what I did not do. He the judge now said okay, that they sentenced me for 15 months. They asked if I will appeal it. I said yes of course I will appeal it because I cannot accept what I did not do. And that was how the process of an appeal was made.
I was finally sentenced around ending of July 2011 and on September 23rd 2011 I was released. I was freed on a Friday and usually our prison closes on Fridays 12pm so while the door of our prison was opening that day I was let out, I was thinking that they were bringing in a new person but was surprised when I was told to pack my things within 5 minutes and leave. I had a bad feeling going through these sad moments within these few seconds and reacted to know why I should be asked to leave in 5 minutes under such command after having been kept here for so long. The person who brought the message said that he had told me, he closed the door and left. My roommates celebrated with me and helped me to pack my things. 5 minutes time he actually came, pushed me out and gave me €50 for my transport and asked me to come on the coming Monday to take any of my remaining things.

I spent about 8 hell months in that prison, from February 2011 to September 2011 for a crime I had not committed. I was traumatised for a sin I knew nothing about probably because I am a black man and a Nigerian. I nearly went mad for what I never imagined in my life. Over my dead body that I will deal on drugs as a man of God, my yes remains yes, I am not guilty.  As I speak now, I do not know on which ground or why I was released because according to the sentence I was not supposed to have been set free before May 2012.

One thing I want the world to know is that, no matter the evidences manufactured against me, I am innocent. No matter the level of conspiracy against me, I am guiltless. The God I serve cannot be put to shame because He did not fail Abraham, He did not fail Hannah, He did not fail Job etc. and He can never fail me. I am on my knees.” 

His wife speaks, “My husband is not a drug dealer. I want justice.”

The story of Pastor Joshua Esosa’s wife which she described as horror was pitiful and sad because of the shock the children had got.
In nutshell, she said that when the police men had come that day, that they had already slept and had only woken up by the thunder like noise from the smashed door by the police. She said that all what she had heard was ‘gbooza’ and that she had to immediately jump up from bed and had to firstly rush to her last born, her son and that within almost the same seconds that police men had been everywhere in the room asking about her husband and ransacking all they could lay their hands on. She had sorrowfully narrated that the children had been scared to the marrow and that the fear of that horror had terribly traumatised them which they still have not overcome and may never completely overcome till the rest of their lives. She alleged that she had been threatened to lie to make her husband come to the house that night or else that they (police) would have to take her children to ‘Jugendamt’ (youth welfare office). She said that under such trembling shock and fear that she had to call her husband and lie to him as commanded that she had been seriously sick and had to go to hospital.

According to her, not sure of what to do to the door smashed by the police, she said that the door had remained un-repaired for about three months and that they had seen hell under winter cold because they were living with open door until they could not bear it anymore that they had to call someone who had carried out a minor repair that had helped them at least close the door against cold.

Picture don't tell lies. This door is still in a sorry state that they
are still using some tissues and papers in supporting it to stay closed.

Her message to the world is that her husband is innocent because he is not a drug dealer and she wants the world to help her get justice. In her words “My husband is not a drug dealer. He has never done that and can never do that and I will stand for him anytime and anywhere. I want justice, they should free my husband.”

Efforts made to get in contact with the judge to comment were yet to yield results before press time.

Please follow this link (click here) to sign this petition to free Pastor Joshua Esosa. When you sign, it is going straight to the ministry of justice Vienna, Austria. Help us to free an innocent man and improve the image of Nigerians and black Africans in Austria.
The appeal court hearing will be coming up on June 6th, 2012 from 9:30am to 12pm in Landesgericht, Saal 305/3, Wickenburggasse 22, 1080 Wien.

Please, we appeal for solidarity by turning up that day in court.

A demonstration has also been organised to take place on June 1st, 2012, starting from Museumstra├če 7, 1070 Vienna by 2:00pm.
Pastor Joshua Esosa can be reached under this number: +43 6765378700

Uzoma Ahamefule, a concerned patriotic citizen writes from Vienna, Austria
Mail: uzomaah@yahoo.com Phone:     +436604659620 (sms only)

Please help to publicize this news, like this on your face book.

Court Dismisses NBA’s Suit against Legislators’ Jumbo Pay By Davidson Iriekpen

Global Reporters Vienna

The Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, has struck out the suit filed by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) challenging the power of federal legislators to award jumbo salaries and allowances to themselves.
The court struck out the suit on the ground that the Association lacks the locus standi to maintain the suit.
The NBA had in 2010 through its lawyer, Chief Akin Olujim (SAN), filed a suit against the National Assembly when there was a national uproar over the decision of the lawmakers to fix scandalous emoluments for themselves.
It sought a declaratory relief to the effect that the members of the National Assembly are not entitled to receive any payment outside the salaries and allowances determined and fixed for them by the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Commission (RMFAC) pursuant to Section 70 of the Constitution.
NBA accused the legislators of usurping the constitutional powers of the RMFAC by taking advantage of passing Appropriation Bills into law to make themselves the highest paid lawmakers in the world.
In opposing the suit, counsel to the National Assembly, Mr Kenneth Ikonne, challenged the locus standi of the NBA to question the salaries and allowances of the federal lawmakers.
He described NBA as a busy body who has not shown that its interest has been affected by the jumbo pay of the legislators.
He therefore urged the trial court to dismiss the case on the authority of Abraham Adesanya v the President (1981) All NLR page 1.
Both the RMFAC and the Accountants who were joined in the action did not defend the suit.
In his judgment, Justice Auta, held that the association lacked the locus standi to institute the case as it did not prove that it had suffered any greater injury than other Nigerian citizens as a result of the action of the lawmakers.
In striking out the suit, the judge said the association ought to have complained to the RMFAC and that if the body failed to act, it could then sue to compel it to carry out its duty under the constitution.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Biafran War Veterans By Odimegwu Onwumere

Global Reporters Vienna

Two years ago, the Nigerian government guaranteed to reimburse veterans of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war. On the side of Biafra, the ex-war experienced persons pleaded with the Federal Government on 14th May, 2012, to honour the assurance of the N1.5 billion it said was going to be given to them.

It was in the month of May, 1967 that the Eastern House of Parliament, known as Eastern Nigeria, mandated then Col. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu to declare Biafra. Thereafter, Nigeria started a war against Biafra in 1967, which came to an end in 1970. Forty two years after, with the Biafran leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, dying on 26th November, 2011, at a London hospital, the ex-Biafran war veterans have seen the bad side of life with many of them residing in pains occasioned by abject poverty, sicknesses and wounds sustained during the war, which lasted for a period of thirty months.

The Nigerian government gave Ojukwu a glowing burial signaling that the Nigeria-Biafra cold war, which was still lingering, has come to an abrupt end. But with the Commander of the Biafran War Veterans, Ogbaru Division, Col. Bernard Ndu (retd), appealing to the wife of the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, Bianca, to assist them with the release of the voted funds, shows that there are more that meet the eyes than the befitting burial accorded Ojukwu in his ancestral home town of Nnewi.

The plea was coming after Bianca, others were to commission Biafran war veterans’ home on July 9, this year, in Okwe, Imo State. The leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Chief Ralph Uwazuruike said that the multi-million naira house was built to provide somewhere-to-stay for the Biafran living war victims, who dearly need rehabilitation. The building consists of 20 flats for over 120 inmates.

In the words of Uwazuruike: “The aim of the project is to serve as a formidable abode for our heroes who unfortunately found themselves in this predicament in the spirit of undying Ndigbo. We built the home for them to rehabilitate and take care of their health. We also pay them salaries every month, so all these and more are being done to chart a new course for Ndigbo and for Igbo integration.”

Ndigbo are majority of the Biafrans in Nigeria and they have been called upon by certain individuals and groups to maintain that every Igbo restores the values and identity of Ndigbo. The moguls among them have been advised to invest in any part of ala-Igbo. New consciousness among Ndigbo for economic integration has been the bedrock that was also addressed that would take Ndigbo to the acme of their aspiration in the Nigerian state.

A notable Igbo son, who is a Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Andy Uba, reportedly in January 2010, donated the sum of Two million naira to the Biafran war veterans. Dr. Uba donated the money during an impromptu visit to the camp of the wounded Biafran soldiers. He was then the gubernatorial candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the February 6 governorship election in Anambra State. He did not only donate the said amount, but he dinned and wined with the war veterans. He also donated domestic item. This was to make sure that they were comfortable.

The Biafran war veterans are very kind and respectful and appreciative. They thank the source of any donation made to them. Mr. Collins Akpo, who’s President of the war veterans as at the time Uba visited them, thanked Uba for his kind gesture. The veterans would pray for any person who came to their rescue that would impact positively on their lives. The money that Uba gave to them was believed would go a long way to settle some of their critical needs, while they had piled-up needs begging to be settled.

While many observers thought that the sojourn of Uba was politically motivated because he was contesting for the Anambra gubernatorial elections, many said that it was not. Mr. Ebere Ezechukwu was a member of Anambra State House of Assembly, representing Aguata Constituency, who made possible the visit. He said that Uba’s benevolence act was to make obvious humility and understanding that Uba was a friend to the less privileged in the society. Over 24 of the veterans were studying under Uba’s scholarship at various universities in the country. 18 of them received wheelchairs from Uba and many were empowered with small scale businesses.

Oji River was the home of the Biafran veterans along the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway. They have lived at the location since July 11, 1975. They took here as an abode after they were forcefully chased out from GTC (now IMT Enugu), where they lived in a dormitory alongside with leprosy victims. This was done by the then Mazi Ukpabi Asika-led government. This makes the Civil War to always take the centre stage in the Nigerian discourse, because it affected the Igbo most and changed their development enduringly.

While many Igbo sons and daughters have owned business empires since after the war, it’s very surprising how even the successive state governments in the five South-East states have left these veterans to their fate to becoming roadside beggars. These are elders not less than 65years of age. Many of them were not married before the outbreak of the war, so they have no wives and children to repose on that would take care of them after the war. Many are crippled from the waist down, suffering effects of the numerous bullet wounds they incurred during the war. Some who had wives and children are no longer the breadwinners of their household, so they resorted to stay at Oji River.

As the Biafran war veterans’ arrived to Oji River after the war, they were promised of being relocated to the Emperor Haile Selasie Orthopedic Center. As a group, the Biafran War Veterans special visit to many of the Ndigbo and governors have never recorded any success as these people they visited didn’t take them seriously. Those they visited for help didn’t realize that these veterans sustained the bullet injuries at many sectors defending Biafrans. Some of them were traders and farmers and scholars living in different parts of the country before the outbreak of the war. Some of them voluntarily joined the Biafran Army, unlike some who were coerced, after having witnessed the lifeless bodies of Ndigbo being conveyed in Lorries to the Biafran Republic killed by the Hausas and Fulanis in the Northern part of the country in the 1966 pogrom.

Except for MASSOB which came to the fore after 40 years the Nigerian-Biafran War theoretically ended, speaking or discussing about Biafra on the media or anywhere in Nigeria was regarded as a taboo by the Nigerian Government and anybody or group found in such discussion stood risking a jail term. This was the fate of Uwazuruike. He was arrested many times and was molested many times by the Nigerian Government and was many times released on strict conditions. Seeing how the ex-Biafran war veterans were languishing at the Oji River camp in Enugu State, MASSOB started to rehabilitate them, even though that many believe that Uwazuruike has sold out.

At the hometown of Uwazuruike – Okwe, Onuimo Local Government Area (LGA), Imo State, MASSOB at its inception built 20 units of two-bedroom flats in an over 5,000 acres of land, which is directly opposite the Freedom House (Biafra House) in Okwe. On January 14, this year, the movement from Oji River to Okwe started and the ex-Biafran soldiers were highly enlivened. The lands for this edifice was not donated, MASSOB bought them and properly compensated the owners. But why three families chose to go to court over this was yet to be known.

The efforts of MASSOB to rehabilitate the Biafran war veterans were not unnoticed. The Millennium Merchants and Importers Association (MMIA) pledged their unflinching support for the group in its ongoing struggle to actualise its much desired Biafran Republic. MMIA was a cross-section of traders in Onitsha, Anambra State. MMIA also donated unspecified amount of money to the veterans, during a visit to the Biafran war disabled veterans’ camp at Okwe, the headquarters of MASSOB.

The Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, at a requiem Mass for the repose of the soul of Ojukwu, at Holy Ghost Catholic Cathedral Arena, Enugu, on 29th February, 2012, gave unspecified money donations to the veterans. Monsignor Obiora Ike was the officiating priest who announced the donation on behalf of the governor. Obi assured the veterans that each of them would go home with a handsome amount. Other donation of vests and caps with Ojukwu’s name and picture was donated to the war veterans. The veterans however re-enacted their war memories with pumps at the event. Pro-Biafran countries such as Gabon, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Tanzania, and Zambia were also at Enugu on Wednesday for Thursday 1st March funeral activities and Friday's interment programme for the late Odumegwu-Ojukwu, who was chiefly called Ikemba Nnewi.

Rendition of gospel hymns and Biafra war songs by the veterans followed Obi’s donation. The Administrator of the Holy Ghost Catholic Cathedral, Rev. John Nwafor, in his sermon, hinged his point on the need for “unity in diversity”. He said: "Unless Nigeria embraced true federalism with a weak centre, which Ojukwu proposed many years ago, the country would know no peace.” Many Nigerians who attended the mass said that they wanted Nigeria to remain one.

The promises as expressed show that there is an end to every problem, as it were recalled that on August 5, 2009, the Biafran war veterans were wailing that they fought for nothing. They were dying in their numbers and were buried at the Oji River and had no one to remember them or even ask of their welfare. They were retrieving their battered fates. They were living in a three long bungalow buildings which had no fence and gate, a metaphor that suggested that the Civil War was not yet over. They were living among reptiles and dangerous animals. Their residence at Oji River was a symbol of a haven with un-mowed grasses with dreadful long logs of fallen trees. They converted one of the three buildings used to be a kitchen to a mini craft industry. The factory was rather dead than being functional. A group called World Igbo Congress visited Oji Rivers in the year 2000, and there was a promise to establish a small factory for the veterans to keep them busy. The major point of doing so was to generate revenue for them. But regrettably, a businessman brought in some outdated machines and disappeared ever since, which made the factory to be dormant.

The ex-Biafran war veterans were living inside rooms, which ceilings were decrepit and were ornamented by shadowy cobwebs. The zincs were leaking. The veterans used basin to collect the rains so that they do not flood their rooms. The toilet and bathroom they were using in the camp were unmentionable and indescribable. They were hoping in that year that they were relocated to have a new lease of life, and they have gotten it.

Many admirers of these ex-Biafran War Veterans are hoping that they are paid the N1.5 billion the Federal Government said it was going to give to them, so that the spirit of the late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu it gave a lustrous burial on March 2 this year would Rest In Perfect Peace, while they continue to watch MASSOB on its expedition to attain a Biafran Republic.

Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author and Media Consultant, writes from Rivers State. (+2348032552855). Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Day-old baby abandoned at LAWMA dump - By Temtope Ogunbanke

Global Reporters Vienna

A newly born baby, still with his umbil-ical cord and blood, was found abandoned yes-terday morning at a dump-site at Shyllon Junction, Palmgrove area, Ilupeju, Lagos. According to an eye wit-ness, Mr. Adeleke Adesan-ya, who spoke to Saturday Mirror, the abandoned baby was found by a scavenger at the site.He, however, alerted some residents of the area who picked the baby up. Said Mr. Adesanya: “The baby was discovered around 10am at Shyllon Junction by some people. The baby was found wrapped with an Ankara inside a sack.” Another eye witness who spoke to Saturday Mirror on condition of anonymity disclosed that the abandoned baby was discovered miraculously by a scavenger when he was trying to pick something from the dump site. “I believe that the abandoned baby is a lucky child. The baby was found in the dustbin shortly after LAW-MA officials packed all the waste in the dustbin. It was a boy who was trying to pick something from the dustbin that raised alarm over the abandoned child. “What happened was that while the boy was try-ing to bring out a sack from the refuse dump, the sack dropped from his hand and to his surprise he saw blood on the ground and heard the voice of a crying baby. He was scared and moved away; it was his voice that caught the attention of passersby to move closer to see what was happening. And when we moved closer we saw the child with umbilical cord,” the eye witness said.
Worried by the state of the child, the residents alerted officials of the Little Saints Orphanage, whose office was nearby to come to their rescue. The orphanage officials came and took the baby to Ultima Medical Clinic for proper medical attention. It was at the hospital that the baby was finally cleaned up and his umbilical cord removed.
The boy was later handed over to officials of the orphanage. Confirming the incident to Saturday Mirror, a reli-able source at Ilupeju Po-lice Station, said that the incident was reported at the police station by a Good Samaritan.
“The abandoned baby was found at a dustbin in Shyllon Junction and the incident was reported to us by a Good Samaritan. We went there to pick the baby and we took the baby for medical care with officials of the Little Saints Orphan-age,” the source said. Speaking to Saturday Mirror on the incident, the founder of Little Saints Orphanage, Rev. (Mrs.) Dele George, said that her orphanage decided to in-tervene because it was the closet orphanage to the ven-ue of the incident.
She said: “We were in-formed about the aban-doned child and because we are very close to where the baby was found we decided to intervene. We reported the incident to the police and with the approval of the police we took the child to Ultima Medical Clinic for first-aid treatment because the umbilical cord of the baby was yet to be cut when we saw him.“
The baby was still fresh as at the time we carried it, he was still some hours old. He is a very handsome boy and the baby is yet to be traumatised as at the time we saw him. I believe the mother abandoned baby immediately she delivered.
The baby was still fresh, he was newly abandoned and from the look of things, he was not even a day old. After treating the baby we decided to give him to the Ministry of Youths and Social Devel-opment, where they will de-cide the orphanage the baby will be taken to.” Investigation by Satur-day Mirror revealed  that the discovery of the baby was recorded at the Juve-nile Welfare Centre, Ala-kara, Idi-Oro in Mushin area of Lagos before he was handed over to an official of the Ministry of Youths and Social Development who will decide what to do with the baby.
National Mirror

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Enough is enough •Sultan tells Boko Haram •Says shedding of blood must stop. By Hassan Ibrahim

Global Reporters Vienna

DISTURBED by the security situation in the North, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, has told perpetrators of terrorism and related acts in the region that “enough is enough,” saying the shedding of blood must stop.
The sultan, who is also President-General of the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), spoke at the opening ceremony of the JNI Central Council meeting attended by all emirs and chiefs from the region in Kaduna, on Thursday. According to the traditional ruler, “we must come back to our senses and say firmly and resolutely that enough is enough.”
He chided the nation’s political leaders for their alleged insensitivity to the plight of the masses, adding that the level of insecurity in the northern states was slowly but surely tearing apart every fabric of the religious, social and economic life of the people. He said that all hands should be on deck in the search for peace and security in the society.
“The bloodshed must stop. Each and every one of us must come to appreciate that we cannot continue on this destructive path.
“We must open active, meaningful and sincere channels of dialogue and communication to ensure that we listen to those who have real grievances and to take genuine efforts to address them.
“But we must, as the ummah, also take a resolute stand against those who take advantage of this unfortunate situation to wreak havoc on society, in pursuit of their narrow interest.
“Allah will definitely put to shame those who seek to violate the honour and sanctity of Muslims. We must at all times seek Allah’s intervention through prayers for there is no calamity or distress that He cannot dispel.”
The sultan expressed worry over the level of poverty in the society, saying the federal, state and local governments must embark on meaningful development programmes that would make life easier and more pleasant for the majority of the people.
“The current level of poverty, especially in the northern states, cannot be acceptable in any decent society. We can hide behind our rhetoric but we cannot run away from the stark realities which characterise the daily lives of our people.
“Traditional and religious leaders must bear a special responsibility in counselling those in positions of authority at the federal, state and local government levels that governance must necessarily be equated with service to the people and that the socio-economic development of the society.
“The prosperity of the state must translate into the prosperity of the entire populace. It shall not be the exclusive preserve of the few who happen to have access to state resources.
“When we vie with one another in a democratic society, for positions of leadership, it is equally incumbent upon us to vie with each other to make leadership more meaningful to the generality of the people.”
Declaring the meeting open, Kaduna State governor, Mr Patrick Yakowa, also described the current insecurity situation in the country as a challenge “that calls for the contribution of all Nigerians who desire that the nation continues as we inherited it from those who led our independence struggle.
“The JNI, being a noble organisation, founded on truth and piety to educate Muslims, should maintain its original mandate and form with a renewed vigour and go ahead to establish much more cordial relationship with other faith-based organisations.
“This will really go a long way in the establishment of a better cordial and respectful relationship between the Nigerian Muslims and their Christian compatriots as witnessed during the time of the late Sardauna.”

FIFA chief blasts penalty shoot-outs

FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Friday described having penalties to determine the outcome of games as a “tragedy” that ripped the heart out of the game.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Obasanjo presidency, a rogue regime, says CNPP By Chris Ochayi

Global Reporters Vienna


ABUJA – The Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, CNPP, Thursday, descended heavily on former President Olusegun Obasanjo accusing him of presiding over the most rogue regime ever in the country, where the nation’s treasury was blatantly looted, with reckless withdrawal of funds from the treasury without appropriation.
The CNPP in a statement in Abuja by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, while reacting to Chief Obasanjo’s remarks, describing State Houses of Assembly and National Assembly members as rogues and armed robbers, vowed that former President will never escape his atrocities committed against Nigerians.
The CNPP however said it is not holding brief for either the National Assembly, the State Assemblies or the Judiciary; but now that Chief Obasanjo has cast the first stone, we challenge him to render account of his rogue regime.
According to the parties, “we challenge Chief Obasanjo to explain why all the probes and audit of his regime by the National Assembly, ranging from power to privatization probes found him culpable? Or can it be said that he is antagonizing the National Assembly for the probes? Or for stopping his 3rd Term inordinate ambition?
“Chief Obasanjo blatantly,  looted the treasury of the nation, withdrew billions from the treasury without appropriation, corrupted the privatization process, serially obstructed justice,  which made CNPP to file a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission {EFCC} on 24 December 2007, when his immunity exited.
“Regrettably, it has become the trade mark of Chief Obasanjo to paint Nigeria black each time he is out of power, a deceptive strategy he designed long time ago to curry the favour and recognition of the international community.
“Chief Obasanjo should not think that he will escape or that his corruption case has been closed, as will continue challenge him, until our stolen patrimony is recovered.
“A regime that harvested unprecedented oil revenue without commensurate project performance, a regime that bastardized our democracy and a regime which simulated the fault lines hence Boko Haram and other insurgences.
“Those who live in glass house, the saying goes should not throw stones, for we recall with pain how Chief Obasanjo, who came out of prison as poor as a church rat; paradoxically has become one of the richest Africans after eight years of looting in power.
“We recall with trepidation, how late Chief Gani Fawehnmi went to Federal High Court challenging the billions of Naira which Chief Obasanjo extorted from government contractors to build his presidential library contrary to Code of Conduct and ICPC Acts. He pleaded immunity and when immunity exited he resorted to manipulation of the judiciary.
“We bemoan the theatre of absurd the office of the president of our dear country became, as the can of worms was opened during the altercation between him and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar the then vice president.
“Chief Obasanjo’s corrupt practices are monumental and legendary. The stench of corruption which oozed out from the presidency, when he was in power was one of the factors which made Chief Obasanjo to lose the MO Ibrahim annual award for good governance when he left office in 2007….
“We cannot forget in a hurry how Chief Obasanjo doctored the 2002 Electoral Act, declared the 2007 election as Do-or-Die election and other uncountable breaches, which debased the integrity of the electoral process and produced 2003 and 2007 sham elections.
“It can be said factually that Chief Obasanjo’s manipulation and subversion of the electoral process, denied Nigerians the right to elect people of their choice, hence entry of rogues into the legislature.”

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Modern Man In Kenya By Odimegwu Onwumere

Global Reporters Vienna

The essential question of the role of a man in modern Kenyan society continues to generate more questions than is readily answerable. Surely but gradually, the archetypal masculinity of man is being windswept into the ocean of gender equality. The space that once enabled him to exercise his roles and responsibilities without losing his identity is being circumscribed.

When the news made it known that across Kenya, men were being progressively battered by their wives, quite a lot of people couldn’t believe it. Many thought it was fictional — rather than factual. Many Kenyans raced to newsstands to have firsthand copy of the newspapers it was reported.

An interest group recounted that Kenyan women have suddenly become deviant towards their men, ever since the government schemes which were carefully harnessed to draw attention to women’s rank in the society. According to this source, Kenyan women have become, rather more independent; in a very thrifty way.

Just last year, about five hundred thousand Kenyan men suffered tremendous domestic violence in the hands of their women. A survey of Central and Nairobi provinces by a group gave this indication.

How to nip this escalating phenomenon in the bud led a Kenyan men’s group weeks ago calling for men to stay away from food cooked at home by their wives within a period of six-days. The boycott was aimed at bringing to light the magnitude at which women are subjecting men to domestic violence and abuse in Kenya.

Like in most African countries, women are emotionally touched when men do not eat their food. This notion is not exempted in Kenya. Traditionally, women do the cooking and their men were supposed to eat to appreciate their wives.

What annoys the men deficiently is that Kenya’s government does not take domestic hostility against men critically. There was a suspicion that the government may be instigating the women to be battering their men.

The food boycott for six-days was for the men to eat together and brainstorm on the possible ways to liberate themselves from the iniquitous grip of their women. The biting-wit is not only that the men are battered physically, but even more horrendous, they are also emotionally spent. This in particular — was the reason for the men’s nationwide boycott of their women’s food; as lobbied through the men’s insurgence group – Maendeleo Ya Wanaume – and initiated by its leader, Ndiritu Njoka.

‘Development for Men’ is what Maendeleo Ya Wanaume means. Seeing how the society makes fun of men who are battered by their women and also take them as scrawny was the compelling factor that led to the setting-up of Maendeleo Ya Wanaume to give confidence to Kenyan men to speak out.

As the news of the food boycott filtered into the air, many Kenyans had their brain held captive, hoping to get some responses. Many see the outcry of the men as a “case of hegemonic masculinity in crisis”. To define the subject, some of them cited a text by a Michael Kimmel (1994) thus: 'Masculinity as homophobia'. It was noted that Kimmel, man, did quite a high-quality job in cross-examining masculinity; its failures, insecurities and pressures.

Many Kenyans outside the country, precisely in the United Kingdom, spoke on the matter. Majority of them, women, said that sex/gender role within the domestic environment has completely changed since most men lost their jobs in the UK, following the economic recession that recently hit the world.

They made known their point, saying that jobs like nursing, teaching, social work and care, which are regarded as feminine, were not as affected by the economic indentation as majority of men’s centered jobs in big companies were affected.

While the women were out for work to earn money, men resorted to working fulltime in the kitchen and to take charge of the kid(s). And the development was being widely acknowledged.

Like a seething volcano, the development in Kenya irks many. They say that the men are retrogressing to their ancient tradition which in its entirety recognizes total masculinity, whereas the women are moving from the domestic environment supposedly assigned to them by nature to grasp increased opportunities in the academia, political and social consciousness fashioned for them by the government.

Quite logically, there is far more than meets the eyes concerning this situation. The insinuation that Kenyan women are battering their men is also obviously not a con. Evidently, it has been revealed that Kenyan men are finding it very difficult to walk with modernity alongside tradition, but they will gladly accept sharing costs with women within condiments. However, they also believe that sharing household tasks is debasing to their integrity. One statement reads: It doesn’t make sense for men to cling on to the traditional gender roles while reaping the fruits of modern academic and civilized assignments which inevitably must reverse or at least interfere with the traditions.

What many Kenyan women want is a situation where there is deconstruction of what has been the hegemonic masculinity. They want their men to be ready to help with the kitchen, do homework with the kids, change diapers and get food supplies. They see relationships as a partnership and are ready to ever renegade their men perceived are still trapped in the old ways of thinking.

Kenyan women do not want their men to continue to be wedged in their tradition, which sees nurturing children, cooking, sweeping the house, fetching water, making a cup of tea for guests etc., as roles that are strictly left for women. However, majority of the men hold that all the fuming by their women is nothing but an eerie attempt to subject men to an archetypal violence in Kenya.

The women are however happy that “the brunt of Gender Based Violence” is now directed against the men. “Flawed masculinities,” they described it as, “for any meaningful engagements and enhancement on the promotion of women's rights in Kenya.” The men’s interest group on the contrary has created more perceptible issues of men and the boy child in Kenya. Mostly, it has created public seats for people to exchange views.

Notwithstanding, most women see any woman calling on the men to responsibilities such as nurturing of children as mad. To them, this chore is clearly the role of women and that any action contrary to that is synonymous to violence and abuse against men.

There is an agitation that Maendeleo Ya Wanaume shares its view with other interest groups in the world. Its hypotheses are seriously questioned. The accuracy of the group’s statistics of men battered in Kenya by women is in doubt. There is a claim that MYM, short form for Maendeleo Ya Wanaume, said in one media story that 60 per cent of women admit to battering men, which means that out of any three Kenyan women two are batterers, a point that is refuted by many women. On the contrary, many Kenyan women don’t wish to discharge that there are some abused men worldwide, let alone Kenya. Their problem is on the statistics, which they say don't seem right.

On Citizen TV, Sunday 31st May, 2009, an unplanned Swahili programme took place and many Kenyans interested in the discourse were not notified in time to be prepared with research for clarifications on some of the issues emerging from the MYM’s report. Mr. Njoka, the Maendeleo ya Wanaume chairperson, was a co-panelist. The issue of construction of masculinities, ordering and labeling were discussed. Njoka was requested that he shares the report and clarify what research methodology was applied. Kenyans believe that the way this report was presented leaves more questions than answers. They see it as “being more of ridicule than seriousness”.

The modern man in Kenya is being caught in-between having to furnish for his traditional roles where the modern women see him as no longer the sole “protector and provider”. The women believe that in the current society both the women and men are providing and protecting. Conversely, in many quarters they say that with this mentality, things are not going down well in Kenya; it is leading to hurt egos and exhume low esteem.

Many women deny that women's empowerment are to blame for the violence against men in Kenya. And the fact that Kenyan women have been declared as husband batterers, it is for the men to shape up, for mutual co-existence. Although, they accept the fact that when anyone talks about violence or abuse, the person should not eschew the fact that women were created double-barreled-mouth. And some uncouth ones use it in excess to violet their men immensely.

They thus far define ‘Violence’ as not only physical, emotional beating has turned and ruined some men in their homes.

Some biased Kenyan women no longer believe that there are different body chemistries that constitute both a man and a woman. They see man and woman as one and should be equal. This brings the issue of ‘violence’ to a serious burner.

As creatures, no doubt men are volatile in nature, by muscle. While women, are double-barrel-mouth. Many Kenyan women agree this. All of these they say are ‘violence’, no matter how anybody may look at it or see it. So, it baffles them when women are shouting “violence against women”, whereas not telling the world that women should also stop their own natural “mouth-violence” against men.

Moreover, they agree that no sensible man would see a woman on the road and start to violate her, and vis-├á-vis. They believe that there are men and women who, out of maturity and self-nurturing, have been able to curtail “muscle and mouth violence” against each other.  

The conservatives among the Kenyan women are of the view that it is shameful for any woman to disobey the men no matter how highly placed the woman is. They say that women should succumb to the ‘positive’ men’s will at any given time.

Their belief is that “the men are always right”. This is the way nature made them. Therefore, the women admonish the liberal amongst them in Kenya to study the men, especially their husbands, to know when they wake up, the time they go to the office, the time they come back in the evening and the kind of food they would want to eat, and make sure that everything is prepared for them, even when the women are also working. And until the women understand the nature of men through respect, which will in turn create love from the men, there may not be near-end to violence among them.

The conservative Kenyan women believe that a woman is supposed to be full of prayers, and not full of problems with the men; that for a woman, monitoring the many-whereabouts of a man is just a hectic waste of time.  They hinged their point, saying that most men have no time to even pray. If a woman is staring down on a man and expecting that he must do the house chores instead of pleading with the man to help her, she is wasting her time. This is what a woman should do; not nag or batter or abuse the man.

They also pinpointed that even in the countries where laws were created in favour of women to cut the violence excesses of men against women, some men still prefer to die rather than see themselves being humiliated by women, or better put, go to jail, because of their wives.

Women only feel dehumanized and shout “violence against women” when they get trapped in the debasing images of men they have wronged. Women must show the world that they also abhour mouth-lashing their men.

Women’s clamouring for women’s right without attaching decorum to it is their treacherous way of achieving racial justice, which they understand is both impractical and immoral.

In Kenya, the modern men no longer teach women in the home that might make right, but women are the ones teaching the men. They hope that they could solve conflicts with their borrowed might.

In the very end, bad-mouth is the worst form of violence against men.

Odimegwu Onwumere, Poet/Author and Media Consultant, writes from Rivers State, Nigeria. (+2348032552855). Email: apoet_25@yahoo.com