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Friday, June 29, 2012

Faroukgate: Police uncover fresh $10m bribe - Vanguard


Global Reporters Vienna

BYKINGSLEY OMONOBI

ABUJA — Investigations by Police detectives into the $620,000 oil subsidy bribe money collected by  Mr Farouk Lawan from oil magnate, Mr. Femi Otedola, have unearthed a wider financial scandal.
It was gathered that oil marketers who were indicted in the report recently submitted to the government by the Aigboje Aig-Imoukuede-led panel that probed the fuel subsidy claims allegedly paid about $10 million as bribe to Lawan committee.

Vanguard gathered that while the Aig-Imoukuede-led panel uncovered fraudulent overpayments to many of the oil marketers to the tune of N422 billion, all the oil marketers involved and indicted were invited and interrogated by the Lawan committee but were given a clean bill of health.
80% bribe money collected abroad
It has now emerged that the oil marketers gave bribes in foreign currency to the tune of about $10 million and that over 80 per cent of the bribes given were done abroad as the oil marketers, acting in partnership, sponsored some of the leaders of the House subsidy probe panel to the UK and the US, lodged them in choice hotels and gave them the bribes which influenced their being cleared of any fraudulent practice by the committee.
Sources told Vanguard yesterday that the decision of the oil marketers to give out such huge bribes to the House committee was to enable them use the clean bill of health report card, given by the House, to counter the report that would be presented by the Finance Committee panel.
According to sources, police detectives were shocked to find out that the amount of bribe money collected by the Lawan subsidy probe panel to over N15 billion while many House members who hitherto pretended to know nothing of the $620, 000 collected by Farouk, and even lambasted him over the $3 million scam, are neck deep in the $10 million scam.
The marketers were said to have settled for the Farouk committee because the Aig-Imoukuede panel was a no go area and bluntly told them they were not interested in taking bribes to influence their finding.
When Vanguard sought to know what the Police would do concerning the new discovery about the $10 million bribe money most of which took place abroad, it was told that the Police has its ways and that those involved would be found out.
Reps summon Otedola to appear on July 3
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Ethics and Privileges has summoned Chairman of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, Mr. Femi Otedola, to appear before it on July 3.
This was disclosed, yesterday, by the chairman of the committee, Gambo Musa, while briefing newsmen on the proceedings of the committee which interrogated Farouk Lawan over Otedola’s allegation that Lawan collected $620,000 as part of the $3 million bribe he had demanded.
Musa said this had become necessary to enable Otedola respond to some of the revelations made by Lawan when he appeared before the committee.
Lawan who arrived the House Meeting room 4.59, venue of the hearing,  at exactly 1.05pm looked relaxed in his white caftan with a white hat to match. However, shortly after saying the prayers and reading his opening speech, Musa ordered journalists out of the venue of the hearing.
In his opening remarks, Musa recalled how the House reconvened early last January, to address the issue of the Federal Government’s withdrawal of fuel subsidy which had sparked off  nation-wide protests. He also recalled how the House had set up the Adhoc Committee led by Lawan  to probe the fuel subsidy regime and its disbursement adding that the Committee’s report  had attracted applause nation-wide after it was submitted.
He further recalled how the activities of the Committee had taken a new twist after Otedola had alleged he gave Lawan $620,000 as bribe for the purpose of delisting Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd. from companies indicted for diverting foreign exchange allocated to them by the CBN for the purpose of importing petroleum products.
Musa further stated that it was the responsibility of the Committee to unravel what actually transpired during its investigations. He had explained that  Lawan had to be interrogated in camera to avoid jeopardizing the Committee’s investigations

7 feared dead as flood sweeps Lagos - Vanguard

Global Reporters Vienna


LAGOS — Residents of Lagos State were, yesterday, enveloped by flood following heavy downpour that started Wednesday night.
A number of houses and roads were submerged by the flood caused by the rain that lasted several hours.
Sections of Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway were cut off on both sides by the flood, leading to a gridlock.

Many road users were forced to return home or seek alternative routes, while others remained at the spot, waiting for the flood to abate.
A portion of Murtala Muhammed International Airport Road by Mobil Filling Station was submerged, as were some areas in Mafoluku, Oshodi.
Many residents could not make it to their offices and business places yesterday as most areas in the state were heavily flooded.
Vanguard learnt that in some areas, many property were swept away and some major roads in the state were blocked.
Some of the worst hit areas include: Popo Igunnu, Jimoh and Ago-Hausa Streets, all in Okokomaiko, Iba Local Council Development Area; Jakande in Oto-Awori Local Council Development Area; Sango, Igi avenue, GRA Ikeja, Gbolahan Bankole Street in Igando LCDA, Aboru; Ipaja-Ayobo, Shogunle, Apapa, among others.
Aiyepe Street in Itire, Canal Pepple Road, Shomolu, Agbado-Ijaiye, Ikola, Agbado-Okeodo LCDA, Akintan, Cele, Bakery Bus Stop, all in Ejigbo LCDA; Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation , NNPC at Ejigbo LCDA had its fence destroyed during the downpour.
Disaster on bridge linking Lagos and Ogun
The bridge linking Lagos and Ogun states at Ayobo, in Ayobo/Ipaja Local Council Development Area, was submerged.
Six adults and a child were reportedly carried away by the flood while they attempted to cross from Ogun to Lagos State.
At Okokomaiko, over 500 pupils of Fazil Omar Ahmadiya public Nursery and Primary School 1, 11 and 111, were sent home by the Headmaster after the entire school premises was flooded.
A pupil of the school, Chukwuemeka  Amadi said that one of the headmistresses of the three schools, Mrs. Asa sent them home because the entire premises including the classrooms had all been submerged in flood.
On Jimoh Street, the flood destroyed property of the residents leaving many to bail out water from their living rooms.
Mr. Sam Adebowale, a resident of the area, said that the water destroyed their property because their living rooms were submerged by the flood.
Adebowale lamented that the damage was due to the fact that the drainage canals servicing the area were not cleared by the state government before the commencement of the rain.
At Jakande in Okokomaiko, residents groaned as they were left stranded for hours because the commercial vehicles and Motor cycle operators popularly called Okada plying the routes refused to ply the flooded road.
One of the drivers, Mr. Fatai Olawale, said they could not ply the road because the over 10 kilometre road had been flooded.
Vanguard gathered that motorists who summoned the courage to convey passengers got stranded as their vehicles broke down on the road.
At the Aboru area of Agbado Oke-Odo Local Council Development Area, not less than 50 houses were said to have been flooded.
At Alabede area, many residents managed to wade through the flood successfully as buses and motorcycles refused to convey them beyond that area.
At the time of this report, residents of Isheri-Olofin, Egbe-Idimu LCDA were still wallowing in the flood and calling for the state government’s attention.
The flooding of the area, which they said started since seven years ago, got worse recently with the diversion of a drainage channel to the area by the Chinese Construction Company, CCECC, during the construction of the LASU-Iba Road. They claimed that they had sent series of letters to the authorities over their plight to no avail.
The neighbouring communities in Ogun State were also affected. Some of  the residents had their properties swept away.
Residents who lamented the situation said it took them hours to even leave their homes for work in the morning.
Monarch cries out
The Alado of Abule Ado in Oriade Local Council Development Area, yesterday, cried out over the inability of his people to either move out or return to their homes.
The Oba said: “This is to inform the state government that Abule Ado bridge has collapsed over night. We have been cut off completely.
Our students, market women, workers and others cannot go out or come in. An urgent intervention is needed.”
One confirmed dead as fence collapses in Bariga
One person was confirmed dead when the fence of a building  at  34/40 Shogbamu Street collapsed on another building at 2 Community Street Ita–Baale, Bariga Lagos.
The unfortunate incident which occurred at about 1am during the heavy rain, killed a 22-year-old male whose name was given as Ahmed Shotuminu.
It was a pathetic sight at the scene of the incident when Vanguardvisited as the people wore gloomy looks. The remains of the deceased, who was said to have recently graduated from a furniture making workshop was being prepared for burial.
A resident who gave his name as Seyi Odubanjo, narrated that the fence collapsed at about 1am when the rain was falling heavily, adding that the victim and his younger brother were in the house when suddenly the fence crashed into their apartment.
“The two of them stay in the boy’s quarter of the main building and were both fast asleep when the fence collapsed. But Ahmed was not as lucky as his brother who escaped with minor injury.
“The bricks fell on him and he died instantly, I was sleeping in my house which is opposite their apartment when a call came in that building has collapsed on them and I should come and assist. I quickly rushed to the scene but we could only see his leg while the rest of his body was covered in rubbles.”
Fresh warning
Meantime, the Lagos State Government has again warned residents to be prepared for heavy rainfall accompanied with severe windstorm within the next two weeks, which has been envisaged to be the peak period of this year’s rainy season.
The alert was given by Commissioner for the Environment, Tunji Bello, while monitoring state of the environment during the rains in the state.
The commissioner  urged residents living along low line areas of Eti-Osa, Badiya, Amukoko, Makoko, Iwaya, Ajegunle, Owode, Agiliti among others to vacate those areas during this period, and move upland as the intense rains would be accompanied with windstorm.
In case of emergency, residents were implored to take full advantage of Drainage Engineers and Drainage Maintenance officers posted to all the 57 local Government Council Areas of the state, and relate with them effectively to solve their drainage challenges.
Bello, explained that the officers are readily available to provide relief and solutions to all flooding challenges in each Local Government area of the state.
Lagos urges motorists to be cautious
The Lagos State Government has also appealed to all road users especially motorists to observe and obey road traffic signs and other traffic rules and regulations in the state.
Commissioner for Transportation, Comrade Kayode Opeifa who gave the advice said that motorists needed to be more safety conscious, drive with care and ensure that their vehicles are road worthy before putting them on the road especially during the rainy season.
He urged them to ensure that their windscreen wipers were in proper working order and that their tyres were also in good condition before embarking on any journey.
Opeifa reaffirmed the commitment of the state government to safety of lives and property and  implored all drivers to avail themselves the opportunity of attending any of the five driving institutes established by the government for re-certification and also to enhance professionalism.
The commissioner noted that officials of Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) would be on hand to assist motorists, while the personnel of Vehicle Inspection office (VIO) had been directed to intensify efforts and ensure non road worthy vehicles were not on the roads.

Pastor runs mad while praying for mad man - By Seye Adeniyi


Global Reporters Vienna

Scene of the mad man and the pastor, at Oke-Ado, Ibadan, Oyo State, on Thursday. Photo: Seye Adeniyi

PEOPLE living at Oke-Ado area of Ibadan, Oyo State, as well as shop owners and automobile dealers along Molete road in the town, on Thursday, watched a drama involving a pastor and a mad man.
The pastor, whose name is Timothy, according to an eyewitness, got to Ososami junctions of Oke-Ado around 5.20 p.m and went to meet the mentally-deranged man, popularly known as Tunde, who was sitting in front of a building in the area.
According to Semiu, a shop owner around the spot of the incident, the pastor began to read the Bible on sighting the mad man, while he moved closer to him and laid the hand on his head.
“At a point, there was a hot argument between the duo, which made the pastor to raise his voice as he was offering a deliverance prayer for Tunde, the mad man. The hot prayer lasted for over 15 minutes before another strange drama began,” Semiu told the Nigerian Tribune.
Speaking further, another witness, an okada rider, said at a point, the mad man removed the pastor’s hand from his head, adding that “suddenly, a strange spirit got hold of the pastor and he began to remove his cloth. He was naked and laid flat on the ground, speaking a strange language, with foam oozing out of his mouth.”
The mad man, it was gathered, initially left him in this position and sat at some distance away from the pastor, before the duo later sat closer to each other, while onlookers watched the strange drama.
The pastor remained in state of insanity until the Nigerian Tribune left the scene of the incident.
Tribune

Thursday, June 28, 2012

12 Nigerian prostitutes rescued in Ireland - Daily Times

By Chidi Okoye

The Garda Síochána na hÉireann (commonly referred to as Gardai), the national police service of Ireland, has rescued 12 trafficking victims and identified the organisers of the biggest prostitution and human-trafficking ring operating in Ireland.

Groups challenge David Mark to name Boko Haram sponsors - Channels


Global Reporters Vienna


Two Northern youth groups on Wednesday criticized the Senate President, David Mark over his recent comments urging northern leaders to check the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram sect.
The groups in a joint press statement said they “find it regrettable that David Mark, himself a northerner and occupying his present office by the grace of the North should turn round to accuse the region’s elders of being behind the crisis.”
Mr Mark had on Monday at the beginning of 2012 Senators Retreat in Uyo, the Akwa-Ibom state capital called on leaders of the northern states to think properly before they allow what he called “a few selected cabals in Boko Haram” bring the north to its knees with what they are doing.
The groups, Arewa Youth Development Foundation and The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum challenged the senate president to name those he claimed are behind the sect.
“We hereby categorically challenge him to name those he claimed in his statement to be behind the terror group and to tell the world the action Mark has ever led the Senate to take towards arresting the security threat.”
The groups accused Mark of doing nothing towards resolving the Boko Haram crisis.
“It is even embarrassing for Mark, who has not for once attempted to meet with any of the elders, political leaders; religious or cultural leaders on how to resolve the situation, to now find the courage to point accusing fingers particularly at the elders”, the groups said.
Read the full text of the joint press statement below:
JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY THE AREWA YOUTH DEVELOPMENT FOUNDATION AND THE AREWA YOUTH CONSULTATIVE FORUM ON SENATE PRESIDENT DAVID MARK’S STATEMENT ON NORTHERN ELDERS
1.We read with great concern reports attributed to the Senate President David Mark tending to blame the elders of the North for the perpetration and escalation of violence in the region.
2.We find it regrettable that David Mark, himself a northerner and occupying his present office by the grace of the North should turn round to accuse the region’s elders of being behind the crisis.
3.It is unfortunate that Mark, supposedly a public figure and people’s representative should publicly admit not being aware of the concerted efforts by the Northern Elders Forum that has cut across religious and tribal boundaries; the various meetings held by the Northern Governors Forum the northern traditional rulers and various coalitions of religious leaders.
4. It is discouraging for Mark to have publicly admitted or pretended not to know that the northern elders he now accuses, have in their effort recently visited and presented a comprehensive document advising President Jonathan on how to handle the security situation.
5. It is even embarrassing for Mark, who has not for once attempted to meet with any of the elders, political leaders; religious or cultural leaders on how to resolve the situation, to now find the courage to point accusing fingers particularly at the elders.
6. We hereby categorically challenge him to name those he claimed in his statement to be behind the terror group and to tell the world the action Mark has ever led the Senate to take towards arresting the security threat.
7. Let Mark tell the world why his Senate deliberately ignored the various written calls made to it for intervention by calling for a public hearing on the matter particularly by youth groups.
8.Rather than heeding those calls, Mark’s Senate chose to pursue issues that involve money.
9. Let Mark tell the world if the northern elders have that power to restore peace beyond offering advice and calling for caution which they have been doing diligently though he pretends not to be aware of that.
10. And let Mark explain why his Senate could not initiate the steps that led to the present moves by the presidency towards changing the security arrangement while the House of Representatives did summon the President and security chiefs.
11. Indeed it is disrespectful for a son of the region in his position who has never visited any of the cities to console with victims of the violence to now attempt to blame its persistence on his own elders.
12.It is on record that Mark has never visited Maiduguri, Kano or Potiskum to console with families of the thousands of people slaughtered in the course of this violence but now finds the voice to criticise respected elders of the North.
13.More worrying is the part of Mark’s statement that tended to suggest that non-Muslims are the main target and primary victims of the attacks even after the Muslim community which has openly distanced itself from the actions, also happen to have recorded greater loss in terms of human and material casualty.
14.Even more insensitive is the manner in which Mark closed his eyes to universal fact that almost all those so far arrested in possession of explosives and dangerous arms; those arrested with the actual bombing or attempts to blow up the places of worship referred to by Mark, happen to be non-Muslims.
15.More dangerously divisive is that Mark, rather than making statements expected from leaders that could enhance religious harmony and understanding, chose to single out a certain religious group for pacification.
16.Finally, while we join other well-meaning Nigerians in condemning the violence and its perpetrators, we welcome the recent bold moves by President Jonathan to reposition the nation’s security structure, we caution the presidency to beware of the utterances of people like Mark who have clearly disconnected with the situation on ground.
17.We call on Mark to concentrate on cleaning the embarrassing scandals engulfing the Senate and stop diverting the nation with unintelligent accusations.
18.No diversionary tactic from Mark or anybody else can take the nation’s attention from the inadequacies of the Nigerian Senate with regards to sensitive national issues.
19. The nation knows that the Senate did not for instance take any action with regards to the vexed issue of fuel subsidy and that it was the Reps that even as much as showed concern.
20.We are convinced that most Senators are only using the Senate as a refuge to acquire immunity from investigations into their past commissions or omissions while in various positions of power.
21.Consequently we have resolved to launch an agitation for the scraping of the Nigerian Senate from the nation’s democratic structure as it only serves as a gateway for huge financial wastage while not performing its constitutional expectations.
SIGNED:
1.NASTURA ASHIR SHERIFF for Arewa Youth Development Foundation
2.SHETTIMA YERIMA for Arewa Youth Consultative Forum

Ten students drown in Nasarawa - Daily Times


Global Reporters Vienna

A downpour causes grim results at the Living Foundation Nursery and Primary School

Ten children have been confirmed dead after floods swept them away following Wednesday’s rains in Lafia, Nasarawa State.
 The deceased were pupils of the Living Foundation Nursery and Primary School in Tundun Kauri. Seven bodies were recovered in the school premises after the flood water was drained; while the remaining three bodies were found in a gully a few metres from the school compound. 
 Tudun Kauri is flood-prone due to the absence of a good drainage system.
 It was gathered that the school fence had collapsed, drawing the attention of neighbours who rushed into the classrooms to evacuate most of the students. In the resultant chaos, not all the kids were accounted for.
 The corpses of the victims have deposited at the Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital.
 When contacted, the state’s police spokesperson, Cornelius Ocholi, said he was yet to get the details of the incident as he was out of town on an official engagement.
 The Chief Fire Officer, Alhak Dogar, said his men launched a rescue operation, which was hampered by bad roads coupled with high currents of the flood. He expressed regret that the school was sitting on waterways which made it more difficult to rescue the pupils.
 “I received a call from the Ministry of Works that there was a problem around that area,” he said. “You know we all woke up to heavy downpour, and that signifies that there was a problem because of lack of proper drainage. People built on waterways, which is very dangerous.”

Loneliness can increase risk of death — Study


Global Reporters Vienna


JAYNE AUGOYE examines a new study which suggests that loneliness is a good indicator of illness
The term ‘loneliness’ is often interpreted as being alone. But to experts, what matters most is the perception of being alone and isolated.
A new study carried out by researchers from the University of California has established that loneliness can increase the risk of death by almost 10 per cent in the elderly and is a good indicator of illness.
The authors of the study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, say loneliness is a negative feeling that would be worth addressing even if the condition had no health implications.
Dr. Carla Perissinotto, who led the research, believes their findings could have serious public health implications.
He highlighted the fact that loneliness, is a common source of suffering in older persons, saying, “We demonstrated that it is also a risk factor for poor health outcomes including death and multiple measures of functional decline.”
For those who are over 60, the team discovered, feeling lonely is a common source of distress and can lead to an impaired quality of life. In turn, they suggest that questioning older persons about loneliness may be a useful way of identifying elderly persons at risk of disability and poor health outcomes.
“Assessment of loneliness is not routine in clinical practice and it may be viewed as beyond the scope of medical practice. However, loneliness may be an important of a predictor of adverse health outcomes and medical risk factors.”
In carrying out the study, the researchers examined the relationship between loneliness and the risk of functional decline and death in older individuals in a study of 1,604 participants.
The participants, with an average age of 71, were asked if they felt left out, isolated or a lack of companionship.
Of the participants, 43.2 per cent reported feeling lonely, which was defined as reporting one of the loneliness items at least some of the time.
Loneliness was associated with an increased risk of death over the six-year follow-up period.
They also found isolated participants were twice as likely to experience a decline in daily activities.
Meanwhile 40.8 per cent of lonely people struggled with the stairs compared to 27.9 per cent of others.
“Nevertheless, with regard to health implications, scientists examining social support should build on studies such as those published in this issue and be challenged to investigate mechanisms as well as practical interventions that can be used to address the social factors that undermine health,” the researchers advise.
A separate US study in the same journal found a link between living alone and an increased risk of death from heart disease among people at risk of blood clots. Scientists examined data on 44,573 middle-aged participants, 8,594 of whom lived alone.
Living alone was associated with three per cent greater chance of dying over a period of four years. It also increased the risk of death from heart disease from around 7 per cent to 8.6 per cent.
Yet this universal human emotion called loneliness is both complex and unique to each individual.
Because, it has no single common cause, psychologists say the preventions and treatments for this damaging state of mind vary dramatically.
Loneliness has a wide range of negative effects on both physical and mental health. Some of the health risks associated with the condition include depression, suicide, cardiovascular disease, stroke, increased stress levels, decreased memory and learning. Others are antisocial behaviour, poor decision-making, alcoholism and drug abuse, the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and altered brain function.
One study by the University of Chicago suggests that loneliness may actually be contagious. In a ten-year study, researchers examined how loneliness spreads in social networks. The results indicated that people close to someone experiencing loneliness were 52 per cent more likely to become lonely as well.
According to the results of the study, loneliness can spread much like the common cold. While a cold or flu bug might be spread through a handshake, loneliness can spread through groups of people via negative social interactions.
Past research has found that lonely people tend to act shyer, hostile, anxious and socially awkward. “They also tend to interpret social interactions differently, often seeing certain behaviours in others as a form of rejection or dismissal, the researchers note.
The study involved more than 5,000 individuals, who were asked to complete a loneliness questionnaire, give a medical history and receive a physical examination every two years to four years over a ten-year period. Participants also indicated who their friends and relatives were, and many of these individuals also took part in the study.
Punch

21 killed as gunmen, JTF clash in Kano, Yobe - Vanguard


Global Reporters Vienna

Arms and ammunition seized by JTF from suspected Boko Haram members in Dikwa Lga, Borno State On Monday

By AbdulSalam Muhammad & Ndahi Marama
KANO — No fewer than 17 Islamist militants were killed, yesterday, in Kano after two days of sustained exchange of fire between the militants and security agents. Four others were also reportedly killed in Damaturu, Yobe State capital. It was gathered that three undergraduates were among those arrested by security agents.
The gunmen had reportedly launched an operation, attacking seven targets with explosives and  assault rifles in Kano during the attack that lasted about 12 hours.

The military Joint Task Force, JTF, reportedly killed two of the attackers in Damaturu, while one was arrested in the 30-minute fierce battle that later spread to the Federal Polytechnic, Damaturu, premises.
It was alleged that a group of unknown gunmen, suspected to be terrorists, had earlier attacked a police out-post in Sabon Fegi ward in the metropolis, killing two civilians. A woman and her child were hit by stray bullets during the exchange of gunfire between the gunmen and men of JTF.
Kano State Commissioner of Police, Ibrahim Idris told newsmen in Kano that the gunmen attacked their targets with explosives and assault riffles, adding that no fewer than 14 Improvised Explosive Devices, IEDs, were defused by the Bomb Disposal Unit of the police command during the gunfight.
He said: “Some extremists launched an attack with bombs and assault rifles on Dala Police Station, Jakara Police Barracks, Goron Dutse Division, Panshekara Division, 52 Squadron Mobile Police Unit, Challawa; and also planted bombs at the Junior Secondary School, Sabuwar Doka in Ungogo Local Government.
“The extremists, who were about 30, attacked policemen on duty with assault rifles and IEDs, and the policemen gallantly repelled the attacks.”
He added that the ‘’extremists’’ also attacked the Goron Dutse Prison yard, but the policemen on duty repelled their attacks successfully. He said no damage was done to the prisons, even as the situation was now under control.
The police boss, however, revealed that the command lost a police Sergeant just as another sergeant sustained injuries.
According to him, items recovered from the religious extremists included five assault rifles, 220 live ammunition, five vehicles, three motorcycles, large quantities of drugs and syringes, and N100,000 cash.
The Commissioner, however, commended the people of the state for their cooperation with law enforcement agencies and urged them not to relent in providing useful information.
However, commenting on the incident in Damaturu, the Yobe State Police Commissioner, Patrick Egbuniwe, said in a telephone interview yesterday that “there were attacks on a police and military posts by suspected gunmen, where two civilians were killed in the Sabon Fegi ward and the Federal Polytechnic staff quarters.”
He said there were still some assailants hiding among the communities in the metropolis, warning that the police and JTF would continue to raid such hideouts, which pose increased security threats to lives and property in the state.
He said there was no casualty during Tuesday’s attacks on the part of men of the JTF and police, urging the residents to always cooperate with security agents, by providing useful information on the hideouts and modus operandi of terrorists in their midst.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Ihedioha: Obasanjo Sowed Seed of Discord in N’Assembly - By Anayo Okolie


Global Reporters Vienna

Hon. Emeka Ihedioha

Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, yesterday said the seed of discord that is presently prevalent in the National Assembly was sown by former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in his bid to assert control over the legislature as far back as 1999.
Ihedioha who spoke at a public lecture organised by the Department of Political Science,  University of Lagos (Unilag) noted that the leadership crisis that attended the inauguration of the fourth National Assembly was largely due to external interference by the executive.
His words: “The political leadership that emerged in 1999 was coming from a military background where the idea of a legislature was totally unknown or greatly detested. Under succeeding military regimes, the ruling military High Command always combined executive and legislative powers. Government policies and programmes were carried out with “immediate effect”. The military had no patience for “too much grammar” and debates often associated with parliamentary democracy.
“So, for a military leader who is used to issuing out orders and getting things done, it is inconceivable for him to be sharing powers with “idle civilians” who constitute the legislature in a democratic setting. The tendency to assert total control was ever present. This mental construct or military hang-over was primarily responsible for the adversarial relationship that was witnessed between the Executive and the Legislature between 1999 and 2007,” he said.
The lawmaker explained that the desire of the Executive to exercise total control over the Legislature had led to the imposition of leadership in the two chambers of the National Assembly against the preferences of majority of members. He recalled the wobbly start of the legislature in 1999.
“Through acts of subterfuge, the Executive infiltrated the ranks of the Senators-elect, used a splinter group of the PDP caucus and members of the opposition parties (APP and AD) to frustrate the choice of Dr. Okadigbo as Senate President. Instead the Executive propped up Chief Evan Enwerem and rallied support for him, thereby enthroning him as the President of the Senate contrary to popular expectations. With this development, the seed of discord and instability was sown in the National Assembly.
“The House of Representatives similarly witnessed a crisis of leadership which also had its origin in the meddlesomeness of the Executive. The undisguised and open support by the Executive for Hon. Salisu Buhari compelled other major contenders for the post of speaker like Hon. Farouk Lawan and Hon. Sadiq Yar’Adua to step-down their ambitions, thus paving the way for the emergence of Buhari. But due diligence was not conducted on his background.
and that eventually proved costly.”
He said the bad blood generated through the imposition of leadership in the National Assembly continued to work against the cohesiveness and unity of members in the two chambers, with the resultant mutual distrust and suspicions. “Nocturnal meetings became the order of the day. Before long, the internal contradictions arising from the morbid desire of the Executive to emasculate the National Assembly led to regime change in the two chambers of the National Assembly.”
Ihedioha who claimed the present assembly is doing everything possible to change the situation cited the intervention during the fuel subsidy crisis as timely and inevitable. “The timing of the removal of subsidy from petroleum products by the Executive was most inauspicious. No one anticipated such sudden sharp increase as Nigerians had planned the budget for their trips based on existing cost parameters and indices.
“Confronted with such a terrible situation, the House of Representatives had to convene an emergency session on a Sunday, January, 8 2012. This culminated in the decision of the House to set up the Hon. Farouk Lawan-led Ad-Hoc Committee on the Investigation and Monitoring of the Fuel Subsidy regime. To address the urgent matter of the impending strike, we set up the Patrick Ikhariale Committee to reach out to Labour and arrest the situation.
“The findings of the Committee have since revealed that the huge funds being misapplied by a privileged few in our society in the name of oil subsidy could have been better and wisely deployed in funding the national budget to provide critical infrastructure and tackle mass poverty. I want to assure Nigerians that in spite of the alleged bribery scandal, the report of the Subsidy Committee as adopted by the House remains sacrosanct. We urge the Executive to implem ent it without further delay,” Ihedioha said.
Thisday

Jonathan appoints new GMD for NNPC - Vanguard


Global Reporters Vienna


President Goodluck Jonathan has appointed Mr. Andrew Yakubu as the new Group Managing Director
The the former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC Mr. Austen Oniwon was asked to proceed on retirement by President Goodluck Jonathan, Tuesday
According to a statement from the presidency, the appointments is to further strengthen the ongoing reforms and transformation of Nigeria’s Petroleum sector, and  to achieve greater transparency  and accountability in government.
The statement further stated, “The incumbent Group Managing Director, Engr. Austen Oniwon, and Mr. Michael Arokodare (outgoing Group Executive Director (Finance and Accounts), Mr. Philip Chukwu, outgoing Group Executive Director (Refineries & Petrochemicals), and Engr. Billy Agha, outgoing Group Executive Director (Engineering & Technology) are to proceed on retirement.
“The re-composition of the executive management team of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as follows:
1.      Engr. Andrew Yakubu -           Group Managing Director
2.      Mr. Bernard O.N. Otti            -           Group Executive Director (Finance and Accounts)
3.      Engr. Abiye Membere            -           Group Executive Director (Exploration and Production)
4.      Dr. Peter S. Nmadu     -           Group Executive Director (Corporate Services)
5.      Engr. Anthony Ogbuigwe        – Group Executive Director (Refineries & Petrochemicals)
6.      Dr. Attahir B. Yusuf     -           Group Executive Director (Commercial & Investments)
7.      Dr. David Ige               -           Group Executive Director (Gas & Power)
The incoming Group Managing Director, Engr. Andrew Yakubu graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in 1979 with a degree in Chemical Engineering. He joined the NNPC in 1980. Positions he has held in the corporation include Managing Director of the Warri Refining and Petrochemicals Company and Group Executive Director (Exploration and Production). Engr. Yakubu is an indigene of Kaduna State and a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers.
President Jonathan has also approved the appointment of Engr. Victor Briggs as the new Managing Director of the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC).
President Jonathan commends the outgoing directors for their service to the nation and urges the new management team to be fully committed to rapidly implementing the critical interventions needed to positively transform Nigeria’s petroleum industry

Monday, June 25, 2012

What Michael Jackson Left Behind: From the Lisa Marie Insomniac Note to the Lost Freddie Mercury Duets




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Pastor Chris Okotie ends second marriage - By Okay Osuji


Global Reporters Vienna

Chris Okotie and wife Stephanie before their divorce.

Rev Chris Okotie’s second marriage has ended after only four years. The Head Pastor of the Household of God announced in church yesterday, that he has separated from Stephanie Henshaw whom he married in August 2008. He told his congregation that he wanted to be the one to break the sad news to them and hoped for their understanding. He also said there was no going back,that the marriage was over!
This is Rev Okotie’s second failed marriage. It would be recalled that a lot of controversy trailed his marriage to Stephanie, a widow and mother of three. Pastor Okotie had earlier divorced his first wife Tina, who is now living in the United States of America.
The marriage between the estranged couple started during a thanksgiving service held in his church on August 10. Okotie created a stir when he told his congregation that the Holy Spirit revealed to him that his bride had never been married before. The woman, who was married, was dead and this one is born again, a new creation and quoting the bible, he said, “old things had passed away”- so also was the fact that she was once married. Okotie had also dispelled the belief that the bible is against re-marriage after divorce in a situation where the spouse is still alive. “There is a difference between a man abandoned by his wife and the one that divorces. The only thing that breaks a relationship is a divorce and even when there’s a divorce, the bible says you can re-marry,” he said.
It was gathered that Okotie ignored opposition from his church members and other relatives concerning his decision to wed Stephanie, claiming he had heard God clearly this time. Members of the church had even organised secret vigils and prayer sessions for their pastor to change his mind, but when their prayer did not materialise, some relocated to other churches. Some of his followers claimed his actions were contradictory and confusing.
At a press conference, Okotie said his new bride was destined to marry him from her birth and that people really did not appreciate what love is. He said he began ‘walking closely’ with Stephanie in 1999, a year after his divorce and he had asked her to marry him many times. “She was not particularly certain whether it was what God wanted for her. So I had a situation where I had to get the Lord to persuade her that he is part of this agreement,” he said.
National Mirrow

Truly, Thieves In The Legislature By Emma Okah

Global Reporters Vienna



National Assembly


Serial corruption is killing Nigeria by installments. This is a fact and it cuts across board and in all facets of our national life. Call it federal, state or local government level, the story is the same. Nearly all operatives of the public service in any part of the country stink of corruption. It is for this reason that it is difficult to eliminate graft in our national life. The question therefore is who will fight corruption in the land where everybody who should stand up and be counted among the righteous is also compromised?
Where do we start from? The executive arm of government, the legislature or even the judiciary are all soaked in the game. So who will check who? The truth is that in the public sector, there are only a microscopic few who can pass the true test of honesty and integrity in terms of handling the public trust. This is the major reason why corruption and bad governance may live with us for a long time to come unless something tragic happens in this country that will reverse this shameful and ignoble trend.
By the ordinary operation of the principles of federalism, the legislative arm of government practically acts like the security dog and gate keeper of democracy and rule of law. With its power of impeachment and genuine oversight functions, it can whip the other arms of government into line. This is also the rule in Nigeria but the legislature we have today is populated mainly by men and women whose primary concern is not the welfare of the people they represent but the fatness of their stomach. A legislature where everything goes. A legislature that hates the nation and her growth. This is unfortunately where we are as a country.
When Chief Olusegun Obasanjo publicly described the legislators at both the national and state levels as thieves and armed robbers, many parliamentarians whose skeletons have not been exposed were bold to question his moral high ground in making such sweeping condemnation. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, Obasanjo is right. In comparison, it is easy to see Obasanjo's era as a saintly time even with all the criticisms that trailed his fight against corruption. He used the EFCC under Mallam Nuhu Ribadu to settle political scores especially after his third term bid collapsed in the National Assembly.
We have been following the Farouk Lawan/Femi Otedola sting saga. Taking into account what both of them have said so far at various times since the cat was let out of the bag, we have no difficulty in pronouncing Lawan guilty of demanding and receiving gratification. There is no new evidence that will be more potent, more incriminating than what the public already know. His double speak, his denials, his subsequent admission of receiving money irrespective of the motive, his withdrawal of the name of Zenon Oil belonging to Otedola on the floor of the House after receiving the $620,000 initial deposits clearly establish an unbroken chain of criminal trend consistent with intent to commit a crime and actual commission of the crime.
To many Nigerians, what is news today is not the fact of stealing or receiving bribe by a public officer. We are used to that but there are two interesting things about this particular case. First is that Otedola who, many Nigerians believe, is one of the economic saboteurs especially in the oil and gas sector is now a chief whistle blower. We have no kudos for him because he merely acted to protect his financial interest and nothing more. Can Otedola on a good day blow the whistle to expose a Lawan if the money was being paid by another company where he has no interest? Many Nigerians believe that Otedola is not known to be one of those who will stand  up to sting anybody if his direct pecuniary interest is not affected.

The second dimension is the person  of Farouk Lawan. We see another fall from grace. We see another face of a fraudster. We see another thief who makes laws for Nigeria. As a person, I admired him a lot. He is quiet, influential, knowledgeable and possesses some commendable degree of leadership qualities. His contributions to debates on the floor of the House of Representatives make anybody easily notice his miniature frame and tiny voice. As a politician, I had thought that when the time comes in Nigeria  for integrity and merit to count in the choice of who rules the people, the likes of Lawan from the Northern part of the country will take the front seat. Appearances indeed stand for no man. Only the Almighty God and Lawan himself knew the stinking stuff he is made of.  Many Nigerians feel saddened and disappointed by the betrayal that has consumed the small Lawan. In public life, the spirit of integrity has left him, leaving only his carcass.
Farouk Lawan

However, many Nigerians I have discussed this mode matter with are of the view that Lawan's case is not extra ordinary as worse cases in the past have made heroes of the victims. All he needs to do now, in their opinion, is to move on as if nothing has happened and try to remain relevant as political events may occur in the future that will throw him up as an ally. In other words, he will simply go the way of the others before him. He will be charged to court by the EFCC or police and thereafter the case file will either be gathering dusts in the court registry or a soft landing is arranged for him. After all, what has happened to Demeji Bankole and his deputy Nafada? Are Ndudi Elumelu and Senator Ugbane not walking the streets free and making laws in the National Assembly? The truth is that Lawan's case is a child's play compared to his predecessors in corruption but Nigerians are watching to see how the ruling PDP and the presidency will twist this case. That is all on this case for now.###
National Network

48-year-old woman arrested with 66 wraps of narcotics in her private part - Global Reporters Vienna

Global Reporters Vienna



Mande Fatimah Bala. photo: Courtesy: National Drug Law  Enforcement Agency


A 48 year-old woman, Mande Fatima Bala, has set a new record in narcotic smuggling in the country.
She inserted 66 wraps of substances that tested positive for methamphetamine, weighing one kilogramme, in her private part as she attempted to board a Kenyan Airways flight to Nairobi. 
According to the Agency, no suspect has ever inserted such a large quantity of drugs in his or her private part since the establishment of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency in 1989. 
The suspect, who is a graduate of Accountancy, was apprehended a week ago at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
Details in The Sun on Monday.
Sun