Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No going back on controversial clause – N’Assembly

The National Assembly has concluded plans to go ahead with the process of amending the 2010 Electoral Act (First alteration) in spite of the public outrage against it.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze, who made this known at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday, said the public hearing on the bill seeking to amend the Act might begin on Thursday.

Section 84 of a bill which seeks to make federal lawmakers members of the National Executive Committees of their political parties, had attracted criticisms from opposition political parties, civil rights groups and prominent Nigerians.

But, Eze said at the press conference that the outcome of the public hearing on the bill would determine the direction to be followed by the lawmakers.

He said, “We need the public hearing because the process of making laws here is very clear and we cannot bypass any of the procedure because people are speaking for or against.

“When people speak for it, we will still go ahead and conduct public hearing, when they speak against, we will still conduct public hearing. Preparations are in top gear. All things being equal, we might be having the public hearing on Thursday.”

The Senate spokesman added that in order to save time, the committees handling the bill in both chambers of the National Assembly might merge to conduct a single public hearing.

According to him, the two committees, would after the public hearing submit a harmonised version of the bill to the chambers.

“If possible, they may eliminate the time that would have been wasted on setting up a conference committee. Everything is being done to ensure that that matter is treated speedily,” he said

The senator assured that the leadership of the Senate would be open to criticisms, and urged critics to appear at the public hearing to make their contributions.

He said, “The Senate President say, we are a listening National Assembly, we represent the people, at the end of the day, what will happen is what the Nigerian people desire and what will be in the overall interest of our democracy.

“That is what will guide our actions. We want to assure you that we will tale on board, all the views that have been expressed to the public hearing.”

There was, however, tension in the House of Representatives on Tuesday when the two lead sponsors of the bill in the House complained that one their colleagues — Mr. Patrick Obahiagbon — used abusive and unparliamentary language in his opposition to the controversial clause in the bill.

The sponsors of the bill — Mr. Igo Aguma and Mr. Cyril Maduabum — therefore urged that Obahiagbon be penalised for his action.

Obahiagbon, the first lawmaker to openly condemn the clause, had said that it would amount to ”legislative rascality and parliamentary gambadoism” if the House went ahead to pass the bill.

Raising a point of order on privilege and quoting from the Legislative Houses, Powers and Privileges Act at Tuesday’s plenary, Aguma noted that the Action Congress of Nigeria lawmaker went beyond the norms acceptable to the House to castigate his colleagues in the public.

Aguma urged the House to refer the matter to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate it and make appropriate recommendations to the House.

Aguma‘s prayer was a veiled call for the suspension of Obahiagbon, as the committee would have applied the relevant rules and recommend his suspension.

On his part, Maduabum informed the House that Obahiagbon appeared on a television programme where he allegedly asked Nigerians to ”take up arms against all members of the National Assembly.”

He said, “This is an incitement to violence; it simply means that by his action, we are no longer safe as legislators.

“The lives of members of our families are also at risk because he is inciting the public to come and attack us in the course of doing our job as legislators.”

But as tension rose, the Speaker, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, called for caution and sought to hear Obahiagbon‘s side of the story.

This attracted noisy reaction as the majority of lawmakers opposed the idea of allowing Obahiagbon to speak. They wanted the matter to be referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges immediately.

The speaker, in a bid to ensure fairness, insisted that Obahiagbon must speak amid loud protests by lawmakers.

When he rose to speak, Obahiagbon admitted to have addressed a news conference where he used the language complained of.

He, however, explained that he used ”legislative rascality” contextually to mean that he hoped his colleagues would not ignore the opposition to the bill by going ahead to pass it.

His explanation elicited further uproar as the lawmakers shouted him down. At this point, Bankole intervened again, saying that it was clear that Obahiagbon offended his colleagues by describing them as ‘legislative rascals.’

The speaker then advised Obahiagbon to withdraw the language and apologise to the House.

He also observed that by admitting that he considered the decision of the House to pass the bill as unethical, Obahiagbon ought to know that it was a matter for the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to handle instead of going to the public.

Obahiagbon bowed to pressure and tendered an apology, saying that “the House of Representatives will live forever.”

He also said that he offered an ”unreserved apologia.”

Many lawmakers still felt that Obahiagbon did not apologise properly, but Bankole intervened again to restrain them from fuelling the tension.

The speaker appealed for calm and urged his colleagues to focus more on other serious assignments before the House such as the amendment to the 1999 Constitution (2nd Alteration). [PUNCH]

2011: Northern leaders alarmed by Jonathan’s ambition – Atiku

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar on Tuesday said President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration to pick the Peoples Democratic Party’s ticket for the 2011 presidential election came to Northern elders as a ‘rude shock.’

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on his selection as the compromise aspirant of the Northern Leaders Political Forum, the former vice-president said this was because Jonathan was aware of an existing agreement within the party to rotate power between the North and South. He said zoning had become part of Nigeria’s political culture, adding that this was why the PDP zoned the office of President to the South in 1999.

In 2002, Abubakar said an expanded caucus of the PDP reaffirmed the zoning of the Presidency to the South for another four years, after which it would be the turn of the North for eight years.

“Our current President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, was present at that expanded caucus meeting and voted in support of zoning. It, therefore, came as a rude shock to most Nigerians, including Northern leaders in the PDP, when indications emerged that Dr. Jonathan would, in utter disregard of the PDP constitution and extant agreements, offer himself for election to the office of President in 2011.

“We were alarmed that the progress that we had made as a nation to address our diversity in relation to power-sharing would be jeopardised, with consequences that might be catastrophic. It was that concern that led to the formation of the Northern Leaders Political Forum, which immediately began wide-ranging consultations across the country to alert Nigerians to the dangers inherent in one man, just because he feels he could, casually abandoning agreements painstakingly reached by broad sections of the country on the critical issue of power sharing.”

He said those opposed to zoning were not concerned about the stability of the country. He also told the audience that anti-zoning elements, in their desperation, resorted to a dangerous strategy of ethnic and religious politics to advance their selfish agenda. Zoning, he said, was not new to the country as it was also adopted during the First Republic.

“That was why in the First Republic, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe from the South was ceremonial President, Tafawa Balewa from the North was the Prime Minister and other key positions went to people from various ethnic and religious groups. We maintained that tradition under military rule and through all civilian administrations.

“Zoning and rotation have never been perfect, but we have always recognised their importance for peace, unity, fairness and justice in this country. It is the mechanism which, at this stage of our development, ensures that every segment of the country, especially minority groups, have a chance of producing the occupants of the most important offices in our country.”

He said it was ironic that the country’s foreign reserves were being depleted while funds in the Excess Crude Account were reducing.

He said, “Why are our budgets not being implemented? Why has the money in our Excess Crude Account disappeared at a time when oil prices have been way above the benchmark used for our budget estimates?

“Why are our foreign reserves being depleted to dangerous levels leading to rating agencies downgrading our status? Why is this government quickly dragging us back to indebtedness after we worked so hard and sacrificed so much in the past to pull ourselves out of debt slavery? Clearly we need a new leadership in this country. That is why I am in this race.”

He pledged to work tirelessly to achieve victory for the PDP and lead the effort to build a Nigeria of his vision. This vision, according to him, is of a country which “creates conducive conditions and incentives for productive investment in the industrial sector, agriculture and social services; investments that will create massive numbers of jobs which will keep our youths gainfully employed and help to tackle the high level of insecurity in the country.”

Among those who were at the briefing were the Directors-General of Abubakar Bukola Saraki Campaign Organisation, Gen. Aliyu Gusau Campaign Organisation and Ibrahim Babangida Campaign Organisation, Dr. Udenta Udenta, Senator Ben Obi and Dr. Raymond Dokpesi respectively.

Others at the briefing included former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo; erstwhile Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani; Mr. Chris Mammah and Chief Musa Elayo.

The Director, Media and Publicity of the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation, Mr. Sully Abu, told our correspondent on the telephone that “there was nothing in what Atiku said on both economy and zoning.

“On zoning, the PDP has said the President is qualified to contest and every loyal member of the party has to abide by the party’s position. Atiku may not know anything about loyalty since he has been in and out of the party.

“Concerning the economy, he is not sure of his facts. There are rating agencies that have rated the Federal Government high and we do not know why he is using his pre-determined position to react. He is, however, free to pick any of the agencies he likes for the purpose of campaign.”

Meanwhile, the Deputy Director-General of the Ibrahim Babangida Campaign Organisation, Senator Kanti Bello, has described the selection of Abubakar as ‘irrational.’ Speaking on the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation monitored in Kaduna on Tuesday, Bello argued that the committee’s choice did not go down well with him.

But media spokesman to the former vice-president, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the senator had the right to his opinion since he had to please his boss (Babangida). [PUNCH]

Navy, Customs impound seven military trucks, arms in Lagos

The Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogbor, on Tuesday said eight military trucks had been seized by the Nigerian Navy on Monday at Tin Can Island Port, Apapa, Lagos.

Speaking at a news conference in Lagos, Ogbor said the trucks were covered with a camouflage tarpaulin and were neatly tucked into a container. He said two suspects had been arrested in connection with the issue, adding that they would be released to the appropriate authority after investigations.

According to him, “Items found in the trucks included A Chevrolet double cabin vehicle covered with a camouflage tarpaulin spread neatly tucked into a container. Inside the vehicle were some pistols, hundreds of live ammunition, bulletproof jackets, military boots and sundry prohibited related items.

“Heavy duty military trucks used for the movement of troops and logistics were also impounded by the command. The trucks are seven and are painted in military colour.”

Ogbor said the Navy and other security agencies were prepared to combat criminals in the country.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs Service on Tuesday displayed two pistols and 1,431 rounds of ammunition it discovered in a vehicle brought into the country from the United States in a container.

The Area Controller, Tin Can Island, NCS, Mr. Austen Warikoru, told newsmen in Lagos during the inspection of the arms and ammunition in Lagos that two suspects had been arrested in connection with the seizure.

He said, “The concealment of contraband items arm and ammunitions was in a 40ft container UESU 456777/3. The suspects, Mr. Ifeanyi Edom, who is the clearing agent and the purported brother inlaw to the importer, Mr. Ume Uzoezie, are in Customs custody.

“The container was re-examined on November 20, 2010 in the presence of the suspects.”

According to him, the container contained two used pistols, one AR-7 Explorer with S/No A124431-CAL.22 and AMPSOR 206 CAL. 38 Special with serial no A946122. He gave the details of the ammunitions as 1100 rounds of Remington brand of 22 calibre bullets, 100 Remington special of 32 calibre; 100 Monarch brand of 38 calibre and 31 Acquita (Super-maxim) of 22 calibre.

Other items discovered in the container were used clothes, various gifts items, personal belongings and four cars. (PUNCH)

Lagos Security Trust Fund now N6.2 billion

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Tuesday said the Lagos State Security Trust Fund had raised over N6.2bn in materials and money in the past three years.

Fashola, who spoke at the fourth town hall meeting on security organised by the LSSTF in Lagos, said the contributions of the people of the state to the fund had boosted his administration’s fight against crime. He, however, lamented the impact of the economic recession on the contributions of major donors to the fund.

The governor, therefore, called on individual and corporate donors to continue to support the LSSTF. He pointed out that a centralised police force, whose ability “to perform its duties is predicated on the level of support it receives in material and logistics provided by its principal, the Federal Government.”

Also speaking, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, said operatives of the Lagos State Rapid Response Squad foiled at least 64 armed robbery attacks between October 2009 and September 2010.

Akpoyibo said the crime rate in the state had dropped by 79 per cent, adding that security agents responded to 25 fire outbreaks and 27 accidents in the state within the same period.

Akpoyibo praised the state government for setting up the LSSTF, saying it was responsible for the success recorded so far. He said the fund had bolstered security in the state through capacity-building.

The police commissioner, who commended the public-private partnership approach to security management in the state, declared ‘zero tolerance’ for crime. He said the state government’s mission was “already being realised as crime indices have now assumed a downward trend.”

According to him, it is normally expected that in mega cities, armed robbery, murder, fraud, car theft and trans-border crime will be at a high level. He, however, said the reverse was the case in the state.L

INEC Releases New Election Timetable...Full details !!!

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday ended months of speculations on the new guidelines for full blown political activities by releasing the revised election timetable for the 2011 general elections.

According to the new timetable, National Assembly elections will hold first on April, 2, 2011. They will be followed by the presidential election on April 9, 2011.

The process is expected to end on April 16 with the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.

The INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega, read out the timetable at a news conference in Abuja.

He said the release of the timetable/election guidelines was in line with the powers conferred on the commission by the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the 2010 Electoral Act and all other powers enabling the commission to perform its functions.

Other details of the election schedule show that campaigns by political parties will begin on December 1, 2010.

The party primaries will start on January 1, 2011 while the last day for the submission of forms CF001 and CF 002 (affidavit and personal particulars of candidates for all elections) is January 31, 2011.

The date for the registration of voters, pursuant to Section 9(5) of the Electoral Act (2010), has been fixed for between January 15 and 29, 2011.

Section 9(5) of the Electoral Act , provides that the exercise be carried out 90 days before polling day.

The new timetable also states the last day for the withdrawal/substitution of candidates by political parties.

For National Assembly elections, parties have up till February 14, 2011 to substitute candidates. Parties also have up till February 21, 2011 to submit nomination forms for candidates contesting the National Assembly poll.

February 21, 2011 is the last day for parties to substitute candidates for the presidential poll and February 28 for the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.

Electioneering is expected to end on April 1, 2011 for the National Assembly elections and April 8, 2011 for the presidential contest.

Governorship and Houses of Assembly elections have April 15 as the last day for electioneering.

Jega, who was flanked at the news conference by national commissioners of INEC, also announced that the run-off for governorship and presidential elections (if any), would be held within seven days after the announcement of the result of the affected poll.

Sections 179 (4) and (5), and Section 134 (4-5) respectively of the 1999 Constitution provide for this.

The commission had, in a timetable released on September 7, 2010 , fixed the voter registration for between November 1 and November 14.

INEC also scheduled party primaries for between September 11 and October 30. It had planned to hold the 2011 general elections in January.

But at a meeting with leaders of the 63 registered political parties on September 21, Jega said the January date was not feasible.

He had said that the commission had missed many of its timelines that were crucial to the registration of voters as well as the recruitment and training of ad-hoc staff for the elections.

At the meeting, INEC and the parties agreed that the 2010 Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution should be amended to allow for the postponement of the poll.

President Goodluck Jonathan had in October sent a bill to the National Assembly proposing amendments to sections 5, 10, 11, and 17 of the constitution (first alteration) Act and Sections 76,116, 132, and 178 of the 1999 Constitution.

According to him, the amendments will extend the deadline for the conduct of the election to the end of April 2011.

The National Assembly had passed the bill, which mandated INEC to hold the general elections not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days to May 29 .

In the first amendment, the commission was supposed to hold elections not earlier than 150 days and not later than 60 days before May 29.

Earlier this month, the National Assembly had forwarded the bill to the 36 state Houses of Assembly, which on Monday, said that they had approved it. (PUNCH)

Delta Assembly steps down 2 commissioner-nominees over credentials

The Delta State House of Assembly on Tuesday stepped down the confirmation of two commissioner-nominees for failure to summit their certificates.

The nominees, Ngozi Okolie and Leonard Esegbue, were however, given up to Wednesday to submit the credentials or lose their nomination. The House took the decision when it was discovered that the duo, who had appeared with four others, did not submit copies of their credentials. Other nominees - Paulinus Akpeki, Brave

Enodeh, Dumbiri Uweh and Peter Ekereokosu - were screened and confirmed. The state's Acting Governor, Sam Obi, had on Thursday, forwarded list of six persons to the Assembly for confirmation as commissioners. Obi was sworn in as Acting Governor on November 10, following the nullification of Emmanuel Uduaghan's election by an Appeal Court in Benin, Edo. Mr Obi dissolved the State Executive Council on Monday and sent 27 names to the

Assembly for approval as commissioners to enable him reconstitute the council. The list which contained names of 24 members of the dissolved cabinet and three new ones, was read out during the Assembly's proceedings on Tuesday. -(234next)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

“Farida Waziri Has No Plan Of Resigning” - EFCC can disclose that Farida Waziri,chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has no plans of stepping down. At least not until 2012, when her tenure elapses. This clarification became necessary in light of a bogus

media advisory currently in circulation, which opined that Mrs. Farida Waziri had contemplated resigning as the czar of the anti-corruption agency over alleged interference by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr.Mohammed Bello Adoke.

Mr. Femi Babafemi, spokesman for EFFC, whom the statement was attributed to, has distanced himself, saying that the statement was “fake” and that the authors may have cloned his email”.

Here him:

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has described as cheap blackmail and an act of desperation by disgruntled elements a widely circulated statement credited to the anti-graft agency in which spurious and ridiculous allegations were made against the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN as well as the EFCC Chairman, Mrs Farida Waziri”.

“A statement by the Commission on Tuesday November 16, 2010 accused those behind the fake statement of cloning the e-mail address of the Commission's spokesman, Femi Babafemi and using same to send their own statement to media organizations including on-line publications some of which had already published the so-called statement which was written in bad language and taste”.

“The Commission wishes to disown the statement in its entirety and urge all those that may have received it as well as the general public to disregard it as it is not in any way related to the reality of things on ground in the EFCC”.

"The statement is just one of the numerous antics of crooks to set the office of the AGF against the EFCC in their desperate bid to cause confusion and disaffection between the two personalities heading the two public offices. They have tried this before now by sponsoring various publications attacking either the AGF or the EFCC chairman as a ploy to create the impression that such publications were sponsored by either of the two officials against the other”.

"We wish to assure the masterminds of this criminal act that this is yet another of their failed plots to want to escape justice using all manner of crooked means. If they have failed to deter us from continuing their investigation and prosecution by killing and maiming our officials, sending of bomb threats and others, then their latest antic of trying to set the AGF against the EFCC will equally fail”.

"We wish to emphasize that the EFCC chairman is not contemplating resigning her appointment on a non-existent ground that the AGF is interfering with the work of the Commission. The support of the AGF for the anti-graft agency has in no small measure helped to facilitate the recent successes recorded in the war against corruption especially some high profile convictions recorded by the EFCC”.

"We also wish to assure the criminal minds behind the latest plot that we will continue to work with other security agencies to trail and track them no matter who they are", the statement stated”.

Bogus Press Statement: Linked To Chris Oyakhilome`s Newspaper (National Daily)

Earlier, National Daily, a publication owned by Chris Oyakhilome, the controversial head pastor of Christ Embassy Ministry, published a story captioned:Farida Waziri battles AGF Adoke, Pays Aondoakaa N1.3 billion Monthly”. The poorly worded, fabricated statement, which was a joinder to the aforementioned story reads:

Farida Waziri battles AGF Adoke, Pays Aondoakaa N1.3 billion Monthly - Rejoinder

The Attention of the Economic and Financial Commission, EFCC has been drawn to the recent publication in The National Daily Newspaper, posted on the Sahara reporter’s website. In the said publication, it was alleged that the Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri and the Honourable Attorney General and Minister for Justice are at war, and that the AGF wrote a memo accusing the leadership of the commission of ineptitude in the handling of petition amongst others.

The Farida same publication also accused Mrs. Farida Waziri of paying the sum of N1.3 billion to the former Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa. These accusations are baseless and sponsored by the enemies of the EFCC, however it is pertinent to put the record straight.

Mrs. Waziri’s relationship with Mr. Adoke remains cordial, but the EFCC will not entertain any tele-guiding of its activities by the AGF’s office or any agency of Government.In recent times the office of the AGF has waded into the commission’s activities thereby scuttling its prosecutions. These intrusions are not in the best interest on the fight against corruption.

The activities of the AGF office are embarrassing to the commission and have brought us in bad light to the public perception on the fight against corruption. It has made the commission to lose its focus.

Our recently published Advisory List was highly condemned by the AGF in a letter it wrote to the commission.

It is worthy to note that the EFCC lose of focus is as a result of the intrusion of the AGF office, which has made The Chairman of the Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri to contemplate resigning from the job.

We urge the public to continue to support the fight against corruption.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

JTF dislodges militant camp in Bayelsa

The Niger Delta special security forces, the Joint Task Force codenamed Operation Restore Hope have raided a militant camp allegedly operated by one Keiti Sese also known as Commander Nomukeme (mad man) in Forupa community on the Atlantic fringe of the Bayelsa State.

But the militant leader, the target of the special forces’ invasion of the coastal settlement of Forupa narrowly escaped arrest. He was said to have fled through the mangrove creek following a tip-off by his supposed loyalists. However, soldiers have reportedly taken over his camp as base.

BOF gathered that the military action ordered by the Federal Government against acts of terrorism and resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta which was made public, weekend, may have commenced in the first week of November as men of JTF swooped on the militant camp at Forupa on November 8 leading to the dislodgement of the group allegedly terrorising the community.

It was, however, learnt that the JTF met stiff resistance from the camp as they were engaged in exchange of gunfire that lasted about 10 minutes before the militants capitulated to the superior fire power to soldiers.

Two members of the camp were reportedly nabbed by the JTF which also discovered unspecified number of arms, a 3d seismic programme map used in tracking routes of oil pipelines in the area as well as list of over 36 registered members of the group.

According to a statement by the Commander of JTF, Major-General Charles Omoregie, other items recovered at the camp include, identification cards of five militants supposed to have also allegedly embraced the amnesty programme.

The camp, reportedly opened last year by ”Commander Noukeme” was located at the Corpers’ Lodge and medical facility in the area allegedly seized by the group.

The JTF Commander, in the statement stressed that the military action became imperative following the incessant complaints by indigenes of the troubled Foropa community on the atrocities of the group.

“Keiti Sese alias Commander Nomukeme “mad man” had indeed, become a thorn in the flesh of Foropa and neighbouring communities,” he added.

But, Keiti Sese, alias ”Commander Nomukeme” in a statement issued from his hide-out and made available to newsmen, weekend, accused JTF of trying to kill him on the alleged orders of some ex-militant leaders benefiting from the alleged huge illegal bunkering business in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.

Sunday, November 14, 2010 Vindicated! As Government Reveals Identity of Apapa Wharf Arms Dealer

The Nigerian government, yesterday confirmed our report of Wednesday, October 12th captioned, Suspect in Weapon Intercepted @ Apapa Wharf, Seek Refuge in Iranian Embassy. reported that the mastermind of the arsenal of weapon intercepted at the Apapa Wharf has gone into hiding and that the man identified by impeccable security sources, is an Iranian business man.

Corroborating our finding, the government, identified the Iranian as Mr. Azimi Adajani, and said that security operatives are still interrogating the Iranian national who applied for a Nigerian visa in Teheran on the July 14, 2010 (and has been linked with the Nigerian consignee of the arms disguised as building material). broke the story that the suspect, Mr. Azimi Adajani is taking refuge at the Iranian embassy in Abuja and cannot be arrested by Nigerian security operatives, because according to article 22 of Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, which Nigeria and Iran are signatories,

“The premises of a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy, are inviolate and must not be entered by the host country except by permission of the head of the mission. Furthermore, the host country must protect the mission from intrusion or damage. The host country must never search the premises, nor seize its documents or property”.

In October when Mr. Azimi Adajani, who is not licensed to deal in arms in Nigeria , took temporary residence at the Iranian Embassy in Abuja , an Iranian Embassy official confirmed to that he was with them.

When asked to corroborate our findings, SSS spokeswoman,Mrs Marilyn Ogar, repudiated our correspondent, saying “the story was a figment of our imagination”.

Speaking to news men, yesterday, the Hon. Minister of foreign affairs,Mr. Henry Odein Ajumogobia said, : “One of the individuals (diplomat and a businessman) connected
to the shipment is an Iranian national... the Iranian ambassador has now directed that access be given to our security agencies to interrogate the individual who is connected to the Nigerian shipper. At the appropriate time, the National Security Adviser will give details on this.”

Militants Attack Home Of Jonathan's "Amnesty" Adviser, Timi Alaibe

Gunmen armed with explosives have attacked the home of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's top adviser on the Niger Delta oil region, police in the southern state of Bayelsa said on Friday.

Timi Alaibe, who was the main co-ordinator of an amnesty programme for militants in the region last year, was not at home when the attack happened late on Thursday night, his aides and family members said.

"His house in Opokuma was attacked by yet-to-be identified gunmen some minutes to midnight last night. They attacked the place with dynamite and guns causing damage to the building," Bayelsa state police spokesman Eguavoen Emokpae said.

He said the motive for the attack was unclear and no arrests had yet been made.Thousands of gunmen laid down weapons under the amnesty programme, brokered by President Jonathan, which brought more than a year of relative peace in the heartland of Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.

But the militants were always highly factionalized and while the main field commanders were given significant payments for accepting the amnesty, some of their followers have complained that stipends have gone unpaid and that there are no jobs.

The main militant group, the Movement of the Emancipation for the Niger Delta (MEND), kidnapped seven foreign crew members from an Afren oil rig on Sunday, including two U.S., two French, two Indonesian and one Canadian national.

It also claimed responsibility for car bombings near an Independence Day parade in the capital Abuja on October 1, which killed at least 10 people.

A resurgence in violence in the Niger Delta would be an embarrassment for Jonathan, who is the first Nigerian head of state to come from the region, in the run-up to presidential elections expected next April.

The Niger Delta amnesty is considered one of the main achievements of the current administration in Africa's most populous nation. (Reuters)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Labour suspends strike

Lead Image

NLC leaders at a rally in Lagos. Photo: SUNDAY ADEDEJI

The National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress has announced the suspension of the three days warning strike it started today.

At a media briefing in Abuja, the union says it is suspending the strike till December 5 to allow for the intervention of the National Council of State whose meeting comes up later this month.

President Goodluck Jonathan and other senior government officials yesterday held a meeting with leaders of organised labour, but failed to convince them to abandon their planned strike for today. The workers' leaders however agreed to hold a meeting this afternoon to discuss the president's request for more time.