RECORD KEEPER: JANUARY 2013

January 1, 2013

Today, the year opened with cheery news from Mr. President. From him, Nigerians got a message of hope – that this year will be better and a pledge to work harder. He even promised that his administration would move faster this year to accede to the yearnings of the citizens.  But Dr. Goodluck Jonathan made a request – the citizens should play their role in making the country great. The President, in his New Year message, said the government would do more to improve security by further empowering security agencies to stem terrorism and enhance the security of lives and property.

Because the past year was so traumatic for Nigerians, especially with the alleged killing and maiming of many innocent citizens by Boko Haram, everyone became happy that the year would be truly good. But many skeptics won’t believe this. In fact, the organised labour called on Nigerians to embrace collective struggle for the enthronement of good governance, while the CAN urged the President to shake off his lethargy and take governance more seriously in 2013. They continue to jeer: No be the same Jonathan?

January 2, 2013

And because Jonathan had been speaking of a better performance of his administration this year, some people just thought it was time to play smart and sell the President to Nigerians again. They flooded Abuja with posters of Jonathan, wanting him as President in 2015.  The glossy posters, with a bold  picture of the President, carried the inscription “2015: No vacancy in Aso Rock. Let’s do more.” Also inscribed on it was “One good turn deserves another; support Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for 2015 presidency.” The posters were first seen in various neighbourhoods and public facilities in the FCT on New Year’s Day, but later covered main areas of the nation’s capital and the satellite towns. The opposition parties were so angry, kicking the President from all sides. When the bruises sustained were becoming too painful, Reuben Abati, the President’s spokesman, came out shouting, “Haba! Those pasting the posters are just trying to express their own views now!”

Thank God, the pilot-governor, Dambaba Suntai of Taraba State, who  flew an aircraft that crashed on October 25, 2012 was reported to be responding to treatment as he would be discharged soon. His wife just gave birth to a set of twins and she went to the hospital to show the father the new bundle of joy. There, they posed for photographs. But the picture sent to the media showed a moron-looking governor, heightening the anxiety of the people of Taraba. “Is this our governor?” they asked.

 

January 3, 2013

These could not be the best of times for the former governor of Bayelsa State, Timipre Sylva. The EFCC announced today that it had seized 48 property of the former state helmsman. Most of the houses were situated in elitist districts in Abuja, including Maitama, Wuse II and Dakibiyu, among others. It was the second time in a month that the EFCC would confiscate assets of Sylva. Many said he caused his own trouble the day he fought the First Lady, though the EFCC insisted that: Na steal he dey steal o!

But Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State must be very happy today. Why? Well, ahead of the state’s governorship election holding next year, leaders of the  Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), adopted the governor as its candidate. With this endorsement, Fayemi became the first and only aspirant from the party against about 22 from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The declaration came during the end of the year party hosted by the former governor and leader of the party in the state, Niyi Adebayo. Immediately after the declaration, supporters added a new nomenclature to the governor’s name, calling him, “Fayemi No Rival”!

Today also, the Northern socio-political group, the Arewa Consultative Forum, told Jonathan in plain language, that force was not the solution to the Boko Haram challenge, submitting that dialogue remained the most viable option to end the activities of the violent Islamic sect. It warned: “Yar’Adua used force and killed 700 members of the sect and their leader, but Boko Haram had remained unbowed!”

January 4, 2013

As the Federal Government was still ruminating on the  advice of the Arewa  group, a little known terror group, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslim in a Biladis Sudan, which roughly  translates as Vanguards for the Aid of Muslims in Black Africa (JAMBS), came to town. The government then launched an offensive, with security agents banking on detained members of Boko Haram and JAMBS to unmask the people behind the new sect. JAMBS had claimed responsibility for various acts of hostage taking and the November 26, 2012 attack on the Special Anti-Robbery Squad detention centre in Abuja. The group was believed to be affiliated to the Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb. And the citizens became apprehensive, for if the FG could not handle a lone terrorist group, what would happen when they became two? No one had the answer.

This was bad enough: Policemen today recorded a huge success when a serving soldier, Bada Yusuf, was arrested in Ibadan in connection with the kidnap of an Indian, Oroj Cink Comasin. The Indian, an engineer with a telecommunication giant, was kidnapped while working in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, on December 31, 2012.  But as this was being celebrated, news came in that no fewer than 20 inmates of the Sagamu Prison, in the same Ogun State, escaped from the facility in a manner that caught the warders unawares. They used improvised tools to create a hole on the wall of the prison located at Isale-Oko area of the town before carrying out the jail break.

 

January 5, 2013

Bad day for governors as first, it came out today that no fewer than 12 governors were being investigated  by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission for massive fraud and misappropriation of public funds.  Second: Despite the series of tragedies witnessed in the country in the outgone year, particularly among the political class, there may not be respite, yet for state governors, and top political office holders, as it had been predicted that two governors would die this year. The governors had started to address the first case, ensuring that all their financial papers were jigged so that the EFCC and the ICPC might eventually find nothing to nail them. The problem was the second issue for no one knew the governors to die. But trust our politicians, they had besieged  churches and sanctuaries. No governor wants to die!

Nobody knew who was lying, but someone was actually not telling the truth. The EFCC said it seized 48 houses from former Bayelsa State governor, Timipre Sylva, in Abuja, but the man came out today saying he had only three properties in the town. Everyody was now waiting for the court today, whether the owners of those houses mentioned would come out to claim their properties.

All the same, the North scared the hell out of the President today again. While it was reported that Babangida and other Northern leaders were consulting on who to field  from the zone in 2015, another group named the Concerned Arewa Patriots, vowed to mobilise Northerners to beat Jonathan in all the coming elections. This must have caused a sleepless night for the First Lady’s hubby!

 

January 6, 2013

The President must be happy today: His vice, Namadi Sambo, denied joining forces with former President Olusegun Obasanjo against him ahead of the 2015 election. There had been reports that Sambo, knowing full well that this wasn’t a rosy time between the old and the new presidents, facilitated Obasanjo’s meeting with traditional rulers in Kaduna, where he allegedly sought their support.  But Sambo denied it all saying, Obasanjo just came to commiserate with the people over the death of Governor Patrick Yakowa and the meeting he held with the traditional rulers were in the open. So, Oga Jona could now sleep and dream of 2015.

But another clash was looming though. This time, it was because of Tony Anenih. The President wanted him for the BoT chair of PDP, but Obasanjo would not hear of that and he had selected his own candidate for the job. This split  members of the Board of Trustees of the party into two – one group for the old president and the other for the new. And the fighting continued.

 

January 7, 2013

There was serious trouble in the land: the fuel subsidy account was empty and CBN turned back oil marketers who went to collect their money on the ground that the subsidy account with the bank had not been credited.  Just as this was going on, the raging controversy over the alleged $2.5 billion loan of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation took a fresh dimension today with the Senate denying approving the deal. The earlier information from NNPC was that the appropriate authorities had given their nod, but the Senate insisted that no agency could obtain loans without the authorisation of the legislature and no one knew where the NNPC got its own from. But they were asking: Why would NNPC want to take this huge loan, despite its daily production and sale of crude oil? This confirmed the seriousness of the trouble in the land!

But the elders of the PDP were slugging it out: Ahmadu Ali was begging others to step down for him to become the BoT Chairman of PDP, while the Presidency was backing Tony Anenih to stop IBB, Obasanjo and others. And it was no longer a case of two-fighting, but roforofo fight!

 

January 8, 2013

The fighting had just begun: Former President Olusegun Obasanjo attacked the incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan, again today. He criticised the man’s administration for wrongly handling the Boko Haram insurgency. He told the CNN that Jonathan was still not doing enough: “Well, Jonathan has been doing a bit of job but it has to be a double track job. He must have two tracks… he is using the stick… the other aspect must not be ignored.”  Were it to be another time, the Presidency might not have reacted the way it did. But because there was much at stake if criticism was allowed to go unchallenged the President’s image-maker quickly came out, saying: “The former President contradicted himself … he said that when he was confronted with a similar issue in Odi, he applied force. Where exactly does he stand on this matter?”

Well, as the fight continued, the PDP BoT failed to elect its chairman as the election ended in stalemate. The three-hour meeting of members of the board held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, today failed to produce a new chairman of the board as expected. At the end of the meeting, the board raised a six-member committee to review its membership which generated controversy at the meeting.

Here was good news from Nigeria afterall: Dean, School of Basic Medical Sciences, University of Benin, Professor Isaiah Ibeh, today, announced the development of a new drug that could cure HIV and AIDS.

 

January 9, 2013

Many Nigerians had said it, now the organised labour  confirmed that the $1billion syndicated loan deal by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was  a conduit for looting the nation’s treasury. The Nigeria Labour Congress accused the NNPC of perpetrating a fraudulent dependence on fuel importation and looting of the treasury, saying the loan the government’s oil corporation needed to pay debts had further exposed the fraud in the management of fuel subsidy. But the NNPC had this to say: “If we do not borrow and pay our foreign creditors, our credit ratings will go down and this is not good for our financial institutions and the country.” The question at this time was, what was the NNPC doing with its own accrued revenue?

This was another sad day for people in the old Oyo Empire as artefacts and residential apartments were razed in a fire that gutted a section of the Alaafin, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III’s palace early today. The dawn inferno, which started around 6 a.m., ravaged properties worth millions of naira. It affected 21 rooms, including Ile-Ori (historical site), as well as residential apartments belonging to the Oloris – the Oba’s wives. It was indeed a great loss.

There were discordant tunes from Edo as University of Benin today distanced itself from Professor Isaiah Ibeh’s claim that he had found a possible cure to AIDS. Provost of the College of Basic  Medical Sciences said the university was unaware of the breakthrough and would therefore not substantiate it. So, what next? For now, case closed!

 

January 10, 2013

Some said it was because of Obasanjo, others said it was because Charles Soludo was seeking to support the removal of the President from the office in 2015. Whatever the case, however, Soludo was arrested today for an offence he committed in 2006. The former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor was whisked away by the EFCC in connection with the alleged Australian polymer bank notes bribery scam. It involved a N750 million said to have been taken by some CBN officials from the polymer company.

DIG Peter Gana was not a happy man today. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo accused him: “The DIG, Force CID, has a case to answer. It is either he is guilty of conspiracy to murder or is guilty of conspiracy to shield a murderer or both.” So said Oshiomhole of the police chief. The governor was angry because the Police was yet to conclude investigation on the murder of his aide, Olaitan Oyerinde, on May 4, 2012, at his 65, Second Ugbo Road, GRA, Benin City home, Oshiomhole said the DIG bunggled the case! And the oga for police started to shake gbirigbirigbiri!

 

January 11, 2013

Certainly, these were not the best of times for the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). While its leadership was still grappling with the crisis of confidence plaguing the party over the seeming stalemate in the quest for a new BoT Chairman and acceptable executive committee in Adamawa State, a Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday sacked its National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, from office. The interesting side of the suit that sent Oyinlola packing was that the case did not emanate from opposition party, it came from the Ogun State chapter of the party.  After listening to both parties, Justice Abdul Kafarati hammered the secretary, and the office became empty! Oyinlola was not happy and he was right not to be. The governors felt bad because Oyinlola was one of their own and they drew the battle line between them and the President.

The security agents at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, were so shocked today, when they apprehended a man who was taking out $767,500 at a go. He was named Yussuf Taofeeq Olanrewaju. It was thought the man should explain how he came about such huge amount, since that kind of money was not easy to come by.

 

January 12, 2013

The crisis rocking the ruling People’s Democratic Party was about to take a turn for the worse. The President wanted to fight back as he launched a counter attack to battle the forces that were whittling his influence in the party. He might drop pro-Obasanjo ministers and other officials that were in support of the former President. There was no doubt now that Papa and Pikin were now in a cold war era!

At times, you won’t know if to mourn or castigate them for their greed and foolishness. Or what do you say? A pipeline explosion in the Arepo area of Ogun State killed about 30 people who went to siphon petroleum products from a ruptured Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation pipeline yesterday. A fire broke out after vandals started fighting over the oil. One of them was said to have fired a shot that led to the explosion.

 

January 13, 2013

It showed today that the intervention of President Goodluck Jonathan in the simmering feud between members of the National Working Committee of the People’s Democratic Party and the National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, on the one hand and the misgivings between Tukur and the National Secretary of the party, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, on the other,  had divided the ranks of the governors elected on the party’s platform. Most of the governors had planned a showdown with the chairman, but were coerced into submission by the Presidency, because he had been warned not to bow to the governors’ pressure. While some of them were running back to the chairman, others were prepared for the consequences. And opposition parties were so happy at the goings on, praying it escalated beyond  remedy.

Meanwhile,  something more serious was going on. The Department Management Office (DMO) had washed its hands off the attempt by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)  to borrow $1.5 billion to pay off its debts. NNPC did  not consult or inform the DMO of its intention to borrow. Whereas the DMO managed the debt of the nation, the NNPC, for the reason best known to its management, decided to shun the body!

 

January 14, 2013

Oh, the ruling People’s Democratic  Party sank deeper into trouble today, as Chairman Bamanga Tukur sacked the National Secretary, Olagunsoye Oyinlola. Yes, the court had earlier removed Oyinlola, but members of the National Working Committee were still consulting when the chairman, without waiting for other members, solely replaced the secretary with his deputy, Solomon Onwe. The removal was greeted with drama as Tukur was accused of using an amended constitution, which had not been ratified by the National Convention of PDP, to get the former Osun State governor out.

Also today, the Sultan of Sokoto, who is the President General of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar III, said the insecurity  and other problems facing the North were self inflicted. He said the region should blame itself for its sundry problems. What a bold statement!

 

January 15, 2013

It won’t go away. The infighting! The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC), today sealed the exit of its former National Secretary, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola. It wrote to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that Oyinlola’s name be deleted from the party’s record as the National Secretary. The former Osun State governor was replaced by Onwe Solomon Onwe on Monday, following last Friday’s ruling of a Federal High Court, which nullified the process that got him into office. By this, the fighting energy in the man from Osun had been deflated!

There was disquiet today as a fresh plot to destabilise the House of Representatives was uncovered by the leadership. An unknown group, Transparency Network (TN), had been formed to unseat the Speaker and others. Some members were said to have been financially influenced to cause chaos over the purchase of 400 Toyota Camry cars. There was similarity in this though, our House fought always for perks.

 

January 16, 2013

Opposition parties were preparing to give the ruling party a run for its money as the much anticipated merger of leading opposition parties, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) would be finalised in June. It was General Muhammadu Buhari who said this. And because it came from Gen. Buhari, the National Leader of the CPC, many people believed the merger would work, most especially as there was serious confusion in the PDP.

In what appeared a further crack in the National Working Committee (NWC) of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), National Legal Adviser, Victor Kwon, asked the Court of Appeal to reinstate Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the sacked National Secretary. He also urged the Federal High Court, Abuja, to grant a stay of last Friday’s judgment, which led to Oyinlola’s removal from office. So Tukur and Jonathan were working on one side, while the Working Committee and some governors on the other!

Where is Babalakin? The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today declared the Chairman, Bi-Courtney Highway Services, Wale Babalakin, wanted over the N4.7 billion money laundering charges instituted against him at a Lagos High Court, Ikeja. Babalakin’s sudden disappearance, as alleged by the EFCC in statement, might have bungled his scheduled arraignment which had earlier been stalled in two previous occasions by his absence from court.

 

January 17, 2013

Two issues came up today: First was that Nigeria went to war in Mali as it deployed 1,200 troops where a war was raging to flush out insurgents from the North. President Goodluck Jonathan today got the Senate’s nod for the deployment, which was to stave off the incursion of terrorists, who were already troubling some northern states through the Boko Haram. Second was that Mali-trained terrorists were in Nigeria as revealed by the Army Chief. This meant, in spite of the Boko Haram insurgency in the country, Nigerian security agencies now had a fresh challenge to contend with. The new task, according to the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Azubike Ihejirika, was the presence of numerous suspected terrorists believed to have been trained by Malian rebels in Nigeria. And they were not here for good!

 

January 18, 2013

The place was stinking and nobody knew until Jonathan’s surprise visit rattled the Ikeja Police College Commandant. The police authorities were in shock today after an angry President Goodluck Jonathan stormed out of the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos, during an un-expected visit to personally assess the rot there. The President’s visit was provoked by a weeklong expose by Lagos-based Channels Television, on the dehumanising conditions trainee policemen were going through in the college. Nothing could be more dehumanising where police trainees got N150 as daily food allowance, slept on bed without mattress, etc. And some people were collecting money for all these!

This was another challenge for them at the Presidency and they were not taking it with ease. The perceived ambition of Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State in 2015 has sparked a dirty fight between him and the Minister of the Niger Delta, Elder Godson Orubebe, with both South South leaders publicly calling each other names. Amaechi, who doubled as Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), was widely rumoured to be nursing the ambition of running as presidential running mate to a Northern aspirant in the next election. This was not good for the President and Orubebe and a good man he is, decided to fight for his boss.

 

January 19, 2013

Then, this was shocking! The Emir of Kano escaped death! Providence today saved the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, from death after suspected terrorists targeted his official car, a Limousine and threw an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) at the vehicle and opened fire on his convoy. The Emir’s driver, two palace guards and an official of Kumbotso Local Government in the convoy, were not that lucky: they were killed in the resulting explosion. Several others were injured. The question was: If this could happen to the powerful Emir of Kano, who would be safe?

But the politicians continued their needless bickering as the Presidency on Friday said a former Head of State and three-time presidential candidate, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), stood no chance of winning the 2015 general election. Buhari, during the inauguration of the Congress for Progressive Change Merger Committee in Abuja, had said the ongoing merger talks by the major opposition political parties would determine if he would run for the presidency in 2015. So what was the business of the Presidency in this?

 

January 20, 2013

They were still looking for more, though some suspects were arrested today in connection with the attack on the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero.  Kano State Deputy Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, who broke the news at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, yesterday, did not give the figure of those arrested. He spoke after seeing off the Emir who travelled to Britain. The monarch and his sons had to be quickly moved abroad for proper medical care and rest. The shock was too much for the monarch as the death toll in the attack has risen to five, according to the police.

No one was expecting that a group would attack the soldiers going to keep peace in Mali, an African country, but a new terrorist group, Jama’atu Ansarul Muslim in a fi Biladis-Sudan a.k.a. JAMBS, claimed responsibility for yesterday’s attack on Nigeria’s troops in Kogi State. JAMBS, believed to be a breakaway faction of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, said in a statement on Saturday, that the soldiers were attacked in order to warn Nigeria against joining Western powers in their “aim to demolish the Islamic empire of Mali.”

The rich were now crying, because Nigerian billionaires planning to buy private jets had been stopped from doing so as the Federal Government suspended the importation of private airplanes, helicopters and other lighter aircraft into the country.

It happened again from abroad. Ex-militant leader, Henry Okah, was found guilty of terrorism today by a high court in Johannesburg, South Africa. Okah, one-time leader of the militant Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND), was likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment, which the law prescribed, on January 31. Judge Neels Claassen found Okah guilty of 13 terrorism charges arising from the October Independence Day bombing in Abuja and the March 2010 bombing in Warri, Delta State. But here we were in Nigeria, where the bombing took place, no trial had been concluded.

In fact, the Presidency was busy since signals that President Goodluck Jonathan had started plotting how to grab the presidential ticket of the People’s Democratic Party for the 2015 election emerged today with the President reaching out to respective former governors of Zamfara and Borno states, Ahmed Yerima and Ali Modu-Sheriff. Jonathan wanted the two influential politicians in their respective states to strengthen his hold in the North. Oga Jona wan come back o!

January 22, 2013

You must be your brother’s keeper, this was what the governors did. But it was with mixed feelings that Enugu residents today received the news of Governor Sullivan Chime’s appearance in London. Since September 19, last year, when he was last seen in public, Chime’s whereabouts had been a subject of controversy. Today, however, he appeared in a photograph with three other governors. In the picture, Chime was seen with Benue governor, Gabriel Suswam and his Akwa Ibom counterpart, Godswill Akpabio. Governors’ Forum chair and Rivers governor, Rotimi Amaechi was with them. They came with the news that Chime was in good condition. And Enugu people were confused!

The Borno State citizens were, however, terrorised and left in utter hopelessness as gunmen, suspected to be members of Boko Haram, killed 23 people within 48 hours. In a resurgence of their attacks on innocent people, the gunmen opened fire on residents of Damboa in Borno at night, killing the people. A local government official said the attackers targeted local hunters, who were selling bush meat from animals, such as monkeys and pigs.

The PDP was still deep in its trouble because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) said today that Olagunsoye Oyinlola remained the National Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party on its list despite a court order sacking him. The commission said it had neither been served with the court order nor written by the PDP that Oyinlola had ceased to be its national secretary.

 

January 23, 2013.

That was why they joined legal battle over Jonathan. Is the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) planning to field President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015? This question remained relevant today, with the PDP applying to be joined in a suit challenging the President’s eligibility to contest the election. Dr. Jonathan was yet to speak on his political future. A PDP card-carrying member and Port Harcourt lawyer, Henry Amadi, was before a Federal High Court, Abuja, contending that Jonathan was no longer eligible to contest in 2015 because, by so doing, he would be spending more than the maximum of two terms of four years envisaged by the 1999 Constitution.

Either he was contesting or not, the foreign missions in Nigeria seemed to be more scared of Boko Haram than the government. Or why would Embassies of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and Canada today issue fresh warnings to their citizens, advising them not to travel to Nigeria. The embassies hinged their warnings on the deployment of troops in northern Mali, fearing attacks on Nigeria by Islamic terrorists with sympathy for the Malian rebels, especially the days that had already been declared public holiday to mark the birth of Prophet Mohammed.

January 24, 2013

They were still much divided. Mutual suspicion between loyalists of President Goodluck Jonathan and the People’s Democratic Party’s National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur and those of the governors was delaying the convening of the party’s National Executive Council meeting. The party’s National Working Committee had been unable to agree on when to hold the NEC meeting because of disagreement among the members, with the Jonathan/Tukur loyalists fearing that convening the meeting immediately as requested by the governors would mean handing over the party to the state chief executives. The governors might be planning a ‘coup’ and Tukur was not going to be caught unawares.

 

January 25, 2013

And he moved quickly. National Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, opted to break the ranks of the party’s governors who were currently locked in a battle with him for the soul of the party. He was also determined to move decisively against some members of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC), who were unwilling to cooperate with him.

Trust Nigeria: We would not allow South Africa to beat us to it. So a Federal High Court, Abuja, today sentenced Edmund Ebiware, an associate of the MEND leader, Henry Okah, to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of complicity in the October 1, 2010 twin-bombings in Abuja. His conviction was based not only on his active participation in the bombing, but because he failed to report the plot to the President or the police. The question would remain: What was Nigeria doing for two years before Okah was convicted in South Africa?

 

January 26, 2013

The nation’s security agents might be in for a big hurdle because of JAMBS, a new sect with big aims. The Jama’atu Ansarul Muslimina fi Biladis Sudan (JAMBS), which roughly translates as Vanguards for the Aid of Muslims in Black Africa, is a growing terrorist group which had claimed responsibility for various acts of terrorism. Its first major attack was on the Special Anti-robbery Squad detention centre in Abuja on November 26, 2012. And now, the group was promising a hell on earth for fellow Nigerians.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), regained its voice today after many months of being off the scene. It threatened to resume violence to register its disapproval of the Monday conviction of its leader, Henry Okah, by a South African court.

Okah was found guilty of masterminding the October 1, 2010 bomb blasts in Abuja, while one of his associates, Edmund Ebiware, was jailed for life on Friday by a Federal High Court, Abuja, for complicity in the blasts. And MEND wanted to fight.

January 27, 2013

All seemed set for the trial of House member, Farouk Lawan for allegedly receiving $620,000 bribe to doctor his committee’s report on fuel subsidy investigation. His trial would begin this week, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), said at the weekend. Many people were laughing though. Why would the Federal Government wait until Festus Keyamo threatened to prosecute Lawan before it decided to go to court? So, if Keyamo no talk, na so Lawan go dey jolly jolly about?

And more facts emerged today about the crises crippling the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Besides the power struggle, there was a disagreement over an end-of-year “palliative” for the National Working Committee (NWC). The palliative row pitted eight deputy members of the NWC against the 12 members, who run the party at the National Secretariat. Of course, politics na chop I chop here o, Party Disbursing Plenty!

They never thought it would generate this outrage, but it did. The Action Congress of Nigeria, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) and civil society groups slammed the Nigeria Governors’ Forum for sending a delegation to visit Governor Sullivan Chime of Enugu State, who was reportedly receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness, in London. According to them, the governors were helping Chime to perpetuate his hold on power by all means. Chime had been away from the country for over four months and with the nature of his illness shrouded in secrecy, there were questions about his fitness to govern the state.

 

January 28, 2013

It would surprise all when a man stole N27 billion  pension money and got N750,000 fine. That was why surprise pervaded a Federal Capital Territory High Court, Abuja, today when a director of the Police Pension Office, Mr. John Yusufu, was handed down only a two-year jail sentence for conniving with others to defraud the office and pensioners of N27.2 billion. But he would not spend the two years in jail as Justice Abubakar Taliba gave him an option of fine in the sum of N750,000 for the three offences he pleaded guilty to. He quickly paid the fine and was left alone to go and enjoy the balance.

Also today, Boko Haram was back in the news. But it was not to hurl bombs and fire bullets; the controversial sect was holding out an olive branch to the government. It announced a ceasefire. The sect said it was to allow for dialogue with the government to ensure lasting peace. The government said later that it was studying the situation. A commander of the sect, Sheikh Abu Mohammad Abdulazeez Ibn Idris, announced the ceasefire at a news conference with reporters in Maiduguri, the beleaguered capital of Borno State. But many were very skeptical, thinking Boko Haram was just using this to buy time.

 

January 29, 2013

So, today, caution – and optimism – seemed to be the reaction of Nigerians to the Boko Haram’s ceasefire offer. The militant group on Monday ordered its men to stop violence to facilitate dialogue with the government. A commander of the sect, Sheilkh Abu Mohammed Abdulazez Ibn Idris, told reporters in Maiduguri, the beleaguered Borno State Capital, that he was speaking on behalf of the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau. The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and some of the North’s leaders yesterday aligned with the Borno State government, which said the ceasefire announcement was in order. But people were still asking: How genuine was this?

 

January 30, 2013

It was expected and no one was actually surprised when members of civil rights group marched on the premises of the Ministry of Justice, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court in Abuja today, protesting the light sentence passed on a former Assistant Director of the Police Pension Office, Mr. John Yakubu Yusufu, who admitted conniving with others to defraud the PPO and pensioners of N27.2 billion. They demanded the investigation of Justice Abubakar Taliba of an Abuja High Court for sentencing Yusufu to only two years imprisonment with an option of N750,000 fine.

But the protesters rejoiced later when a Federal High Court remanded the former Director of the Police Pension Office in prison custody for an alleged N250 million fraud. Yusufu would remain in custody till March 1, 2013 when Justice Adamu Bello would begin the hearing of the case. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) arraigned him for the alleged fraud and failure to disclose all his assets. Yusufu, who was convicted on Monday for pension fraud, was also facing trial for not declaring his interest in a company known as SYA Global Services Limited.

It was also learnt that security agencies were working on fresh clues that Boko Haram leaders might have been relocating to Nigeria from Mali. Some key operational bases of the sect, such as Kano, Bama, Potiskum, Damaturu and Maiduguri, were under watch because security agencies suspected that some Boko Haram leaders were in hiding in these places. So Boko-Boko could run!

 

January 31, 2013

At long last, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission would tomorrow arraign a member of the House of Representatives, Farouk Lawan, over a seven-count charge bearing on corrupt enrichment. The charge stemmed from allegations by a businessman, Chief Femi Otedola, that Lawan demanded and received $620,000 as bribe from him while he (Lawan) was the chairman of the House Ad Hoc Committee on Monitoring of Fuel Subsidy Regime. The arraignment of Lawan alongside the secretary of the ad hoc committee, Mr. Boniface Emenalo, seemed an indication of the Federal Government’s sudden readiness to up the tempo of its anti-corruption campaign. It had long been expected.

While this was on, our senators made us happy today when they queried the N4 billion earmarked for the building of the First Ladies’ Mission House in Abuja. The lawmakers were also uncomfortable with the N150 million proposed for the renovation of the Vice President’s Guest House in Asokoro, Abuja. Our oga dem dem just dey spend money anyhow.

But the month ended on a very sad note as seven policemen were killed in three attacks within. In Kano, two policemen died after unknown gunmen threw explosives at a police station in Bunkure Local Government Area of the state. And in Gombe, capital of Gombe State, gunmen opened fire on policemen who were on duty at a stop-and-search point at 6.30 a.m. in the central area of the city. What a nation!

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