1 February, 2012
What a sad day! This day was expectably gloomy: Weeping women, sobbing men, crying kids and angry youths were all present. It was the day a community buried its own. It was the day 17 out of 43 bodies were buried in a row of graves in the premises of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church. All had been killed by a Boko Haram suicide bomber, who threw explosives inside the church on 2011 Christmas Day.
During the burial, some men covered their faces with their hands in shame, wondering that could have happened, while troubled women, held firmly by relatives, created a moving scene after realising that the end had indeed come for their fellow parishioners. Most of the mourners started crying when the mass ended and the coffins, borne aloft by youths in red T-shirts and black trousers, were being carried from the church to the grave side.
As usual, people from the Presidency were there in their mourning dresses. They came with the President’s message, saying, “we are going to be assisted by the international community; we are going to deal with Boko Haram.”
Unfortunately, as the people were about to swallow this, another confusion set in; a man had been arrested, he was called “a Boko Haram kingpin” and his name was Abu Qaqa, who had been the spokesperson for the violent Islamic sect. He was the member of the sect granting interviews and issuing statements on behalf of the group. But shortly, another man came out to say he was Abu Qaqa, the spokesman and that he had not been arrested by anyone. In fact, he said nobody could arrest or deal with Boko Haram and some people thought Na Jonathan dis man dey reply so o!
2 February 2012
Good news: The man arrested, Abu Qaqa, was actually the spokesperson of the dreaded Boko Haram.
The SSS confirmed that today. His aunt and cousin were also arrested and they too told security agents that there was no other Qaqa and that he was the only one. Bad news: Governors said they wanted more power. And making the demand were ACN governors from Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti and Edo states. They said there was the need to give them more power to be able to bring development to the people. This angered their opponents and one of them retorted: “Wetin dey do dis Tinubu governors self, the power wey dem get now, no be opposition dem dey take am fight?
The United States of America recanted today. Its Ambassador to Nigeria, Terrence McCulley, said this Thursday,
while speaking to journalists during his visit to Oyo State, that “no US government official predicted that Nigeria will break up by 2015. That statement must have emanated from a private agency but clearly, not from the government.” This may be true. The problem is, if this same agency had predicted something on the US itself, the government would have taken it as a revelation from the gods. But why discouraging Nigerians over an inevitability that seems to be staring them in the face?
3 February 2012
There was an election in Adamawa today, where Buba Marwa of CPC slugged it out with Muritala Nyako of PDP. The duo wanted to be governor of the state.
On this day also, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’adu Abubakar and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, indicated their willingness to broker dialogue between government and the Boko Haram leaders, but only if they will reveal their identities. That came as President Jonathan continued to vow that “we’ll end the menace, no matter what.” The Speaker challenged the Boko Haram leaders to reveal their identities and those of any of their members arrested in order for them to intervene and resolve the matter amicably. Many people did not like this line of thinking and they asked: “What happens to those who had been killed for no just cause? What is the definition of amicable settlement between the Federal Government and Boko Haram?”
Also, a female air steward who was caught trying to smuggle a quarter of a million pounds worth of cocaine into the United Kingdom was jailed for five-and-a half years. Chinwendu Uwakaonyenma, 29, from Lagos, Nigeria, had flown into London’s Heathrow Airport as a member of Arik Air flight from Lagos on 18 December, 2011. During searches by UK Border Agency officials at the airport’s crew clearance facility, she was caught carrying a rucksack with false back. Officers then discovered packages of cocaine hidden behind the false back. And from this day, Chinwendu added more evidence to the Nigerian bad image abroad.
And the Cross River Police Command said it had recovered over one million rounds of ammunition, locally made pistols, assorted rifles and other types of military arms from a robbery gang that recently terrorised residents of Ugep and Obubra in Yakurr and Obubra local government areas of the state. So many guns! This is why small police go run for big robber!
4 February 2012
The fight between the President and the former governor of his state, Bayelsa, broke open again. The ousted governor, Timipre Sylvia, called Jonathan a liar
. The President had made public what happened between him and the governor, saying that he once warned him: “I was here some months ago, Bayelsans stoned the governor. You must work hard to ensure they don’t stone you again because if you do not work hard and they stone you, I will join them to stone you.” This did not go down well with the governor then, saying, “if stoning is a yardstick for non-performance, are we also right to say that the burning down of Mr. President’s house in 2007, in the run-up to that year’s elections, was also an act of rejection by the people of the state?” This was why the PDP did not re-nominate him and he was out in the cold for daring to ask the President a question that he too knew he could not genuinely answer.
It might be because of the effrontery of this abandoned governor that the Presidency now showed a renewed interest in the trial of some former governors: Peter Odili, Uzor Kalu, Saminu Turaki, Nnamani and others. The Presidency men seemed set to get Sylva, who challenged the President. The problem was the President’s aides who were not sure what game the judiciary was playing, for it leaked out today that the CJN’s panel had recommended the reinstatement of Justice Ayo Salami, the suspended President of the Court of Appeal. And, arguably, that was enough worry for Mr. President.
5 February 2015
Former Adamawa State governor, Muritala Nyako, today won the governorship election in the state for a second term in office. Nyako polled 302,986 votes to beat his Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) opponent, Markus Gindiri, who polled 260,405 votes. Candidates for the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Brig.-Gen. Muhammed Buba Marwa, scored 107,564 votes to come third.
But if there was any rejoicing in Adamawa, the Niger Delta area wore a different look as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), resumed the bombing of key business concerns in the area. It destroyed the Agip trunk line at Brass in Bayelsa, saying it signalled the resumption of its bombing campaign in the region and beyond. It also vowed to attack South African business interests in the country.
It got to be known today that the Federal Government planned to spend N3.19bn on the pensions and allowances of former presidents, heads of state, their deputies, former leaders of National Assembly and their families in 2012. The amount is contained in the 2012 budget. Of course, this budget confirmed the saying in the Bible that we shall snatch the little in the hands of have-nots and give it to those who have more than needed.
6 February 2012
Zakari Biu, the Police Commissioner in charge of the Christmas bomber knew the extent of the trouble staring him in the face today. The police private investigation team comprising of top officers began sitting today, bringing one of the Abacha boys before the panel. The detained Boko Haram spokesman, Abu Qaqa, also gave SSS operatives reasonable clues on the sect’s operations. Qaqa reportedly spoke on how some members of the sect who were tired of fighting were slaughtered in the presence of members of their families. It was also established that Qaqa was an Ebira from Ajaokuta Local Government Area of Kogi State and not Fulani or from Niger Republic, but from Kogi here!
Today again, we read that statesmen, political leaders, rights activists and representatives of ethnic nationalities yesterday reiterated their calls for a Sovereign National Conference, warning that Nigeria was heading towards a failed nation. At a pre-National Conference brain-storming session in Lagos organised by the National Summit Group (NSG), delegates also stressed that only a national conference of over 484 ethnic nationalities could midwife a people’s constitution for the country to replace the 1999 Constitution, which came into being, following the promulgation of Decree 24 of 1999.
Participants at the meeting held at Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos and chaired by Pat Utomi, included Olu Falae, Edwin Clark, Ben Nwabueze, Balarabe Musa, Felix Ibru, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Victor Attah, Kalu Idika Kalu, Frederick Fasehun, John Nwodo, Kunle Olajide, Audu Ogbeh, Shettima Yerima, Femi Fani-Kayode, Alabo Douglas, Arthur Nwakwo, Akin Oyebode, Ralph Obiorah, Ishaq Lakin Akintola, Femi Falana, AbdulRahaman Ahmad, Ganiyat Fawehinmi, Joy Okunu, Oba Aderemi Adedapo, Mohammed Fawehinmi, Grace Ekeh, Denzil Kentebe, King Jaja of Anamayabo, the Lagos Commissioner of Police, Alkali and others.
As if to accentuate the serious need for talks, one of Nigeria’s founding fathers, M.T. Mbu, died today and there was the continuous shout of “Let’s talk!” But no one wanted to hear of any conference or talk in the Presidency, but just to let everything remain the way it was. Jonathan does not want conference oooo!
7 February 2012
Just as if on cue, while the nation was still in shock over the death of M.T. Mbu, Prof. Sam Aluko, a renowned economist, joined him on the way to the high heavens today, ditto one of the Northern business pioneers, Abdullahi Sanusi Dantata. But no one had much time for mourning as there was another terrible noise from Army’s 1 Division Dallet Barrack in Kaduna. It happened this way: A man dressed in military uniform and was driving a Toyota Sienna car was stopped by soldiers on guard duty, but the driver coasted through the first gate of the fortified military base. This was unusual. The soldiers opened fire. Then, an explosion! A bomb had gone off, killing the driver who turned out to be a suicide bomber. And the city of Kaduna was shaken by three explosions within and around military formations.
But following this came a cheery news that the dreaded sect had agreed to dialogue with the Federal Government. A Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) network news monitored at 9 p.m. today said Boko Haram indicated its readiness for talks via a video tape brought to the station by two masked men. In the tape were the names of the negotiators appointed by the group: Sheik Abubakar Gemuno, Dr. Shettima Monguno, Alhaji Bukar Ibrahim, Alhaji Junadu Idris “and a peace broker who is also our mother, Barrister Aisha Al Wakil.”
There was also trouble for oil thieves because the Federal Government today announced the appointment of a former chairman of EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, as the head of a new task force on oil revenue.
8 February 2012
The happiness of the people became short-lived today as the Federal Government said it doubted the veracity of the purported video message of the violent Islamic sect, Boko Haram, which the NTA had aired. Although the Army arrested soldiers over the Kaduna bombings and the detained group’s spokesman told SSS that those being used for suicide bombing were Chadians, Nigeriens, Cameroonians, Hausas, Fulanis and others, government seemed to have been beaten by the sect. No serious clue to follow and no link whatsoever!
It was like preparing for war. The Bayelsa State election. This is the state of the President and he was at loggerheads with the outgoing governor. Having ensured that Governor Sylva had been denied the ruling party’s ticket, the Presidency moved in to install his own and by today, 15,000 policemen and 3,000 other security agents were sent to the state, even as a court order threatened the conduct of the poll.
News came in that the detained Assistant Commissioner of Police, Zakari Biu and five others, who were facing trial over the escape of a Boko Haram suspect, Kabiru Sokoto, has been returned to police custody. And the news about the terror group remained a nightmare everyday with the people.
10 February 2012
The Police were dancing. The SSS were happy. There was a lot of giggling in the Presidency. Why? Kabiru Sokoto, the man who knew so much about the Christmas Day bombing, had been re-arrested. The news said: “Kabiru Sokoto, the Boko Haram strategist, who cost the immediate past Inspector General of Police and six of his lieutenants their jobs and put the nation on edge, was re-arrested today, hiding behind a rack of drying clothes. He was caught with his elder brother in a hut at Mutum Biu village in Taraba State.
Just as this was going on, the Central Bank Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, brought out N100 million from the coffers of the CBN and gave it to the Kano State government for onward delivery to the victims of the recent Boko Haram attacks in the state. Suspicions followed this donation immediately. Lamido is from Kano and the state was not the only place to be attacked by the sect. So, why this donation?
11 February 2012
Even while the Boko Haram problem was on, our senators must be very happy. It came out today that their cars had arrived, Toyota Land Cruiser Jeeps. The cost of the 2011 model cars was $100,724 (about N16,115,840). The Nigerian nation would then pay over N1.7 billion for the comfort of its 109 senators.
Kabiru Sokoto, the suspected Boko Haram bomber, had started singing. He had named Abubakar Shekarau as their leader while facing the SSS panel of investigators. This, of course, made the President a happy man and so, he travelled home to participate in today’s election in his home state of Bayelsa.
12 February 2012
President Goodluck Jonathan’s anointed candidate in the Bayelsa State governorship election, Mr. Seraike Dickson of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was today declared the winner of the poll. Dickson’s victory was announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and was said to have polled 417,500 votes to defeat the candidate of the Change Advocacy Party (CAP), Dr. Imoru Kubor, who came a distant second with 22,534 votes. But ACN no dey happy at all, them say na wayo!
And as the President was dancing and being congratulated as if he were the elected governor, the team investigating the January 15 escape of re-arrested Boko Haram kingpin, Kabiru Sokoto, concluded plans to bring him before Commissioner of Police Zakari Biu. Dat one na face to face!
13 February 2012
Violent wind came calling today. It wreaked havoc, killing five in Lagos, while many were injured. It also destroyed houses and cars, but the people wey dey in charge say, It’s normal transition from dry to rainy season!
As it came out today from Kabiru Sokoto the sect’s leader also gives out wives of those killed the way he wants and marries some as a way of giving them protection. For instance, he’s married to one of Muhammed Yusuf’s wives. The fear of Boko Haram led to the shooting of a director at Kaduna Government House. Security personnel manning the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, residence of the Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa, this afternoon, shot and wounded a director in the state service for “driving dangerously in a suspicious manner.” The victim was Pastor Isuwa Kiforo.
14 February 2012
Today, a policeman was killed in fresh explosions in Kaduna, one week after soldiers foiled a suspected Boko Haram member’s attempt to bomb the Army’s 1 Division Dalet Barracks. The late policeman was said to have gone to check the content of a black polythene bag left at a junction by unknown persons when it exploded, killing him instantly.
And as if it had been ordained that our problems would never be resolved, the Senate today rejected any form of national conference. The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, while briefing journalists after plenary this Tuesday, said the National Assembly remained the only platform for any national discuss, even when it was evident that they had not been able to resolve the lingering national questions and crises. In fact, anytime the name “Boko” was mentioned, no one among them would wait for “Haram” before scampering to safety.
15 February 2012
The State Security Service (SSS) today declared wanted an ex-soldier, Habibu Bama, in connection with the Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, Niger State. The detained spokesman of the violent sect, Boko Haram, Abu Qaqa, was said to have named Bama as a key figure in the bombing of the church, where 44 persons were killed. “Habibu Bama is an ex-soldier from by tribe and hailed from Bama in Borno State. He is also known by the following names: Habit Bama; Shuaibu Bama; and Habib Mamman,” said Marilyn Ogar of the SSS.
As if we did not know, the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, told the Senate today that there were bigtime corrupt officials in anti-graft agency.
And while he was on his sermon and our senators glued to their seats, glad at what they were hearing that at least there was no saint in Nigeria, news came that Boko Haram had invaded Koton Karfe Prison in Kogi State and freed 115 inmates. Every senator rushed home!
16 February 2012
Ninety three of the 115 inmates of Koton Karfe Prison set free by Boko Haram were still at large and only 15 had been re-arrested by the police, while Boko Haram said it invaded the prison to free seven of the inmates who were its members and that they had rejoined the group.
From far-away United States of America came the news that “the young Nigerian that attempted to bomb a United States-bound airliner in Detroit, Farouk Abdulmutallab, was today sentenced to life imprisonment without option of parole. By no option of parole, Abdulmutallab’s sentencing is mandatory. Parole, in the US criminal justice system, is the supervised release of a prisoner before the completion of his or her sentence. Before the sentencing this Thursday, the 25-year old Abdulmuttalab, who entered the courtroom wearing khaki clam diggers, white socks, slip-on shoes, a white skull cap and in handcuffs, had declared the day “a day of victory.” Indeed, it was a day of victory!
17 February 2012
To show that no one was safe any longer and that after a lull in their nefarious activities, armed robbers, this morning renewed their activities in Ogun State, taking the battle to the state’s seat of power in Abeokuta. Not only did they fail in getting their target, a Toyota Camry car, they also lost their operational car, a Nissan Quest, marked ABUJA BR 944 RSH, after crashing it into the complex’s gate while trying to escape. A member of the gang was also shot dead by security men.
Today was also a happy day for Justice Raliat Elelu-Habeeb, the Kwara State Chief Judge. During the political permutation in the state three years ago, she had been removed for not playing game by erstwhile Governor Bukola Saraki. But as Saraki was facing his own problems with his friends in the Presidency and EFCC, the Supreme Court returned Raliat to her post. Coouuurrrttt!
18 February 2012
Everybody said it. Today was a bad day. Three people dead and 39 charred cars and busses littered the park. Heavy pall of smoke hanging in the air. Passersby and sympathisers in tears. That was the story of the popular Mile Two Oke, Lagos, after a tanker laden with 33,000 litres of exploded at about 1a.m. and triggered a fire. A first timer at the terminus could be forgiven if he mistook it for a battlefield. The tanker, with registration number XB 370 ATN, had fallen on its side and exploded.
Meanwhile, as Boko Haram plotted to invade more prisons, the SSS took the battle against the Islamic sect to the home of yet another of its ring leaders in Abuja today. Operatives of the agency acting on information, raided the home of Bashiru Madalla in the Federal Capital Territory. He was said to be the coordinator of the activities of the group in the FCT and Niger State. In his home, pornographic tapes were recovered. What was he using that for? Oh, just to know how to fight the war when it involved women!
19 February 2012
This Sunday, an early explosion went off near the Christ Embassy Church at Suleja, Niger State, injuring five persons. One of the injured was a baby. Five vehicles parked in the vicinity were also destroyed by the explosion. It was a bad sign, for it could have been worse if the bomb had exploded a few metres nearer, since it would have exploded in the church premises. Unfortunately, that was the mission of the bombers!
20 February 2012
When the people were protesting that the President withdrew subsidy on fuel and brought untold hardship on them, Jonathan pleaded and promised that he would come up with such palliatives that would reduce whatever hardship that would arise from the removal. But today, President Goodluck Jonathan said the subsidy re-investment and empowerment and all the palliatives therein were no longer realistic. And there was a lot of hues and cries! Why now, Brother Jona!
The war between security agents and Boko Haram members was still on. At least, 30 persons were feared killed in a gun duel between soldiers and members of the violent Islamic sect at the Baga Market in Maiduguri, Borno State. The Maiduguri incident coincided with a revelation by the arrested spokesman for the sect, Abu Qaqa, that the Boko Haram leaders drove around town in expensive cars and security agents were often intimidated to stop them because they believed only big men had such cars and they were not checked.
21 February 2012
There was anger in the land. The President caused it. He had reneged on the promise that there would be palliatives for Nigerians to cushion the effect of fuel subsidy removal. In fact, it appeared the stage was set for another round of showdown between President Jonathan and labour unions. The Nigerian Labour Congress and Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria said the Jonathan administration had no option other than to reverse the price from N97 to the old N65 per litre since the President had said he was no longer sure of any palliatives. But Brother Jona was somewhere laughing: “Wetin dis people dey talk about now, reverse wetin?”
22 February 2012
Today, Commissioner of Police Zakari Biu, in whose custody Kabiru Sokoto, the alleged mastermind of 2011 Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, Madalla, escaped, was dismissed by the Police Service Commission (PSC). His past and present misdeeds came into reckoning as the PSC reviewed his activities in the security agency. The conclusion was that Biu had not demonstrated enough loyalty to the state and to the police in the performance of his duties. If his past disturbing actions and inactions could be ignored, PSC said Biu’s role in the escape of Kabiru Sokoto was unpardonable. It, therefore, approved his immediate dismissal from the police force.
23 February 2012
It was a day markets were shut and traffic came to a halt as eminent Nigerians gathered at the Tafawa Balewa Square for the last leg of the multiple funeral programme for the late Biafran leader, Dim Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. They came in superlative terms. All the comments used to qualify the fallen warlord as a man, whose courage, excellence, patriotism and selfless service, were beyond comparison.
This was also a day that Boko Haram struck beyond the IGP’s home in Kano, killing four policemen in the area and pushed the attack to Borno and Niger states. But the US promised to join forces with Nigeria against the violent Islamic group and this buoyed our own Jonathan.
24 February 2012
It was a sad day for a governor. In an unanimous decision of a five-man panel, the Supreme Court nullified the election of the Kebbi State Bovernor, Usman Saidu Nasamu Dakingari of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The court ordered another election in the state within 90 days.
Boko Haram would not let the day go unharassed as it struck in Kano again as unconfirmed number of persons were feared dead when gunmen suddenly fired on Muslim worshippers in the Sheka area of town.
25 February 2012
Today was the governorship election in Cross River State. It was peaceful but marred by low turn-out of voters. Right there, the battle over where the displaced Bakassi people of the state should cast their votes came to the open again as over 7,000 natives protested against the court’s order excluding them from today’s exercise.
26 February 2012
This was the day Fulani herdsmen abandoned their cattle and seized the Ogun State stretch of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. They used bows, arrows, knives and other dangerous weapons to rob travellers of cash and other items. They also stalled traffic for many hours at different times of the day.
But that was not as terrible as a suicide bomber who drove a car loaded with explosives into the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COSN), Jos, where the Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, worshipped, killing at least six people.
The rage that followed this attack was spontaneous as some angry youths promptly mobilised and struck at homes and shops owned by residents suspected to be sympathetic to the bombers. In a jiffy, 38 persons were injured and over 30 vehicles damaged, while the President shouted from Aso Rock: “Stop these odious acts immediately!”
27 February 2012
The body of Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu arrived Abuja today on its homeward journey. It was a happy day for all Igbo, seeing the gold-brown casket wrapped in Nigeria’s national colours and the body received amid full military honours. As this celebration of life was going on, bad news came for the people in government from London, although cheery for the masses. James Ibori, the former governor of Delta State, had confessed, saying: “Yes, I stole money.”
This news was cheery because at the home front, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), met a brickwall in its attempt to prosecute the former governor over alleged financial misconduct while in office. When the heat was on him, Ibori went underground for weeks in 2010 before he escaped to Dubai, which turned out to be an ill-fated exercise. He was extradited to London on the request of British government for trial over money laundering and other offences. He had vehemently denied that he stole while in Nigeria, but today in London, Ibori pleaded guilty before a United Kingdom Court to a 10-count charge of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud his state.
28 February 2012
Today, the EFCC made many Nigerians laugh when it announced that the former Delta State governor, James Ibori, would still face trial at home, even after he had served his terms in a London prison. No one could blame Nigerians for laughing because the man was in the country for over three years after leaving office and all they could do was to chase him about until he escaped. Now, he must be tried at home by the same EFCC!
And while gunmen suspected to be members of Boko Haram today continued their attack and killing of security agents and community leaders in Bauchi, Borno, Plateau and Yobe states, the Senate stated, with a dispiriting verdict, that the agitation for a Sovereign National Conference was an invitation for anarchy. The Upper House left no one in doubt that it would not yield to the clamour.
29 February 2012
Before today, the opposition had been having a field day, lambasting the President and his party for their failure to lead by good example and provide good amenities for the populace. But the President hit them hard this Wednesday, saying that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) was the only true political party in the country, dismissing the others as one-man-show platforms. President Jonathan said the words of individuals were laws in opposition parties and that it was only the PDP that possessed the structure to use dialogue to settle disagreements, among members.
As funny as this might be, it was the whole truth and nothing but the truth. While the PDP was lawless, the so-called opposition parties were despotic and that is why, for now, there has been no true democracy in Nigeria.