RECORDS OF MARCH 2012

March 1, 2012

Oh, this month started on a very bad note. The evidence came when it was reported this Thursday that gunmen unleashed terror on security operatives in Bayelsa State, killing four soldiers and four policemen at different points along the state waterways. The attack on the security operatives came barely a few hours after explosives suspected to be dynamites were detonated at two different locations in Yenagoa, the state capital. And this was the state of the President!

 

It was also a very bad day for the Lagos House of Assembly. Why? Oh, its Speaker, Ikuforiji Adeyemi, was docked by the EFCC for money laundering. Also arraigned in the court presided over by Justice Okechuwku Okeke was the Speaker’s Personal Assistant, Oyebode Atoyebi. The accused were charged with amended 20-count of money laundering. So, the day was so gloomy at the House that to make law no come dey easy again!

Today also, Yakubu Gowon was lambasted! Yes, our former Head of State. It was from a former President of Ghana, Jerry Rawlings. He rued Gowon’s absence at the funeral rites of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu. And many people supported Rawlings because while most nationalists were in Enugu today, Gowon was not, and they were asking if the war of 1967 was a personal one!

 

March 2, 2012

The civil war was now over. That was from the Anambra State Governor, Mr. Peter Obi, during the burial of the ex-Biafran warlord, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu today.  He told President Goodluck Jonathan, “Mr. President, by the love you showed our leader while he was alive and now that he is dead, you have just ended the civil war. The Igbo can now have a sense of belonging in Nigeria.” With this, Dim Ojukwu ended his memorable journey on earth.

This Friday brought bad news for head of government parastatals as the government announced it would sack nothing less than 372 Directors-General. But that was not as sad as the death of about 10 people at the Otedola Estate area of Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, when five vehicles, including a trailer, ran into some oil pipes, which were lying carelessly on the road. The oil pipelines, which were four in number, fell off another trailer on Thursday night at about 9 pm.

 

March 3, 2012

On this day, one of the suspects standing trial for the October 1, 2010 bomb explosions in Abuja, Francis Osuvwo, died at Kuje Prison, apparently of dehydration, but his lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, alleged murder.  His friends called him General Gbokos, and he had been standing trial with three others: Charles Okah, Obi Nwabueze and Edmund Ebiware. Nigerians could not help but continued to ask: Why does judgment (especially in important cases) take this long in Nigeria?

Indication emerged today also that Northern Governors had intensified their battle for the review of the federal revenue formula. There had been a renewed agitation from 19 governors of northern states for a review, following recent complaints from them that they were no longer able to meet up their financial responsibilities in their respective states.

 

March 4, 2012

This was a day when ministers were edgy, fussy and unpredictable. Well, grapevine had it that the President planned to reshuffle his cabinet, and speculation were rife that three FEC members would go this month, and more would be sacked in June. The civil servants around understood, for when a minister was about to leave office, he became pedantic, thinking that his inexhaustible source of free money was about to dry. Besides, his track must be covered.

So sad was it today to hear that after years of services to their fatherland, some retirees were earning as low as N80 per month.  It was the Nigerian Union of Pensioners that said that, and many people wondered: How would Nigeria retirees survive!

 

March 5, 2012

Many Nigerians were happy today because for a change of story lines, Nigeria deported 28 South Africans. South Africa deports 90 Nigerians | The Guardian Nigeria News ... Never mind it was a hit-back. Never mind it was because South Africa on previous Friday deported 125 Nigerians from Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg after denying them entry into the country for allegedly possessing fake yellow fever certificates, and that a senator was among the deportee. The joy was, so Nigeria self fit find someone to deport!

 

March 6, 2012

South Africa did not show any remorse and Nigerian government became angrier. So, the Federal Government barred 56 South Africans from entering the country through Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos. The government was also thinking of reviewing the status of all South Africans living in the country to ascertain the validity of their visas and work permits. It was indeed cheering news for Nigerians, home and abroad.

The Southwest people seemed more happy however, because their governors met today and reiterated their commitment to the economic integration of the region. It was at the presentation of the strategic roadmap “Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN)” by the Afenifere Renewal Group (AREG) to the governors in Lagos. It looked so promising that people from the zone came out to advise the governors: Please, don’t allow politics and parochial interest to kill this!

 

March 7, 2012

It looked as if the South African government had decided to tackle Nigeria, power for power, deportation for deportation, and blackmail for blackmail. It brushed aside the threats of the Nigerian government and deported another five of her citizens. But it seemed Nigeria was ready, for it too sent back 42 more South Africans, propping the list to 126 that the Federal Government had refused entry into the country.

One could not understand why the government of South Africa was becoming so insolent, after all, just as it was flaunting how powerful its country was, two Nigerian business giants – Aliko Dangote and Mike Adenuga – were included among the world’s richest, according to the 2012 Rich List published by Forbes.

And as if that was not enough to scare away any country, our own Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the powerful Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) without any prompting from any quarter, dipped his hand into the commonwealth coffer and gave N100m to the victims of the Boko Haram attack in his home state of Kano. Of course, that was not the first attack in Nigeria. But as the governor of the nation’s bankers’ bank, Sanusi might have thought that it should not happen in his state. And if it did, all must know that their son was the CBN Governor, thus, the unsolicited donation.

 

March 8, 2012

Irony of life played itself on Nigerians today. As the governors of the 19 Northern states rose from a six-hour meeting in Kaduna, resolving to deal decisively with the insecurity posed by Boko Haram, the militant Islamic sect killed two foreigners in Sokoto. British Chrisrtopher Macmanus and Italian Franco Lamolino, held captive by abductors in Birni Kebbi, the Kebbi State capital, since May last year were killed in Sokoto during a raid to free them by a joint Nigerian and British team.

So while the South African government was apologising, no one seemed to be listening to its “sorry” because there was now a bigger diplomatic row.

 

March 9, 2012

There was diplomatic tension here: British, Italy and Nigeria were embroiled in dual diplomatic row as a fall-out of the botched attempt to free two British and Italian engineers from the den of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram in Sokoto. Rome demanded from Abuja, on one hand, a ‘detailed reconstruction’ of the events leading to the death of its citizen, Franco Lamolinara, in the rescue operation. On the other hand, the Italian government asked for a political and diplomatic explanation from London on why it was not consulted before hand.

To put Nigeria in a more serious trouble, the Boko Haram members arrested claimed they killed the foreigners because they were under a standing instruction to kill the hostages immediately they sighted security agents around the building.

 

And as if that was not preposterous enough, it was reported that a plot to attack the South by Boko Haram had been uncovered. They had targeted Lagos, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Enugu and Warri, but the President was very quick in action, begging Boko Haram from the coziest section of Aso Rock: Please, lay down your arms!

 

March 10, 2012

Despite the danger and fear of Boko Haram, the people in government still found time to exhibit their unseriousness. While the Boko Haram menace continued to threaten the existence of the nation, members of the ruling party, the PDP, were at one another’s jugular today over Jonathan’s second-term ambition. The height of insecurity and economic plunge could not deter them to fight for 2015 in 2012.

It was, however, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Muhammed Abubakar, who carried the day. He acknowledged that our police usually scuttled off to safety, at times forgetting their berets, when armed robbers struck. But he warned them: We won’t tolerate officers running away from criminals again!

 

March 11, 2012

Today was another bloody Sunday. Terrorists bombed Saint Finbarr’s Catholic Church in Rayfield, Jos, Plateau State. It had happened this way: Two bombers in a Volkswagen Jetta car beat all the checkpoints leading to the church, without being intercepted or detected by men of Special Task Force who were at various parts of Rayfield to curtail such act. They arrived the church about 10.25 am, when the first morning mass was about to end. They had planned to ram the car into the church building but were prevented by barriers mounted within the church premises. And they got angry. Right within the church compound, they detonated the bomb. Then there was a blast, killing the two bombers instantly, and taking along three members who were at the entrance of the church. The explosion pulled down the ceiling, forcing worshippers to run for dear live, and 25 of them suffered high degree of injuries.

As usual, the President was not happy, and he said so in a plain term: I no dey happy with this kind thing at all. Wetin dey do this Boko Haram boys sef!

 

March 12, 2012

Well, by today, Jos death toll had hit 19. Seven more bodies were taken to the Jos University Teaching Hospital, while some of the injured in the hospital also died. In fact, it was the timely intervention of security operatives that prevented serious bloodbath, following the bombing of the Saint Finbarr’s Catholic Church in the town. Tension mounted as the hostilities between Christian and Muslim youths escalated with unconfirmed report of the disappearance of residents and silent killings in various parts of the city.

And in Kano, Boko Haram, the fundamentalist group responsible for the suicide bombings struck again, attacking a police station and killing a policeman. The police authorities quickly shut down some of their stations, as the fear of Boko Boko was the beginning of police wisdom.

But the President was very busy. Yes, he was busy begging the governors to back Bamanga Tukur as the Chairman of PDP.

 

March 13, 2012

Good news came in today when British pledged to step up its backing for Nigeria in the battle against the Boko Haram insurgency. Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond announced this before the House of Commons. And as if that would also aid this fight against terrorism, our own government approved new uniform for the police. Many citizens were not convinced though that it was the uniform that would help the police fight armed robbers or curb the terror of the bomb-throwing militant sect.

Lagosians were thanking God today that the power outage that hit the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja, did not occur while the aircraft carrying their governor was landing. It happened before it arrived Abuja. It got there quite alright but could not descend as the Airport Traffic Controllers had stopped any aircraft from landing when visibility became poor due to the outage on the tarmac. The power situation had always been on and off at the airport.

 

March 14, 2012

Today was a sad day for the police, and the nation mourned with the force as it lost a star officer, Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG) John Haruna.DIG John Haruna, a rare officer - Banire - He died in a chopper crash in Jos, the Plateau State capital, some 20 days after he was promoted. The late Haruna was in charge of operations at the Police Headquarters in Abuja. He died along with the other three occupants of the police-owned chopper, which crashed into a house in Kabang village in Jos North Local Government Area. Residents spoke of hearing a loud noise and seeing the aircraft crashed into a home, bursting into a huge ball of fire. All the occupants were burnt beyond recognition.

As if it were a day of burning, seven cars and four tankers went up in flames following an auto crash in front of the NNPC Mega Station on Iwo/Ojoo Expressway in Ibadan today. A truck with number plate XQ 717 GGE carrying coal from Ojoo crossed lanes, hitting an NNPC truck attempting to pack. The truck lost control and hit another NNPC truck that was fully loaded with petrol. The petrol spilled on the road, and there was an inferno!

The only cheering news today was the parade of the alleged kidnappers of the slain British and Italian engineers. The State Security Service paraded eight Boko Haram members involved in the killing of the two abducted expatriates, Christopher Mcmanus, a Briton; and Franco Lamolinara, an Italian. Many were happy believing this would send fear into the members of this killing group.

 

March 15, 2012

The government was happy today. The Senate and the House of Representatives passed the year’s budget voting N888 billion for fuel subsidy.

But there was a serious fight between the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms. Arunma Oteh and the Chairman, House Committee on Capital Market and other Institutions, Mr. Herman Hembe. The man said the woman was corrupt, but the woman retorted: Na you corrupt pass! And with this, the investigation by the House of Representatives of the Nigerian capital market took a dramatic twist. The Chairman and his committee said they had discovered that Oteh spent N30m on hotel accommodation in eight months, following her appointment in January 2010. But Oteh, the DG, alleged that the panel investigating her had earlier demanded N39m from her to fund the hearing.  That was how the story got K-leg!

 

March 16, 2012

It was another day of mourning. After a few weeks of respite in that area, suspected gunmen raided some southern Kaduna villages, killing 10 persons, including a pastor in Kafuru village, Chikun Local Government Area of the state. The wife of the pastor was also shot dead. The Assemblies of God Church, where the pastor was ministering, was razed by the gunmen along with about nine other buildings. The pastor, Innocent Chukwuemeka Mari, was shot in presence of his family before the invaders turned their guns on his wife.

 

March 17, 2012

No one actually knew how it happened. Or why would a successful architect and businessman take his own life? This was one of the questions triggered today by the death in Abeokuta of Chief Oluwole Olumide, described as a close political and business associate to the immediate past governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel. Olumide, an architect, was found dead in an artificial lake at the popular Golf Resort in the city owned by him. He drowned.

There also came the report today that while the EFCC and the ICPC were planning to investigate the SEC Director-General, Ms. Arunma Oteh and the Chairman of the House Committee on Capital Markets and other Institutions over the allegation and counter-allegation of corruption levelled against each other, it was learnt that the quarterly allowance of members of the House of Representatives had hit the N27 million mark. It used to be N15 million per lawmaker.

Many Nigerians were actually agitating against the hardship this new allowance would bring them, but the news from Port Harcourt sobered them.  A family of four – father, mother and two children – was burnt to death at their residence in an early morning petrol tanker explosion. Two other persons were similarly burnt after the petrol tanker fell on its side at Igwuruta Roundabout on the Port Harcourt International Airport road and burst into flame.

 

March 18, 2012

Before the PDP convention coming up shortly, news came to town that President Goodluck Jonathan had succeeded in convincing the PDP governors that the only person good for their party was Bamanga Tukur, and he had been secretly adopted. But other chairmanship aspirants were not happy; they were threatening not to step down for the anointed Papa.

As this game was going on, pensioners were clapping for the EFCC when they heard that detectives of the commission were questioning a Federal Permanent Secretary and two directors in some ministries for allegedly stealing about N14.3 billion police pension fund. The joy in the news was that the suspects confessed, saying: We looted pension cash!

 

19 March 2012

The confrontation between the Chairman of the House Committee on Capital Markets and other Institutions, Herman Hembe and the Director-General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Arunma Oteh, had refused to go away. Did Ms Oteh spend N30 million on hotel accommodation in eight months? Reps insist Jonathan fires SEC boss, Arunma Oteh | Premium Times ...Did Ms Oteh blow N850,000 or N85,000 on feeding in one day? Did Hon Hembe demand N44 million bribe from Ms Oteh? Did Hon Hembe collect a first class ticket to attend a seminar in the Dominican Republic, but never did? It was learnt today that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was set to unravel this puzzle.

 

March 20, 2012

Today, more missiles were fired in the battle of integrity between Herman Hembe and Ms Arunma Oteh. At the end of the day, the House of Representatives sacked the former panel and set up a new eight-man panel to start investigation into the unhealthy state of the Nigerian capital market, afresh. But Hon Hembe ensured that what would have been the raging effect of the sack was watered. He had said: “I hereby disqualify myself and urge the House to withdraw the entire committee from further conducting the investigative hearing.”

Also, Ms Oteh got her commission to fence for her:  “Ms Oteh has never consumed a meal worth N850,000. The highest charge for food was N83,400 on March 24, 2010.”

 

March 21, 2012

Even today, there seemed to be no let-up in the battle of integrity between the House of Representatives and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC denied the embattled Herman Hembe’s claim that it initiated moves to bribe the House Committee on Capital Market and Institution with the sum of N30.4 million. It was not the bribery that actually got many people irked, but the way the amount was mentioned, it was as if it were just a sum of N34.

Now, there was a momentary shift from this when news came in that about 100 kilometres from the commercial city of Kano, a five-hour gun battle in which nine Boko Haram members had been killed was still raging. Many people wanted more of the sect members to be shot, with the hope that it would bring back the drifting nation.

 

March 22, 2012

Many had thought there were not enough policemen in the country, and that was why the case of Boko Haram, armed robbery and other atrocities continued to gain upper hand on our security operatives, but when it was reported today that the police had deployed 10,000 officers for PDP convention, everybody realised  we had more than enough.  PDP was planning its convention, the President and his men wanted Bamanga Tukur to be the Chairman of the party, but many governors and other party chieftains seemed not to like that decision, and they were ready to slug it out with the Presidency. In fact, Tukur had been defeated in the party’s primary in Bauchi.  It was this fear of the unknown that led to the deployment of lorry-load of policemen.

 

March 23, 2012

Today was the day of horse-trading. Although President Goodluck Jonathan and the national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party had put in place the machinery to ensure the success of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur I'm father to the nation –Bamanga Tukuras the party’s National Chairman in today’s convention in Abuja, some other aspirants and their supporters in the PDP’s hierarchy were threatening to dismember the political machine. And the President boasted: “It’s Tukur or nobody!”

But despite the hush-hush arrangement going on, one of the governors still allowed himself to be intoxicated by his party’s political wine. If not, why would a governor announce that his party, the PDP, would rule for 50 years?  If not for wine, he should know that one day some people would have answer to the money politics in Nigeria, and that would be the end of his party. But today, the PDP convention fever was gripping!

 

March 24, 2012

A mix of drama intrigues and anger climaxed the national convention of the ruling People’s Democratic Party convention in Abuja today with aspirants to prominent positions in the national executive committee of the party arm-twisted into stepping down for preferred candidates anointed by the President.   So Alhaji Bamanga Tukur emerged the national Chairman, while former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, became the national secretary.

President Goodluck Jonathan (centre), with Vice-President Namadi Sambo (right), during the PDP National Convention in Abuja

It was a long night before the deal was struck. It saw ten other aspirants surrender to the chosen ones, while Oyinlola prostrated before Tunde Adeniran and Ebenezer Babatope wept before angrily announcing: “I am not withdrawing for anybody but for the party… I have decided to step down as a mark of respect for President Goodluck Jonathan and Vice President Namadi Sambo, otherwise I was determined to go ahead even if I was going to get only one vote!”

 

March 25, 2012

Of course, as should be expected, the ACN was very angry at the leaders of PDP. The Action Congress of Nigeria described the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party as a kangaroo meeting which had sealed the party’s fate. It said the convention had marked the PDP as a one man-show that was totally contemptuous of internal democracy. This was from Lai Muhammed who added that Jonathan was an emerging dictator who in the process of remaking the PDP in his own image had pushed the party into the realms of abyss. Well, many people could not stop to wonder if there was much difference between the convention of PDP and that of ACN itself.

It also came to notice today that security agents were battling to locate the whereabouts of a German, Edgar Fritz Raupach, who was believed to have been taken hostage by Boko Haram, the dreaded Islamic sect in whose custody two foreigners died recently. The hostage-takers appeared to have the backing of al-Qaeda, the international terrorist group. Nothing could be more scary!

 

March 26, 2012

Today, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seized six properties including a hotel and four filling stations, from a former Director of Pension Administration in the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation. Dr. Sani Teidi Shuaib was standing trial over a N14.56 billion pension scam in his former office. It was the court that ordered the seizure of the properties and assets which included: (1) No 24, Ahmadu Musa Crescent, Jabi, Abuja; (2) Brefina Hotel at plot 1106 (beside MTN warehouse), adjacent to Vines Hotel, Durumi, Abuja; (3) A house at No 1, Shuaibu Close, opposite Governor’s House, Idah; (4) Riba-Ile Petroleum Ltd; (5) M.R.S. Ajaka, registered as Riba-Ile Oil Ltd; (6) M.R.S Idah station, registered with Hammon Oil, Nigeria; (7) NNPC Mega station, Idah junction, Ayingbba, registered as Hammon Oil, Nig. Ltd. (8) MRS Filling Station at Ganaja, Lokoja; (9) Registered with A Y Ted Oil Limited; (10) A mansion at Idah, opposite Federal Polytechnic, Idah; (11) Sun Trust Properties Company Ltd; (12) Plot B59, Dawaki Extension Layout, Bwari area Council, Abuja; (13) An estate of 10 bungalows, lying and being at Dantatta Street, Nyanyan, FCT, Abuja. Well, the owner of these properties was a civil servant and he was in service when he had them.

 

 

March 27, 2012

It was a day when a ray of hope was sighted in the kidnap of the German named Edgar Fritz. Five suspected Boko Haram members, including a Mauritanian linked to North African branch of al-Qaeda were held by securities agents over the abduction of the German.

News of their arrest came on the heels of a report that detained Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa adopted father, Abdullahi Bello, had been killed by members of his group. He was a retired Deputy Comptroller of Prisons and was performing ablutions in preparation for the Magrib prayer when he was shot alongside his friend, also a retired prison officer.

 

March 28, 2012

President Goodluck Jonathan

said today that Nigerians’ penchant for politicising issues was responsible for the violent activities of Boko Haram sect. He spoke in Seoul at an interactive session with the Nigerian community in South Korea, after attending an international nuclear summit. It would not have been difficult for the administration to confront the sect, but for the fact that the government was not receiving enough cooperation from the people, that was the conclusion of the Nigerian president.

The crisis in the Oyo PDP deepened today as the Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Jumoke Akinjide and the former Deputy Governor of the state, Taofeek Arapaja, inaugurated a parallel executive of the party, with a vow to bring Senator Rashidi Ladoja back into the party. And some of the members were just laughing, saying: We shall see!

 

March 29, 2012

Today, the Nigerian Army claimed it had arrested no fewer than 65 members of Boko Haram in Kaduna. It was a renewed onslaught against the fundamentalist sect. Among those arrested were 19 nationals of Niger Republic, while a vendor and a fried meat (Suya) seller were also rounded up.

Also today, an Abuja high Court remanded six persons arrested for a N14.5bn fraud in the administration of police pension funds in prison. The suspects – Esai Dangabar; a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Niger-Delta, Atiku Abubakar Kigo; Ahmed Inuwa Wada; John Yakubu Yusufu; Veronica Uloma Onyegbula and Sani Habila Zira – were arraigned by the EFCC on 16 counts of conspiracy and criminal breach of trust.  They were said to have diverted the sum of N14.5bn from the police pension funds domiciled in the First Bank of Nigeria Plc between January 2009 and June 2011.

And everyone was expecting it, but hopes for an early release of the report of the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime Monitoring were dashed today, because of conflicting responses from government and companies involved in the importation of petroleum products. It was the Chairman, Farouk Lawan, who revealed this, saying it was becoming very difficult to get responses from government agencies.

 

March 30, 2012

Many Nigerians were very happy when the new Acting Inspector General of Police, Mr. Muhammed Abubakar, 15 facts about IG Mohammed Abubakar | SeriousMata | News | Lifestyleannounced the withdrawal of police orderlies from politicians and businessmen who got policemen to do dirty jobs for them. But indications emerged today that the IG might have been prevailed upon by entrenched interests to drop this planned withdrawal of these orderlies attached to private individuals. The few in power wanted to be guarded by the police at the expense of the endangered mass of the people.

 

March 31, 2012

Today was the day of Chief Edwin Clark, the outspoken Ijaw national leader. He replied the northern leaders who were threatening fire and brimstone if President Goodluck Jonathan should contest again in 2015. The octogenarian elder statesman said it was the Nigerian people that could decide that and not the few leaders from the north. He upbraided a section of the political class in the North, saying, “their attitude shows the region is born to rule over others in the country. Nigeria belongs to all of us. There is no second-class citizen in this country and that is why I sometimes find it difficult to believe that our northern brothers are still carrying on as if they are more Nigerians than others.“

And with this, the month ended, leaving everyone to think about the “Jonathan candidacy” in 2015!

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