Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #5
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Nigeria Weekly News Highlights

Dec.12,1999

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Sunday, 12 December 1999

NMA Seeks To Recover N500m Loan From Bamanga Tukur

By Gbolahan Gbadamosi, Judicial Correspondent

SUBSTANTIVE hearing has started at the Federal High Court in Lagos in a legal bid by the National Maritime Authority (NMA) to recover five million-dollars (N500 million) loan from former Industries Minister, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and his shipping company, B.M. Tankers (Nigeria) Limited.

The amount, according to NMA, was granted by it to the shipping company as a ship acquisition and ship building fund (SASBF) loan disbursed on February 2, 1997 and secured by the personal guarantees of Tukur as chairman of the company and Alhaji Awwral Tukur as director. Awwral Tukur is named as third defendant in the suit, hearing of which commenced before Justice Rose Ukeje on Thursday.

Although Tukur and the other defendants admitted taking the loan, they complained in defence that the amount was short of the $16.5 million (about N165 million) actually required by the shipping company to discharge the financial commitment it had already incurred with some foreign ship owners for the purchase of two vessels.

Besides, the Tukurs and their shipping company allege that NMA reneged on its pledge to advance more funds for them in order to assist BM Tankers achieve its goal of acquiring a vessel and building its fleet in the spirit of the SASBF established by NMA. For the alleged breach of contract, they counterclaimed, seeking $7,385,800 (about N7,385 million or N7.38 billion) as special damages.

Before the close of proceedings in the court on Thursday, NMA's principal investment officer, Mr. Heakey Dimowo gave evidence affirming contents of NMAs statement of claim and tendering various letters accepted as exhibits by Justice Ukeje - in the transaction. Dimowo, was led in evidence by Mr. Ayo Ajayi, a lawyer from F.O. Fagbohungbe & Co which is representing the maritime authority.

Basically, the NMA is claiming that contrary to its agreement with the Tukurs, B.M. Tankers neither acquired nor built any ship with the N500 million. It (NMA) is also claiming N250 million for alleged losses it suffered in consequence.

According to the claim of the NMA, the SASBF was established in its bid to develop and encourage the participation of indigenous companies in the shipping industry, adding that it is to render financial assistance to indigenous companies which are desirous of purchasing or building ships.

B.M. Tankers, it was added, took the advantage of the SASBF by writing an application letter dated September 19, 1994 requesting for financial assistance and following the approval of the Minister of Transport, the loan was granted and accepted.

NMA explained that part of the terms of the loan which were mutually agreed between the parties are:

the loan would be for a tenure of five years;

there would be a moratorium of one year from the date of disbursement of the loan and;

B.M. Tankers shall pay interest on the $5 million loan at the rate of three per cent per annum from the date the one year moratorium expires.

It was also agreed that security for the loan shall be by personal guarantee of Alhaji Tukur and Alhaji Awwal Tukur both chairman and director, first charge on the company's fixed assets and a second charge on the company's floating assets, domiciliation of freight earnings into a designated account to be nominated by the NMA and mortgage of landed property in favour of NMA preferably in Lagos.

To satisfy the loan agreement, both chairman and director of B.M. Tankers executed two individual/separate deeds of personal guarantee dated July 1 1996 in favour of NMA as security for the loan.

Besides, the company itself executed a Memorandum of Agreement as well as a Deed of Debenture and charge in favour of NMA, hence the defendants were allowed to draw down the loan. Although, one year moratorium commenced on February 2, 1997 and expired a year later, B.M. Tankers allegedly failed to acquire or purchase any ship.

After series of letters of demand from the chambers of Fagbohungbe, NMA headed for court and asked for:

the sum of $5 million being the SABSF loan granted and disbursed and;

interest from February 2 1998 at the rate of three per cent per annum up till date of judgement and thereafter at the rate of two per cent per annum until the judgement is fully satisfied by them.

N250 million general damages for losses suffered by NMA was also asked.

The court adjourned further hearing till March 23 next year when Dimowo is expected to continue his evidence in chief.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Sunday, 12 December 1999

Post-master General Asked To Resign

By Our Reporter

THE Presidency may have ordered the Post-Master General (PMG) of the Federation, Mr. Taiwo Olukolu, to resign. The directive is believed to be the aftermath of the series of petitions that have flooded the Presidency in respect of the activities of Olukolu.

It was also learnt that officers on Grade level 15 and above in the Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) are slated for compulsory retirement.

According to sources, Olukolu and his team have been frustrating all efforts by the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) to privatise the organisation.

The PMG and his team, it was learnt, are more interested in the grants and subventions they receive from the Federal Government rather than initiating ideas on how to make the organisation self-accounting and revenue-driven.

The order that the PMG resign came after he was summoned by the Presidency to explain certain administrative operations in the organisation.

Not impressed by his explanations, it was gathered that he was thoroughly scolded and was intimated of the numerous petitions against him bordering on his inability to turn the place around.

The Federal Government, it was learnt, is worried that because of the poor leadership in the organisation coupled with lack of focus, courier firms have taken a significant percentage of the market from NIPOST.

In view of the new development, aspirants for Olukolu's job have emerged. They are the deputy Post-master General, technical services, Mr. Usman Baba, and the deputy Post-master General, finance and investment, Alhaji Argungu.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER


Date of Article: 12/1
1/99
Topic:
US Told to Sustain Democracy in Nigeria
Author: Jude Okwe,
Calabar
Full Text of Article:
THE governor of Cross River State, Mr Donald Duke has called on the United States of America (USA) to sustain demcocracy in Nigeria by promoting new investments in the country and campaign for moratorium or outright cancellation of debts Nigeria is owing the US and other Western Nations.
Governor Duke made this call last Wednesday when the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Twaddel paid him a courtesy call in Calabar.
The governor who briefed the ambassador on the geographical composition of the state told Mr Twaddel that Cross River State was facing a mountain of challenges in the area of poverty, infrastrucatural development and high rate of unemployement.
He said that though the challenges were legion, his government was making conscious efforts to tackle them in the spirit of the new democractic despensation in Nigeria.
Such efforts, Duke noted, could be seen in the government's recent moves to source funds from the World Bank to finance the various poverty alleviation programmes in the rural communities.
He told the ambassador that the State had carried out a demographic survery of the various rural communities and had been able to identify the need of the individual communities in terms of health services, education, potable water and electricity.
He said though, the government was desirous of providing these basic infrastructure in the rural areas, the amentities would not create the desired impact if conscious effort were not made to create wealth and income generation ventures to sustain them.
This, according to Duke, informed his administration's decision to put in place, ventures like the pineapple and castor seeds cultivation as well as to embark on the expansion of our existing oil and rubber plantations. With these in place, Duke noted the state could create about 500,000 jobs for 70 per cent of our able body population which is either under employed or unemployed.
He urged the US and other western countries to have a stake in the sustanance of democracy in Negria by carrying out a campaign or talk about the countries debts or put in place moratorium on our debts that would enable democracy in Nigeria stabilised.
Speaking earlier, the US ambassador to Nigeria, his excellency, Paul Twaddel said he was happy with the dramatic changes and opportunities that have been ushered into Nigeria with the enthronement of democracy.
He told Mr. Duke that the US is very ready to support the democractic process in Nigeria noting that democracy has given Nigeria and the US the opportunity to forge greater and stronger relationship.
He, however, caution the elected representatives of the people of Nigeria not to misused the opportunity they have to fashion out the destiny of the people and sustainable democracy.
Nigerian Post Express Newspaper


Date of Article:
12/11/99
Topic:
I Have No Power to Create States, Says Obasanjo
Author: Josiah Emereole, Abuja
Full Text of Article:
THE presidency has shut its doors against agitators of state creation as President Olusegun Obasanjo declared on Wednesday that the 1999 constitution gives him and the executive arm of the Federal Government no powers to create more states or to initiate action for the creation.
Speaking to a a delegation from Oyo State who made a request for the creation of Oke-Ogun State, the president observed that under the present political dispensation only the National Assembly could initiate action on the creation of additional states and pass the required legislation with the consent of at least two third of the existing state assemblies.
The president told the delegation led by Oba Tijani Abimbola Oyegoke II, the Okere of Saki that there was little he could do about request made to him for new states, irrespective of his personal disposition.
He, however, assured the group of his administration's commitment to addressing the other needs of the Saki community including their request for the completion of the Badagry - Sokoto highway.
Recalling that the project was initiated during his first tenure as head of state, President Obasanjo pledged that his administration would do its best to complete the highway because it would boost the rapid socio-economic development of the communities it would pass through.
Communities in the country he, however, charged should also do more to complement government's developmental efforts through local initiatives.
He urged them to make a more conscious effort to promote their localities to potential investors and show a greater willingness to provide land for industrial and agricultural projects since their people would share in the benefits of such ventures.

Nigerian Post Express Newspaper

We can't BE INTIMIDATED BY OBASANJO PDP — Yusuf Ali

ALHAJI Yusuf Garba Ali was not really a name, which aroused overwhelming familiarity in matters of politics in Nigeria. In the sporting and energy (oil) sectors, he was unarguably a guru.

Nigerian football enjoyed its sunshine moments when this Kano-born strategist was the chairman of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA). The keen followers of the enthralling game, till today, have obvious memories of its administration then.

Beyond football, Ali took over a "dead" Unipetrol and turned it around in a decade.

That was as far as majority nationals knew about Ali until his name began to feature among the aspirants for the chairmanship of the All Peoples Party, APP. Was he a true contender for the throne or a mere pretender who was seeking political relevance?

This, indeed, was the question, which agitated the minds of Nigerians. But all that was answered on Sunday, December 5 when Alhaji Ali thoroughly outclassed Alhaji Lema Jibrilu, a former presidential aspirant to become the new chairman of the APP.

And standing on the podium before voting commenced at the Eagle Square venue of the APP convention, the winner dispelled allegations that he was a newcomer and a late entrant in the race. "I have been a member of APP from inception... I am contesting, therefore, because I want to rebuild the unity in the party."

The thunderous cheers from the stands that welcomed his address were expressly indicative that only the unimaginable would stop him. The announcement of the result merely confirmed what had become easily predictable at the convention venue.

His acceptance speech tersely embraced the challenges that stare the APP in the face. Does he possess the magic wand to reconcile the factions and other heavyweight power players in the party? What are his plans to snatch power at the centre from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2003?

How does he rate President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime seven months after? Will the APP sustain its alliance with the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in future elections?

In this EXCLUSIVE chat with your soar-away Weekend Vanguard, Wednesday night, Alhaji Ali travels down memory lane and brings to the fore his past in politics, days with late Mallam Aminu Kano plus his dreams for a troubled party.

Read on.

Not many people could identify you with the APP or even as being an active player in politics. But almost out of the blues, you are now the chairman of the APP. What was the magic?

I am not new in APP because I’ve been a member of the party from inception. But I do not, and have not imposed myself on anybody. The National Executive had never invited me to hold a post or to advise on anything. But I’ve been a very active participant in Kano.

I’ve been in politics for years. People don’t know that but I was a member of the Constituent Assembly in 1978. If you look at the (1979) constitution, my name appears there. Although I did not stay long because of litigation but at the end, I won the case at the Supreme Court.

What case was that?

It was a case between me and one of the contestants who happens to be my friend. I was also a founding member of the PRP (Peoples Redemption Party). It was not that I joined. No, I was one of those who formed the party with the late Mallam Aminu Kano. I was a member of the directorate.

But at a time that politicians scrambled to be identified with Aminu Kano, you seemed to have drifted. Why was that so?

I’ve been working. All along, I was with Total. And I was playing politics. But I never left my job to say that I was a full time politician. One of the most important things that one learnt from late Mallam Aminu was honesty, pity for the Nigerian masses. He was a leader who never had even an airconditioner or a fan in his house. I remember very well that at a time, those of us who thought that they had the means, about ten of us, approached Mallam Aminu Kano and told him, "Mallam, it’s not possible for you to stay without a generator. So, we want to buy a generator for you."

He laughed. And he asked, "will you buy a generator that will cover all my neighbours?" We told him it wasn’t possible. Then he told us that "it’s not acceptable for me to disturb my neighbours in order to have light and they would not have it. Why don’t you correct NEPA and make it work so that everybody would have light?"

A lot of Nigerians don’t know about Aminu Kano. Typical example: we went on a campaign tour of villages in Kano State. Then, men, women and children were running out of their thatched huts to greet us. I was with him in the same vehicle. Then, he asked us whether we knew what these villagers saw in us that convinced them to believe and to follow us. Were they the promises we made that we would fulfill or was there anything they saw in us that made them to support us? 

He told us that if we didn’t know why the people were following us, then God would punish us. Then, he told us to conduct a research to find out what were those things that made them to accept us, what they wanted and their expectations from us. He said that those steps were important because should we fail to satisfy those their expectations, God would punish us. Mallam Aminu Kano shaped my political ideals.

So, what are those ideals, which you suggest that our present-day politicians should imbibe? 

What we will do in the new APP really is to work for the Nigerian masses. There is so much poverty, hunger all over the places. It shouldn’t happen. I do not know any country in the whole world that is as endowed as Nigeria, not even the United States.

When then lies the problem?

Leadership. That’s the main problem. We don’t have the leadership that cares for the common man.

That brings us to the APP. How do you plan to run an effective APP that will be free from rancours?

Well, I intend to be open, fair to all. 

Secondly, I will make sure that democracy is practised the way it ought to be practised. I believe that a lot of Nigerians and the world over have seen how we conducted our national convention. His Excellency, the Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Ahmad Sani (as chairman of the convention) has set a standard for Nigeria especially for the APP and I can assure you that that's what we’re going to adopt at the ward, local government, state and national levels.

What standard are you talking about?

The standard is that elections should be open, free and fair. And even if you watched it on the telly, you would have seen how orderly the exercise was conducted. States were on queues right from when they were called until after voting. We did not have more than ten policemen at the venue. It was so well organised and this is the sort of thing that we should do: allow the people to select those that they want.

When you talk of openness and fairness, are you saying that you will fold your arms and watch other parties choose to out-rig your members at the next polls?

I’m talking of our own party setting those standards. But I hope that the INEC will also copy from us and ensure that the future elections are open, free and fair. We will get them (INEC) to do so. They have to go scientific. Today, the electoral commission does not use computers! It’s unacceptable. 

We must begin to plan to use computers where you will have the number of electorate in one constituency and how many that voted. That’s a way to check falsification.

Whereas you talk about the openness and fairness of your national convention, even the national chairman of the PDP, Engr. Barnabas Gemade said that yours wasn’t peaceful either...

I don’t think that I need to put up any kind of reaction. Nigerians saw the whole exercise live on television. I don’t need, therefore to react. But politicians must learn to give credit to one another. I don’t think that criticising will help us. It makes no sense. It was open and everybody saw it on television. Even the United States said it was the best election they had seen.

A lot of heavyweight politicians left the APP. What are you doing in order to bring back and reconcile these decampees?

Well, I think it’s not a question of reconciliation. People were offended by the former executive because you see, from the beginning, in the then new democratic set-up, APP had the largest followership. But we lost all that because of the carelessness of the former executive. You see, they were sacking people, even those who won election here and there. Somebody would just issue a letter to say otherwise. So, that annoyed quite a number of people.

But I believe that not only them (decampees) but other Nigerians will come to join us. We throw our hands wide open.

But then, it is a fact that even among those remaining, you have different factions. For instance, there is the Saraki faction and the Shinkafi faction. So, how do you bring them together?

I am a neutral man and I have appealed to every one of them who was offended in one way or another to forget the past and come back so that together we can build Africa’s strongest party. I think that they are in agreement. A lot of them were at the convention ground and contributed in no small measures to make the convention successful. Oh yeah, they played prominent roles.

Do you not feel intimidated leading the party that will be contesting the next elections, particularly the presidency against President Obasanjo and the PDP?

Don’t forget that as I mentioned earlier on, we (APP) don’t lack the followership. We were careless (in the last polls) and we lost. The people are still there. But we will insist that elections should be free and fair. Once they are free and fair, we don’t fear anybody. And we will not fear anyone. We are not going to be intimidated by anybody. Never!

Let’s not forget or ignore the power of incumbency...

Yeah, it’s there, but the power of the electorate is more important and supreme to the power of incumbency. So, we can’t be intimidated by the fact that they (PDP) are in power.

There are series of factionalisations at the state chapters. So, how do you intend to reconcile these parties at that level?

Well, we are going to work. We’ve already set our machinery in motion for this purpose and lots more. The new executive council will meet again next week to map out strategies to bring an end to these problems. We have plans now. It’s a new dimension, a new APP. That’s what I call it. Things are going to be different. Politics is going to be different in Nigeria. We have people who have played politics at higher levels. We’re going to tap from their knowledge.

What are these changes you’re talking about?

When they start to unfold, you will see them.

Having somebody from the sports background, what will be your focus?

Sports have been neglected entirely by the Nigerian governments. They forget to realise that sport is one sure source of employment. It removes tension from people. It publicises the country. We are going to talk because we are going to have a policy on sports and we are going to come out with real programmes on sports.

Look at the boys, if you go anywhere in Nigeria today, you’ll see these boys playing football. When you finish from your work today, you have no place to go and relax. It’s always tension. That’s why Nigerians have high blood pressure all the time. It’s so bad that there is no place to relax. You just close at work and you go back home to watch television, all showing foreign programmes, not Nigerian. 

Nigerians knew you as the former chairman of the NFA, then you moved over to Unipetrol and today, you’re a party chairman. Do you candidly appreciate that the three differ and come with specific loads?

All of them are what? Management of resources and human beings. There is so much politics in football that people don’t know. The politics in football is as challenging as that in politics itself. So, they are inter-related. Unless Nigerians in the private sector come in to salvage the situation by seeking elections into executive or legislative offices like the Senate or House of Representatives, or become ministers, governors and the president, I can tell you that we will not progress. These people should come out to sacrifice to help to build and change Nigeria.

How far do you intend to involve the private sector participation?

We’ll meet and discuss and maybe, I’ll convince them to come on board and join in the task to rebuild our country.

In the last presidential election, the APP/AD had an alliance where the former produced the vice-president. Will your regime not encourage such arrangement if the situation re-presents itself?

Never! Have you ever seen where the majority becomes the minority? I had said before now that we are going to re-examine, analyse the pros and cons of that decision. Fortunately, I’d met few AD friends not too long ago and today, I appeal to them to forget and come and join the APP. 

What are the plans to ensure that first of all, APP retains the states it won in the last elections before going to fight for other slots?

Our record will speak for itself. I mean, go to the National Assembly and even the State Assemblies and see the quality of representation. These are committed Nigerians who want the country to move forward. They don’t talk about party alliances; they talk about Nigeria. These are patriots. We’ve got people, who know what they are doing, who love this country.

There has been this harvest of impeachments at both the national and state levels of key legislative officers. What does this portend for our fledgling democracy and how will you ensure that it does not happen in APP-controlled states?

First as I said before, if you watched our convention (in Abuja), you would have noticed the high level of discipline and tolerance exhibited by party leaders and members. The issue of these impeachments all over the places, is unfortunate and all I can do is to appeal to honourable members in all the legislative houses all over Nigeria, both at the national, state and council levels to think and be more rationale.

I am not saying that there should be no impeachments if the situations so dictate that choice. I am only pleading that they should be democratically and justifiably done.

What’s your relationship with President Obasanjo, at least, one-on-one?

I don’t know exactly when last I met Mr. President; whether it was in 1978. No, I met him in an aircraft one time and as I always do to a former President of Nigeria; I went to greet him and to offer respect. As the President of my country, I still offer that respect.

How do you rate his government? Do you think that an APP government at the centre would have done better?

The new APP would have done much better. There are so many problem spots: unemployment.

Two, the security protection of lives and property. Though, I will confess that the Inspector General of Police knows what he’s doing. He’s been doing quite well. But the Police Force needs to be well equipped. If they go outside our shores, in terms of training and performance, the Nigerian policemen are among the best you can get. But unfortunately, they are not remunerated. 

We must take their welfare seriously. They are killed by armed forces and there are no insurance covers. So, their families suffer. When you find a policeman on the road, there are no facilities. If he dies, there is no insurance. If he’s pressed, he goes into the bush like bush people.

As far as I am concerned, we pay too much emphasis on NEPA or rural electrification. Rural rubbish! The people must generate funds for them to be able to pay for these services. A lot of Nigerians don’t have houses; they live in huts. Some don’t even have a place to sleep. If you give them the light, what are they going to do with it? They don’t have the houses; they live in thatched houses and all that. Here, we’re talking of the downtrodden in the society.

In the urban areas, something can be done for people to have water, electricity but what happens to the ordinary man, the downtrodden? In the villages, these people don’t have the houses, they don’t have water and you’re saying that you want rural electrification. What will they do with that? How would they pay for the light and we’re saying that we want to increase tariff?

Your predecessor is working for the PDP government. And if by the end of next elections, your party fails to form the party at the centre, are Nigerians not likely going to see Alhaji Yusuf Ali picking up an appointment from the victorious party?

I do not believe that as the chairman of a party, I should abandon that party, abandon the responsibilities that people entrusted on me in order to serve a government in power. I won’t do that.

What is the way out of the various ethnic or communal crises we have been having in Ketu (Lagos), Sagamu, Kano, Ajegunle and the Niger-Delta?

The Niger-Delta is very unfortunate. But the APP is going to carry out a comprehensive research on the problems of the Niger-Delta. There is no doubt that the place has been neglected. If you go to the place, the youths are not going to school. Why? Like I said, we’re going to carry out a thorough research.

I am one of those who believe that they should have the first opportunity of employment. But again, have they got the manpower? So, we should train them so that they can go to school. If they don’t go to school, there should be a crash programme on the technical side. They can weld. So many of them can use their hands. No matter what happens, they should have the first opportunity of employment.

The other problem of the level of intolerance is poverty, which has a direct link to the unemployment that ravages the land. Secondly, there are other people who call themselves leaders but they do not know the qualities of a leader. And maybe they incite the general public against one another. I am happy that the Federal Government is dealing with this issue firmly but they should be firmer.

There have been calls for restructuring and a Sovereign National Conference. What is your view on this?

Actually, I am at a loss over those calls for the National Conference. Why not come out and say, ‘okay, this is what we want." They have enough representation. But how could people who came into power through a constitution turn around to say that they do not now recognise the same constitution? I am completely at a loss but I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. If they want to change anything in the constitution, they could go to the state assemblies or National Assembly and champion their agenda. That is the beauty of democracy. When they pass it into law, it becomes law and nobody can change it. The Federal Government will have no choice but to obey it.

The man who organised the APP convention, Alhaji Ahmad Sani, Governor of Zamfara recently adopted Sharia which has been generating raging debates. What is your position on this?

Sharia is for every Moslem in the world. If any Moslem says that he does not recognise Sharia, then that person is not a Moslem. To every Moslem, Sharia is a way of life. If a state does introduce Sharia, you as a Moslem should try and live by the prescription of Sharia. The only difference is that you cannot be punished.

I don’t think that those making different interpretations are helping the issue. But I can tell you because I know that since the introduction of Sharia, the crime rate in Zamfara has gone down. Even if you’re cutting the hands of armed robbers, nobody would want his hands cut. Sharia is to instill these fears into the potential offenders.

There has been this trouble between the Sports ministry and the new NFA chairman. Having been there before, which is the way out of it all?

My belief is that the NFA must be independent. To be independent, they must have a source or sources of generating funds. Otherwise, why should the ministry be getting involved in who becomes the national coach? It’s because they are paying his salaries. This is why they are dictating but I mean it is the responsibility of the FA to sit down at their working committee, get coaches, look at their credentials and take a decision. We did that several times and we just forwarded our recommendation: ‘this is the man we want.’

It’s not the minister that he (technical adviser and in this case, Bonfrere Jo) is going to work with. It’s the players and the FA. As long as there is no harmony between the FA and the coach, I’m surprised and let’s see how he’s going to perform.

But what can be done now to ensure that things are put in place so that the Eagles will be able to win the Nations Cup trophy?

I don’t know whether you have read what the new coach, Jo Bonfrere said! He is the person handling the team and if he says that (Bonfrere had said that Nigeria cannot win the Nations Cup), who are you to say no? (General laughter). He’s the coach; he has looked at the task ahead and he says that we’re not going to do well.

Again, is it right to have the coach displaying such pessimism?

But you’ve signed him. He says that we’re not going to do well. He is talking about the 2002 World Cup. Let’s hope he’ll get us there. Everything depends on your coach. If the coach is hopeful and he’s determined to work, then we have the potential players to get there. With a good coach, you don’t need to bring all the foreign players to come for one match. We have many good players but it takes hard work to groom them.

Put candidly, how do you rate Bonfrere as against Clemens Westerhof?

No, no, no. You see, I’ve been severally accused of being a fanatic of Westerhof personally. But I can tell you; Bonfrere had been number two to Westerhof. If you’re not good, you can’t be number one.

Back to politics and finally, what are your ambitions as the APP chairman?

To form a formidable, disciplined and the biggest political party in Africa and to capture power at various stages in the next dispensation.

Do you have the resources to actualise your dreams?

We have the human resources but we don’t have the financial resources.

You need both; so, how do you raise funds?

Let’s not beat the gun. When we unfold our plans, we will let you know how we are going to do fund-raising.

But we have enormous goodwill. It’s good to have friends all over Nigeria. It’s equally nice for people to have confidence in someone and say, ‘yes, this man can do it.’ I was here (his Lagos residence) but we were doing the work before we moved over to Abuja for the convention.

The challenges ahead are daunting. It’s a lot of loads running a party as big as APP. The expectations today are very high. But we will deliver the goods with the support of all Nigerians and Almighty Allah.

Vanguard Transmitted Saturday, December 11, 1999

 

Saturday, 11 December 1999

Police may file fresh charges against Afikuyomi

FRESH charges will be preferred against Mr. Tokunbo Afikuyomi, a Senate member, if investigations into allegation of jumping bail and involvement in Advance-Fee-Fraud against him are found to be true, according to the police.

Deputy Police Commissioner in charge of Investigations at the Zone Two of the Command, Onikan, Lagos, Mr. Charles Daudu said the suspect's status was no hinderance to police activities.

Daudu, who is currently investigating the case said yesterday: "Afikuyomi's status in the Senate would not deter the police from doing their work," adding: "We will charge him to court if found guilty of the allegations."

A Lagos human rights lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo had alleged that Afikuyomi in 1989 jumped bail following a criminal case brought against him by a Lagos-based businessman.

The police, however, arrested Keyamo for what they described as "stealing a case file from police records." He had since been granted bail, while investigations into both Afikuyomi's alleged criminal case and Keyamo's allegations of "stealing a police case file" are being handled by the Zone 2 Police Command in Lagos.

Daudu, however, denied Keyamo's claim that Afikuyomi had been told to report at the zone daily, saying "we will invite him whenever we need him.

"Sen. Afikuyomi is still in Abuja. He was on television a few weeks ago. How then could he have been reporting to the police in Lagos?"

The national executive of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) said the allegations against Afikuyomi were not too weighty for the party to withdraw him from the Senate.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Council Boss, Son, Shot Dead

By Adeleke Adeseri and Dipo Fetuga

VICE CHAIRMAN Shomolu Local government, Mr. Aderemi Badejo Okusanyo and his son, Segun, were shot dead at 6.05 a.m. yesterday. He was 54, and Segun, a student of Wasimi High School, Maryland, Lagos, was 18.

The killers, four in number, murdered the father and son at their home, 40 Olabiran Street, Shomolu.

The vice chairman was shot on the second floor of the two-storey building while his son was silenced at the point of entry to the building.

Eye witness account said a professional gun may have been used by the killers who picked the vice chairman among eight occupants of the flat.

Killing the son according to the witness may have been a coincidence since the youngman was coming back home in company of others from a mosque on Fadipe Street when the assassins shot him. May be they thought they were coming to attack them, one of his brothers, Deola told The Guardian On Sunday.

Stains left by the victims blood on the ground at the entrance of the main gate were still visible.

Sympathisers were still streaming in at 6.30 p.m. when {The Guardian On Sunday called at this residence.

Chairman Surulere Local Government, Hakeem Olaogun Dickson who was there to condole the family expressed great shock at the incident saying, this is the first time we'll witness a thing like this in Lagos. It is very unfortunate.

Other dignitaries that have paid condolence visit to the family of the slain local government boss included the state's Deputy Governor, Mrs. Kofoworola Akerele-Bucknor; wife of the governor, Mrs. Remi Tinubu, several state commissioners and chairman of the local councils. Kunle, Okusanyas first son was briefly interviewed by a team of detectives from the states Criminal Investigative Department (CID) led by an officer simply called Mr. Orubebe.

Police, however, kept sealed lips directing enquiries to the public relations department.

Family sources told {The Guardian On Sunday that being a Muslim notwithstanding, an autospy would be carried out to determine the level of sophistication of the weapon used to kill both father and son.

Meanwhile, Segun would be buried tomorrow and his father committed to mother earth next Friday. The burials would be at Imodi, near Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Fresh ethnic clashes loom in Lagos, Kano

By Nathaniel Ikyur, Kano & Kenneth Ehigiator

TEMPERS are rising in Kano and Lagos over possible fresh outbreak of ethnic clashes between the Hausa and Yoruba in the two cities.

In Kano, some Hausa/Fulani youths threatened to avenge the recent killings at Ketu, Lagos while the Hausa Butchers Welfare Association at the Oko-Oba Abattoir and Lairage, Agege alleged yesterday, that its members were being threatened by OPC members.

When news of the Hausa/Fulani youths threats first broke in Kano last Monday evening, Yoruba in different parts of the city moved en mass to Sabon-Gari, predominantly inhabited by non-indigenes to protect themselves from any attack.

In a nine-point statement in Kano, Monday a faceless organisation by the name: "Hausa/Fulani Concerned Youths of Nigeria," threatened to attack Yoruba living in the North.

The two-page statement signed by one Salisu Ibrahim Mahe, Chairman and Barrister Aminu Usman, Secretary warned that "the Hausa/Fulani youths will attack everything, anything, anybody Oodua in all its towns and cities in the event of any other attack on our brothers in any city of the South-West, this we promise."

The group also said "we Hausa/Fulani youths are products of warriors, Jihadists that are not afraid of violence but for the respect of our being in one country and the nascent democracy."

Reacting to the threat, Deputy National President of the Yoruba Community in the North, Dr. Jimpat Aiyelangbe appealed to security agencies in the country to help ensure that "no group provokes another."

According to the medical practitioner, "indeed the provocation by the OPC is unbecoming and we sympathise with the feelings of the youths from the North. We (Yoruba leaders) are worried about this ugly trend. Our only prayer is that the Hausa/Fulani will understand that we don’t support their destructive tendencies."

Dr. Aiyelangbe lamented that; "it is unfortunate that OPC is giving other tribes a very wrong opinion that Yoruba have a hidden agenda. Why should OPC continue to create this impression that we (Yoruba) are clamouring for something different from a one, united Nigeria," he queried.

Aiyelangbe who is also the National Chairman of National Integration Forum (NIF) said, "without Nigeria, the fate of the black man is sealed. There will be no respect for any black man if Nigeria fails to remain one and develop because we have a lot of potentials that could make us great."

To this end, the community leader said "we cannot afford to let Nigeria go separate ways, as such we see the activities of the OPC as capable of provoking reprisal attacks from other tribes outside the South-West. We don’t subscribe to this and we will ensure that these dastardly acts by these youths are brought to an end soon."

Efforts to contact the state Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), DSP Kabir Shehu to react to the threat proved abortive as he was said to be away on an official engagement.

But a senior police officer who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity said:

"Every apparatus within the security network of the state has been placed on alert to forestall any breach of peace. We are not taking chances in a bid to ensure the security of lives and property."

Vanguard Transmitted Wednesday, 08 December, 1999

 

Hausa butchers raise alarm in Lagos

And in Lagos, Hausa butchers at the Oko-Oba Abattoir said they were being threatened by those they called Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) and urged the Lagos State Government to call the miscreants to order immediately.

Chairman of the Hausa Butchers Welfare Association in the abattoir, Alhaji Sule Gimba, told newsmen in Ikeja that the alleged OPC youths, who currently occupy the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), secretariat located close to the abattoir, were in the habit of causing trouble.

He said if their harassment continued the Hausas would have no choice than to defend themselves.

"The problem from these people is getting too much, and if trouble starts, no one will be able to control it. This is why we are appealing to the governor to reinforce security patrol in the area," Alhaji Gimba said.

He pointed out that since the Ketu crisis broke out, the Hausa leaders in the abattoir in collaboration with their Yoruba counterparts had been trying to ensure that it never spilled over to Oko-Oba Abattoir, but noted that any further move by the OPC boys to cause trouble would be resisted.

"In fact, if they don’t stop, we will tell them that the Hausas have area boys too," he stated.

Alhaji Gimba, however, said that the leadership of the various associations in the abattoir had already reported the matter to the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), who he said had ordered the intensification of patrol of the area.

"But we need more security because that is the only problem we have in the abattoir right now. We have enough water and slaughtering slabs now. We are therefore appealing to the government to increase the security in the abattoir," Gimba pleaded.

He said rumours last week of ethnic clash in the abattoir had sent wrong signals to the North, discouraging some cattle dealers from bringing their cattle to Lagos.

Asked why his association had not officially written to inform the governor of the problem, Alhaji Gimba explained that because of the fear that the letter might never get to him (the governor), they decided to bring it to the notice of the media.

"There have been times we wrote letters to governors in the state in the past only to discover that those letters never got to them. This is the reason for this press conference," he said.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Wednesday, 08 December 1999

Govt won't condone violence, says Abubakar

From Anietie Ben-Akpan, Calabar

VICE President Atiku Abubakar yesterday warned against the use of violence as a means of achieving demands, saying the government would no longer condone actions which would disrupt social and economic activities.

Reiterating President Olusegun Obasanjo's warning against anarchy, the Vice President said the time had come for all perpetrators of violence across the country to desist from such actions.

Abubakar who made this known in Calabar while launching the Campaign for National Rebirth, stated that "there is no place for violence in a democracy".

According to him, "government therefore will not condone any form of criminal action on the part of any individual or group under any excuse whatsoever (because) we just cannot sit back and watch the economic activities of the country sabotaged, social harmony disrupted, law abiding citizens maimed and killed, and our communities and cities converted into battle-grounds".

"We have always insisted on peaceful dialogue and conciliation in the resolution of all outstanding issues or grievances," Abubakar noted, saying, "given the tendency on the part of some of us to resort to violence under one pretext or another, it would appear that many of our citizens are not even fully conscious of what their responsibilities are to their society, to government, or indeed to themselves".

He said this "might be because the constitution and laws of the land that define the citizen's rights in detail have not as clearly given his or her responsibilities equal attention by defining such responsibilities in similar detail".

The vice president explained that even where the constitution was not as detailed, most of these responsibilities are matters of civic commonsense and "we all learn them as we grow up, in our homes, in school, from our peers, and from other fellow human beings.

"Primordial ethical conduct such as respect for constituted authorities, respect for our elders, taking care of our families, and loving not just our neighbours but all our fellow human beings, are values shared by all humanity and should not require legislation to be respected".

He noted that given the nation's commitment to enthroning a new value system, it had become necessary to spell out the responsibilities of the citizen and those basic obligations expected of all.

As part of the launching, the Vice President presented a book titled: "The Nigerian Declaration of Human Responsibilities" which states in very simple terms, the basic responsibilities and obligation of the citizen.

Abubakar also urged the judiciary in Cross River State to follow the example of the executive arm of government in its crusade against corruption and other vices that have bedevilled the country in past years.

He gave the charge in Calabar while commissioning a High Court Complex along Mary Slessor Avenue.

He said if the judiciary followed in championing the crusade for national rebirth, the larger society would have no choice but do same. As part of the effort, he charged the bar and the judiciary to carry out what he called in-house |cleaning.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Wednesday, 08 December 1999

Police recover ammunition in Lagos market

 LAGOS State Police Command has recovered a large cache of ammunition hidden at the Alaba International Market, along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.

Police sources said yesterday that the ammunition of which 40 rounds had been expended, were uncovered by a team of policemen attached to the Alaba Police Station.

But Mr. Fabulous Enyaosah, the command's spokesman who confirmed the recovery, said that all the ammunition were "expended ones."

Meanwhile, a police corporal attached to the market's black spot, was at the weekend shot on the leg by an unknown armed gang.

Enyaosah said that the fleeing gang abandoned a Toyota bus with registration number XA 784 EEE, after the shooting. A locally-made pistol was found in the bus by the police.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Wednesday, 08 December 1999

Obasanjo defends shoot on sight order on militants

 From Emeka Nwankpa, Abuja

 PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday the order he gave weeks ago that adamant militants be shot was in order, and within the confines of the law.

He explained in Abuja that the controversial order "is legal, as the law permits law enforcement agents to shoot certain categories of suspects that resist arrest".

The president had, on the heels on a clash in the Lagos suburban area of Ketu that left at least 27 persons dead, announced on national television that he had ordered rioting members of the Oodua People's Congress (OPC) to be arrested. He added that those who resist arrest were to be "shot on sight".

Against the backdrop of a welter of criticisms that the presidential order has elicited, Obasanjo said yesterday that his administration, and indeed Nigerians, "will not tolerate any group that threatens the peace, good governance and corporate existence of the country".

A statement last night by Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity, Dr. Doyin Okupe, said Obasanjo spoke when he received a 12-man delegation led by the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III at the State House, saying he had sacred duty to provide fair, equitable and responsible leadership to all Nigerians. And that is beside, upholding his determination to keep to his oath of office.

According to the president, Nigeria is more important than any individual or group. He added that his unshakable belief in the unity of Nigeria was one of the factors that influenced his decision to contest for the presidency.

Obasanjo who promised that anyone who embraces peace and dialogue, which are basic ingredients of democracy, would be accommodated by the government, praised the efforts of the Alaafin and other Yoruba leaders at ensuring peace and security in the country.

Earlier, Oba Adeyemi expressed sympathy with the president's position, over those he called "miscreants" in the Oodua People's Congress (OPC), but urged that peace and dialogue be explored further in solving the matter, without compromising the interests of the nation.

He said that violence and affront to constituted authority are not traits of the Yoruba race and decried the recent exuberance and intolerance of Yoruba youths in OPC.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

Re-organisation of Federal Housing Authority

By Sam Ogbeifun, Abuja

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has given approval for the re-organisation of the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and the retirement of all the directors and general managers of the parastatal with immediate effect.

Works and Housing Minister, Chief Tony Anenih broke the news yesterday at his ministerial press briefing in Abuja.

Chief Anenih said the directors and general managers would leave within the next two days (latest tomorrow) as the FHA, which has been under lock, would also be re-opened immediately.

He added that it was only after the exit of these officers that he would disburse the N2 billion, which the President has approved for payment to FHA contractors.

The contractors, who handled the Gwarimpa Housing projects, stormed the venue of the conference to press for payment of their fees and were immediately prevailed upon to attend a meeting yesterday evening with the minister in his office on the debt owed them.

The minister threw more light on the 45 roads for which contracts were awarded nationwide by the Federal Government last month. He denied that the contact awards were characterised by corrupt practices and extraneous political influences.

He was apparently referring to media reports credited to a Lagos-based "Initiative for Democracy and Good Governance," a non-government organisation last week that the contract awards were not transparent.

In The Guardian Newspaper of 25th November, 1999 the organisation accused the minister of awarding contracts to members of his party (PDP) and loyalists, a practice which it said, was in "sharp contrast with the no business as usual proclamation of the present government."

Chief Anenih declared that the award of the 45 roads contract "was not only transparent but it was also conducted in like manner," adding that during the tender opening at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja in October, he charged all contractors present to protest openly if they felt aggrieved by the criteria employed by his ministry for awarding the contracts.

"Gentlemen, I stand by my words. In the absence of any complaint about any specific malpractice, I believe we were as transparent as we could possibly be."

Chief Anenih also denied allegations made by Tell Magazine in its edition of 22nd November 1999, that "the Ministry of Works and Housing is over patronising Julius Berger Plc," saying that of the 45 contracts awarded, only three went to Julius Berger.

"Two of these three which are in Lagos are of a very small scope of between N52 million and N200 million, he added, stressing that "the ministry now had about 120 ongoing high-way capital projects. Out of this number, only seven are being executed by this company."

On the accusation of trying to recoup election expenses and to financially strengthen himself and members of his party in preparation for future elections apparently by patronising contractors, Chief Anenih said "I want to declare that to the best of my knowledge, no member of this administration or its officials has any pecuniary or private interest in any of the contracts awarded that can lead to alleged recouping of election expenses and financial strengthening for future elections."

Chief Anenih, who stated that it was in the interest of the present administration to encourage and patronise local contractors, noted that a common criterion was used to evaluate and analyse each tender and that each item on the list of the criteria was assigned marks.

According to him, "assessment criteria were based on the following with maximum mark: Experience 15; work plan or construction method 10; personnel 10, registration with FMW&H 5, rates 15, value of tender 10, completion period 10, and equipment return 25 marks," adding that out of this 100 per cent any contractor who scores high mark and found to be wanting in previous jobs executed stands the risk of not getting any contract from his ministry.

Chief Anenih also exonerated members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) who were recently accused of indifference to the alleged anomalies in the tender exercise, explaining that "I personally consider this allegation to be most unfortunate as it is an attempt to unnecessarily malign the integrity of my colleagues on the council, even when it is obvious that they have had no direct involvement in the tender exercise under reference. I believe they deserve more fairness."

When asked to respond to the widely-held view that he intended to compensate those who were defeated in the just concluded PDP national convention election with the award of the remaining 29 road contracts, the minister said "as far as I am concerned, the best candidates won in that election if I have contract to give to defeated candidates what will I give to the successful ones? And I am not aware of any of them who is a contractor."

Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, 07 December, 1999

 

Tuesday, 07 December 1999

Obasanjo in Akure, forbids critical comments from Falae

From Julius Alabi, Akure

"THERE are occasions when there are words but no time (to speak) and there are occasions when there is time but there are no words. Today is an occasion when there are words but no time. These words should be kept for another time."

With this admonition, President Olusegun Obasanjo stopped All Peoples Party (APP) former presidential aspirant, Chief Olu Falae, as he reared to comment on national issues.

The president spoke at the weekend in Akure where he got a rousing welcome and was treated to a lavish reception by Governor Adebayo Adefarati. Falae was also on the entourage.

The president noted that though Falae might have many issues to raise, the occasion and time did not permit it. He urged the former presidential opponent to "continue with his pounded yam and bush meat" rather than use the occasion to raise issues, as the entourage would soon be returning to Abuja.

"My former colleague and fellow competitor, Chief Olu Falae cannot be here without words, although, this is not an occasion for words. Enjoy your pounded yam and bush meat," he added.

He said that Nigerians should see the current development in the country as an act of God to shower His grace on the people.

"We should all continue to grasp the golden opportunity with our two hands and make the best of it, no matter what position we are, no matter who and what we have.

"As long as we are Nigerians, we should make good use of the opportunity."

The president also urged the people to usher in the millennium with peace and harmony so that posterity could "judge us well".

Obasanjo who showed his cultural affinity to the people of Ondo State by dancing to their traditional rhythm, again stressed the need for love, unity and the need to be law abiding.

Ondo people had filed out in hundreds along major roads in the state capital to express solidarity with the government on its achievements.

President Obasanjo who had earlier attended the wedding ceremony of one of his aides, Mr. Babatunde Adeyanju, arrived in Akure at 2.30 p.m. together with his wife, Stella, and other eminent Nigerians before the reception at the Government House.

He thanked the people of Ondo State for making the wedding ceremony colourful and memorable.

The occasion was the first time President Obasanjo and Chief Falae would meet in Akure, the latter's country home, after the presidential election earlier in the year.

Governor Adefarati, who rose to deliver his address, rather called for the National Anthem, saying he had nothing to say, for time constraints.

He, however, gave a copy of his undelivered speech to the president.

In the presidential entourage were: Minister of Aviation Segun Agagu; Minister of State for Communications, Haruna Elewi; former Education Minister Olaiya Oni; President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Rufus Foluso Giwa, Ekiti State Governor, Adeniyi Adebayo; his Anambra State counterpart, Chinwoke Mbadinuju and others.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Tuesday, 07 December 1999

Oyakhilome restates resolve to fight drug barons, peddlers

THE war against drug barons and couriers goes unabated, and will be intensified, former chairman of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) Fidelis Oyakhilome said in Abuja at the weekend.

Oyakhilome, now a member of the reconstituted board of the NDLEA, said:

"The magic we used in my days as chairman is still there," adding that "all hands must be on deck, to give drug traffickers the heat that will put them out of circulation."

He pledged to put his experience at the disposal of the reconstituted board, adding: ''I am now back a more rejuvenated and a more re-invigorated Fidelis Oyakhilome."

He said that the drug war could be won "if all strata of the society played the role expected of them," pointing out that "the nation had the resources, men and material, to take on the traffickers."

Also in Kaduna State, the Kafanchan NDLEA Area Command has arrested four suspects with over 500 kilogrammes of Indian hemp, the Area Commander Mr. Ambah Xyuex, said.

Xyuex said the suspects were arrested at the agency's check points, along Forest-Akwanga-Lafia and Zankwa-Kafanchan roads.

The commander said one of the suspects, Ibrahim Muhammed, was arrested on September 27, along Forest-Akwanga-Lafia Road, with over three kilogrammes of the substance.

According to him, it was Muhammed's confessional statements that led to the arrest of another suspect, Felix Thougu, with 16.7 kilogrammes of the substance.

The Area Commander said the remaining two other suspects, John Ikese, and Denni Kues, were arrested along Forest-Akwanga-Lafia and Zonkwa Roads, with over 500 kilogrammes of Indian hemp.

Xyuex said all the suspects and the exhibits have been transferred to the zonal command headquarters in Zaria, for further investigations and prosecution.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Tuesday, 07 December 1999

Govt awards N100m road contracts in Imo

A N100 million contract for the construction of Ihiala - Awu - Idemili - Orlu - Nkwerre and Anyarra Road, in Imo State, has been awarded by the Federal Government, a member of the House of Representatives, Cajethan Dike, has said.

Speaking at a reception held in his honour by the Amiri Development Union (ADU), in Abuja, Dike said the construction of the road would soon commence, adding that legislators from the area would closely monitor the progress of work on the project, to ensure that it was carried out according to specifications.

"During the last supplementary appropriation bill, we succeeded in getting about N100 million for a start, for the construction of the roads, which would soon commence, since the rain has subsided," he noted.

The legislator also announced bursary and scholarship awards to 44 students from three local council areas under his constituency, from January next year.

Dike said 10 students from Oru East Local Council Area, would benefit from the bursary award, while 13 students from Orlu Local Council, 11 from Osu, and 10 from Amiri town, would enjoy the awards.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Tuesday, 07 December 1999

Obasanjo to host envoys

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo, will receive all the newly appointed Ambassadors and High Commissioners at the State House tomorrow. During the ceremony which will take place at 9.00 a.m. the President will formally present to the new Envoys their Letters of Credence.

An announcement from the ministry of foreign affairs advised all affected Ambassadors and High Commissioners-designate as well as Consuls General to report at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wuse Zone 3, at 8.00 a.m. from where they will be conveyed, in a group, to the State House for the ceremony.

The Envoys are expected to proceed immediately to their new posts.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Tuesday, 07 December 1999

Why crime rate is high, by Lagos DPP

By Lekan Sanni, Staff Reporter

THE Director of Public Prosecution in Lagos State, Mrs. Ngozi Mofunanya yesterday attributed the high crime rate in the state to shortage of police personnel. She also said that judges in the state should be held responsible for releasing capital offence suspects, in spite of strong opposition from her office.

The DPP was reacting to allegations by the state police commissioner, Mr. Mike Okiro that her office was responsible for the release of notorious robbers which has caused an upsurge in violent crimes and killing of police officer in the state, she explained that her office had no power to grant bail to suspects.

But she remarked that the upsurge in violent crimes in Lagos could be attributed to the withdrawal of soldiers from Operation Sweep as from May 29 with the effect that there were only 700 men left in the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), instead of the 7000 strong personnel in Operation Sweep.

"While I sympathise with the CP (Commissioner of Police) in the difficulties he is experiencing in checking violent crimes within the state. I feel that he would best address his energy towards requesting more logistical support from the Federal Government rather than attempting to shift the blame to my office.

"It is a fact that from May 28, 7,000 men were withdrawn from Operation Sweep and that today the CP has to run the Rapid Response Squad with less than 700 men. This is the area of critical re-appraisal," she said.

On release of criminal suspects from custody, Mofunanya said that it was the prerogative of presiding judges to grant bail to suspects on order than remand in custody.

She said: "Contrary to what the CP is reported to have said, I have no power to grant bail to suspects. This is the exclusive responsibility of the courts. It has happened in the past and still happens that judges have been known to release capital offence suspects on bail in spite of our intention to prosecute and our strong opposition by way of counter affidavit.

"The judge always has a discretion in these matters and he would exercise it as he deems fit. To ascribe such releases to my office is both unfair and misleading."

She noted that the DPP's office could only order the release of a suspect after a no case has been determined upon studying police case file, adding that the legal advice is afterwards send to the remanding magistrate who then orders a discharge, even as she said that such decisions were not made randomly.

The DPP also expressed doubt that persons released on court bail were responsible for the tragic killing of police officers in the state, even as she said that if they were responsible, they ought to be re-arrested by the police "since they (suspects) are known to them (police)."

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Tuesday, 07 December 1999

Review of coup suspects' cases in order, says TMG

THE Transition Monitoring Group (TMG), a pro-democracy body, has commended the plan by President Olusegun Obasanjo Administration to review the cases of military officer dismissed for alleged coup attempts in 1995 and 1997.

However, the review would await the recommendation of the Panel on Human Rights Abuses to which many of the affected officers have petitioned.

The group noted that as the planned review was evidently premised on the fact that the events of 1995 and 1997 were phanton coups, the proper basis for such review is the question of whether those military officers and civilians who were tried before the coup tribunals received a fair hearing in other words, the more important issue is not whether trumped-up charges were brought against certain persons, but whether those persons received a fair trail before independent and impartial judicial tribunals."

"And it is in this regard that TMG notes that all trials of coup suspects by special military tribunals (starting from the 1976 trial of General Bisalla, Lt.-Col. Dimka and their alleged confederates) have been totally flawed and deserve to be reviewed if President Obasanjo is to fully and erodibly accomplish the task of seeking truth and reconciliation.

"In this President Obasanjo should not be discouraged by that the fact that he started it all by setting up the first coup tribunal in 1976: Nigerians understand that his own experience before the 1995 coup tribunal has made him more sober."

TMG insisted that a review of all coup tribunals was imperative. "Though nothing can be done to resurrect or adequately compensate those who were hastily and unfairly convicted and executed or imprisoned in 1976, 1986, 1990, 1995 and 1997, it will be symbolic if our past leaders are made to realise their mistakes and apologise. For future leaders will be watching and listening."

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER

 

Tuesday, 07 December 1999

Lagos Assembly approves free treatment for accident victims

By David Ogah, Staff Correspondent

LAGOS State House of Assembly yesterday unanimously passed a motion declaring free medical services, the first 24 hours, for accident victims taken to public health institutions in the state from next month.

The 24-member assembly responded favourably to the motion by Dr. Adewale Ahmed (Agege Constituency I), who noted that 13 of the 14 such victims at the state's general hospitals died in May after 24 hours of admissions.

In June alone, he added, 15 of 28 victims in the same hospitals died within the same period.

Generally, more than eight per cent of the victims do not survive 48 hours, he noted, hoping that the government would include in its health package for the new millennium, a health policy that would accommodate free medical attention for accident victims.

The motion, which sailed smoothly, ended with all the members agreeing that there should be free healthcare for the victims, noting that the high death rate was due to inability to pay initial deposits to hospital authorities.

The past administration had earlier established accident emergency wards where victims were treated without police or witnesses reports.

THE NIGERIAN GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER