Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #4
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Nigeria Weekly News Highlights

Dec. 5,1999

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Monday, 06 December 1999

Nigerians hold $15b in private accounts abroad

By Ade Ogidan, Senior Correspondent

PRIVATE savings held by Nigerians outside Africa total about $15 billion (N1.458 trillion), according to a World Bank member-organ, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

The amount is more than 50 per cent of the country's estimated $28 billion external debt stock. MIGA officials currently on a visit, said it represented 13.6 per cent of some $110 billion (NB10.7 trillion) in private accounts of sub-Saharan Africans outside the region.

Zairois rank next, with a savings level of about $8 billion (N776 billion).

The World Bank agency would, however, not confirm how much of the savings is of monies looted from the public treasury by former officials and kept offshore.

According to MIGA, the Federal Government needs to retrieve the funds into the economy, in its developmental efforts.

Director of Investment, Marketing Services, Dr. Karin Millett who is leading the MIGA delegation for talks with government officials in Abuja today, said 10 per cent of the offshore savings would no doubt have significant impact on the economy.

Millett had, at the just concluded one-day workshop organised by MIGA and Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), in Lagos, said prospects for Nigeria's economic growth "are now brighter than before," with the enthronement of democracy, which could encourage flow of funds into the country.

MIGA's Africa Regional Manager Dr. Ken Kwaku, said 10 per cent of the funds in the private accounts of some Nigerians outside Africa was equivalent to total Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) into the country last year.

He argued that "Nigeria is not a capital deficient country. The important thing now is for the country to develop a good business environment to attract capital flow into the economy."

To achieve this, he suggested reduced bureaucracy in the national economic system, stable macro-economic policies, improved image of the country to outside investors, exploitation of business opportunities in the real sector of the economy and aggressive marketing of such opportunities.

He explained that "in today's world, foreign investment is no longer the same as investment by foreigners, since a lot of funds held outside the country by nationals can be repatriated for economic development."

While canvassing improved incentives for Nigerian investors, to encourage them to invest in the economy, he said: "Don't do for the foreigner what you cannot do for the local investors, as the best reference for a foreign investor is the local investor.

"The country therefore, needs to reduce political and commercial risks through enthronement of favourable policy regime to attract both foreign and local investors into the economy."

Already, he said "the World Bank Group is trying to provide an integrated set of services to Nigeria, and that's why we are meeting with officials in Abuja, after previous discussions with top World Bank officials."

World Bank President James Wolfenson was in Nigeria in October, with the Brettonwoods Institution's Managing Director, Mr. Peter Woicke. This was followed up with another visit to the country a fortnight ago.

Kwaku said signals of investors' readiness to move funds to the country for economic development emerged with 29 applications already received by MIGA for project guaranty in Nigeria.

"There was no demand for investment guarantee from MIGA by investors in the last five years. Everybody seemed to have written off this country.

"But now that there is democracy, demands are growing. We have already got 28 applications in the last few months. And the demand level is moving up as interests in investments in Nigeria are rising.

"On the government's side, officials are beckoning on MIGA, especially with prospects of privatisation brightening, which will manifestly improve the agency's portfolio in Nigeria," he added

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Kolade Commission recommends conciliation of N106b contracts

CONTRACTS numbering 1,684 worth 106 billion naira awarded between January and May this year have been pencilled down for cancellation.

Similarly, 770 contracts worth 469.42 billion Naira were recommended for re-negotiation, while 1,618 contracts valued at 63.61 billion naira were recommended for confirmation by the commission on inquiry for the review of contracts, licenses and appointments made by the General Abdulsalami Abubakar administration.

The chairman of the commission, Chief Christopher Kolade who revealed this while presenting the commission’s final report to president Obasanjo also disclosed that of the 807 appointments the panel recommended that 50, 18 and 739 be cancelled, reprocess and confirmed respectively.

The commission recommended that out of the 768 National honorary awards dashed out by Gen. Abdulsalami, 755 be cancelled, leaving only 13 recipients with the awards.

Chief Kolade also pointed out the 111 approvals reviewed by his commission, only 4 were found to be in order, thus recommended for the cancellation of 107 irregular approvals.

It recommended for the confirmation of 486 licenses out of the 576 issued out during the period under review.

Chief Kolade informed president Obasanjo that "we were able to trace much of the indiscipline reflected in government decisions to the fact that the top leadership failed massively in its duty of upholding and defending the respectable values and discipline already established in the public service".

He observed that recognition and remuneration in the public service was confused and demoralised, and that "the services remained at a very low levels, which increased the pressure on the individual’s ability to resist and contain the fondness for irregularities exhibited by the leadership".

Abuja Mirror Newspaper


$425m loan for Nigeria

The World Bank has granted a loan of 42.5 million US dollars to Nigeria to assist it to boost the National Agricultural Technology Support Project (NATSP).

This was disclosed by the leader of World Bank Mission to Nigeria on Agricultural Development, Dr. Samuel Eremie, when he and other members of his team paid a courtesy visit on the Jigawa state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Saminu Turaki.

He said that the money will be used by the 7 states in the North west who have Agricultural Development Project (ADP) and all the remaining states of the federation including Abuja which is a facility state pointing out that Jigawa state will receive a substantial amount as part of the loan while the facility states had received between 150,000 to 300,000 dollars.

Dr. Eremic said that the objective of the projects is to help to disseminate appropriate support technology for the farmers in Nigeria.

The mission leader stated that, Jigawa State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (JARDA) has been in the fore-front in the implementation of NATSC project which he said World Bank is very proud of both in its implementation and that of Fadama Project which closed down on 31 March, 1999, pointing out that the National Agricultural Technology Support Programme will wind up on 3 1, December this year.

Dr. Samuel noted that normally at the close of every project, the bank embark on implementation completion. the borrower and bank make assessments to determine whether the project has been useful to the people or not.

He commended the Jigawa state government for its prompt payment of counterpart fund adding that the state even went ahead to do other things out of its own resources which he said was also commendable.

Responding the state governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Saminu Turaki informed the delegation that the state was working hand in hand with agricultural institutes in the country such as the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture IITA and the Agricultural Research Institute ARI, ABU, Samaru Zaria among others with a view to teach the state farmers modern method of farming.

Abuja Mirror Newspaper


We can't find our children— Odi refugees

By Sam Onwuemeodo Port Harcourt

FOR sure, Nigerians have not heard the last story concerning Odi, the tiny community in Bayelsa State that has been reduced to rubbles. Only last week, Weekend Vanguard published the cries from the indigenes that "it’s cruel for them (soldiers) to bomb us this way." In that edition, the villagers, speaking from their hideouts painted the gory picture of the invasion and devastation that has left the small town prostrate.

"Never in the history of Nigeria," they lamented, "has such a massive force been assembled and used against a supposed Nigerian town in peace time. Even at the declaration of secession by Ojukwu, the Nigerian government replied with a police action before full-scale military engagement ensued."

On Monday, November 29, 1999, the bare but bitter facts of the tragic bombardment stared in the faces of the visitors who were in the town for an on-the-spot assessment. Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, the Senate President who was at the head of the delegation, could hardly conceal his bafflement at the level of destruction and killings. With frowns dotting his forehead, he described the carnage as "a human tragedy."

On this day, emotions took over Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, the Bayelsa governor. With beads of sweat dripping down, he was evidently a ruler in distress. From a lively man hours back at the Government House, Yenogoa when he received Okadigbo and other members of the ad-hoc senate delegation to Odi, Alamieyeseigha had suddenly become dumb and his mouth aghast.

But the expressions of pity and anger were not restricted to the duo. For Senators David Mark, David Brigidi, Adawari Pepple and Adolphus Wabara among others, they had seen more than they bargained for. Brigidi, the mover of the motion that necessitated the visit and representative of Bayelsa Central to which Odi belongs, was visibly shaken. "This is a massacre that must be exposed," he angrily voiced out.

No less perplexed were journalists on the tour who saw the destruction of Odi as an extinction of the community. It was a sober, solemn moment.

As soon as the inspectors arrived at 5.15 p.m., everyone shouted at the sorry state of Odi. The town had been summarily wiped away from the face of the earth. 

As the team went round on its situational assessment, the first time in three weeks that mere civilian mortals ventured into the ravaged town of 50,000 inhabitants, one glaring feature was that there was no single building, either business or residential, that was spared. They were all burnt. The invaders had employed dynamite and sundry explosives to reduce walls of hundreds of buildings to foundation level.

The magnificent edifice of the traditional ruler of the community, King Tunder Efeke Bolou II where visiting journalists were hosted on November 17, courtesy of Alamieyeseigha’s invitation, had been torched and its walls pulled down. Ditto for the home of Lt. Col. Partson Larry (rtd).

Decomposing human bodies produced such death stench that offended the nostrils. Expended bullets littered all the nooks and crannies of the town. The lily-livered were in tears.

In the relics of a torched building near King Bolou’s palace were thirteen aged men and women who may have become "prisoners of war." When the soldiers struck, they fled into the bush like thousands of their other folks. They had taken refuge near the Patani River but after days without food, water and other necessities, they strolled out of their hiding not bothered about the volleys of bullet that frightened them away in the first place. And back to their damaged town, the soldiers "miraculously didn’t kill us because they said we’re old people."

Their greatest worry is the absence of their children, wives and other beloved ones. "We don’t know the fate of our children," one of them volunteered in whispers, not wanting the soldiers see them talk to strangers or eavesdrop on their conversation. "We do not know whether our people are alive or dead. See (Odi) for yourself and tell Nigerians what you have seen."

Like the oldie noted, the stern-looking soldiers would not allow the journalists take pictures of a floating corpse of a young man on a river, nor the decomposing bodies. They only conceded to photographers taking shots of burnt buildings.

Mrs. Queen Ikia stretches the concern. "Our biggest concern today is the whereabout of our children. We can’t find them. Parents lost contact with their sons and daughters during the invasion. At the moment, these parents cannot tell whether their children fled from the town or had been killed. We are terribly troubled and it will remain so until we can all come back to know those who survived." 

Earlier in his address to the ad-hoc senate team at Yenagoa, Governor Alamieyeseigha said: "I want to call on the Federal Government to send relief materials and compensation to innocent indigenes of Odi community who were either displaced, killed or who lost their property during the crackdown on the armed bandits... I also want to call on the indigenes of Odi community who fled the town at the wake of the military invasion to return." It is such calls for the people to return that spark off verbal vituperations and heightened tension now.

"Where are they asking us to return to?" frowns Mr. Godson Tombiri, an indigene of Odi. "Tell me, where do we return to? When you visited our community, did you see any building where people could live in? People should not play politics with people’s lives.

"Every peace-loving Odi indigene condemned the killing of the policemen. But now that they have sent soldiers here to burn our town and kill our people, what has it solved? People are now talking about resettlement. Was the whole idea to kill people, burn their buildings and then resettle them? Send relief materials and compensate them later? Do those who gave the order care that innocent people were shot dead? Can you compensate a dead man?"

Mrs. Jennifer Pere led the more than one thousand Bayelsa Women for the Protection of Human Rights who brandished placards with sundry messages that aimed to protest or fault the "barbaric killings" at Odi. The women demanded for the immediate rebuilding of the community by the Federal Government, payment of adequate compensation to those whose homes were razed and rehabilitation of those displaced. 

But more important to the women and Odi indigenes is the need to find out who ordered soldiers into Odi. "We want to know why over 2,000 women and children are being locked up at Elele Barracks," says Pere. "We want them to release over 1,000 Ijaw youths locked up in Bori Camp, Port Harcourt.

"It is just not enough to talk of resettlement, rehabilitation and compensation. We demand to know where the order to massacre our people came from. Was it given by President Obasanjo or Governor Alamieyeseigha? This is one fact that we must have to establish. It is not enough to blow up an entire community, waste souls and talk of rebuilding. Nigerians have a right to know who gave the order.

"We are calling on the International War Crime Tribunal to investigate the ethnic cleansing that took place in Odi on November 20, 1999. The world has a right too to know what happened.

"We further call on the National Assembly to properly go into this matter and ensure that all those who should answer questions do actually answer these questions. There is a deliberate policy of marginalisation of our people at all levels. We, therefore, want the immediate repeal of all laws, which are targeted at the people of the Niger-Delta.

"The people from this region have gone through several years of economic neglect by both the Federal Government and multi-national oil companies operating in our area. This has led our youths to agitate for the development of the region."

Time constraint did not allow the Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC) to read their address. But they presented same to Okadigbo in Odi, as Felix Tuodolor, the president of IYC emphasised that there was indeed, no reason for the soldiers to remain in the town. "Having accomplished their assignment, what would they be doing there again? What they did in this small community was worse than what happened in the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War. It is only natural that the soldiers be withdrawn so that we can lick our wounds, so that we can begin to rebuild our homes, so that we can properly bury the dead and begin the process of mourning."

Toby Porbeni who hails from the troubled town talks of the inevitable but sad problem that the people must confront. "Till today, you still have a lot of those who escaped living in the bushes. Others ran to the neighbouring communities but because these towns were threatened, we had to leave. But this is not the real problem.

"Hell can’t be worse than what we suffered but then, how do we know those who were killed and those who died? The search for relations cannot begin now because people are scattered all over the places. Some are in army barracks, others in the bush while there were those who fled to unknown destinations.

"The sad thing is that nobody can tell who died and who survived. It will take years before many families find out if their people are dead or living. These will be years of great panic and worry. The government is asking people to come back. Will they return to the Government House in Yenagoa or to Odi that has no buildings again? 

"At least, you can see why our people can’t go back home now! Even if you tell them that policemen would not come to arrest them again or that the soldiers won’t return, how are they going to believe you? Were you the one who ordered the bombardment the other time? Our people are going to live with such fears till they die. My pity goes to the elderly ones who won’t be able to suffer the psychological trauma.

"And will we ever know the exact number of our people who were killed? What of those who had been given mass burial as we learnt? What of those who ran into the bush with gun wounds and who would die there?"

It is this uncertainty about the whereabout and safety of their people that heralds the talk about King Efeke Bolou II. One story was that he was arrested during the invasion and handed to the police. But in a swift reaction, the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Mr. Nyanabo Agbozi (ASP) outrightly denied that the ruler was in their custody. In a chat with Weekend Vanguard, he noted that "the police in Yenagoa couldn’t have arrested anybody in Odi when we were not there."

But then, there is the other allegation that the royal father was amputated in an undisclosed hospital following the gun shot wound he received on his right leg. And due largely to his absence and since there was nobody except the 13 old people around, Odi did not have anybody to receive Okadigbo and his men or to ask probing questions.

Other sons of the community in Sami Ebiye, Nayai Aganaba, Waribagha Collins, Jones Ikposo among others had alerted the nation that "the over 70-year-old paramount ruler of the town, King Bolou Efeke was shot on the leg as over 20,000 refugees are hiding in the bush without food and water."

Amid tears, one of the elderly 13 people who are the non-soldiers living in the town cried out for justice. "We have suffered so much. Let the government do something so that our people can come back. We are lonely here as you can see. There have to be buildings where they can get back to."

At the moment, the major worry of most Nigerians as far as the Odi tragedy is concerned is the need to rehabilitate the battered people. But for that to happen, the troops will have to be withdrawn first. Strikingly, Dr. Doyin Okupe, the Special Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Media and Publicity hinted in Abuja, Wednesday, that "the soldiers would be withdrawn as soon as the Chief Security Officer, the governor says the situation is normal."

Earlier on Monday, Okupe had defended that the government, by the November 20 deployment of soldiers, has not violated any internationally acceptable human rights provisions as practised elsewhere in the developed world.

According to him, "a serious intervention was necessary if anarchy with mayhem and the attendant social problems were to be prevented, resolved to act decisively to stop the dangerous drift toward impending and irredeemable disaster."

Chief Alamieyeseigha, today, preaches that normalcy is returning to the place, even as he told the Senate President that what had happened in Odi were products of the harsh results of the criminal neglect, marginalisation and under-development of the Niger-Delta.

"Let me use this opportunity (of the visit of the ad-hoc committee) to call on the National Assembly to abrogate petroleum laws that are inimical to the development of the area. I also wish to call on the National Assembly to impress it on multi-national oil companies operating in the country to employ indigenes of their host communities as their personnel and public affairs managers.

"The National Assembly should also ensure that the headquarters of the proposed Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is sited in Yenagoa. The headquarters of the commission would be of great relevance to the state as the heart of the Niger-Delta.

"The call has become necessary because of the absence of any iota of federal presence in the state. We have accommodation already for the headquarters of the commission... It is a thing of regret that some people are citing the volatile nature of the state in an attempt to deny it what it naturally deserves. Bayelsa State is not more volatile than its neighbours.

"Government will ensure the safety of law-abiding citizens. The Mbiama-Patani axis of the East-West road, which was cordoned off by soldiers due to the crackdown on hoodlums and miscreants operating in Odi, is now open to motorists and members of the public. The gesture is because of normalcy which has been restored in the area."

But when the senate opens hearing on the findings of their members to Odi, who are those to be "exposed" as senator Brigidi vowed? What special arrangements have been made for housing the people if the Odi indigenes decide to return today? What does the future hold for the devastated citizens?

These are the questions that agitate the minds as the world focuses on the oddity in Odi.

Vanguard Transmitted Saturday, December 04, 1999


Saturday, 04 December 1999

Police arrest 50 OPC members in Ilesa

From Seun Adeoye, Osogbo

OSUN State Police command has arrested 50 suspected Oodua People's Congress (OPC) members in Ilesa following the violence town erupted in the ancient town on Thursday.

The state Police Commissioner, Mr. Johnson Nwoye, who spoke to reporters on the clash between suspected OPC members and students of the Osun State College of Education, Esa-Oke also confirmed one person dead.

Besides, the commissioner disclosed that many people were still missing but that mobile policemen have been deployed to the troubled town.

Recalling alleged attacks by OPC members in the past five weeks on people perceived to be fraudsters and armed robbers in the town, Nwoye stated that 40 men arrested by the police then could not be prosecuted as they jumped bail.

"When the suspected fraudsters were picked up, then the state workers were on strike and the court could not sit, so we have to grant them bail. But they ran away because of fear that OPC members could kill them. Since then Ilesa know no peace," he said.

The police commissioner disclosed that the 80 suspects were arrested at a hideout of OPC members at Irojo area of the town.

Displaying some of the weapons seized from the suspects which included about 20 guns, electronics, the live pythons, large quantity of various charms, armlets, machetes, photographs of suspects and about N7,000, he said that the battle between the police and the group was still on. He however assured that his men have not been using life ammunition in the operation.

"If we have been carrying out the shoot-on-sight order, we would have the mortuary full of dead people. At least, we could have killed 100. He Nwoye stressed that "the law enforcement agents cannot hold their arms to watch law and order break down to that level. And I am saying with every sense of responsibility that it would be most irresponsible of me to sit down in my office and see some miscreants bringing the situation in Ilesa to anarchy.

However, the Provost of the college, Dr. Ayo Fatuborun has announced the indefinite closure of the college.

Fatuborun explaned that the clash between the students and the OPC was due to alleged arrest of some students of the institution by members of the group for their involvement in armed robbery.

The Owa Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Gabriel Adekunle Aromobiran has, however, appealed for calm asking his subjects to be law abiding.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Saturday, 04 December 1999

Obasanjo raises cocoa development panel

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has constituted a National Cocoa Development Committee (NCDC) in a bid to ensure rapid resuscitation of the national income.

Members of the committee which has the Agriculture minister, Alhaji Sani Zagon Daura as its chairman, include: Minister of Commerce, Alhaji Bello Suleiman, Director of the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, the Deputy Governors of the 13 cocoa producing states, the Chairman of the Cocoa Association of Nigeria, Chief Supo Olagbaju, the five National Vice-Chairmen of the Association and four other members representing cocoa farmers, traders, warehouse keepers and processors.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Saturday, 04 December 1999

Obasanjo visits Ibadan today

From John Olarewaju and Olufela Bamidele, Ibadan

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo, will today arrive in Ibadan enroute Oyo town on a one day private visit to the state.

The president, who is coming to Oyo to attend his nephew's wedding ceremony, will also pay a courtesy visit to the chairman, Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs, Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi at his Atiba Palace.

He will be treated to a civic reception in Oyo, before departing for Akure, Ondo State.

The president is expected to be accompanied on the trip by the Minister of Power and Steel, Chief Bola Ige. Minister of State for Communication, Alhaji Haruna Elewi; Oyo State Governor, Alhaji Lam Adesina and other senior government functionaries.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Saturday, 04 December 1999

George endorses presidential order to shoot on sight

By Clifford Ndujihe, Political Reporter

THE former military governor of Old Ondo State, Commodore Olabode George (rtd) has expressed support for President Olusegun Obasanjo's order to law enforcement agents to shoot on sight any member of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) who resists arrest.

For Nigeria to achieve economic greatness there must be good leadership and good followership, he added.

Commodore George, who is also the Deputy National Chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) spoke with newsmen yesterday at Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos, on his way for a two weeks' vacation in Britain.

Bemoaning recent ethnic clashes in Lagos which led to the loss of many lives and property, Commodore George, noted that members of OPC have become a cancerworm in the society, adding that the president gave the order out of the conviction that it would restore order.

He noted that Dr. Fredrick Fasehun, the OPC national leader, was not a "violent man," and wondered why any non-violent person would resist arrest "If you fail to surrender, it means you have a hidden agenda," he added.

He observed that the "clamour for a sovereign national conference by many eminent Nigerians" was unnecessary, as there is new a national Assembly and a constitution.

George pointed out that the amendment of the Constitution had started through the three-party committee set up by President Obasanjo, as well as the work of the legislators, stressing that the "clamour for SNC is a matter of semantics".

He also dismissed as "arrant nonsense", allegations that the second National Convention of the PDP was rigged. "There are bound to be problems where many people are involved."

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Saturday, 04 December 1999

Tinubu lifts curfew at Ajegunle

GOVERNOR Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Lagos State has lifted with immediate effect the curfew imposed on Ajegunle in the Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government Area following recent violent clashes in the area.

He has also directed the re-opening of markets shut down in the area in the wake of the violence.

Tinubu commended the parties involved in signing for a abiding peace accord at the state secretariat on November 3 and urged them to continue in that "spirit of harmony and peaceful co-existence."

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Saturday, 04 December 1999

Soldiers withdraw from Odi

From Madu Onuorah, Calabar

SOLDIERS deployed in Odi, Bayelsa State in the wake of the gruesome murder of 12 policemen in the area by yet unidentified hoodlums have started withdrawing on the order of the Federal Government.

Defence Minister Lt.-Gen. Theophilus Danjuma who stated this yesterday in Calabar, Cross River State while addressing officers and ratings of the Eastern Naval Command however said the withdrawal would be gradual. But he would not say if the government's move was informed by plethora of criticisms against its movement of soldiers to the troubled town.

Gen. Danjuma simply told the officers that they should not take sides in any conflict, saying: "When ordered by the government, we (soldiers) should intervene as necessary and withdraw promptly when the desired results have been achieved. Already, our troops deployed in Bayelsa have started withdrawing on orders of the government. This is the way it should be."

Various groups and individuals have criticised the government for deploying the troops in the town since early last month. The soldiers' mandate was to arrest the erring youths who killed the policemen.

The Federal Government even threatened to impose a state of emergency on Odi and other trouble spots.

While noting the danger which unrests in some parts of the country pose to Nigeria's nascent democracy, Gen. Danjuma said the recent serious violations of the internal security system in the country necessitated a lot of vigilance on all military personnel.

He told the officers: "Of recent, there has been serious internal security violations in the country. These situations require absolute vigilance on the part of military personnel to defend our young democracy. You must be very careful how you move around with your personal weapons to avoid them falling into wrong hands, thereby further endangering national security."

"Under no circumstances should we (military personnel) take sides in any conflict. When ordered by government, we should intervene as necessary and withdraw promptly when the desired results have been achieved. Already, our troops deployed in Bayelsa have started withdrawing on orders of the government. This is the way it should be," he added.

Expressing dissatisfaction over reports of piracy in the country's territorial waters, he said: "You know that our country depends a lot on the coastal areas for its survival. You are therefore supposed to protect the sea lines of communication to allow easy access to merchant vessels, fishing trawlers and tankers. Therefore, you need to maintain the ships in your inventory to meet the various demands on you, to meet the different tasks you may be required to perform. Reports of piracy in our territorial waters have become rampant and this discourages importers from using our sea ports, leading to great loss of revenue."

Since Nigeria does not have a Coast Guard, the Defence Minister said it was the duty of the Navy to patrol the nation's Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ). The Navy, must also endeavour to provide security to all oil companies prospecting for oil and gas in the nation's coastal waters.

He also congratulated the Navy for guaranteeing the safety of the first lifting of liquified natural gas from Bonny recently, asking them to ensure that no lifting is disrupted.

But he expressed dismay that only the Army is involved in the Bakassi Peninsula operations, saying: "I have directed the Chief of Naval Staff to repair and put into service the Inshore Patrol Craft to support the Army. Other operational vessels should also be deployed out to sea to ensure that our troops are not taken by surprise in their defensive positions. This, I believe, is the essence of tri-service operations which the Bakassi operation is supposed to be."

He promised to bring back the "good old days" of the Navy, believing that the service will soon sail round the world using "bigger, better and more sophisticated ships."

The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Eastern Naval Command, Commodore Francis Agbiti, who briefed Gen. Danjuma earlier regretted the non-delineation of the ocean boundaries of the country.

He also said that consistent attacks by youths in the Niger Delta and other coastal areas was the greatest challenge of the command.

According to him, "we have not been able to delineate our ocean boundaries as spelt out by the United Nations. The earlier we do that, the sooner will the contentions with our neighbouring countries cease." Our immediate operational problem remains the restive Ijaw youths who have posed security problems in our AOR (Area of Responsibility).

"On Thursday, the community of Klau was mobilised to prevent the flow to the oil terminal at Bonny. Three weeks ago, the Qua Iboe terminal was attacked. Since that time till now, it has been a running battle to keep them off the installations. Also on Thursday morning, we retrieved three boats belonging to Agip Oil and we have handed them back to them.

Accompanying the minister are the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Dr. Julius Makanjuola; Chief of Defence Staff, Rear Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi; Chief of Army Staff, Maj.-Gen. Victor Malu; Chief of Plans, Navy Headquarters, Rear Admiral Peter Ebaleme and the GOC 82 Division, Enugu.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Category: News
Date of Article: 12/03/99
Topic: Kure Presents N7.85b Budget
Author: Abubakar Muhammed, Minna
Full Text of Article:
NIGER State Governor, Alhaji Abdulkahdin Kure has presented a budget of N7.85 billion for the year 2000 fiscal year to the state House of Assembly.
Presenting the budget to the house last Wednesday, Kure said N6.51 billion of the estimate, was expected from the federation account, representing 83 per cent of the total receipts for the state.
Also, the governor disclosed that N734.4 million was expected from Value Added Tax (VAT) representing 9 per cent of the total receipts while the internally generated revenue is put at N608.3 million representing 7.7 percent.
He explained that out of the N7.85 billion projection, N3. 156 billion would be for recurrent expenditure while N4.7 billion would be for capital expenditure.
Kure added that N1.8 billion would be used for personnel emolument out of the N3.156 billion of the recurrent expenditure while over head cost would gulp N525.65 million and N112 million for league grant.
For the capital expenditure, the economic sector has the highest allocation of about N1.87 billion while the social sector followed with about N1.082 billion, representing 39 per cent and 23 per cent of the total capital expenditure respectively.
He said that the government would continue to intensify efforts to pursue its integrated outal development programes and improve ...... ........ in all Urban areas of the state.

News Nigerian Post Express


Date of Article: 12/02/99
Topic: Y2K Non-Compliant Organisations
Face Risks, Says Co-ordinator

Author: Patrick Odey Lafia
Full Text of Article:
PRIVATE and public organisations including government establishments using information technology system such as computer hard and softwares and embedded system that failed to comply with the Y2K are bound to face economic and social risks in their various businesses.
This was disclosed by the Y2K Coordinator for Nasarawa, Plateau and Benue, Mr. Edward Davies, while briefing newsmen in Lafia, on Tuesday.
Davies stated that the awareness campaign of the Y2K millennium bug became necessary because the computer system had always recognised "25" as "1925", adding that at the turn of the century, "OO" by default would be interpreted to mean "1900" as current to the programmers.
The coordinator further stated that the chain of dependencies and interconnections occasioned by the year 2000 problem implied that each individual system is dependent on many other systems.
He specifically cited the instances that if the air traffic control system completely comply with the Y2K problem on time, it may not be able to operate if there are interruptions in electricity or telecommunications.
Mr. Davies, therefore, advised that all hands must be on deck to solve the problem, adding that it is never too late and no effort can ever be wasted in solving the threat.

Nigerian Post Express

Category: News
Date of Article: 12/02/99
Topic: Nigeria Opens Seven New Missions Abroad
Author: Gabriel Agbonika, Abuja
Full Text of Article:
WITH the desire to give Nigeria a dynamic foreign policy and promote friendly relations with all nations, the Foreign Affairs Ministry has opened seven new missions abroad. This is in addition to the existing 92 missions which the country currently maintains.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alhaji Sule Lamido, who announced this at a press conference in Abuja last Tuesday also disclosed that the minister would construct a new permanent headquarters in Abuja at the cost of about N5 billion, befitting the new status of the ministry.
Alhaji Lamido emphasised that it is the firm commitment of the present administration to restore Nigeria fully to her previous prestigious position in the comity of nations stressing that it was in line with this that the Federal Government decided to expand its foreign missions abroad, as well as embark on the construction of a new permanent headquarters.
According to the minister, with the appointment of ambassadors designate to Singapore, Mexico, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Thailand and Bangladesh, the present government had clearly shown its commitment to global friendly relations. "However, the Afro-centric posture of our foreign policy is underscored by our diplomatic and consular representations in 43 countries in Africa," he pointed out.
On Nigeria's relations with her immediate neighbours, Lamido said that the issue of Bakassi would eventually be resolved out of court. In his words, "African methods of resolving crisis is the best. Already, meaningful discussions toward resolving the crisis between Nigeria and Cameroon has been fruitful and is being pursued."
The minister admitted that the crises in the Niger Delta were creating a negative impact on the international community but appealed to foreign nationals not to panic as the Federal Government had taken adequate and concrete measures to find lasting solution to the crises.
He explained that the recent order by the British government for her nationals not only to quit the area but to also not travel within the country, were normal society precautions by any serious minded foreign country to protect the lives and property of her citizens.

Nigerian Post Express

Nigerians scramble over N100 note

By Emma Ujah, Abuja & Lawrence Ndukwe

NIGERIANS scrambled to obtain the N100 note, which came into circulation yesterday amidst fears that the introduction of the higher denomination might give rise to further devaluation of the naira.

President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday formally presented samples of the N100 to members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The presentation was done during the meeting of the council.

Most of the ministers inside the council chamber got a note.

The ministers showed excitement at the appearance of the N100 note, which bears the picture of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo on one side and Zuma Rock in Abuja, on the other.

A crowd besieged paying counters of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in Abuja when Vanguard visited the bank at 2.30 p.m.

Some of them said they wanted to change their other denominations, specifically N20 and N50 notes for the convenience of carrying the new N100 note while some others said they wanted the N100 note just for the fun of it.

Although CBN spokesman, Mr. Tony Ede would not volunteer the specific amount of the N100 note denomination that was released into the system yesterday, he said the bank (CBN) had enough of it in stock.

"We have enough of the new denomination as well as the lower denominations of N5, N10, N20 and N50," he said, explaining that the supervising bank had taken a deliberate step of making available the lower denominations to avoid their being pushed out of the system.

He said: "We have taken steps to avoid the Nigerian phenomenon where you buy a commodity and the seller asks you to round it up because he has no lower denomination to give you change.

"By making available, the lower denominations, the fear that the higher denomination would push up inflation will no longer be there," he stated.

CBN in a statement in Abuja yesterday directed all commercial banks to collect enough quantities of the N100 note and the lower denominations to satisfy their customers and the system.

"The general public is hereby assured that all the other denominations, especially the N5 and N10 bank notes will continue to be produced and put into circulation in adequate quantities," the release signed by the Director of the Currency Operations, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq said.

Meanwhile, in Lagos, bank customers who wanted to have a feel of the new note were disappointed as banks had none to give them.

A survey of some of the banks showed that none paid the new denomination to customers who had come for withdrawals, a sharp contrast to CBN’s claim that it would make the new bill available to banks for circulation throughout the country yesterday.

At the Marina branches of First Bank of Nigeria Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and some other banks, cashiers spoken to said they had not received any allocation from the CBN and did not have any to pay their customers.

A cashier at First Bank who pleaded anonymity simply said that the bank was yet to receive some stock but would commence payment to eager customers as soon it was available.

To customers and traders who had hoped to see the new bill, it was a huge disappointment.

Mr. Adesina Adeoye, a customer who went to UBA for withdrawal, said he was eager to see the new note but felt disappointed when he could not be paid in the new denomination.

"I hope that after today (yesterday), the CBN should be able to make the new note available to the banks so that we can see what it is like," he said.

Prior to its official introduction yesterday by the CBN, economy watchers had expressed different opinions about its effect on the economy.

While some commentators believed the higher denomination would cause further inflation, others like the regulatory authorities, contended that the new denomination had no relationship with inflation given the fact the lower denominations will still be in supply.

The new note, will among other things, enhance transaction as it will lessen the burden of carrying large volumes of cash.

Vanguard Transmitted Thursday, 02 December, 1999


Troops to quit Odi if... —FG

By Rotimi Ajayi

TROOPS deployed to Odi, Bayelsa State in the aftermath of the recent murder of 12 policemen there are to be withdrawn as soon as Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha confirms to the Federal Government that normalcy has returned to the town.

Already, the governor has hinted the Presidency that "things are returning to normal," Information Minister, Chief Dapo Sarumi told State House correspondents yesterday after the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

Chief Sarumi’s statement came on the heels of that of Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Tuesday in Port Harcourt that the Senate would demand the withdrawal of the troops.

Chief Sarumi in his chat with State House correspondents said: "The governor has assured the President that things are returning to normal.

"The soldiers would be withdrawn as soon as the Chief Security Officer, the governor says the situation is normal."

The Federal Government, Chief Sarumi added, was also prepared to send relief materials to Odi.

Commenting on the House of Representatives’ resolution that the National Assembly should be consulted before the deployment of troops in future, the minister said the situation in Bayelsa called for the movement of soldiers there.

He also said the FEC approved the takeover of the construction of primary roads in Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State.

Three roads are involved in all, two of which will be dualised.

Construction of the three roads will cost N4.85 billion.

However, Senate President, Chuba Okadigbo has said that the Senate will call for the withdrawal of troops sent to maintain peace in Odi town in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of Bayelsa.

Okadigbo said in Port Harcourt, Tuesday after an ad-hoc Senate committee visited the community to assess the situation, that the continued stay of the troops was no longer necessary.

He said that what the community needed now was emergency relief and the rehabilitation of displaced persons.

"The soldiers have nothing to do there now,’’ Okadigbo said. ‘’What is needed now is to send in emergency relief in terms of food and drugs.’’

He promised that the Senate would deliberate on the formula to return normalcy to the community.

Okadigbo described the destruction of Odi town by soldiers sent to maintain peace and security in the community as ‘’a human tragedy."

A member of the delegation, Senator Adolphus Wabara, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Defence, also criticised the sacking of Odi and said that the committee would investigate those who gave the order for the military operation.

"What comes to mind is to know under whose order this genocidal military operation was carried out,’’ Wabara said.

"Even in Biafra, I cannot recall a whole village being devastated within such a short space of time."

Speaking, Senator David Brigidi, the senator representing Bayelsa Central to which Odi belongs, who raised the motion that led to the constitution of the ad-hoc committee, described the action of the soldiers as ‘’a massacre that must be exposed by the Senate."

He promised to launch an "Odi resettlement scheme’’ to bring succour to members of the community and appealed to kind-hearted Nigerians to contribute to the scheme.

Vanguard Transmitted Thursday, 02 December, 1999


Thursday, 02 December 1999

Jibril proposes introduction of fees in varsities

EXECUTIVE Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Munzali Jibril, has advocated the re-introduction of fees by universities in a deregulated university system.

Addressing a meeting of the working group on higher education yesterday in Abuja, he said: "The charging of fees in universities would very much enhance the quality of university education and, consequently, the competence of their products."

He said the re-introduction was inevitable, since President Olusegun Obasanjo had in a recent meeting with vice-chancellors, indicated that government, could only afford to give the universities "Block Grants."

Calling for reforms, Munzali noted that universities were not allowed to charge more than N90 per student for hostel accommodation, for instance.

He noted that apart from the University of Lagos, which was able to generate about 59 per cent of its income, "most other universities can only generate about one per cent of their running costs."

"Universities are told to generate more income, but not to charge fees," he noted.

The executive secretary underscored the need for increased funding of the universities, adding "that a certain percentage of the funds should be in foreign exchange, to be used in purchasing journals among other materials."

He lamented "the present situation where the universities' facilities are over-stretched, while the lecturers are grossly underpaid."

Munzali also called for reforms in the academic programmes of the universities, saying that individual universities should specialise in areas where they had comparative advantages, in line with the current global trends in university education.

He conceded that the NUC would lose some of its powers with the advent of a deregulated university system.

He said that university administration would consequently be more decentralised, while the vice-chancellors would be freer to oversee other areas such as income generation. The working group on higher education is an organ of the association for the development of education in Africa, formed jointly by organisations such as the Ford Foundation, USAID and the World Bank.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 02 December 1999

EU resumes N430m aid to Nigeria

By Francis Obinor, Foreign Affairs Reporter

THE European Union yesterday said it was prepared to resume the suspended $430 million (about N43 billion) financial aid to Nigeria following improved human rights records of the Federal Government since the inauguration of President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration.

According to a statement from the Union's office in Lagos, the "prevailing circumstances in Nigeria have made it possible for the Union to resume further talks with Nigeria in order to strengthen closer relations with the current civilian government of President Olusegun Obasanjo."

The statement lauded the Federal Government's bold steps to boost the economy in the area of privatisation and open market operations to stimulate foreign investment.

The Union slammed various sanctions ranging from financial aid to technical assistance as well as sports on the country during the dictatorial regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, to protest the government's human rights abuses.

The sanctions were, however, relaxed when the EU drew up a plan to assist Nigeria after the inauguration of Obasanjo's government.

EU, which said its officials would soon visit the country to facilitate the resumption of the aid, noted that with the recent giant strides taken by the present administration to boost the country's ailing economy, it would continue to assist the government to meet its needs.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 02 December 1999

Govt releases N2.37b for prison reforms

From Emmanuel Onwubiko, Abuja

THE Federal Government has released N2.37 billion for the first phase of the Prisons Reform Special Rehabilitation Programme.

Internal Affairs Minister Chief Sunday Afolabi who broke the news also blamed the ethnic clashes on prolonged military dictatorship in the country.

He said the amount was being utilised for the rehabilitation of existing prisons, sewage systems, provision of potable water, drugs, supply of items for prisons' stores and establishment of cottage industries.

On the second phase of prison reform programme, Afolabi noted that the ministry had made a proposal for the release of N2.2336 billion. He disclosed that N1.6 billion is being requested for development of the prison village in Abuja on which work has already begun.

Afolabi spoke extensively on the government's desire to decongest prisons nationwide, saying the ministry would build five open prison camps in the geopolitical zones of the country.

Afolabi attributed the delay in the completion of the national civic registration project to insincerity and incompetence of the main contractors, inconsistency in government policies, inadequate funding, changing technology and long period of decision taking. He assured that the issuance of the national identity cards would begin next March.

The minister said that the Federal Executive Council has approved the granting of naturalisation rights to 59 foreigners while additional 21 applications are being processed for the consideration of the government.

On why the government established armed security squads in prisons, he said: "As a result of incessant attacks on prisons by outside forces, the Prison Service established the Armed Squad in 1996 to forestall future external aggression"

Speaking on the increasing incidence of social unrest which he blamed on suppression of democratic principles" by past military leaders, Afolabi noted that the phenomenon could represent a manifestation of the people's determination to exercise their democratic freedom.

According to him, the Federal Government is making concerted effort to contain the escalating wave of ethnic clashes.

Consequently, security has been strengthened across the country to maintain "peace and order" and to safeguard the nation's nascent democracy, he said.

The minister also stated that the Nigerian Immigration Service has issued 282,655 machine-readable passports to all the passport offices.

He said the passports had fetched N1.44 billion for the Prison Service.

The new passport was introduced in October last year at a cost of N880 million to replace the old ones, "which will be totally invalid by December 2000", he said.

"It was introduced to checkmate identified abuses in the old system of passport issuance", the minister remarked. "One of the unique features of the new passport is that prospective applicants must be physically present, thereby eliminating issuance by proxy. "The machine-readable passports (MRP) are currently being issued at zonal headquarters, namely Abuja, Owerri, Minna, Kaduna, Lagos, Bauchi and Ibadan".

Afolabi, however, said that arrangements were being made to decentralise the passport production centres "to facilitate speedy issuance, particularly in areas of high demand".

Besides, the government would appoint a new comptroller-general of immigration by the end of the year, he added.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 02 December 1999

Christians hold rallies against Sharia, OIC


From Iyabo Sotunde, Ibadan; Chukwujekwu Ilozue, Owerri and Ifedayo Sayo, Ado Ekiti

 CHRISTIANS yesterday staged their planned protests across the country against the introduction of Islamic Legal Code in Zamfara State and Nigeria's confirmed membership of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).

Led by State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the protests featured peaceful procession in major capital cities and public awareness campaigns.

Addressing journalists in Ibadan, Oyo State CAN Chairman Rt. Rev. Ayo Ladigbolu described the extension of the Sharia from a family or personal law to a state-wide application as secessionist and a ploy to "create Arewa Republic out of Nigeria."

"Nigeria's membership of OIC was unexplainable because of the multi-religious nature of the country. Also, the adoption of Sharia legal system by Zamfara State government was wrong, this is why Governor Ahmed Sani should tow the line of reason and sensibility on the issue," he said.

The CAN chairman, while describing the various ethnic clashes in some parts of the country as a product of long years of neglect by military rulers, urged President Olusegun Obasanjo "to prevent enemies from disrupting the present civilian administration."

He said the only solution to the series of ethnic clashes and economic sabotage is the convocation of a sovereign national conference.

The conference, according to the cleric, would provide an enabling environment for all nationalities to dialogue and find the way out for a stable Nigeria.

He also advised against the use of force to settle the Niger Delta crisis, stressing that such a move was anti-democracy.

In Owerri, Imo State capital, Christians organised a peaceful procession around the city with the state CAN chairman, Rev. Anthony J.V. Obinna, in command. The procession, which ended at the Government House, was led by a cross-bearing young man followed by bishops and other clerics, among others.

As they marched through the streets, their number was swelled by sympathisers who joined the procession. With the continued flight of Christians from Zamfara State, the only way out is the re-instatement of the constitution, he added.

A similar protest was also staged in Ekiti State numbering about 1,000, and led by the state CAN chairman, Revd. David Jesutomi. They carried placards criticising the introduction of Islamic legal system in Zamfara.

Chanting various anti-Sharia songs, the protesters marched round Ado-Ekiti, the state capital.

Jesutomi noted that Christians in the country had been tolerant over the OIC issue but could not watch their rights subverted in favour of another religion as is the case in Zamfara State.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 02 December 1999

Fasehun criticises shoot-on-sight order

By Bertran Nwannekanma

NATIONAL President of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun, yesterday rose in stout defence of the ethnic organisation, accused of unleashing violence on non-Yoruba residents of Lagos State, over which the government has given a shoot-on-sight order against its members.

Addressing journalists at the group's national secretariat, Mushin, Lagos, he said the order was a calculated attempt to exterminate Yoruba people extra-judicially, using trigger happy policemen. He said the order had resulted in the killing of five Yoruba citizens at their homes in Ketu and their bodies taken away by the police.

He expressed regrets that despite the exoneration of the body from last week's crisis in Ketu, by various individuals and groups, government still declared that every member of the organisation should be hunted.

This act, he said, is not only reprehensible and irreconciliable with democracy but also a calculated attempt by certain interest groups to unleash genocide on the Yoruba race.

Fasehun berated the president for listening to saboteurs, "who were using the untutored as canon fodders in attacking OPC that made the enthronement of democracy possible".

He urged government to beware of "the very set of people who aborted (Alhaji Shehu) Shagari's administration, annulled June 12, and have vowed to make the country ungovernable because they have not been allowed to call the shots", and promised to reveal the names and plans of such people soon.

Reiterating that the OPC is only a platform for the defence of Yoruba interests and non-violent in its activities, he, however, threatened reprisal against "any unprovoked attack".

He also stressed the need for a national conference that would redefine Nigeria, saying: "Cumulative injustices, oppression, deprivation, executive ignorance, ineptitude and insensitivity spanning decades have combined with brazen executive theft and acts of unspeakable crimes to push the country into a dangerous state of morbid decline".

He said the organisation had always refused to be drawn into retaliatory strikes and avoided provocation in order to keep Nigeria's fragile peace and pledged to "defend the inalienable rights of other citizens resident in its catchment areas regardless of their colour, creed or ethnic group, provided they do not go about murdering innocent people."

On alleged involvement of miscreants in OPC operations, its National Secretary, Mr. Kayode Ogundanusi, said the organisation had begun issuance of identity cards to members to forestall such activities. He, however, noted that the miscreants are a product of bad governance.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 02 December 1999

 5.8 million Nigerians are HIV positive, says Menakaya

By Lekan Sanni, Staff Reporter

ABOUT 5.8 million Nigerians are already infected with the Human immune-deficiency virus (HIV) that leads to the dreaded Acquired Immune-Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Health Minister, Dr. Tim Menakaya has said.

Addressing journalists yesterday in Abuja in commemoration of the World AIDS Day, Menakaya said that the recent sentinel survey showed that 5.4 per cent of the 108 million population of the country, are carriers of the HIV.

According to him, the last survey in 1995 revealed that 4.5 per cent of the population was infected, and that the minimum prevalence of 0.5 per cent was reported in Geidam in Yobe, while Otukpo in Benue reported a maximum prevalence of 21 per cent.

The minister said that more than 25,000 Nigerians had died of AIDS while the infection was estimated to be spreading at the rate of one person per minute.

"By the end of this year, over half a million more would have been infected," Menakaya said stressing, ''the large pool of infection could make a catastrophic explosion of the epidemic."

The minister also disclosed that every part of the country was affected by the virus, with variations determined by cultural, social and economic factors.

He further stated that the survey showed that HIV was as much a city problem as that of villages, while infection was highest among women in their early 20s.

On the N100 million budgeted for AIDS control next year, which former Health Minister, Prof. Olikoye Ransome-Kuti described as grossly inadequate, the minister pointed out that the amount exceeded previous budgetary allocations.

He disclosed that HIV/AIDS education would soon be integrated into the school curriculum at all levels, saying his ministry was working in concert with its education counterpart to implement the new school curriculum on the disease.

The minister said it was gratifying that the National Council on Education had approved the initiative, adding that the ministry in collaboration with the Nigerian Education Research Council, (NERC) had developed instructional materials for primary and secondary schools on HIV/AIDS education.

However, Ransome Kuti was yesterday named as the chairman of an HIV/AIDS Foundation put in place by the Lagos State Government to curtail the spread of the disease.

Also the state has set aside N5 million for the take-off of the Anti Retroviral Drug Revolving Scheme meant to reduce cost of treatment by people living with the disease.

The former minister will be heading the foundation comprising six other members, including, the Lagos State health commissioner, Dr. Jide Idris. Ibironke Akinsete, Otunba Solomon Oladun, Dr. Michael Ogungbesan, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Olatunji and the chairman of the House of Assembly Committees on Health, Dr. Olawale Ahmed.

The Foundation, according to Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu would consist of three organs: The Lagos State HIV/AIDS Trust Fund; The Lagos State HIV/AIDS Executive Council and the Lagos State HIV/AIDS prevention and management committee.

Tinubu speaking at the year's World AIDS Day in Lagos also said that the foundation would among others, create sustain and promote public awareness about HIV/AIDS. work towards effective management, prevention and control of the disease, curtail its spread, serve as a resource group of experts on HIV/AIDS and provide care and support for the people living with the disease.

The governor said that the anti-restroviral drug revolving scheme was meant to make drugs available at subsidized rate to people living with the disease.

He explained that although government appreciates the efforts of non-governmental organisations in the fight against the scourge, more still needed to be done. Tinubu promised that the present campaign would not be limited to mere slogan, as everything would be done to implement all its policies on HIV/AIDS effectively.

Commissioner for Health Dr.Leke Pitan said that results gathered from screening centres in the state have shown an increase in the number of infected persons.

"The results from our hospitals screening centres have also been on the increase from 4.9 per cent in 1994 to 7.3 per cent in 1998. Out of a total of 6,470 samples screened between January and October 1999, 521 were HIV positive giving a prevalence of 8.05 per cent, it can therefore be estimated that about 800,000 people are HIV positive in the state, he said.

Pitan observed that with the alarming rate of infection, the campaign against HIV/AIDS should not be a one day affair, but a continuous excuse.

Ransome Kuti in his short remark said that five of every 100 persons screened would be HIV positive.

According to him, many people do not come forward for screening because of the fear of stigmatisation and the fear of knowing that once confirmed as HIV positive the next thing was death.

He said that as long as people refuses to present themselves for testing, the entire populace was in anger of being infected.

Ransome-Kuti observed that although the N5 million could not go far he said however, that "It is a declaration," which would go a long way in alleviating the plight of the people.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 02 December 1999

Obasanjo to break Ajaokuta 'jinx'

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo vowed on Tuesday that his administration would break the "jinx" plaguing the multi-billion naira Ajaokuta steel project which has remained uncompleted for more than 20 years.

Speaking with the officials of the Russian consortium handling the project, Obasanjo said the government wanted an "immediate assessment of what is required to get the plant into production as quickly as possible."

He told the Tiajpromoexport team, led by V. Smirnov, to undertake a technical audit of the plant and give the government a current estimate of what it would cost to make it operational in a first phase producing 1.6 million metric tonnes, per year.

The Nigerian leader also asked for a current costing to complete the second phase of the project, which would raise the plant's capacity to 2.6 million metric tonnes and a final phase which would shoot it up to 5.2 million tonnes of flat and rolled steel, yearly.

President Obasanjo said it was "a great shame" for both Nigeria and Russia that the project remained uncompleted more than 20 years after its inception, an official statement said.

He told the Russians that their pride and reputation in the world steel industry was at stake, the text said.

Tiajpromoexport officials promised to provide an assessment but warned that completion could take at least four years.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 02 December 1999

Four die in Lagos as train, trailer collide

By Franca Ijeoma Aso and Bisi Olaleye

FOUR traders were feared crushed to death and four others were critically wounded yesterday at Tejuoso Market, Yaba, Lagos, when a train ran into a bottling company's truck which was trapped on the rail tracks in a traffic jam.

An eyewitness identified as Ndy Kalu said the victims of the accident were mostly traders who displayed their wares by the sides of the rails.

He told The Guardian that the truck which belongs to a popular bottling company was caught up in a traffic jam, "although the truck driver saw the train coming, he looked on helplessly until the vehicle was swept off the rails," he added.

According to Kalu, the truck fell on the traders some of who died on the spot, while the injured were rushed to a near-by hospital. He added that one of the dead, a Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) official, had his head chopped off as he attemted to signal danger to the on-coming train.

Others interviewed complained that they did not hear the train coming, adding that the train's driver continued its journey to Iddo Terminus, also in Lagos, without stopping.

Goods worth several thousands of naira were damaged with broken bottles litered at the scene of the accident. Movement became difficult as angry traders stood in groups discussing the event.

An NRC official blamed the traders who insist on displaying their wares near the rails despite repeated warnings.

The Chairman Surulere Local Government Council, Mr. Dickson Akin, who was accompanied by some policemen to the scene of the accident lamented "the great loss" and warned the traders against trading on the rails.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 02 December 1999

S'Leonean refugees in Nigeria seek asylum

By Idowu Ajanaku, Staff Reporter

THE 97 Sierra Leonean refugees living at Oru Camp in Ogun State, have asked for political asylum from the Federal Government to forstal the plan to deport them by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

A letter to President Olusegun Obasanjo by Alpheus Rogers on behalf of the refugees, sent through the Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that it would be unconscionable to send them back to Sierra Leone where the situation is still tense.

They described UNHCR's decision to deport them as "insensitive," as their country is still ravaged by war.

They argued that the circumstances which forced them out of their country years back had not been brought under control. "We cannot go back now. If we do, we shall be killed. The government of Obasanjo should please grant us political asylum," the letter reads.

Although the refugees claimed in their letter that the relationship betwen them and the UNHCR has been cardial which however, turned sour because of some "spurious and unsubstantiated claim" made against them by unnamed persons."

Besides, the UNHCR cannot repatriate them without the approval of the Ministry, they pointed out.

The refugees said the development had left them without food and other means of survival, adding that since their country is a signatory to the United Nations Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, they deserve to be treated as a member of the UN family.

Although they said they hoped to return to Sierra Leone in a near future, it is not in their interest to be "forcefully repatriated home" when the disarmanent process has not yet been completed.

"It will be disastrous for us to go home now," they said.

They urged the president to "continue his humanitarian assistance" to them by imploring the UNHCR to handle their case with sympathy and understanding."

The refugees also expressed their "unflinching support" to the Nigeria Government, and promised to maintain law and order.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 02 December 1999

Opadokun cautions Obasanjo against dictatorship

From Julius Alabi, Akure

NATIONAL Democratic Coalition (NADECO) Chieftain, Chief Ayo Opadokun has warned that any attempt by President Olusegun Obasanjo to impose state of emergency or enforce his shoot-at-sight order in any part of the country will amount to dictatorship.

He said in a democratic setting, the Federal Government does not have the power to unilaterally declare a state of emergency unless the situation was extremely grave.

Opadokun who spoke with The Guardian at the second memorial Anniversary of the Late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin in Akure, said the decision of the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency at Odi in Bayelsa State and the shoot-at-sight order on OPC members are uncalled for as they would not calm the agaitation. Rather it will aggravate the already tense situation.

He stressed that only the convocation of a sovereign National Conference could end the ethnic agitation, saying hat the President should not underrate the importance of dialogue which would be provided by the proposed conference. The conference he explained, could help resolved violent clashes in the country.

"Let me assure you, if President Olusegun Obasanjo put in place the much orchestrated Sovereign National Conference, the multi-faceted ethnic political tension and other agitation in the country will melt away immediately," he said.

The sovereign National Conference, he said, if given attention would make all militant Egbesu Youths, Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) to sheath their swords as it will give them the opportunity to dialogue and negotiate with the Government.

According to him, NADECO or Yoruba race do not want the restructing for themselves but to ensure that peace and harmony reign in Nigeria.

"I hope there is need for restructuring the country through a peaceful means so as to prevent any ethnic crisis and the Military boys who are eager to hijack the country from the present civilian administration," he added.

He, however, warned those who have acquired a culture of reaping from war and dictatorship to give it up as Nigeria had entered into another era of the rule of law.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 02 December 1999

World Bank plans N300m on projects in Edo, five other states

From Mike Osunde, Benin

EDO and five other states are to benefit from a $30 million (about N300 million) project to upgrade some rural communities into urban centres.

Though details of the projects are still scanty a visiting World Bank team to the state said each of the six states would get $5 million about N50 million.

According to the leader of the team, Mr. Jack Bahal, the six states were nominated by the Federal Government.

Bahal told the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe during a visit to him at the Government House, Benin, that the team's tour of the state was to carry out adequate survey of the rural communities that would benefit from the project.

He did not mention the other five states involved in the programme but said a seminar on the project would open in Abuja on Thursday.

Oghiadomhe thanked the World Bank for accepting Edo State as one of the beneficiaries of the project but appealed that the amount due to the state be increased to $20 million (N200 million) because of its peculiar environmental problems and to enable more communities benefit.

The deputy governor said the project would provide additional drive to the government's poverty alleviation and rural development programmes and urged the World Bank to assist government in that regard.

Oghiadomhe observed that lack of basic amenities like electricity, potable water and good roads had resulted in large-scale migration to urban centres, explaining that this has put much pressure on the urban setting with its attendant side effects.

He said the government was committed to reversing years of neglect of the rural areas by the military administrations in the state by an all-round transformation of these communities.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 02 December 1999

Why we oppose Obasanjo's order, by Afenifere

From Julius Alabi, Akure

CONVINCED that President Olusegun Obasanjo's recent shoot-at-sight order against rioters is open to abuse, Afenifere insisted yesterday that it is improper and should be rescinded.

The pan-Yoruba socio-cultural group, responding to criticisms of its earlier call last weekend by presidential spokesman Dr. Doyin Okupe, reaffirmed in a statement that the order ignored "constitutional and judicial processes to be followed before the state can take a citizen's life."

President Obasanjo had last week, on the heels of civil disturbances in Ketu, a Lagos suburb in which 90 persons were officially confirmed killed, ordered security agents to arrest members of the Oodua People's Congress (OPC), or shoot those who resist arrest at sight.

Okupe, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, at the weekend chided Afenifere for condemning that order. He also accused Afenifere leaders of supporting what he called an act of brigandage by OPC members.

But the pan-Yoruba group, in a statement by its General Secretary, Ayo Opadokun, reaffirmed its opposition to what it tagged "presidential lynching." The order "portrays Nigeria as an uncivilised polity being governed by men with stone age governance mentality. Furthermore, our position is supported by fact and reason as corroborated by the evidence of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police who confirmed that the OPC was not involved in the Ketu riot. The OPC organisation has severally denied participation in the reported violent in Ketu," Afenifere said.

The statement, dated November 30 but issued yesterday, reads in part: "It is sad that 31 days to the new millennium, those who govern us still have to be acquainted with the constitutional and judicial processes to be followed before the state can take a citizen's life. Besides, the order is open to abuses.

"What stops a policeman whose request for gratification from a bus conductor is shunned to shoot and kill the fellow claiming that he is an 'OPC'? The painful consequence of the presidential orders is the reported cases of a number of innocent people that have been allegedly killed by policemen in the Ketu area.

"We hope the Federal Government did not choose to ignore the condemnation of violence and appeal for calm in our statement. Too bad if it did. We are definitely not in the mould of those patronisingly described as 'most sensible, peaceful and patriotic Nigerians' who would convict fellow citizens without establishing guilt. We are at a loss as to how Obasanjo's government was able to conduct investigations into the crisis under 12 hours to determine OPC culpability. We insist it was prejudicial to single out OPC for presidential lynching.

Opadokun said Afenifere's stand on due process was a principled one. "It may interest the President to know that despite all the atrocities (Gen. Sani) Abacha and his henchmen perpetrated against Nigerians, we will continue to advocate for due process in their trials," he added.

The statement also said: "The response of the President to the events in Bayelsa and Lagos states have shown a lack of proper and sympathetic understanding and appreciation of the deep-seated frustrations and pent-up anger in the polity that have necessitated the strident calls for a Sovereign National Conference.

"Perhaps the President and his men have not followed the persistent reportage of presidential order of shoot at sight by the international media. If they did, they should by now know that foreign investors with their heads properly screwed would not consider a country where such orders to kill without due process easily flow as a place to make 'massive injection of foreign funds.'"

Opadokun had in Akure, on Tuesday warned that any attempt by President Obasanjo to impose a state of emergency on any part of the country, or enforce his shoot-at-sight order, would throw Nigeria back into blatant dictatorship.

In a democratic setting, the Federal Government does not have the power to unilaterally declare a state of emergency unless the situation is extremely grave, he said.

Speaking with The Guardian at the second memorial anniversary of the late Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin in the Ondo State capital, he said the Federal Government's decision to declare a state of emergency at Odi, Bayelsa State, and the shoot-at-sight order against OPC members, were uncalled for. They would not calm the agitation, but rather aggravate the already tense situation, he added.

According to Opadokun, only a Sovereign National Conference could end the ethnic agitation. He advised Obasanjo against underrating the importance of dialogue, for which the proposed conference would offer a platform.

"Let me assure you, if President Olusegun Obasanjo puts in place the much orchestrated Sovereign National Conference, the multifaceted ethnic political tension and other agitation in the country will melt away immediately," he added.

In his view, the Sovereign National Conference, if allowed, would make militant groups such as the Egbesu Youths and OPC to sheath their sword, as they would have the opportunity to dialogue and negotiate with the government.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Abubakar wants end to terrorism in Niger Delta

By Rotimi Ajayi, Port Harcourt

VICE-PRESIDENT Atiku Abubakar, on an official visit to Port Harcourt, yesterday, urged an end to terrorism in Niger Delta.

"You cannot witness any progress, you cannot benefit from accelerated development project if there is no peace and stability," the Vice-President said while launching a fleet of buses purchased by the Rivers State Government to provide free transportation for students in the state.

"It is basic. It is fundamental. I will therefore like to urge you to desist and not to support people who are involved in criminal acts or terrorism in the name of advancing legitimate aspiration," he explained.

Continuing, he said:

"When I came here during the campaign, I promised you that the government of President Obasanjo if elected and when elected, which you have graciously done would try to correct the wrongs that have been done and inflicted to the Niger Delta region almost for three decades.

"I believe from what you have heard from your governor, we are committed to reversing that trend. We are committed to accelerating development effort in the Niger Delta more than any other part of the country.

"We also want you to realise and understand that within six months, or even two years, or even four years, it is not possible for us to reverse what has been done or the damage that have been done for almost 30 years, but we have a firm commitment.

"What we seek from you is patience and understanding so that we can achieve this objective of accelerated development of the Niger Delta region.

"I will also want to affirm that more and more federal projects would be provided in the Niger Delta region, particularly in the social-economic aspect of the life of Niger Deltans.

"In fact from next year by which time we believe the Niger Delta Development Commission Bill would have been passed, the tempo of activity would rise more than ever before."

Gov. Peter Odili on his part asked the Federal Government to give more funds to the state.

He pointed out that only this would justify the prominent role being played by the state in the overall revenue generation profile of the country.

Dr. Odili said "we will continue to ensure that what God has put here will continue to be used for the good of the nation.

"But also I want to tell you that our people are saying that while they are committed to peaceful unity and economic progress of the country, they think that because God has put so much resources here, a lot of that resources should be deployed to improve the quality of living of the people.

"The restiveness that is now being experienced here can be easily taken care of by injecting sufficient funds.

"All we are pleading for is increased federal attention and increased funding by the Federal Government."

Twenty-five buses were launched at the ceremony to facilitate easy movement of students to schools from every part of the state.

Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, 30 November, 1999


Mile 12: Lagos govt, warring factions sign peace accord:

peace accord * Market relocated temporarily to Isheri

By Kenneth Ehigiator & John Ighodaro

THE Lagos State Government, yesterday, reached an accord with Hausa and Yoruba traders at the Mile 12 Market, Lagos, scene of last week’s mayhem aimed at restoring peace to the popular market.

Under the accord worked out at a meeting between Gov. Bola Tinubu on the one hand and the traders on the other, the inner part of the market is to be re-opened immediately.

The market will operate until the end of the forthcoming Ramadan next January to allow for the rebuilding of the market.

However, the State Assembly also yesterday set up a seven-man committee to look into the mayhem at the market in which over 30 lives were lost.

Yesterday’s communiqué issued at the end of the meeting between Gov. Tinubu and the traders reads in full:

bulletThat upon the termination of this period (January 2000), the traders shall move to a temporary site in Isheri, based on the understanding with Ogun State Government whilst the reconstruction of the Mile 12 Market is in progress;
bulletThat His Excellency should rebuild the market to an acceptable state as an improvement over the present slumming state of the market, due to the inferno and arsons that engulfed the market in the last few days;
bulletThat peace shall be maintained in the market by all the associations of the market irrespective of the tribe or religion;
bulletThat all the registered associations in the market agreed that they shall move to the temporary site whenever the reconstruction is to commence.
bulletThat in order to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the disturbance, a powerful judicial commission of enquiry shall be set up;
bulletThat the judicial commission shall further ascertain the number of lives lost and the extent of damage to properties; and,
bulletThat the judicial commission of enquiry shall further make recommendations as to means and manner of forestalling future recurrences/clashes;

The Mile 12 Market exploded in a bloody confrontation between Hausa and Yoruba communities in the market last Thursday, following a disagreement over the leadership of the market, the Sukura Yam Sellers Association, specifically.

One of the factions reportedly invited members of the militant Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) for assistance, and in the confrontation that ensued, no fewer than 60 persons were killed. Property worth several millions of naira were also destroyed in the inferno that characterised the clash.


*Lagos Assembly wades in

Meanwhile, the Lagos State House of Assembly has set up a seven-man committee to look into the Mile 12 Market crisis.

Inaugurating the committee, the Speaker, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora said there was the urgent need to look into the root cause of the problem.

"This is our state, we have no other state to call our own and we must therefore do everything to make sure that peace reigns here," he said.

"The relations of those who have lost their lives are those who really know what pain they have gone through.

"There is nowhere in history that violence has solved any problem. We in the State House of Assembly still believe that dialogue is the acceptable way to resolve conflicts," he stressed, adding: "We want to seize this opportunity to appeal to our people to give peace a chance. Democracy is a process and we are undergoing the process. Liberty should not be taken as licence; for every right, there is a responsibility. Progress cannot thrive in an atmosphere of anarchy, rancour and discord. What we need to move forward is peace. Liberty should not be taken for granted; eternal vigilance is the price for liberty."

Chairman of the seven-man special committee is Mr. Olaitan Mustapha. The members are Messrs. Obafemi Durosinmi, Jide Jimoh, Ayo Odeyemi, Ola Animashaun, Adebola Ajayi and Tayo Oduntan.

Also yesterday, the house passed two motions. The first was moved by Mr. Omotayo Oduntan who said: "Considering the danger posed to human life and the environment and in order to avoid a fire disaster, this house do call on the Hon. Commissioner for Environment and Physical Planning, Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and General Manager, Pipeline Products and Marketing Company (PPMC) to urgently find a lasting solution to the problems of damaged pipelines channelling petroleum products through Baruwa town and its environs, in Alimosho Local Government Area."

The other motion was moved by Mr. Jide Jimoh who said: "That in line with the provisions of the fourth Schedule Paragraph 1 (e) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 Constitution and Section 36 (e) of the Local Government Administration Law (1999) passed by this honourable house, this house do call on the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation to leave the management of motor parks to the local governments."

The motion was unanimously passed as well.

Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, 30 November, 1999


Tuesday, 30 November 1999

How to ensure good governance, by Shagari

From Eric Meya, Sokoto

 GOOD governance is only achievable when leaders command voluntary obedience from the governed, former President Shehu Shagari has said.

To gain such obedience, Shagari said leaders should be pious and not self-seeking.

He spoke yesterday at a sensitisation workshop on "Transparency and governance" jointly organised by the Sokoto State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Johas Hopkins University, United States.

The former president who was represented by a member of the Shehu Shagari World Institute (SSWI), Malam Bala Hassan, said that leadership should listen to good advice and keep the company of good scholars and advisers who will not hide the truth for fear of being criticised.

While admonishing leaders to have a firm control over their employees, Shagari warned against appointing people into offices on the basis of favouritism.

Referring specifically to multi-party democratic governance, he said that "the leader is expected to be tolerant of the opposition open, accountable, transparent and just in the discharge of his duties".

According to him, since the rule of law is the most important ingredient of good governance, a leader must be seen to be the guardian of social justice, promotion of democracy, fairness, accountability and transparency in decision making.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Tuesday, 30 November 1999

Abubakar pledges federal aid for Niger Delta

VICE President Atiku Abubakar yesterday in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said that the Niger Delta would see increased development with the implementation of the 2000 budget, as the Rivers State Governor Peter Odili canvassed urgent physical development of the region as the only antidote to the growing restiveness among the people.

Speaking at the launching of the Rivers State Free School Bus Scheme, Abubakar appealed to the people to be patient with the government.

"What we seek from you is patience and understanding so that we can achieve these objectives of accelerated development of the Niger Delta region.

"I will also like to affirm that more and more federal projects will be pumped into the Niger Delta Region to continue to redress the injustice particularly in the socio-economic aspect of the life of the Niger Delta. In fact, from next year budget by which time the NDDC bill will have been passed, the tempo of activities will rise more than ever before," the vice president stressed.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, 30 November 1999

Police arraign Keyamo over alleged N1.5m theft

By Ibe Uwaleke, Judicial Reporter

ACTIVIST lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo, was yesterday arraigned at an Igbosere Chief Magistrate's Court, Lagos, for allegedly stealing $15,946 (N1.5 million) belonging to Express Cargo Shipping Company Limited, Lagos.

Keyamo pleaded not guilty to the one-count charge but said in a statement that the money was meant to off-set his legal fees as agreed with the company.

Keyamo had been embroiled in a controversy with the police who accused him of stealing a file from its archives to prosecute his campaign against Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi. The police had earlier threatened to arraign him for theft of the file.

Reading the charge sheet yesterday at the magistrate court, the police alleged: "That you Festus Keyamo (m) on the 12th January, 1999, at Lagos in the Lagos Magisterial District did steal the sum of $15,746 equivalent to N1.5 million of Express Cargo Shipping Company Limited and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 390(9) of the Criminal Code Vol. II Cap 32 Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria."

Keyamo pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail to the tune of N500,000.

But reacting to the charge, Keyamo in a statement gave his own side of the story and stated that he did not steal any money but entered into a contract with the said company and that the matter was settled nine months ago.

He said: "On February 24, 1997, I received a letter from Express Cargo Shipping Company Limited, appointing me as their legal adviser. Soon after, I handled a matter for the company and got a judgment of $50,000. My entitlement was 10 per cent of that amount. I was never paid. The defendants paid up to US$34,000 and a fraction in 1997 and stopped payment. All these sums were handed to my client (the shipping company).

"Between 1997 and 1999, I handled many other contentious and non-contentious matters for my client. I was not paid for all these or my retainership. I was also invited to the board. I participated as the secretary. It was for this I was only paid some money in 1997."

"In January 1999, I instituted an action against the ship in question at the Federal High Court, Lagos, on behalf of my client to get the ship to pay the remaining judgment sum. I won and the court ordered that the money be paid into my chambers. I did not steal it. I did not obtain it by fraud."

He continued: "I then called on my client to settle all my outstanding bills before I release any money with me. This is how it is done all over the world. But because my client did not intend to pay me, he cried foul to the police that I should hand over the money with me, I insist on my bills. Everywhere the managing director of the company went, he was advised to settle my bills and then the matter, which was purely civil, would be settled.

"Thus on March 5, 1999, the Managing Director of my client came and begged me to write off some of my bills, which I obliged him, and then paid him some money. In fact, he stated that they were fully satisfied with the reconciliations of accounts."

Suddenly, a young man came to my chambers on Friday, November 19, 1999 when I broke the Afikuyomi scandal and the day I also indicated my intention to appeal against the ruling dismissing my case against the Lagos State House of Assembly, claiming he was from Express Cargo Limited and that some people within the Lagos State government contacted them to quickly reopen a matter that died nine months ago...," he complained.

As he put it: "The Force CID Alagbon Close on November 24 invited me and told me that the shipping line was no longer satisfied with the way we reconciled our accounts and that they want the matter charged to court."

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Tuesday, 30 November 1999

Panel on OAU cult crisis warns against distractions

From Sola Shittu, Ile-Ife

THE chairman of the Judicial Commission of inquiry for the investigation of secret cult activities at the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Justice Okoi Itam has warned that the commission would not hesitate to invite the police to maintain law and order during its public proceedings if the need arises.

Justice Itam in a speech delivered at the inaugural public sitting of the commission yesterday said appropriate arrangements had been made to ensure peace during the hearing of oral evidence whether public or in camera.

"We hereby express the candid hope that nobody in the audience or otherwise would by bad behaviour invite us to ask the police to take care of him or her. If this appeal is heeded, it shall be possible to maintain a calm atmosphere throughout the inquiry to the benefit and credit of all concerned".

The chairman said for those who fear that the tribunal was merely set up as a "rubber stamp, we must all sympathise with their unfair zeal to make a hasty and unjustifiable judgment. Let us remind all those concerned that every member of this tribunal has already taken an oath to discharge his duty faithfully and impartialy in this inquiry".

Justice Itam assured that the tribunal had no interest "whether the evidence on record goes to the right or to the left or up or down or wherever. Our oath and our duty is simple and straight forward to see all that can be seen, to know all that can be known and finally record our opinion and the reasons leading to its conclusion".

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, 30 November 1999

Maigari heads Christian pilgrims panel

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday approved the appointment of members of the Christian Pilgrims Committee for 1999 and the year 2000, with Monsignor Ben Maigari from Bauchi State as the chairman.

An official statement in Abuja gave other members as Rev. Fr. Daniel Agher (Benue); Mr. Joshua Barau (Nasarawa); Mr. Amadi Obiora (Enugu); Chief G. Ikechi (Abia); Prince Ugo Beke (Rivers) and Mr. A.A. Aina (Osun).

Others are Mr. Uzo Ofondu (Anambra); Mrs. Kemi Jaiyeoba (Oyo); Osagie Ize Iyamu (Edo) and Ven. Ben Akosile (Ekiti).

The rest are Mr. Jerry Merwe (Taraba), Mrs. Patricia Danmaida (Kaduna) and Mr. J.J. Enekebe, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs officer who will serve as secretary.

Members of the committee, according to the statement, should report at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, on Wednesday for the inauguration on Thursday.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, 30 November 1999

Obasanjo assures on water supply

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday disclosed that potable water supply to rural areas is one of the pillars on which government's poverty alleviation programme would be built.

Speaking when a seven-man United Nations Children's Education Fund (UNICEF) delegation visited him in Abuja, Obasanjo said that potable water supply was necessary if childhood diseases must be stemmed through UNICEF-initiated programmes.

He pointed out that the Fund's programmes in Nigeria required coherence and consistency and assured the team of Nigeria's co-operation in that regard.

Earlier, leader of the team and UNICEF Executive Director, Ms Carol Bellamy, told the president that the Fund shared Nigeria's desire to win the battle against childhood diseases.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper