Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #03
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Nigeria Weekly News Highlights

Jan 22, 2000

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Saturday, 22 January 2000

Group creates new TV series to fight corruption

WOMEN'S Optimum Development Foundation (WODEF), a non-governmental organisation out to enhance women's status is leading an initiative in new attitudinal values in the society with the creation of a new television series Tightrope,} to promote transparency and accountability.

The series to tackle the evils of corruption in the society was the outcome of a week-long residential creative workshop held at the Peninsula Resort, Ajah, Lagos. The WODEF-organised retreat was sponsored by the Office of Transition Initiatives, a USAID agency.

It is essential that we midwife a complete re-orientation in our way of thinking so that we can deliver a new line of approach to our life, the group explained in a statement.

It added: Tightrope} will highlight all the evils of corruption and we will show how it affects official, cultural, family and social life in Nigeria and we will also see how it affects directly and indirectly everything it touches. This television series will teach us how to respect merit, how to rebuild family values, how to take constructive criticism, how to embrace hard work, integrity and tolerance.

By mirroring ourselves we will learn how to laugh at ourselves, we will through our heroine, learn how it is possible to successfully walk the tightrope between her husband, her children, her extended family, her job, her superiors, her staff, her environment and herself by being humble, honest and hardworking human being.

The group believed that within the last decade and a half, corruption has become a hydra-headed monster relentlessly destroying the very fabric of the society. It respects neither age nor gender, it brutalizes the concepts of fairplay and justice, it mocks truth and riddles transparency and accountability. Corruption taunts those who are willing to work hard to build this nation. Families have been destabilised, values have disintegrated, hostilities have erupted between brothers and sisters, and the fragments, called Nigeria, are left reeling under the viciousness of the attack, WODEF's statement added.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Saturday, 22 January 2000

Religious leaders blamed for crises

AKHADI of Kwara State Sharia Court of Appeal, Ilorin, Alhaji Saliu Oloruntoyin Muhammed has blamed religious leaders in Kwara State for the recent religious upheaval in Ilorin.

Justice Mohammed, who stressed the importance of peace, love and justice in Islam and Christianity, upbraided the leaders of the two leading religions in the country for allegedly shirking their responsibilities, imparting the positive virtues in their followers.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Saturday, 22 January 2000

Switzerland freezes Abacha's loot

By Francis Obinor (Foreign Affairs Reporter) and Olufemi Adedapo

IN a major move to assist the Nigerian government in the recovery of ill-gotten wealth stashed away in the vaults of European banks, Swiss authorities yesterday disclosed that they had frozen not less than $80 million belonging to the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha and his aides

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Friday, January 21, 2000

 Dafinone urges support for Obasanjo

BUSINESS icon and Second Republic Senator David Dafinone has urged Nigerians to be patient with President Olusegun Obasanjo, saying he cannot solve all the problems of Nigeria within seven months of assuming powers.

  He made the call recently at a party he organised at his country home in Sapele, Delta State, to celebrate the new millennium.

  Considering the magnitude of the problems which faced the country for the past 16 years mostly under various military regimes he pleaded with Nigerians to give the present administration more time to solve the problems.

  Chief Dafinone noted that the 250 ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria are not subordinate to one another. Besides, since Nigeria is a secular state, he urged Nigerians to exhibit a high degree of religious tolerance in order not to threaten the corporate existence of the country.

  The Owhere I of Okpe Kingdom urged the Federal Government to realise that Delta State is a minority state, which produces large quantity of oil; a major contributor to the nation’s economy, and asked the government to create job opportunities in the state by building industries and providing infrastructure especially for the Urhobos before the expiration of oil and gas exploration.

  He also called on the state governor James Ibori, to look into the problems facing the people of the state. “The governor should look across gas-flaring so that his administration could put in place the good things of life that will enable Deltans enjoy the good things of life at the expiration of oil and gas exploration in the state,” he added.

  In his sermon at the occasion, a minister of the Church of God Mission, Ogodo Road branch, in Sapele, Delta State, Reverend Mathew Eyenor who took his reading from Isaiah chapter 43, verses 1-6, and the book of Numbers chapter 14 verse 28, prayed for the Dafinone family and the development of Sapele town.

  Also speaking at the party, the Orodje of Okpe Kingdom, Ororho I (JP) prayed for peace and progress in his domain in Delta State and the country in the new millennium.

  Dignitaries at the party included Mr. Thompson Onomigbo Okpoko (SAN), president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Moses Akpobasa (rtd) Director-General in the Presidency, Chief William Pemu, a retired director-general in Delta State; Chief Mrs. Margaret Unukegwo, Commissioner for Health and Information and Culture in the defunct Bendel State, Engineer Maurice Lammeraut, managing director of Eternit Limited Sapele and Mr. Tadeferua Odon, a Lagos-based businessman, amongst others.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Friday, January 21, 2000

 U.S. bank offers NNPC $200m aid

By Tajudeen Adigun,

Energy Editor

AÊUNITED States of America multinational financial conglomerate, Citibank Group, has offered a loan facility of $200 million (N19.20 billion) for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to assist in the corporation’s revitalisation effort.

  Also, NNPC and the major petroleum marketing companies have initiated plan to embark on massive importation of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) or cooking gas, to end its crippling scarcity.

  Citibank’s offer was made during discussion with executives of NNPC according to the corporation’s Group Managing Director, Mr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki.

  Gaius-Obaseki disclosed this at a dinner for out-going Managing Directors of Unipetrol Nigeria Plc, Yussuf Ali, and his Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc counterpart Duke Keiser.

  He said the cash-strapped corporation is free to decide what to use the facility for, under the terms of the offer, attributing the positive development to the finance consortium’s appreciation of successes so far recorded in the current revitalisation of the NNPC and the new civilian national leadership.

  “I asked them whether they would have done the same 12 months ago. They said no!” he added.

  Although he did not give information on the possible areas the corporation would invest the facility, industry sources identified the corporation’s four refineries which are in various stages of disrepair and its pipeline network as priority areas.

  The NNPC boss said much had been done in the last seven months to sanitise the industry but added: “So much still needs to be done.”

 THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Military Begins Fresh Purge . . . 5,000 soldiers affected
by Philip Nwosu, Defence Reporter

IN a move aimed at reducing the size of the military, the Nigerian Army has commenced the systematic disengagement of its personnel from its services.
Already, no fewer than 5,000 soldiers have been disengaged from the various units and corps of the force around the country in the sweeping retirement which commenced last week.
Competent military sources told The Post Express that those affected in the massive shake-up include master warrant officers, warrant officers, sergeants and corporals.
It was gathered that military personnel were discharged on grounds of long service, ill-health, indiscipline and their inability to meet up with service requirements.
At least, 1,000 of them were disengaged from each corps. Five corps, which the sources declined to name, have been affected.
The sources added that the disengagement was in agreement with the recent pronouncement by the Minister of Defence, Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma to carry out a reduction of the military.
General Danjuma had, in August, hinted that there was the need to reduce the strength of the military to a manageable size for effectiveness.
He pinned the size of the military today at 100,000 and promised that upon the completion of the downsizing exercise, it will only be left with 50,000 officers and men.
The army alone is expected, under the downsizing exercise, to purge at least 50,000 of its men, following the minister's assertion that the force would be left with 30,000 men after the restructuring.
The defence chief also told reporters during the ministry's press briefing last year, the first in 15 years, that "the recruitment policy of the Armed Forces will be structured in such a way that any new intake must have the necessary educational backgrou
nd and aptitude to cope with the demands of the profession."
Meanwhile, the sources further hinted that at the end of the disengagement exercise for the "rank and files", that of the officers would be expected to follow.
It was gathered that the delay in the officers' disengagement exercises was due to the inability of the Career Review Board to submit its report to the authorities.
The Career Review Board meets once a year to reassess the performance of officers in the year ended and determine their ability to move ahead in the force or be eased out.
Last year, several officers who were unable to meet the military requirements of at least a C-plus at the junior level of the Command and Staff College (CSC), Jaji, were advised to disengage voluntarily.
These officers, The Post Express learnt, were no longer promotable. This was the main reason behind the advice for them to disengage voluntarily by December last year.
Despite the furore over the action, the Armed Forces hinted that the move was a normal service procedure.

Nigerian Post Express Newspaper


Thursday, January 20, 2000

U.S. pledges aid for Nigeria, three others

By Francis Obinor,

Foreign Affairs Reporter

NIGERIA's nascent democracy will receive an appreciable attention from the United States government. Similarly, Colombia, Indonesia and Ukraine will also be assisted to achieve stability and progress.

A United States embassy statement, yesterday, quoted the country's Secretary of State Madeline Albright as saying that this was in a bid to ensure stability in the nation's four regions.

It said: "These nations differ markedly, but each can be a major force for stability and progress in its region. And each is at a critical point along the democratic path."

Titled: "Sustaining democracy in the twenty-first century" Albright noted that the U.S. being the world's leading democracy needed to strengthen and safeguard Nigeria's young democracy.

She added: "U.S. as the world's leading democracy is responsible for working in partnership with others to help nations in transition move to a higher stage of democratic development."

She said since elections constituted a part of democracy, ''a full orchestra is required, including markets that reward initiative; police that respect due process, legal structures that provide justice as well as a press corps that is free to pursue the facts and publish the truth."

She stated further: These institutions do not arise overnight. Building democracy takes many years and much patience.

"It requires not only the seeds of democratic ideals, but also the soil of democratic culture in which those seeds may take root and grow.

"Some say it is hegemonic to promote democracy and that we are trying to impose our values on others. I say that, by definition, democracy cannot be imposed. In any country at any time, it is dictatorship that is an imposition; democracy is a choice."

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, 20 January 2000

Govt approves N2.04b for varsity teachers, others

From Emeka Nwankpa, Abuja

TEACHERS in higher institutions may soon have cause to smile as the Federal Government yesterday approved N2.039 billion as their welfare allowance.

A breakdown of the amount, product of their last year's agreement with the government, shows that N1.390 billion would go to university teachers, N360.9 million to those in polytechnics while their counterparts at the colleges of education would get N288.1 billion.

Information Minister, Dapo Sarumi disclosed shortly after the Federal Executive Council meeting in Abuja, that N530 million out of the N1.390 billion meant for the university teachers is for academic allowance, N500 million for car refurbishing allowance and loan, and N360.1 million for rent subsidy.

Other approvals by the government include N534.2 million for the rehabilitation of roads in Kogi State which provide links to Edo and Anambra states, and collaboration between the Department of National Civil Registration (DNCR), Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and National Population Commission (NPC) on the issuance of the national identity card which kicks off in August.

The cards, said Sarumi, would be issued to any Nigerian of 18 years and above.

The facility would provide a national data bank, reduction in malpractices in the social system and cost.

The council, he added, approved import on protocol of ECOWAS and the liberalisation scheme.

The council continues its meeting today at an extra-ordinary session after President Olusegun Obasanjo's address to the National Assembly on fiscal policy.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Thursday, 20 January 2000

Journalists cautions govt

THE imposition of emergency rule in Lagos or any part of the country may lead to anarchy and subsequent derailment of democratic structures, Journalists for Democratic Rights (JODER) have warned.

JODER, in a statement yesterday said that the security situation in Lagos does not warrant the overthrow of the democratic structures and imposition of a unitary command which government diplomatically refers to as a state of emergency.

While condemning the spate of violence in the country, the group said the Federal government's non committal to the basic principles of federalism and general hopelessness of the populace were responsible for the state of insecurity in the land.

It called for the practice of true federalism as a panacea to the problems.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, 20 January 2000

OPCs activities can set Nigeria ablaze, says Okupe

By Oma Djebah, Political Reporter

THE Federal Government defended yesterday its threat to declare emergency rule in Lagos State, saying the activities of the radical faction of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) were dangerous and divisive, with a potential of setting the country ablaze.

The government also underlined its resolve to protect lives and property of all Nigerians and other nationals resident in the country.

It would appear that our nascent democracy is being stifled at birth by criminals among us who are taking the liberty which democracy provides as licence to perpetrate crime through violence. No responsible government that is seriously engaged in courting foreign investors will condone these nefarious acts of criminality. Perhaps more sinister is the colouration of ethnicity in this new wave of oftentimes unprovoked acts of violence, the Special Assistant to President Olusegun Obasanjo on Media and Publicity, Dr. Doyin Okupe told journalists in Lagos yesterday.

He was casting more light on the Presidents threat to declare a state of emergency in Lagos if the violence which the government blamed on the militant faction of the OPC persisted.

President Olusegun Obasanjo has made it clear to all Nigerians that this administration will not be diverted or swerved from its focus of liberating our people from the menacing claws of poverty which has plagued our society for several years, Okupe said.

It is, therefore, not surprising that the President reacts quickly and decisively to any situation anywhere in the country that has a tendency to perpetrate a state of anarchy, This is why it becomes absolutely imperative that government does something to effectively check the drift towards anarchy in Lagos, the business and commercial nerve centre of the nation.

Apparently referring to the OPCs activities, Okupe went on: For many months now, failure to check activities of hoodlums parading themselves under an ethnic garb has dangerously wounded the sensibilities of other ethnic nationalities and has caused them like an invasive cancer to launch similar ethnic militant groups. This rather sad development is not only dangerous and divisive, it is a negative potential of setting the country ablaze. This can not be the democratic dividend that our citizens long for desired or deserved.

According to him, rather than bracing up for the challenge thrown at him by the Presidents letter of last week, Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu picked up his rusty gloves to engage himself in a puerile exercise of solo shadow boxing.

He said: The intention of President Obasanjo can not but be noble. The expectations were that Governor Tinubu would read the appropriate riot act to hoodlums in the city, give appropriate instructions after due consultation with security agents and then perhaps consulting with the Federal Government on possible areas of assistance and co-operation, all in an efforts to bring peace and security to the state.

Accusing Tinubu of innate ineptitude in ensuring peace in the state, Okupe whose remarks came on the heels of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) governors support for their Lagos counterpart, said the Presidents intention was neither to demean nor otherwise ridicule the esteemed office of the Governor of Lagos State.

It must be said that governance is a serious affair and is quite different from civil agitation and human rights activism. I must, therefore, respectfully inform the Governor of Lagos State in the interest of the people he governs to get his acts together and govern rightly, Okupe said.

Faulting Tinubus claim that certain Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members were hoping to use the back door to achieve what they lost at the polls, Okupe said nobody in the Presidency or in the PDP needs to plot the removal of Senator Bola Tinubu, because the senator himself will have to be saved from being removed by his own inaction.

Obasanjo had threatened to declare an emergency rule in Lagos, accusing the governor of inaction over the security situation in the state.

According to the President, there is evidence of increasing disorders, loss of lives and property and a general sense of fear among the citizens of Lagos state. This is an intolerable situation.

But Tinubu in a swift response, refuted the President's allegation, saying he as a governor was handicapped to function as the Chief Security Officer of the state because the constitution denies him the wherewithal to function as such.

He called for state police formations as a way out. According to him, if he had this kind of control over the police, the security situation in Lagos would not have degenerated.

Okupe added: The commissioner of police in every state is a member of the state executive council where the governor is the chairman. Secondly, the state security council, comprising among other members, top echelon of the security apparatus of the state, is presided over by the governor. It is, therefore, an unacceptable and undignifying defence for the Chief Security Officer of the state to throw up his hands helplessly on any matter on an account of a spurious claim that he does not control the police. Our history and various celebrated acts of violence nationwide do not support his claim.

And for the avoidance of doubt, the comparison of the 1964 state of emergency in the Western Region to that which is patently caused by gross ineptitude and incompetence of an unpopular governor is historical fraud that can only be used by historical opportunists.

He said a quarterly recruitment of 10,000 policemen has been approved as well as the retraining and reorientation programmes for members of the Force who will also be re-equipped with modern arms and ammunition and other facilities.

Besides, government has directed that retired police officers who are still capable should be considered to join the retraining. The criminal investigation, crime detection and control departments of the police are in the process of being overhauled so that more of these crimes can be prevented rather than combated.

Okupe said if the AD governors truly want state police, they should ask their National Assembly members to sponsor a motion for it and ensure that two thirds of all state assembles endorse it.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, 20 January 2000

Court rules on Abacha's appeal on January 27

From Kate Da Costa, Abuja

THE court of appeal will next Thursday determine whether to include the late Gen. Sani Abacha's embattled son, Mohammed, in a suit filed by Lt. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi challenging the special panel that investigated his involvement in the alleged murder attempt on The Guardians publisher, Mr. Alex Ibru.

Bamaiyi is seeking the correct interpretation of section 174 of the 1999 Constitution, contending that the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) constituted by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on whose report he was being prosecuted, was a nullity since the Attorney-General lacked investigative powers.

The younger Abacha, who is also standing trial for the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, sought the courts leave to join the appeal.

Governments lawyer Rotimi Jacobs, yesterday opposed the application for annexure, saying the applicant was not an interested party in the original application and was not party to the earlier proceedings at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The applicants lawyer Joseph Daudu (SAN), however, maintained that the application was in order, predicating his arguments on two grounds. The first being that the matter which was novel, unique and constitutional would contribute to the doctrine of stare decisis and be binding on the court where his client was being tried.

Secondly, he said his client was an interested member in the matter despite the posturings of the respondents.

He added that the facts of the case were very similar, hence one could not be divorced from the other.

Abacha's application, dated December 17, 1999 and filed same day, was brought pursuant to section 16 of the Court of Appeal Act, and supported by a five paragraph affidavit as deposed to by one Ibrahim A., a legal practitioner.

Daudu who moved the motion relied on all the paragraphs, especially three and four, which outlined all the relevant facts which he said indicated their interest in the matter.

Debunking claims in the respondents counter-affidavit dated January 14, 2000 that Abacha was not entitled to be joined, since he refused to file an appeal against the ruling of the Federal High Court which took a position on his fundamental human rights, Daudu informed the court that he had already lodged an appeal against a part of the said ruling.

Buttressing the need for him to be joined, Daudu stated that both Abacha and Bamaiyi were standing criminal trials, especially as they had shown affidavit that the materials to be used for the trials were from the same sources ñ the SIP statement.

He submitted that viewed from the constitutional angle, the use of the statement and the evidence led from them would have prejudicial effect on the applicants right to fair hearing.

He drew the attention of the court to two statements in the counter-affidavit credited to the applicant, stressing that the exhibit of the statement did not remove the fact that they were taken by SIP.

The applicants lawyer finally submitted that given the circumstances under which the statements were taken by the SIP, the application to be joined as a party should be granted.

Bamaiyi's lawyer Mike Okoye who said he was not opposing the application, added that since page 41 of the records, which is the SIP report, reflected the name Mohammed Abacha among others, he should be an interested party.

He submitted that the decision of the case would of necessity affect the applicant as they underwent the same treatment under the SIP and the final outcome was for a declaratory relief which would automatically affect the interest of any party.

Jacobs who appeared for the Attorney-General and three others, however said that as shown in their 11-paragraph counter-affidavit dated January 14, sworn to by Yusuf Abdullahi, the respondent was opposed to the motion.

He contended that the applicant had not supplied sufficient information before the court to show him as an interested party, which would ultimately assist the court in exercising its discretion in the matter.

Citing section 295 of the 1999 Constitution, he argued that the issue of reference was a matter for direction to the lower court, which was required to give its decision based on the direction of the Court of Appeal.

According to him, the applicant did not fall into the two categories of persons envisaged by section 295(1)(2) who were to benefit from the courts discretionary powers.

He cited Order 2 Rule 4 of the Court of Appeal rules, submitting that the applicant was totally outside the purview of the rules.

The governments lawyer while contending that the applicants interest in the matter had been extinguished by virtue of the ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja which decided that his remand was lawful, further argued that the issue of the constitutionality of the Attorney-General to constitute the SIP never arose in the matter at the Federal High Court.

He buttressed his point by citing Ogbogu V. Ndiribe (1992) 6 NWLR Pt 245 Pg 40 at Pg 68-69 wherein the Supreme Court adopted the decision of the Privy Council and those of Lawal V Daudu (1972) 1 All NLR Pt 2 Pg 270 at 283 and ARO V Fabolude (1983) All NLR Pg 67 at 71-72.

On the issue of interest, he submitted that the materials before the court were insufficient to indicate any interest.

Jacobs wondered while an accused in the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola would regard himself as an interested party in a matter of attempted assasination of Mr. Ibru, and submitted that the applicant was a complete stranger to the SIP report and that his absence in the issue would not affect the court.

Jacobs also complained that the application was defective in form, saying that it was signed by Cosmic Chambers even when Order 3 Rules 384 of the Civil Form 4 in the first schedule to the rules of the court, provided that either the applicant or his lawyer should append their signatures.

He urged the court to dismiss the motion for lacking in merit and being grossly defective.

Daudu however said Jacobs arguments were misconceived, citing section 239 and 240 of the 1999 Constitution which listed the courts jurisdiction . He submitted that section 295 (1) could only be taken by the court in its appellate capacity.

He also insisted that there was constitutional approval for a party who had showed interest in an appeal to apply to join the appeal, as an interested party, citing section 243 of the 1999 constitution which invalidated the provisions of Order 2 Rule 4 in the particular matter.

On the argument that the applicant could not re-open the matter which had already been decided, the senior advocate submitted that the question of Res Judicata did not apply because there were instances of continuing breaches based on the evidence gathered.

At this juncture the presiding judge, Justice Dahiru Musdapher, asked Daudu how his client could be an interested party since there was no matter pending in court and there would be no case to refer to the Federal High Court.

Daudu submitted that the matter was novel but constitutional and would act as a stare decisis, and the fact that they were interested as pointed out by Okoye, they should be granted a joinder.

Another application by Hamza Al-Mustapha, former chief security officer to the late Gen. Abacha could not be heard because of lack of representation.

The presiding justice consequently adjourned ruling on the joinder application and the substantive one.

Other judges at the trial were justices Zainas Aliyu Bulkaehuwa and Albert Gbadebo Oduyemi.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, 20 January 2000

Senate may propose ban of ethnic groups

From Abiodun Adeniyi, Abuja

A STRONGLY-worded motion condemning activities of the controversial Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) is pending in the Senate.

The legislature also plans to raise a seven-member panel to, among other things, determine the moral, legal and political standing of the Lagos political leadership; and to pursue other measures that may result in recommending the proscription of OPC and other ethnically motivated groups.

The decisions followed a four-hour debate in the Senate yesterday on the security situation in Lagos. The motion, proposed by Deputy Senate President Haruna Abubakar, is slated to be passed today after further debate.

The Senate had earlier resolved to invite Police Affairs Minister Maj.-Gen. David Jemibewon and Police Inspector-General Musiliu Smith to explain reasons for the security lapses, and the manner of disbursement or otherwise, of the N2.5 billion approved for the force in last years supplementary appropriation.

Introducing the debate on President Olusegun Obasanjo's letter to Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu, Senate President Chuba Okadigbo said the legislature was concerned because the populace has to be reassured that the National Assembly is competent to act. The matter should, however, be treated with rationality and forebearance, having regard to our oaths of office.

Victor Oyoto (Edo), who spoke as a member of the Senate committee on police affairs, revealed that the committee has been relating with the police all the while. In the process, it was discovered that succeeding regimes have under-equipped the police, resulting in communications and vehicular problems. This, he said, partially explained why the legislature voted money for the force last year.

Mamman Ali (Borno) said the police received N2.5 billion last year, but the money was allegedly not utilised. He asked that the Lagos hoodlums be produced within one week; and if impossible, the Inspector-General and the Police Affairs Minister should be advised to resign.

The senator added that if there was fact in what the president said, that the Lagos State governor is supportive of OPC by his utterances, the President should declare a state of emergency in Lagos.

Fidelis Okoro (Enugu) reasoned that the Federal Government should do its job by rising to the occasion, as the governor is powerless security-wise.

According to Gbenga Aluko (Ekiti), the security situation in Lagos is two-fold. He asked that the OPC phenomenon be independently looked at, while the armed robbery issue should also be well examined.

Aluko added that while the military was in charge, there were 7,000 men in the Lagos State special security squad, Operation Sweep. But when the military left with the advent of democracy, only 1,000 men remained ñ mainly policemen. The 1,000 remaining are now to cope with the more tasking business of policing robbers and the OPC menace.

He stressed: The governor has complained. He has asked for help from the Federal Government. But there has not been response yet. Obasanjo's letter to Tinubu is uncalled for. The Lagos situation is a police situation. The possibility of a state of emergency is premature. Let President Obasanjo, Tinubu, Minister of Police Affairs and the I-G meet and talk over this matter.

Idris Abubakar (Gombe South) said even if the Presidents letter was passable, it did not exonerate him (the President) from blame. He charged that there had been past evidence of President Obasanjos association with the leader of an OPC faction, Dr. Frederick Fasehun. Besides, the Senate had before now called on the President to take on the OPC, but nothing has been done.

Noting that a state of emergency situation could be premature, he stated: Political leaders of the area can take action. If somebody commits a blunder about OPC, we should not also commit another one.

There were further contributions along similar or different lines from senators Abubakar Girei, Danladi Bamaiyi, Stella Omu, Bob Nwannu, John Waku, Idris Kuta, Khairat Abulrasaq, Wahab Dosunmu and Nuhu Aliyu.

In a summary of the proposed motion, before its passage was postponed till today, Senator Abubakar said in view of the OPCs recklessness, wickedness and sadistic conducts, and the inability of Yoruba leaders to call them to order, besides President Obasanjo's letter to Tinubu, a seven-man committee should be raised.

The committee, according to him, will among other things determine the moral, legal and political standing of the Lagos political leadership, and shall be empowered to liaise with the President, Yoruba leaders etc (and) may recommend proscription of the OPC and other ethnically motivated groups (besides) working towards how property of the non-Yoruba in Lagos will be protected. The motion was seconded by Senator Abdulrasaq. It was, however, not passed as the Senate President suggested further debate today to accommodate many other desiring contributors.

Earlier in the session, Senator Alex Kadiri drew attention to a Punch newspaper publication where-in it was reported that 114 people have been killed in one location in Lagos. He asked: Why is law and order breaking down? Are the police adequately funded? Do they have enough funds? Many lives are being lost for no just cause. I think this must stop.

Senator Kadiris contribution which eventually culminated in the invitation of police I-G and the Police Affairs minister provoked further contributions from Senator Guda, Dosunmu, Sunday Fajinmi, Lekan Balogun, Arthur Nzeribe, Olabiyi Durojaiye, Daniel Saror, Dansadau, Peter Adeyemo and Bala Adamu.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Jan 19, 2000

Obasanjo gets 30-day ultimatum on OPC * Flush out trouble makers, say Reps

By Sufuyan Ojeifo & Ben Agande, Abuja

THE House of Representatives resumed from its three-week Christmas/New Year recess yesterday, handing down to President Olusegun Obasanjo a 30-day ultimatum to rout out "all trouble makers in the country.

It also declared the existence and membership of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) illegal.

The Senate which also resumed, yesterday, is expected to debate President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to Gov. Bola Tinubu of Lagos State in which he threatened to declare a state of emergency in the state if its security situation did not improve.

But OPC President, Dr. Frederick Fasehun urged caution over President Obasanjo’s threat, saying Nigeria would be the loser if the threat was carried out.

The House of Representatives at its first sitting this year, adopted a motion asking the Federal Government to take "decisive action to rout out all trouble makers throughout the country."

The motion originally entitled: "Illegal activities - OPC, APC, IPC and Egbesu," was amended to leave out Arewa People's Congress (APC), Igbo People’s Congress (IPC) and Egbesu.

Hon. Musa Elayo who proposed the amendment claimed the other groups were not known to have attacked any body or perpetrated violence.

The motion reads:


*Illegal activities of OPC, APC, others

In view of the illegal activities of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), which are causing colossal loss of lives and property throughout the country. And in view of the dangerous activities of this illegal organisation which are not only threatening the nascent democracy Nigerians are enjoying but also the security of the nation, the House do resolve as follows:

i. Condemn in the strongest terms the various killings and destruction of lives and property being perpetrated by these groups.

ii. That the Federal Government should with immediate effect declare the existence and membership of the organisation as illegal.

iii. That the Federal Government should direct all security agencies in the country to identify members of these illegal organisations to be arrested and be charged to court for their atrocities.

iv. That traditional, political and religious leaders are hereby called upon to intervene and call their subjects to order.

v. That the Federal Government is given 30 days within which to take a decisive action to rout out all trouble makers throughout the country.

vi. That the police should sit up to their responsibility of ensuring the maintenance of law and order and the protection of lives and property throughout the country.

vii. That the Federal Government should equip the police for the effective performance of their constitutional responsibility.

viii. That the House should constitute an ad hoc committee of not more than 12 members to visit Lagos and Ibadan on a fact finding mission and report back to the House within 10 days.

ix. That we appeal to the Senate to concur with the motion so as to represent the position of the National Assembly on the illegal activities of these organisations.

Supporting the motion, Mr. Ita Enang argued that though violence in whatever form was condemnable the House should try to get to the roots of the crisis that precipitated the violence in the first place.

Chief Oladipo Olaitan, AD Leader in the House, said the House should examine the root cause of the violence being perpetrated by OPC.

He said: "I condemn the activities of the OPC as we read them on the pages of the newspapers. There can be no progress without peace. After years of brutal military rule, we cannot afford to be exposed to another round of violence.

"Let us therefore look at the root cause of the crisis (in Lagos) and find an answer to it. Let us take this matter headlong and solve it once and for all," he argued.

The APP leader, Mr. Mohammed Kumalia in his contribution argued that the attempt by some people to factionalise OPC into Ganiyu Adams and Dr. Frederick Fasehun factions was divisive.

"OPC is OPC. Leaving the real leaders and chasing the shadow of Ganiyu Adams is divisive. The law enforcement agents should go for the leaders of the organisation," he argued.

Mr. Obeten O. Obeten in his argument urged his colleagues to take the matter of violence in the country with the highest level of seriousness.

"The collapse of the first republic started like this. The collapse calls to question the competence of the Police Force and the huge amount of money spent on it," he said, adding, "we have a right to call for the resignation of the Inspector-General of Police and the Police Affairs Minister for trivialising their offices. This House should go a step further into enquiring about the disbursement of money to the police," he stated.

The House unanimously adopted the motion.

*Senate debates Obasanjo’s letter today

Meanwhile, the Senate resolved yesterday to debate President Olusegun Obasanjo’s letter to Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, on the security situation in Lagos today.

President Obasanjo had copied the Senate after writing Gov. Tinubu, intimating him that he (Obasanjo) might be compelled to impose a state of emergency in Lagos State over the current security situation in the state.

Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo at the resumption of the Senate yesterday announced receipt of copy of the letter sent to him and suggested that it be discussed today.

The Senate overwhelmingly agreed to the suggestion and Dr. Okadigbo subsequently directed the Rules and Procedure Committee to slate it on the Order Paper for today.

*OPC warns Obasanjo

OPC President, Dr. Frederick Fasehun reacting to the exchange of letters between President Obasanjo and Gov. Tinubu said:

"We read with trepidation and dismay, the letter from the Presidency signed by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo addressed to the Governor of Lagos State, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu - trepidation that our current euphoria might have befuddled our sense of history, dismay that our economic woods from which we are planning hard to begin our exit, may be closing in on us unwillingly spuriously again. History seems to have lost its purpose to us.

"We sympathise with both Chief Obasanjo and Senator Tinubu on the precarious situation of security. So do we with the chief executives at the various levels of Nigeria’s polity. We shudder at the presidential threat of invoking emergency powers on Lagos State, not only because we will all be herded back to bed at twilight but because Lagos State a very cosmopolitan state is a political replica of the old Western Region that had a taste of emergency in 1964 which the entire country is still smarting to recover from.

"Secondly, Lagos is the economic nerve centre of Nigeria, the economic gate way to Nigeria that needs to be kept open all the time for economic messages to be transmitted. Invoking emergency powers on Lagos because of the activities of unidentified hoodlums variously labelled "OPC" does not say much in favour of our newly establishing civilian governance. If Lagos State must go under in order to hound and cripple OPC only, we see a chain of mountains behind the hill.

"We do not condone the activities of some rascals on Lagos highways. What we are saying is let reason prevail over emotion generated through a stampede.

"We do not want to continue to believe that the presidential threat, utterances are an echo of the voice of Esau. Let no one stampede our hard working, well meaning President into a precipitate action whose effect may be very damaging as such previous action had been.

"The good people of this nation have been itching for a sovereign national conference to re-order our relationships and avoid emergency threats each time some rascals flex their muscles in our market squares.

"If emergency powers have not been involved in Zamfara for its constitutional confrontation now spreading like wildfire in the Northern part of this country, let no familiarity breed contempt in Lagos. Zamfara has exercised its desired concept of federalism by calling the shots on the Sharia issue, but Lagos State has not been able to exercise its own desire to provide constant supply of electricity for its own people at a cost to itself alone, because some well-placed personality in the corridor of power thinks civilised electricity now in Lagos will invite investors and investments to Lagos, increase factory productivity, provide employment and generally improve the quality of life and living in Lagos. These goodies are being obstructed for Lagos State unless these goodies conditionality also fall, like manna, on Sokoto, Kano, Abuja and Borno! At whose expense?

"Democracy is giving the people what they want no matter how wrong-headed they may be. Zamfara wanted Sharia; it has got Sharia that is democratic federalism. Lagos State wants civilised electricity now, let no one stand in the way of that. Denying the people of Lagos what they want and are prepared to pay for from their own resources is undemocratic, feudalistic and unfair.

"Let the standard be uniform. President Obasanjo, so far, has been fair to ALL. He should not allow himself to be stampeded and blackmailed to take an unnecessary and dangerous action against his own people. No one has been so patriotic or nationalistic as to totally forget his ethnic root. No one has ever been. No one can ever honestly be.

"Lagos State has a huge population and cannot be different from similar cities in any part of the world. But unlike such other cities, Lagos security outfits are grossly inadequate, poorly equipped and badly forgotten in the scheme of things. The Governor of Lagos State is hampered. He wanted adequate policing of Lagos State but his prepared method is being disdainfully treated. If Gov. Sani of Zamfara State wants Sharia to be protected and promoted in his own preferred way, will he be in the waiting lobby? The nation should be eternally thankful to Mr. Mike Okiro, the present Police Commissioner of Lagos State whose exertions have kept the state in one piece, though at a cost in blood. Let the nation encourage such officers by modernising the police. A state of emergency is a state of anger, anguish and tension not of peace, happiness, growth and progress."

The OPC President had strong supporters in the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) and the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) all of which in separate statements expressed concern over the threat of a state of emergency in the state issued by President Obasanjo.

The CLO said it was worried that the President "appears to be in a hurry to resort to authoritarian measures as reaction to every threat or perceived threat to national security."

Nothing should be done, it argued, to undermine the nascent democracy even when there is total breakdown or threats of a breakdown of law and order. Democracy can withstand a civil war, earthquake or any calamity of that nature. We must allow democracy to face a stiff test."

While urging political leaders to refrain from hobnobbing with "anarchic gangs across the country, "CLO alleged that President Obasanjo himself during the last election "sought the support of the OPC," saying, "it is ironic that he is now beating a tactical retreat and condemning the OPC."

The CDHR on its part admitted an increase in the spate of urban violence by ethnic militants throughout the country, but said "the fact must be established that the case of Lagos does not warrant the proclamation of a state of emergency as it cannot be treated as an isolated one.

It added:

"A state of emergency can only be declared when the situation has gone out of control and the situation in Lagos is not more than what relevant security agencies, including the police, if well equipped, can cope with. It can only be an appropriate measure where these agencies have failed - by implication, when it has degenerated into a war situation.

"No doubt, the sometimes unguided utterances of the President speaks of an impending doom and it is unfortunate that Gen. Obasanjo has not realised the fact that he is presiding over a civilian regime sustained by the sacrifices and votes of the people. It is necessary to point out that the Odi carnage would have been averted if the President had not misfired. Lagos must not become another Odi.

"Much as we oppose violence especially the criminal act of attacking law enforcement agents, the point must be made that individuals have the constitutional rights to associate freely and to deprive them of this inalienable right is to violate one of the most sacred instruments of governance. The President’s order to arrest any person "who parades himself as a member of the OPC or any similar body" will not guarantee any peace. Rather, it will only compound the problem as people will be forced to operate underground."

In its own reaction the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) said:

"Every now and then, President Obasanjo threatens a state of emergency whenever he feels the situation in a particular area is uncontrollable. He has just threatened to impose one in Lagos in the wake of the OPC/police face-off.

"The DSM condemns this unguarded threat just as it wishes to remind Nigerians that it was a similar arbitrary imposition of state of emergency in the old Western Region by the Balewa Government that invariably led to the collapse of the first republic and plunged the nation into a three-year civil war.

"We would like to warn the Obasanjo regime that in the final analysis a state of emergency will consume not only those it is targeted at but also its initiators as well. By ruling through martial law, the basis of the present civil rule will be eroded, thus gradually preparing the ground for another military intervention and the eventual death knell of the ‘fourth republic.’

"We in the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) will, in conjunction with trade unions, student unions and other organisations of the working people, mobilise to resist any attempt to attack and suppress our collective democratic rights which a state of emergency will amount to, under the guise of fighting OPC or terrorist groups.

"We wonder why the administration has not deemed it fit to declare a state of emergency to solve the problems of epileptic power supply, bad roads, corruption by its officials, collapsed health care, etc."

Vanguard Transmitted Wednesday, 19 January, 2000

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Obasanjo stresses essence of African economic integration

From Emeka Nwankpa, Abuja

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday reiterated the need for African countries to pursue economic integration, saying unless this is done, they would continue to be marginalised in the world economic order.

  Obasanjo, who met at the State House with members of the Association of African Central Banks also asked African countries to translate into reality the vision of the African Economic Community (AEC) ratified.

  According to him, the concept of an economic community embracing the entire continent would remain a pipe dream unless Africa’s political and economic leaders realised the imperatives of greater integration at the sub-regional and continental level towards working consistently for its attainment.

  He said concerted efforts should be made to strengthen the sub-regional economic groupings in Africa like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), South African Development Commission (SADC) and COMESA as a prelude to continental monetary and economic union.

  “We have to hold ourselves together at the sub-regional level before aspiring towards African regional integration,” he said.

  He noted that most of Africa’s political leaders were currently facing very difficult choices between the immediate needs of their long-suffering citizens and the pressure to open up their economies to the vagaries of market forces.

  The president, who also received a delegation of the Rotary International led by its world president, Mr Carlo Ravizza, urged Central Bank governors to offer more help to their political leaders.

  This, he said, can be done by proferring credible alternatives to the harsh realities of market forces in the short term to allow for a smoother transition from regulated economies to deregulation.

  President Obasanjo welcomed the decision of the association to rekindle the spirit of the Abuja Treaty and act more consciously in support of economic and monetary union of the continent.

  He praised the establishment of a special organ of the Association of African Central Banks comprising its president, vice president and sub-regional chair-persons which would meet more regularly to promote the cause of economic integration in the continent.

  The delegation was led by the Central Bank’s Governor, Chief Joseph Sanusi which included Central Bank governors from the continent’s various sub-regions.

  At the brief forum with members of the Rotary International where the president was presented a plaque showing him as a Polio Eradication Champion, he charged the organisation and other voluntary humanitarian organisations to collaborate with research institutes and pharmaceutical companies to address malaria eradication which he said had continued to threaten the populations of many countries, including Nigeria.

  He thanked the visiting World Rotary president, who was accompanied by his wife and district governors of Rotary in the country, on behalf of all Nigerian children who, he said, had been saved from being crippled by polio.

  Mr. Ravissa thanked the president for giving official support to polio eradication, saying his organisation was particularly appreciative of the pledge made last year by the president that the government would provide the shortfall of funds required to achieve the immunisation of all Nigerian children against the disease.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Police admit 53 OPC attacks

By Emma Nnadozie, Kenneth Ehigiator, Kingsley Opara, Onyebuchi Okenyia & Orakwe Benedeth

THE Police said yesterday in Lagos that no fewer than 53 attacks were launched by members of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) in the last one year in different parts of the state.

The organisation has been blamed for much of the violence in the state with President Olusegun Obasanjo threatening last week to declare a state of emergency in the state over the group’s activities.

But the State’s Council of Obas, reacting to the threat yesterday, said no to any such declaration.

Addressing newsmen in Ikeja, the state’s Police Commissioner, Mr. Mike Okiro said between January 1, 1999 and now at least five policemen had lost their lives in OPC’s attack.

Giving a breakdown of the attacks, the Police Commissioner said OPC members burnt down the Alakara Police Station on March 2, 1999, during which four vehicles were burnt including the DPO’s vehicle and that of state CID, Panti.

He said: "All documents and exhibits were totally conflagrated while one Inspector Michael Dada was hacked to death while ASP Thompson Joseph was seriously injured and others managed to escape.

"On January 12, 1999, an Air Force personnel, Sgt. Oyebanji attached to an Operation Sweep vehicle with identification number 590 arrested a boy and a group of youths who called themselves OPC attacked the station and in the process, the windscreens of exhibit vehicles were broken. Eventually, the boy escaped.

"On June 20, 1999, Mary Olowo and Bridget Onoja both attached to MTD Mushin Division were attacked on duty at Atewolara junction by one Fatai Ejalonisa who abandoned his OPC identity card at the scene while an OPC faction led by Gani Adams invaded Best Hope Hospital owned by Dr. Fasehun on December 14, 1999 and set ablaze a Toyota Hiace bus used as an ambulance. A sizeable part of the hospital building was burnt and louvre glasses and the glasses of a Peugeot 505 saloon car broken."

Mr. Okiro also said a group of OPC members besieged and attacked Good-day Hotel in the guise of hunting for armed robbers on December 13, last year and carried out an extensive damage on the premises while most of the lodgers received matchet cuts. Some of the girls were raped while most of the hotel’s properties including television sets were stolen.

"A group of youngmen who claimed to be OPC members shot one Michael Nnana on his right leg when he was with some people along Ago Palace Way, Okota conveying some bags of rice to Ikotun."

The police boss also narrated how OPC attacked AP Filling Station in Okota where they bought fuel worth N900 and refused to pay.

"Another group believed to be Gani Adams faction descended on Akala area and set ablaze about 12 houses, four people were killed and burnt beyond recognition while a sizeable majority of people were seriously injured.

"On September 9, 1999, one Sergeant Stephen Igiesere with Force Number 138109 was attacked by some persons highly suspected to be OPC members at Apapa Wharf while his light assault rifle with number 1693062 and five rounds of ammunition was snatched from him. The incident left 16 persons dead and several persons injured."

The police boss said no fewer than 10 persons including policemen suffered acid attacks while unknown number of persons lost their lives during attacks by members of OPC in different locations in Lagos.

"In all these skirmishes, about 500 suspects were arrested for offences ranging from murder, arson to acid attacks. Their attacks cut across the society.

"No government can allow that any longer. It is like sustaining anarchy. Democracy doesn’t mean anarchy. It does not mean lawlessness. It means rule of law.

"There is a demarcation between OPC and armed robbers. Where there is robbery going on, we know they are robbers. I know it is possible for some hoodlums to masquerade under the banner of OPC. There is no way we can gather 60 robbers at a time.

"If we have such large number, we know they are OPC and moreover they normally confess.

"We have been allowing reason to prevails. Now, it is a different ball game. If you are armed and confronted, fight back. That is the order I have given to all policemen in the state. Never again will anybody snatch a policeman’s rifle and get away with it, unless there are no more police in Lagos," he stated.

Speaking later on AIT, Mr. Okiro said there was no need for a state of emergency now in Lagos as the police were capable of dealing with the current security situation.

* Obas say no to state of emergency

Obas in Lagos State, rising from a meeting with Gov. Bola Tinubu yesterday kicked against President Obasanjo’s threat on the declaration of a state of emergency because as their spokesman, and Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Salawudeen Oyefusi said "two wrongs do not make a right.

He said: "We recall that the problem of the First Republic started in the Western Region which later snowballed into a major crisis that was uncontrollable.

"We don’t think we can afford a recurrence of that within this democratic dispensation.

"We must be mindful of the fact that Lagos is the hub of the nation’s economic activities and everybody’s interest in Nigeria is represented in Lagos. In fact, what affects Lagos State affects Nigeria and we should realise that we have a lot of enemies around."

The royal fathers appealed to the governor to give them time to ponder over the situation to enable them make suggestions that could be of use to the state concerning the issue at hand, and pledged to take advantage of the position of the Inspector-General of Police as a Lagos indigene to liaise with him with a view to providing a lasting solution to the security problems in the state.

The Obas urged Gov. Tinubu to "cease fire" and allow them to come up with useful suggestions that could help to douse the present tension.

Addressing the Obas earlier, Gov. Bola Tinubu had appealed to them to bear with him, since there was no consultation with them before he responded to the President’s letter conveying the emergency threat.

"The reaction from the Federal Government was too sudden, hence I couldn’t discuss with you, but I had to make a swift and democratic response," he said.

The governor said he did not believe that the OPC alone was responsible for all the violent outbreaks in Lagos, adding that they would not have been killing Yoruba, since they claimed to be protecting Yoruba and their interests.

According to him, "there are agents, criminals who want to destabilise Nigeria. It should interest the President."

Gov. Tinubu explained that what the promoters of the violence were out to achieve was to scare away foreign investments from the country, taking cognisance of the fact that its population alone which can create a big market could attract foreign investors.

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

OPC chieftain alleges plan to unseat Obasanjo

From Abiodun Fagbemi,Ilorin

THE Kwara State coordinator of O’odua People’s Congress (OPC), Alhaji Abdulkarim Olola Kasum has alleged plans by some northern politicians to unseat President Olusegun Obasanjo, by luring him into making unpopular decisions.

  According to him, the moves among others include; alleged ploy to set Yoruba leaders against themselves through causing divisions within the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the alleged plan to influence the president into declaring a state of emergency in Lagos.

  Kasum said yesterday in Ilorin that the alleged plot if not redressed could truncate the nation’s nascent democracy.

  “As part of the grand plan to unseat President Obasanjo, the northern politicians have packaged an integrated programme of action that will set his (Obasanjo’s) ethnic constituency ablaze, which will later on engulf the entire nation and thereby pave way for his impeachment.

  “AD an apparent Yoruba party is ripped into two factions today by the northern leaders while OPC leadership is set against itself. Besides, we are aware of another move to put both Obasanjo and the governor of Lagos State on head-long collision”.

  Warning the president against conceding to policies that could make him unpopular, Kasum, who is also the president of Afonja Descendants Union (ADU), said the best catalyst that could facilitate his impeachment was to negate the interest of the Yoruba.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Lagos Monarchs Rejects Emergency Rule

By Lekan Sanni, Staff Reporter

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo should beware of the consequences of an emergency rule declaration over a legally constituted authority, as it may boomerang on its initiator, Lagos State traditional rulers warned yesterday.

  Citing the First Republic when a similar rule was declared over the defunct Western Region, which eventually led to the truncation of democratic rule, they expressed support for Lagos Governor Bola Tinubu in arresting the rising wave of ethnic violence in the state.

  The monarchs led by the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, vice chairman of the Council of Obas and Chiefs, Oba Salau Oyefusi rejected the threat issued by Obasanjo over the violent activities of Oodua People’s Congress (OPC).

  They had earlier been briefed by the governor, who told them that the letter from Obasanjo was premature. According to Tinubu, there was no formal discussion between him and the president on the alleged atrocities of the OPC in the state before the threat came.

  He said: “The reaction from the Federal Government was too sudden, hence I could not discuss with you (Obas) but I had to make a swift and democratic response.”

  Tinubu said he did not believe that OPC alone was responsible for the violent killings in the state, otherwise they would not be killing fellow Yoruba.

  He suspected “infiltrators and agents” who were bent on destabilising the country.

  Oba Oyefusi said the monarchs opposed Obasanjo’s threat because two wrongs could not make a right.

  He said: “We recall that the problem of the First Republic started in the Western Region which later snowballed into a major crisis that was uncontrollable.

  “We don’t think we can afford a recurrence of that within this democratic dispensation.”

  According to him, Lagos is grossly under-policed and the status of the state as the commercial nerve centre of the country makes it imperative for the Federal Government to pay more attention to its security.

  He acknowledged efforts by the state to arrest the worsening security situation and urged Tinubu to grant the monarchs time to ponder over the problem and come out with useful suggestions.

  Oba Oyefusi also promised to get in touch with Police Inspector-General Musiliu Smith, who is an indigene of the state, with a view to finding lasting solutions to the problem.

  He, however, called for dialogue over the crisis, noting that whatever is put on paper can not be easily erased.

  “We must be careful and note that Lagos is the economic capital of this country. Some people may be planning to destabilise Lagos, but such people should realise that what affect Lagos affects Nigeria,” he added.

  The monarch said the worsening security situation in the state affects his domain, adding: “I have led delegations to the presidency in the past to protest that Lagos State is marginalised.

  “We’ll go back to do more spade works, realising that we are in the midst of enemies. We’ll give this matter the urgency it deserves.

  “Lagos State is under-policed. I am complaining in Ikorodu too. Whenever there is any attack, we phone and they (police) say ‘bring your vehicle so that we can act.”

  Leaders and deputy leaders of the 20 local councils in the state also yesterday condemned the emergency rule threat.

  The legislators, at a press briefing, said there was no basis for it, more so when states like Kwara and Kano had in the past witnessed crises, like burning of churches and rioting.

  Their chairman, Ololade Shonibare said that the situation in the state had not degenerated to the level Obasanjo was talking about, as only three out of the 245 wards in the state had been affected by the clashes.

  “We also believe that declaring a state of emergency in Lagos State is counter-productive and can lead to a derailment of the nascent democracy in Nigeria,” they added.

  Shonibare, however, upbraided the OPC over the violent clashes, pledging that as grassroots leaders, they had resolved to go to their various wards to sue for peace.

Vanguard Transmitted Wednesday, 19 January, 2000

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

Ex-military chiefs will resist coups, says Ajiborisa

From Seun Adeoye, Osogbo

RETIRED military  officers will lead Nigerians to revolt against any future coup in the country, pioneer Osun State Governor and former Principal Staff Officer (PSO) to the late Gen. Sani Abacha, Maj. Gen. Leo Ajiborisa said yesterday.

  Speaking at a special interview organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in the state, he noted that military rule had cut down many officers in their prime.

  He queried: “What is it that they (military) want to do? Which solution do they want to proffer to the national problem that the military didn’t provide in more than 30 years of their rule? What their seniors did and failed how can they do it and succeed?”

  To him, any coup against the current dispensation would be “destructive” and “some of “ us will be the first that will come out and fight them.”

  He added: “If you don’t know, let me tell you, it was military incursion into politics that has affected some of us. It was my three months sojourn in Osun State that affected me, even though I left the Army after 32 years. So why should adventurists want to put other young boys into trouble?”

  Ajiborisa canvassed that the military be re-trained given the spate of criticisms against it by Nigerians.


  While asking the citizenry to be patient with the civilian government since six months was too short to transform the country, he told advocates of true federation to take bold steps to realise their objective “instead of just making noise about it.”

  He also supported the ongoing trial of some military men over alleged grievious sins in the past. “And I want to say that what happened in the country since 1993 was a spiritual lesson for all Nigerians.”

   He also explained why huge sums of money were spent in the last months of Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar’s administration.

  The administration was accused of spending more than N800 billion between January and May last year, in excess of the projected expenditure of N84 billion in the budget.

  Ajiborisa said: “All I know was that some of the approvals were dated back to August1998 submitted by various ministries. And these went through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Ministry of Finance.”

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Wednesday, January 19, 2000

NDDC bill: Imo youths seize oil wells

From Chukwujekwu Ilozue (Owerri) and Adamu Abuh (Abuja)

YOUTHS in Imo State oil producing councils of Oguta and Ohaji/Egbema seized some installations yesterday to press for inclusion in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) bill, which had its third reading at a  packed House of Representatives session in Abuja.

  Installations at Izombe, Oguta and Egbema were taken over by the angry youths who sacked workers and sat in on the facilities. They chanted war songs and displayed placards, some of which read: “No Imo in core Niger Delta, no NDDC” and “No production until Imo is in Niger Delta.”

  But the representatives, at yesterday’s session presided over by the Speaker, Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’abba, delineated between the Niger Delta and Oil Mineral Producing Areas. Consequently, the proposed bill is designated the Niger Delta and Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission Bill.

  There are differences between the Senate and House of Representatives on crucial aspects of the bill, which is expected to be reconciled by a joint conference of the chambers before the document is returned for President Olusegun Obasanjo’s full assent.

  One area of disagreement is the location of the proposed commission’s headquarters. While the House endorses Port Harcourt as proposed by President Obasanjo, the Senate prefers Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.

  Another contentious issue is which states to be embraced by the proposed commission. The House of Representatives delineates Bayelsa, Delta, Rivers as well as Akwa Ibom  as core Niger Delta states, and Abia, Imo, Cross River, Edo and Ondo as oil mineral producing states.

  All designated states are, however, to be included in the proposed commission, guaranteeing them slots on its governing board. Besides, by the representatives’ calculations, the headship of the commission is to rotate among the member, states in alphabetical order.

  Youths who seized installations yesterday said they were protesting the possible marginalisation of Imo State in the proposed commission.

  At Izombe flow stations run by Chevron and Addax oil companies, spokesmen for the protesters, Mr. Igbonezie Henry and Mr. Obioma Echeforochi complained to journalists that oil had been drilled in the area since 1972. They alleged that with an output of about 40,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd), the area had little to show in recompense for the attendant environmental degradation.

  At the Oguta Gas Injection Plant which produces about 60,000 bpd at Afiafo, a spokesman, Mr. Obinna Ofili took journalists round shanty houses opposite the plant to illustrate the poverty and penury of inhabitants.

  As protesters surged towards the plant, the workers - mainly Europeans - fled the area in their cars.

  A leader in the area and assistant national secretary of Oguta National Development Union, Mr. Joseph Uzoka, declared that youths were determined to prevent further exploitation of oil and gas in the area.

  Incidentally, the plant and Izombe are two areas where gas flaring persists, polluting the environment. Afiafo has about 70 oil wells.

  Also at Ohaji/Egbema, the youths blocked the Owerri-Port Harcourt highway and disrupted traffic for hours.

  But a legislator on the All People’s Party (APP) platform, Hon. Gerald Irona, representing Oguta, prevailed on the youth, not to be violent as all hopes are not lost.

  Irona later told the press that the exclusion of Imo from Niger Delta core states by the House of Representatives was wrong. He said the oil producing communities were shocked when they heard they were not included in the proposed NDDC while their kith and kin in other states are there.

  He warned that if the state was not included in NDDC, community leaders would not be able to guarantee the safety of staff and machinery at oil installations in the areas. “Imo should as a matter of rights be included in the NDDC”, Irona added.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Wednesday, January 19, 2000

New terms delay Nigeria-U.S. air link

By Sola Dixon,Aviation Reporter

AVIATION authorities in the United States have listed fresh hurdles against effecting last month’s removal of the six-year-old ban on air link with Nigeria. And by the new terms, the coast may not be clear for a direct flight between Lagos and New York before April.

  The American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), in a recent letter to Director of Operations, Nigeria Airways, Captain Wilson Atabo, said there was need for Nigerian authorities to comply with what it called the IASA programme before the national carrier can resume direct flights to New York.

  In the view of the Department of Transport (DOT), a major problem is with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), which it considers lack qualified personnel to inspect the type of aircraft Nigeria Airways operates.

  The latest letter by FAA’s Evelyn D. Sahr, titled “Re:Nigeria-U.S. Operations C&F Ref. 27283, followed a recent trip of a Nigerian delegation to the United States to discuss with aviation authorities on immediate resumption of Airways’ flights to New York.

  In the correspondence, Sahr spoke of “the necessity for Government of Nigeria to comply with the FAA’s IASA programme”.

  The American official explained: “The IASA programme is an assessment by the FAA of a foreign country’s ability through its civil aviation authority, not the individual air carriers ability to adhere to international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance established by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).”

  In conducting the IASA programme test, FAA said it would assess the comprehensive list of indices pertaining to a foreign civil aviation authority’s adherence to ICAO standards.

  The check list of items include existence of regulatory legislation, existence of advisory documentation, existence of experienced airworthiness staff, issuance and enforcement of airworthiness directives, minimum equipment lists, investigation of service difficulty reports, existence of adequate technical data and existence of Air Operator’s Certification (AOC) systems.

  Others are existence of adequately trained flight operations inspectors with type ratings, existence of updated company manuals for use by airmen, existence of adequate proficiency checks procedures, and existence of adequately trained cabin attendants.

  Sahr’s letter indicated that last month an official named Astre accompanied a United States government delegation to Lagos to conduct preliminary assessment of the NCAA. He reportedly concluded that NCAA would not pass a formal IASA assessment as it is currently constituted.

  According to the letter, the said official did not specifically identify shortfalls of NCAA, “in as much as he claims this information was provided in detail to the relevant Nigerian government official as part of government-to-government discussion”. The shortfalls, FAA noted, have nothing to do with Nigeria Airways.

  “We were advised, however, that a major problem with Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority is the lack of qualified personnel, particularly inspectors qualified to inspect the type of aircraft Nigeria Airways operates. Mr. Astre advised that until such individuals are retained, the FAA would not rate the government of Nigeria as having an acceptable level of safety oversight, and accordingly would notify DOT that economic authority should not be awarded to Nigeria Airways,” the letter added.

  Dated January 7, this year - barely 12 days after U.S. Secretary of Transport Rodney Slatter pronounced the six-year-old ban on air link lifted, the letter said in event the NCAA initiates the changes required, FAA would be in a position to perform a formal IASA inspection in Lagos between 30 and 60 days of its being so informed by the relevant Nigerian government officials.

  “It is critical to the resumption of service by Nigeria Airways that the NCAA resolved the various safety issues the FAA has raised. Nigeria Airways will not be permitted to fly to the U.S. until this is accomplished,” the letter stated.

  The American agency advised Airways to “liaise with NCAA as necessary, so as to assist in prompt resolution of the IASA safety issue”.

  Aviation Minister Olusegun Agagu had, while explaining background to the air ban removal in December, last year, said the masseur was “unconditional”.

  When contacted on the latest position of the FAA, the Director-General of the nascent NCAA, Mr. Zakari Haruna, an aeronautical engineer, said the agency was liaising with Nigeria Airways towards meeting the FAA requirements.

  Haruna, while refraining to pin the latest U.S. stance to political motives, recalled that prior to the air ban removal last month, the former Federal Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA) inspected existing Airways’ fleet for airworthiness; and that the agency’s officials were in New York for talks with American officials. He wondered why it is now that the FAA considers its Nigerian counterpart not adequately equipped to inspect Airways’ type of aircraft.

  According to him, NCAA, which is an offshoot of the former Directorate of Safety Regulations and Monitoring and Directorate of Economic Regulations and Monitoring (DSRAM and DERAM), is already undergoing safety oversight assessment of ICAO.

  “This issue came up at the 32nd Assembly of ICAO as to whether another country has the right to undertake an independent assessment, and it was agreed that because of sovereignty, they can be allowed. But ICAO as the apex body can call them to order if they are too overbearing,” Haruna explained.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Jan. 18, 2000


Northern MPs back Obasanjo

By Taiye Obateru, Jos & Ben Agande, Abuja

NORTHERN senators and influential Group 14 (G-14) of the House of Representatives have expressed support for President Olusegun Obasanjo over his threat to declare a state of emergency in Lagos State should the current wave of violence in the state fail to abate.

But human rights group, Campaign for Democracy (CD), and the Oodua Youth Movement (OYM) want President Olusegun Obasanjo to first address the causes of the various crises in the country before threatening the people with a state of emergency.

The senators at a meeting of the Northern Senators Forum in Jos, weekend, said they were solidly behind the President in declaring a state of emergency in Lagos State should violence persist there.

They also urged the Federal Government to flood Lagos with well-equipped law enforcement agents with a view to checking what they called terrorism, and the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) which they dismissed a terrorist group.

Besides, they passed a vote of no confidence in the Police Affairs Administration, and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Musiliu Smith for the inability of the police to combat crime in various parts of the country, especially the alleged involvement of some policemen in crime.

The forum in a communiqué read to newsmen yesterday by its chairman, Prof. Iya Abubakar said:

"In spite of the provision of the sum of N2.5 billion to the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in the Supplementary Appropriation Act 1999 for the purchase of motor vehicles and equipment for Abuja and Lagos, the crime rate in these cities rather than reduce has in fact escalated.

"Of great concern are the frequent allegations of linkage of serving police personnel with these crimes. Further allegations of non-payment of salaries of the police for months on end have continued unabated. We are strongly of the view that the Honourable Minister for Police Affairs and the Inspector-General of Police have clearly failed the nation and as a matter of honour, should resign their appointments with immediate effect."

The Northern senators also decried alleged "selective compliance with the 1999 Supplementary Appropriation Act by the President which has adversely affected the socio-economic life of not only our electorate but indeed the entire country."

They re-affirmed Senate’s earlier stand on the issue and resolved to reserve further response until the committee set up to meet with the President during their recess reported back to the Senate.

Similarly, they were unhappy about what they called "lopsided and unfair manner of appointments into key offices of government in favour of some particular sections of the country since the advent of this administration to which they said had continued despite the outcry from other parts."

The senators accused the Federal Government of intransigence over the matter and urged it to respect the principle of federal character in all its appointments, which they saw as the best way to address cries of marginalisation from parts of the country.

The educational backwardness in the North also engaged the attention of the forum with members calling on governors of the Northern states to give priority attention to primary and secondary education with emphasis on science and technology.

On the planned deregulation of the petroleum sector, the forum described it as ill-timed and insensitive to the feeling of Nigerians saying "government should first introduce programmes geared towards poverty alleviation before saddling Nigerians with another round of increases in the price of petroleum products."


lG-14 also supports Obasanjo

The G-14 of the House of Representatives on its part said President Obasanjo’s threat to declare a state of emergency in Lagos State was in order "if that is the only option to restore law and order in Lagos."

In a statement in Abuja, spokesman for the group, Mr. Chidi Duru said:

"Given the state of lawlessness and disorderliness OPC activities have thrown the nation into and the urgent need to restore peace and tranquillity in Lagos, G-14 caucus is inclined to believe that President Obasanjo’s plan to declare a state of emergency in Lagos is in order if that is the only option to restore law and order in Lagos."

Gov. Bola Tinubu according to the group, "is incapable of ensuring adequate security in Lagos as he is unable to guarantee his own security given the attack he suffered recently.

"Gov. Tinubu should therefore allow the Federal Government and the Inspector-General of Police, to move in for the restoration of law and order," it added.

While urging the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Musiliu Smith to take personal interest in what is happening in Lagos, the G-14 caucus observed that the "invincibility theory built around the OPC is imagined rather than real as the group’s activities are within the range that police can checkmate.

"It is inconceivable that despite the existence of several law enforcement agencies, OPC’s nightmarish activities have continued unabated. We expect prompt and decisive steps to check OPC as any further delay would compel us to believe that this deviant group is backed by some powerful elements in Nigeria," the group said.


lCD says no to state of emergency

However, human rights group, CD in a statement signed yesterday by Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti decried what it called President Obasanjo’s incessant threats to "impose state of emergency on different parts of Nigeria while ignoring the causes of disquiet and crises all over the country."

Its words:

"It must be highlighted again that Nigeria is meant to be a federal state. This should not allow the head of the Federal Government to address and treat the heads of state governments as if they are his house-boys. Irrespective of the labelling of state governors as chief security officers by the illegitimate Abubakar 1999 Constitution, the fact still remains that the police and other security officers are in the firm control of Gen. Obasanjo. Therefore, any breakdown of law and order in any part of the country must be firmly placed at his doorsteps. If he then wants to solve every disturbance the Odi way, we wish him luck.

"The point has to be made that blaming the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), just as NADECO was blamed in its hey days, will not solve the intrinsic problems of the country. We note that the OPC was described by Gen. Obasanjo as ‘illegal’ and we would like to be educated on how he arrived at this label or is it just at his say so? The OPC cannot be banned because all international human rights instruments including the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and even the illegitimate Abubakar Constitution guarantee the rights of people to freely associate. Any individual or group that breaks the law must be apprehended and taken through the due processes of the law before sanctions can be applied. Ordering people to be shot at sight and labelling groups as criminal or illegal are all a throw-back to the military culture.

"It is only common sense that people cannot live together in peace and prosperity unless the conditions under which they co-exist is mutually agreed. The peoples of Nigeria have demanded a restructured polity, true federalism, fiscal federalism and a more equitable revenue allocation amongst other matters. All these and more must be agreed at a national conference which shall be sovereign to the extent that what is agreed will not be subject to anyone or any group’s veto or amendment. It was the refusal of the infamous late Gen. Abacha to state categorically that his constitutional conference was sovereign that led to its boycott. It is also the insistence of a particular group in this country to hold everyone down on their own terms that makes it necessary for them to perpetuate military rule and to impose their own constitution on the whole country.

"Until people are allowed to freely negotiate the terms of their mutual co-existence, Gen. Obasanjo can continue to declare his states of emergency in different parts of the country and Nigerian people will still feel dissatisfied. We call on Gen. Obasanjo to desist from his ineffective Constitution Review Committee as a means of writing a new constitution. The transition programme that threw up the parties was fraudulent and flawed as is amply demonstrated by the incessant crises in these parties. The elections that threw up those who claim to be the representatives of the people were also deemed to be fraudulent by both the international and local observers.

"As a first step to arresting the ongoing unrest in the country, the control of the police and other law enforcement agencies should be handed over to the state governors so that they can rapidly respond to the security needs in their states."


*Oodua Youths Movement, too

The OYM rising from an emergency meeting of its National Executive Council (NEC) in Ibadan deployed "the dictatorial threat" of President Obasanjo to "clamp down on OPC and other similar organisations as contained in his highly insultive letter to the democratically elected Gov. Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Lagos State."

It added: "President Obasanjo must be reminded that his occupation of the Presidency was borne out of the genuine and selfless struggle of the pro-democracy organisations, human rights groups and the agitation of the Yoruba self-determination groups in particular, and not by his coterie of advisers who were sit-down lookers and collaborators with the late dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha."

Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, 18 January, 2000


Tuesday, 18 January 2000

Ijaw youths pledge to end violence in Niger Delta

From Chido Okafor, Warri

PEACE may soon return to the restive Niger Delta as militant Ijaw youths from over 12 groups yesterday promised an end to hostage taking, abduction and piracy.

The youths who were brought together by the Ijaw National Congress (INC) western zone, led by Alaowei Broderick Bozimo made a pledge to end all forms of criminal conduct which had made the area a flashpoint of crises.

In demonstration of their determination to pursue the path of peace, vigilance groups to patrol the waterways in search of pirates and others who vandalise oil installations have been raised while a peace rally is to hold next week at Burutu, Delta State.

According to Bozimo, who is a lawyer, the youths have decided to embrace peace since the Federal Government has promised to develop the Niger Delta. "We don't want the development initiative to be jettisoned by allegations of youth militancy. That is why the youths have decided to call it quits with militancy."

He added: "I wish to state that the criminal activities of hostage taking, hijacking, abduction and piracy were never part of the struggle for justice, equity and fair play by the INC. These criminal acts can not by any stretch of the imagination be ascribed to any one tribe alone.

"Entrapped in years of socio-economic malaise, ecological degradation and deprivation, the Nigerian state expected that the Ijaw nation protest, but what began as a legitimate protest has been marred by abuses," he said.

Describing the peace move as auspicious and necessary, Bozimo said the INC "through the instrumentality of the various youths organisations in Ijawland are committed to putting in place structures to arrest once and for all this unacceptable drift towards total anarchy so that an atmosphere of stability can reign."

The peace move, he said, would promote economic and social development of the Niger Delta as promised by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, 18 January 2000

Northern AD indicts govt over ethnic conflicts

From Saxone Akhaine (Kaduna) and Iyabo Sotunde (Ibadan)

THE Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the north has blamed the rising ethnic tension and conflicts in the country, especially in Lagos State on the Federal Government.

It accused the government of not doing enough to curb the crisis which it said, could derail the country's fledgling democracy.

In a joint statement by the its national vice chairman, (north), Mr. Yunana Shibkau and the publicity secretary of the Kaduna State chapter, Mallam Umar Farouk, they said "the alarming rate of insecurity due to the destructive activities of militant ethnic groups which presently constitute threat to law and order nationwide calls for drastic measures".

Blaming government for the ethnic uprisings, they said government has the onerous responsibility "to exercise the means of controlling violence, to guarantee peace, stability for the preservation of our young democracy".

The AD stalwarts noted the general consensus among Nigerians, calling for measures to counter the prevailing excesses of the various militant ethnic groups springing up nation-wide.

While faulting President Olusegun Obasanjo's statement, accusing Governor Bola Tinubu of treating the militant Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) with kid gloves, especially with reference to last week's killing of the Divisional Police Officer of Bariga Police Station in Lagos State, Mr. Afolabi Amao by people suspected to be members of the OPC, the statement said: "These recurring acts of lawlessness and insecurity were not only recorded in Governor Tinubu's domain alone. But also in other parts of the country," citing similar incidents at Shagamu (Ogun), Kano, Odi (Bayelsa) and Kwara states.

Besides, it cited the "constitutional problem that Obasanjo is grappling with, over the introduction of {sharia} in some parts of the northern states," saying "all these signify that the government is not in control."

It argued further that since Tinubu is not directly in control of the police force which should adequately curb the OPC-inspired crisis in the state, "he cannot be held responsible for the security lapses recorded in Lagos."

Also, the party's publicity secretary, Rev. Manzu Abubakar exonerated the governor from blame over the crisis, saying: "Tinubu must not be made a scapegoat irrespective of security threat in the state."

"It is not for the president to now look for a scapegoat out of Tinubu who has given police from the state's scarce resources to help them discharge their prescribed functions. It is for the president to re-examine the force, abrogate the breaches that are there and see how we can have an outfit that would live up to its billings," he said, yesterday in Ibadan after commiserating with the family of the late activist, Mr. Ola Oni.

But the National Youth Movement of Nigeria (NYMN) alleged that recent utterances about OPC by Tinubu had encouraged the group to perpetrate its criminal activities.

"We want to emphasise here categorically that the western region which has their son as the president of this country should strive hard to do something about the OPC militants who have constituted themselves into a criminal group," the movement said yesterday in Kaduna.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Tuesday, 18 January 2000

George urges Obasanjo, Yoruba leaders to check OPC

By Priscillia Nwankwo

NATIONAL Vice-Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), South West, Commodore Olabode George (rtd) has urged an immediate end to the activities of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC).

At a meeting of the South-West Zonal Working Committee of the party in Lagos yesterday, George asked President Olusegun Obasanjo and Yoruba leaders "to do something very fast" because "our culture abhors killing".

He said: "All the atrocities that Oodua People's Congress (OPC) are committing must stop. Our culture abhors killing any human being, more so our kith and kin.

"The only way to terminate this evil is for Mr. President to do something fast about this development. If they want to condemn OPC let them do so because something nasty and stupid is happening to our states."

Stating that the Yorubas are noted for commerce, education, agriculture and civility and not destruction and uncouth behaviour, the PDP chieftain asked Nigerians to give government the necessary information to enable it end the negative aspects of the OPC's activities.

"People must give proper information. All this is the handiwork of some devil incarnates that have suddenly descended on our communities, the young and old must come out and fight this murderous cancer that is ravaging our community," he said.

George advised the Yoruba to seize the opportunity of having their kinsman as the nation's president to deliver themselves "from the clutches of poverty. "We must count ourselves lucky in this zone to have been able to produce an eminent son in the person of President Olusegun who is leading the greatest country in the black world in this new millennium and in this golden year 2000."

He added: "About 40 years ago, the South West zone known as Western Region was the beacon of light not only in Nigeria but in Africa in the areas of agricultural development, education, economic and social infrastructural development.

"The zone owes its people the obligation to bring back this glory of yester-years.

"We must re-engineer our plans and objectives in the national polity so as to bring employment opportunities to our teeming millions of youths who are jobless. We have to regroup and unite to lift up our zone in the positive direction, in order to give proud legacies to our generation and the future ones. We should eschew bitterness, and rancour among ourselves especially over sharing of political positions. If we remain united, we will remain strong and the wolves from wherever will not be able to penetrate our fold."

Internal Affairs Minister, Chief S.M. Afolabi who indicated he is determined to control "this conflict in our states," noted that "many people lost their lives because of this OPC people. Some were bathed with acid. We are living in danger. We have to unite and lift democracy", he said.

His Information counterpart, Chief Dapo Sarumi, said "the OPC must be condemned in our community or state."

Blaming the mayhems perpetrated by the group on idleness, Sarumi said: "We have to do something about it to make some jobless youths in our states to have something doing.

"We must think what to do for oppressed ones. Democracy is not democracy if there is no disagreement. We have to barnish poverty and ensure peace in our nation", he noted.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Tuesday, 18 January 2000

Police charge 91 suspected OPC members with murder

By Sylvester Ebohdaghe

NINETY-ONE persons suspected to be members of the Oodua Peoples' Congress (OPC) were yesterday arraigned at the Ebute Metta Magistrate Court, Lagos over last Sunday's killing of Divisional Police Officer (DPO) Afolabi Amao.

The suspects were charged with conspiracy, murder, acid-bath and stealing of fire arms. They were, however, remanded in prison custody, pending the advice of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

The suspects, both male and female, were taken to court under tight security. Plain-clothes and anti-riot mobile policemen, heavily armed, cordoned off the area to forestall attacks.

The Chief Magistrate, Mrs. J. Oshinowo, refused them bail.

The male suspects were then taken to Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, while the females were taken to Ikoyi Prison. The case was adjourned to February 28.

Amao, a Superintendent of Police (SP) was allegedly abducted and subsequently murdered and his body thrown into the Lagos lagoon, last Sunday, by a group suspected to be members of OPC, Ganiyu Adams' faction.

Some police who were at the Bariga police station when the group struck, were also reportedly bathed with acid. The station was vandalised and firearms stolen.

But the body of the late Amao is yet to be recovered despite frantic searches by police.

The police have combed the lagoon with helicopters, marine boats and divers without finding Amao's body.

However, a body which fished out of the lagoon yesterday by police divers would not be identified by the late officer's family as his.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, 18 January 2000

Govt takes over Sani Abacha Foundation

From Arthur Obayuwana, Abuja

GOVERNMENT formally took over the Sani Abacha Foundation For Peace and Unity (SAFPU) yesterday and renamed it the Institute for Conflict Resolution, Abuja.

Integration and Cooperation in Africa Minister Jerry Gana received handing over notes from the foundation's director of programmes, Idi Faruk.

Other instruments transferred to government yesterday included title documents and a list its facilities, assets and personnel.

The 6772.89 square metres complex, located at Plot 496, Central Business District was declared open in November 1997.

Yesterday's take-over exclusively reported by The Guardian late last year, is to give the foundation new impetus and a more focused approach to studies in conflict resolution and peaceful coexistence.

Gana said the N500 million complex would not be steered along old lines, but re-energised as a "centre of excellence in peace studies and its promotion and well rounded research in conflict resolution."

He added: "We will make better use of facilities here for the promotion of peace and stability in Africa through conflict resolution. There is going to be precipitate research so that when Nigeria is intervening through peace keeping forces, we will be doing so with knowledge, so that we do not do it blindly and even aggravate the problem."

He assured the over 40 workers "who are willing and able to continue in the excellent work" of their job security. He said: "You do not have to pack and go. We will maintain this place well so that the whole of Africa will benefit from the vision of setting it up."

Faruk told reporters shortly after a closed-door meeting with the minister that dwindling funds for the maintenance of the foundation necessitated the handing over.

He, however, maintained that the complex was never owned by the late military ruler. He said: "From day one, it was a public trust. No one could have owned it."

Asked whether he contacted the general's family when maintenance funds were dwindling, he said:"I couldn't do that. It was just named after him. You know the concept had its roots in Not in our Character. It is the nature of foundations. Right now, President Olusegun Obasanjo has one being named after him somewhere in Abuja here. It is the fashion. It only became difficult to maintain this place with Abacha's name after the man died....."

He also denied that Lt-Gen. Jeremiah Useni, who until yesterday chaired its board of trustees, had been providing funds for its sustenance following Abacha's death, saying: "No kobo was received from Abacha's government to set up the place. Only donations from government agencies and the other donations."

He had earlier told the minister that the foundation had good working relations and research collaboration with a number of Nigerian academic institutions, including the Centre for Peace, Research and Conflict Resolution of the War College, Abuja.

He said plans had also reached an advanced stage to establish a master's degree programme in Peace Studies, Diplomacy and Law, in affiliation with the University of Ibadan.

The foundation's director of research and planning. Prof. Godwin Sogolo expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the Obasanjo administration took over the foundation.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, 18 January 2000

Bomb scare at The Guardian

By Olufemi Adedapo

THE police were called into the premises of Guardian Newspapers Limited (GNL) yesterday following a bomb scare at its Rutam House, Isolo, Lagos head office.

They were invited by officials of the company after a young caller warned that a bomb had been planted on the premises.

A personal assistant to one of the company"s directors received the call at about 11.30 a.m.

The caller had warned that the bomb was planted in her office and was sure to explode at about noon.

Barely 15 minutes later, another call came from the same person, who was now more specific that the bomb would explode at noon.

The assistant then called the office of the security manager of the comapny, Mr. Paul Orumah, who contacted the management.

Consequently, the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Mike Okiro was called. He promptly responded by sending the best of his men from the anti-bomb squad.

Six policemen of the bomb disposal squad from Ikeja, led by Mr. S. Balogun, a chief superintendent of police arrived at Rutam House at about 1.45 p.m. They were armed with sophisticated bomb detectors and other equipment with which they swept the company"s premises.

The entire staff was asked to go out for the search to take place, thereby halting news flow and production as well as other activities.

The search took about an hour and was extended to offices and all other key operational areas of the company.

Orumah, said: "All the key areas were thoroughly searched."

However, according to him, investigations are underway to trace the caller.

An attempt was made to raze The Guardian under the regime of the late General Sani Abacha in December 1995.

In fact, Sgt Barnabas Jabila Mshelia (alias Rogers), the prosecution witness in the trial, of persons involved in the attempt on the life of The Guardian publisher, Mr. Alex Ibru, has testified that the foiled arson attack was masterminded by senior officials of that regime, including Abacha"s Chief Security Officer, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, former Lagos State Police Commissioner James Danbaba and former Chief of Army Staff Lt-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Tuesday, 18 January 2000

AD governors link crises to enemies of democracy

By Lekan Sanni,Staff Reporter

"YOU can't blame everything on O'odua People's Congress (OPC). The fifth columnists are everywhere, not just fighting the Lagos State governor, but also the Federal Government itself. They want to create the atmosphere of instability."

With these words, the Alliance for Democracy (AD) governors who met in Lagos yesterday, told the Federal Government to unmask those funding the spate of crises in the state. The governors promised to stand by their Lagos State counterpart, Bola Tinubu, over threat by the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency.

The meeting was attended by party leaders, including Chief Abraham Adesanya. Only Ekiti State Governor Adeniyi Adebayo did not attend. The meeting started at 11 a.m.

Ogun State Governor Segun Osoba, who briefed journalists after the meeting, said the recent crisis and violent clashes in Lagos State were attempts to destabilise the South-West and the entire country.

According to Osoba, the Federal Government must look beyond the OPC as he described the present crisis as a "deep security problem" that ought not to be handled with simplistic approach.

He said: "First issue (discussed) was this issue of threat to declare a state of emergency in Lagos and we came to the conclusion that there is a tint of alarmist feelings about it. We solidly stand by the governor of Lagos State. We believe he is doing his best to contain the situation in Lagos within the limitations of the constitution. And so, we stand by him.

"And we also believe that there is an attempt to foment some problem by those that we believe are fifth columnists, who we believe have infiltrated the nascent democracy which we are in.

"We also dismissed the OPC and we came to the conclusion that some enemies of democracy must be funding some groups masquerading as OPC, creating problems that can be embarrassing to democratic development in the country and we think that there is (the) need for the Federal Government to do more security surveillance.

"Our reason for coming to that conclusion is that at what point were these so-called OPC members trained in what appears like a guerilla warfare? Who is funding these hoodlums masquerading as OPC? Who is arming them with sophisticated weapons? The Federal Government needs to look into all these; unravel all these problems and let us know the security report on the source of funding and the people behind the so-called OPC.

"Because we believe that it's very easy to just look for an escapist situation and blame everything on OPC."

Osoba said that it was the view of the governors that the OPC should not be blamed entirely for the violent clashes in the South-West.

He compared the present situation to Gen. Sani Abacha's days when everything that happened in the country was blamed on the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), including the numerous bomb blasts and the killing of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola.

The fifth columnists are not only fighting the Lagos State government, but even the Federal Government with the purpose of creating the impression that there is instability in the country, he added.

"And the Federal Government must bear in mind that we are trying to impress the international investors to come into the country. And we must not take simplistic approach to a very serious issue. It has deep security problem which the Federal Government itself must unravel.

"I mean, you will recall that in Abacha days, they said that the bombings in Lagos were being done by NADECO, the killings were being done by NADECO. Chief Abraham Adesanya, Pa Solanke Onasanya, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Ganiyu Dawodu were locked up for six months on the excuse that they were the ones who killed Kudirat. Now the issue is in court, you are now getting the story and the fact.

"What we are saying is that there are people who are creating problems, just as they created during the days of Abacha. Everything was blamed on NADECO. Kudi was killed by the leaders of NADECO.

"Now, we are getting to know... the court is yet to make pronouncement. But the evidence so far is showing that the people who killed Kudi are people within the same government that blamed it on NADECO."

Osoba said, however, that the governors are not condoning violence which he said, they totally abhor.

According to him, the philosophy behind the founding of OPC was not to create violence, adding that as chief security officers of their states, they cannot sponsor violence.

"We should not go the way of Abacha who was creating state sponsored terrorism", he declared.

According to Osoba, the governors still stand by the call for the creation of state police with the necessary amendment in the constitution.

"We still stand by our position that there should be state police by going back to special constabularies which we had not quite long ago. In the 1960s, we had them," he said.

On crime prevention, he said that the meeting blamed the Federal Government for not doing enough, as the police lack the necessary fire power and equipment to combat crime.

For instance, he said that the Lagos State government was trying its best by providing vehicles, maintaining the vehicles and giving ration allowance to policemen on special duty.

He said: "A police that has to take {Danfo} to go and pursue armed robbers who are in Lexus and Toyota Jeep, how can you pursue armed robbers in rented {Danfo} or {Molue}?" he asked.

These issues and others, he said, would be further discussed at the Council of State meeting.

On ransome of N200,000 placed on Gani Adams by the Arewa Peoples Congress (APC), Osoba said that such was illegal as only the police in charge of civil security was in a position to do so.

He said that the People's Democratic Party (PDP) controlled Federal Government would want to destabilise the AD states for political reasons. According to him, attempt had been made since the regime of Gen. Abacha to make in-roads into Ogun State.

But he said that AD states would fight such move with all democratic forces within their control "to make sure that they don't make in-roads into our territory."

On OPC and vigilance, Osoba said that vigilance groups started in Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State, where it has been very successful.

According to him, vigilance groups in Ogun State do have regular meetings with the police and they are recognised and registered.

"So, if any group wants to play the role, like I said, they are like special constables already. All you need now is just regularise and make it legal," he concluded.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper