Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #05
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Nigeria Weekly News Highlights

Feb.5, 2000

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Wednesday, 02 February 2000

Nigeria, U.S. meet on military orientation

From Madu Onuorah, Abuja

A major policy shift in orientation and strategies will soon be implemented for the Nigerian military.

This follows a meeting held between an American delegation and the Nigerian military high command yesterday.

The meeting which took place at the Defence Ministry Headquarters in Abuja, was attended by the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defence Bernd McConnel, its Ambassador to Nigeria, William Twaddel and Defence and Army attachee, Col. Victor Nelson.

The Nigerian delegation included the Defence Minister, Lt. Gen. Theophilus Danjuma, Minister of State, Mrs. Modupe Adelaja, Permanent Secretary Mr. David Oyegun, Chief of Defence Staff Rear Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi and the three service chiefs.

The meeting was to harmonise the two countries positions on the funding of Phase II of the Military Professional Resource Initiative (MPRI).

The MPRI, a private consultancy organisation manned by retired U.S. senior military officers, was mandated by the U.S. government to reorientate and reorganise the Nigerian military following the return of democracy.

The implementation meeting followed the adoption of an MPRI Draft Action plan for reprofessionalising the military.

The action plan contains the recommendations in the areas of roles and mission of the Nigerian Armed Forces, the organisation for the Defence Ministry to enhance civilian oversight of the military and provision of logistics, training and personnel system and initiatives to assist in professionalising the military.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

 

Yoruba 'll resist any coup — Afenifere *PDP disowns Waku *Senate debates sanctions

By Sufuyan Ojeifo, Sina Babasola, Ben Agande & Yinka Olusanya, Abuja

THE pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, vowed yesterday that the Yoruba would resist any coup as canvassed by Senator Joseph Waku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

By the same token, Waku’s party (PDP) has also dissociated itself from the senator’s call for a military takeover of power.

Also, a motion of censure sailed through on the floor of the Senate yesterday but full debate of the issue has been scheduled for today.

Toeing the same line, the Federal House of Representatives will formally debate the Senator Waku statement today on the floor of the House.

Criticisms from various quarters have trailed Waku’s comments since Sunday evening when Tell Magazine first circulated its edition on Senator Waku’s interview.

*Afenifere’s declaration

The Afenifere statement, signed by Ayo Opadokun, said: "We ordinarily would have ignore the irritating views of a senator who could not even speak good English, but the constant use of "We" by him suggests that he may be speaking for a group of Northern Senators under the aegis of Northern Senators Forum.

"When this group met a few weeks ago with a communiqu urging Obasanjo to impose emergency rule on Lagos, Afenifere heard it from an impeccable source that their meeting actually discussed how to destabilise the polity so as to pave way for a military coup. And they saw in Obasanjo’s threat a very perfect opportunity.

"We are not in the least surprised that Waku and perhaps his colleagues are now pushing for another military intervention. Since 1966, these people have always believed that the only way they can dominate the rest of the country, confer undue privileges on themselves and bleed the country white is through military rule.

"The Yoruba people in particular and other ethnic nationalities have borne the brunt of their misrule for several years. But perhaps the most excruciating was the five years of Abacha when their repressive machinery targeted all the first and bests in Yorubaland. We lost several of our sons and daughters to assassins bullets, many of our illustrious and worthy people spent virtually all those years either in gaol or exile and virtually all our businessmen had their businesses ruined. But we remained unbowed even when our heads were bloodied until we secured the little democratic space we have now.

"We do not believe that any sane person should be calling for military rule after all what Nigeria suffered under the military. But for any body to be openly canvassing for coup means that he must have been engaged in clandestine planning of treasonable activities. Senator Waku must therefore be arrested immediately so that he can be interrogated.

"When some weeks ago Senator Femi Okunrounmu raised an alarm that pro-Abacha senators were planning to remove Obasanjo, the senators in a very crude manner forced him to apologise to them. With Waku’s open clamour for a coup to remove Obasanjo it is now clear that Senator Okunrounmu was speaking the truth and nothing but the truth.

"Afenifere has been in the vanguard of campaign for Sovereign National Conference and restructuring of the federation so that we can all determine the terms upon which we want to be governed. Those who want to be under the military are free to do so in their zone in a restructured polity.

"We will therefore not appeal to the "professional coupists" not to plan another take-over, we will only warn them in advance not to consider an inch of Yoruba territory in their quest to impose another military rule. The Yoruba will fight to the last man and the last man will fight with the last drop of blood in his vein to defend our land against another internal recolonisation.

"If they staged another coup nothing will stop the Yorubaman again. We have said it loud and clear that Never again shall soldiers preside in any of our government houses.

"All our elected representatives are hereby put on the alert to be ready to sit tight at their duty posts in case of any military intervention, they can be sure that millions of our people are ready to defend them.

"We need not ask our people to get themselves prepared. They have prepared themselves since May 29, 1999 when they saw the back of the military."

*PDP disown Waku

The PDP’s position was contained in a two-page statement signed by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Emmanuel Ibeshi.

The text of the statement is as follows:

"The leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) received with dismay the news of a statement credited to Senator J.K.N. Waku, inviting military coupists to overthrow the democratically elected government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Nigeria.

"This call is not only misplaced but suspect and condemnable. The reasons canvassed for such a call are equally irksome.

"Nigerians and indeed all objective observers of our country’s polity know that never a time in our recent political history have we seen a government as purposeful as the present Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led government of President Olusegun Obasanjo. It is only collaborators of the just expired dictatorship, who have sneaked into the institutions of our nascent democracy that hold contrary opinions about this fact.

"Whilst it is generally acknowledged that there are still a myriad of problems to be resolved in the country, these are problems neither created nor manufactured by the present administration.

"The Peoples Democratic Party is quite satisfied with the performance of our Executive President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

"It is unfortunate that Senator Waku’s tactless vituperations on the state of the nation is coming at a time that our party is doing everything possible to ensure a harmonious relationship between the three arms of government.

"The seeming lack of smooth flow in the relationship between the Executive and the Legislature does not mean a clarion call for a military coup. It is unfortunate that Senator Waku has to take his frustration with learning the slow process of democracy so personally and so myopically. However, it shows the latitude of patience and tolerance expected for the success of the infant experiment.

"The party view Senator Waku’s press outing with very grave consequence and has constituted a disciplinary committee mandated to investigate and have him arraigned and also to treat other pending matters relating to discipline.

"Finally, we hasten to warn that if Senator Waku’s statement is a kite flown by would-be coupists and their apologists, it is being flown too early and too dangerously with every certainty of failure. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and indeed all democracy loving people of this country will resist any attempt by forces allied with backwardness that military coups are associated with."

The party chairman, Chief Barnabas Gemade also led a team of party officers to the National Assembly yesterday to hold talks with the legislators on the matter.

Senate censures Waku, debates today

But the fate of Senator Waku will be known today on the floor of the Senate as the matter would be fully debated against the backdrop of a detailed perusal of the Tell Magazine which published the interview in which the call was purportedly made.

The motion was moved by the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Roland Owie who said the matter is of urgent public importance and was seconded by Senator Seyi Ogunlere of the Alliance for Democracy (AD).

Senator Owie in moving the motion said that the sanity of the statements by Senator Waku demanded that he (Waku) be arrested and tried for treason by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He consequently moved that Senator Waku be suspended from the Senate and that his matter be referred to the Ethics Committee for further appropriate sanctions.

Senator Waku in a brief statement of defence said he believed in democracy and would continue to fight for democracy.

Senator Idris Abubakar drew the attention of the Senate to Order 42 (2) which gives privilege to members of the Senate to adequately peruse the publication and in which case the matter can be stood down till the next legislative day.

Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, Senate President, sustained Senator Abubakar’s point of order, after a couple of Senators, Gbenga Aluko and Victor Oyofo, had spoken in favour and against Senator Waku’s statement respectively.

By upholding the Order 42 (2) of the standing rule, the Senate will today debate the matter fully after members must have acquainted themselves with the publication.

The Senate will take a decision whether or not to refer the matter to the Ethics Committee for a probe and recommendation of appropriate sanctions or even a reprieve as the Senate committee may deem it fit.

*Representatives too

The House of Representatives will formally debate on a motion seeking to condemn the call by Senator J.K.N. Waku in the current edition of Tell Magazine for the military to take over government.

Senator Waku had in the Tell interview alleged that the present government of President Obasanjo is the worst ever produced in the country, saying that "it is better for the professional coupists to take over," if the President continued the way he is doing.

But raising a matter of urgent national importance, Hon. Sadiq Yar’Adua (Katsina) observed that Senator Waku should be called to order by the National Assembly as his statement is capable of derailing the nascent democracy.

He urged the National Assembly to consider the call an embarrassment since it is capable of eroding people’s confidence in the legislators.

The Deputy Speaker, Prince Chibudom Nwuche who presided over yesterday’s session put the question to member, as to whether the issue should be on today’s Order Paper for debate. It was unanimously adopted.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday commenced deliberation on the bill which seek to exclude all unelected former Heads of State from benefiting any entitlement after service.

The bill which was sponsored by Dr. Jerry Ugokwe (Anambra) was, however, stepped down to enable the clerk circulate the decree that gives the Heads of State the privileges.

In the same vein, Senator Peter Adeyemo (Oyo South) yesterday described the outburst of Senator Joseph Waku, calling for military coup against President Olusegun Obasanjo as a stupid talk.

Reacting to Senator Waku’s interview in the current edition of Tell Magazine, Senator Adeyemo explained that he was not surprised at Waku’s call "because he and some of his colleagues in the North had been beneficiaries of military dictatorships."

Said he: "When we are talking about military dictatorship in Nigeria, we must realise that some parts of the country have always seen the military dictatorship as benevolent."

Vanguard Transmitted Wednesday, 02 February, 2000

 

Wednesday, 02 February 2000 Wednesday, 02 February 2000

 Niger needs N7.8b to combat flood

From Akin Alofetekun, Minna

NIGER State Government will need about N7.8 billion to combat perennial flood disaster around the communities housing the three hydro-electric dams in the state.

This, according to Governor Abdulkadir Kure would be used to resettle the communities in the flood plains, pay compensation for alternative housing and farmlands as well as rehabilitate many private and public facilities.

Speaking at a banquet organised in honour of President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday evening, Kure said that a comprehensive detail of the resettlement programme had been prepared and would soon be submitted to the Federal Government.

He told the president that 18 council areas in the state suffered great losses last year due to flood involving over 150 villages.

The flood disasters, he said, washed away farmlands and submerged a vast portion of land along the plains of Rivers Niger and Kaduna. He lamented that over the years, inhabitants of villages along the river banks live in perpetual fear at the approach of rains.

He attributed the plight of the people to the sudden discharge of excess water from the three hydro-electric power stations in Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro dams which yearly flood the plains of the two rivers.

The governor appealed to the Federal Government to assist them find lasting solutions to the disasters which had rendered the people unproductive and the area uninhabitable.

He expressed the state governments gratitude to the Federal Government for its quick response in releasing funds to assist the affected communities and praised efforts of some individuals and non-governmental organisations for their support in cushioning the traumatic effects of the flood on the people.

Responding, Obasanjo pointed out that the Federal Government was equally concerned about the menace of the flood, promising that government would soon come up with a lasting solution.

He said details of the programme that is expected to take away some 300,000 youths from the labour market would be unfolded soon.

According to him, arrangements for a comprehensive graduate employment scheme throughout the country has equally been completed. He urged state governments to co-operate fully in this direction to make the programme successful.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

 

Wednesday, 02 February 2000

Ways to enhance police's efficiency, listed

FOR the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to meet the challenges of a new democracy, it must purge itself of corruption and must be adequately re-orientated, a forum said yesterday in Ibadan.

According to a communique at the end of a two-day seminar organised for Oyo State Police Command, participants concluded that the police must also be well funded and adequately remunerated so that with an improved welfare package, then efficiency could be assured.

The seminar, titled: Enhancing Nigeria Police Efficiency in the State Command, also traced the problems of the Nigeria Police to 29 years of continuous military rule during which successive administrations grossly under-funded and under-equipped the force through scanty budgetary allocations barely enough to pay staff salaries.

They observed that despite the underfunding and inadequate logistics, the police is saddled with the responsibilities of dealing with breach of law and order.

The group called on President Olusegun Obasanjo to step up measures of revitalising the nations police force.

According to them, mere revival of the nations economy without adequate security would not guarantee a buoyant economy as investors would not risk an unsafe environment.

While commending the present civilian administration for its efforts at giving the country an efficient and virile police, it urged the Federal Government to increase police personnel, noting that the policeman today is overworked and stressed because of shortage of manpower, which hinder their efficiency and disposition to work.

Papers were presented by eminent persons, including the Chief Judge of Oyo State, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, retired senior police officers and top academia from the University of Ibadan.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

 

Wednesday, 02 February 2000

Tinubu alerts on anti-democracy groups

By Lekan Sanni, Staff Reporter

GOVERNOR Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Lagos State has alerted the nation on the possible existence of an anti-democracy group whose agendum is to destabilise the country.

He spoke before a seven-man Senate committee on the activities of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) which began sitting on Monday in Lagos.

The governor was the first to appear before the committee. He arrived at the old chambers of the National Assembly, Tafawa Balewa Square at about 3.10 p.m.

Accompanied by his commissioners, the governor was ushered into the Senate chambers and at 3.14 p.m, the chairman of the committee Senator Nuhu Aliyu said the sitting would be in camera.

The committee which will be in Lagos until Wednesday will take evidence from the police commissioner, the director of State Security Services (SSS), Gani Fawehinmi, leaders of factions of OPC, Dr. Frederick Fasehun and Gani Adams and others who may have useful information relating to the committees assignment.

Receiving members of the committee earlier in his office, Governor Tinubu stressed that Lagosians were peace loving people.

But he warned that there might be people he described as enemies of democracy whose agendum is to incite nationwide disturbance by destabilising a strategic state like Lagos.

Tinubu said that anybody who participated actively in all the processes that led to the enthronement of democracy in the country would not encourage violence to scuttle that same democracy.

The country is going through a difficult transition and all hands must be on deck to ensure that the vicious circle of short-lived demilitarisation followed by a reversion to dictatorship is finally broken, he said.

Recalling his session with a similar committee from the House of Representatives last week, the governor urged the Senate committee to carry out its assignment objectively.

He called the attention of the committee to the large population of Lagos and the attendant security implications, reiterating the urgent need to beef up the number of police personnel in the state, and also ensure that the police were properly equipped and well-motivated.

Aliyu told the governor that the committee was a fallout of the correspondence between him (governor) and President Olusegun Obasanjo on the security situation in Lagos occasioned by the activities of OPC.

He promised that his committee would do a thorough job so that the Senate could arrive at a just and best decision that will be in the public interest.

In its terms of reference, the committee will collate data and any other relevant information from the Presidency, Minister of Justice and Federal Attorney General, Inspector-General of Police, Director-General SSS, the National Intelligence Agency in Abuja.

The committee will also verify alleged selective arson on non-Yoruba by the OPC, receive memoranda from the public and recommend ways and means of dealing with the OPC menace and other similar ethnic organisations in line with the 1999 Constitution and other laws of the federation.

Other members of the committee are: Arthur Nzeribe, Ibrahim Mantu, Abubakar Girai, Braimoh Yusuf, Saidu Dan Sadau, David Brigid and Patrick Mbessey.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

 

Wednesday, 02 February 2000

Students vow to unmask cult members

From Toyin Ibrahim, Ibadan

ENRAGED by last Saturdays attack on their colleagues, students of the University of Ibadan, yesterday vowed to unmask all cult members in their midst.

They also resolved to arm themselves to protect their hostels, students union building and mass-gathering points.

At a crowded press conference the union president, Solomon Ben Olonade said they would resist attempts to turn the institution to an abattoir or cultists haven.

At midnight, three students including the former union leader, Segun Olaleye were attacked by an armed gang of six suspected cultists who invaded the Kunle Adepeju Students Union Building (SUB).

Specifically, Olaleye was macheted and left in a pool of blood on the basement of the building before being spirited away by his colleagues.

Olonade said: Students Union government of this university is now ready and fully prepared mentally and psychologically to return fire for fire and launch a jihad against cultism on this campus.

He criticised the institutions authorities for being lacklustre in stamping out the menace, adding that purported renunciation of cultism earlier publicised, was only to satisfy the Federal Government.

Aside rigorous enlightenment programmes, he said the body would compile names of cult groups, sponsors and their members with a view to facilitating their eventual expulsion from the university.

In order to stem the rising tide in the activities of these hoodlums who have resorted to undue gangsterism, acts of brigandage which is threatening the peaceful co-existent of students on this campus, we shall not fold our arms and allow some inept individuals who have no business being in an academic environment to threaten our right to exist, Olonade added.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

 

Wednesday, 02 February 2000

Abacha has case to answer, court rules

By Gbolahan Gbadamosi and Mustapha Ogunsakin

A LAGOS High Court yesterday rejected the request by Mohammed Abacha, son of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, asking for the quashing of a four-count charge of conspiracy and murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola in 1996.

Justice Kudirat Olatokunbo Kekere-Ekun of Ikeja division of the court who gave the ruling, also refused to grant the defence teams plea for a stay of proceeding pending appeal, although she acceded to their request stopping the hearing of the testimony of Sergeant Barnabas Mshelia (alias Rogers) who was also in court.

The trial, according to her, would start on February 14 and run to February 17 just as the court took the pleas of the accused persons who pleaded not guilty.

Abacha is standing trial for the murder of Kudirat along with the Chief Security Officer (CSO) to his father, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, Chief Superintendent of Police Mohammed Rabo-Lawal and protocol officer to Kudirat, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan.

Abacha's lawyer, Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN) and Lagos State Attorney-General, Prof. Yemi Osibajo on January 20 canvassed their arguments for and against the quashing leading to yesterdays 40-minute ruling.

Justice Kekere-Ekun began with the determination of the various laws which the request for the quashing was predicated on.

Daudu had relied on sections 167, 221(4) and 304 of the Criminal Procedure Law Cap. 33, Laws of Lagos State 1994 to file the application as well as the inherent jurisdiction of the court.

Section 167 reads: Any objection to a change for any formal change on the face thereof shall be taken immediately after the change has been read over to the accused and after.

Applying this provision, the judge held that the present application doesnt refer to the objection to the formal charge and that it was not also in compliance with sections 221 (4) and 341 (3).

On inherent jurisdiction, Justice Kekere-Ekun also held that it is true that court has inherent jurisdiction to prevent its abuse as stated in Ikomi v. The State (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt.1) p. 28 and that on the strength of Falobi v. Falobo, the court can consider the merit of the case even if it is brought under wrong law.

Having dealt with the preliminary issues, the judge went into whether or not a prima facie case has been made to enable Abacha answer for the charges.

According to her, some paragraphs in the affidavit deposed to by Mr. Mustapha Bulama in support of the application for quashing, after a careful scrutiny amount to a legal opinion and it is accordingly struck out.

Osibajo, however, said the court does not even know the grounds upon which the accused person is filing his appeal, arguing that it is trite law that there is no automatic right of appeal.

On the issue of providing the defence with relevant documents, he stated that his office has done that and will always do as far as the documents requested are available.

Osibajo maintained that he had provided the defence with all the documents within his reach.

As regards the trial before a Lagos High Court, Osibajo argued that there are no rules against concurrent trials so long as the charges are not the same, and surely a stay (of proceedings) cannot be granted on this non-existent proposition.

It is our humble application that the plea of the accused persons be taken and that we be allowed to call our first witness so that this trial will begin, he argued.

Ruling, Justice Kekere-Ekun said a stay of proceeding could not be granted due to its nature. The accused persons, according to her, are entitled to be tried within a reasonable time as they could not be kept in prison indefinitely without trial. Being a criminal trial, it should take place expeditiously. The oral application is refused and the plea of the accused persons be taken immediately, she ruled.

After her ruling, the plea of the four accused persons was taken and they all pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.

Although the prosecution wanted the trial to continue today as argued by Prof. Osibajo, defence counsel Mr Akpamgbo pleaded that the case be adjourned to February 14, an adjournment the court upheld.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

 

Wednesday, 02 February 2000

Police seal off ADs secretariat

From Emmanuel Onwubiko, Abuja

THE two-month-old intra-party wranglings in the Alliance for Democracy (AD) took a dramatic turn yesterday as a team of policemen took over the national secretariat at Abeokuta Street, Abuja.

Supporters of the embattled national chairman Yusuf Mamman who had earlier seized control of the secretariat from Alhaji Usman Song's supporters were chased out by the stern-looking policemen who locked up the entrance and turned visitors away.

The national secretariat which has been under the control of the factional leader, Adamu Song's supporters since December 20 last year, was temporarily seized by supporters of Mamman on Monday but not without a stiff resistance resulting in a free-for-all fight.

When The Guardian visited the secretariat yesterday afternoon, one of the police officers who spoke on condition of anonymity said the police team was instructed by FCT police commissioner, Alhaji Hamzat Ahmed to take it over to forestall what he called untoward and obviously dangerous situation.

He disclosed that the police were not interested in fanning the embers of partisanship but were interested in ensuring what he called respect for law and order.

FCT police spokesman, Mr. Matthew Obiuwevbi (ASP), speaking on the development said: I do not know anything about police deployment to the national secretariat of the Alliance for Democracy (AD). But I do know that men of the Nigerian police are constitutionally empowered to safeguard law and order.

AD national secretary Dr. Udenta Udenta said a national meeting of the party would hold on Saturday apparently to find solution to the crisis and fine-tune strategies for the partys forthcoming national convention.

The meeting, which will hold at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja at 10 a.m is coming just as the South-East chapter of the party endorsed Mamman and Udenta as the national chairman, and secretary of the party.

Speaking on Saturdays meeting, Chief Chuba Egolum, AD national vice chairman South-East, said the partys convention slated for April 7 and 8 would top the agenda.

He said chairman of the convention committee, Chief Olu Falae would be on hand to submit his report on the convention.

On the alleged suspension of Udenta as the national secretary of the party by 14 northern states chairmen of the AD, Egolum said the suspension should be disregarded, insisting that Udenta remains the secretary.

I am not aware that he has been suspended. As far as I am concerned, Udenta O. Udenta remains the national secretary of the AD just like Ambassador Mamman Yusuf is the national chairman of the AD, he added.

In a statement entitled: Mamman is still AD chairman, Egolum debunked media reports citing South-East AD as having disowned Mamman as chairman.

For the avoidance of doubt, Ambassador Yusuf Mamman is still the bonafide national chairman of Alliance for Democracy and the South-East recognises him as such, he said.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, 01 February 2000

Nigeria, U.S. to oversee Lome pact

From Arthur Obayuwana, Abuja

THE United States is to co-operate with Nigeria in ensuring genuine and demonstrable commitment to the Lome convention by all the warring factions in Sierra Leone.

The latest move, coming on the heels of planned withdrawal of ECOMOG Nigerian soldiers from the war-torn country may be the soothing balm needed after the resumption of hostilities.

Foreign Affairs Minister of State Chief Dubem Onyia had a closed-door meeting later yesterday afternoon with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Mr. William Twaddell to iron out details of the joint effort.

Briefing reporters shortly after the meeting, Twaddell said they made a deep assessment of the situation in Sierra Leone and Cote dIvoire while the visa policy of the two countries was also appraised.

According to him, there was the need for all parties to the Lome Agreement to cooperate with the U.S. and the ECOWAS monitoring group (ECOMOG) in its implementation.

He added that the suspension of programmes on cooperation in Cote dIvoire by the U.S. government would remain until there is free and fair election in the country.

According to Twaddell, it was absolutely necessary for regional organisations such as ECOWAS to assist Cote d'Ivoire get back to democratic rule.

The envoy praised the Federal Governments visa policy, stressing that it has made it easier for Americans to visit Nigeria.

He pledged reciprocity of the U.S. embassy in ensuring fair treatment of all Nigerian visa applicants.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

 

India offers expertise in Nigeria’s industrial development

By Samuel Udeala

THE Indian government has promised to assist the Federal Government in preparing an Industrial blueprint that would accelerate the development of small and medium scale enterprises in the country.

Under the proposal being packaged by the Indian government, the country would send its experts to the Federal Ministry of Industry to incorporate India’s industrial policy centred on low labour and intensive technology into Nigeria’s Industrial development policy.

Sources said that the Indian Minister of Industries Ms Vasundhara Raje who presented the proposal to his Nigerian counterpart Dr. Iyorchia Ayu at the recent visit of President Olusegun Obasanjo to India said that the implementation of the policy in the country would restore the Industrial sector in the country as the engine of growth.

Part of the policy option being suggested by India is to ensure that the Nigerian banks support industrial development by setting aside certain percentage of their profit after tax to boost small scale endeavour in the country.

It was gathered that the Indian experts would work with small-scale entrepreneurs and ensure that research findings being conducted to integrate small-scale industries to national development plan are put to us.

It will be recalled that President Obasanjo had used his visit to India to solicit for the support of the Indians in the development of small-scale industries in the country.

He told the Indian Minister for Industries Ms Raje that Nigeria would not only require the contributions of the Indian government and expertise in Industrial development but also in poverty alleviation. He requested for Indian policy on medium scale industries programme in Nigeria.

President Obasanjo observed that Nigerian government is setting up Small Scale Industries Development Agency ((SIDA) as part of poverty alleviation agenda.

Specific areas in which Nigeria would want to collaborate with India, he said, would include leather industry which is famous in Northern part of Nigeria especially Kano, Jigawa and Sokoto States, textile wearing garments as well as aircrafts. Other areas of cooperation in the medium and small-scale industry will include glass, engineering, metal works and fabrication, food processing and technology.

He directed the Nigerian High Commissioner in India Alhaji Kabiru Ahmed to participate in the five-day leather works trade fair billed to hold in the India State of Jenair form February 1 to February 5, 2000 and to forward a comprehensive brief on prospects for Nigeria-India collaboration in leather works sector.

According to the executive secretary of the association, Mr. Fed Udechukwu, the Indian High Commission in Nigeria, which recently approved some amount for SME promotion, said that the approval was in recognition of the vital importance of SME in the Nigerian economic development.

Accordingly to him, the agreement for the release of the money has reached the level of signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NA SME and the India High Commission. He said that was part of the policy not only to accelerate industrial development but also to forge the bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, 01 February, 2000 

Tuesday, 01 February 2000

Military decorates officers

From Madu Onuorah (Abuja) and Edoja Peters (Lagos)

THE Chief of Army Staff, Major-Gen. Victor Malu yesterday in Lagos decorated 28 officers recently promoted with their new ranks.

Also, in Abuja, the Chief of Defence Staff, Rear Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi did the same and urged newly promoted officers to be loyal and subject themselves to the rule of law and civilian control.

Among those decorated in Lagos were eight Brigadier-Generals with their new ranks as Major-Generals, six Colonels, who are now Brigadier-Generals, five Lt- Cols., now Colonel and eight Majors promoted to Lt.- Colonels.

Gen. Malu stressed that similar ceremonies will be held in all army formations and units across the country, where all officers affected by recent promotions will be decorated.

He warned the newly promoted officers to be conscious that their elevation to new ranks implies elevation in responsibilities.

He stressed that officers who before now held appointments higher than their ranks have no execuses for whatever lapses were observed in the discharge of responsibilities attached to those offices eliminated with their current promotion.

Gen. Malu counselled officers not promoted not to despair, noting that it does not follow that they are bad officers. Rather, he said they should see the promotion of their mates as a challenge, as all officers serving cannot be promoted at the same time.

Rear Admiral Ogohi while decorating 10 of the newly promoted senior officers said that the promotions were as a result of a painstaking deliberations by the Army Council, Navy Board and Air Council.

In the military, all promotions from lieutenant-colonel and their Navy and Air Force equivalents and above must be approved by the different councils.

The Army Council consists of the Minister of Defence who is the chairman, the Minister of State for Defence, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Chief of Army Staff (CAS) and the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence who acts as the secretary.

The Navy Board includes the above officers and positions except the Chief of Army Staff who is replaced by the Chief of Naval Staff. The Air Council consists of the Minister of Defence as chairman, Minister of State for Defence, CDS, Chief of Air Staff and Permanent Secretary who acts as secretary.

Among those decorated yesterday were: The Deputy Commandant National War College, Martins Chukwudi Osahor who was decorated with his new ranks of Major- General and Lordrick Emejuru Director of Training, Defence Headquarters who was decorated with his new rank of Brigadier-General.

Those also promoted Brig.- Generals include: Kunle Ajibade, Headquarters Defence Intelligence Agency and R.O. Ajiamah.

Also yesterday, the Principal Staff Officer (PSO) to the Minister of State for Defence Navy Captain K.A.C Amauche was decorated with his new rank of Navy- Commodore.

The Lieutenant-Colonels decorated with their new ranks of full colonels include Acting Director Defence Information Sam Tella; Henry Edet, Assistant Director Administration Defence Headquarters (DHQ) and A.B. Maitama, Assistant Director Operations at DHQ.

The Assistant Director Frequency Management, DHQ Wing Commander C.I. Shekarau was decorated with his new rank of Group-Captain (a Colonel equivalent).

Two very senior officers promoted at Defence Headquarters who could not attend the ceremony are expected to be decorated by the Chief of Naval Staff. They include; the Director of Logistics DHQ, T. Ogundele and Commodore Ajayi, Chief of Defence Intelligence. They have been promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral (equivalent of Major-General).

Bridagier-Generals expected to be decorated today at Army Headquarters with their new ranks of Major-Generals include: G.A. Kpamber, Force Commander ECOMOG; B.A. Yellow-Duke, Chief of Operations (Army); E.A. Asekhawe, Headquarters, Nigerian Army Engineers Corps and School; D.O. Enahoro, Headquarters, Infantry Centre and School, Jaji. A.I. Okungbure, Headquarters Training and Doctorine Command, Minna.

Others include; the General Officer Commanding GOC 82 Division, A.A. Sangotade, the Military Secretary Army, H.U. Clark; Director of Army Recruitment Reserve and Resettlement; M.L. Agwai, who is currently at the United States War College, S.A. Adejumo of Headquarters Nigerian Army Signals Corps and School; AFK Akale, Defence Adviser, London and B.A. Odunsi of Headquarters Nigerian Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers School, Makurdi.

Officers promoted from Colonels to Bridagiers-General are: J.O.J. Okoloagui, currently at the National Defence College, Islamabad; A. Shuaibu of Headquarters TRADOC; T.S. Attah, Headquarters Nigerian Army Corps of Supply and Transport and School (NACSTS); W. Vandhe of Army Headquarters and S.A. Odunsi of Army Headquarters Department of Military Secretary (MS).

Others to be decorated with their new rank of Brigs.- Gen. include; S.S. Billiyok, GKS Endim, B.A. Jinadu, B. Akpunonu, U.J. Uwuigbe, A.B. Adeleke, R. Adesina, F.O. Lorshase and L.T. Zidougha of the National War College.

Also on the list are: G. Ugwuoke, C.F. Nwogu of Headquarters 1 Mechanised Division; A.O. Iketubosin currently serving in ECOMOG, A.C. Akoji of Command and Staff Secretary, P.O. Oluleye of 33 Artillery Brigade, E.O. Itodo, O.M. Appah, DM Indiorhwe, Y. Usman, C.P. Guar, J.A. Aremu and K.O. Ogunkoya.

Fifty seven Lieutenant-Colonels were promoted full Colonels. They comprise of 43 regular combatants and 14 direct regular commissions. Also, 115 majors made up of 98 regular combatants and 17 direct regular commissions were promoted Lieutenant-Colonels. They are expected to be decorated by their commanders.

Sources told {The Guardian} that most of the promotions were aimed at redressing past injustices within the system.

According to the source, some of the newly promoted Brigadiers-General are due for promotion to Major-General by next year.

Rear Admiral Ogohi said that what the nation needs now was absolute loyalty. He stated: You can be sure a lot was done to make you get the promotion for which you are being decorated. The nation expects more from you. This is no military government. You have to subject yourself to the rule of law. The elevation to your new ranks does not mean you don't subject yourself to civil control. The president expects absolute loyalty and full professionalism from you.

The Defence chief urged the media to be careful in reporting military affairs stating that it will do the nation no good to alarm the public about defence matters.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

 

Tuesday, 01 February 2000

Teachers warn against control of salaries by councils

By Prisca Egede, Labour Reporter

THE Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT) has called on President Olusegun Obasanjo, to immediately stop the control of salaries of primary school teachers by councils to check the growing restiveness of teachers.

In an open letter to Obasanjo, the union said: We want to alert Mr. President that teachers all over the country are becoming restive and aggressive at the new directive given to the Local Government Education Authorities (LEA) to open bank accounts from which primary school teachers shall henceforth be paid their salaries, with local government officials as signatories.

The letter by its General Secretary, Chief Gabriel Falade, described the step as retrogressive and capable of paralysing the Universal Basic Education (UBE) programme.

Lamenting that some of the decisions reached at all the meetings and negotiations between government and union officials, which led to the immediate suspension of the national strike action by teachers last year, have either been abandoned or confused to the frustration and chargin of teachers. The union said there is now serious tension in the system.

Besides, it regretted that three months after the agreement was signed, a panel promised by the government to address the issue of non-payment of pension/gratuities of retired teachers is yet to be set up.

NUT also condemned the non-payment of the August to December, 1999 salaries of primary school teachers, urging government to look into all these sensitive and explosive problems to ensure industrial harmony.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

 

Tuesday, 01 February 2000

I inherited N100b debts, says President

From Akin Alofetekun, Minna

THE President disclosed yesterday that his administration inherited N100 billion debt owed to local contractors when taking over the reins of power from General Abdulsalami Abubakar in May last year.

President Olusegun Obasanjo, on the first day of his two-day visit to Niger State, said the debts were incurred on some so-called priority projects.

Speaking at the inspection of the proposed Shiroro bridge, he said the bulk of the debt, up to N60 billion, was owed to construction giant, Julius Berger.

According to him, the debts were said to have been incurred on accumulated works on the Ajaokuta projects, the Abuja Airport and the railway extension from Itakpe to Ajaokuta and Warri.

To pay off a part of this debt and save the country some of the attendant consequences, he explained that he included N30 billion in the 1999 Appropriation Bill which was deleted by the National Assembly.

He said he was compelled to make the controversial N7 billion payment to Julius Berger to save the jobs of about 4,000 Nigerians.

My decision was informed by the imperatives of security and implications of allowing over 4,000 people to be thrown into the labour market, Obasanjo said.

He noted that it was dangerous to allow such a large number of people to roam about in Abuja in search of other means of livelihood.

He expressed disappointment that the National Assembly had not endorsed the N30 billion sent to it on the appropriation bill, saying: The House refused to endorse it even though they know it was meant for settling debts owed contractors.

President Obasanjo said his administration would look into the contract terms of the bridge with a view to renegotiating for its completion.

He also restated the position of his administration on the scrapping of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund, adding that all projects being executed by the fund will continue under the relevant ministries.

He assured that the work on the Minna-Sarkin-Pawa-Kaduna road project would be continued but not before government had looked into it afresh.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

 

Tuesday, 01 February 2000

Kano, Enugu law schools open in October

THE Nigerian Law School campuses in Kano and Enugu are to begin operation in October, this year. The Lagos campus was formally reopened at the weekend.

The chairman, Council of Legal Education Dr. Olakunle Orojo at the official re-opening of the Lagos campus said: The federal government in its wisdom has decided that there shall be three branches of the school, in addition to Abuja which remains the headquarters of the school. These branches are to be located in Lagos, Kano and Enugu. The intention is to provide adequate facilities that will ensure that the students learn under a cogenial and suitable environment.

The re-opening of the school marked the end of a two-year struggle for its re-opening after the military government of the late Gen. Sani Abacha relocated the school to Bwari, Abuja in 1998.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

 

Tuesday, 01 February 2000

Obasanjo okays NITELs restructuring

By Sonny Aragba-Akpore (Lagos) and Kate Da Costa (Abuja)

THE envisaged restructuring and re-engineering of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) preparatory to its privatisation has been approved by President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Part of the restructuring will involve splitting NITEL into several autonomous units that will be self-accounting and have their own chief executive officers.

The autonomous units are likely to be in the Long Distance Communications (LDC), largely responsible for international calls transmission and routing; network carrier, responsible for local transmission; and mobile telephony.

While the other companies or units will emerge from NITEL, the mobile telephone operator will grow out of the Nigerian Mobile Telecommunications Limited (M. Tel), which used to be the mobile cellular arm of NITEL before it became wholly autonomous in 1995.

The restructuring models were part of a working paper sent to the President on December 30 last year by Communications Minister Alhaji Mohammed Arzika to which the President has consented.

I have no objection to the proposal to restructure NITEL and M.Tel as indicated in your letter, Obasanjo said in a letter to Arzika dated January 20.

Although the President frowned at NITELs and M.Tels bids for the Global System of Mobile Communications (GSM), the minister yesterday in Abuja justified NITELs bid, saying it would enable the company to compete globally.

Although he hinted of a possible merger of M.Tel with NITEL, Arzika assured that jobs would not be lost as a result of the plan.

Arzika, who spoke at a meeting with NITEL officials in Abuja, explained that government had decided to put NITEL on the same pedestal with other operators in the sector to encourage competition.

He said: This is a new challenge to you (NITEL staff). You dont have any alternative other than to rise to the new challenges.

Besides, Arzika urged NITEL to rehabilitate its cable network in order to boost its revenue base.

He also explained the recent rationalisation in the organisation was aimed at making the organisation meet the challenges of the new dispensation.

The minister advised the workers to improve on their work ethics, warning that indiscipline would no longer be condoned.

The Minister of State for Communications, Alhaji Haruna Adekunle Elewi restated Arzika's admonition to the workers, stressing that malpractices would not be tolerated.

The ministers delegation had visited the M. Tel headquarters in Abuja where he also spoke on the current restructuring in the ministry and its parastatals.

Arzika allayed the fears of the M. Tel management on the possible scrapping of the company.

On the recent reduction of connection charges by the government, he urged the parastatal to implement it immediately so that average Nigerians could have access to its services.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, 01 February 2000

169 die in Kenyan airline crash

Names of 10 survivors of the ill-fated Kenya Airways plane which crashed off the Cote dIvoirien coast on Sunday were announced yesterday, as indications emerged that the remaining 169 passengers and crew may have perished. By last night, 86 bodies had reportedly been retrieved in a massive rescue operation in the cold Atlantic. Witnesses however said many bodies were floating offshore.

The airline gave names of the survivors to include Mrs. Franscesca Sambah, Samuel Ogbada Agbe, Anthony Ekweleche and Saradin Singh.

Others are Jim Paschal, Emmanuel Madu, Hadji Kamara, Philip Ibimeyinwa, Clinton Osameye and one Rutaman.

The survivors, including three Nigerians, one Rwandan, a Gambian, and a Frenchman, were found among chaotic scenes, but many more bodies have been seen floating in the sea off Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire main city.

The first survivor to emerge was a French national who swam to shore. He has not been named but is believed to be a veterinarian living in Abidjan.

Dr. Tanoh Koutua, who treated the man for cuts and bruises, said: He was a good swimmer. Thats how he managed to survive.

A Nigerian, Samuel Ogbada Agbe, a survivor who was plucked from the water by rescuers, said just after take-off, the plane started having problems. He added: It wasn't quite balanced, and the next thing we knew, we were in the water.

Agbe managed to swim clear of the wreckage but said the rescue effort had been very slow.

If they had come a lot sooner, a lot of us would have been saved. We waited two hours for people to rescue us.

Eyewitness Alain Thonar said the plane disintegrated when it hit the sea.

He said: It broke up on impact. It broke into 100 pieces.

Another survivor, a badly injured woman, was found by fisherman Gerard Frere who said: We were really lucky to find her. She was clutching onto debris.

He added that the crash site, around three miles off shore, was chaotic.

We went out here and there, we had no light. We had to improvise.

At a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya Airways Technical Director Steve Clarke said the plane took off in Nairobi but could not make a scheduled landing in Lagos, Nigeria, because of bad weather.

The plane landed at Abidjan to pick up passengers and was heading back to Nairobi via Lagos, when it crashed.

He added: The aircraft started its initial climb with no problem and then suddenly descended.

Most of the passengers were reported to be Nigerians, but officials said that up to 14 Europeans could have been on board an estimate obtained by looking at the names on the passenger list.

The US embassy in Nairobi believes there may have been two American men aboard the plane.

Among the crew was a young Kenyan cabin attendant, Vincent Mwasi, back at work for the first time after taking leave for his mothers funeral.

The Cote dIvoire Fire and Rescue Service is currently trying to identify the bodies.

Naval vessels, fishing boats joined in the rescue operation, and French military personnel stationed in Abidjan, also lent their support.

The Cote dIvoire authorities are eager to recover the black box flight recorder.

Before the crash, the control tower received no indication from the pilot that anything was wrong on board the plane.

Two helicopters with searchlights and small boats scoured the sea off the beach. Hundreds of people, including relatives, police, medical personnel gathered on the beach near the crash site, about one mile east of the airport.

Cote dIvoirien Transport Minister Gen. Abdoulaye Coulibaly said the search would be difficult, adding: In this area, there is a bottomless hole. It is very deep. The country has also sought assistance from a French military base nearby.

Steve Clarke said the plane had been new when the airline purchased it in October 1986, and it was being flown by a very experienced pilot with many, many hours in command.

Airline spokesman Koome Mwambia said it was the first major accident involving a Kenya Airways plane.

All of us at Kenya Airways extend our deepest sympathy to the families of the passengers and crew involved in the accident.

We are trying to establish the names of the passengers. The next level is to begin contacting their families. The unidentified Frenchman who managed to swim ashore was guided by arc lamps set up on the beach.

The Airbus 310-300 plunged into the Atlantic after leaving Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire's capital, for Lagos, Nigeria, about 9 p.m. (4 p.m. EST) Sunday. Rescuers on boats equipped with searchlights looked for survivors off the coast yesterday.

Kenya Airways Flight 431 came down about two kilometres (1.2 miles) east of Abidjan's airport, witnesses said.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, 01 February 2000

Robbery: UNILAG students burn RRS vehicle

By Emma Anya and Sylvester Ebhodaghe

UNIVERSITY of Lagos (UNILAG) students yesterday burnt a Rapid Response Squad (RRS) vehicle in protest over the operatives failure to arrest a five-man armed robbery gang that invaded the United Bank for Africa Plc branch on the campus. Last week, armed men made away with N996,000 and valuables from the Wema Bank Nigeria Plc branch on the campus.

Although, no one was hurt in yesterdays robbery in which the bank and its customers lost over a million naira, a member of a police team responding to a distress call from the bank was killed by a colleague at Area F, Ikeja Police Command.

Some students who chased the robbers as they shot their way to safety vented their anger on a team of RRS operatives who were heading towards the bank premises. It was gathered that they first ordered the operatives out of the vehicle marked BY 681 KJA, smashed its windscreens before driving it to the institutions main car park, beside the Senate House where it was set ablaze.

Police said that N388,000 was removed from the banks counters and over N600,000 from customers. One of the customers was said to have lost N400,000 in the operation that barely lasted four minutes.

The armed robbers, said a victim arrived the bank at about 9.30 a.m. with a sack (a.k.a Ghana-must-go), ordering the workers and customers to co-operate with them or be shot.

The victim, Mr. Duro Fasanmi, younger brother of the National Vice-Chairman, South-West of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Chief Ayo Fasanmi said: They (armed robbers) pulled out sophisticated guns from Ghana-must go and asked us to first raise our hands. After we complied, they ordered us to lie faced down on the floor.

Then, two of them jumped the counter while others who held us collected the money we left on the counter.

The septuagenarian who had gone to the bank to pay his telephone bill described the incident as sad and terrible. He lost N7,200 to the bandits.

A senior UBA official from the Lagos headquarters who arrived the bank shortly after the robbery, said only the Corporate Affairs Department of the bank can speak on the attack.

Im not in the position to speak. Im only on a visit. Even the manager (branch) can not speak on the matter. It is only the corporate affairs people that are competent to speak on the incident.

UNILAGs Public Affairs Director, Mr. Adeniyi Bello who also visited the bank after the incident said the authorities would do something to avert recurrence.

We shall overcome them (robberies). We are doing something, Bello assured.

An eight-man police team led by Inspector Parry Fadokun who arrived later, left few minutes after chatting with the bank officials.

The robbery disrupted lectures for about two hours in the main campus.

Besides, traffic in and out of the campus was halted for some minutes as security men shut the main and second gates of the campus.

Police sources said that RRS men on standby at the Area F Ikeja on receiving a distress call from the bank jumped into their vehicle to race to the scene. But tragedy struck when a sergeant was felled, following an accidental discharge by his colleague.

The corpse of the deceased officer whose identity was not immediately known was taken to the Ikeja General Hospital morgue.

Police sources said yesterday that patrols have been intensified around Bariga and Unilag areas to forestall further armed attacks.

 

Obasanjo in Niger State, decries living condition of Nigerians

By Wole Mosadoumi, Minna

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo started his nationwide tour in Niger State yesterday where he said the country was "very poor just as he described the living condition of most Nigerians as nothing to write home about.

President Obasanjo commissioned the General Abdulsalami Youth Development Centre and the N100 million Obasanjo Shopping Complex.

Commissioning the N100 million shopping complex, Obasanjo said everything was being done by his administration to change the country to "where people are satisfied, contended and sure of their daily bread."

President Obasanjo who commissioned the shopping centre at the start of his two-day official visit to the state said: "What the people of this country have called us to do is to serve them and this we have started and we must complete."

He commended the state government for initiating the project which he said was a necessity for the development of the state capital, saying: "Niger which was formerly regarded as a rural and mainly farming community has changed and is changing and unless we move adequately with the change, we might be left behind."

The state governor, Engineer Abdulkadir Kure, while welcoming the Head of State to the commissioning said his government had deliberately initiated various policies to change it from being an entire civil servant state and a complete farming community to a commercial city for the progress of the state.

He said about N100 million has already been expended on the complex, which has 60 lock-up shops and toilets.

Kure said the shopping complex was named after the Head of State as a mark of respect and for the development of the country and that it should be regarded as a great honour.

Commissioning the youths complex, President Obasanjo said the development of the youths in the country has for long been neglected and that the time has come to correct the past mistakes.

He said his administration would do everything possible to improve the living condition of the youths for them to be relevant to the development of the country.

Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, 01 February, 2000