Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #07
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Nigeria Weekly News Highlights

Feb.19 2000

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Saturday, February 19, 2000

Community donates wife to outstanding corps members

From Gordi Udeajah, Umuahia

IN recognition of his meritorious service, a youth corps member Lawrence Olaniyan was conferred with a chieftaincy title and given an indigene to marry by the Obuzor-asa Community in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State.

Another Corps member, a disabled Miss Abimbola Olanike donated items valued at N500,000 to fellow disabled persons in the state.

Both were among 14 persons given certificate of honour by the state during the passing out of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) last Thursday. They were also offered automatic employment by the state.

Olaniyan was said to have built a borehole for the community, while Abimbola donated a wheelchair, seven crutches and 12 urine bags.

Abimbola, a graduate of Yaba College of Technology, Lagos also received half a million naira gift.

Four other recipients of automatic employment are Mr. Ojekere Benson, Felizua Queen, Oluyomi Daniel and Kasali Waziri.

At the ceremony, held at the Umuahia township stadium, the NYSC Director, Mrs. Faramobi Oluremi Babalola stated that initially. 1,871 registered for the service year, but that as the service progressed 268 secured redeployment to other parts of the country while one Adebayo Akeeb Kareem died on November 1, last year.

According to her, the remaining 1,603 should qualify for the passing out certificates save for those with pending disciplinary cases, who would wait until their cases were determined by the directorate headquarters in Abuja.

However, those found to have engaged in fraudulent activities of high magnitude might repeat the service year under surveillance in other parts of the country, she added.

Dr. Elekwachi Nwogbo, the Secretary to the State Government represented the governor and read the president's address while Mr. Alfred Obasi, chairman of the state NYSC governing board announced the state awards to the distinguished corps members.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

I’LL BE RUTHLESS WITH OPC —Okiro, Lagos State Police Boss

LAST Tuesday, Nigerians woke up to the shocking news of how the Lagos State Police Commissioner Mike Okiro engaged armed bandits in a shoot-out at Itire near the Onitire of Itire’s Palace in Odo-Era area of Surulere.

At the end of the gun battle one of the robbers was short dead while another was seriously wounded. Okoro and his men successfully recovered the N17,000 the robbers had stolen form their victims.

Just as he was basking in the euphoria of that major victory over armed robbers, the dreaded O’dua Peoples Congress (OPC) who for sometime now appear to have gone under issued a seven day ultimatum to the Lagos Police Command to stop killing their members, whom they claim the police labels as armed robbers. The Ganiyu Adams-led OPC threatened that if the police does not stop the killing of their members, they would declare war on Policemen in Lagos.

Coming in the wake of the police seeming inability to arrest Ganiyu Adams, the leader of OPC on whom the police has placed a N100,000 ransom, may observers are of the view that Lagosians may soon witness a bloody showdown between the police and the OPC.

Weekend Vanguard team of Blessyn Okpowo, (Deputy Editor) Emman Nnadozie and Albert Akpor (both Crime Correspondents) took the Lagos Police Commissioner Mike Okiro up in an exclusive and exhaustive interview on the OPC threats, his encounter with robbers and the crime situation in Lagos generally. It is interesting as it is revealing.

Nigerians woke up last Tuesday to read about your encounter with armed robbers at Itire on Saturday. What really happened?

I was on patrol because I got a report that the Itire area has been under the siege of armed robbers for sometime now. So I went there to see things for myself. So about 9.00 to 9.30 p.m., around the Onitire of Itire’s palace, I had a distress call on the walkie-talkie in my car that robbers were operating somewhere off the road. So I made a U-turn and rushed to the scene with my men., I met five robbers who had already disposed somebody of his money. Immediately they saw us, they opened fire. And in the ensuing exchange, one of them was shot dead, one was seriously wounded and three escaped. But fortunately, it’s the one that was wounded that had the money. So we recovered the money they had stolen from him.

So how much was recovered from the robbers?

We recovered about N17,000 from him which the victim claimed was has money. Eventually, the robbers, the victim and the money were all taken to the Police Station. I don’t know how the press got to hear about it because we don’t make any fuss about such incidents.

How come you are directly involved in patrols at night, is it your normal routine or an expression of lack of faith in your men?

No, it is not lack of faith at all. You have to lead by example. They say uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. A general who is to lead troops to battle must lead the way. I want to show the example that it there is a distress call and I asked somebody to go, by asking that person to go does not mean that I am asking the person to do the impossible. That I can do it myself and that I have the experience. So it is all leading by example, that what I am asking them to do is a possible thing to do because I have done it.

If you still go on patrols at your level, how do you find time for your normal duties as Commissioner of Police; or is night patrols part of your schedule?

Night patrols is what I do almost every night. I regard it as part of the job. It is a regular thing for me. It is part of my duties which is fused into my daily routine.

Have you considered the risk involved coming face to face with armed bandits at your age?

There are no special risks different from what my men on the field face every day. You see as Commissioner of Police, I am in charge of the administration in the state and also in charge of operations. And you find out that patrols is part of the operations. So I fuse both duties as Commissioner of Police . And when I go out on patrols, I don’t do it as something adhoc. It’s all part of my duties, I make sure I have enough security when I am doing it.

You give the impression of a man who enjoys night patrols?

Yes! I am on operational man. I love operating in the field.

So how does your normal patrol day look like?

In as much as I go on patrol, I wouldn’t like to make it public. Sometimes I don’t even tell people around me. That’s why I was surprised that the press got to know of my encounter with the armed robbers at Itire because I did not tell anybody about it. When it happened, I just concluded it and continued with my patrols.

How has it been as the number one Policeman of Lagos State? What has been the challenges and handicaps?

It hasn’t been easy. One of my major handicaps is time. How I wish there were more then 24 hours in a day. This is because by the end of everyday, I find out that I still have a lot to do. And the time is already gone. Somebody would just come and tell you that is seven or eight O’clock in the night. I would just say ah so fast? It would seem as if the days are flying.

In terms of challenges, the challenges are numerous. I can not be able to count all of them. But crime is a big challenge to me here. Managing the men is another big challenge. I have about 10,000 policemen under me here at the Lagos Police Command. I have to take care of their welfare, their immediate families and of course their extended families. It’s my responsibility to ensure that they are in good shape and there are no family disturbances so that they can do the job well. Also I have the responsibility to provide security for lives and property of about 10 million Lagosians. And you’ll agree this is not an easy task. but unfortunately, I don’t have the wherewithal to do all those things. I may sit down and imagine what to do., but I don’t have the materials to put to fruition what I have dreamt about. I am short of manpower and other logistics. So even when I know what to do, I cannot do it. The resources are just not available to me.

Two days ago, it was reported that the OPC gave your Command a seven- day ultimatum to stop killing their members or they will return fire-for-fire; what is your reaction to that ultimatum?

We have not killed any OPC member. Unless they want tom say that the armed robbers we have been killing are OPC members. They can come out and tell the whole world so. Like last night we had encounter with armed robbers and we killed about 5 of them. Unless they come up to tell me that these armed robbers we killed last night are OPC members. They were shot dead during the exchange of gunfire. Unless they want to tell me that they are OPC members.

Their argument is that you just kill their people and label them armed robbers?

That I killed OPC members and labelled them armed robbers. Where? When?

They say your men do that mostly at Idimu Police Station?

It’s not true. Let them come out and tell me where and when and let them bring their evidence. We have not been killing OPC members. We arrest them and charge them to court. Most of them we have arrested are in court.

The people we killed are armed robbers who engaged the Police in a shoot out. Like you are going to see later in the day. We had an encounter with armed robbers last night and five of them were gunned down. Unless you want to tell me that these armed robbers are OPC members then of course you can say that. About three weeks ago, I had an encounter with robbers at Maroko where seven of them were gunned down. We searched their pockets and found that two of them had OPC identity cards in their pockets. Maybe they are talking of those armed robbers. who are OPC members.

There is no smoke without fire, why are they pointing accusing fingers at Idimu Police Station if they (the police there) have not done anything to them (OPC)?

The Idimu Police Station have not done any such thing. And they have not done anything different from what other police stations have been doing. Maybe they have a hidden agenda against that DPO. We have heard series of rumours, series of innuendoes, and petitions written against him. We got all these petitions. Maybe they have a score to a settle with him, but I can assure you that the Idimu Police DPO has not done anything different from what others before him or other DPOs are doing.

Now they are threatening the Idimu Police Station, what are the arrangements you’ve put in place to ensure that no harm comes to the Policemen there and the building itself?

They cannot do anything to Idimu Police Station. Nobody, no OPC and I am saying it loud and clear, nobody in this Lagos will threaten any police station and live to tell the story. I will crush any OPC who tries any nonsense with any of the policemen or police stations.

You seem so incensed that you are already sounding very combative. Have you tried the option of dialogue with them to see whether there can be a truce?

I don’t see any chance of dialogue any more with OPC. They don’t understand the language of dialogue. In those days, I was having dialogue with Frederick Fasheun and it was working. Until Ganiyu Adams broke off and trouble started because he became very violent. And of course the Ganiyu Adams I have not met. I have not seen him in my life. Apart from his photographs in the papers and when he appears on television, I have never seen him before. With Frederick Fasheun we had very good dialogue and things were working fine. But with this Ganiyu Adams, there is nothing like dialogue, they don’t believe in dialogue.

So there is actually no love lost between you and the OPC, the battle line seem to be drawn?

There is no battle line because I don’t see OPC any more. There is no OPC anywhere. If any OPC rears its head again I am going to crush it. I am not mixing words about that. If they try any nonsense again, they will see fire.

If you are this incensed by the activities of OPC, how come that till date the Lagos State Police Command have not been able to arrest Ganiyu Adams the leader?

He is not invisible. He may be invisible for now but certainly not invisible. Ganiyu Adams is invisible because he has gone into hiding. I am not sure any of you know him. He his like a nobody. He is an inconsequential figure. He just came into limelight because of the violence perpetuated by OPC otherwise he could pass like any other unknown. person on the street. So the fact that nobody knows him is making things difficult for us to get him. I am sure that if he was to be somebody that people know about, you know his friends, you know his antecedents you can keep a dossier on him, you can find out what he does and where he goes and all that. But there are no such things on him so we find it difficult to get him. We have been receiving lots of information, here and there most which sometimes are fake and unreliable and false. But you should realise that when you declare somebody wanted, and then put a price on his head, you don’t expect to get him in one day. Because he is not a piece of furniture that you put down somewhere and go and pick it up. Of course when he hears a price has been put on him, he will run.

Why do you have to put a price on Ganiyu Adams whom you already described as inconsequential if he is a nobody like you claim?

Yes. Somebody who bathed my Policemen with acid, somebody that sacked police stations, somebody who killed a DPO and you can not find him, of course you have to put a price on him. Because the fact that he killed all these people and committed these heinous crimes, N100,000 price tag is even nothing compared to the crimes he has committed. If I thought about that I will even put more to it.

Don’t you think that putting a price on him would be creating a hero or a martyr out of him making a leader of the Yoruba race?

No, we are not working for him because he is said to vanish. This is not the first time, when I was in Benue, there were these 4 suspects on the wanted list, I arrested 2, the other 2 was on the run, I put a price on them, that makes them heroes of armed robbers? There was a particular case shortly before I came here and somebody came to me and said he’d seen the wanted persons and that he had changed his name. Moreover, nobody has brought anybody to me claiming that he is Ganiyu Adams but they have been giving me information of where he was and all that.

Does the information you have suggest that he is in Lagos or outside?

Sometimes Lagos. Sometimes outside.

But for now can you categorically say he is in Lagos or outside?

I cannot say if he is in Lagos or outside.

But there is a rumour going round that he is in a private hospital recuperating from gunshots he had in an encounter with the Police?

Ah. That’s a lie. Whoever told you that is lying. It is not true at all. This is false.

Can you talk of the number of the times you came close to arresting him but he escaped?

It is all false. We have never come near him at all.

We understand that your encounter with the robbers on Saturday was not your first time, can you recount some of the past experiences?

Well, the one of last Saturday was my first time since I assumed duties as Commissioner of Police. But when I was here as DC operations, AC operations, I had several encounters. On three or four occasions. I actually led my men to confront armed robbers physically. But as Commissioner of Police, the first encounter was last Saturday.

There are some burnt Police Stations in Lagos that have not been reconstructed, what is delaying the reconstruction of these Stations?

Funds! We don’t have the money. Government hasn’t got the money to reconstruct burnt Police Stations. There are so many new police stations that needs to be built, but government has not built them not to talk of a burnt one. We have spoken to some local government chairmen and we are looking at how we can work out something. Very soon we shall come up with something good.

Vanguard Transmitted Saturday, 19 February, 2000 

Saturday, February 19, 2000

Atiku hails Clinton's policy on Africa

By Francis Obinor Foreign Affairs Reporter

VICE-PRESIDENT Atiku Abubakar has lauded the Clinton administration for what he called "the most focused and beneficial policy towards Africa in the United States' history".

Speaking after signing the Trade and Investment Frame Agreement (TIFA) in Washington, Atiku said that Clinton's determination to assist Nigeria at this crucial stage of its democracy, would further strengthen ties between Washington and Abuja.

He noted that there was need for the U.S. to support Nigeria's nascent democracy and economic policies in order to stimulate foreign investments in the country.

He said: "We have stability and unity of purpose. We have recorded modest economic progress".

Pointing out that Nigeria's cash reserves increased from $3,000 million to $5,000 million last year, he said that the government has succeeded in reducing inflation to a significant level to stimulate foreign investments.

"You can invest in Nigeria without any fear or reservation", the Vice-president assured.

Responding, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young said the agreement would not have been possible under the previous military government.

"But the way President Obasanjo and Vice-president Abubakar are working both with the people of Nigeria and the United States and with its private sector, opens a tremendous opportunity"

According to Young, who is the president of an investment consulting firm, Goodworks Incorporated trading in Africa, "Nigeria is a 100 million person market. But it is also the door to the 200 million people of West Africa"

"I think it is also the gateway of trade to the United States, which means job creation in Africa and also here at home", he added.

Earlier, U.S. Trade Representative Charline Burshefsty praised the Nigerian government for setting in motion, a remarkable process to open up the country and other economic reforms.

Barshefsky said TIFA would be used to invigorate U.S. investments in Nigeria which in turn would help revive the economy.

"The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement will create a legal and institutional foundation for a permanent trade policy dialogue on a range of trade and economic issues before us today," she added.

According to her, it is the view of the U.S. government for Nigeria to have a healthy economy which is essential to its own security interests as well as those of other African countries.

Clinton on Thursday hailed Obasanjo and Abubakar for giving Nigeria "a promise at long last."

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Saturday, February 19, 2000

Dialogue must precede constitution, Soyinka insists

From Gbolahan Gbadamosi, Ibadan

A forum for Nigerians to discuss the terms of their continued co-existence is an idea whose time has come, Prof. Wole Soyinka said yesterday in Ibadan.

Such a forum, by any nomenclature, would achieve a therapeutic purpose for the country's several past bruises, the Nobel Laureate noted.

He said: "There are several routes to constitution making but remember finally that sometimes, the process itself yields the unexpected harvest of a collective therapy, and this is one nation that is also in need of healing.

"We insist here that there is urgent need for a novel forum of encounter with one another, whatever name it is given - National Conference being one expression - that is more readily apprehended."

He spoke on Constitution and continuity at a three-day conference for Nigerian students/youths on Constitutionalism, Democracy and the Rule of Law organised by the Committee for the Defence of Human Right (CDHR) at the University of Ibadan Conference Centre.

Citing several instances of constitution making across the globe, he noted that they experienced "costly stumbles, contradictions and instances."

He added: "One thing remains clear. The quest of humanity has been towards a definite principle that would guarantee for all members of a community that sense of equality - equality of individual being within the overall community, equality of opportunity, and equality of access to the provisions of life, health and liberty".

"At the heart of every constitutional exercise, even in monarchical times are entrenched provisions that pay at the very least lip service to these guarantees, and the motivation of this constant is not far to seek, the framer of such constitutions seek to eliminate strife within society, and to provide a level of stability that enables society to fulfil itself productively and guarantee its survival as with the animal species."

Turning to the youths who were assembled from all over Africa, Soyinka in his key note address said: "Exercises in constitutionalism involve of course the accumulation of social experience, which means that the greatest beneficiaries of the process are, in fact, the youths. They build upon the experience of the past and over and beyond those of their immediate society."

"They (youths) have a special status in this exercise since a constitution is a bequest to the future, and youths are - it is a cliche but it is one cliche that we cannot escape, youths are, quite incontrovertibly, the future."

Reaffirming his earlier statement that the older generation which he belongs to is in the bracket of "wasted generation" the youths, he added, "have a right to hope, indeed to demand - that they should possess a far more electric outlook than the older generation who tend to be focused, quite logically on the pressing experiences of their immediate or near societies. The older generation of any society is comparatively speaking - a crisis generation, at best a management generation".

On the crisis in the African continent - from Rwanda to Sierra Leone and Algeria, he regretted the ogre of violence among youths saying, "such regressions must remain constantly at the back of our minds as we seek to fashion out codes for the rehabilitation of our species- for, believe me, the so called homo species stands in dire need of rehabilitation."

Soyinka also took a voyage into other trouble spots around the globe notably Bosnia, Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, Spain, Soviet Union an Austria.

He stated that the events should be of great interests to students of politics and international affairs, since a Problematique has definitely been created within the definitions and acceptances of certain propagated morals among the European nations."

However, he admitted that he would not resolve the contradiction between the "ideal of democracy - an ideal which , when shorn of all mystique, simply remains the right to participate fully in the politics of one's society, the right to choose, and the right to have such choices respected by others and the question of what choices conform to the ideals of the human society."

Nigeria, he suggested, should learn from Austria and Algeria in fashioning a new constitution.

"We can take steps to ensure that even in the process of abiding with the strict rules of democracy, we find ourselves trapped in this trace, the consequences will prove comparatively benign and do not tear apart the very fabric of society. Best of all however, is to ensure that such potential cracks are sealed off in advance."

The assignment of avoiding fatal consequences was put on the shoulder of the youth as the eminent writer and playwright charged: "You have responsibility, not only to make your input into the constitution making process of your own society, but to examine microscopically, those cracks that are easily overlooked, cracks into which

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, 17 February 2000

Nigeria deserves U.N. Security Council seat, says Obasanjo

From Emeka Nwankpa, Abuja

NIGERIA's quest for a permanent seat in the United Nations (UN) Security Council was underscored again yesterday by President Olusegun Obasanjo who said the country deserved the veto power in recognition of her long-standing and unwavering commitment to the world body's agenda for global peace and security.

At a state banquet in honour of visiting Norwegian Prime Minister, Mr. Kjell Mague Bondenik on Tuesday night, Obasanjo said Nigeria believed that peace and security are vital prerequisites for economic growth and development.

"Our administration would like to see an end to the wastage, as vital human and material resources are used up in conflicts and wars in Africa," he remarked, noting that for the country, no sacrifice was too high to ensure peace.

He said this explained the enormous sacrifices Nigeria had made in the search for peace, especially in the West African sub-region at considerable cost to her very limited financial resources.

Nigeria, the president remarked, deserves moral, political and financial support to help her continue to shoulder the enormous responsibilities which a seat in the Security Council would entail.

He assured Bondevik of Nigeria's sincerity and sense of direction to not only build a better nation but also tackle her various problems. "According to him, Nigeria hopes "to do this in partnership with all well-meaning members of the international community."

The president, who identified the economy as a major priority of his administration, said he was poised to fight the scourge of corruption, ensure transparency and accountability in governance, propel the private sector to become the engine of growth and rehabilitate the nation's infrastructure.

Others include the management of the nation's external debt burden, continuation of the current privatisation programme, regaining investors' confidence and improving the welfare of the citizenry.

Replying, Mr. Bondevik who noted that the visit was his first to Nigeria, remarked that the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedom should be the basis of governments.

"We must all strive to ensure that political and civil rights, as well as social, cultural and economic rights, be respected. And this goes for Norway as for Nigeria," he stated.

He said Norwegian companies would be interested in the Nigeria's major sectors such as minerals, agro-business, valuable timber and abundant fish stocks.

Bondevik said the Norwegian Trade Council would soon be organising a seminar on telecommunications, energy and water supply and sanitation.

Also yesterday, he pledged to assist Nigeria on deep-water oil production.

Due to leave the country last night, he told oil industry chieftains that his country could also assist in shipping and fish exports.

He had told President Olusegun Obasanjo: "Nigerian exploration is now moving into deeper waters. This is an area in which Norway has particular expertise and where our industry can offer advanced technological solutions".

He added: "Although we are focusing on the oil and energy sector, we should not overlook shipping and fish exports. Both have long traditions in Nigeria. We will be looking for opportunities for investments in these and other areas".

He said he was impressed by President Obasanjo's commitment to human rights, poverty alleviation and the fight against corruption.

The prime minister had earlier visited Mozambique and South Africa.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


We're ready for probe —ABUBAKAR

By Ikechukwu Eze

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo and his vice, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar are ready and willing to face any probe instituted by the National Assembly on them, the Vice-President has declared.

Vice-President Abubakar who addressed a cross section of the Nigerian community in London, Tuesday, explained that it was in readiness to submit themselves that the President accepted the amendment to the anti-corruption bill by the National Assembly, making them liable for probe.

The Senate had, in a major amendment to the anti-corruption bill, inserted a provision for an independent counsel to investigate allegations of corruption levelled at the President, the Vice-President, state governors and their deputies.

Meanwhile, Vice-President, Alhaji Abubakar said yesterday that he was not an idle number two, and described himself as the most engaged Vice-President in Nigeria’s history. Alhaji Abubakar who spoke in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said:

"The President has given me a number of jobs. They are quite many. As I have said I am not an idle Vice-President. I think in the history of our leadership whether it is military or civilian rule, I have come to be seen as the most engaged Vice-President."

Below are excepts from the interview:

"What is it like being a Vice-President? Is it a frustrating job?

No, it is a very interesting one. It depends on what you are looking for in the job. If you are there to be loyal to your President, to be hard working and to do whatever you are given, I think it is an exciting job. And I would say I am lucky to have such President to work with.

So what kind of boss is he (President Obasanjo)?

A very experienced boss. A very honest, very upright man. A courageous man.

... He is a very patriotic Nigerian. I think that we need him at this point in time for political development. We definitely need somebody like the present President.

Which part of the task should we blame on you if it doesn’t turn out well? Of all the problems that face the administration, which one would you be held responsible for if it doesn’t go right?

Well the President has given me a number of jobs. As I have said I am not an idle Vice-President. I think in the history of our leadership, whether it is military or civilian rule, I have come to be seen as the most engaged Vice-President. I am the Chairman of the Privatisation Council, I am the Chairman of the Telecommunications Policy, I am the Chairman of the Economic Revitalisation Committee. Virtually, the entire economy is situated in my office under the direction of Mr. President ...

So if the economy doesn’t work we blame you?

You blame the team.

I understand you have good reason to be grateful to the BBC Hausa Service?

Yes, one thing the impact of Hausa Service of the BBC had made on me was that when I was to sit for my West African School Certificate in 1965, I relied on the BBC.

I came from a place where Hausa Language is not spoken at all. My language is Fulfude, that is Fulani. And I decided to sit for Hausa Language in WASC Examination. We had no teacher. So I resorted to listening to the Hausa Service of the BBC on a very regular basis. And at the end of the day when I sat for the West African School Certificate, I ended up with a ‘A.’

Vanguard Transmitted Thursday, 17 February, 2000


Court voids Osborne land deal *Says Decree 52 is contrary to provisions of African Charter

By Ise-Oluwa Ige

A FEDERAL High Court sitting in Lagos yesterday voided the controversial Decree No. 52 of 1993, which rested in the Federal Government ownership of all lands within 100 metres of the shoreline nationwide.

Declaring the legislation void in a 41-page judgement, that lasted two hours, the High Court Judge, Justice Tajuden Odunowo said not only was the decree contrary to the provisions of the African Charter of which Nigeria is a signatory, it was also highly flawed both in its conception and execution particularly as the said acquisition was not for any public purpose.

Former President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida had on July 21, 1993 signed into law and gazzetted a legislation cited as the Lands (Title Vesting, etc) Decree 52 of 1993 which rested the ownership of all lands within 100 metres of the shoreline nationwide on the Federal Government.

The decree not only ousted the jurisdiction of courts and all citizens’ rights under Chapter four of the 1979 constitution and 1999 constitution of Nigeria but it also took retroactive effect from January 1, 1975.

The legislation did not go down well with many individuals and organisations and it was only a matter of time before it sparked off a row over Federal Government’s acquisition of the Osborne foreshore in Lagos from the Lagos City Development Corporation (LCDC).

The company filed a suit against the Federal Government saying it had spent N500 million to reclaim the land.

But the Federal Government countered LCDC move as it tendered a copy of Decree 52 of 1993 which partly provides that, "Lands lying within 100 metres limit of the shoreline of Nigeria and any other lands reclaimed from any lagoon, sea, ocean in/or bordering Nigeria or of oceans bordering the Federal Republic of Nigeria" are rested in the Federal Government.

Consequently, on December 15, 1995, Justice Dolapo Akinsanya of the Lagos High Court declined jurisdiction in the LCDC case while another one filed by the Lagos State Government under Sir Michael Otedola was abated when military returned to government on November 17, 1993.

Undeterred by the setbacks, Lagos indigenes through Oba Yekini Adeniyi Elegushi, the Elegushi of Ikateland for himself and on behalf of his family with five others filed another suit before a Federal High Court, Lagos challenging the controversial Decree 52.

Respondents in the matter were the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Minister of Works and Housing and Chagouri and Chagouri Construction Company Limited.

Plaintiffs contended among others that the legislation was not only unconstitutional but also that the acquisition of public land by the Federal Government for allocation to powerful military officers and their cronies was against the provision of the African Charter of which Nigeria is a signatory.

Delivering judgment on the matter yesterday, Justice Odunowo said:

"This case is concerned with what is generally regarded as the most abhorrent, controversial and very much criticised piece of legislation known as the Lands (Titles Vesting, etc) Decree No. 52 of 1993 which was General Babangida’s parting gift to the nine coastal states of Nigeria, particularly Lagos State where the clamour for its abrogation has been most trenchant."

The judge added that even though it had been established that the acquisition of the land vide the legislation was against African Charter and the 1999 constitution, the allocation of the public land to powerful individuals was wrong.

His words: "Casual examination of the list of allottees will show that it is replete with the names of military, naval, air force and civilian officials who were functionaries of the Babangida regime when the said decree was promulgated.

He added, "Or to use the bombastic terminology of the late K.O. Mbadiwe, it was allocated to men of timber, caterpillar and juggernaut which is hardly in harmony with the contention that the military authorities was concerned with the welfare of all Nigerians.

"Hence, it is obvious to any objective observers that the said decree was highly flawed both in its conception and execution particularly as the said acquisition was not for any public purpose whatsoever."

According to him, "public need or public interest was not a motivating factor as stipulated under Article 14 of the African Charter.

"That is why one cannot fail to appreciate the vehement zeal with which the plaintiff’s counsel, Alhaji Femi Okunu (SAN) accused the Babangida regime of fraud, maladies, duplicity and arrogance of power," he said.

Justice Odunowo further held: "One must also not fail to acknowledge the fact that Decree No. 52 of 1993 was targeted at Lagos State because there is no evidence before the court that it has been applied in any of the remaining eight coastal states.

Warning President Olusegun Obasanjo against imminent crisis in the country, he said, "what really baffles me is why the Federal Government did not negotiate with the state governments concerned instead of simply proceeding to expropriate the lands, in question," stressing "it must be emphasised that as of now, land is to Lagos State what oil or gas represents to the oil producing states.

"It does not take a Nostradamus to appreciate the fact that failure to handle the issue with transparent honesty, equity and due circumspection will further compound the problem. This approach is not only necessary but also desirable if civil upheaval must be avoided which does not have to be so," he held.

The High Court Judge added: "That is why it behooves the present civilian administration to revisit the issue and ensure that actions of all authorities are in conformity with the civilised standard guaranteed by the African Charter the provisions of which have now apparently been jettisoned by Decree No. 52 of 1993.

Commenting on the retroactive effect given the voided legislation, the judge lashed out at the former President Babangida, accusing him of misuse of power.

His words: "I must take judicial notice of the fact that as at January 1, 1975, the retroactive effective date of Decree 52 of 1993, the government of General Yakubu Gowon was in power until he vacated office on July 29, 1975.

"For General Babangida to have enacted a law for a period when he was not in power is not only an affront to logic and common sense but also blatantly duplicitous."

Some of the allottees of the controversial land include: Ikoyi Nursing Home/Maryam Foundation, Malam Mohammed Sani, General Sani Abacha, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, Lt.-General Oladipo Diya, Lt.-General Yakubu Danjuma, Lt.-General Joshua Dogonyaro, Mr. Clement Akpamgbo and a host of others.

Immediately after the judgement, counsel to the Lagos indigenes, Alhaji Okunu stood up and said:

"Before I address your Lordship on matter of cost, I wish to thank your Lordship most profoundly in re-establishing the rule of law in Nigeria by this judgment. I also wish to thank profoundly your Lordship in restating a principle of law which was amply emphasised by perhaps the greatest of all English jurists, the late Lord Dennings when he said that, "however high you may be, the law is above you. You may be the Chief Justice, President of the Senate, or even President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or even a military Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, by this judgement, the law is above you.

"Your judgement has swept away the most obnoxious piece of legislation in the legal and political history of this country. I believe the CJ of this country will thank you for this judgement. Those who manipulated the law by promulgating this decree and by executing this decree have now been told that power ultimately belongs to God.

The lawyer added, "as to matter of cost, I will plead with your Lordship that though cost is discretionary, there is no limit as to what your Lordship may award.

"Your Lordship will remember that I did appeal to the defendant that we should settle and argue this matter purely on point of law, the counsel for the defendants refused, making us to call four witnesses. In the event, there were about 45 appearances since 1995 to date. On this note we are asking for half a million.

Counsel to the Federal Government, Mr. Pius Obeh on his part reacted to the judgement, saying: "I want to thank you most sincerely for your Lordship’s patience and painstaking attention to details in this matter.

"As your Lordship mentioned in the very first paragraph of your judgement, this matter concerns a piece of legislation which has been infested with series of controversies right from its promulgation and we appreciate your Lordship’s pronouncement on this matter.

Added he: "Our country is one in a state of evolution and transition and this evolution cannot leave our legal values undefined. Your judgement at this time is a very significant input to the definition of our legal output in the country.

On cost, he said "I was really wondering whether the matter of cost can really assuage whatever expenses or efforts put into this matter.

"From this perspective, this is a matter which affects the corporate soul of our people who had come before your Lordship. I want to respectfully urge your Lordship that since this is an issue unquantifiable in money terms, your Lordship’s judgement today should serve as an adequate compensation to the efforts put into the matter," he added.

Ruling on their oral application, Justice Odunowo said, "I am not persuaded that cost should not be awarded in this case. I award N50,000 cost against the defendants (1st and 2nd) while the third defendant, Chagouri and Chagouri Construction Company Limited is exempted being a nominal party in the matter."

Vanguard Transmitted Thursday, 17 February, 2000

Thursday, 17 February 2000

U.S. defence chief cancels visit to Nigeria due to bad weather

A SCHEDULED visit to Nigeria by the United States Defence Secretary, Mr. William Cohen, was yesterday cancelled mid-air in Abuja, for what Pentagon officials cited as bad weather.

However, airport personnel said the facility was open and operating normally. "There has been a bit of harmattan wind but the airport is open, planes are landing and taking off," the official told agency news.

The air force jet carrying Cohen made an unscheduled stop in Ghana to refuel after a decision was made to bypass Abuja airport due to poor visibility, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said.

Cohen, who headed home a day ahead of schedule after a week-long visit to Africa, told reporters travelling with him he was "disappointed" and hoped to reschedule his visit to Nigeria as early as April.

Airport officials said "we have had a dozen local flights in and we are expecting a flight from Amsterdan shortly."

Government officials were informed late as a presidency source told agency news that Cohen was still being expected even after the visit had been cancelled.

The U.S. defence secretary was to have met with President Olusegun Obasanjo to discuss how to help his civilian government reform and modernise Nigeria's military.

Cohen had left Pretoria earlier in the day aboard his U.S. Air Force jetliner, en route to Abuja. But sand blowing in from the Sahara desert made it impossible for the plane to land, Cohen's spokesman Ken Bacon told reporters aboard the aircraft.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, 17 February 2000

Court hears bail bid of Yakubu, Danbaba today

By Gbolahan Gbadamosi, Judicial Correspondent

ARGUMENTS in the bail applications filed by a former Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. James Danbaba and erstwhile Zamfara State Administrator, Col. Jubrin B. Yakubu (rtd), begin tomorrow at a Lagos High Court, Lagos.

If the separate bail requests by the duo and other legal knots that have beset their trial alongside former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (rtd) and two others over the 1996 attempted murder of The Guardian Publisher, Mr. Alex Ibru, are quickly resolved, the much expected cross-examination of the star witness, Sergeant Barnabas Mshelia (a.k.a Rogers) may hold March 8.

A week ago, another Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja Judicial Division refused a similar request by Yakubu.

The judge, Mr. Justice James Oduneye, had pointed out that granting bail to an accused person is a matter of discretion, adding that in the circumstance, he cannot use his discretion to grant Yakubu's request.

He said: "There is no offence that is not bailable. It is a matter of court's discretion. Since the conspiracy offence attracts a 14-year jail term, and an attempted murder charge attracts a life sentence, there is every likelihood that the accused may not show up for trial if granted bail, penalty being a maximum one. On this account, I am unable to use my discretion to grant him bail".

Yakubu's application at Ikeja was subject of controversy as Mr. Ibrahim Buba, the leading defence counsel, opposed it.

Although there was an application to avert the ruling on the bail request, the judge pronounced his verdict, saying: "The ruling has been overtaken by events since the applicant has been properly arraigned before another court."

Today's argument for bail on behalf of Yakubu will be anchored on a five-paragraph affidavit in support of summons deposed to by his lawyer, Mr. A Waheed Yusuf.

In the affidavit, Yusuf stated among others that:

bullethis client's military record and career would attest to the fact that he is a good officer who served this country in various capacities;
bullethe (Yakubu) has "never committed any criminal offence throughout his career as a soldier as well as a retired soldier."

Contending that he (Yakubu) would not jump bail, the lawyer averred further that there are "good and responsible surety" to stand for him as he (Yakubu) "is ready and willing to be tried if granted adequate opportunity to defend himself."

For Danbaba, his leading defence counsel, Mr. Mike Okoye, will try to convince the court to grant bail to his client.

The Guardian learnt that Captain Nasiru Najaja, Bamaiyi's security officer and the late Ibrahim Sani Abacha's driver, Mohammed Abdul (a.k.a Katako) have been listed by the prosecution as the next witnesses.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, 17 February 2000

Kaduna police warn against violent Sharia rallies

From Saxone Akhaine, Kaduna

THE Kaduna State Police Command yesterday warned pro and anti-Sharia demonstrators against acts capable of endangering lives and property in the state.

Alhaji Hamisu Isa, the police commissioner who spoke with reporters on the demonstrations in Kaduna, said the police will not hesitate to withdraw the permits granted the Moslem and Christian demonstrators if they breach the peace.

Earlier, thousands of moslems clamouring for the adoption of the Islamic legal system disrupted traffic flow along major roads in Kaduna.

The placard-carrying demonstrators from Kaduna South, Jema'a and Makarfi Council areas, later converged at the House of Assembly complex for an audience with members of the Committee on Sharia.

Isa, who ostensibly was displeased with the conduct of the demonstrators, stated that the police may lose their patience if the agitators fail to adhere to conditions for granting them permit.

"We gave them conditions before the permit was issued out and if we find out that their activities are becoming a nuisance to public life, we will not hesitate to withdraw the permit from both side. There are conditionalities attached to our permit and they must meet those conditions," he said.

Isa explained that policemen followed the demonstrators to ensure that they carry out their actions peacefully.

"If you observe closely, you will see that there are policemen following the Sharia agitators from behind. We have policemen following them and we make sure they follow the route we gave them," the police chief said.

According to him: "Since they started this demonstration on Sharia local government by local government, we have tried to discourage the Christians and Moslems having their processions at the same time in order not to instigate crisis."

However, two groups - Women in Nigeria and Gendera Violence Action Network - have appealed to the Federal Government to immediately intervene in the crisis generated by the agitation for Sharia in the state.

Specifically, Women in Nigeria Co-ordinator, Mrs. Busola Olagunju, who spoke at a press conference, said: "Our major cause of concern is the human right implications of the introduction of a fully judged Sharia system in any part of the country."

Olagunju urged the state assembly to ignore the call for Sharia adoption and focus its attention on ways of ending the socio-economic problems in the state.

"Women in Nigeria strongly advises the state assembly to hearken to the voice of reason and refuse the calls to adopt Sharia in Kaduna and to focus on the myriad socio-economic problems facing the state," she said.

Executive Director of Gender Violence Action Network, Malam Idris Miliki Abdullahi, said the group would resist the plan to introduce islamic law in the state.

"We shall ensure that the issue of the introduction of Sharia is resisted and also protect the fundamental rights of Nigerians which the legal system will violate," he stated.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, 17 February 2000

Varsity workers may resume strike on Wednesday

By Prisca Egede

NON-academic activities in the nation's universities may again be grounded if non-teaching staff make good their threat to embark on strike Wednesday.

In a statement at the end of their trade group council meeting in Abeokuta, Ogun State, the non-teaching workers accused the government of reneging on its promise to convene a meeting where their demands would be addressed.

The workers, under the aegis of Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), are demanding "improved salaries, allowances and other conditions of service."

The statement titled "resumption of suspended strike action" and addressed to NASU branch chairmen, gave the government till February 28 to meet the demands and end the discrimination against the non-academic staff.

The statement by NASU General Secretary, Mr. Peters Adeyemi, reads in part: "In accordance with the resolve of the Trade Group Council, all members in your branch should resume the suspended indefinite and total strike action beginning from Wednesday, February 23, 2000.

"It is a matter of regret that government had reneged in her promise to convene a meeting to commence negotiation in the memorandum, it demands of NASU within four weeks of the date of our meeting and instead facilitated the payment of a section of the work force in the system to the dissatisfaction of the others."

Adeyemi posited that government has not only "exacerbated tension in the various campuses by ceding to a section of the university some allowances while denying NASU members," but created "acrimony amongst the community and credibility problems for NASU leadership."

In separate letters to the Minister of Labour and Productivity, and Education, the Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission, and Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Chief Philip Asiodu, the union claimed that "members of a section of the university community, have been handsomely paid arrears of allowances in January 2000 to the chagrin of members of NASU whose demands are put in abeyance."

The letters, which were dated February 9 and 10 and signed also by Adeyemi, stated that the trade council met because of the "tension generated by this open bias and favouritism displayed by the government" and resolved to "resume the strike action it suspended in November 1999.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

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Monday, February 14, 2000

U.S states confidence in Obasanjo’s leadership By Nkechi Nwosu, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

UNITED States Secretary of Defence William Cohen’s expected two-day visit to Abuja from Wednesday has been described as a testimony of Americans’ optimism for Nigeria’s recovery under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s leadership.

A statement by the U.S Embassy in Lagos quoted Bernd McConnell, deputy assistant secretary for African Affairs in the office of the Secretary of Defence as stating the Americans’ position during a press briefing in Washington on Cohen’s eight-day African tour. The tour began on Thursday last week and would take him through Morocco and South Africa before Nigeria. McConnell recounted the badly managed military relationship between U.S and Nigeria under the late Gen. Sani Abacha and said that Cohen with his team would try to restore the ties once more. He said: “Reformation, reprofessionalisation of the Nigerian military” was critical to the success of democracy in the country. He pledged that “within the confines of our own system, we intend to be helpful to that new government in a military-to-military cooperation sense to see if we can’t make that situation a bit less fragile than it is now.” Noting that U.S had “absolutely” no military ties with Nigeria for many years in the immediate past, McConnell explained Washington’s change of heart: “We are persuaded by the actions of President Obasanjo... and others that they are committed to establishing a military that is used to and receptive to civilian control... a reprofessionalised military that overcomes years of abuse.” He said U.S would like to identify with the reprofessionalisation and was seeking the Congress role in initiating an assistance programme which will among other things help create a military founded on: ¥ supremacy of civilian rule; ¥ transparency and budgeting; ¥ care of its soldiers and their families; and ¥ rule of law.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Monday, February 14, 2000

 Obasanjo to open UNESCO peace conference

AÊ UNESCO conference to mark the International Year for the culture of peace will be opened by President Olusegun Obasanjo on February 17, at the Peace Hall of the Women Development Centre Abuja.

  The conference, being organised by the Senior Citizens Association of Nigeria (SCAN) and the International Federation on Ageing in Nigeria (IFAN), will be focusing on senior citizens as agents of peace.

  According to conference convener and IFAN country Coordinator, Iyke Willie Nwobu, the conference is designed to sensitise the public on the role of the elderly in creating a global peaceful environment through national rebirth.

  He also added that the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations has proclaimed that year 2000 should focus on international cultural diversity and promotion of tolerance, solidarity, cooperation, dialogue and reconciliation.

  The three-pronged conference of UNESCO, IFAN and SCAN, Nwobu explained, is aimed at rousing the consciousness of the citizenry to the fact that it is only in a peaceful environment that the dreams of moving the nation and the world forward can be actualised.

  It is hoped, he added, that this forum will be the catalyst to transform the culture of war and violence into a culture of peace and non-violence.

  The conference is expected to draw participants from government agencies, the organised private sector, traditional rulers, NGOs, CBOs and UN agencies in Nigeria.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Monday, February 14, 2000

 Norwegian leader arrives in Nigeria today

By Nkechi Nwosu,

Foreign Affairs Correspondent

NORWEGIAN Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik begins a three-day visit to Nigeria today.

  Norway’s Embassy in Lagos said the visit aims at:

nurturing “closer friendship and co-operation” between both countries;

“facilitating the exchange of experience and technological know-how in various fields”; and

showing Norway’s “support to the successful transition to democracy and civilian rule in Nigeria.

  While in Nigeria, Bondevik, who leads a 60-man delegation, will hold talks with President Olusegun Obasanjo in Abuja.

  He will also meet with Senate President Chuba Okadigbo, House of Representatives Speaker Umar Ghali Na’Abba on Petroleum and Energy, Special Adviser Rilwanu Lukman and National Human Rights Commission Chairman, Justice Paul Nwokedi (rtd).

  Besides, the Prime Minister will hold talks with the Economic Community of West African States Executive Secretary, Lansana Kouyate, in Abuja.

  Norway, Nigeria’s major supplier of stockfish, also produces crude oil.

  Bondevik will tomorrow in Abuja address a round-table meeting hosted by Norwegian Oil and Gas Partners (INTSOK).

  He is expected to open a human rights seminar at the Meridien Eko Hotel, Lagos, and address a press conference before his departure for Lome, Togo, on Wednesday.

  Bondevik, the first Scandinavian head of government to visit Nigeria, has on his entourage the Minister for International Development and Human Rights, Ms Hilde F. Johnson, State Secretaries Kari Husoy, Odd J. Saeter and Gunnar Hussan and state secretary, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ms Harriet E. Berg.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Monday, February 14, 2000

 Sharia: Niger Christians consider legal option

From Akin Alofetekun, Minna

CHRISTIANS in Niger State have concluded plan to sue Governor Abdulkadir Kure over the introduction of the controversial Sharia legal system in the state.

  Already, the Christians have secured the services of legal luminary, Chief G. O. K. Ajayi (SAN) who is to file papers on their behalf at a federal high court.

  Sources said the Christians were becoming seriously uncomfortable with certain steps being taken by Kure preparatory to the introduction of Sharia whose bill was yet to be passed by the House of Assembly.

  As part of measures to meet the legal cost, each adult Christian in the state is to contribute N50 “and this contribution has to be immediate because time is not on our side,” a pastor in one of the churches in Minna told his congregation.

  The papers, according to the source, are expected to be filed this week with the aim of securing interim injunction restraining the state legislators from deliberating on the bill until the final determination of the substantive suit.

  Kure last week approved the upward review of fees payable by dealers in alcohol, hotel operators, palm wine, burukutu as well as wine and beer joints, in the state.

  The new fees range from N200,000 to N1 million as against the old fees of N2,000, the fees considered to be outrageous and deliberately made to stiffle liquor business.

  An official of the Hotel Proprietors Association in the state, Hyginus Okechukwu, denounced the new fees, describing it as retrogressive.

  According to him, the move, if allowed, would constitute a major setback to the industrial and commercial growth of the state.

  Liquor business in the state is at present dominated by non-Moslems.

  “This Sharia thing is directed against Christians. The final destination is to create an Islamic state and I can assure you that we shall resist this with all our energy. This court matter is just one of such moves,” CAN chairman in the state, Bishop Jonah Kolo, said.

  Besides, Rev. Shola Dare of All Saints’ Church, Minna, said CAN “have it on good authority that the state government is planning to recruit youths and commercial motor-cyclists for a solidarity rally in support of Sharia.”

  Many non-indigenes of Minna, the state capital, are already anticipating relocating from the state for fear of being caught in the web of the Sharia laws.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Participants want Sharia adopted nationwide

By Leon Usigbe, Kaduna

PARTICIPANTS at the just concluded national seminar on Sharia have called for the adoption of Sharia nationwide.

In a communiqué at the end of the seminar held in Kaduna, participants described full application of Sharia as "a fundamental right of Muslims and should therefore be made applicable throughout the country."

Besides, they recommended seminars, workshops and conferences of experts "from both sides of the spectrum to examine and interpret the various constitutional provisions as they relate to the Sharia with a view to harmonising divergent views of the experts."

Such workshops, seminars and conferences should be organised under the auspices of suitable fora, like the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) and Jamaatu Nisril Islam and other religious organisations should endeavour to play their proper role in providing moral education to the people, the seminar said, and called for the creation of avenues for regular meaningful dialogues to foster mutual understanding and harmonious coexistence among the various religious communities.

It also stressed the need to fully reflect in an unambiguous manner, the religious and legal plurality in the country in any future constitutional arrangement, saying the existing misconceptions about Sharia were largely borne out of sheer ignorance, as Sharia does not in any way threaten the corporate existence of the country since it has been in practice in a large part of Northern Nigeria.

The participants observed that "the plurality of legal systems in one country is not peculiar to Nigeria and therefore its application should not be seen to be an impediment to the progress and development of our great country," adding for long now Nigeria has been operating a multi-legal system, e.g. Common Law, Sharia Law, Customary Law, etc.

"Contrary to the widely held view, the Sharia is not unmindful of the rights and obligations of non-Muslims living under the Islam legal system," the participants said.

The communiqué noted: "Sharia does in fact enjoin the protection of such rights."

It added: "Sharia is a fundamental human right of Muslims and does not in anyway infringe on the rights of others.

"So, to deny their full application of the Sharia is to disallow them full practice of their religion," the communiqué observed.

It noted the divergent views expressed by experts "about certain provisions of the constitution as they relate to the implementation of full scale Sharia in Nigeria."

A total of 10 papers were presented by eminent Muslim and Christian scholars covering a wide range of issues on Sharia, its concept, meaning, application, implications and its constitutionality within a pluralist multi-religious society like Nigeria."

Among the Christian leaders who participated in the seminar were the Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Arch-Bishop John Onaiyekan, Rev. Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah of the Catholic Secretariat and Rev. Bauna Peter Tanko.

Vanguard Transmitted Monday, 14 February, 2000


Excessive federal powers threaten the nation, says Tinubu

By Kenneth Ehigiator & Opara Kingsley

ENEMIES of the nascent democracy in the country abound every where, but the biggest threat to the survival of the system is the over-centralisation of power in the hands of the Federal Government, Governor Bola Tinubu of Lagos State declared weekend.

The governor, who spoke when members of Eko Legislative Forum, comprising former members of the State House of Assembly and former national legislators from the state paid him a courtesy call, said the snail-speed progress made by the country since independence was as a result of the concentration of power and resources at the centre.

Governor Tinubu admitted that though democracy was the only way out of the wood for Nigeria, its usefulness for Nigerians depended on its re-invention, which revolves round the ability to see change and the need for it and then make the change.

He said until this was done, democracy might not survive in the country. "How can democracy survive when you have a unitary system of over-centralised government at the centre? That is the bane; that is the enemy of democracy," Tinubu said. He cited two federal agencies NEPA and NITEL, which according to him have caused major dislocations to the state’s economy as a result of over-centralisation, inspite of the fact that Lagos State remained a major stakeholder to both bodies by virtue of its contribution to their revenue base.

The governor particularly frowned at the attitude of some Federal Government’s agents to the state’s independent power project, which, according to him, President Olusegun Obasanjo and his vice had already given their blessings and supports.

"Some people want to build a Berlin wall in Lagos but it’s impossible because we are not going to allow that. We are going to tear that wall down," the governor stated, in apparent reference to the obstacle to the project.

Describing Lagos State as engine of the national economy which must be based on a firm foundation, Governor Tinubu said what was necessary to move the state forward was performance based on well thought out objectives and well designed programmes that could endure the test of time.

The governor, who noted that no leadership could succeed without courage, vision and perseverance, said his administration was desirous to build a time-tested, solid foundation for the take-off of the state, and not "the haphazard, unorganised, quick-fix, fire brigade and half-baked approach of the past that will disintegrate without any measure of history."

To achieve his goal for the state, Governor Tinubu said: "I am approaching my job without looking at the potentiality or peculiarity for a second chance; I’m approaching my job that the history and landscape of the state will change and change permanently for ever."

He commended the former legislators for the role they played in the democratic struggle for Nigeria, especially in the trying days of the struggle for the actualization of June 12, and charged them to step up the campaign for the practice of true federation to ensure the survival of the young democracy in the country.

Speaking earlier, the chairman of the Forum, Mr. Adebowale Olasoji gave the Tinubu administration a pass mark so far, and said there was need to upgrade the status of the legislative arm of government in the country to put it at par with the executive and judicial arms.

He told the governor that they had come to commiserate with him following the communal clashes that engulfed the state recently, blaming the development on those he described as "enemies of democracy." Mr. Olasoji urged the governor to forward a bill to the state House of Assembly on neighbourhood watch with a view to strengthening the security of lives and property in the state as well as move to surpass the performance of former Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, in the provision of housing for the poor.

Vanguard Transmitted Monday, 14 February, 2000

Monday, February 14, 2000

How to boost Nigerians’ living standard, by Ayu

From Sunny Igboanugo, Enugu

LIVING standards among Nigerians can only be improved when democracy is thriving and the government is stable, Industry Minister, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, has said.

  He spoke just as industrialists in the country rose from a four-day meeting at the weekend warning  about the spate of ethnic clashes in the country and its effect on industrialisation, which they said was the pivot of any country’s economic development.

  Ayu, in an interview with The Guardian at the start of the meeting, explained that without stability and consistency of policies, hopes for economic prosperity for the ordinary Nigerian would be futile.

  Admitting that the success of government policies depended on how it affected the common man, Ayu said the Federal Government was directing its policies to ensure that the Nigerian masses felt the impact quickly.

  He said: “We agree that any economic policy that does not yield real dividend in terms of benefits to the people will need to be reviewed. And that can only be done with consistency and stability in government. And that can only come through democracy.  I believe that if we have a democratic setting consistently in the next few years, Nigerians will have serious changes in their quality of life.”

  According to him, it was such consistency that had seen to the transformation of the Indian economy to the extent that a country that Nigeria laughed at in the past, had grown to the level where its foreign reserve had reached $35 billion with import system netting it $15 billion yearly.

  “They are investing in agriculture massively, in the industry - small, medium and large. They are producing their own aeroplanes, their trains, their tractors, everything they are producing in India. That will translate concretely into the quality of life of the ordinary Indian.  Even though you know they are such a large population of one billion people, they are able to now reasonably fed themselves,” he said.

  But the situation in Nigeria would be better than that of India if only the country could get its acts together, because unlike in India, everybody would benefit as the caste system operated in India was completely absent in Nigeria. All that is needed is to sustain democracy through a long period, he added.

   Rising from the meeting held under the aegis of the National Council on Industry (NCI), the industrialists comprising those in the public and private sectors linked the spate of ethnic violence in the country to the high level of unemployment.

  To them, the remedy was located in the government and the private sector stepping up the pace of industrialisation in the country as a way of generating employment opportunities, which would eventually reduce unrest among the youth.

  Acknowledging the importance of steel in the development of the industrial sector, the council recommended that government should as a matter of priority, reactivate and complete the Ajoakuta steel project, the Nigerian Machine Tools Company, Osogbo and the steel rolling mi

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper


Monday, February 14, 2000

Govt may acquire shares in local oil firms

By Tajudeen Adigun, Energy Editor

PLANS are afoot to invoke legislations which would enable government acquire participating interests in the Oil Prospecting Leases (OPLs) of some indigenous firms where huge hydrocarbon reserves are discovered.

Otherwise known as farm-into, the acquisition is being proposed by the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), a division of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

The move may have been informed by growing fear in government circles, the possible creation overnight of excessively rich entrepreneurs, operations reassured at the weekend.

Government is also said to be guarding against the concentration of a substantial source of the nation’s revenue in the hands of such few super rich, as well as a loss of huge revenue.

The plan, informed sources say, is also to:

bulletharmonise operating arrangement of such firms with those of multinationals;
bulletmoderate relationship between them and their foreign technical partners; and
bulletdirectly supervise operations of such leases where foreign technical partners arebelieved to be holding sway because of their technological and financial advantage.

Officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), the industry regulatory body, say no fewer than 30 local entrepreneurs still have valid prospecting licences despite the wihdrawal of 31 leases by government a forthnight ago over alleged non-performance.

Details of the proposed farm-in arrangement were still not clear at the weekend but an informed source said government was considering acquiring between 20 and 30 per cent interest in any on-shore (land) block where crude oil reserve of over 50 million barrels is discovered.

This is to be applied at varying reserve volumes, depending on the different terrains - swamp, shallow waters, offshore, up to 500 million barrels in deep offshore areas.

Operators explained that government might invoke provisions of the Petroleum Act Cap. 350 of 1969, such as section 34 (a) which allows "participation by the Federal Government in the venture to which the licence or lease relates, on terms to be negotiated between the minister and the applicant for the licence or lease."

Provisions of the Land Use Act of 1978, which vested proprietory rights of all minerals under the ground in government, and, terms of the award to the licencees may also be invoked.

No fewer than nine of about 30 operating local firms have made substantial discoveries in their respective blocks and producing between 800 and 35,000 barrels of oil per day.

These include Dubri Oil largely owned by Dr. Imo Itsueli; Express Oil and Gas, Alhaji Aminu Dantata; Consolidated Oil, Dr. Mike Adenuga; Continental Oil, Chief Dan Etete; Amni International, Colonel Sanni Bello (retired); Atlas Petroleum, Chief Arthur Eze; Cavendish Petroleum, Alhaji Mai Deribe; and Monipulo Nigeria Limited, Chief Lulli Briggs.

Another company, Famfa Oil largely owned by Chief Modupe Alakija, has discovered over 1.5 billion barrels of oil reserve in its block - OPL 216.

An official said the proposal was to tackle likely situations "where government would seem to have created some super rich not because of the value they added but by accident of getting oil prospecting licence."

He hinged this on the claim that "many of indigenous operators never risk their resources. Instead they have relied on foreign partners for funding after obtaining millions of dollars as participation fees."

Government’s thinking, another source added, might also have been informed by recent huge discoveries in the deep offshore areas where no fewer than five firms are operating and 16 other licences were revolved in controversial circumstances last July.

"With the size of discoveries being made in the area, that region may soon account for the bulk of Nigeria’s output and you may find some few priviledge Nigerians in partial control of what will become major source of government’s revenue," a source said.

Besides, the sole risk arrangement under which the indigenous companies are operating makes them liable to payment of taxes and royalties only.

This is in contrast to the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) and joint venture arrangements with multinationals where income also accrue to the Federation Account from government’s share of the produced oil.

The proposal is, therefore, to grant government access to part of the crude and bring the sole risk arrangement in line with other operating scheme.

It is also expected to put it in proper position to review the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) between some indigenous firms and their foreign technical partners amidst widespread allegation that some of the JOAs are heavily skewed in favour of the foreign partners.

"It is meant to also enable government monitor operations of these ventures, which are largely being run by the foreign partners and ensure compliance in respect to actual crude produced, exported including tax and royalties paid," an official added.

Government exercised such rights in September 1971 when it acquired 33 per cent interest in Agip/Phillips joint venture, after joining the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) earlier in the year.

This was followed with acquisition of 55 per cent interest in Shell/BP; Gulf (now Chevron), Mobil, Texaco, Elf and Pan Ocean oil prospecting ventures in 1974.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper