Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #10
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Nigeria Weekly News Highlights

March 11, 2000

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Friday, March 10, 2000

Police raise new anti-crime squad for Lagos, Abuja

By Ben Akparanta, Police Affairs Correspondent

ANEW security outfit, Dragon Squad has been floated by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) for Lagos and Abuja.

Headed by Mr. Samuel Okanla, a Superintendent of Police, the squad is to combat violent crimes in the two cities.

The squad which has debuted in Lagos with 30 new Toyota Hilux patrol jeeps provided by the Police Affairs Ministry, will complement efforts of the state government-sponsored Rapid Response Squad

Although the vehicles are without communication gadgets, plans are afoot to equip them and for the pioneer personnel to undergo training in urban anti-insurgency technique, hand-to-hand combat, intelligence gathering and weapons handling.

The members who are drawn from police stations, Area Commands and the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) at Panti Street, Yaba, presently use walkie-talkies instead of the compact 300 cm motorollla radio communication equipment the RRS employs.

The Dragon Squad is yet to debut in Abuja.

Force spokesman, Mr. Young Arabamen who spoke on the appearance of the squad on Lagos Street, said it would be extended to other cities.

"This project is for Lagos and Abuja. We shall focus on these two cities and spread it to other states depending on the availability of funds," he assured.

Arebamen, a deputy commissioner of police, urged Nigerians to exercise patience to enable the authorities procure equipment for the police.

"We are expecting more equipment which would soon be in use," he said.

"Security is the responsibility of the Nigeria Police Force and we are doing our best to achieve results although we need the cooperation of every Nigerian to be virile and more effective," the police chief added.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Friday, March 10, 2000

Pray for national unity, Christians urged

CHRISTIANS have been urged to use the period of lent to fast and pray for Nigeria's unity and prosperity.

They should also assist the poor and handicapped persons in emulation of Jesus Christ, according to Senior Pastor T. B. Joshua, General Overseer of The Synagogue, Church of All Nations, Lagos.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Friday, March 10, 2000

Poverty alleviation scheme takes off in Lagos

By Tunde Alao

THE Poverty Alleviation Programme (PAP) took off yesterday in Lagos with over 8,000 successful candidates as initial beneficiaries in the state.

Announcing the take off of the programme at the People's Democratic Party (PDP) secretariat at Akilo Street, Ikeja, the state party chairman, Alhaji Mohammed Muritala Ashorobi said the second phase of the scheme will come up in few weeks time.

Ashorobi enjoined applicants to go to their council headquarters to check if they were successful. He noted that the first phase was just released does not include graduates of higher institutions, stressing that those in that category would receive their letters next month.

The party chieftain also urged the initial beneficiaries to go with their passport photographs for proper identification, adding that they would start receiving their salaries from this month.

Ashorobi urged the successful candidates to work hard so that the effort of the government would be justified.

Answering questions from reporters, he assured that one did not need to be a PDP member to benefit from the programme, stressing that it was meant for all Nigerians.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Friday, March 10, 2000

Law on cultism soon, says Nwuche

THE House of Representatives has expressed its determination to stamp out the menace of cultism in the nation's educational institutions through adequate legislation.

Receiving students of the University of Abuja and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in separate audiences on Wednesday at the National Assembly Complex, Deputy Speaker Chibudom Nwuche said it was coincidental that the students were visiting on a day the house was deliberating on a bill to eradicate cultism in schools and appealed to them to desist from joining secret cults.

He said: "Students who aspire to lead the country should desist from cult activities and focus on their academic work because ultimately, the only yardstick for achieving success in a democratic society is excellence." Membership of cults, he added, also disqualifies persons from participating in political activities.

On the recent sectarian strife in parts of the country, Chibudom urged the students, as enlightened members of the society, to set an example for others to follow by always living in harmony.

He said the legislators in Budget 2000 had voted substantial sums of money to ensure the education sector's revival.

Responding, the student leaders of both schools, Festus Ekpen (UNIABUJA) and Kadiri Mohammed (ABU) commended the lawmakers for the opportunity given them to observe the happenings in the house.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Drastic measures against campus cultism underway, says Obasanjo

From Emeka Nwankpa, Abuja

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday restated government's readiness to embark on drastic steps aimed at checking the spread of cultism to secondary schools.

He stated this while receiving a report from the Justice Okoi Itam judicial commission of inquiry set up to investigate the activities of cult members at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State on July 10 last year.

The president remarked that the phenomenon of cultism had resulted in total disregard and disrespect for university and societal authorities, merit and democracy.

President Obasanjo implored leaders and teachers of all educational institutions in the country should wake up to the onerous responsibility of training the nation's youths in character and learning in order to produce leaders of tomorrow.

According to him, educators must recognise their duty to parents who send their children to school for education. Therefore, they must live up to that responsibility.

"Our findings have indicated the severity of the spread of the cult menace to some secondary schools and the existence of cult alumni groups in some cities."

Justice Itam said that unless the government was financially committed, the implementation of all the recommendations by the commission might be impossible.

Itam also cautioned the government not to restrict its financial support to federal tertiary institutions as the state-owned ones also required adequate attention.

He advised university authorities to constantly screen students and lecturers and maintain surveillance on them.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Friday, March 10, 2000

Fighting rages in Ife-Modakeke

 

bulletReps urge boundary review

From Sola Shittu (Ile-Ife), and Iyabo Sotunde, Ibadan

FEUDING combatants in the Ife-Modakeke crisis continued the spate of violence yesterday in defiance of pleas by government and traditional rulers for a ceasefire.

The strife which has reportedly claimed no fewer than 32 lives, recorded a new dimension yesterday as unconfirmed accounts said kidnapping was becoming rife on both sides.

The House of Representatives yesterday urged government to order the review of their boundaries.

Also, dead bodies, some beheaded, others with their private parts removed, littered deserted streets.

One of the victims, an Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) worker was allegedly killed on his way to move his belonging out of Ile-Ife.

Another staffer of the university who pleaded anonymity however, escaped unhurt.

The staffer who teaches in the Faculty of Arts, said he was attacked by eight armed men at Mayfair junction.

"They fired gun shots at me. It was only God that saved my life. Most of them were teenagers within the ages of 17 and 20. My car almost tumbled at the roundabout while I was trying to escape from them," he said.

A Toyota Hiace bus with eight passengers from Ilesa which also ran into the youths along Ilesa Road in Ile-Ife, had its body perforated by bullets. Some of the passengers and the driver sustained injuries.

Armed policemen who were unable to gain access to the hot spots, however, cordoned off the two major roads -from Ilesa and Ondo - into Ile-Ife. The renewed hostilities which were said to have started at midnight lasted till daybreak.

Relatives of the victims were seen at the central parts of the two communities, wailing.

Some residents who spoke with The Guardian urged deployment of soldiers to the areas.

"Even if they (soldiers) have to be stationed here permanently, I think it will be better. Maybe that will give some of us who are working here some rest of mind" said Mr. Rufus Akanni, on the staff of OAU.

"Look at the students, who come from various places to study here. Their safety is not guaranteed. Who can tell how many of them have been killed in the mayhem. So I am asking the Federal Government to urgently do something about this place before they turn it to a grave-yard," he added.

The boundary review exercise, according to the legislators should also be carved out in Ikot Udo and Mbiabo, Akwa Ibom State, Ukwa East in Abia State and Odukpani Council Area of Cross River State.

Adopting a motion by Adewale Layade (AD: Osun state), the Representatives also mandated their Peace and Reconciliation, National Security and Intelligence and Police Affairs committees to mediate the dispute between Ife and Modakeke.

Besides, they asked the Federal Government to provide relief materials to the victims of the Ife-Modakeke crisis and appealed to the indigenes to embrace dialogue.

Earlier, Oyo State Council of Obas and Chiefs decried the killings in the Osun communities and in Kaduna and called for peace.

Moving his motion, Layade said that about 50 people had been killed, while more than 100 houses had been burnt since the latest crisis started.

He said that the Ife-Modakeke crisis dated as far back as a century, alleging that the Federal Government had not been actively interested in resolving it.

Contributing to the debate, Florence Aya (PDP - Kaduna), who expressed concern over the future of the country, noted that the crisis had become nationwide.

"A country that should be a giant of Africa and indeed the world is now being faced with multiple problems. We have to look for a permanent solution to the crisis," Aya said.

Francis Aladejobi (AD - Ekiti), said that since the government was able to settle the Aguleri-Umuleri crisis, the same federal might should be used to resolve the Ife-Modakeke dispute.

He said that the issue had been left for so long with local authorities, alleging that government had refused to intervene.

Usman Degre (PDP - Gombe) urged the government to live up to its responsibilities by tackling the problem immediately.

Besides, the Representatives who urged the government to deploy security personnel to the crisis-torn areas, also approved the final report of their committee on public service matters, on the National Assembly Service Commission (Amendment Bill) 1999.

Rising from a meeting at which they criticised the mayhem in Ife, Modakeke and Kaduna, the Oyo State monarchs urged the feuding parties to eschew violence in the interest of national development.

In a three-point statement at the end of their meeting, the traditional rulers called for amicable settlement of the Ife-Modakeke dispute.

"The situation of things as they are presently must not be allowed to continue; there must be an end to wanton destruction of lives and property," they said.

On the Kaduna mayhem, they remarked that religious tolerance ought to prevail in a secular state like Nigeria.

According to them, since Christianity and traditional religions preach peace, there should be no basts for religious crisis.

The council added that rather than religious or ethnic imbroglio, ''the development of the country should take precedence".

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, March 9, 2000

Obasanjo affirms faith in democracy

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday restated that democracy remains the only alternative to military dictatorship.

Receiving a Turkish team led by Minister of State for Economic Co-operation, Mr. Edip Safder, in Abuja, Obasanjo said under the military, rights of people were severely violated, their psyche seriously damaged and national resources looted.

Responding, the Turkish leader, who delivered its president's message, expressed his country's desire to revitalise Nigeria-Turkey Joint Economic Commission and assist Nigeria to sustain its nascent democracy.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, March 9, 2000

Obasanjo to visit Ife, Modakeke next week

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo may next week visit crisis-torn Ife and Modakeke, a top official of the Osun State government said yesterday amid unconfirmed report that over 80 lives have been lost.

The official who pleaded anonymity added that Obasanjo, in a bid to have full details of the renewed mayhem, has directed Governor Adebisi Akande to immediately meet with leaders of the two communities.

Early yesterday, the House of Representatives resolved to discuss the feud as a matter public importance. The Representatives will also deliberate on the dispute between Abak, Akwa Ibom State and Ukwa East in Abia State.

Osun State Council of Traditional Rulers met over the renewed clash.

A statement on their behalf by the Owe Obokun of Ijesaland, Oba Adekunle Aromolazan appealed to the communities to sheath their swords and give peace a chance."

There was, however, an indication that the curfew an the warring towns has not been complied with as sporadic shootings still occurred at Oke-Eso, Owode, Akarabata, Oroma, AP, Ondo Road, Oroto, Egbeore and Mayfair.

More houses were said to have been burnt while residents continued to flee to neighbouring Edun-Abo, Ede, Osogbo and Ikere communities. Reports have it that about 700 houses have so far been burnt in the two communities.

The state Police Commissioner has however, restated his earlier view that there is no need of drafting soldiers to the areas.

Ogunsun of Modakeke, Francis Adedoyin has accused the police of shooting some of his subjects.

"I am fighting against the police and not against the people of Ife. That is the situation," he claimed.

The monarch who expressed surprise that "Osun State government has not sent anybody to assess the level of damage," accused the government of tardiness.

"May be the governor and his deputy Otunba Iyiola Omisore) are waiting until the time Ife people will totally wipe us out," he said

But Asiwaju of Ife, Chief Orayemi Orafidiya claimed that Ogunsua was only not being truthful. "He (Ogunsua) was telling lies, nothing like that happened," he said.

In Abuja, the House of Representatives resolved to deliberate on the feud.

Before the resolution, Prince Adewale Layode (Ife: AD, Osun) urged his colleagues to intervene in the crisis.

"The House should intervene and help solve the crisis that has lingered for years since both areas belong to the heartland of the South-West," he said.

Seconding the motion, Deputy House Leader, Mao Ahubunwa, asked members to give the crisis accelerated attention.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, March 9, 2000

Babangida, others want constitutional verdict on Sharia

From Saxone Akhaine, Kaduna

ONLY a constitutional pronouncement will resolve the festering crisis over the Sharia Northern emirs and leaders said yesterday.

At a meeting believed to have been initiated by former military ruler, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd) and attended by Second Republic President Alhaji Shehu Shagari and Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Muhammed Maccido at the Arewa House, Kaduna, the leaders also repudiated the mediation in the crisis by the National Council of State.

A communique signed by Alhaji Adamu Adamu, said: "Sharia issue is a constitutional matter and the only lasting solution to it is to resolve it constitutionally."

Other royal fathers at the two-hour meeting were Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Kolapo Ibrahim Sulu Gambari; Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero; Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris; Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Umaru Sanda Ndayako; Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Kabir Usman and Emir of Gombe, Alhaji Shehu Abubakar.

Others included Emir of Gwandu, El-Mustapha Jokolo, Alhaji Tijani Hashim, Maitama Sule and Alhaji Ahmadu Chanchangi.

The communique stated further: "The meeting set up a committee with membership drawn from all parts of the North to find lasting solution to the issue of crisis and conflict in order to help heal the wounds inflicted on the country in general and the North in particular."

The committee headed by Alhaji Gambari, Adamu further said: "The meeting called upon the Federal Government to investigate the root causes of the recent crisis in Kaduna and its spill-over in parts of South-Eastern states."

To the rulers, there are reasons to believe the crisis was premeditated, and might have been planned outside the state."

Adamu said: "The crisis couldn't have been the result of the Sharia, because states that had already implemented it have remained peaceful."

The elders also condemned "with much regret," what they called "the one-sided nature and the unprofessional manner of the handling of the issue by the media."

Adamu said: "This is unlikely to prove helpful in our search for solutions, and in the long-term peaceful co-existence in the country.

"We pray for the repose of the souls of those killed in the affected states, and sympathised with those who suffered losses."

The meeting also urged Nigerians to remain calm and peaceful.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Thursday, March 9, 2000

Violence in Nigeria worries Annan

"I think we were all very pleased when Nigeria went through a democratic transition and elected a new president, and I had hoped that the entire nation would work with him in bringing democratic rule and prosperity in Nigeria."

With these words, the Secretary-General of United Nations, Kofi Annan, expressed disappointment with the recent religious violence in the country generated by the adoption of Sharia legal system by some states in the north.

Annan expressed hope that President Olusegun Obasanjo's efforts to bring the situation under control would be a success.

"I wish him every success and I appeal to all Nigerians to work together with the President and the government to bring it under control."

However, it has been reported that reports of continuing violence in the country since the return of democratic rule had alarmed the international community, as the brutality of the recent religious crisis in Kaduna and the reprisals in Aba, Abia State, were brought to the homes of American viewers in vivid pictures.

Television pictures of corpses littered in battle areas and destroyed buildings and other property were liberally shown on American television.

The print media also followed the sad development with daily reports of the violence and the rising death toll.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

US agencies probe Abacha's loot

THE United States of America Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Attorney’s Office have opened investigations into money looted by Nigeria’s late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha and members of his family kept in banks in the US, Newsweek magazine reports.

The weekly magazine in its cover story in the latest edition, entitled, "the lost billions," explains details of the US Attorney’s investigation.

The story, which has Gen. Abacha’s picture splashed over two pages, quotes President Olusegun Obasanjo to have estimated the amount of public funds looted by the late Head of State during his five-year tenure at $4 billion.

Out of the amount, the publication reports, $2.3 billion was siphoned from the treasury, while $1 billion each was collected through award of contracts and bribes from foreign contractors.

"Abacha even turned Nigeria’s democratic movement to his financial advantage by having his national security adviser "urgently" demand money from the Nigerian treasury to fight critics overseas," the report stresses.

It quotes the security adviser, Alhaji Ismaila Gwarzo, as writing a memo in which he said, "America has gone berserk and seems to leave no stone unturned in ridiculing this nation." In the memo published by the magazine, Gwarzo asked for $30 million to be used to counter foreign critics.

Besides the US, the magazine reports that Obasanjo’s government has been assured of cooperation from European governments in his search for the stolen public funds.

Newsweek reports that when it contacted the late dictator’s widow, Mrs. Maryam Abacha, she said "everybody is pointing at the Abachas - we are thieves, we are murderers - so they can go in peace and do as they please."

The magazine also lists other third world leaders who had been accused of looting public funds while in power. They include former President of Indonesia, Suharto, said to have stolen about $40 billion and late Mobutu Sese Seko of former Zaire, who allegedly looted four billion

Meanwhile, Vice-President Atiku Abubakar said yesterday that the Federal Government would soon receive $700 million of Nigeria’s money stolen by public officers and stashed away in Swiss banks.

This, he said, was made public by the Swiss government.

Vanguard Transmitted Wednesday, 08 March, 2000 

Tuesday, March 7, 2000

France may forgive Nigeria's $19b debt, says envoy

From Emmanuel Onwubiko, Abuja

CONSULTATIONS have begun between Nigeria and France on the possibility of cancelling the country's $19 billion debt owed to Paris Club, French Ambassador to Nigeria, Phillipe Peltier said at the weekend.

The envoy, who spoke at the inaugural ceremony of Chapsticks Chinese Restaurant in Maitama, Abuja, said despite religious unrest in the land, French businessmen were determined to "invest substantially" in the country.

He said both parties were expecting positive results by the end of March.

Nigeria is owing Paris Club $19 billion. The Club, of which France is a key member, accounts for about 70 per cent of Nigeria's external debts officially estimated at $28.6 billion in the current fiscal year.

The French envoy, who also said his home government was poised to assist Nigeria in what he called "massive loot recovery" from foreign banks, said:

"We are doing our best to assist Nigeria and proffer good workable solutions to her foreign debt burden. We are not far from reaching an agreement. We are assessing how best Nigeria has implemented many of the criteria necessary to obtain the agreement of debt cancellation. Agreement could be reached before March ending."

The ambassador, who showered encomium on the Federal Government for what he described as "positive strides and good determination to revive the nation's ailing economy," also hinted that the French government would "do everything possible" to sustain Nigeria's fledging democracy.

His words: "France is really happy with the performance of President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration. The emphasis this government has laid on engaging in a frontal war against corruption is encouraging. The anti-graft posture of this government would aid the speedy institutionalisation of a foreign integrity, credibility and political stability."

Earlier, chairman of Continental Hotels Limited, owners of Chopsticks chain of restaurants and erstwhile permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Defence during the Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar administration, Alhaji Ibrahim Idah, faulted those advocating a Sovereign National Conference (SNC), adding that Nigerians must give peace a chance.

Idah, who was the secretary of Vision 2010 Committee, also criticised instigators of the recent religious uprising in the country, adding that such disturbances were capable of destabilising the nation's nascent democracy.

Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Ibrahim Bunu was represented at the occasion by Alhaji Mahmoud Attah.

The colourful function attracted dignitaries from Iraq, Lebanon, China and France.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Obasanjo seeks end to war in Congo

From Tony Eluemunor, Kinshasa, Congo Democratic Republic

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo at the weekend demanded an end to the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In a speech read in lucid French by Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, the special envoy to President Obasanjo, he appealed to the government, people and the warring factions to allow peace return to their country which he called "one of Africa's most important countries."

Obasanjo's speech was read on Saturday at the National Consultation organised by religious leaders in Congo. Various heads of states, including Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe have been attending the conference which will end today.

Before Uwechue began the speech, he first delivered fraternal greetings to the participants who were surprised that he spoke to them in French and not English. Then he explained that though English is Nigeria's official language, Nigerians and the Congolese were neither English nor French but "we are all Africans."

The statement received a standing ovation and set the stage for a favourable reception of Obasanjo's speech.

Obasanjo told them: "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." He told the Congolese that "we have had enough conflicts in Africa and Congo has had more than its fair share of war."

He continued: "Those who ignore the opportunity for negotiated peace; those who insist on war and conquest by force of arms must realise that they betray their fatherland. They betray Africa and African peoples everywhere in the world."

Obasanjo called on all parties in the conflict to allow peace return to the region by:

 

bulletstopping all hostilities;
bulletwithdrawing all foreign forces from the Congo;
bulletforming a new Congolese National Armed Forces with all ethnic groups contributing.

The President reminded the Congolese of Nigeria's continued help in their long search for peace and recalled that he served in the country as a major in a United Nations peace-keeping force in the Congo.

The next day, Ambassador Uwechue, who doubles as Obasanjo's conflict resolution special presidential envoy, visited Congolese President Laurent Desire Kabila who expressed his gratitude to Obasanjo and the Nigerian people.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Nigeria to earn N144m from coal

From Segun Ayeoyenikan, Abuja

MORE than N144 million is expected to accrue to Nigeria from coal export if the present effort by the Federal Government to explore other sources of earnings sails through.

This was disclosed during the just concluded three-day working visit embarked upon by the Minister of State for Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Mrs. Bekky Ketebu-Igwe to the Nigerian Coal Corporation headquarters, Enugu and all the mining sites located in Kogi, Benue, Ebonyi and Enugu states.

Joseph Ketebu, the Special Assistant to the minister told The Guardian exclusively that "the Federal Government will earn over N144 million from the initial export of over 200,000 metric tonnes of coal in this first quarter".

Only last week, Igwe, while commissioning the Nigeria Coal Corporation Computer Centre in Enugu said: "There is no going back on the Federal Government's commitment to re-activate and revitalize the coal company with a view to re-package its products for export."

The minister stressed that Nigeria's discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities in the 1970s had obviously pushed aside prioritizing the development of other mineral resources. But the present administration , she said, "has a different view of the entire enterprise."

"We will revive the Nigerian prime energy company (coal corporation) and every other neglected source of foreign exchange earnings which includes barytes in Lafia, Nasarrawa State, bitumen in Ondo State, Kaolin in Jos, and all gold deposits scattered all over the country," she added.

The minister, who decried the terrible financial status of the coal corporation, remarked the company was operating with a revenue base of virtually zero while depending purely on loan granted by the Federal Government for the payment of salaries and maintenance.

Other laudable objectives which informed the present efforts to revive the corporation from its economic coma, according to the minister, include:

 

bulletprovision of an alternative source of cheap energy for industrial and domestic use;
bulletto check deforestation and desertification in the northern states of the country;
bulletproviding some of the thermal energy required to operate Nigeria's power and steel industry; and
bulletto create more job opportunities for Nigerians as a permanent solution to the current poverty alleviation scheme of the Federal Government.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Ogun religious leaders pledge to uphold peace

From Charles Coffie-Gyamfi, Abeokuta

MOSLEMS and Christians in Ogun State have assured President Olusegun Obasanjo that they would not do anything to disturb the nation's unity.

They gave the assurance in Abeokuta yesterday when Special Assistant to the President, Mrs. Bose Ogunmuyiwa, asked religious leaders to ensure that Sharia-related crisis does not spread to the state.

Ogunmuyiwa arrived at Abeokuta at the weekend and made the appeal to religious and opinion leaders.

The President's special assistant met the Moslem leaders where the Secretary-General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Dr. Lateef Adegbite, assured that there was no cause for concern as religious tolerance has been part of the people's culture.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Igbo not interested in another war, says Ojukwu

From Gordi Udeajah, Umuahia

"WE have had enough war and cannot afford another one," leader of the defunct Republic of Biafra and Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, has said.

Speaking at the Abia State Government House, Umuahia, as the head of an Ohaneze delegation to the state, he said the Igbo nation was not ready to engage in another civil war.

Presenting two documents to Governor Orji Uzor Kalu, detailing cases of alleged human rights abuses against the Igbo, he said the people however preferred constitutional resolution than complaints.

The documents were also scheduled to be presented to the state House of Assembly.

Ojukwu, in a brief speech, stated that at every point in time and on every issue now, the Ndigbo must make their feelings known, stressing: "We have had enough war and restrained from another."

He implored Kalu and Igbo states', governors to try to attend Ohaneze meetings and not shy away from its cause at this crucial time, urging them to separate their executive functions from issues that confront the Ndigbo.

Kalu pledged his support for the documents as well as Ohaneze, decrying the spate of ethnic violence in the country.

Members of the Ohaneze on the visit included Prof. Ben Nwabueze, the Secretary-General, Chief Mbazurike Amaechi, Dr. Anagha Eziekpe, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Chief Chris Nwankwo of Ebonyi State, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, first Abia State civilian governor, Archbishop Rojers Uwadi of the Methodist Church and Mr. Any Oduaze, the administrative secretary.

Prof. Nwabueze reiterated the his belief in Igbo body's proposal to the Afenifere, stressing that only a restructuring of the country to ensure federalism would prevent the perpetual domination some of sections of the country by the other.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Dikko, others accuse Ojukwu of fuelling Kaduna riots

From Saxone Akhaine, Kaduna

PROMINENT Northern elders yesterday gave further vent to their position on the ongoing Sharia controversy, attributing the Kaduna crisis and its attendant reprisals in other parts of the country to some leaders and people not resident in the state.

They also backed the comments of two former leaders who have expressed their support for the Islamic law.

Specifically, the elders, led by Second Republic Transport Minister, Alhaji Umaru Dikko blamed the crisis on alleged utterances and actions of Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu shortly before the Kaduna pogrom, particularly on its eve.

The press conference was attended by Alhaji Ahmadu Chachangi, Mohammed Hayatudeen and Maiyaki Muazu.

Others were Alhaji Abdulkadir Ahmed, Ambassador Abdulrazak Yunusa, Alhaji Baba Pace Zaria, Mallam Aliyu Umaru and Alhaji Sabo Shehu Maiduguri.

Dikko, who addressed the press said:

"We are perplexed by the unpatriotic role played by some Igbo leaders from outside Kaduna State".

He added: "If one recalls the utterances made by the Ikemba Nnewi, Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu when he participated as a guest speaker at a seminar on Sharia and its implication on a secular nation like Nigeria, organised by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) from the 19 Northern states in the last week of January, 2000, the participation of the Igbos in the Kaduna crisis was not surprising".

Dikko alleged further: "On the eve of the crisis, the Ikemba was known to have visited Kaduna and held closed-door meetings at the Fina White Hotels with influential Igbos". This, he said, "facilitated and motivated the participation of the Igbos in the demonstration."

He added: "As a matter of fact, the Igbo spearheaded the burning of the old historic Kano Road Mosque and the destruction of Moslems' properties especially within the Kaduna City centre (Doka District)."

According to him: "They were the main users and suppliers of guns and other dangerous weapons on the day of the carnage".

Had the Igbo leaders not actively fuelled the crisis, he argued, the reprisal from South Eastern states would have been averted.

Dikko, however, urged the perceived masterminds to give peace a chance "and accept the appeal of well meaning Nigerians to adopt a posture of reconciliation in the interest of the nation".

He said: "This situation not withstanding, we pray that, in taking final decision on the way forward, the Federal Government will not give the impression that communities can only achieve their objectives through violence".

Dikko noted that similar clashes in the past were not decisively resolved, citing Zangon Kataf, Kafanchan and Niger-Delta. This, according to him, "is a dangerous development that must be arrested if the Federal Government is seriously interested in stopping further violence".

When asked by journalists to comment on the allegation that prominent Northern leaders distributed guns to the pro-Sharia group during the crisis, Dikko said: "This is based on hearsay, just like you and I are hearing this as rumour. But if the government investigates and finds that anybody is involved in distributing guns, they should be punished".

He, however, urged the Kaduna State Governor Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi and legislators to continue deliberations on the Sharia.

He said: "We are of the view that the democratic process commenced by the State House of Assembly and the state government should continue to its logical conclusion.

"We sincerely hope that with the recent events in Kaduna State, Alhaji Makarfi, will not allow himself to be deterred. We pray that the Almighty Allah will give him good health, courage, wisdom and protection to continue to carry out his onerous responsibilities firmly and fairly to all the people of Kaduna State".

Arguing that government had no right to direct states to shelve the controversial law - Dikko said: "The state government had set up a machinery on the Sharia before the crisis. Likewise, the assembly has done so. The idea is to find out the truth. And unless we diagnose the problem, there is no way we can prescribe any medicine".

He added: "If investigation has started, we believe it should continue. I think it will be wrong for anybody to have said that the issue of Sharia be stopped. There is no question as to contradiction."

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, March 7, 2000

Residents flee Ife as crisis claims more lives

Ben Akparanta, Lagos, Seun Adeoye Osogbo and Toyin Ibrahim, Ibadan

THOUSANDS of residents have fled Ile Ife and Modakeke communities in Osun State, where a four-day-old fratricidal clash was feared to have claimed two more lives yesterday, in addition to the 30 already recorded.

The renewed fighting which occurred in Ifewara, another town in the state, extended to the countryside, notably Iyakere, Oke-Eso, Egbedore, Odo-Okun and Ogbo Agbara ..

Although police figure of the death toll is yet to be ascertained, sources said it might have risen beyond 30 as more people were macheted yesterday.

Schools in the two communities were unable to reopen for academic activities while banks and shops remained closed yesterday, just as ordinarily busy streets like Mayfair, Akarabata, Ondo Road, Seventh Day Adventist and others were deserted.

Force spokesman, Young Arebamen told The Guardian that police presence had been beefed up "from other states near Osun."

He added: "We drafted many men to the area at the weekend and ensured there were enough anti-riot policemen there now to contain the situation."

Morrison Abbe, a deputy police commissioner who heads Operations Department of the Zone Eight, Lokoja Command under which Osun State falls, said no fewer than 1,800 anti-riot policemen had been drafted from Kwara, Kogi states and Osogbo town to the strife-torn area.

Also, State Police Commissioner, Johnson Nwoye has moved his office form Osogbo, the capital, to the crisis zone.

The state government yesterday finally reacted to the violence, appealing for calm.

A statement by the Information, Youth and Sports Commissioner, Tayo Ilupeju relayed on the radio, read: "The attention of the Osun State government has been drawn to newspaper publications in which some community leaders of Ife and Modakeke accused Governor Bisi Akande's administration of being insensitive to the current upheaval in Ife zone of the state.

"The state government wishes to state categorically that Chief Bisi Akande, as the chief security officer of Osun State, cannot be insensitive to the security and unity of communities and individuals in Osun State.

"The governor and the state police commissioner are in constant dialogue on the general security of the state. As soon as the current problem occurred over the weekend, the state commissioner of police with the approval of his excellency sent for re-inforcement of the police from the AIG of police in charge of this zone at Lokoja.

"Immediately, police swung into action to quell the riot. Government is therefore appealing to the people to give peace a chance and avoid further destruction of lives and property as meaningful development cannot take place in an atmosphere of rancour and instability.

"The state government wishes to remind the people of Osun State that it is alive to its civic responsibilities and as such never folded its arms while precious lives and property were being destroyed."

The state police commissioner also met with some community leaders on both sides, yesterday, urging them to sheathe their swords.

He expressed disappointment that despite the efforts of his men to keep the peace, the "situation has not changed."

Nwoye regretted the absence of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuwade in the town, whom he believed could have nipped the crisis in the bud.

But Ogunsua of Modakeke; Oba Francis Adedoyin accused the police of bias, alleging that there was a meeting between some policemen and top Ife indigenes on Sunday night.

He particularly cited top government functionaries as contributing to the crisis. He said: "There are more casualties. Some people are missing. But they cannot destroy us. The government is not showing any action." He also spoke of his efforts to contact top Osun indigenes: "I tried to get in touch with the Minister of Internal Affairs, Chief Sunday Afolabi on Sunday but I was told he went to church. I tried again today but no response yet."

Asked of how the crisis could be quelled, Ogunsua replied: "Only God can do that and if people realise and know what they should do."

Asiwaju of Ife, Chief Orayemi Orafidiya on the other hand said the police had taken control of the situation as there "is relative calm by now (6p.m)."

Leaders of both communities have however cited injustice, politics and pent-up anger as factors responsible for the fresh outbreak of the crisis.

Chief Adedeji Omisore, an Ife chief told The Guardian in Ibadan that the crisis was unfortunate in view of loss of lives and property.

The communities ceased hostilities in 1999 following a truce brokered by former military administrator Col. Theophillus Bamigboye (rtd).

Omisore said: "It is a terrible thing. For how many centuries shall we continue to fight ourselves when serious issues are yet to be addressed, I don't see why we should not co-habit. We should be able to tolerate ourselves."

Chief Isaac Oladiran Ajayi, a Modakeke chief also said that, it was absurd that Ife-East remained the only local government in the country operating outside its headquarters.

According to him: "Actualising Modakeke as headquarters, based on the Federal Government gazettes of Decree No 36 of 1996, No 7 of 1997 and 36 Vol. 85 of December 2, 1998, is the only solution to the crisis."

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

APC Condemns Kaduna Riots

By Nathaniel Ikyur, Kano

AREWA People’s Congress (APC) has deplored the killings in Kaduna and the reprisal attack in some parts of the country over Sharia.

In a statement issued weekend in Kano, the group urged the federal government to take urgent steps to forestall a reoccurrence of such upheaval and also protect the unity of the country.

In a nine-paragraph statement signed by its protem chairman, Alhaji Sagir Mohammed, the Arewa Peoples Congress "condemned in strong terms, the senseless carnage which occurred in Kaduna and some other parts of the country resulting in massive destruction of lives and property."

According to Sagir, "there is no doubt that the occurrence would appear to take Nigeria from the country of civilised nations where conflicts are resolved through legal avenues within a democratic dispensation. There is no doubt that every reasonable Nigerian who witnessed or read reports of the barbaric blood letting would condemn it unreservedly. We offer sincere condolence to the families of those who lost their lives in the carnage."

The APC helmsman admonished Nigerians "not to relent in their advocacy and promotion of peaceful co-existence, religious tolerance and stability so that the federal government’s determination to build a strong, virile and prosperous nation could materialise."

While commending President Olusegun Obasanjo for acting promptly to restore law and order in the trouble spots, Alhaji Sagir called on the National Assembly "to grant more emergency power to the President so that the Presidency could mobilise as quickly as possible to forestall a future re-occurrence of similar incidents."

On the purported disbandment of the APC by its former Secretary-General, Chief Godwin Daboh, the APC boss said: "We wish to correct the spurious and mischievous statements credited to our former Secretary-General, Godwin Daboh that he had unilaterally disbanded the APC. Though we do not consider it necessary to join issues with him, it should be pointed out that he never had the power to disband an organisation of this nature. APC is indeed intact."

Vanguard Transmitted MONDAY, 06 February, 2000

MONDAY, 06 February, 2000 

Ikene LG sets up committee to review constitution

A 10-man committee to undertake a broad and in-depth review of the 1999 constitution has been constituted in Ikenne local government area of Ogun State.

Chairman of the local government, Arc. Kayode Adebayo said in Ikenne that at the expiration of its term, the committee will submit its findings to his administration who will forward the local government’s recommendations to the Ogun State House of Assembly Committee on Justice and Legal Matters.

Receiving the house committee led by its chairman, Hon. Wale Abeeb Ajayi in his office at the council secretariat, Arc. Adebayo said the local government noticed inadequacies in the 1999 constitution, hence his administration’s resolve to partake in the constitution review.

The council boss, however, urged the committee to consider the review of the tenure of the local governments to ensure uniformity with state and federal governments.

Said he: "It is important to give adequate attention to this very important area. I strongly believe that whatever is good for the goose, gander should also have it."

"A uniform tenure of office of four years would definitely put the local government institutions at par with other democratic institutions," Arc. Adebayo added.

The review, according to him, is to bring the constitution in line with democratic setting in the country.

Arc. Adebayo also called for an upward review to 35 percent of federal allocated revenue to the local governments in the country.

He reasoned that being the government closest to the grassroot people, the third-tier of government has enormous responsibilities to shoulder, adding that the present revenue allocation formula will not empower the people at the grassroot level but would further impoverish them.

The council boss stated that an upward review will definitely translate to better provision of infrastructural facilities which are germane to development at the grassroot level.

Similarly, he faulted the present constitution which he believed has not given adequate recognition and autonomy to local governments.

Arc. Adebayo advised that the present practice of sending allocation due to the local governments directly to them from the federation account should be maintained.

He urged indigenes of the local government to, in view of the importance attached to the review of the 1999 constitution, study the document adequately so as to point out the gray areas in it especially as it affects governance at the grassroot level.

Vanguard Transmitted MONDAY, 06 February, 2000 

Sunday, March 5, 2000

Obasanjo, Mandela Extol Yar'Adua

From Abiodun Adeniyi, Abuja

FORMER South African president, Dr. Nelson Mandela and Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo were amongst the many dignitaries that extolled the virtues of late politician, Major-Gen. Shehu Musa Yar'adua, at the launch of a foundation in his name yesterday.

Mandela who briefly stopped in Abuja to attend the ceremony lauded the landmarks of the departed politician, concluding that he was an advocate of democracy who died while fighting the cause of the oppressed.

"He paid the supreme price for democracy, freedom and justice. He died so that there might be a glorious future for Africa," Mandela remarked amid applause.

At the well attended ceremony reminiscent of the formative days of political parties, Mandela said Yar'adua was being immortalised for his values as a great African, "who enriched other people's lives with his own values."

To President Obasanjo, Yar'adua could have eased himself out of the struggle for justice and democracy as he had the option to do so but preferred to die in the struggle for a better society.

The president said he is convinced from his knowledge of the politician that he had the desire of creating a peaceful and democratic environment for the benefit of the masses. If Yar'adua were to be alive today, President Obasanjo continued, his preoccupation would be how to guarantee peace and unity beside ensuring that all wounds are healed.

Obasanjo recounted his prison experience where he encountered Yar'adua briefly, revealing that the late soldier was then concerned about the indignity the poor masses were subjected to.

Stressed the president: "The virtue of Yar'Adua and his impact on the people of the grassroots would be measured by the success he achieved in serving as a bridge between the North and the South when he contested the primaries in 1992 as a presidential candidate."

Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, said the late politician was a progressive and exceptional patriot irrespective of the perception of the North, his geographical background, as a conservative zone.

Okadigbo said Yar'Adua spent his life well not only for his family and his people but for his continent. The president of Senate said apart from the proposal to name Tin Can Island Port after the politician, yesterday's immortalisation ceremony was partly in recognition of his exemplary life.

"Yar'adua was not only a nationalist and a patriot, he was a bridge builder between the North and the South of Nigeria," Dr. Okadigbo remarked.

The Senate President stressed that the departed politician died for freedom because he essentially groomed a crop of politicians that would later lead Nigeria.

Special Duties Minister, Mr. Yomi Edu, a notable Yar'Adua ally, remarked that the late political chieftain would certainly be proud of his achievements wherever he is now.

To Mr. Kola Abiola, son of late politician, Chief Moshood Abiola, himself a Yar'adua business and political associate, Yar'adua was a great man, an inspirer who demonstrated his intentions more by his actions than by his utterances.

Earlier, vice-president Atiku Abubakar another remarkable ally of the late politician presently seen as the leader of his (Yar'adua) existing political structures, described the politician as one Nigerian in a million.

He said Yar'Adua believed that: "the days of any mafia solely concerned with the promotion and defence of any ethnic group or sectional interest were gone. He contended that the challenge of nation building for a socio-culturally diverse country like Nigeria required more than primordial sentiment, narrow perception of issues and theoretical prescriptions."

He added that as they reflect and pay tribute to a visionary realist, they should commit themselves to Yar 'adua's ideals and share his passionate desire to make Nigeria one of the greatest nations in the world.

Close to N400 million was realised at the launch held at the proposed site for the foundation beside the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Abuja. At the well-attended ceremony were Major-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), Esama of Benin, Chief Gabriel Igbinedion; Chief Barnabas Gemade; Chief Solomon Lar; Chief Don Etiebet; Ambassador Yahaya Kwande; Alhaji Aliko Dangote who donated N25 million; Chief Emeka Offor, a N10 million donor; State Governors including Bola Tinubu of Lagos; Niger's Abdulkadir Kure; Cross River's Donald Duke; Zamfara's Ahmad Sani and many ministers and presidential advisers as well as legislators.

An old Yar'adua political ally, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, was also briefly present. He departed the launch venue before its commencement for what was suspected to be ill-treatment as he was not allowed on the executive podium. He was referred to the popular side. He later told reporters: "You see, everything in this life has its own time. Just as every person has his own time. Those people do not know me. The people that know me are no longer in power.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Sunday, March 5, 2000

Ife, Modakeke Flare Up Again

From Seun Adeoye Osogbo 10 persons feard dead 200 wounded

AT least 10 persons were feared dead while more than 200 people sustained serious injuries yesterday in renewed hostilities between Ife and Modakeke communities in Osun state.

Besides, 50 individuals have been declared missing in the fracas that began on Friday night while several houses including part of the estate of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade Sijuade, were set ablaze.

The situation as at the time of filing this report was tense.

Unlike the last bloodbath which was settled in January last year by then Osun state military administrator, Col Theophilus Bamgboye (rtd) after about 18 months of fighting, the cause of which was the location and relocation of Ife East local government, this current violence was said to have erupted over a disputed piece of land at Akarabata area, line 1-3.

It was learnt that an unknown person erected a sign post with inscription "Akodo - Asegbe - lane on the disputed land. This action was said to have annoyed a section of the community which ignited the already tense situation in the area.

There was however no official statement as Governor Adebisi Akande has travelled out of the state capital to Ada for the burial ceremony of an Alliance for Democracy (AD) stalwart.

But the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Johnson Nwoye, who now operates at the Area Command Office, Moore, Ile Ife, confirmed the incident, saying, as at Friday night only one person was dead "but there is high number of those injured."

Reports yesterday indicated that serious fighting was going on in Akarabata, Lagene, Mayfair, Urban day, Oke Yidi and Ondo road. Nwoye however stated that his "men are taking control as they have been deployed to the crisis zone".

It was learnt that the clash has spread to the hinterland where some farmers might have been held hostage. Sophisticated weapons were also used, according to police source.

Movement in Ife has also been stalled as motorists travelling to Ilesa, Ado-Ekiti and Ondo and Ore were turned back to Osogbo and Ibadan.

Asiwayu of Ife, Chief Orayemi Orafidiya however deplored the violence, claiming that Oba Okunade who has travelled abroad warned us "that Ife would not shoot anybody but I don't know what will be the situation if we fold our arms."

He further stated that so many residents have fled the town due to the fighting between the two communities.

The Ogunsua of Modakeke, Francis Adedoyin, also frowned at the renewed fighting, saying there is no need for such "since we've had peace for more than a year."

He denied any participation of his subjects in the attack but confirmed that a number of persons were missing from Modakeke while some "were dead already".

Over 800 people lost their lives in the last fracas that ensued between the communities while property worth millions of naira were destroyed.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Wednesday, MARCH 1, 2000

 His excellency  President Olusegu Obasanjo Addresses the Nation

Fellow Nigerians,

I speak to you again today with a sad and heavy heart, having recently returned from a visit to Kaduna, where I saw the carnage and devastation resulting from the recent disturbances in that city. I had decided to make a personal visit there, because I was very concerned by the security and other reports I was getting from the officials on the ground. I could not believe that Nigerians were capable of such barbarism against one another. But what I saw there was perhaps even more gruesome in detail.

Once the disturbances started, I was naturally in constant touch with the Kaduna State Deputy Governor, who was in charge in the absence of the Executive Governor, and who continuously kept me abreast of developments there. I did not order the troops in right from the start, because the normal procedure in such matters is that the Governor of the State concerned must first indicate that the police strength at his disposal is unable to contain the disturbances, and then specifically request for military assistance. Or, in special cases, the police through the Inspector-General could make such a request. Once that request came from the Deputy Governor, I immediately ordered that troops should move in, to support the police and take necessary measures to put an end to the killings and destruction in that city and its environs.

As soon as the disturbances began to die down during the week, I sent a Ministerial delegation to Kaduna, with instructions to bring me a first hand report of the situation there. The delegation's report was incredibly galling. I, accordingly, decided to travel to Kaduna, to see things for myself. And what I saw was disheartening and upsetting. The devastation was so massive, it seemed as though Kaduna had overnight been turned into a battlefield. My visit confirmed in every single detail all the reports I had been getting - the mindless killings and maimings, the wanton destruction of property, the fear and uncertainty on the faces of those who survived the carnage, and the pervasive mutual suspicion.

It was clear to me that while a toll was being taken of the massive losses that attended the disturbances, it was necessary to immediately begin the process of healing and reconciliation. I met leaders of the factions and groups involved - the religious and political leaders, the workers and the leaders of thought. We explored all possible ways of bringing the carnage to a permanent halt, and reached agreement on a number of issues.

But what I found most astonishing was the discovery that a majority of those who died in the disturbances were Nigerians who had lived all their lives in Kaduna, and could not truthfully call anywhere else their home. All so suddenly, people who had been their neighbours for decades turned on them, and massacred them. And yet, those who were responsible for these murders claim that they were acting in defence of faith or religion. I cannot believe that any religion in this day and age can sanction the taking of innocent life.

While in Kaduna, we also took time to show our gratitude to those few Nigerians who had gone out of their way, and at great risk to their own safety, to do whatever they could to put an end to the bloodshed. We visited His Royal Highness the Emir of Zaria and community leaders in Zaria, who had shown exemplary courage in their vigorous efforts both to prevent and to contain the bloodshed.

Just before we left Kaduna for Zaria, the painful news came of the disturbances in Aba, a city we had just visited two days previously. The disturbances there were started by a group of renegades who were under the misguided but fatal impression that they were taking due revenge for the murder of their kith and kin in Kaduna whose bodies were brought back on a trailer. When all the statistics of the devastation in Kaduna, Kachia, Aba and Umuahia are recorded, we will find, I am sad to say, that this has been one of the worst incident of blood-letting that this country has witnessed since the Civil War.

And all this at a time when we do have a Constitution in place, when we have duly elected representatives both at the local, state and federal levels, when the fundamental freedoms of worship and speech, and the freedom from all forms of discrimination are guaranteed to every citizen. We cherish and uphold these fundamental freedoms.

These acts cannot, and must not go on. We must bring to a very prompt end the temptation to always resort to violence in any disagreement between groups, whether religious or ethnic or political. We must rid ourselves of the mentality of murderousness that stems from fear and suspicion of the other person. We must rediscover the value of dialogue.

As the Vice-President has announced in his press briefing, the National Council of States met yesterday, Tuesday, February 29, 2000, and deliberated on the alarming security situation in the country.

The Council was deeply saddened by recent events in Kaduna, and by subsequent events in Abia State, both of which have led to enormous loss of lives and destruction of property. The Council strongly condemned these events, and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and of these acts of senseless murder and destruction of property.

The Council also reviewed the remote and immediate causes of the disturbances, and noted that the Penal Code currently in force in the Northern States is substantially based on Sharia Law, with the modifications that imprisonment is substituted in place of amputation of limbs, as punishment for stealing, and also as punishment for adultery, instead of stoning to death. The Council noted that these modifications are consistent with the human rights principles enshrined in our Constitution, and considered the punishments adequate in the circumstances.

The Council unanimously agreed that all States that have recently adopted Sharia Law should in the meantime revert to the status quo ante. That is, Sharia, as practised in Penal Code, continues to be practiced by all States concerned. The Council urges all Nigerians to remain calm and law-abiding. Provocative and inciting utterances will not be tolerated. This position by the Council is a triumph of love of fatherland, triumph of maturity and sustenance of security of the nation and preservation of our corporate existence. There can be no winners in the destructions, all Nigerians are losers. And in peace and cessation of destructions of life and property, all Nigerians are winners. But to respect the feeling of one another and to hasten the process of reconciliation, there is no victory to be celebrated and no loss to be mourned.

In the course of our development, let me say for the benefit of investors in our economy that this tragic event is a hiccup which is not unusual for a nation like Nigeria which has been oppressed and suppressed by its rulers in recent years. The hiccup will be put behind us and we will Insha-Allah move full steam ahead.

I enjoin all Nigerians to embark on the urgent task of reconciliation and confidence-building which is vital to the rebuilding of relations and communities. Let us move forward to enjoy the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution and to develop our country politically, economically and socially. Let our motto be "Reconciliation for Development".

What we must now do is to begin to return to the fundamental faith that life, all life, is sacred. There is nothing in our culture that even remotely justifies the cynicism with which so many of us today respond to acts of lawlessness and wickedness. We have lost our sense of outrage and moral sensitivity. The casualness with which we react to corruption and other forms of criminal behaviour does not come from religious faith or from cultural tradition.

We do not have any such religions or cultures. Rather, what seems to have happened is that after so many years of tyranny and mindless violence, encouraged and practised by the state itself, we have all grown indifferent to the moral, even religious duties that we all owe, one to another.

But today, we are no longer hostages of a mean and lawless government. Our conduct, our relationships, whether religious, ethnic or political, must be governed by the laws of the land. We must begin again to deal with one another in transparent comradeship, and seek to settle our misunderstandings peacefully, decently and humanely.

We thank the National Assembly for their concern and support during the crisis. We are encouraged particularly by the pronouncement of the Senate President that the Executive will be fully supported to deal firmly and decisively with disturbance that may emanate in any part of the country.

We appreciate the formation and the work of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC), which has been charged with the responsibility of promoting the ideals of peaceful coexistence, especially among the various religions in our country. They have held several meetings, Christians and Moslems, and were in fact under the impression they were making considerable progress, when the upheavals in Kaduna occurred. I urge them not to relent in their efforts. Perhaps through their work, and that of all other well-meaning Nigerians, we shall begin to build the Nigeria that we all dream of, but seem unable to realize. I thank our brothers and sisters in all parts of the country who, through prayers and positive action and efforts, contributed to moving us away from another precipice. In this group must be included some leading Imams, Christian leaders and traditional rulers.

Consultations will be stepped up to increase interaction and to enhance reconciliation.

All Nigerians are assured of safety and security in their normal places of residence. Governors, Ministers, Members of the National Assembly and all political officers and appointees are returning to their States and their constituencies to help in the process of binding the wounds, removing fear and suspicion and bringing about reconciliation from now till the week-end. Law enforcement agents have been instructed to deal decisively with anyone or group who disturbs public peace and order.

However, in matters of religion and conscience, restraint must be exercised at all levels of government but particularly at the highest level. This has conditioned the Federal Government's action throughout the Sharia controversy so far. We thank the media for the understanding of the restraint of the Government and for the moderation and balance most of them exhibited during the difficult period.

I must not end this brief address without assuring all our fellow citizens of the firm determination of our Government to resist any attempt from any quarter to pursue a line that can lead to the disintegration of this country. Those who break our laws will be punished to the full extent of the law. There will be no sacred cows. And those who extend the hand of fellowship to their fellow citizens will find understanding and friendship.

God bless you all. And God bless Nigeria.

Nigeria World