Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #14
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Nigeria Weekly News Highlights

April 8, 2000

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Friday April 7, 2000

Govt donates materials to Abia riot victims

SIX trailer loads of relief materials said to worth about N2 million have been donated by the Federal Government to victims of the recent religious riots in Abia State.

The materials include 1,000 bags of rice, 500 bags of beans and gari, 2000 mats, blankets, plastic cups, plates and assorted drugs.

Presenting the materials on Wednesday in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, the Director of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mrs. Oluremi Olowo, said that four more lorry loads of relief items were yet to arrive in the state.

Olowo was represented at the presentation ceremony by an officer of the Agency, Mr. Adekunle Alashe.

Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Chikwerendu O. Nwosu, thanked the Federal Government for the gesture.

Nwosu, however, appealed to the government to provide building materials for the reconciliation of houses destroyed during the riot.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Friday, April 7 , 2000

German medical team visits

EFFORTS by the Federal Government to attract foreign investors to the health sector may have started yielding results as representatives of Fresenius Medical will on April 14 begin a four-day visit to the country.

During the visit, the medical team from Germany will hold a workshop at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, donate teaching materials to the hospital and tour other public and private medical institutions.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

NAFDAC Seeks Adequate Security
by Emma Anyigor, Abuja

THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has sent a save-our-soul (S.O.S.) to the Nigerian police to provide adequate security for its laboratories and other offices to avert vandalisation by hoodlums.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Professor Gabriel Osuide made the call on Wednesday in Abuja when he visited the Inspector-General of Police, Alhaji Musiliu Smith.
He spoke against the back-drop of increasing incidents of vandalisation of NADAC's laboratories at Maiduguri and other locations nationwide.
Specifically, Professor Osuide asked for 24-hour police surveillance at NAFDAC's forensic laboratories Maiduguri, Kaduna, Yaba and Oshodi.
Furthermore, the director-general called for enlightenment of police personnel, through symposia and seminars, on the activities of NAFDAC to enable the police understand the agency's activities with the view of helping it achieve its objectives of eliminating fake drugs and adulterated packaged food substances from the Nigerian society.
"We wish the police will have full knowledge of our activities, especially with regards to regulated products. Medicines are not ordinary articles of trade. Some medicines and package food beverages can be very very toxic depending on the source, mode of preparation and environment. Such toxicity can be harmful to health. That's why they are regulated," he said.
According to him, this would put the police in a good stead to help flush out illicit transactions on regulated products.
He, however, lauded the police for the co-operation it had extended to NAFDAC since its inception in 1994.
Responding, the Inspector-General of police, Alhaji Musiliu Smith, stated that the Nigeria police would, after due deliberation with NAFDAC, provide 24-hour security to the agency's laboratories and posts nationwide.
Despite co-operating with NAFDAC in forensic services, Alhaji Smith also agreed with Professor Osuide on the need for police personnel to be abreast with the activities of NAFDAC in order to assist the agency in preventing unauthorised production, distribution and sale of regulated commodities.

Nigeria Post Express

Ex-Governor Expresses Optimism in One Nigeria
by Kolade Adeyemi, Kano

FORMER Governor Kano State, Alhaji Kabiru Ibrahim Gaya, has declared that no matter the type of political arrangement for Nigeria, the country would continue to remain indivisible.
According to him, Confederation and Sovereign National Conference were not as concrete and important as the corporate entity of the country.
Gaya, who spoke with The Post Express in Kano explained that he would neither support nor condemn those for any system politically under which Nigeria should exist adding "we have come a long way to start to think of break-up.
"If Nigeria breaks-up today, all sections of the country will certainly feel the pinch. It should not be taken that one part of the country will enjoy the breaking more than the other parts," he said.
He stressed that whether Nigerian like it or not, they have to stay together because, in one way or the other, we need one another. "we don't have to beg anybody to stay with us."
Gaya also explained that the recent spate of riots in some parts of the country was the handiwork of some disgruntled enemies of democracy who have instead, hidden under the Sharia legal system, to perpetrate their devilish acts.
Gaya however, noted that Sharia was harmless, but capable of reforming a deplorable and morally bankrupt society.
He expressed dismay at some sections of the press who insulted the Zamfara State governor, Ahmed Sani, calling him a butcher, saying that whoever insulted the governor for amputating a confirmed thief was definitely insulting Islam and Moslem.

Nigeria Post Express

Friay April 7, 2000

Abalaka pleads on vaccine for AIDS virus

By Sam Ogbeifun, Abuja

DR. Jeremiah Abalaka, the surgeon who claimed to have developed the cure for the AIDS virus yesterday urged the nation not to throw away the opportunity of being the first country to produce the much sought after cure for the dreaded disease.

At a press conference in Abuja, Dr. Abalaka urged the authorities to consider the enormous economic benefits the vaccine would generate for the country should government give the necessary support to give the vaccine the desired acceptance.

"These are vaccines that the entire world is searching for frantically. It is estimated that if a successful and effective preventive vaccine against the HIV is developed today, at least 300 million people will need it immediately and that eventually, over six billion will take the vaccine."

According to him, Nigeria’s possession of the vaccines has literarily put other nations of the world at the mercy of Nigeria since they all needed the vaccine for their citizens.

"The HIV preventive vaccine power is much more powerful than the power of atomic bombs . . . Why for God’s sake, would any Nigerian be part of any design that throws away such power that is possessed only by Nigeria, as at now? Have our leaders been hypnotised or what?"

He recalled the frantic efforts he made to intimate the Federal Ministry of Health of his discovery, adding that the ministry had not responded positively to conduct an objective trial of the vaccine.

According to him, the ministry was using government media to discredit his claim by parading a man who was not his patient as a person with HIV who did not respond to his vaccine.

He also denied that the ministry had sent patients to him as announced at various times by the Vice-President and the Minister of Information, adding that at no time was "a substantial amount of over N1 million" ever released to him as claimed.

"The ministry has sent only one out of 10 patients they plan to send to me for treatment for HIV/AIDS so far, and a letter dated February 15, 2000 signed by Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, the National AIDS coordinator, referred that patient.

"That patient had frank AIDS complicated with pulmonary tuberculosis for which treatment was instituted before referral to me," he said.

Vanguard: Transmitted FRIDAY, 7th April, 2000 

Friay April 7, 2000

Obasanjo raises query on Appropriation Bill —House of Reps adamant

By Rotimi Ajayi & Ben Agande, Abuja

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has queried certain aspects of the Appropriation Bill approved by the National Assembly.

But the House of Representatives at a closed door executive session yesterday resolved not to change its position on the bill as passed.

Presidential spokesman, Dr. Doyin Okupe confirmed yesterday that the President queried some allocations made in the bill by the National Assembly.

Dr. Okupe told State House correspondents that President Obasanjo in a letter to officials of the Assembly pinpointed the allocations.

He said: "There are some things that are very obvious.

"The Presidency submitted the budget of so much, 500 and something plus, the National Assembly approved 600 and something plus.

"Then you ask questions on the appropriation or allocation.

"There are different things about the powers that are enshrined in the constitution.

"I am not judge, I am not presenting any case here but there is appropriation, there is allocation of fund, two different things and I think the allocation of fund is a prerogative of the executive while the appropriation of the bill is that of the National Assembly.

"There are certain areas of the budget that still require further clarification and information.

"The President has written a letter to the National Assembly asking for more information on those areas.

"There are certain breakdown that the President requires for instance, the breakdown as regards the vote for the National Assembly, the Presidency is still to get that.

"There is a vote for National Assembly, I think 28 billion or something. There is a need to have a breakdown of the proposed expenditure which is normal.

"The response is yet to come," he added.

Dr. Okupe pointed out that although the budget originated from the Presidency, the National Assembly added its own to it.

"The extraneous bill that came in like the budget for the National Assembly would still have to be broken down and explained to Mr. President.

"Majority of the areas are things that the executive forwarded to the National Assembly but naturally also the National Assembly passed their own budget which they originated themselves under certain headings.

"So there is need to explain this aspects."

He pointed out that the President had a right to either sign the Appropriation Bill or refuse to sign.

He also said the President would leave the country this weekend for Cuba to preside over a meeting of the G-77 nations. He will also use the opportunity to pay an official visit to Cuba.

He stated that the President would leave Nigeria aboard a British Airways plane.

He added that the flight would stop over in London where the President would wait for connecting flight to Jamaica where he would wait for another couple of hours before going to Havana, Cuba.

He noted that as Chairman of the G-77, President Obasanjo would use his influence to pursue the reformation of the United Nations Security Council to include members of the group.

*House of Reps adamant

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives rose from a one and a half hour closed door executive session, vowing not to go back on the Appropriation Bill.

Though no official statement was issued at the end of the executive session, Vanguard gathered that it was the unanimous decision of members that the Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly represented the best for the masses of this country.

A source at the meeting told Vanguard that though members agreed that some mistakes were made during the consideration of the budget, "those mistakes were part of the learning process and did not substantially impact negatively on the overall budget."

The source said for instance the Appropriation Committee of the House was advised to relate more closely with the various standing committees which work directly with the ministries in order to carry every body along on the decisions of the Appropriation Committee.

Another member at yesterday’s executive session told Vanguard that if the President decided to return the budget to the National Assembly, the National Assembly would go ahead and pass it with a two third majority of the members.

Rejects Cuban offer

Also, Dr. Okupe disclosed that President Obasanjo had rejected an offer of the Cuban President, Fidel Castro to airlift him from Nigeria to Cuba.

He noted that the rejection was based on the desire of the President (Obasanjo) not to submit Nigerian sovereignty to that of Cuba by flying in the plane that hoist Cuban flag.

Vanguard: Transmitted FRIDAY, 7th April, 2000 

Monday April 3, 2000

Sharia not for me, says Kaduna Senator

By John Ighodaro

SENATOR Mohammed Aruwa from Kaduna Central Constituency has said he will not subject himself to Sharia, saying that Buba Bello Jangede whose hand was amputated recently in Zamfara State should have been sent to prison instead of amputating him.

He spoke weekend at Ijebu-Igbo in Ogun State at the funeral ceremony of Madam Dorcas Durojaiye, mother of Senator Biyi Durojaiye.

He said: "Even in true Islamic countries, there is no total application of Sharia. There is reformation going on now.

"Sharia is not compatible with modernity. Certain human rights are violated by Sharia. Take for example the amputation of a man’s hand in Zamfara State. That man should have been sent to prison and rehabilitated and he will become useful to the society."

Asked if he would subject himself to the Sharia, he replied: "I will not. What about stoning somebody to death for a simple crime. He can be corrected and reformed. What about the wearing of long gowns. Somebody may want to wear a short one. All these are violations of basic human rights."

He said only victims of Sharia could go to court on the matter and not the National Assembly.

According to him, "it is individual who can go to court to challenge that law, not the Federal Government or the National Assembly."

Present at the funeral were Chief Bola Ige, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Jubril Kuye-Martins, Senator. Moji Akifehinwa, Chief Segun Osoba, Alhaji Gbenga Kaka, Chief Adebayo Adefarati, Prof. Adebayo Adedeji, Mr. Ola Vincent, Senator Afolabi Olabintan, Chief Bayo Kuku, Chief Subomi Balogun and Chief Bola Kuforiji-Olubi. Others were Senator Olatunji Ajayi, Mr. Funso Williams and Amb. Segun Olusola.

Vanguard: Transmitted MONDAY, 3rd April, 2000 

Committee pledges to end Ife/Modakeke war

THE 27-member peace committee set up by president Olusegun Obasanjo to broker a lasting peace between the warring Ife and Modakeke communities weekend in Osogbo expressed its determination to end the age-long feud, using regular public briefing and fence-mending strategy.

President Olusegun Obasanjo during his 2-day official visit to Osun state inaugurated the peace committee after visiting the flash points in Ife/Modakeke crisis the previous day.

Chairman of the peace committee, and Catholic Bishop of Osogbo Diocese Dr. Gabriel Abegunrin, briefing the press after its inaugural meeting said the public would be regularly briefed on the fence-mending exercise and the situation report.

Dr. Abegunrin explained that the general public had never been carried along in various efforts aimed at solving the Ife/Modakeke crisis in the past, adding that this was responsible for the recurrence of the crisis.

According to him after the closed door meeting "the representatives of the warring communities really displayed an appreciable level of understanding and I can tell you this is a good omen. The press is going to be our tool and we will ensure that every member of the public will be carried along."

Speaking further, he said: "our primary duty now is to ensure a ceasefire, then peace and permanent peace and I’ve been highly impressed about the parties’ genuine intentions."

The Catholic Bishop who said he was not expecting the tempers to instantly cool down, appealed to members of the public to show the highest level of patience adding "what we are talking about involves life and a life that is gone can never be taken back. I want people to see it from this angle."

However, peace is gradually returning to the strife-torn communities.

Vanguard: Transmitted MONDAY, 3rd April, 2000 

Tuesday, April 4 , 2000

Amnesty lauds Obasanjo over UN convention

AMNESTY International Nigeria, has commended President Olusegun Obasanjo for ratifying the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

The international human rights body, in a statement by its Director, Eke Ubiji, also hailed the conversion of death sentences of those on death row to life imprisonment.

"Amnesty International, welcomes this act of Obasanjo's government, as it complies with its campaign against death penalty. Like the proverbial Oliver Twist who always wants more, Amnesty International Nigeria, wants Mr. President to take a step further in ratifying the Rome Treaty in the establishment of an International Criminal Court (ICC)," the statement said.

In another statement, the Isolo Pre-Group of the body, called for an end to human rights violation in Saudi Arabia and Rwanda.

The statement said the group was "putting pressure on the Saudi Arabian authorities to take steps that would made criminal justice conform with the international human rights standards."

In separate letters sent to King Fahd, the human rights group expressed deep concern over what it called "gross violation of human rights in that country."

While urging the Saudi authorities to ensure that detainees have access to lawyers from the moment of arrest up to final appeal, the Isolo-Pre Group also canvassed prohibition of torture and probe of allegations of torture in Saudi Arabia while perpetrators of such torture are punished.

It also urged the Arab country's authorities to ensure that detainees get free and fair trial in the public, while those that do not speak Arabic are provided with interpreters.

The group's statement, signed by its Coordinator, Peter, O. Ajayi, called for ceasation of "discriminations in law and practice, executions, beheading, inhuman or degrading punishments".

On the human rights situation in Rwanda, the group said it has sent petitions to the various authorities in that country, among whom were the Vice-President and Minister of Justice, Major-General Paul Kagame, and Governor of Nord-Kiru Province, Leonard Kanyamuhanga, protesting violations of human rights in that country.

"The group is concerned about the disappearance of Francine Ngoy who disappeared in November 1999, after reportedly (being) transferred from the detention centre in Gome to Gisenyi.

"We are also concerned with the forceful return and safety of Bertin Murera and Benjamin Rutabana, detained in Kanombe military detention centre after they were forcibly returned to Rwanda from Tanzania on February 5, 2000," the group said.

They urged the government of Rwanda to free Janvier Rugema, Francois Rukeba and Innocent Byabagamba, "who have been arrested, after being forcibly returned to Rwanda from Burundi."

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, April 4 , 2000

Adebayo urges constructive criticism

From Ifedayo Sayo, Ado-Ekiti

GOVERNOR Adeniyi Adebayo has called on members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state to ensure that their criticism of his administration is constructive.

At a press briefing on the activities of the state government at the weekend, Adebayo frowned at what he called "destructive and baseless" allegations made against his administration by the PDP members, saying he had done his best in the last nine months.

The state PDP had alleged that the governor performs below expectation, adding that he could not surpass the achievement of his predecessor.

The party also alleged that the Alliance for Democracy (AD) controlled administration had received over N3.6 million as allocation in the past nine months but that the money had not been properly spent.

However, Adebayo said the PDP members were "blind" to his achievements.

He said rather than making unfounded criticisms, they should come up with useful ideas that could enhance the state's progress or contact the Federal Government which is being controlled by the PDP for the procurement of 132 KVA sub-stations to boost electricity supply in the state.

He enumerated his achievements to include the payment of over N850 million debt inherited from the past military administration and the payment of four months salary arrears owed workers also by immediate past administration headed by Navy Captain Atanda Yussuff.

Adebayo also included in his list of achievements the implementation of the free education and free health programmes being enjoyed by all residents of the state including PDP.

Adebayo said his administration had started full asphalling of seven major roads in the state. They are Igede-Ido-Ekiti; Imoroko-Igbemo; Ilnomoba-Ijesaisu-Ikole; Otun-Ikun; Ikere-Ise and Ijero-Ipoti-Ayetoro roads.

On the state television and radio stations, Adebayo said the contractor handling the project had been invited for talks, hoping that very soon the two stations will commence full transmission.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper

Tuesday, April 4 , 2000

Africa seeks new focus of ties with EU

PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan were among world leaders who listened yesterday as Egypt's Hosni Mubarak told Europe that Africa was no longer begging for money from former colonial masters and their allies but desires greater co-operation toward mutually beneficial trade relations.

He spoke after weekend reports that Europe was also under pressure to return stolen African treasures.

Opening Africa's first-ever summit with the European Union (EU) in Cairo yesterday, Mubarak remarked: "Through this historic event that Cairo hosts today, we do look forward not to secure more aid, but rather to develop our mutual partnership and cooperation programme."

In the speech to the 15 EU and 53 African leaders, including two kings, 35 presidents and a bevy of prime ministers, Mubarak noted that Africans have made "sustained efforts," including greater political and economic freedom - to improve their lot in the past decade, and they expected Europeans to lend a strong helping hand.

The "sublime goal" is "realizing prosperity and welfare" not only for Africa, but for Europe as well.

The ultimate goal, to the EU, is for Africa to take its rightful place in the emerging global economy - if it can slash poverty, and its 350 billion dollars of debt - with economic and democratic reform.

"It is our profound wish that this most meaningful occasion should represent a moment of renewal in the relations between our two neighbouring continents," said Prime Minister Antonio Guterres of Portugal, which holds the EU presidency.

But in the run-up to the opening ceremony it was Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi who was grabbing the limelight, making the most of his first appearance at a summit with Western leaders in eight years.

In a Bedouin tent in the Egyptian capital, Gaddafi met European Commission President Romano Prodi and Irish Prime minister Bertie Ahern, and was due to see Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar later in the day.

"We note that he is putting an enormous effort into peaceful matters here," Ahern said after his meeting with the man that the United States has long accused of sponsoring terrorists.

No details of his talks with Prodi were released, but the two spoke at Christmas time last year when the latter indicated he was "politically in favour" of Gaddafi visiting Brussels if he commit Libya to democracy and a free-market economy.

Prodi also met with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for what an EU spokesman called a "frank exchange of views on various issues." No other details were given. .

Cairo marks the first time since 1992 that Gaddafi has been able to press the flesh of western leaders at an international event, since the suspension last year of economic sanctions imposed after Libya's alleged involvement in the 1988 bombing of a US airliner over Lockerbie, Scotland.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, filling in for Prime Minister Tony Blair, told the BBC he wanted to sit down with Mugabe in Cairo, after weeks of diplomatic sparring between London and Harare.

Relations are under strain after Mugabe's threat to seize land from white farmers, his reported vow last week to wage economic war on Britain, and Saturday's violence in Harare involving anti-government protesters.

Former European colonial powers were under African pressure at the weekend to return all cultural property, including the Sphinx's beard to Egypt, an obelisk to Ethiopia and a golden throne to Ghana.

"We want to see a mechanism like the one that secured to return of Nazi gold held in Swiss banks," said one African delegate at the first Africa-Europe summit which starts in Cairo today.

The two sides later agreed that follow-up talks would assess the sensitive issue - which the delegate, asking not to be named, said was part of Europe's duty to compensate Africa for years of colonialisation and slavery.

African states had wanted to draft a text calling for return of its treasures with no legal conditions, but an EU officials said that would be "going beyond what the European Union is ready to concede."

"There were dozens of pieces of art removed from Africa during the colonial period, like the golden Ashanti throne which was taken from Ghana to London," the African delegate said.

And dozens of Egyptian artefacts including various mummies, the beard of the Sphinx and the Rosetta stone, which allowed Egyptologists to decipher hieroglyphics.

Gama said the EU-African decision to assess the issue at ministerial level went far beyond current UN recommendations on the restitution of cultural objects, giving hope that more of Africa's heritage could soon be negotiated back home.

In December a precedent was set by the Italians when Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema handed back to Gaddafi a second century statue of Venus given by the Italian governor of this former colony to Nazi air force commander Hermann Goering.

The Cairo summit looked set for success after EU and African foreign ministers Sunday reached consensus on a final declaration and plan of action, which calls for "a new strategic dimension to the global partnership between Africa and Europe."

It will set a 2015 deadline for cutting poverty in Africa by half, but links the success of debt relief initiatives to economic reforms and "good governance" - the summit's buzzword for responsible government.

THE Nigerian GUARDIAN Newspaper