|Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #2|
Nigeria Weekly News HighlightsNovember 21, 1999
|Forward With A United Nigeria|
Sunday, 21 November 1999
We Sued Obasanjo On Constitutional Grounds, Says Dansadau
Senator Saidu Dansadau, chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, is one of the leading advocates of a redefinition of the relationship between the Presidency and the National Assembly. He discussed with Staff Correspondent, Kayode Ogunbunmi. Excerpts
HOW would you assess the performance of the Senate?
I think the Senate has performed fairly okay. Although, honestly speaking, there is a lot of room for improvement. We need to do much better. The speed at which we pass bills and motions need to be improved upon. But I think the whole thing was due to weak leadership. The Senate leadership could not marshal the resources of the senators to be able to perform their roles as lawmakers and also as an independent arm of government.
On the leadership of the Senate, what is your assessment of the politics behind the chaotic state of things?
The primary reason is how Enwerem emerged as president. As you know, this was due to the inability of PDP Senators, with their overwhelming majority, to arrive at an understanding. It was the minority votes of APP and AD that ensured his victory. Therefore, it was difficult for him to operate without the support of his party members. Secondly, I also noticed a weakness in him - he always wanted to please everybody. If you behave that way, you cannot be a good leader. Enwerem could not control the Senate members and the standard rules of the Senate were not properly followed.
Though we are learning, the inability of Enwerem to control the house was a big problem. Most of the Senators were really not satisfied with the way and manner he conducted the affairs of the house.
The House of Representatives refused to recognise the headship of Enwerem. Do you think the house was wrong in its hardline posturing?
All along, I had been supportive of the position that the House of Representatives had taken on the allegation of impropriety against the Senate President. The fact that the Senate did not thoroughly investigate the allegations had given the House of Representatives the moral for probing Enwerem. Of course they absolved him of some allegations and found him culpable in others, they therefore advised him to resign. And this was good. Where I differred was when they attempted to dictate to the Senate what to do about its leadership. It is the prerogative of the Senate to decide when and how to select its leadership. They have the right to refuse to attend the joint session, but the constitution is very clear about the chairmanship of the joint session. It is only when the Senate President is not available for whatever reason that the House of Representatives' Speaker can chair the session.
In your assessment, what is the relationship between the PDP-led executive and National Assembly?
When we were inaugurated, we tried to conduct ourselves as Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria irrespective of party affiliations. But instead of the President taking advantage of this, as well as the majority of the PDP in the house, he picked quarrel with the entire members of the House. It was our view that he incited the NLC to come and attack us over the furniture allowance issue. That was the beginning of trouble. The second problem had to do with the AD members. Whenever any issue was raised, the AD Senators would behave as if they were protecting President Obasanjo. So, the PDP Senators who actually fought for Obasanjo's presidency became angry and they withdrew their full support from the President.
The third problem is that the President is not receiving the right advice from his advisers. So most of his actions which had caused trouble were done innocently. But because they were predicated on wrong advice, they caused trouble. Take for example, the statement of Chief Bola Ige that members of the National Assembly had no other duties beyond making laws and passing motions. That is an unfortunate statement and it shows the kind of advice President Obasanjo is receiving.
One major cause of disagreement between the Presidency and the Houses was the relocation of some parastatals to Lagos. You and some other people took the matter to court. What is the situation of things now?
We went to court for three things. One, for a strictly legal interpretation of the relocation. Second, we went to court on the issue of currency. The Central Bank of Nigeria said they had gotten approval from President Obasanjo to introduce N100, N200 and N500 denominations into circulation. We feel that by the provision of the constitution, the President has no right to appoint the CBN to introduce new currency without obtaining the support of the National Assembly. The third issue has to do with the appointment and retirement of senior police officers. The President has no power to employ, dismiss or take any action against any member of the police force. That power is vested in the Police Service Commission. The President retired some police officers and appointed others. These are constitutional matters. We are made to understand that it is the judiciary that has the power to interpret the constitution. So, as democrats and legislators who had taken oath to protect the Nigerian Constitution, we feel duty-bound to go to court and seek interpretation on these matters. We are not opposed to relocation but the way and manner it was done. We feel the issue is strictly a legal one. The issue is still in court and we are expecting the result. The only unfortunate thing is that President Obasanjo went ahead with the relocation in contravention of the court's order that he should stay action on the matter pending its resolution.
We feel he is trying to become a civilian dictator. And that is why we recently drew the attention of Nigerians and the international community to the threat to our nascent democracy. Our President is trying to become a civilian dictator.
You are the chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce. How would you assess the state of trade in Nigeria?
It is in a very bad shape. The issue is, the goods and services produced in Nigeria are so expensive, because the production cost is so high. Nigerians have low purchasing power because of the state of the economy. Therefore, the imported goods enjoy advantage over locally produced goods. A Nigerian manufacturer takes loan from the bank at the interest rate of 26 per cent. His counterpart outside enjoy a five to six per cent loan regime. There is no way goods produced in Nigeria can compete favourably with goods produced outside.
Manufacturers produce goods and stock them in their stores because nobody is buying them. At the National Assembly, we seek to complement the government's effort towards the provision of an enabling environment, so that the price of our goods can compete favourably with those produced in other parts of the world. That is why the Senate passed a motion to bring the interest payable on loans down to 15 per cent. Also, that the Central Bank should reduce its rediscount rate to less than 13 per cent so that people can have access to funds and so that cost of production could be low and that Nigerians can now afford that which we produce in Nigeria.
Our second priority is to encourage non-oil export, so that goods produced in Nigeria can also serve as revenue earner for the country in addition to whatever we are getting from oil.
From your assessment, what is the situation of work at the export processing zone project?
We have visited the place and that is why in the supplementary budget, we used our initiative to provide the N500 million needed to complete the project. We are made to understand that some foreign companies are interested in moving into the zone if some things are done. A bill is presently being prepared to take care of these fears in order to attract foreign investors so that it could operate to full capacity. We hope that the project would be commissioned by the first quarter of next year.
You are a senior citizen of Zamfara State. What is your reaction to the introduction of Sharia in the state?
It is two-fold. One is the constitutionality and legality of the matter. The other one is the impression that people outside Zamfara State have.
On the issue of constitutionality, I think the issue as contained in the law passed by the state assembly is consistent with the provision of the constitution of Nigeria. What we are doing is to exercise our rights. Before, we practise our religion individually. But now, with the introduction of the Sharia, we can now practise our religion in community with other Muslims in the state. The law which was passed by the house has been explicit on the matter. It said Sharia affects only Moslems. If there is a matter between a Christian and a Muslim, the law allows the Christian to be the one to chose where he wants the matter to be tried. The right of all citizens of Zamfara State is fully guaranteed.
The unfortunate thing is that people living outside the state create panic where none exists. I hear people saying the state is closing down and people are migrating from the state. All these are lies. In fact, two weeks ago two commercial banks - Societe General and Standard Trust Bank - opened branches in Gusau. More commercial banks are interested in going to the state because of the level of commercial activity in the state.
All the people in Zamfara are pursuing their legitimate duties. They are quite comfortable. They are as free as everybody in other states. People need to be educated before passing derogatory remarks about the Sharia.From the Nigeria World News
Sunday, 21 November 1999University Dons To Get N.6m Housing Loan
By Seth Akintoye, Staff Correspondent
DETAILS of mouth-watering package offered by government and accepted by the Academic Staff Union of Universities, (ASUU) which, paved way for the suspension of strike action are emerging.
The package which may now make teaching an attractive profession offers a myriad of fringe benefits to university teachers.
It includes a (N600, 000) housing loan repayable in 30 years.
There is also a car refurbishing loan of N100, 000 which each academic staff is now entitled to. It is repayable in five years.
Part of the incentives agreed to on October 26, 1999, by the Federal Government and ASUU, include examination supervision allowance which will form 20 per cent of the annual basic salary of each lecturer.
Various academic allowances which include post graduate allowance, teaching practice/industrial supervision/field allowance, hazard allowance and research allowance have also been approved for the teachers.
For instance, it was agreed upon that every entitled academic staff shall be paid a post graduate supervision allowance of N4,000 per post graduate student supervised in a year, up to a maximum of N20,000 for five students.
A teaching practice/industrial supervision allowance of 15 per cent of annual basic salary will however be paid to every entitled staff whereas a hazard allowance of N2,000 per annum will be paid to all entitled staff.
On housing, it was agreed that a housing allowance of 70 per cent monthly basic salary will be paid to all academic staff. However, each university governing council could charge rent for its houses on mutually agreed terms with its tenants.
For university administrators, it was agreed that there shall be a responsibility allowance payable as follows:
Vice Chancellor - N60,000 per annum
Deputy Vice Chancellor - N30,000 per annum
Provost - N15,000 per annum
Dean/Director - N9,000 per annum
Heads/Sub deans - 300 per cent of the current rate
Hall-warden/Master - 300 per cent of the current rate
Others - 300 per cent of the current rate
It was also agreed that the honorarium for external examiners of post graduate thesis shall be N10,000 for Ph.D, and N5,000 for Masters degree.
An examination moderation fee of N5,000 shall be paid for an external examiner on the basis of 50 students or less. But those moderating over 50 students will receive N10,000.
In order to encourage young graduates to take to academic and obtain higher degrees, each academic staff undergoing post-graduate training shall be paid at least N6,000 per annum.
In the agreement signed by Chief Philip Asodu, chairman government's negotiating team, and Dr. Assisi Asobie, national president ASUU, it was agreed academic allowances shall be paid in full as in the ASUU-FG agreement of May 25, 1999.
To implement this, the federal government will provide N.53 billion. The effective date of implementation in January 1,1999.
An additional amount of N.5billion shall be provided by the federal government for the car refurbishing and housing loans.
The remaining N1 billion shall be included in the 2000 budget. Government is also to provide N0.36 billion to implement the 70 per cent rent subsidy from January 1, next year.
It was also agreed that a conversion table from the University Academic Salary Structure (UASS) to Harmonized Tertiary Institutions salary structure (HATISS)III shall be sent to all Universities as in the agreement. The National Universities Commission (NUC) shall implement this immediately.
It was agreed that each academic staff is entitled to a maximum of six weeks per year of sick leave, if not hospitalised and, if hospitalised, to a sick leave of six calandar months with full pay in the first instance, subject to an extension for another six months. Thereafter, a medical board shall determine if he shall be allowed further sick leave or invalidated from service.
On healthcare, it was agreed that each academic staff and his/her family are entitled to free medical treatment, including treatment abroad where necessary.From the Guardian Newspaper
Sunday, 21 November 1999Shake-Up In Civil Service Soon
From Martins Oloja, Abuja Bureau Chief
THE federal government is set to shake up the the top echelon of the civil service which will affect permanent secretaries, directors, among others. Besides, the imminent shake-up to be announced shortly comes on the heels of last week's workshop for federal directors addressed by president Olusegun Obasanjo last Wednesday. The Guardian On Sunday learnt that the remarkable overhaul will also affect the structure and forms of parastatals and extra-ministerial departments which were created as "job for the boys in the years of locust".
Indications to the imminent shake-up emerged last Monday when four top officers of the International Monetary Fund had about an hour meeting with the Head of Service in the Conference Room of his office in Abuja.
Although neither the Head of Service nor the Permanent Secretary Establishment Services Chief Okafor gave details, it was hinted at the briefing that:
"the structure of ministeries will soon be affected as the number of departments in the ministries will be reduced just as parastatals that are performing similar functions will also be merged. This according to the permanent secretary establishment services, Mr. Okafor "is in line with the Ayida panel second report.
According to him, "guiding principles about the reduction of departments and parastatals will be out in the next few days". The Guardian enquiries in the Head of Service office however reveals that President Obasanjo has dropped hint of the impending shake-up to the Head of Service at the secretariat when The Guardian visited the Head of Service Office last week all the federal directors were in a frantic pre-workshop briefing of the workshop which will herald the shake-up. The Guardian confirmed that the workshop co-ordinated by Professor Adebayo Adedeji's outfit featured some form of tests for the directors some of whom may be compulsarily retired after the exercise for poor performance. The evaluation report according to a source, will be compiled in a Western European Country.
It was gathered that the government is convinced that there is need to shuffle the directors and permanent secretaries around to rejuvenate the system. Besides, the new service spirit demands that the permanent secretaries need to move round to prevent what an officer call "getting used to a particular place for too long" that encourages corruption within the ranks."
The Guardian On Sunday also conformed yesterday that a powerful panel has been set up to work out modalities for the shake-up. The confidential committee is being closely guarded and watched by the Head of Service.
Meanwhile, the IMF officials who were briefed on Monday included, Mr. Hiroyaki Hino Head of Mission to Nigeria, Mr. Christopher Browne Senior Resident Representative, Mr. Brian Ames, Deputy Chief of Mission and Patrick Akatu, Adviser to IMF Executive Director. The team was in Nigeria in July shortly after the new service Head was appointed.
Mr. Obe told the IMF team that the service had made progress in the areas of reduction of staff strength as 3,500 civil servants were affected in the last retirement circular issued. The exercise swept away those who had clocked 35 years in service. He also told the IMF technical panel that government is tackling the issue of ghost workers. He said "we need training and retraining of civil servants "to be able to cope with the demand of modern government. In term of computerisation he said "we are trying and Tuesday's workshop for directors would include use of computers. "That way" he said, "records will be properly kept, loss of fund will stop. All ministries will be on line. He also disclosed that government which is getting understanding of the labour union is considering improvement in salaries and wages of workers. "Government is listening to us along that line", he disclosed.
Mr. Okafor disclosed to the IMF team that the service requires technical assistance in the years of record keeping and retrieval saying that of the 3500 retired in August, only about 1000 had come up with records of service. He told the team that all pensions processes are still manual, even with 126,000 retired at federal level. He disclosed that part of the pension scheme problem in those days was that the budget officers cut down on budget proposals for pensions. He however told the team that the new government has been responsive as "all requests are being met 100 per cent except the areas".
The Guardian On Sunday learnt that the IMF team is interested in the trimming of overbloated work force and reduction of extra-ministerial departments that over-lap. The Ayida panel report white paper recommends maximum of two directors and departments in a ministry including Department of Finance and Administration. The Guardian On Sunday learnt that the shake-up in the bureaucracy will be a prelude to a cabinet shake-up which the president will announce immediately after the 2000 Appropriation Bill is passed.Sunday, 21 November 1999
Sama Foundation Plans To Build Children Medical Complex
By Temitope Ogunsi
A YEAR after its inauguration, the Dafieko Sama Foundation, will on December 4, at the Airport Hotel, Lagos, organise a fund raising ceremony for the building of a children's medical complex in memory of the late Capt. Sama.
The complex which will bear the name of the late Sama, captain of the ill-fated ADC flight 086 is to be erected on a one-acre land within the premises of the Gbagada General Hospital, Lagos.
According to Dafe-Urhobo Sama, the brother and vice president of the foundation, a children's medical complex was favoured by the 15 member foundation because of the need to immortalise Sama.
"Following the launching of a book in my brother's memory last year, the foundation decided to plough the proceeds of the book launch into a project. And considering the captain's love for children in his life time, we decided to build a medical centre for children."
The proposed site for the complex, Sama explained, was donated last March to the foundation by the immediate past military administrator of Lagos State, Brig. Buba Marwa.
"The foundation is generously supported by the governors of Lagos and Delta states, who are patrons and also by the president who is the grand patron. And in actual fact the everyday running of the centre when it is completed will be handled by the Lagos State government", Sama explained. The medical complex will include five children wards and a mother's night room, surgical paediatric theatre, three consulting rooms, a medical library, three nurses changing rooms and an accident trauma unit which will serve for emerging purposes for children and adults alike. A budget of N50 million is expected to get the complex started.
"The accident/trauma unit will not be restricted to children so that the complex can have a relevance to the larger society. And the presence of its medical library - which is the sole property of the foundation will help mantain a permanent relationship with the state government," Sama added.From the Guardian Newspaper Odi killings blamed on armed robbers
By Uwakwe Abugu, Warri & Sam Onwuemeodo, Yenagoa
THE Odi Community of Bayelsa State, where some policemen were recently abducted and killed said, yesterday, that the killings were carried out by armed robbers and not its youths as alleged by the police and the Federal Government.
The State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha also reviewing the situation said reports about the incident were being exaggerated, while the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) said in Warri that Nigerians should expect much trouble should the Federal Government make good its threat to declare a state of emergency in Bayelsa over the killing of the policemen.
President Obasanjo had in a letter to Gov. Alamieyeseigha given him 14 days to produce the killers of the policemen failing which he threatened to take an appropriate action.Policemen killed by robbers
A community leader of Odi Community, Lt.-Col. Parkson Larry (rtd.) told reporters in the town that contrary to earlier reports, those policemen were killed by robbers.
"Even yesterday, robbers also operated on that Odi road. Our youths arrested four of them. And on interrogation, the armed robbers said they came from Port Harcourt. No Odi youth has harmed any policeman or any other security personnel. The killing of the seven police officers came to us as a rumour," he said.
Asked why the community had now been deserted by residents, Lt.-Col. Larry said it was because of reports that securitymen might storm the town on a reprisal mission.
On Federal Governments threat to declare a state of emergency in the state, Lt.-Col. Larry said, "we will resist it by all means available to us. The situation does not warrant that. More grievous things have happened in some other places and no state of emergency was declared."
He was also asked why the community was adorned with red flags to which he responded that, there was nothing unusual about that, adding that there were white flags four months ago.
He asked the police who have abandoned their duty posts in the community to return because Odi people had never attacked the police before, and urged the Commissioner of Police to allow his men to return.
The traditional ruler of Odi community, King Thunder Efeke Bolou II, who also spoke to journalists, echoed Lt.-Col. Larrys statement that it was armed robbers that killed the policemen and not Odi youths.
Speaking through an interpreter, he said no Odi youth or person had been arrested by the police in connection with the killing of the police officers, adding that they were not expecting anybody to be arrested in Odi because they did not kill anybody.On the question of state of emergency, King Efeke said "the Federal Government cannot declare a state of emergency in Bayelsa State because of armed robbery operation."
*Gov. laments "negative reports"Governor Alamieyeseigha speaking to newsmen in Yenagoa, lamented what he called the avalanche of negative reports on the state, wondering whether those discussing the negative reports did not want the state to survive.
Chief Alamieyeseigha said largely because of the negative reports on the state following the killing of policemen in Odi, he had to invite journalists to come and see things for themselves.
He said: "We are at peace, what is happening here is not different from what is happening in other places. We have miscreants and criminals in Bayelsa State, just like every other state.
"But our problem is that we dont have media houses to disseminate our information. That is why we have invited you so that you can tell the world what you have seen.
"No civilian or soldier has been killed as far as I know. We dont know what those behind the negative reports about our state have in mind. We have to find out the intention of those peddling these rumours, whether they dont want the young state to develop. It is unfortunate that any incident that happened in the Niger Delta happened in Bayelsa State.
"I have not been to Odi myself. The only way I can satisfy myself was to invite journalists to go into the area, and report back to me. I dont want to rely on the security reports only. You have the capacity to inform the world what is happening in Bayelsa State," he stressed.
The governor also confirmed the shooting of the deputy governors convoy by mobile policemen, saying, appropriate action had been taken on the incident.
Regretting the incident, the governor contended that the relationship of the state government with the security agencies in the state had been cordial, and wondered why the deputy governors convoy should be attacked.
Odi looked deserted with socio-economic activities almost at a zero level.
Only women, children and old men were seen.
*Ijaw youths caution over state of emergency
Meanwhile, the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) said yesterday that there would be more crises in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country if the Federal Government made good its threat to declare a state of emergency in Odi or any part of the Niger Delta over the recent killings and other acts of violence in the area.
Although the IYC in a petition to Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha yesterday urged the Odi youths to embrace dialogue in solving the growing crisis over the killing of policemen in the community, it threatened that if the state of emergency was declared, "all Ijaw youths will in solidarity with the people of Bayelsa State invoke "Operation Climate Change" under the Kaiama Declaration of 1998.
The National Mobilisation Officer of IYC, Mr. Bello Oboko told Vanguard in Warri yesterday that the implication of invoking "Operation Climate Change," was that all oil installations in the Niger Delta will be overrun by the Ijaw youths."
Oboko also said: "There will be no comfort for this country if the Federal Government imposes a state of emergency on Bayelsa State.
"If it comes, we wont allow ourselves to be taken unawares; the whole Niger Delta will be sick, the whole country will be sick."
In the petition, the youths said "in order to overcome the likely problems posed by the Federal Governments threat to impose the sanction on the only Ijaw state in the country and in order to actualise the Kaiama Declaration, all Ijaw youths spread across Akwa-Ibom, Delta, Edo and Ondo states are to solidarise with the Bayelsans."
They said all Ijaw youths would join in observing the seven-day fasting and praying suggested by Gov. Alamieyeseigha.
According to them, they will embark on "purification of our bodies by abstaining from piracy, hijacking, kidnapping, hostage-taking and other sins which are against the doctrines of Egbesu, the spiritual resource of Ijaw people that we have to fall back on when we are driven to the wall."
NNPC, Shell, Agip in $1b joint venture By Emma Ujah, Abuja
THE Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and its joint venture partners: Shell, Elf and Agip are investing $1 billion on the development of the EA/EJA oil and gas field.
The agreement on the project was signed in Abuja yesterday by NNPC and Shell, its operator.
The field, which has an estimated reserve of 350 million barrels, will come on stream in the second half of 2002.
Group Managing Director of NNPC, Engr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki said at the ceremony that when fully developed, the project would produce over 100,000 barrels of oil per day and supply up to 100 million standard cubic feet of gas per day."
He gave details of the arrangement as follows: "Shell and Agip, two of the three private partners in the NNPC, Shell, Elf and Agip Joint Venture will fund NNPCs share of the investment in the project. Elf has advised that it will not be a carrying partner and so it kept its normal share of 10% in the joint venture.
Accordingly, the investment in the field development will be funded 7.14 per cent by Shell, 12.86 per cent Agip, and 10 per cent Elf. Shell and Agip will then recover the cost of carrying NNPCs portion from NNPCs margin of profit recoverable over the life of the field.
It is pertinent to acknowledge that this method of alternative funding was proposed by Shell. We find this initiative of SPDC a very commendable demonstration of the companys commitment to the development of petroleum in Nigeria. The Shell proposal was reviewed and approved by government. Other proposals have been received from Elf and Texaco and are being reviewed for approval. We look forward to putting in place more alternative funding mechanisms for the development of our oil and gas reserves in Nigeria.
Managing Director (MD) of Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), Mr. Ron Van Den Berg also speaking at the ceremony said his company had an abiding faith in Nigeria, in spite of the difficulties the company is currently facing in some oil communities.
"We all believe that the present circumstances are temporary. There is a great future for this country and we are looking forward to that great future.
"We have an unfailing faith in the country and the great potentials of the oil and gas industry of this great nation. We will not be deterred by the present circumstances," the Shell boss stated.
He described the project as "a clear demonstration of faith in Nigeria in spite of what we are facing in the Niger Delta."
Mustapha, others for Kirikiri prisons * It is not safe, Akpamgbo objects
By Ise-Oluwa Ige
THE Ikeja Chief Magistrate Court trying Chief Security Officer to the late Gen. Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, son of the late Abacha, Mohammed and three others for the alleged murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, yesterday ordered that the accused persons be now remanded at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons.
The accused persons who also include Chief Superintendent of Police, Mohammed Rabo Lawal, Amin Mohammed and a personal aide of the late Alhaja Abiola, Lateef Shofolahan were originally remanded at the Ikoyi Prisons following their arraignment in the court last October 14.
The transfer order came after an application moved by the Lagos State Attorney General, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, leading a four-man prosecution team.
But it was fiercely contested by the defence team led by former Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Chief Clement Akpamgbo who described Ajegunle where the Kirikiri Prisons is located as unsafe.
The objection was overruled by Chief Magistrate B.A. Oke-Lawal who said there was nothing before the court to show that the accused persons would not be safe at the Kirikiri Prisons.
She therefore ordered that they be remanded at Kirikiri Prisons for security reasons until they would be properly arraigned before a high court of jurisdiction this month.The legal encounter between Prof. Osibajo and Chief Akpamgbo went on like this:
Prof. Osibajo: (almost shouting because of the noise by spectators who had thronged the courtroom) "I wonder whether we (referring to the court) couldnt ask for silence at all. We couldnt hear ourselves.
"Yes, at the last adjourned date, the accused persons were remanded under Section 236 Sub- Section (3) of the Criminal Procedure Laws of Lagos State and they have been so remanded at Ikoyi Prisons. Last week, we received the file in respect of their matter from the Federal Attorney-General and Minister for Justice."
Akpamgbo: "I am not hearing one word."
Chief Magistrate: "Inspector, will you maintain silence in court."
Prof. Osibajo: "And we have since filed an information with reference number ID/49C/99 at a Lagos High Court indicating our intention to prosecute all the accused persons. We expect the hearing date, which by all indication will be before the end of this month in a Lagos High Court. We urge the court therefore to order that the accused persons continue in remand until their formal arraignment before the High Court of Lagos State.
"Our further prayer is that from reports reaching us from security agencies, the Ikoyi Prisons which is a medium security prison may not be able to guarantee adequate safety for the accused persons and adequate comfort.
"It is our respectful prayer that they be remanded at Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons until their formal arraignment which like I had earlier said would be before the end of this month."
Akpamgbo: "Im grateful. I congratulate the Attorney General that he eventually ensured that the accused persons are formally arraigned in a court of jurisdiction.
"But I am opposed to their being remanded at the Kirikiri Prisons on the following grounds:
*On October 14, both the prosecution and counsel for the accused agreed that the Ikoyi Prisons is conducive for the purpose of the accused persons having access to the counsel of their choice.
*There is tension in Ajegunle between the OPC and the Ijaw youths. I understand there is a curfew between 6.00 p.m. - 8.00 a.m. and Kirikiri is very near Ajegunle.
"For you (referring to the magistrate) to amend the order of your learned brother, Chief Magistrate Dele Gbogodo who formerly handled the matter October 14, a formal application should have been brought to you with an evidence from Ikoyi Prisons that they can no longer cope with the security.
"I urged the court to resist the temptation of reviewing the order of your learned brother, Chief Magistrate Gbogodo."
At this juncture, one of the counsels in the Chief Akpamgbo-led defence team, Mr. A.B. Dawodu aligned himself with the submission of Chief Akpamgbo, stressing "I am bothered that you are being urged to review the order painstakingly made by Chief Magistrate Gbogodo on the consent of both parties. The status quo should be maintained. They have just a few days to spend at Ikoyi Prisons since the AG himself has said that they would be properly arraigned before the end of this month.But in a riposte, Prof. Osibajo stood up and said "on the argument that both the prosecution and the defence counsel agreed to remand the accused at Ikoyi Prisons, I wish to say that the issue of remand is not a question of agreement of counsel.
"Section 239 of Criminal Procedure Law says: All persons committed to prison under this law shall be committed to government prison or other place of safe custody. This is the consideration that guides the consideration of the court. We have received information from police and other security agencies that Ikoyi Prisons for the purpose of the accused persons may not be safe in accordance with Section 239. This is why we are suggesting a maximum security prison instead of minimum security."
Akpamgbo: (cuts in) "AG is taking the advantage of his position to address on point of fact. He should address on point of law."
Prof. Osibajo: "As to the question of formal application being brought, this position is not supported by any known law. No wonder the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) (looking back to Akpamgbo) did not cite any relevant authority. An oral application is sufficient.
"On access to their legal counsel, this is a constitutional requirement which the state is obliged to comply with and we will definitely make sure that the state complies in so far as it lies within the power of the office of the Attorney-General.
"Thus far, we have granted or/and facilitated them access to lawyers of their choice both local and foreign and we intend to continue to do so.
"On the matter of Kirikiri and Ajegunle, Chief Akpamgbo lives at Ikoyi. He doesnt know the situation of the place neither does he know the difference between Kirikiri and Ajegunle."
At this juncture, the court was thrown into laughter.
Prof. Osibajo continued, "so far, there has been no report of clashes. The police are firmly in control and we dont see any likelihood at all of any breach of public peace there," he added.
The trial Chief Magistrate, Mrs. B.A. Oke-Lawal, after listening to their arguments ruled thus: "It is a clear provision of the law - Section 239 of the Criminal Procedure Law, that the court has jurisdiction to determine where an accused person should be remanded.
"There is nothing in the law that suggests that a more formal application other than oral should be made for this kind of request - movement from one confinement to another.
"I hold that what is fundamental is that the best security must be provided," stressing that she did not see how the curfew in Ajegunle would affect the security of the accused persons.
The Chief Magistrate continued: "I therefore overrule the objection of the defence counsel because there is nothing before this court to show that their security will be threatened at Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons.
"It is therefore ordered that they be remanded at Kirikiri Maximum Security Prisons and they should all be granted access to their counsel.
"I also adjourn this matter till December 10, this year for both parties to furnish this court with further developments on the matter," she added.
At this juncture, all the accused persons with the exception of Major Mustapha were let out of the dock.
Al-Mustapha who had worn a cheerful look even when the trial Chief Magistrate ordered that they should be moved to Kirikiri Prisons now comported himself in the dock when another matter was called in which he and the former physician to the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, Lt.-Col. Ibrahim Yakassai were named as suspected killers of Gen. Shehu Musa Yar Adua. But Yakassai was again absent in court.
Chief Clement Akpamgbo immediately stood up and said: "Same appearance and same objection."
Mr. Rotimi Jacobs who is the Special Assistant to the Federal Minister for Justice, Mr. Kanu Agabi also stood up for the prosecution and adopted the earlier position by the prosecution team leader, Prof. Yemi Osibajo in the first matter, stressing "we will like to maintain the same date.
"We will communicate appropriately to the court the latest development on the matter," he said.
The trial Chief Magistrate, in a short ruling, however, adjourned the matter till December 10, this year and ordered that Mustapha and Yakassai be remanded in Kirikiri Prisons in absentia.
It was, however, not immediately clear whether Mustapha who is currently facing a separate murder charge at a Lagos High Court will be moved to Abakaliki when the murder case in Abakaliki opens.
*Tight security at Court premises
Security around the court premises was expectedly tight, with policemen cordoning off the area. Everyone entering the premises was thoroughly searched by the policemen.
Many spectators who could not enter, gathered round the area, and when the vehicles conveying the accused persons drove into the premises at 11.00 a.m., the crowd surged forward, prompting the policemen to release some tear-gas canisters. This created some stampede, with everyone around covering his face and nose.
Earlier, a minister in the Abacha regime had a rough time with the surging crowd who had come to catch a glimpse of the accused persons. The ex-minister was almost stoned by the crowd, who kept hurling invectives at him.
At some point, he told journalists in an interview that efforts were on to secure bail for the accused. The crowd apparently did not like this and hurled more insults at him.
He quickly disappeared from the area and headed towards the Nigeria Bar Centre where he parked his vehicle. Even he was still trailed by the crowd.
At this juncture, the attention of a group of policemen was drawn to the scene and they volunteered to assist him escape.
But he confidently told the policemen to go and that the crowd could not do him anything.
Said he: "Allow them. Stop driving them. Let them come. They wont do anything and in fact they cannot do anything to me."
The policemen did not leave him until he was safely out of sight of the crowd
Meanwhile, Al-Mustapha and the other accused persons yesterday complained bitterly to security agents about the intense heat inside the Police Black Maria that they rode to and from court.
Vanguard gathered that the suspects cried out from the Black Maria as they were being taken to the Police Headquarters after the court proceedings.
According to one source, "they were taken to Police Headquarters at Ikeja as a decoy. We saw a large crowd anxiously waiting on our route and we decided to take the suspects to the Police Headquarters to allow the large crowd disperses.
"As soon as we got into the headquarters, the suspects started raising their voices, pleading that the heat inside the Black Maria was becoming unbearable. We had no option than to drive the Black Maria under a tree shade near the Headquarters Building. In fact, their pleas for a shaded corner to cool off the heat made us realise, at last, that they are also human beings," the source said.
Vanguard further learnt that they later left the headquarters for Kirikiri Prisons after about an hour.Vanguard Transmitted Thursday, 18 November, 1999
Saturday, 20 November 1999 30 arrested over killing of policeman
By Ben Akparanta, Police Affairs Correspondent
STREET urchins in Satellite Town, Badagry Expressway in the outskirts of Lagos were yesterday raided in a massive mop-up operation by the State Police Command following the killing of a Sergeant by a mob on Thursday night.
Sergeant Simeon Ekanem, an operative of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was lynched by a mob about 10 p.m. shortly after he arrested a suspected notorious gangster.
Sources said the policeman was, however, overpowered when the suspect raised an alarm claiming that he was being attacked by an armed robber.
A vengeful mob descended on the policeman and used dangerous weapons to inflict fatal injuries on him before reinforcemen could come from the nearby police station.
Although the mob dispersed shortly after the killing, scores of heavily armed policemen swooped on the area yesterday to conduct a street by street search of urchins.
No fewer than 30 urchins were conveyed in two Volkswagen transport buses and two police patrol Mazda vans to SARS office at Police Headquarters, Old Secretariat, Ikeja.
The death of Sergeant Ekanem was yesterday discussed at the police weekly security meeting supervised by Mr. Mike Okiro, the state Police Commissioner.
Police spokesman, Mr. Fabulous Enyaosah, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), confirmed the incident, while SARS officers said the urchins were to undergo screening and preliminary interrogation to enable investigators identify the culprits.From the Guardian Newspaper
Saturday, 20 November 1999
16 die in Ilorin road accident
SIXTEEN people were yesterday burnt beyond recognition when two passenger buses on opposite directions ran into a stationary truck along Ilorin-Ogbomoso Road.
However, six bodies, including that of an infant, were recovered and deposited at the mortuary unit of University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH).
Speaking on the accident, the Sector Commandant of Federal Road Safety Commission in Kwara State, Mr. Umar Bello Aginji, attributed the accident, recorded at dawn, to the narrow nature of the road and the hazy weather condition occasioned by harmattan breeze.
Urging motorists plying the route to travel on minimum speed to avoid more fatal accidents until the road is dualised, Ajingi added that broken-down vehicles should put up visible road signs at the required distance to alert on-coming drive of impending danger.From the Guardian Newspaper
Thursday, 18 November 1999Nigeria in the new world By Edwin Madunagu
WITH the recent visit of President Olusegun Obasanjo to the United States of America, facilitated in the last instance of the visit of Madeline Albright to Abuja, it can be said that Nigeria has now been admitted into the world. This is the general view of Nigerian politicians, business people and the new "nationalists". But exactly 39 years earlier Nigeria, on attaining independent statehood, was admitted into the world via the United Nations. So, how and at what point between these two dates did Nigeria lose its membership of the world? Or: Are there two worlds - one into which Nigeria was admitted in 1960 and the other in 1999? Or: Has the world into which Nigeria was admitted in 1960 been dissolved and replaced by a new one into which the country was admitted in 1999?
A reasonable hypothesis here will be that today there is, in fact, a new world which has effectively dissolved and replaced the old one which admitted Nigeria 39 years ago; that the organisational form of this new world is not the United Nations, but the "international community"; that the leader of the new world is the United States of America which also hosted the old world and is now hosting the new one; and that unlike the old world where Nigeria had at least a symbolic representation through the United Nations General Assembly, and occasionally through the periphery of the Security Council, the new world has only a nebulous membership outside the United States of America, Japan and three or four American allies in Europe.
If someone raises an objection on the grounds that there is still a widely publicised body called the United Nations and that Nigeria has an equally publicised membership in it, I shall reply that we are concerned here with reality, or rather essential reality, and not appearances. Afterall, the traditional institutions which the British colonialists met, defeated and replaced in Nigeria more than a century ago are still there bearing the same titles of temporal and spiritual omnipotence even when we know they are mere shadows of their past.
What is this new world and what are our prospects and responsibilities in it as a country? But before considering this question, I want to draw attention to the fact that the subject of this discussion is "Nigeria in the new world", and not "Nigeria and the new world". This is because the establishment of this new world is an objective reality, not a speculation or mere wish. Nigeria's membership is also an objective reality. Our wish is not to wake up tomorrow and discover that this new world has disappeared. This will be a crazy expectation. A sane hope for the future is three-fold: first, that Nigeria will be able to negotiate the best possible terms of membership in the new world - best, that is, from the point of view of the presently exploited, dispossessed and truly disaffected Nigerians; second, that the best possible social order will be constructed in Nigeria to enhance the possibility of this negotiation; and thirdly that, ultimately, the new world will be supplanted by a less unjust global order before it consolidates into a new colonial system.
At the time Nigeria was admitted into the United Nations six days into its independence on October 7,1960, most of the world outside Western Europe and America was just emerging from colonial servitude. The UN was barely 15 years old, having been formed in 1945 by the victors in the Second World War (1939-1945). A point that needs to be made here is that UN was not a creation of peace-loving nations, desirous of preventing another war, as the organisation's charter proclaims in its sanctimonious preamble. The UN was created by the victorious side in the war, or more correctly, by the dominant faction of the victorious alliance.
Between 1945 when the UN was created and the second half of 1989 when all the Communist Party-led socialist regimes in Eastern Europe, except the Soviet Union, collapsed, the world which emerged from the Second World War existed. That world which we now call the old world did not disappear in 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union; the old world disappeared two years earlier, some would say, three years earlier, in 1988, when Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, unilaterally surrendered his country and its neighbours to imperialism through Ronald Reagan and the United Nations.
The old world was one single world. You may call it bi-polar, if you are in love with words, but this gives a wrong impression of what that world was. It was a single world not two; there was a single world market, not two; and both were under the hegemony of the United States of America and its close allies. The world market was a capitalist market-operating by capitalist rules- not a "general" market, if this has any meaning. The financial institutions of the UN, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were (and still are) capitalist institutions, operating by capitalist rules and conditions. The structure of this world and the American hegemony over it, its institutions and the market that defines it were sharply contested throughout the period that world existed.
Taking a long view of history, it will be correct to say that the degree of challenge mounted against American hegemony during this period was unprecedented, in the history of struggles for political ascendancy at the world level. Capitalist imperialism had lasted at least four centuries before the Soviet Union was born in 1917. And American power, as world power, had lasted at least a century before the Soviet State was created.
While the contestation against the capitalist and imperialist hegemony lasted, it assumed several forms and developed several levels and dimensions. At the international (diplomatic and political) level the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia and Africa maintained a confrontation. The newly independent and or underdeveloped countries, organised under the Non-aligned Movement, formed a detachment of opposition. National liberation movements in colonial and semi-colonial territories also mounted an opposition. At the national level, there were confrontations between imperialism on the one hand and anti-capitalist forces inspired by variants of Marxism in virtually all countries of the world, including those that went by the name socialist, on the other.
The new world, defined by the collapse of political confrontation with capitalism and capitalist imperialism at some strategic levels presents the following features: the United Nations is now, more or less, the foreign policy instrument of the United States of America; the UN Security Council, which is the executive authority of the UN, is the will of the US - deciding who is to be militarily subdued, how and when; the World Bank and the IMF which control the economy of the world are now controlled, unchallenged, by the leading imperialist-capitalist nations of the world (G7) which in turn is controlled by the US; globalisation, the new economic ideology of the world is the official ideology of the World Bank and IMF. You take it or leave it, there is no alternative.
This new world into which Nigeria has now been admitted has the objective logic of reducing the global poverty and misery. The task before Nigeria, as stated earlier, is to radically reorganise itself in such a way that it is maximally equipped to negotiate the best possible terms of membership in the new world while combining with the millions of its victims across the globe to supplant it with a humane, truly democratic, and genuinely human world organisation. To be more explicit, people cannot negotiate the best possible terms in servitude if they are led by social forces that are inspired by the ideology and practices of the slave master. A Yoruba proverb says that even if you are sent to deliver a message as a slave, you can deliver it in the manner of a free-born.News from the Nigeriaworld.com
Thursday, 18 November 1999Suspects look well fed, confident in court
By Collins Obibi and Mustapha Ogunsakin,Lagos
SOME measure of adequate care and good living was evident in the five accused persons arraigned yesterday over crimes they allegedly committed during the reign of the late Gen. Sani Abacha.
The accused persons are Major Hamsa Al-Mustapha, Mohammed Sani Abacha, CSP Mohammed Rabo Lawal, Aminu Mohammed and Lateef Shofolahan.
Before Chief Magistrate Beatrice Adesuwa Oke-Lawal yesterday, they all appeared clean-shaven robust, well-fed, calm and generally full of life.
Their appearance prompted an open observation by the public that they were apparently having a good time in Ikoyi Prisons where they had been remanded since Oc`tober 14.
Their countenance yesterday was radically different from their first arraignment when they looked dishevelled and worried. Yesterday, they all exuded confidence which some observers interpreted as indicating an absence of remorse for their alleged crime.
Major Al-Mustapha had trimmed his hair into a low cut with an R. Kelly-styled monstache. He wore a light green kaftan.
Also Abacha, who looked afraid in the last arraignment a month ago, appeared full of life. He spotted a dark green kaftan and was full of smiles to his lawyers while he chatted away almost throughout proceedings with his father's security officer, Major Hamza. CSP Rabo-Lawal also looked good as he seemed relieved in a purple kaftan with a pair of glasses sitting on the bridge of his nose.
Aminu Mohammadu, the 29-year-old Mohammed Sani Abacha's driver, looked neat in his jeans jacket and trousers which he wore during the last adjornment. He also spotted a skin cut.
Lateef Shofolahan also appeared more confident as he beamed smiles from the dock.
In all, they appeared to be having fun at their remand centre as they appeared lively and even waved to the crowd on their way to the Black Maria that brought them to court.
One of them, thought to be Lawal on his way back to the Black Maria, perhaps due to the crowd and their boos, missed his steps and fell down. He was immediately assisted by a policeman back into the vehicle.
People's angst against the authorities for "adequately taking care" of the accused persons which made them to look very robust and well kept was described as a commentary on the state of well-being of the detainees. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Joseph B. Daudu said much as being incarcerated does not translate to the person looking haggard and unkept, it does not, however, mean that the accused persons or convicted prisoners should be deprived food and medication which may make them to look emaciated and sick.
He expression appreciation over the system whereby the accused persons are being tried in an open count with interested persons witnessing the trial.
Thursday, 18 November 1999
13 British firms to visit Nigeria
By Chigozie Ndulaka
THIRTEEN companies from the Energy Industries Council, the largest trade association in the United Kingdom will arrive in the country on November 29.
A statement by the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos stated that the trade mission which is due to visit Lagos and Port Harcourt has a mandate to promote new and mutually beneficial commercial relations between the British energy sector operators and their Nigerian counterparts.
The mission while in Lagos would be hosted by the commercial section of the British Deputy High Commission. They will also visit major companies in the oil sector.
The mission will also promote a wide range of products and services which include:
|short term equipment rental and a longer term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA);|
|tailor-made training programme to suit client equipment;|
|service provider for all process and pipeline commissioning, maintenance and inspection applications;|
|promoting health, safety and environmental best practice by providing bespoke in company training including loss prevention, risk, safety and environmental management.|
Thursday, 18 November 1999
Obasanjo urges dialogue in resolving varsity crises
From Tolu Olarewaju and Iyabo Sotunde, Ibadan; Victor Onyeka Ben, Lagos
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday urged members of the university community in the country to embrace dialogue as means of resolving crisis, noting that industrial actions and students' unrest had wreaked untold hardship on the system.
Indeed, the main question running through virtually all addresses presented at the 51st Foundation Day and graduation ceremony of the University of Ibadan, where Obasanjo made the speech, was: "When will the university system be free from its unending crisis which have resulted in human and material wastes?"
Obasanjo, who is the Visitor to the university, chided authorities of the institution for being one of the hardest hit by crises.
He said: "In its 51st year, the University of Ibadan should be in the leadership position to encourage dialogue rather than confrontation to promote equity and champion the cause of the university.
"At all times, we should stop to think of the deep scar that the frustration of spending six or seven years on a four-year academic programme leaves on the psyche and development of our children, before embarking on precipitate actions."
He lamented further: "It is most unfortunate that the university is sliding back into the pre-1995 era, when academic life came to a stand still due to prolonged industrial actions, most especially by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU)."
Obasanjo, who was represented by the Education Minister, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, also called for the restructuring of the university system "to make them respond effectively to the serious challenges of our time."
He said years of military rule had encouraged authoritarian practices on university campuses, adding that reports of the visitation panels set-up recently by the government, had revealed less than judicious management of resources, disregard for stipulated procedures and poor communication between management and other campus groups.
Eminent historian, Prof. Obaro Ikime had on Tuesday declared the country's education and utility sector clinically dead. Deliverying the fourth lecture series of the university's Lagos alumini association, he appraised Nigeria's activities in the recent past and concluded that things had fallen apart.
The lecture titled: "Can these bones lives?" was delivered at the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) auditorium, Victoria Island, Lagos. He recalled with nostalgia the nation's past impressive educational attainments and social services, expressing regrets that they were now in shambles.
He, however, expressed the hope that things would change for the better, especially if the elite stopped sending their children to private schools, which would ensure focus on revamping those of the public.
Al-Mustapha, Abacha's trial goes to high court
By Kunle Sanyaolu (Asst Editor) and Gbolahan Gbadamosi
MAJOR Hamza Al-Mustapha and four other persons standing trial on murder charges are to be arraigned at a Lagos High Court before December 10, the prosecution said yesterday.
Lagos State Attorney-General Yemi Osibajo also requested from an Ikeja Magistrate's Court that the suspects be moved from Ikoyi Prisons, where they have been held, to the Kirikiri Maximum Prison.
Osibajo, leading government lawyers for yesterday's arraignment of the suspects, accused, so far informally, of murdering Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, told the magistrate's court that the state had filed a four-count criminal charge at the High Court. Prosecution, according to him, was only awaiting a convenient date to be fixed by the high court for trial to begin.
The statement made before Chief Magistrate Beatrice Adesuwa Oke-Lawal, indicated that the government was about ready to conduct full and proper trial of the accused persons. Besides Al-Mustapha, the others are:
|Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan (49), who was chief protocol officer to the late Kudirat, wife of eminent business tycoon and politician, Chief Moshood Abiola, who died in detention last year.|
|Mohammed Abacha (29), son and heir to the late despotic military ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha;|
|Aminu Mohammed (29), driver to Mohammed Abacha; and|
|Mohammed Rabo Lawal (40), a chief superintendent of police.|
Their arraignment yesterday was the second of such in 30 days. They had appeared before the Chief Magistrate's Court, then presided over by Mr. Dele Gbogodo, on October 14.
As it was the last time no plea was taken from the accused persons yesterday. But Chief Magistrate Oke-Lawal endorsed Osibajo's request that they be moved from Ikoyi Prison where they were remanded last month, to Kirikiri Maximum Prisons.
The new order was predicated on security reasons. According to Osibajo, reports reaching the government from the police and other security agencies indicated that the safety of the accused persons could no longer be guaranteed in Ikoyi prisons.
Also by the order, legal objection raised to the request for change of remand centres by Mr. Clement Akpamgbo (SAN) and Mr. J. B. Dauda (SAN) leading lawyers to the accused persons, were overruled.
Osibajo's statement on the criminal information filed at the High Court was a confirmation of The Guardian front page story yesterday on the issue.
Government lawyers, led by Osibajo, include the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mrs. Ngozi Mofunaya; personal assistant to the Federal Attorney-General and Justice Minister, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs; Mr. Dedeigbo, and a lawyer in the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu.
Osibajo told the crowded court that before the next adjourned date of December 10, the accused persons would have been formally arraigned before a Lagos High Court.
Personal physician to the late Head of State, Lt. Col. Ibrahim Yakassai, charged separately with Al-Mustapha for the murder in December 1997 of former Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters, Maj. Gen. Shehu Musa Yar'Adua, was also not in court.
Yesterday's proceedings which lasted for 52 minutes recorded a turning point for the accused persons as Mrs. Oke-Lawal agreed with the submissions of Osibajo that "the accused persons be remanded in Kirikiri maximum prison to ensure security for the accused and access to be given to the counsel to the accused."
Indication that the accused persons would appear in the court yesterday, became apparent around Ikeja as early as 6.55 a.m. when a police truck with registration number PF 5446 LA was used to cordon the General Hospital end of Oba Akinjobi Road.
No vehicular movement was allowed and persons were asked to identify themselves before they could be allowed entry into the High Court premises.
While hundreds of journalists were waiting outside, in the court room which had four of its five ancient ceiling fans working, and two of its five fluorescent bulbs on, the prosecution and defence teams and other interested members of the public were all discussing the possibility of the accused persons appearing in court.
As the blackmaria with registration No. PF 5005 LA which brought them came to a halt and the accused persons ushered in, fumes of tear gas were released causing discomfort for those already in the court including former Justice Minister, Mr. Clement Akpamgbo (SAN), Chief Babasola Rhodes (SAN), Mr. Amobi Nzelu, Osibajo among others.
At 11.05 a.m., Mrs. Oke-Lawal came out from her chamber having taken over the case file from Chief Magistrate Dele Gbogodo who handled the case on October 14.
Amid riotous noise from the crowd outside the court room, Osibajo announced his team while Akpamgbo named Rhodes, Nzelu and Mr. Ibrahim Adamu as counsel for Al-Mustapha, Aminu Mohammed, Rabo-Lawal and Shofolahan. Mr. J. B. Dauda (SAN) led other four lawyers for Mohammed Sani Abacha.
Despite the restiveness of the crowd, Osibajo kicked off by informing the court that the accused persons were ordered to be remanded at Ikoyi minimum prison in line with section 236(1) of the Criminal Procedure, Law of Lagos State and that "last week, we received the file from the office of the Attorney-General in respect of this matter and we have since filed an information with charge number IP/436/99 at Lagos High court.
"We are expecting the hearing date which, by all indications, will be before the end of this month from the Lagos High court."
Consequently, he urged the court to continue to remand the accused persons until their formal arraignment before a High Court.
"From the report reaching us from the security agents, the Ikoyi prison which is a medium prison may not be enough to guarantee safety for the accused persons and their adequate comfort. It is our respective prayers that they should be remanded at Kirikiri Maximum prison pending arraignment at the Lagos High Court, hopefully before the end of the month," Osibajo said.
Responding to the oral application of Osibanjo, Akpamgbo said he had to congratulate the state attorney-general for making it possible for the accused persons to be arraigned formally at the High Court but said: "I disagree with him on his request that they should be remanded at Kirikiri Maximum Prison."
He argued that "on October 14, 1999, both the prosecution and counsel for the accused persons agreed that Ikoyi Prison is conducive for the purpose of the accused persons to have easy access to the counsel of their choice".
Referring to Gbogodo's ruling of October 14, the senior advocate stated that, "much as the attorney-general has access to the State Security Services (SSS) and all security agencies, I have to tell you that at Ikoyi Prison they have two armoured personnel carrier (APC) and more than 10 armed police men, and that it is a notorious fact that there is tension and curfew at Ajegunle between 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. because of Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) and Ijaw youths fracas. Remember Kirikiri is in Ajegunle.
"For you to amend the order of your learned brother, a formal application ought to be brought and evidence from Ikoyi Prison that it could no longer cope with the security."
He therefore urged the court to "resist the temptation of reviewing the order of your learned brother."
Supporting Akpamgbo's argument, Dauda said: "I am bothered that you are being asked to review the order which was painstakingly made by your learned brother without notice; merely on an information in the pages of newspapers.
"As at now, we have not seen the information and evidence. We need to maintain contact with our clients. The security report on Kirikiri area should be the only reason why they should not be taken there - the stronghold of OPC. Perhaps there are other ulterior motives."
"Noting has happened to the knowledge of Nigerians that Ikoyi Prison is not safe. Since the attorney-general said information has been filed, we should allow status quo to be. The High Court is free to take any application on oath. For now, I urge your worship to leave the matter as it is," he added.
Replying on point of law, Osibajo pointed out that "as to the question of remand, it is not for agreement between counsel. See Section 239 of Criminal Procedure Law of Lagos State which says that all persons committed to prison under this law shall be committed to government prisons or other place of safe custody. This is the consideration that guides the decision of the court."
Explaining further why he preferred Kirikiri Maximum Prison, he stated: "We have received information from the police and security agents that Ikoyi Prison may not be safe in line with Section 239 of the criminal procedure law."
At this juncture, Akpamgbo interjected, saying Osibajo should confine himself to the point of law. Akpamgbo was however overruled by Mrs. Oke-Lawal.
The attorney-general continued, saying: "as for the issue of formal application, this position is not supported by any known law. An oral application is enough. They will continue to have access to their counsel. We should make sure the state complies with the law and within the powers of the office of the attorney-general. Thus far, we have facilitated access to lawyers of their choice both local and foreign and we intend to continue to do so."
On alleged tension in Ajegunle, Osibajo remarked that, "there is no report of any crisis at the Kirikiri` Maximum Prison. Police are much in control and we would not see any likelihood of breach of security."
In her ruling, Mrs. Oke-Lawal said: "It is clear that the court has the jurisdiction to remand the accused persons and also under Section 239 to continue to review in the interest of safety and public interest. There is nothing in the law of Nigeria that requires that an application in respect of place of remand of an accused should be a written application.
"It is an application that can be made orally. Further, it is clear that the security at Kirikiri which is a maximum prison is tighter and more appropriate than a medium security prison and taking into consideration the circumstances of the case at issue, it is clear that the best security must be provided for the safety of the accused persons."
She added that "the issue of curfew raised by the learned Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Akpamgbo in the area of Kirikiri and Ajegunle will in fact enhance the security in the area. The attorney-general has given sufficient reasons in respect of safety of the accused.
"I hold therefore that the objection of the counsel is overruled as there is nothing before the court to show that a transfer of the accused to Kirikiri will in any way affect or violate the constitutional right of the access to their counsel."
Mrs. Oke-Lawal added that "the objection is therefore overruled and it is hereby ordered that the accused persons be remanded in Kirikiri maximum prison to ensure maximum security for the accused and access to be given to the counsel to the accused."
Before the proceedings were adjourned to December 10, the information concerning the second charge involving Al-Mustapha and Yakassai, according to Jacobs, was yet to be filed at the State High Court.
He however, hoped that he would inform the court about the state of affairs by the same date.
From the Guardian Newspaper
FG presents N500b budget for Year 2000
By Rotimi Ajayi, Abuja & Demola Adedoyin
THE Federal Government plans to spend a total of N500 billion in next years budget.
The official sectoral allocation, however, put the total figure at N399 billion.
The budget, approved at an emergency meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting yesterday, was announced to the State House Correspondents by Information Minister, Chief Dapo Sarumi.
The amount represents an increase of N159.4 billion over the 1999 budget of N340.6 billion, the minister said.
N170 billion of the proposed budget will be committed to capital projects.
In the 1999 budget, capital projects got N1.43 billion.
The minister, stated that next years budget was based on the realities of the nations economy.
He pointed out that the budget was predicated on the oil price of $18 per barrel as against the $16.5 per barrel used for the 1999 budget.
He added that the Federal Government expected to generate revenue of $8.474 billion as royalties from crude oil and gas as against the $7.537 billion for 1999.
He stated that a sum of $3.15 billion would be spent to meet the joint venture cash-calls commitment while 300,000 barrels would be allocated to local refineries.
A sum of $1.98 billion is to be set aside for servicing the nations external debt, which stood at $28.54 billion at end of last September.
He added that the arrears to be paid by the government on the servicing of the debt stood at $18.8663 billion.
The minister, who said the present administration inherited a deficit of N280 billion in May, stressed that next years budget was a realistic one in view of the gains Nigerians would make from democracy.
He pointed out that the budget had a provision of N20 billion for the payment of debts incurred on national priority projects while the liability of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) would be offset with a sum of N10 billion.
He added that the PTF would be completely phased out in the new year while its uncompleted projects would be passed on to the relevant ministries.
He emphasised that the present administration would ensure that it continued with cushioning the hardship being faced by Nigerians in the area of poor performance of infrastructural facilities, undesirable liquidity position, unemployment and shortage of petroleum products.
Towards this end all agricultural inputs and equipment are to be exempted from the Value Added Tax (VAT), in the new year.
However, imported wheat, rice, maize, corn, meat, edibles, chilled and frozen chicken, turkey and dried leguminous vegetables are not covered by the exemption.
The budget will be presented to the National Assembly in the next one week.
Sectoral breakdown of the budget shows that the Federal Government has earmarked N40.3 billion, the largest sectoral allocation, to the education ministry apparently to stem the rot in the educational sector.
According to the budget proposal as approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) in Abuja yesterday, while N29.0 billion will be earmarked to recurrent allocation, N11.3 billion is allocated to capital projects.
Defence allocation is yielding the first place to education, coming a distant second with a total allocation of N34.1 billion. While N30.7 billion is for recurrent allocation, N3.4 billion is earmarked for capital allocation.
Taking the third position is the Consolidated Revenue Fund charges which is to gulp N27.9 billion. This sum is entirely under recurrent expenditure.
Nigeria Police Force, in line with governments resolve to fight crime, is getting N21.8 billion in the year 2000 budget, the fourth largest allocation.
Power and Steel Ministry, the ministry with the uphill task of making the sickly electric authority work and working on reviving the multi-billion naira steel industry, comes fifth with the allocation of N15.9 billion. While N2.4 billion is for recurrent expenditure, N13.5 billion is for capital projects.
Next in line is transport which includes the refurbishment of the Nigerian Railway. The sector has a sum of N15.06 billion allocated to it.
Agriculture, however, comes sixth with allocation of N10.6 billion.
Another N18.8 billion is, however, allocated as part settlement of debt owed on national priority projects
Vanguard Transmitted Wednesday, 17 November, 1999
Wednesday, 17 November 1999
Immigration, police question sex deportees from Italy
By Ben Akparanta,Police Affairs Correspondent
IMMIGRATION officials and police detectives are questioning 73 suspected commercial sex workers who were deported from Italy last weekend.
The premises of the Police Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) at Alagbon Close, Ikoyi, Lagos, where the suspects are being kept, is now a beehive of activities as the alleged prostitutes lay about, sauntering from one end of the street to the other, refusing violently any attempt to incarcerate them in cells.
The women were flown into the country by Alitalia Airlines, escorted by 140 armed Italian police officers last Saturday and were promptly handed to police and immigration officials.
A total of no fewer than 350 alleged Nigerian street workers have so far been deported by the Italian authorities.
Last Saturday's deportees are the 10th batch, and like previous deportations, the suspects are made up of mainly young women of Edo State origin.
The FCID's Press Officer, Mr. Olusola Amore, a Superintendent of Police, confirmed the story but insisted that although the deportees have not breached any known laws, their presence at the FCID was mere routine.
The Guardian, however, learnt that police and Immigration officials are anxious to know those who sponsor such influx of women to Italy and the masked faces behind the supply of Nigerian "sex slaves" to Europe.
The women were seen yesterday booing their police guards, daring police authorities to interrogate them while they flaunted their scantily-clad bodies in the most provocative manner.
From the Guardian Newspaper
Harry Akande urges media to safeguard democracy
From Tolu Olarenwaju and Iyabo Sotunde, Ibadan
AS the new millennium draws closer, the Nigerian mass media has been urged to encourage critical thinking without which the country's hard won liberty might be lost.
While giving the Nigerian press a pat on the back for its role since the beginning of the new democratic dispensation, Chief Harry Ayoade Akande, a chieftain of the All Peoples Party APP also canvassed greater participation by Nigerians ion the nation's affairs.
This is the only way the momentum the press attained before and after May 29, 1999 could be kept alive, he added.
Speaking at the launching of Tribune at 50, a compilation of essays on the history of the newspaper. Akande said: "with the rebiirte of democracy in Nigeria, we are bringing in a new standard of governance to our nation, a new honesty and accountability. No longer will the people's treasury be a candy store for politicians. No longer will corruption force the world's sixth largest oil producer (to) make her people wait hours for petrol."
He urged the media to be committed to the pursuit of knowledge, national integration, excellence and innovation,.
"Speaking at the ceremony, a chiieftain of the People Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Bade Olajumoke noted that the event was a celebration of excellence.
Oljumoke who was one of the chief launchers eolegies the late founder of the Tribune Newspaper, Chief Olusami Awolowo for his principles and contributions to the nation which he hoped his associates would continue to uphold.
Oyo State Governor, Alhajii Lan Adesina who was chairman of the occasion, commended the organisation for its efforts at rebuilding the country. He said: "Tribune since inception has been based on truth, Justice and fairplay. It is the only indiividual newspaper that has travelled so far."
Also present at the ceremony were traditional rulers, politicians, media executives as well as associates of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
From the Guardian Newspaper
Wednesday, 17 November 1999
Senate considers bill to cut ex-leaders' benefits
From Abiodun Adeniyi, Abuja
MEMBERS of the Senate began debate yesterday on a bill seeking to reduce salaries approved for former presidents and to exclude ex-military heads of state from such benefits.
The senators also passed a motion asking President Olusegun Obasanjo to immortalise the late elder statesman, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Sponsored by Senator Danladi Bamaiyi and five others, the bill on remunerations seeks to restrict such benefits to former elected presidents and heads of state only.
Presenting the bill for the second reading yesterday, Bamaiyi (PDP-Kebbi) said that the seizure of power by force under any guise by the military was unconstitutional and should be condemned.
"This being the case, we as lawmakers, whose duty it is to respect the constitution and ensure its observance, must not allow any law in our statute books which seeks to encourage or compensate those who violated the constitution," he said.
Bamaiyi described Decree 32, which recommends salaries and other allowances for former military heads of state and their chiefs of general staff, as an affront to the sensibilities of Nigerians, "who had been brutalised by various military regimes."
The bill also seeks to reduce the monthly pay of former heads of state or presidents and vice presidents from N350,000 and N250,000 to N250,000 and N150,000. In his contribution, Senator Idris Kuta (PDP-Niger) suggested that all former senate presidents, deputy senate presidents, speakers and deputy speakers as well as chief justices of the federation, should also benefit from such remuneration.
Also contributing, Senator Joseph Waku (PDP-Benue) said it was right to exclude former military rulers from the remunerations for former heads of state, "because as former military officers, they were retired with their full benefits."
However, Senator Dalhatu Dangari (APP-Taraba) said that it was unfair to exclude former military heads of state from the Council of State, noting that the nation stood to benefit from their experience.
The bill has been referred to the Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, for fine-tuning.
The motion on Azikiwe, moved by Senator Chuba Okadigbo (Anambra) and seconded by Senator Jonathan Zwingina (Adamawa) was brought to coincide with the posthumous birthday anniversary of the late sage. He would have been 95 years old yesterday, having been born on November 16, 1904.
Moving the motion, Okadigbo reminded senators of the great contributions of Azikiwe to democracy and Nigeria especially with regards to the struggle to build a modern Nigeria.
Describing him as a great son of Africa and God's gift to Nigeria, Okadigbo said Azikiwe had not been treated well given his contributions to Nigeria.
"Zik's mausoleum and Azikiwe Centre have been shamefully abandoned by government," he stated, adding that the Senate should urge President Obasanjo to immortalise Zik by completing the mausoleum at Onitsha and the Zik's Centre in Zungeru, Niger State.
Zwingina stressed while seconding the motion that his committee had already received a petition from Mrs. Azikiwe complaining about the abandonment of the mausoleum.
He said that his committee had already taken the matter up, insisting that the pioneering role of Azikiwe in Nigeria's political scene should be duly recognised.
Contributing, Senator Udo Udoma (Akwa Ibom) noted that Zik was a nationalist and the father of modern Nigeria and therefore deserved to be honoured.
Senator Nuhu Aliyu (Niger) supported the other speakers, saying that Zik's Centre at Zungeru is an eyesore and it should attract urgent national attention.
Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa (Osun) described Azikiwe as a detribalised Nigerian who spent much of his life in the South-West.
Sitas' Janfa (Plateau) remarked that it was a shame for the government to have abandoned the mausoleum and centre at Zungeru. He called on his colleagues to unanimously pass the motion.
Roland Owie (Edo) supported the motion, saying that a nation without heroes is a nation without history.
After the motion was adopted, the Senate further discussed the list of the National Judicial Council submitted by President Olusegun Obasanjo. Read by Senate Leader, Alhaji Abdallah Wali, the list, according to Owie, did not reflect of the principles of federal character. He insisted that the seven names nominated by President Obasanjo were not in keeping with the federal character principle. The Senate President, however, ruled that debate on that should not be long as it should be referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters.
From the Guardian Newspaper
Wednesday, 17 November 1999
Britain blames Niger Delta crisis on govt
By Ade Ogidan, Senior Correspondent
BRITAIN yesterday lent its voice to claims by some groups and individuals that the Federal Government, rather than multi-national oil companies, is responsible for the marginalisation of Niger Delta and its indigenes.
Canvassing for dialogue and use of "democratic instruments" in resolving the Niger Delta lingering crisis, British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Sir Graham Burton, asked government to live up to its responsibilities to indigenes of the region since it receives the bulk of earnings from oil business.
Burton, who spoke yesterday at the yearly general meeting/luncheon of the Nigerian-British Chamber of Commerce (NBCC) in Lagos, pointed out that Shell Petroleum Development Company - the ubiquitous whipping outfit for Niger Delta crisis - for instance, earned only 75 cents per barrel of oil when the price was $20, against $15.37 being credited to Government through the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
When the price went up to $25 a barrel, Shell's earnings went up to 83 cents against $20.26 accruable to NNPC, the envoy added.
He said: "It is easy to score cheap propaganda victories by blaming all the Delta's problems on the multi-national companies. But this is short-sighted," arguing that "yet, it is an indisputable fact that the government, through NNPC, is the largest shareholder in each of the joint venture agreements and thus receives by far the largest revenue from oil production".
For instance, "in the case of Shell, when the oil price is $20 a barrel, Shell receives 75 cents per barrel, whereas NNPC receives $15.37. At $25 per barrel, these figures rise to 83 cents and $20.26 respectively".
Burton however, admitted that multi-national oil companies are expected to contribute to the socio-economic development of their host communities, advising that the saying 'from whom much is given, much is expected', should be upheld in resolving the Niger Delta crisis.
"Multi-national companies certainly have a developmental role within the community, but other partners too must face up to their responsibilities," the envoy asserted.
Describing the current situation in the region as "very worrying," Burton said that"dialogue remains the only realistic way forward".
To him, "Looting and hostage taking may provide short term benefit to a few, but only complicates the search for a long-term solution".
Essentially, he said "the hope for a solution to this problem (Niger Delta crisis), lies in the application of true democratic principles, with the indigenous people of the area, having a full say in the outcome".
According to the High Commissioner, "democracy is about more than just an elected President. It depends for its survival on many institutions. The legislative, judiciary, police, civil service and even the military are all essential foundations for a healthy democracy".
He added: "It will take commitment of all states and regions of the country, following the example of the President and working together for the good of all Nigerians, to make democracy work.
"I look forward to the day when there is no more talk of 'marginalisation' from any sector of the country. Not because someone has discovered a 'magic formula' for perfectly distributing appointments - that will never happen. But through acceptance that the country needs the services of the best qualified people to lead it, regardless of their ethnic background and through recognition that those appointed will work transparently for the good of the whole country".
Burton also pointed out that "all parts of the country suffered under military rule, ordinary Nigerians in the north as much as those in the south. Even amongst the military, the majority did not benefit. It is thus in the interests of everyone that democracy should flourish".
Quoting Mr. Peter Hair, British Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, he said that Britain's policy in Africa is unequivocal.
"We will back success. We will support those who stand up for democracy and human rights. We will help governments that want to reform their economies. We will support just African solutions to African problems.
"We will work with those leaders who commit themselves to freeing their people from poverty .... We will not support corrupt governments. We will not subscribe to economic mismanagement. We will not fund repression or bankroll dictatorship," he said.
From the Guardian Newspaper
Tuesday, 16 November 1999
Sule lists media's roles in democracy
By Bankole Ebisemiju and Kabir Alabi Garba
THE role of the media in the present democratic dispensation does not only involve advocating good life for the citizenry; but campaign for peaceful co-existence, Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Sule, a former Nigerian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, has said.
Sule, who also warned on the dangers of religious bigotry to national unity, however, said that media practitioners "must have adequate grasp of the make of democracy that is pertinent to our condition as a developing polity" in order to play the roles "professionally, competently, truthfully and patriotically."
"It is only the concept of the Nigerian media as a peace-apparatus that can re-orient Nigerians, penetrate the psychology of ethnic groups and stifle the stereotypes between them. Nigerian media practitioners should not turn our new democracy into a laboratory for experimenting with new ideas," the Dan Masanin Kano added.
He spoke yesterday on the "Role of the media in a developing democracy" at the 50th anniversary lecture of African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, publishers of the Tribune titles in Lagos.
Pointing out that the enthronement of democracy through universal adult suffrage does not automatically guarantee good life, Sule advised the media to preach "harmonious co-existence among the inhabitants of the national territory."
Harmonious co-existence, the former envoy added, guarantees "peace and tranquility that will provide the suitable climate for investment and general promotion of growth and development."
To him, therefore, the media as a medium of public information and education "must understand and play this role, especially on public demands and expectations about peaceful co-existence."
He decried what he described as the problem of tribalism and religious bigotry in the country, saying it poses a threat to harmonious existence of the citizentry.
"The essence of every religion is love; therefore, let us live together and preach love," the former envoy said, recalling with some anguish, the recent ethnic clashes in Sagamu and Kano.
Since all religions are the same, Nigerians should be their brother's keeper.
Tracing the contributions made by the founding fathers of the country, he regretted that their ideals have been betrayed.
He criticised the "the state of origin" policy in the country's bureaucracy, and advocated its abolishment.
"We must learn to live together and accept that we are one," the former envoy said. He urged leaders to pursue policies that would enhance peace and unity in the country.
Sule decried the history of the country in the past 39 years as a tale of missed opportunities, saying that democracy should be modelled after the needs of the country.
Tuesday, 16 November 1999
Lagos steps up fight against crime
By Lekan Sanni and David Ogah
VEHICULAR and foot patrols by security agents are to be increased in Lagos to tackle the armed robbery, hired assassination and ethnic clashes.
Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu also said yesterday that joint patrols by the military and police were not ruled out.
At the first state security council meeting since he assumed office on May 29, the governor restated plans to raise a squad of some sort for the state when he said at least 10,000 police men would be recruited. This, according to him, is without prejudice to the state government's confidence in the Nigeria Police Force to carry out its primary responsibility.
Yesterday's meeting, presided over by Governor Tinubu, had Deputy Governor Kofo Bucknor-Akerele in attendance. Also present were representatives of the Police, Army, Navy, Air force, State Security Services (SSS), as well as Oba Adeyinka Oyekan of Lagos.
In a communique after the meeting read by Information Commissioner Dele Alake, the forum approved putting in place measures to combat ethnic clashes.
Although this was not elaborated upon, the communique said that all ethnic groups, be they political or cultural, must renounce violence immediately in the interest of peaceful co-existence.
"Any attempt by any ethnic group to force the release of any arrested members by any unlawful means would be strongly resisted by the law enforcement agencies with dire consequences."
Other resolutions of the meeting include:
|A ban on both the sale and use of fire crackers or any other form of explosives by the populace|
|the menace of motor park touts will no longer be tolerated in the state;|
|the period of the curfew imposed on Ajegunle has been scaled down|
The meeting also assured law abiding residents of their safety, while advising them to report suspicious movement to the office of the governor, the office of the public relations officers of the armed forces or the nearest police station.
Tinubu, however, said the state government has not foreclosed the drafting of the military to fight crime.
The government, according to him, is watching the situation as it unfolds. "We have not lost confidence in the primary responsibility of the Nigeria Police Force. Assistance would be rendered when necessary by any member of the armed forces or any agencies, but joint patrol is not at this stage on the agenda but it has not been ruled out," he said.
Restating his resolve to appeal to the Federal Government to recruit about 10,000 policemen in Lagos, he said the state needed more men not only because of the population but for the fact that the state's economy has been growing and thus necessitating the need for adequate security.
He noted that it was only in a crime free environment that the economy would grow and attract foreign investors. The recruitment of the 10,000 policemen who will mainly be indigenes of the state, according to him, is a matter of time.
He had earlier stated that the issue of recruiting the 10,000 men should not be seen as confrontational. According to him, there was the need to put on hold the high crime rate on the state.
He spoke at a ceremony where a cheque of N50,000 each was presented to the police officers - Sunday Ben-Adama and Emmanuel Kushimo who were injured while exchanging gun fire with men of the underworld.
Three others who died in the course of performing their duties were to receive N100,000 each. But the reward was withheld by the governor as the families of the deceased officers did not show up for the ceremony.
The governor said the need to recruit 10,000 by the state government despite the constitutional provisions which place the police under the control of the Federal Government arose because only 50 policemen were deployed to Lagos during the last posting.
Tension hightens in Bayelsa * 2000 Ijaw youths mobilised against armed attack * Women, children evacuated from Odi village
November 15, 1999
ABOUT 2,000 Ijaw youths are believed to have been mobilised in Bayelsa State in anticipation of an armed attack on Odi community by security agents.
Odi was the scene of the recent abduction and killing of seven policemen by youths.
The youths said to have been drawn from Yenagoa, Port Harcourt and Bomadi have joined those from Odi waiting to confront the security men.
A source close to the youths hinted yesterday that they were laying ambush in four areas.
These are Patani-Port Harcourt Road, between Kaiama and Sagbama, between Agbere and Sabagrea and Odi itself.
The source said already, all women and children had been evacuated from Odi.
However, the Chief of Army Staff, Major-General Victor Malu said weekend that soldiers on security duties in the Niger Delta and other sensitive Federal Government facilities had been ordered to "blow off the head of any person who attempts to point a gun at them."
Ten soldiers have been reported killed in the region in the last three weeks, he said.
He added: "I have told my soldiers to blow off the head of any person who attempts to point a gun at them because you cannot wait to be killed before you react. We are trained to fight and not to beg.
The army chief said army had 22,000 troops currently deployed to various trouble spots in the country.
Five thousand of these are in the NorthWest and NorthEast, combating banditry.
"Five thousand troops are deployed to keep the peace and contain the Ijaw-Ilaje crisis while a battalion is in Taraba State to prevent the continuous clash between the Kutebs and the Jukuns. The others are in the Niger Delta," he said.
Meanwhile, Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark has said the action of Ijaw youths in Odi was criminal and called for the arrest of the leaders of Odi community over the killings.
He said: "The law of the land is very specific on that. I believe in this country if a police officer or army officer or any other person is killed unlawfully, those persons should be dealt with.
"The Federal Government has all the machinery to arrest these people, arrest the leaders of that community; it has all it takes to deal with these barbaric people, these criminals, they should be dealt with", said Chief Clark.
But in a statement in Lagos, weekend the Lagos Izon Crisis Management Committee said no fewer than 310 Ijaws were killed during the recent clashes between Ijaw youths and Oodua Peoples Congress at Ajegunle in Lagos.
"These include the number of corpses taken home for burial and those yet to be collected from the various mortuaries in Lagos," the committee said.
It also said 58 others were seriously wounded while 5000 Ijaws were missing, and 4000 detained.
It called on the police to ensure the safety of lives and properties of Ijaws in Lagos.
Continuing, it said "we also call for the immediate release of the over 4000 Izon (Ijaw) persons believed to be in police detention. Equally worrisome to us, is the non-release of the bodies of all Izons killed during the massacre for proper traditional burial in the interest of continuous peace in Lagos State.
It accused Gov. Bola Tinubu of backing OPC because as the committee said "the governor at the purported peace meeting convened by him further confirmed our earlier information and fears of his complication in the mayhem." It called for "an independent Commission of Inquiry" to investigate the incident.President Obasanjo of Nigeria seeks debt pardon for poor nations
By Eze Anaba, Durban, South-Africa
President Olusegun Obasanjo is spearheading a campaign for the adoption of a "Durban Declaration" by the Commonwealth leaders, asking rich countries to forgive the debt of poor Commonwealth countries.
He said the declaration was aimed at making the poor countries sustain democracy and re-build their economies.
The declaration, if adopted by the Commonwealth leaders, is expected to be the fourth in the series of declarations Commonwealth leaders have made since 1971.
In 1991, Commonwealth leaders adopted the Harare Declaration, a landmark agreement which set the association on a new course, that of promoting democracy and good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as sustainable economic and social development.
Before the Harare Declaration, the leaders had adopted the 1971 Singapore Declaration. But the most talked about are the 1991 Declaration and the 1995 declaration.
The 1995 Declaration in New Zealand, was adopted to fulfil more effectively their commitment to the Harare principles. The Declaration, tagged the Milbrook Declaration, took the name of the place where leaders met and adopted the programme: Milbrook.
The Milbrook Convention had three parts: Advancing Commonwealth fundamental political values, promoting sustainable development and facilitating consensus building.
President Obasanjo hinted that he made the proposal for the adoption of the Durban Declaration at the Heads of Government meeting and hoped that it would be adopted.
He said that some fellow Commonwealth leaders supported the declaration and that the agreement should be adopted immediately.
Obasanjo said the massive debt overhang of developing countries could impede their development.
The President has already sought the permission of the Queen of England to persuade fellow Commonwealth leaders to adopt the declaration.
Meanwhile Nigeria re-launched itself into the Commonwealth family in Durban after four years of absence, storming the summit with the largest delegation.
The last time Nigeria made an appearance at any Commonwealth meeting was in 1995, when it was suspended from the body following the execution of playwright, Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight of his kinsmen by the Gen. Sani Abacha regime.
At the head of the 28-man official delegation was President Olusegun Obasanjo.
One man whose name was not on the official list but made an appearance here was Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye.
Nigerias delegation is made up of four ministers, eight special advisers and officials from the Presidency and the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The ministers in the delegation are: Foreign Affairs Minister, Alhaji Sule Lamido; Minister of Science and Technology, Chief Ebitimi Banigo; Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran and that of African Economic Integration, Prof. Jerry Gana.
The Special Advisers are Dr. Doyin Okupe, Prof. A.B.C. Nwosu, Chief S. Babalola, Chief Philip Asiodu, Ambassador Patrick Dele Cole, and Ambassador O. George.
Nigerias delegation was larger than that of New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Asked to explain why Nigeria brought such a large delegation, Foreign Affairs Minister, Alhaji Lamido, said there was nothing to it.
He told journalists that Nigeria was happy to be back in the Commonwealth and that it was prepared to abide by the ideals of the body.
VanguardTransmitted Monday, 15 November, 1999
Monday, 15 November 1999Nigerians' low lifespan worries Menakaya
From Mohammed Abubakar, Maiduguri
HEALTH Minister, Dr. Timothy Menakaya, has observed that the recent government directive prohibiting overseas medical treatment by high level government officials could be practicable only if teaching and specialist hospitals lived up to expectations by offering quality services.
He stated this at the commissioning of the Amenity Ward of the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital (UMTH), reiterating government's determination to improve the lifespan of the average Nigerian.
He described as unacceptable the current low life span of Nigerians, which he put at an average of 52 years, noting that the present administration would raise it to 60 years within the next four years.
He, however, believed that the objective might not be attained without the cooperation and understanding of all the stakeholders in the sector.
Menakaya also stressed the need for prudent management of resources by health personnel, in line with the accountability policy of the Obasanjo administration. He, therefore, warned against wanton waste of resources, noting that the era of such extravagance was over.
He also urged the hospitals to be in the forefront of the campaign for the encouragement of blood donation, saying that his recent visit to Egypt showed that about 500 pints of blood was being donated per day.
The minister, who was accompanied by a permanent secretary, Alhaji Sule Shehu, also visited some strategic departments including the yet-to-be commissioned kidney centre to be used for dialysis; radiology department and the recently built Federal Neuro-Psychiatric, in the state capital.
From the Guardian Newspaper
Monday, 15 November 1999
For environment violators, Lagos wields the 'big stick'
By Tunde Atere,Housing & Environment Reporter
The government may have braced up to put a stop to the mounting filth spreading across the city with the decision to implement forthwith its moribund sanitation laws
IN response to the growing mountains of filth now dominating the metropolitan city, the Lagos State Government at the weekend, drew the battle line against environment violators, wielding as its big stick, the provisions of the controversial year-old Environmental Sanitation Edict which it intends to implement forthwith.
Few city residents will be spared under the all-embracing law, which rolls out penalties for specified offences across-the-board for landlords, tenants, business concerns and even commuters within the state.
For instance, the itinerant cart-pushers have up till next week Thursday, November 25, to register with the local governments through private sector participation operators or face the wrath of the law.
The commissioner in the Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, Mr. Kayode Anibaba, lamented at the weekend that the state and local governments' efforts have not yielded the desired positive result or been appreciated by the citizenry, who have continued to dump refuse indiscriminately along the highways, roads, drainage channels, gorges, vacant plots, amongst others."
Therefore, to achieve government's goal of efficient municipal solid waste management, he declared that "this administration is putting in place a statewide programme on private sector participation in domestic refuse collection and transportation elements, markets, motorparks and so on to designated landfill sites, preparatory to eventual cancellation of all communal refuse depots and dumps in Lagos State.
Giving a 12-point list of policy directives, he stated that the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), all local government councils and some private companies are going to be involved in the sustained clearing of refuse backlog until full commencement of the PSP programme effective Wednesday, December 1, 1999.
To avoid illegal dumping of refuse, the government stated that the "environmental sanitation corps and neighbourhood watch have been empowered to monitor and report on all dump sites and patronage of PSP operators by tenements, markets and motorparks on 24-hour basis.
Other directives include, among others, that:
|cart-pushers are hereby given 14 days (till Thursday, November 25, 1999) within which to register with local governments through the PSP operators after which their activities would be illegal and banned. Any unregistered PSP operator and/or cartpusher caught operating in the state shall be liable on conviction to pay a fine of N100,000 as per the first schedule of the Environmental Sanitation Law, 1998;|
|For the purpose of enforcement, all offenders in this regard shall be apprehended and presented by Environmental Health Officers in accordance with the provision of Environmental Sanitation Law, 1998. Any tenement occupiers and operators of markets and motorparks that has direct dealing with unregistered PSP operator or cart pusher is liable to pay a minimum fine of N5,000 or maximum of N10,000;|
|no individual group of people or association should henceforth dump refuse at all in the state unless they are duly registered and licensed by the appropriate authority of government;|
|all tenements, markets and motorparks operators are hereby directed to patronise only registered and licensed PSP operators for effective collection and transportation of their refuse to the designated landfill sites; and|
|effective from Thursday, November 25, 1999, all unregistered refuse collectors, cart pushers' activities are banned and defaulters when apprehended, shall be prosecuted in accordance with the provision of the environment sanitation law, 1998. Culprits shall be liable to a fine of N100,000.|
Lamenting the filthy state of the metropolitan area the general manager of LAWMA, Mr. Adebisi Adesina, said that there are saboteurs within the authority as well as outside it whose activities have been frustrating efforts to rid the city of wastes.
"What the commissioner said today was informed by the malpractices of our people in the handling of wastes within the state. We find that people are just dumping refuse indiscriminately all over the place. These are people who are supposed to be custodians of proper way of handling refuse now turning around to be the enemies of what they were supposed to protect.
"I am refering basically to some of the LAWMA staff who actually should have been the people ensuring that the machinery of the government put at their disposal are better used to serve the state, instead, they were using it for their nefarious activities by trying to make money from it. And some of them were even colluding with the political opponents of the governor to sabotage his efforts. But I can assure you that no stone will be left untouched to ensure that we have a clean environment. And that we will continue to do," he stressed.
Earlier at another forum, he had highlighted the problems of the authority as including, among others, poor maintenance culture and bad handling of plants and trucks coupled with deliberate vandalization and theft of equipment/parts; inadequate funding to procure and maintain proprietory spare parts to service trucks and equipment, while procurement of local spare parts are mostly overpriced.
He further disclosed that although in 1988, a total number of 452 trucks, plants and equipment were delivered under the World Bank-Assisted Project costing about $45 million to improve waste management infrastructure and facilities in the state, less than 60 per cent of them are now in operation.
According to Mr. Adesina, an engineer, "presently, there are only 25 functional specialised roll-on-roll-off trucks to service over 400 waste bins. Out of about 250 trucks that are awaiting repairs, only 70 trucks are actually working. Out of eight bulldozers required at the landfill site only one is functional."
From the Guardian Newspaper
OUTCRY Magazine, Lara Publications, St. Louis. MO