|Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #3|
Weekly News Highlights
|Forward With A United Nigeria|
Bayelsa State Governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha has maintained that the presence of the military in Odi was the best option necessary to douse tension in the area.
He said weekend at Yenogoa: "If I were the President, I would have done the same thing."
Governor Alamieyeseigha said, the President had critically looked at the unfolding scenario and had assured him on telephone that the security situation in the state did not warrant the declaration of emergency.
Adding: "the assurance became necessary in view of the apprehension among residents because of the Federal Governments threat."
The Presidency had early this month issued a 14day ultimatum to Governor Alamieyeseigha to apprehend the killers of the 12 police officers , or face the risk of a state of emergency being declared in his state. The ultimatum expired Wednesday.
"The military is in firm control of the area to restore order. Efforts are also being made to arrest the fleeing ringleaders and bring them to face the wrath of the law. Communities providing protection for the fleeing criminals should hand them over to the law enforcement agencies or risk being invaded by military personnel."
Governor Alamieyeseigha, however, regretted that inspite of the immense contributions of the state to the nations economy, it had nothing to show for it, adding that such neglect was criminal.
"Bayelsa State is the least developed area, not only in the country, but in the world. The state has been in darkness for more than eight months now following the breakdown of the gas turbine generators which was the only source of power in the state. There is no federal presence in the state. It is unfortunate that none of the forty-six road projects recently announced by the Federal Government was for Bayelsa.
"This is why we have appealed to the Federal Government to site the headquarters of the proposed Niger-Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Yenagoa. The gesture would instill in the people a sense of belonging. The people of the area have no plans to fight the Federal Government. But we are only asking for fairness, equity and justice within the Nigerian federation", he asserted.
Meanwhile, indigenes of Bayelsa State in Abuja, have condemned the killings and wanton destruction of lives and property in the state, calling on the restive youths in the state to exercise restraint.
They also expressed sympathy to the families of the police officers allegedly killed by Odi youths, but condemned the publication of the states of origin of the killed policemen by government agents, pointing out that the publication was aimed at inciting other tribes against the Ijaws.Vanguard Transmitted Sunday, 28 November, 1999
Gen. Adekunle sued for N2m by an Abuja hotelBy JOHN-ABBA OGBODO Abuja
NIGERIAN Civil War hero, Brigadier General Benjamin Ade Maja Adekunle (rtd) has been sued by Rockview Hotels, Abuja for allegedly defaulting in payment of hotel bills amounting to N648,000.00 .
A statement of claim filed by the counsel to the hotel, Tony Ogbulefor Esq., Ehimelu and Ogbulafor said, the bill resulted from room rate, food, beverages, telephone and other services when he allegedly lodged in the hotel sometime in early June, this year.
The claim further avers that General Adekunle allegedly gave a written undertaking to the general manager of the hotel on June 24, 1999 that he would settle his outstanding bill on July 4, 1999.
It said that, having allegedly failed to honour his promise, the general manager then wrote to the defendant, who in turn gave the manager a letter to sell his land located at Plot 2515 Asokoro extension and deduct whatever money the defendant was owing the plaintiff from the proceeds of the sale.
However, the plaintiff averred that on close scrutiny of the papers in respect of the land, it was discovered that the land has no Certificate of Occupancy.
Again, the plaintiff averred that the defendant allegedly gave him a note to the manager of Arab Bank Limited for payment of the debt but surprisingly, he was told that the defendant had no money with him.Vanguard Transmitted Sunday, 28 November, 1999
Friday, 26 November 1999Ekaette blames conflicts on poverty
By Bertram Nwannekanma
THE security of any nation becomes threatened when the citizens found it difficult to meet the basic necessities of life, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Obong Joseph Ufot Ekaeta has said.
Ekaette who spoke at the fourth quarterly meeting of the federal and state security administrators which began yesterday in Abuja, blamed the myriad conflicts and rising tensions across the country on poverty.
Poverty, he said: "creates a lot of social and security problems and a variety of individual and group conflicts which could "divert government's attention from other serious national programmes".
"Given this image, it is imperative that government's policies and efforts at poverty alleviation are supported by all, in order to raise the living standard of all Nigerians," he advised,
The SGF lamented that despite the directive of the National Security Council, some states were yet to establish internal security committees.
The committees, according to him, are expected to complement the efforts of the security operatives through the generation of information bank on the movements and methods of operation of the bandits.
"I therefore, urge you to take this matter with your principals and ensure the prompt establishment of these committees,", he added.
Ekaette urged Nigerians to co-operate with the government in efforts at ensuring maximum security for the citizenry.
"If we had done so much in these past five months, much however, remains to be done. There is, therefore, an urgent need for all hands to be on deck to strengthen and consolidate the achievements of the present democratic experiment. The citizenry must shun all negative and divisive tendencies and embrace dialogue, tolerance and good neighbourliness in our relationship with one another. No useful purpose will be served by engaging in wasteful gamble of riotous conduct," he said.
From the Nigerian Guardian NewspaperPresident Obasanjo orders shooting of rioters By Pius Mordi, Asst. News Editor`
"T`HE elasticity of our patience has been stretched to the limit and we have to act." With this statement, President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday ordered security agents to shoot at sight perpetrators of violence in Lagos and the Niger Delta.He said the police had now been given directives to deal effectively with anybody engaging in criminal activities.
Short of pronouncing the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) an illegal organisation, the President said the police had been directed to arrest members of the organisation or shoot at them if arrest is resisted, saying: "We cannot allow this country to be taken over by hoodlums and criminals."Speaking yesterday evening on the fifth Presidential Media Chat on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), the president said criminal elements were taking advantage of the democratic environment to disturb public peace,
He also justified the deployment of military personnel to restore order in the Niger Delta. Chronicling the events that led to the decision, Obasanjo said four separate detachments of policemen sent to Odi community in Bayelsa State were abducted and killed.The deployment of the troops, he added however, is not a military action but an exercise whose primary objective is to arrest the culprits.
Acknowledging again that the Niger Delta had been neglected by previous administrations, the president said that the activities of those involved in attacks have become unacceptable.
He assured that as soon as those behind the killings are arrested and order restored, the soldiers would be withdrawn. Already, about 13 people have been arrested, he said.
On the clashes in Lagos, he appealed to OPC members to retrace their steps, saying he was giving them a second chance.However, the police have been directed to hunt down those who continue to disturb public peace.
Before coming on air, Obasanjo stated, more` than 27 people had been confirmed as casualties of the Lagos clash.
On the planned deregulation of the prices of petroleum products, next year, the president said it will not necessarily lead to increase in price. Rather, it will trigger off a competitive atmosphere that may lead to reduction in prices.He allayed fears of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) which threatened to embark on strike immediately the pump price of refined products are jerked up.
According to the president, the threat will not be carried out when labour gets to understand "where the interest of workers and the nation lie."
On the performance of ministers, Obasanjo said: "I will not say that I am absolutely satisfied with everybody's performance. But they are improvIng." He however, said he does not envisage a cabinet reshuffle soon.Speaking on the recently concluded convention of the ruling Peoples Demcocratic Party (PDP), which saw the emergence of Chief Barnabas Gemade as its national chairman, the president conceded that a mistake was made in its planning.
"A mistake was made in the planning of the convention. It was a mistake that affected everybody." The mistake, however, did not effect the authenticity of the elections outcome.
Against the backdrop of the growing call for a sovereign national conference, a call that is being amplified by legislators in states controlled by the Alliance for Democracy, Obasanjo said that it is up to the National Assembly.According to him, there are constitutional procedures for the review of the constitution.
And of the three parties reach an agreement and the legislators make laws to that effect, the executive arm will mereby comply:"
The President also reiterated his position that the introduction of Sharia in Zamfara State is nothing to worry about.
Obasanjo said the constitution does not permit the adoption of any religion as state religion by any state or component of a state.Highlighting his vision of the country in the coming year, Obasanjo said he wished to see an energised economy with low inflation and increase in foreign investment. "I want to see confidence and harmony among all communities. I want to see a general perception that democracy is good for all," the president added. From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper Police declare Afikuyomi wanted By Emma Nnadozie
THE Assistant Inspector General of Police in charge of Zone Two, Alhaji Muktar Alkali, yesterday, issued a warrant of arrest in respect of Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi for alleged 419 deals.
Consequently, his case is now being handled by the Federal Investigation and Intelligence Bureau (FIIB) along with that of Mr. Festus Keyamo, the Lagos lawyer who blew the lid on Mr. Afikuyomis deal, last week.
The police said they detained Mr. Keyamo for allegedly stealing Afikuyomis case file.
In a statement, yesterday the police said: "It is pertinent to mention that the said barrister went to the Satellite Police Station sometime in late September, 1999 on the pretext of searching for information with regards to a case allegedly involving Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi sometime in 1989. After several visits to the police station, the case file was located in the archive, but without the knowledge, comment and permission of the Divisional Police Officer surreptitiously stole the said case file and took it away."It is on the basis of his stealing the case file that he was interrogated and released on bail. He has, however, made a confessional statement as to the stealing of the case file.
"The theft of the casefile and original case against Senator Tokunbo Afikuyomi are all transferred to Zone 2 CID, Lagos for investigation on the orders and directives of the Inspector-General of Police.Keyamo had alleged that Afikuyomi jumped the bail granted him by an Apapa Magistrates Court on June 12, 1989, where he was arraigned on a two-count charge of Advance Fee Fraud and stealing a passport. Vanguard Transmitted Friday, November 26, 1999
Friday, 26 November 1999Another clash in Lagos claims lives, property By Ben Akparanta and Sylvester Ebhodaghe
AFTER barely three weeks of calm, communal temper flashed again in Lagos yesterday and exerted heavy toll on life and property.
What began as an argument between traders for the control of the Mile 12 market in Ketu, on the city's outskirts, degenerated into an ethnic conflict when a band of youthful militants intervened. Knives and matchets were brandished, dane guns freely used and vehicles torched.
There was no official account of deaths by the police yesterday. But eyewitnesses, many of who fled the scene of violence, said scores of persons may have been killed. Many more were reportedly wounded - especially inside the market where the fighting was fiercest.
Lagos State Police Command spokesman Fabulous Enyaosah, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), confirmed the disturbance. He could not give details, however.
His initial attempts to reach the Ketu police station by telephone yielded little, as policemen at the post were engaged in containing the clash for much of yesterday.
A petroleum tanker was attacked and set ablaze right in front of the Ketu police station; and before armed men of the Police Mobil Force (PMF) 20 could reach the scene, a substantial part of the market populated by yam traders from the North had been attacked, ransacked and set ablaze.
Trouble reportedly began about noon when representatives of perishable goods sellers - mostly petty traders - indicated intention to collect levies from bulk suppliers who ferry goods to the market from the northern areas.
A disagreement ensued between the two groups. A group of peacemakers was about to mediate the row when some militant youths arrived and tried to forcefully seize control of the market and the administrative officials.
The militants, according to witnesses, wielded iron rods, matchets and cutlasses. Their presence agitated hundreds of the traders, who obviously could not understand the utterances of the intruders.
By 2.30 p.m. when men of PMF 20 cordoned the area and employed tear gas to disperse the warriors, the fleeing militants made a bid to pass through the third axial bridge, but were waylaid by street urchins at Iyana-Oworo. Another conflict ensued at that spot, severely impeding traffic flow on the third axial bridge.
Even the policemen's safety was hazarded in their bid to quell yesterday's riot. For instance, the vehicle of PMF 20 commander, Mr. Tunde Sobulo, a Superintendent of Police (SP), was reportedly hit by missles while one of the tyres got punctured.
By evening, residents of the area returning from work were made to raise their hands up to show they are not armed.
Miscreants, again hijacked the situation. Workers were either subjected to extortion or personal effects snatched off them.
Landlords in the area were noticed armed with guns as they sat in front of their homes, apparently to scare off potential intruders.
Communal disturbances in Ketu, which have been recurrent, would be an issue to be addressed at a press conference today by Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mike Okiro.From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Friday, 26 November 1999Senate seeks troops' withdrawal from Odi, probe of OMPADEC
From Abiodun Adeniyi, Abuja
TWO separate motions bordering on the welfare of the Niger Delta area were yesterday passed by the Senate. While one asked the Federal Government to be restraint in deploying troops to the area, another called for the raising of a select committee to probe the activities of the defunct Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC).
In moving the first motion, Senator David Brigidi (Bayelsa) observed that the core Niger Delta area has been embroiled in crisis for sometime and the most recent of which was the killing of police officers of various ranks in Odi Town of Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Council Area of Bayelsa State by some hoodlums "who do not represent the Ijaw struggle for a fair control of their resources."
According to him: "The killing of the said police officers thoroughly irked the Federal Government and every well-meaning citizen of the country. In fact, the act was condemned by the Bayelsa State government, Izon community leaders, the leadership of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC), the people of Odi, and all National Assembly members from Bayelsa State.
"Consequently, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, in his official reaction on the issue, gave the Bayelsa State governor a 14-day ultimatum to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators of the act. While the ultimatum was yet to expire, several thousands of combat-ready military troops were sent to decimate Odi town. Media reports have put innocent persons indiscriminately killed in this exercise at well over 500, besides countless number of people rendered homeless, and have thus become refugees in their own country."
The legislator said the impropriety of the Federal Government's conduct has already been mentioned by major media houses. However, he emphasized that the army's alleged application of extremely harsh and excessive force in response to the Odi situation, the result of which has allegedly adversely affected the vast majority of innocent persons, especially women, children and the aged, cannot be justified.
To him: "As desirable as peace is, it cannot be gotten by application of force and intimidation. Peace can only be gotten through genuine practical efforts aimed at redressing the root cause of this violent agitation. Indeed, the increasing rate of youth restiveness in the Niger Delta is primarily caused by idleness arising from unemployment, poverty, lack of social infrastructure etc. Therefore, the effect of the continual military occupation of the area can only inspire hostilities."Brigidi said the action could further threaten oil exploration and exploitation activities since it is practically impossible for oil installations to be policed round the clock. Consequently, the national economy stands to suffer greatly, as oil and gas remain the largest revenue base of the country.
In the light of these and based on the need to restore normalcy to Odi and foster the much-needed peace, he urged the Senate to resolve that:
the president should order an immediate cessation of military action and withdraw all the troops from Odi community and its environs;
various extensive development programmes should be immediately embarked upon in the area in order to create employment for the youths and help redirect and inspire them to the ideals of a peaceful civil society;
the Senate should send an ad hoc committee to visit Odi community on Monday, November 29, 1999 and assess the situation and bring succour to thousands of displaced people who are not criminals and report to the Senate.
The motion was subsequently passed.
The second motion moved by Senator Rowland Owie and which was also passed was to the effect that a select committee of the Senate be raised to prove the activities of OMPADEC since its establishment till date.
The terms of reference of the select committee were: to ascertain the contracts awarded by OMPADEC since its establishment, the value of such contracts, the objects of such contracts and person or corporate bodies to which such contracts were awarded and to ascertain those contracts that have been completed and those that have not been completed.
Others are to asserting the present stage of those contracts that have not been completed and the reasons for their non-completion; to ascertain how much the Federal Government has disbursed to the commission on a yearly basis since its establishment; and to ascertain whether the commission has been deliberately starved of funds and if so, to find out how much of what was due to the commission is being withheld and by who and where.
The rest are to ascertain persons (both within or outside the commission), organisations, bodies, agencies whether private or government which have contributed to the non-performance of the commission and the extent to which they so contributed; to determine the relevance of the commission towards the resolution of the Niger Delta problem.The committee is to sit in public and report back to the Senate. From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper Obasanjo presents N470b budget to National Assembly
By Ademola Adedoyin, Rotimi Ajayi & Emma Ujah, Abuja
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday presented Budget 2000 proposals dubbed peoples budget to a joint session of the National Assembly, revealing a total expenditure of N470 billion as against the N500 billion announced last week.
After last weeks Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Information Minister, Chief Dapo Sarumi, told State House correspondents that the council had approved a budget of N500 billion for the year 2000.
The proposed budget, whose policy thrust is "to lower the inflation rate, lay a solid foundation for private sector-led economic growth, pay profound attention to education and agricultural production and consequently reduce unemployment and poverty, has eight broad objectives.
*provide the framework for taking government out of direct involvement in most economic activities which are best suited for private sector undertaking;
*provide the enabling legal, fiscal and monetary environment for the private sector to become the effective engine of growth and development in the economy;
*up-grade the performances of major infrastructural facilities;
*continue to improve the operational capabilities of the law enforcement agencies at crime prevention, detection and control;
*continue with the policy of probity, transparency and accountability in order to reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria;
*fight illiteracy through the implementation of the Universal Basic Education Scheme;
*intensify the pursuit of poverty alleviation and enhanced fund security through fiscal incentives to lenders and borrowers for agricultural production; and by encouraging each state to concentrate on at least one crop for massive and intensive production within the state;
*improve the health of the population through the rapid upgrading of our preventive and curative health care delivery system, with particular emphasis on HIV/AIDS.
To achieve these objectives, the President is proposing a wide range of strategies to primarily reduce governments participation in business ventures, increase in budget allocation to the social sector and implementation of anti-corruption law when enacted by the National Assembly.
The President intends to keep the budget deficit at not more than 3% of the GDP.
While budget expenditure is N470 billion, Federal Governments retained revenue is estimated at N387.3 billion, indicating a budget deficit of N82.7 billion, which is 2.2 % of the GDP.
"This, the President said "is intended to regulate the economy and to create the required atmosphere for growth and development."
If the budget proposal is approved as presented by the National Assembly, the Federal Government will spend N300 billion on recurrent expenditure, while N170 billion is earmarked for capital projects.
Of the N170 billion, N20 billion is embarked for the settlement of the debts owed in respect of the national priority projects.
Said the President: "If the proposal for N30 billion in the Supplementary Appropriate Bill for 1999 is approved by the National Assembly for the same item, the rate for year 2000 would bring to N50 billion the amount which will be used to reduce the accumulated debts on these projects."
The President was, however, emphatic that Nigerians might have heard the last on national priority projects, at least during his tenure.
"With effect from January 1, 2000, all the projects being implemented as national priority projects will be transferred to the appropriate ministries to form part of their normal capital programmes," he said.
The budget proposal is making history as the first to hit the trillion mark as total federally collected revenue for the year is estimated at N1.3 trillion, an increase of N774.8 billion or 27.9 per cent of the revised 1999 budget estimate.
Of this amount, oil revenue is expected to yield N1.014 billion while non-oil revenue is expected to account for the remaining N245.5 billion.
Federal Governments retained revenue of N387.3 billion represents an increase of N85.6 billion of 28.4 per cent increase above the 1999 figure of N301.7 billion.
A breakdown of the retained revenue is as follows:
N344 billion from the federation account; N19 billion from net of levies; N15 billion from privatisation and N9.1 billion share of Value Added Tax (VAT).President Obasanjo also said a total of N11.478 billion had been recovered by the Federal Government so far from looters in the past regimes.
These include US $119.7 million, N100 million and 13 properties valued at N325 million.
The government, he disclosed, had also succeeded in freezing accounts with more than US$600 million.
The President said his government intended to set aside US$1.5 billion for external debt service in the year 2000, while it would in addition set aside N70 billion for domestic debt service during the year.One of the highlights of the budget proposal is the medium-term poverty reduction plan, which is currently being designed by the Ministry of Finance.
"This plan would entail the establishment of poverty reduction fund which must begin in the year 2000," the President said.
To tackle the problem of poverty, the President said negotiations were in between his government and the IMF."And depending on the successful completion of a stand-by arrangement, a donor-funded poverty reduction fund of one billion dollars will be established," he said.
VanguardTransmitted Thursday, 25 November, 1999
Thursday, 25 November 1999Alemieyeseigha gets Obasanjo's assurance
By Chigozie Ndulaka
BAYELSA State Governor Diepreye Alemieyeseigha yesterday said he had received necessary assurance from President Olusegun Obasanjo that no state of emergency would be imposed on his state.
Obasanjo, had a fortnight ago given the governor a 14-day ultimatum within which to find the killer of12 policemen in Odi area or risk the imposition of a state of emergency.
Alamieyeseigha, who spoke yesterday on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) said although the killers had not been found with the expiration of the ultimatum, yesterday, the Federal Government has resolved not to carry out its threat.
Reports, however, said the situation was still tense in the area following a massive troop movement which has resulted into loss of lives and property.
Although nobody was allowed access to the area, the report quoted a soldier who was interrogated as saying "Odi has been completely flatterned, nothing like Odi again, the people will have to relocate to another place".
The report noted the displeasure of the people over soldiers' occupation of the town, saying the soldiers should not continue killing innocent people and children just because of few criminals.From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Thursday, 25 November 1999Nigeria get $ 4.2m World Bank aid
From Rhikardo Chidi Obih, Kano
A SUM of $42.5 million has been granted to Nigeria as loan by the World Bank, to boost the country's agricultural technology, Leader of the bank's visiting mission, Dr. Samuel Ereme stated this while inspecting join venture projects in Jigawa State.
He said that although every state in the country would benefit from the loan, those to get the lion's share would be the ones that currently have agricultural Development Projects as the loan is primarily to provide technological support to farmers.
He expressed satisfaction with the completion of most of the bank's sponsored projects in the country especially Jigawa State which he noted promptly paid its counterpart fund and did other things to ensure the project's success.From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Thursday, 25 November 1999Presidential media forum holds today
THE monthly presidential media forum will hold today from 8 to 9 p.m.
The programme, the fifth in the series will be broadcast live by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) and Africa Independent Television (AIT).
President Olusegun Obasanjo will at the forum respond to questions on current national issues.From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Thursday, 25 November 1999Oil to yield N1.01 trillion
By Tajudeen Adigun, Energy Editor
THERE is the likelihood of a shortfall in revenue projections made for the current appropriation bill despite a seven-month long price rally in the world oil market, according to President Olusegun Obasanjo.
He said yesterday Nigeria had so far realised a selling price of not more than $17 per crude oil barrel. This is despite that spot market price, since the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pruned 1.7 million barrels off member-nations' daily output, has jumped to $26 - a nine-year high.
Hopes are high, however, that the Federal Government would next year realise some N1.01 trillion from the oil and gas sector. This is about 80.47 per cent of N1.26 trillion projected as revenue inflow.
Presenting proposals on next year's appropriation bill to a joint sitting of the National Assembly in Abuja, President Obasanjo said: "Although the revised budget for this year was based on a crude oil price of $18 per barrel, the average realised price for Nigeria's crude oil as at the end of September was still below $17 per barrel."
He added: "This administration has, therefore, been conscious of the level of revenue inflow in the implementation of the approved revised budget so as to avoid the emergence of a large deficit at the end of 1999."
The pronouncement yesterday confirmed official fears, as exclusively reported by The Guardian in September, that faulty revenue projections may affect the supplementary budget.
Initial oil revenue projection in the appropriation bill was premised on $15 per crude oil barrel. That projection was, however, revised to $18 per barrel by the National Assembly. The chairman of House of Representatives finance and appropriation committee, Sanusi Daggash, had justified the review, saying: "In view of the present oil Brent price being in excess of $21, the house committee on finance decided to peg $18 per barrel as the benchmark for the appropriation bill."
President Obasanjo yesterday told the legislators that the government hoped to earn some N1.01 trillion from the oil and gas sector in the new year, based on $18 per barrel and daily production of 1.836 million barrels.
According to him, N572.56 billion is expected from export of the government's share of produced crude, while N100 billion is to be realised through the Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT).
Royalties on oil exploitation, according to him, are expected to contribute N112.2 billion while projected income from upstream gas sales is N41.3 billion.
About N20 billion of the income expected from gas is to be realised from "the projected sale of gas feedstock to the NLNG (Nigeria Liquified Natural Gas) project." Some N187.8 billion is also to be generated as local oil revenue with the decision to fully deregulate the petroleum marketing sub-sector and sale of crude at international price to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
This, President Obasanjo said, would come from the supply of 300,000 barrels per day of crude for local consumption at import parity price.
Industry officials had last September faulted the use of spot prices by the National Assembly in the 1999 supplementary budget calculations.
They had estimated a more realistic price of a little over $16 per barrel.
They explained that prices of the nation's crude are usually market related on the basis of Dated Brent as published in Platt's crude oil market wire quotation.
The actual price of each grade is, therefore, usually ascertained from a number of deals recorded in the early part of the first 10 days of the preceding month.Price projections are usually made from market trends for the succeeding month with buyers consequently paying a rate at a premium on the Platt's published price. From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Thursday, 25 November 1999N11.8b stolen funds retrieved
By Sylvester Ebhodaghe
OFFICIAL bid to recover funds looted from the public till by former government officials has yielded about N11.8 billion. This is made up of $119,765,530 (N11.7 billion) and N100 million.
According to President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Federal Government has also recovered 13 "properties" (presumably houses) worth N325 million. Besides, it has succeeded in getting foreign countries and banks to freeze $600 million (N58.8 billion) stashed off-shore by the officials - mostly members of the late Gen. Sani Abacha's` regime.
The President regretted that the government's efforts at recovering the loot were being hampered by "complex legal procedures". But he reaffirmed his determination to ensure that a greater percentage, if not all of the stolen funds, are retrieved.
"Some of the efforts (at recovering the stolen public assets) have often been impeded by complex legal procedures which tend to make the recovery of our stolen assets not too easy. However, a number of foreign governments and institutions have been particularly helpful", Obasanjo told members of the National Assembly at a joint sitting in Abuja yesterday.
He also said: "Our drive to recover stolen money continues" We will not relent in our efforts until we have achieved significant success in getting back all that is recoverable".
The government recovered $800 million from the late Abacha family, former National Security Adviser, Alhaji Ismaila Gwazo, erstwhile ministers, and other public officials whose names have not been disclosed.
Houses recovered from Abacha and Gwarzo were recently publicly auctioned in Abuja.From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Thursday, 25 November 1999Govt to establish $1b anti-poverty fund
By Ben Ukwuoma, Health Correspondent
A DONOR-FUNDED Poverty Reduction Fund will be established next year to cushion the effects of the scourge in the country, President Olusegun Obasanjo has said.
Obasanjo, at the National Assembly yesterday, decried the rate of poverty in the country, pledging to wipe out "this scourge in the medium term, beginning from this budget."
He stated: "I have directed the Ministry of Finance to design a comprehensive and feasible Medium-Term Poverty Reduction plan. This plan would entail the establishment of a Poverty Reduction Fund which must begin in the year 2000.
"Negotiations are currently on between government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and depending on the successful completion of a stand-by arrangement, a donor-funded poverty fund of $1 billion will be established."
The president explained that states and local governments would be fully involved in the design and implementation of the Fund which the Federal Government would serve primarily as "a catalyst and mobilizer of resources" for the Fund.
"Our strategy would be to identify priority programmes and projects in the areas of rural electrification, water supply, women and youth development primary healthcare, agriculture, food security and education," Obasanjo said.
"Over the next three years," the president assured, "this programmes will engage the attention of this administration as well as the interested states and local governments. Together, we shall embark on a process that will once and for all put to rest this embarrassing issue of abject poverty in our land."
Obasanjo, who solicited the commitment and cooperation of the legislators in this regard, declared: "If we can increase the disposable income of all concerned through real production by an average of 10 to 15 per cent per annum over the next 10 years, then, we can as policy makers, claim success. And we cannot afford to fail."From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Thursday, 25 November 1999
N470b budget to relieve poverty, says Obasanjo
By Joseph Sesebo, Business Editor
CONTAINING the scourge of mass poverty is a principal objective of the N470 billion proposed by the Federal Government for its fiscal operations next year, President Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday.
He told the National Assembly members in Abuja that more than 70 per cent of the Nigerian population live below poverty line, despite "abundant natural and human resources that have been bestowed on our great nation."
This, according to him, must be seen by all citizens as a major source of embarrassment. It is for that reason, he added, that a major objective of the current administration is to reduce the poverty level.
Presenting the government's proposals on next year's budget to a joint sitting of the federal legislature, the president said:
"The extent of poverty has reached frightening proportions primarily due to the neglect of past governments." He called on the National Assembly, state governments and councils to join in the resolve to conquer that scourge, saying: "We must today pledge to wipe out this scourge in the medium term, beginning from this budget."
The N470 billion expenditure being proposed by the government comprises N300 billion for recurrent projects, and N170 billion capital vote. The total is an increase of N129.4 billion, or 38 per cent over the N340.6 billion for this year.
Projected revenue for the new year, however, is N387.3 billion - indicating a deficit of N82.7 billion, 17.6 per cent of the total expenditure, or 22 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The proposed vote for recurrent expenditure comprises N170 billion for personnel emoluments, to "make-up for the observed under-funding in public service pay in 1999, and the additional expenditure on members and staff of the National Assembly."
The president justified the proposed expenditure by saying: "All democratic institutions, legislative and executive, have to be adequately provided for. The provision also gives room for some negotiated wage increases during the year."
According to him, overhead expenditure for next year would be N60 billion, as against N45.1 billion for this year, while the vote for domestic debt service is being raised to N70 billion next year, from N16.3 billion.
This year's deficit, estimated at over N256 billion for the first five months, has been securitised.
On domestic debts, President Obasanjo said: "In the last four years, government had made substantial provisions for the settlement of debts owed by ministries and agencies to local contractors and suppliers. The exercise was intended to be a short term measure. It would appear that ministries and agencies are being encouraged by the provisions to disregard extant rules and regulations, and keep incuring extra-budgetary commitments.
"This practice must stop. Disciplinary action will henceforth be taken against any ministry or officer involved in the award of any contract without ensuring that sufficient funds are available to pay such a commitment."
Elaborating on the capital expenditure profile, the president said N20 billion had been earmarked for the settlement of debts owed on the National Priority Projects.
According to him, total monies set aside for this purpose may increase to N50 billion if the N30 billion already earmarked for this same item in this year's Supplementary Appropriation Bill with the National Assembly, is approved.
As from January next year, government, he said, would transfer all projects classified as national priority projects to the appropriate ministries to form part of their capital project.
He added: "An inter-ministerial committee has been set up under the chairmanship of the Federal Ministry of Finance to verify, reconcile and recommend appropriate payment procedure for all the debts incurred on the projects up to September 30, 1999.
"Work done by the various contractors after that date will also be covered under the allocation to the relevant ministries for the capital programme for the year 2000."
Explaining the capital vote, Obasanjo said N20 billion would be used to fund special capital items of strategic importance to the machinery of government.
An additional N10 billion is to be used to offset Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) liabilities, through the appropriate ministries while the balance of N130 billion will be allocated to the various ministries and agencies in accordance with government priorities.
The entire capital project is focused on poverty alleviation using inter-sectoral approach, to complement one another.
States and local councils are projected to receive N709.5 billion from the Federation Account, using the existing allocation formula. Changes will only occur when the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission has completed its work and the National Assembly approves the enabling law.
States, according to the president, will receive N170.3 billion, councils will get N141.9 billion, special funds N53.2 billion, while N61.7 billion is provisionally earmarked to cover the minimum 13 per cent derivation.
Also in the 2000 budget, Value Added Tax is estimated to generate N60.7 billion. In line with the sharing formula, states will receive N30.4 billion and local councils N21.2 billion. Total projected revenue accruable to government is, however, a whopping N1.26 trillion.
Oil still remains the main stay of the economy, contributing N1,014.1 billion out of the entire income profile, while non-oil sources account for N245.9 billion.
The total revenue is N274.8 billion or 27.9 per cent above the revised estimates for this year.
About N512.9 billion is expected from the sale of crude which is predicated on $18 per barrel at an estimated export volume of 1.836 billion barrels per day.
Of the federally collectible revenue, petroleum profit tax is expected to yield N100 billion while oil royalties are expected to generate N112.2 billion.
According to Obasanjo, government is making available 300,000 barrels of crude oil per day for local consumption, same as this year's. But this is valued at the same budget benchmark of $18 per barrels and therefore estimated to rake in N187.8 billion during the year.
Upstream gas and other miscellaneous earnings from oil are projected to earn N41.3 billion, compared with N3.6 billion for this year. This over 1047 per cent variance is attributable to the projected sale of gas feedstock to the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) project which is expected to generate N20 billion next year. This, the president said, would be complemented by expected increase in internal gas consumption.
Even with this massive revenue, the Federal Government is expected to retain N387.3 billion compared with N301.7 billion this year, which is an increase of N85.6 billion or 28.4 per cent.
Making up the Federal Government portion is N344.1 billion from the Federation Account, while VAT is to rake in N9.1 billion. Independent sources would generate N19.1 billion while privatisation is expected to beef it up by N15 billion.
From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Wednesday, 24 November 1999
Govt inaugurates panel to visit trouble spots
From Emmanuel Onwubiko, Abuja
WORRIED by the festering ethnic clashes in the Niger Delta and other major "flashpoints" in the country, the Federal Government yesterday raised a presidential panel to visit the trouble spots for assessment. It will also find ways of addressing the grievances of the people in the areas.
Making the disclosure in Abuja at the maiden meeting with the management staff of states and local government affairs office, Minister of Inter-governmental Affairs in the Presidency, Ibrahim Umar Kida, said the panel was informed by government's belief that it was only in an atmosphere of peace and inter-ethnic harmony that democracy could thrive.
The panel is headed by the minister who was, however, silent on the members.
Reiterating government's resolve to provide social and developmental amenities in the embattled oil-rich communities, the minister remarked that President Olusegun Obasanjo was poised to use all resources at the disposal of the government to achieve the goal of "rapid infrastructural" development and advancement of the Niger Delta.
"We should all be ready to visit all trouble spots in the country with a view to assessing each given situation for workable solution. All resources at our disposal, material and human will be put to use to achieve this unique and important duty of our office", he said.
On the functions of his office, Kida said his ministry was created with a view to aiming at achieving efficient and effective civil service in the country.
It was also informed by the determination of President Obasanjo to consolidate and strengthen the practice of what he described as "true federalism".
His words: "Nigeria like many countries operate a federal system of government. The large majority of people in democracies around the world live in some form of federal system. Federalism, therefore, fits the reality of the world today. The federal system of government entails wide and varied interactions between the levels of government that comprise it. There is, therefore, a complex intermixing of powers and responsibility between central, state and local government. As a result of this fact, conflicts and misunderstandings are bound to happen. It is the role of inter-government affairs ministry to ensure harmonious working relationship among the three tiers of government.
Kida, who said the Presidency has placed the department of states and local government affairs as a parastatal under the Ministry of Inter-governmental Affairs, restated government's policy of ensuring transparency, accountability and good governance "so as to sustain the nascent democracy."
From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Wednesday, 24 November 1999
Suspects fly in at dawn, handcuffed
By Sola Dixon, Aviation Reporter
RETIRED Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi was flown handcuffed into Lagos, from Abuja, at dawn yesterday.
He arrived aboard a Nigeria Airforce Dornier 228 in company of former Lagos State Police Commissioner Mr. James Danbaba at about 4.30 a.m. Security sources at the Ikeja airport told The Guardian that former Zamfara State Military Administrator Col. Jibril Bala (rtd) was also in the company.
According to the sources, the suspects were driven straight to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMA) police post at Bisam, Ikeja. They were accompanied by two truckload of policemen, and plain clothes security men in a four-wheel-drive jeep.
The suspects all looked pensive. The former Chief of Army Staff wore an all-blue caftan, with a blue-dominated multicoloured cap perched on his head. Danbaba had on a green lace caftan without a cap, while Col. Yakubu (rtd) was wearing an all-white caftan with a white cap.
On arrival, the three were kept at the Bisam police post till about 9.40 a.m. when a Black Maria truck registered NPF 148 A came in to take them to an Ikeja magistrate court for arraignment.
No sooner had people in the environ got wind of the suspects' presence at the Bisam police post than a crowd gathered, obviously to catch a glimpse of them.
Already, security has been reinforced at the MMA precincts. Two more truck loads of anti-riot policemen were left behind to patrol the area while the suspects were away at the magistrate court.
From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
I did nothing to warrant impeachment ENWEREM
By Jide Ajani, Abuja
IMPEACHED Senate President, Chief Evan Enwerem reacting formally to his removal yesterday declared that he did nothing wrong to warrant his sack.
In fact, Chief Enwerem, who yesterday took his seat in the Senate as a floor member explained that his removal was illegally carried out.
He spoke at a press conference in Abuja.Excerpts:
"Since my election as President of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on 3rd June 1999, I have not known peace! This in turn impacted adversely on the affairs of the Senate.
"As a result and because my election was not accepted by some powerful elements, every possible machinery was put in place to jeorpadise my tenure and give me no breathing space. Consequently all genuine reconciliatory overtures I made to reach a workable understanding and accommodation with the opposing forces were effectively and systematically frustrated. But I never gave up in giving of my best in hopeful expectation of a possible change of heart. That was not to be.
"In place of the active support that was required to make a success of the Senate Presidency, what I received was a flood of well organised, adequately sponsored, and orchestrated attacks on my person and my integrity.
"My 64 years of life was subjected to intense high-voltage searchlight at a level that has never been known in the long history of Nigeria. This included incisive probes into my professional and business life. When all these failed to yield the desired result the searchlight was finally zoomed on my educational background.
"Every news media was fed with "fresh" accusations ranging from my perceived forgery and falsification of educational qualifications, to perjury.
"To keep the records straight, I must state categorically and unequivocally that I never made any false statement on oath! On the much-quoted INEC form it was stated that I attended CMS Grammar School, Lagos.
"I hereby restate that I attended the school. My admission to the school was irregular and when this was discovered by the principal, some months later, he cancelled my admission and I went back to my old school, Christ High School, Lagos. The second "Fresh" issue was that I was not called to the English Bar! I had issued a press statement about this to the effect that I did pass the examination "For call to the English Bar." These are the exact words that appear on the certificate issued to me by the Council of Legal Education, the authenticity of which has been confirmed by the House of Representatives Committee. I also stated that I did not wait for the formal "ceremonial" call to the Bar as I, along with many other Nigerians in similar situation, rushed back to Nigeria to take advantage of the last 3-month course at the Nigerian Law School, as after that the course was extended to a one-year-programme.
"In any event, I believe that before a person could be found guilty of perjury, it must be established not only that one did make a false statement on oath but also that one intended to deceive or gain advantage to oneself by such false declaration. I am qualified to be a senator under the law whether or not I attended CMS Grammar School! I am equally qualified to be a senator whether or not I was called to the English Bar! The declaration in question did not in any way enhance my educational qualification as required by law to enable me contest election as a senator. It therefore conferred no advantage whatsoever.
"I will now address the other "fresh" issue of my age. In all my declarations to NEC and INEC for election as governor and senator respectively, I never declared two different dates of birth. I only declared 29th October 1935 as my date of birth.
"The other information about 1932 was supplied by the SSS at the request of the House committee which asked the State Security Services to furnish it with all available information they have on me.
"My understanding is that SSS extracted this 1932 date from the travel document I
used when I travelled to Benin Republic in 1972 and when I was presumably under surveillance as a Biafran.
"Here again, it must be pointed out that whether I was born in 1932 or 1935 I am neither under-aged nor over-aged to contest election as a senator under the appropriate laws of the land.
"One other "additional" regular accusation was that I was over-protective of the Presidency as if the constitutional task of the legislative arm of government is to be obstructive and confrontational to the executive.
"I find this particular charge unacceptable because to the best of my knowledge of governance, no country can achieve progress if the executive and the legislative arms of government work at cross purposes rather than in harmonious and complementary collaboration and cooperation within the ambit of their respective constitutional and legal rights, privileges and obligations. This is my understanding of the principle of separation of powers.
"In any event, I still strongly believe in superior arguments and collective reasoning (rather than confrontation or brinkmanship) as a more constructive means of evolving a durable system of democratic polity.
"I have decided to address these "fresh" accusations in detail for Nigerians to appreciate that I have done nothing wrong either before or since my election to the Senate, to disqualify me from being a senator or the Senate President.
"My only offence was that certain powerful forces were opposed, right from the very beginning, to my holding the office of the Senate President.
"All the talk about weak leadership or incompetence is mere smoke-screen.
"I shall in due course give account of my achievements as President of the Senate within my five- month tenure and in spite of the rigours that I was subjected to.
"All the sponsored false allegations against me which were carefully orchestrated and recycled from day to day for all of five months have now achieved the desired effect of hounding me out of office as the Senate President. I have been an unfortunate victim
of unhealthy circumstances, and I have accepted to bear the cross with whatever is left of my dignity and equanimity. The Lord gave and in the fullness of time the Lord has taken. I only have to give all glory and praise to His holy name for His mercies.
"No doubt, with the heavy propaganda bombardment, members of the National Assembly, particularly senators, must have understandably grown weary of the endless build-up of embattlement against one man. I can understand their exasperation and I respect their feeling of the helplessness. It is for this reason that I have decided not to challenge all the apparent illegality, with all the trappings of a coup, that was manifest in the actions of the distinguished senators on 18th November 1999 after proceedings at the Senate had properly been adjourned to Tuesday 23rd November, 1999 for lack of quorum. Accordingly, everything done on the floor of the senate thereafter during the "second sitting" was irregular and illegal. As a true democrat, however, I accept that collective error could amount to an acceptable right. All through the thick and thin of the unprecedented inquisition that I was subjected to, I am aware that millions of Nigerians (many of whom I may never know) devoted their time, energy and resources in active support, public and silent prayer for my sake. I cannot thank them enough.
"May God bless you all more abundantly.
"It is now my sincere hope and prayer that following my exit as the President of the Senate, the National Assembly, and the Senate in particular, will stabilise and begin to actively promote the growth of our nascent democracy in co-operation with the already focused executive arm of the government under the divinely inspired leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo and the God-fearing leadership of the judiciary.
We all have a collective duty to move Nigeria forward.
"Finally, I wish to seize this opportunity to ask for the forgiveness of all those that I may have offended in one way or the other in the course of the discharge of my duties as President of the Senate. I have in the same vein completely and unreservedly forgiven all those that I believe had wronged me. I will not seek any vengeance as vengeance belongs to God. I have accepted my fate as the will of God. I do hope, most sincerely that I will now be left alone in peace, to pick up whatever is left of me in serving my God, my constituency and my country.
"To the good people of Imo State who gave me the mandate to represent them in the Senate, I pledge to continue to make humble contributions to the full development of our country as a formidable democratic nation.
"May God continue to guide us all in the service of our father land! My faith in democracy remains unshakable."
Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, 23 November, 1999
I Mustapha, CSP Rabo Lawal arraigned, too
By Kayode Matthew, Ise-Oluwa Ige & John Abba Ogbodo, Abuja
THE immediate past Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi, former military Administrator of Zamfara State, Col. Jubril Yakubu (rtd.), one-time Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. James Danbaba and two others were yesterday charged before an Ikeja Chief Magistrates Court for the February 2, 1996 attempted murder of the Publisher of Guardian Newspapers, Mr. Alex Ibru.
Charged along with Gen. Bamaiyi were Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, Col. Jubril Bala Yakubu (rtd.) and Mohammed Rabo Lawal (CSP) although only Lt.-Gen. Bamaiyi, Mr. James Danbaba and Col. Jubril Yakubu were present in court.
Their arraignment came on a day the Federal Government filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal, Abuja challenging the decision of the Federal High Court that the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) be released immediately.
The police Black Maria with number plate NPF 314 B which brought the three accused arrived the Ikeja Magistrates Court premises at 10.10 a.m. By 10.15 a.m. a security personnel in mufti climbed the Black Maria to unlock the doors.
Col. Yakubu, wearing a cream-coloured native attire with a cap was first to alight from the vehicle, followed by Mr. Dambaba who wore a green guinea brocade material, Lt. General Bamaiyi came down last wearing blue guinea brocade with a cap.
They all removed their caps on entering the little courtroom and sat down on a bench behind the dock.
At 10.23am the Chief Magistrate Mr. M. T. Abari came into the courtroom. He was sitting in court two but had to come to court one as Chief Magistrate Oke Lawal was said to be on leave.
Immediately the three accused persons were called into the dock, Mr. Mike Okoye leading Mr. Akinwumi Akindele announced appearance for the Lt. General Bamaiyi and Mr. James Danbaba and commenced his submissions before the charge was read.
Said he: "I have an observation to make before the charge is read. There is a pending proceeding at the Federal High Court Abuja in which the court ordered the release of the first accrued (Lt. General Bamaiyi) while the second accrued (James Danbaba) was ordered to be produced in court. The case comes up this Friday.
"The other party has even joined issues and filed an appeal. The court in Abuja said Bamaiyis liberty should not be tampered with since November 15 1999 the order has been duly filed and served on the Attorney General of the Federation.
"Also there is an application pending at the Federal High Court Abuja to quash the Special Investigation Panel (SIP) report while the same court granted an injunction restraining the government from laying a charge against the first and second accused persons. This application is fixed for Friday and the Attorney General of the Federation has filed a counter affidavit to that effect.
"The question therefore is, in defiance of the lawful order of Federal High Court and the due processes of the court, can they bring the accrued where? Can't they wait till Friday before laying a charge against them?
"We are in a democracy and the rule of law must be maintained."
Citing the cases of Mohammed versus Olawumi 1993 4 NWLR part 287 and Ezegu versus FATB 1992/NWLR part 220 Mr. Okoye submitted that to deny the accrued the right to be heard was to deny them justice.
He continued: "Irrespective of the merits of the case time does not run against the state in a criminal case. What will the respondents lose if the court says go and sort out the matter coming up on Friday and then come back with the charge? The judiciary is independent of the executive. The law ought to be followed whether it is Bamaiyi today or Okoye tomorrow. The whole world is watching us. The executive cannot teleguide us"
As Mr. Okoye tendered the certified True Copies (CTC) of the proceedings at the Federal High Court Abuja and was about to continue his submissions Mr. Rotimi Jacobs who is prosecuting stood up to counter him.
Mr. Jacobs said: "Mr. Okoye is playing into the gallery. The criminal proceeding is purely independent of the civil matter. Hes talking politics."
The court however allowed Mr. Okoye to continue his submissions.
Continuing Mr. Okoye said, "the liberty of the citizens of this country is involved. Let it be seen that justice is not only done but it must be seen to have been done.
"The ruling of the Federal High Court Abuja says the applicants should not be arraigned in any court of law during the pendency of the matter before it.
"Is this court not enjoined to wait till Friday? What is the rush to try them for? I urge the court to look at the statement filed before the court in Abuja.
"In our application for the enforcement of their fundamental rights, we are asking for a declaration that the SIP report of the illegal panel constituted by the executive who is both the investigator and the prosecutor should be quashed. He has no power to do so. The Federal High Court said it would amount to executive lawlessness if they were arraigned.
"This court should stay proceedings. I am not saying you should decline jurisdiction but you should order that the accused should be taken back to where they were brought until you hear from the superior court. Avidity to punish is dangerous to liberty"
Mr. Jacobs at this stage stood up against to cut him short.
Said Mr. Jacobs: "He is not addressing the law. He is only making political statements. Under Section 236(3) of the criminal procedure law, the court is conferred with power to remand any person in custody. According to the law, the court has power to remand in custody any person who is suspected to have committed an offence particularly capital offence.
"The section does not envisage the application he is making once the state brings an application that this person is suspected to have committed an offence the only order to be made is order of remand.
"This is their second attempt to stop us from prosecuting the accused the same Federal High Court which he is trying to protect said it cannot grant most of their prayers. He is just making political statements, which I wont allow him.
"The Commissioner of Police who brings that charge is not a party to the suit in Abuja. The court should discountenance the political submissions made by Mr. Okoye.
"What they are being charged for is an attempt to kill Alex Ibru which is a capital offence. The capital offence is excluded totally from Section 35(7) of the constitution, which he is relying on for the enforcement of his fundamental rights. The Section even denies him the purported right to liberty, which he is claiming.
"Anybody who is suspected of having committed an offence cannot complain of denial of his rights.
"You cant kill in the dark and says let there be light before I can make a self defence.
"They created the problems we have in this country. They created the darkness in this country so they cant complain.
"Mr. Okoyes submission is just an attempt to confuse the court. The criminal case cant await a civil action. The Attorney General has the discretion as to who to charge to court. He has power under Section 174 of the CPL to charge any person whether he is a retired general or not.
"The court should exercise its power under Section 236 and the only order to make is order of remand."
When Mr. Okoye stood up to interject Mr. Jacobs, the magistrate said there was no formal application before him and the proceeding could not be going like that.
Okoye however said: "The charge has not been read what I am saying is whether the court has jurisdiction to entertain the charge."
In his short ruling on Mr. Okoyes application that the court should not entertain the charge, the magistrate said "having listened to the submissions of both counsel and the available materials before me, I am convinced that there is no merit in the application "Under Section 236 of the CPL the Attorney-General has the power to lay a charge against the accused persons.
"There is no merit in the application and the prayer of the counsel is therefore refused. The charge can now be read."
At 11.05 the charge was then read to the accused.
The two counts charge read: "Count one: That you Lt. General Ishaya Bamaiyi (m), James Danbaba (CP) (m), Major Hamza Al-Mustapha (m); Col. Jubrin Bala Yakubu (m) and Mohammed Rabo Lawal (m) on or about the 2nd day of February 1996 in Lagos and in the Lagos Magisterial District did conspire amongst yourselves to commit an offence to wit: Murder and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 324 of the criminal code cap Law Cap 32 Vol. 2 Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 1994.
"Count two: That Lt. General Ishaya Bamaiyi (m), James Danbaba (CP) (m), Major Hamza Al-Mustapha (m); Col. Jubrin Bala Yakubu (m) and Mohammed Rabo Lawal on the 2nd day of February 1996 at about 9.30 p.m. in Lagos and in the Lagos Magistrate District attempted to murder Mr. Alex Ibru and thereby committed an offence under section 320 of the criminal code Law Cap 32 Vol. 2 of laws of Lagos state of Nigeria, 1994."
Their plea was not taken after the charge had been read to them.
Mr. Jacobs then formally announced appearance for the prosecution with Mr. Nuhu Ribadu while Mr. Okoye said he was representing the first and second accrued persons Mr. A. O. Osheye announced his appearance for the third accused Col. Jubrin Yakubu.
Mr. Jacobs in his submissions said, "I apply that the accused persons should be remanded at Kirikiri maximum prison because that is the only safe place for their custody in Lagos. And the accused needs to be kept in a place where they would be protected and will feel safe.
"It is a government prison pursuant to Section 239 of CPL. That is the only safe place the accused can be kept. I urge the court to grant the application.
In his own submissions, Mr. Okoye said: "With due sense of humility, I submit that this court has no jurisdiction to try a case of murder or remand the applicants in prison. The court has no jurisdiction to try the applicants for attempted murder. It is a notorious fact that there is nothing like a holden charge. All they want to achieve is to take the accused in the Black Maria and local them up in prison.
"We are setting a bad precedent. Trial should not be by ambush. We were at Abuja together this morning. By 3am, they were brought to Lagos. Let us be guided by conscience. No matter what they have done should we start punishing them before the trial starts.
"The first and second accrued are seriously diabetic patients. They are even under-going treatment when they were moved to Lagos.
"In the unlikely event that the court is indicted to remand them in custody, the court should allow them access to police hospital or any other clinic this court may authorise. I also urge the court to allow them unlimited access to their counsel in order to prepare their defence. The court should also grant them access to their families.
"I will have preferred any other prison because the prosecution witnesses from the SIP report are in Kirikiri prison. They should be remanded in Ikoyi prison.
Replying on parts of law, Mr. Jacobs said "there is nothing like holden in the charge it is the word coined by counsel under our law the court has jurisdiction under section 236 to remand accused persons.
It is a statutory duty and counsel arguments cant render it null and void.
"Justice is not meant only for them. Victims are entitled to justice. The state is entitled to justice. Justice is a three-way thing.
"On access we are under democracy, we have nothing to hide. We are not opposing access. It is their constitutional right, which we shall not deny them.
"On their remand in another place, I submit everybody is equal before the law. You cant say because somebody is a former Chief of Army Staff he should not be remanded in prison."
In his ruling, Chief magistrate M. T. Abari said the accrued must be allowed adequate medical attention and should be given access to their counsel.
He then averred that they should be remanded in Kirikiri prison.
He then adjourned the case till December 10 1999. At 11.30 am he rose.
Meanwhile, the federal government yesterday filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal Abuja challenging the decision of the Federal High Court that the former Chief of Army Staff (COA) Lt. General Ishaya Rizi Bamaiyi be released immediately.
In the notice of appeal, the Attorney-General of the Federation, National Security Adviser to the president, Lt. General Aliyu Gusau (rtd), Brigadier-General Alexendar Mshebala and the Inspector-General of Police challenged the ruling of the Federal High Court, Abuja division, delivered by Justice Ibrahim Auta on November 15, 1999.
The grounds of Appeal, according to the notice dated November 22 1999 include that the learned trial judge averred in law when he ordered the immediate release of the applicant upon an exparte application dated and filed on the 15th day of November, 1999 by the respondent, General Bamaiyi.
The second ground of the appeal is that the trial judge erred in law when he held that: "the respondents either by themselves, their agents, servants or privies are hereby ordered to release forthwith the applicant from custody, detention, house arrest at No.
12 Fort IBB Barracks, Abuja or any form of restriction whatsoever and howsoever pending the hearing of determination of motion on notice.
VanguardTransmitted Wednesday, 24 November, 1999
Date of Article: 11/23/99
Topic: IFC Commits N170b to Projects in Nigeria
Author: Chijama Ogbu, Business and Economy Editor
Full Text of Article:
Date of Article: 11/24/99
Topic: Governor Presents N3b Supplementary Budget
Author: Mato Adamu, Maiduguri
Full Text of Article:
Date of Article: 11/24/99
Topic: Death Toll Rises in Bayelsa Crisis
... No state of emergency yet, says FG
Author: Josiah Emerole, Ignatius Chukwu,
Willie Etim and Philip Nwosu
From Post Express Wired
From Post Express Wired
Obasanjo meets oil chiefs on Niger Delta
By Rotimi Ajayi, Abuja
IN an apparent bid to stem the wave of violence in the Niger Delta, President Olusegun Obasanjo and top officials of his administration met yesterday with executives of the oil companies in Abuja.
The meeting according to the Special Assistant on Media Affairs to the President, Dr. Doyin Okupe agreed to work out a programme of rapid development of the Niger Delta soon.
Dr. Okupe said there was need to review the current situation in the region with a view to restoring law and order in the area.
It was also gathered that the meeting prescribed a monthly meeting of the President, oil producing state governors, and key players in the oil industry.
The maiden meeting comes up next month, and would review progress on total development of the oil producing areas.
President Obasanjo, at yesterdays meeting expressed concern over the breakdown of law and order in the area.
He also reiterated his administrations awareness of the grievances and frustrations of the people in the area.
The President warned, however that the Federal Government would not tolerate any act of criminality by any community or individual who could otherwise, have expressed their grievances through peaceful means.
President Obasanjo pointed out that the present condition in the Niger Delta demands that government and all concerned parties must expedite action on the means of addressing the problems in the oil producing areas of the country.
He advised the oil companies to fashion out ways of making their host communities' stakeholders in the successful operation of the industry.
He suggested that the oil companies could in particular foster good community relationship by employing indigenes of the oil producing communities as community relations officers to bridge the communications gap between them and the community.
Also in attendance at the meeting were Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, Senate President, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ghali Naabba.
Others who attended the meeting were Chairman of the PDP, Chief Barnabas Gemade, Chairman of the partys Board of Trustees, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mr. J. Gaius-Obaseki, as well as representatives of Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Elf, Agip, Texaco and Dubri Oil Companies.
Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, 23 November, 1999
Odi Death Toll Rises
By Sam Onwuemeodo, Yenagoa, Uwakwe Abugu, Neville Amorighoye, Warri, Bukola Ojeme, Abuja & Brimah Kamara
NO fewer than 43 people, including eight soldiers have been reportedly killed after soldiers launched an offensive on Odi, Bayelsa State, scene of the recent abduction and murder of 12 policemen.
The development might have topped the agenda of the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) which met for several hours in Abuja yesterday with President Olusegun Obasanjo presiding.
The council comprises the Defence Minister, service chiefs, the Police Inspector General, the National Security Adviser and the heads of the intelligence agencies
Shortly before the meeting commenced, three Niger-Delta governors reportedly presented a joint effort to the President not to proclaim a state of emergency in the region, and to give them more time to persuade the militant youths to lay down their arms.
Military chiefs also met simultaneously in Lagos and Abuja yesterday over the situation in Bayelsa State.
Sources at the Defence Headquarters disclosed that the meetings were not unconnected with signals received from commanders of the troops deployed to the state that about seven soldiers had been killed by youths of the state.
Attempts by Vanguard to get an official position on the issue proved abortive as the Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Chukwuma could not be reached as he was attending a meeting at Defence Headquarters.
However, the troops deployment which has not gone down well with senators from Bayelsa who, yesterday, denounced President Olusegun Obasanjo for what they called his bias against the people and government of the state.
The Federated Niger-Delta Izon (FNDIC) in neighbouring Delta State was also swift in condemning the development yesterday, and vowed to join forces with the Ijaws of Bayelsa State in resisting the soldiers.
But the Bayelsa State Government itself said the soldiers action was nothing to worry about for as Gov. Diepreye Alameyeseigha said in Yenagoa, the soldiers presence in Odi community, "has nothing to do with the threat of declaring a state of emergency in the state."
Trouble started Friday when four soldiers were reportedly abducted by Odi youths.
Details of the abduction were scanty yesterday.
However, when reports of the abduction reached Bori Camp in Port Harcourt, the Army authorities there were said to have dispatched 20 soldiers to Odi to rescue their abducted colleagues.
According to police sources, the 20 soldiers ran into an ambush by the Ijaw youths who attacked them, killing eight of them, and wounding some of the rest.
The surviving soldiers returned to their barracks to narrate their experience, prompting the authorities to deploy five tanks of soldiers to Odi. That was on Saturday.
The soldiers, it was gathered, stormed the town shooting indiscriminately.
BBC reported that a village was set ablaze.
The report could not be confirmed last night.
In Port Harcourt, a doctor at the local teaching hospital said four soldiers had been brought in on Sunday suffering from gunshot wounds.
One of the soldiers told doctors that two of his colleagues had been killed.
Residents in the region said the road through Bayelsa from Port Harcourt to Warri, was blocked by soldiers, Sunday and Monday and that people were being stopped from entering the area, making it difficult to assess the situation.
A senior military official confirmed a military operation was under way but declined to give details.
Agency report quoted government spokesman, Doyin Okupe as saying government had decided to act after weeks of what he described as "almost anarchy" in Bayelsa.
"The situation in Bayelsa almost got out of control, it was almost anarchy. The government has had to act to restore law and order, protect lives and protect property," Okupe said.
"I would not categorise it as a military operation. There has been a deployment of the security agencies to end the anarchy, maintain law and order," he said.
The Ijaw National Congress (INC), a prominent Ijaw nationalist grouping, said in a statement that it would resist any attempt to impose a state of emergency.
"This is not an anti-Ijaw operation. No government has been more interested in solving the Niger Delta problem and developing the area than this one," Okupe said.
"The government has inherited the results of years of almost criminal neglect of the region under past regimes. But order has to be restored. Disorder in the region does affect the rest of the country. It affects people wanting to invest in Nigeria."
Okupe declined to comment on whether a state of emergency would now be declared.
Gov. Alameyeseigha of Bayelsa in a statement yesterday in Yenagoa said: "The soldiers presence in Odi community in Kolokuma/Opokuma Local Government Area of the state has nothing to do with the threat of declaring a state of emergency in the state.
He said: "But the present soldiers activities in the area are to fish out hoodlums, criminals and miscreants operating in the area who have been causing a lot of security problem for the state government. The state government is determined to make the state free from the activities of the criminals.
"The soldiers will leave Odi for their barracks as soon as the criminals are fished out for action to be taken against them."
Army Public Relations Officer in Rivers State, Captain John Agim declined to comment on the incident when contacted, saying "I have nothing to say until I contact the Chief of Army Staff. But I wish to speak before the end of the week, when I must have contacted the Chief of Army Staff."
Also contacted, the Commissioner of Police in Bayelsa State, Mr. Bawala Dike, simply stated, "I have nothing to comment on. I cannot comment on what I do not know. But you can contact the PPRO."
Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Nyanabo Agbozi asked Vanguard to contact him on Thursday.
Meanwhile, mobile policemen have mounted a roadblock on the only major road in Yenagoa, subjecting motorists to a thorough search.
*Bayelsa senators react
In a reaction in Abuja, Bayelsa State senators said the soldiers deployment was wrong.
Mr. Emmanuel Diffa speaking for the senators said: "Ironically, when the Yoruba people of Sagamu in Mr. Presidents home state of Ogun State violently and murderously purged Sagamu of Hausas and the Hausas in Kano and Kaduna retaliated in equal measure, the President did not see the need to declare a state of emergency. Rather the President found it expedient to offer assistance to the combatants."
He asked the Federal Government to "institute an all-inclusive, democratic and popular process to restore the issues of resource control and self-determination and other national issues."
*Ijaw youths also react
An Ijaw group, Federated Niger Delta Izon (FNDIC) in Delta State has also reacted to the development, threatening to join forces with Odi community to resist the deployment of soldiers to Odi if the soldiers were not withdrawn immediately.
President of FNDIC, Mr. Daniel Ekpebide said the deployment of the soldiers to Odi had resulted in the killing and maiming of over 500 Ijaw men, women and children.
Mr. Ekpebide said "the military occupation of Odi is totally unacceptable to FNDIC, as Mr. President is biased in handling crisis situations in the country."
He said the Sagamu crisis between the Hausas and Yorubas which precipitated a retaliation against the Yorubas in Kano where security agents and innocent civilians were killed did not warrant the declaration of a state of emergency.
The Niger Delta Human and Environmental Rescue Organisation (ND-HERO) through its President, Mr. Azibaola Robert contended that "President Olusegun Obasanjo has been ill-advised by this action and we call on him to immediately withdraw the soldiers.
"Throughout Saturday night, there was heavy sporadic shooting within Odi community, when soldiers made attempts to invade the community. On Sunday morning, there was reinforcement of military troops into the area while some military casualties were moved back to Port Harcourt.
"The consequences of this military deployment are enormous," Mr. Robert stated.
*Tension grips Warri
Meanwhile, tension sparked off by the situation in Bayelsa State has gripped Warri, with some Ijaw youths said to have rendered the Patani bridge impassable since weekend.
Those travelling to Port Harcourt from Warri or neighbouring Effurun are now compelled to pass through Asaba to Onitsha in Anambra State and pay N800.00 as against N350.00 if they were to travel through Patani and Odi.
When Vanguard visited the temporary motor-park in Effurun yesterday, most vehicles which were to go to Port Harcourt or Yenagoa were withdrawn by their drivers who gave the growing tension in Odi and other neighbouring towns as the reason for their action.
One of them who sat inside his 504 station wagon said, "the situation on that road is bad. Since the weekend the boys have been harassing people from the Patani bridge.
"Even yesterday (Sunday), we heard, they have blocked the bridge and it is very hard for people to pass through the road.
"We have been going through Onitsha since weekend but not everybody will like to run that long distance because we are not used to that; it means we have to prepare our vehicles, like the tyres, for that longer journey.
"And you can see that nobody wants to pass through Patani again because of those youths," he explained but he did not give his name.
VanguardTransmitted Tuesday, 23 November, 1999
Tuesday, 23 November 1999
No bail for Abacha, court rules
By Gbolahan Gbadamosi, Judicial Correspondent
MOHAMMED Abacha, son of the late dictator, will on Tuesday next week be arraigned with other accused persons, following the refusal by a Lagos High Court to grant him bail.
Mohammed is being held along with Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, Chief Security Officer to the late ruler; Alhaji Lateef Sofolahan (49) who was the chief protocol officer to the late Alhaja Kudirat Abiola; Aminu Mohammed, a driver to Mohammed Abacha and Mohammed Rabo Lawal, a Chief Superintendent of Police. They are standing trial for murder charges.
The four men were first arraigned before an Ikeja Chief Magistrate's Court on October 14, and Wednesday last week.
Following the arraignment, Mohammed on Tuesday last week brought an application for bail at the High Court, complaining of ill-health and family responsibility as reasons.
But Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Yemi Osibajo, objected to the bail application, even as Alhaji Mohammed Kaloma Ali, who was Solid Minerals Minister under Gen. Sani Abacha, pledged to stand surety for him if the bail was granted.
In a 21-paragraph counter-affidavit deposed to for the government by Grace Modupe Onyeabo, a deputy director of Public Prosecutions, denied Mohammed's averment, saying: "After a careful review of the facts contained therein, it was the view of this office that a prime facie case was disclosed against the applicant as filed."
She noted that the police had assured her that the witnesses are ready and available to testify once the trial starts, adding that "there is no reason to anticipate any delay in the trial of the applicant."
The police also assured her that Mohammed's life was "not at all in any danger" because "the best security is provided any time he is brought to court."
On the case of illness raised by Mohammed, Onyeabo contended that there is a functioning medical service within the prisons available for every inmate who may need attention and that "witnesses for the applicant (Mohammed) are in no way known to this office, and therefore cannot be threatened nor in any way can their safety be compromised."
Besides, the offence for which Mohammed and the other are being tried is grave, he argued, adding that if granted bail at this time, Mohammed may not appear for his trial."
As was reported by The Guardian on November 17, the government attached charge number 11)/439/99 to the objection. The suspects are charged with conspiration to commit murder.
The following witnesses have been assembled: Dr. Mark Adesina, Sgt. Barnabas Mshela (alias Rogers), Mohammed Abdul, (alias Katako) and an unnamed ballistician.
Others are an unnamed consultant pathologist, the late M.K.O Abiola's personal physician, Dr. Ore Falomo and Major Sabru Ado.
At the court yesterday, the late receipt of the counter-affidavit by counsel to Mohammed, Yunus D. Usman (SAN), delayed the hearing of the bail request, leading to an adjournment to December 9.
The Guardian learnt that the Chief Judge of the State, Justice Christopher Segun, will hear the case.
From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Tuesday, 23 November 1999
Falae advises Obasanjo on aides
From Ifedayo Sayo, Ado-Ekiti
FORMER presidential candidate of the All Peoples Party (APP), Chief Olu Falae yesterday took a swipe at the anti-corruption crusade of the Federal Government, saying it was bound to fail as long as President OIusegun Obasanjo surrounds himself with people of questionable character.
Falae, who was in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, noted that some of those surrounding Obasanjo now were the same people whose performance in past governments were below average, adding that the earlier the president purged his government of corrupt elements, the better for the country.
Falae also frowned at the resolve of President Obasanjo to focus on the late Gen. Sani Abacha's family while, at the sametime, allowing Abacha's ministers who are equally guilty of looting the nation's treasury to enjoy their loot.
Although he commended the president's efforts in recovering some of the loot, Falae, however, urged the Federal Government to pay due attention to the economy, saying Nigerians are still expecting President Obasanjo to unfold his economic agenda.
According to him, the economic situation in the country is becoming unbearable as the youths are now at "the threshold of desperation and despair."
He warned that the anti-corruption crusader of the Federal Government should not be pursued at the expense of the economic revival, saying Nigerians want the president to tell them about his economic package for the country.
Also, the national deputy chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Chief Ayo Adebanjo said the president had only carried out the personnel restructuring of the country leaving out the most important aspect of the nation's life which is economic restructuring.
He maintained that it was only AD that has economic blue print for the transformation of the country.
From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Tuesday, 23 November 1999
Bandits kill two police, injure three others in Lagos
By Sylvester Ebhodaghe
TWO policemen - Mr. Jesse Audu and Edmond Martins - have been killed by armed men at the Iloro, Mushin police post.
One of the deceased colleagues, Solomon and two people who had gone to the station to lodge complaints, were wounded by the bandits who also made away with a scapion berretta pistol belonging to the police.
While the remains of Audu and Martins have been deposited at the Ikeja General Hospital mortuary, the injured are presently receiving treatment at an undisclosed hospital.
The gunmen, numbering about five and aged between 25 and 29 were said to have carried out the attack last weekend in a commando-like manner.
It was gathered that they first held their victims for minutes before spraying them with bullets. Solomon was shot at his thighs.
According to police sources, the attack is believed to have been carried out in 'protest' against the foiling of robberies in the area by the police.
Spokesman of the Lagos Police Command, Mr. Fabulous Enyaosah, confirmed the incident expressing shock at the attacks on policemen by bandits.
Enyaosah however, assured that investigation into the Iloro "attack was being spurred up."
Meanwhile, a police rifle with a round of ammunition and a bullet proof jacket belonging to the Rapid Response Squad were yesterday recovered by the police under Ojota bridge, on Ikorodu road.
From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Tuesday, 23 November 1999
Crime threatens life, industrial progress, say MAN
By Lekan Sanni, Staff Reporter
THE Manufacturers Association of Nigerian (MAN) Ikeja and Apapa, Lagos branches at the weekend decried the high level of violent crime and robberies in the state, saying they constitute a serious threat to life, property and industrial progress.
Although, MAN appreciated the efforts of the state security outfit, Rapid Response Squad in combating the menace, it, however, said the government must co-opt the local vigilance groups in crime fighting by giving them support and recognition.
Speaking during a courtesy call on the state Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Chief Gbenga Akinnawo chairman Ikeja branch and Mr. L.A.O Osayemi, his Apapa branch counterpart, said the issue of high crime rate was affecting business in the state.
"One issue which gives us concern is security of life and property in the state. The current level of violent crimes and robbery is worrisome and really threatens industrial progress."
MAN particularly deployed the continued usage of tax consultants by the government in apparent disregard for Decree 21 of 1998, now an act of the National Assembly, which outlawed the use of such consultants for collecting government revenue collectable by each of the different tiers of government.
"Surprisingly, government officials, who are expected to obey the law, are themselves flouting the law. The mobile advert permit is a classic example. This is an illegal levy but the local governments either directly or through consultants continually compel motorists to pay the levy.
MAN also expressed the need for local government to liaise with the private sector on how to improve their revenue base, rather than the present "overdrependence on excessive and puntive" private sector taxation.
It called on government to improve social infrastrure like electricity, water, roads and ensure cleaner environment.
MAN said the traffic congestion in Lagos is attributable to indiscipline, bad roads and lack of access roads.
For instance, it would want the Lagos State government to build an access road from Ejigbo to link Aswani Market and Airport Road as a means of decongesting Ejigbo Road.
Tinubu told the delegation that the problem of multiple taxation was caused by the Federal Government. According to him, since the Federal Government is in control of a longer percentage of the various resources, the remaining tiers of government must look for other avenues to boost their revenue base.
According to him, the Federal Government, which currently controls, 48 per centage of the nation's resources, deserves no more than 25 per cent.
From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Tuesday, 23 November 1999
Mandate of deployed troops, by Alamieyeseigha
From Joseph Ollor Obari, Port Harcourt
SOLDIERS in the Odi area of Bayelsa State will return to the barracks as soon as the hoodlums who killed police officers few weeks ago are apprehended, according to the Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.
"The soldiers would leave for their barracks as soon as the criminals have been fished out," the governor's chief press secretary, Norman Morris said in a statement yesterday.
The governor appealed for calm, giving an assurance that the soldiers were acting on specific instructions not to destroy the community or any other community in the state.
He warned parents, guardians and traditional rulers against providing cover for the hoodlums adding that anybody caught doing so would be treated as an accomplice.
Alameyeseigha said the violent activities of the youth did not represent the Ijaw nationality struggle for the control of their natural resources, or justice and equity within the federal structure.
He spoke at an inter-denominational service to mark the end of a seven-day prayer and fasting declared by the state government at the sport complex in Yenagoa, the state capital. He stressed that no responsible government would condone criminal activities, especially when they result in the death of security operatives as was the case in Odi, and expressed the hope that the culprits would be apprehended and punished.
In the sermon titled: "Healing the land", Reverend Living Joshua of the Assemblies of God Church urged the people to turn away from their wicked ways, to attract divine forgiveness and blessing.
Also, Rev. Willy Banting of the Apostolic Army asserted that the Almighty was on the side of the state in its battle against criminals.
Morris' statement said the bandits had fled Odi and were now taking refuge in neighbouring communuties in Kolokuma/Opokama council area of the state, and appealed to the communities to hand them over to law enforcement agents.
Severe sanctions await traditional rulers who give the hoodlums protection, he threatened, adding: "Such communities would not only be raided by security operatives but their traditional rulers and chiefs would also be removed, arrested and prosecuted.
He also warned members of the public to desist from associating with the criminals or face arrest and prosecution.
The statement called on the managements of hospitals, health centres, clinics, herbalist homes and medical centres not to provide medical attention for "those wounded criminals," adding that a search party had been sent to arrest the criminals and operators of such medical centres.
Government, it noted, had the responsibility to protect life and property and would, therefore, not condone any attempt to undermine the peace and security of the state.
From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Tuesday, 23 November 1999
Govt explains troops deployment in Bayelsa
|Refutes state of emergency in Bayelsa|
|Parleys with stakeholders|
A MONTHLY meeting was yesterday instituted by the Federal Government with governors of oil-producing states and oil industry executives, in an obvious move to defuse tension in the Niger Delta. The forum will regularly appraise the implementation of programmes designed to rapidly develop the region.
The government also explained yesterday that "security forces" were in the short term being deployed in Bayelsa State "primarily to ensure the enforcement of law and order." It denied that a state of emergency has been declared, or a military action ordered.
Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity) Dr. Doyin Okupe said in a statement yesterday that the deployment of forces was "under the control of (Bayelsa) State Governor (Diepreye Alamieyeseigha) who is the Chief Security Officer of the state."
Agency reports cited him as saying the force option was to arrest near-anarchy threatening oil production.
President Olusegun Obasanjo met in Abuja yesterday with senior government officials, leaders of the National Assembly and the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP), as well as key players in the oil industry to discuss ways of restoring order in the troubled region. The meeting also sought to design means of implementing a programme for the region's rapid development.
Okupe said in a statement that yesterday's meeting resolved to institute the monthly forum "to review the progress made towards the improvement of the situation in the oil-producing areas of the country."
The statement reported in part: "Speaking at the meeting, President Obasanjo said that the Federal Government was very much aware of the concerns of the oil producing companies for law and order in the Niger Delta, and the threat which a break-down of law and order in the area could pose to the country as a whole.
"Reiterating his government's appreciation of the grievances and frustrations of the people of the Niger Delta, President Obasanjo restated his recent warnings that the Federal Government would not tolerate a descent into criminality by persons who could demand an amelioration of their problems by peaceful means.
"He said that the present situation in the Niger Delta dictated that government and all concerned parties must get their act together and expedite action on whatever they were doing to address the many problems of the oil-producing areas of the country.
"The president advised the oil companies to explore more ways of making their host communities stakeholders in the successful operation of the industry and suggested that one way of achieving this objective was to, as much as possible, accommodate indigenes of oil-producing communities in their employment programmes. He specifically urged the companies to employ indigenes as community and public relations officers to bridge the communications gap between them and their host communities and enhance good community relations."
The statement added that persons at yesterday's meeting, besides President Obasanjo, were Vice-President Atiku Abubakar; Senate President Chuba Okadigbo; House of Representatives Speaker Ghali Na'abba; PDP new National Chairman Barnabas Gemade; chairman of the party's Board of Trustees, Chief Alex Ekwueme and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Group Managing Director Mr. Jackson Gaius-Obaseki. There were also the chief executives and senior officials of Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Elf, Agip, Texaco and Dubri Oil.
Another statement by the presidential spokesman explaining the action in Bayelsa State reads: "The attention of the Federal Government has been drawn to news reports of military action in Bayelsa State and insinuations that a state of emergency has been declared in the state. The Federal Government wishes to make it categorically clear that no state of emergency has been declared in Bayelsa State, and neither has a military action been ordered.
"It will be recalled that the security situation in Bayelsa appeared to have deteriorated severely leading to the gruesome murder of 12 policemen and the killing of other law enforcement agents. Police reinforcements dispatched to the area to arrest the situation were assaulted and forcibly turned back at illegal road blocks mounted by armed hoodlums.
"These unfortunate developments made an intervention imperative to avert a total breakdown of law and order and protect the lives and properties of ordinary citizens of the state. Security forces were, therefore, deployed to the area, under the control of the state governor who is the Chief Security Officer of the state, primarily to ensure the enforcement of law and order, the speedy return of normalcy and peace, and the apprehension of those responsible for the cold-blooded murder of law enforcement agents.
"All law abiding citizens are assured of safety and protection and are hereby enjoined to go about their lawful duties peacefully.
"Government reaffirms its commitment to addressing the problems created by years of neglect and official abandonment of the Niger Delta region. This administration will ensure that during its tenure, problems of lack of infrastructural facilities, environmental degradation and poverty will be tackled with the seriousness they deserve.
"However, it should be noted that the process of reconstruction and community development cannot be pursued seriously in an atmosphere of violence and anarchy."
Agency reports also cited Okupe as acknowledging that troops were being deployed in Bayelsa State by the Obasanjo administration. He said President Obasanjo decided to act after weeks of near-anarchy in the state.
According to the spokesman, the situation was discussed at a meeting with Governor Alamieyeseigha last week. "The situation in Bayelsa almost got out of control, it was almost anarchy. The government has had to act to restore law and order, protect lives and protect property," he said.
Okupe told AFP on phone: "I would not categorise it as a military operation. There has been a deployment of the security agencies to end the anarchy, maintain law and order."
Yesterday's report said dozens of truckloads of heavily armed soldiers arrived in the Bayelsa State capital Yenagoa over the weekend, and moved yesterday into the town of Odi where 12 policemen were killed this month.
Residents said the road through Bayelsa, from Port Harcourt to Warri, both major oil cities, was blocked by soldiers. People were being stopped from entering the area.
Okupe denied charges of ethnic bias in the government's measure, saying: "This is not an anti-Ijaw operation. No government has been more interested in solving the Niger Delta problem and developing the area than this one."
He added: "The government has inherited the results of years of almost criminal neglect of the region under past regimes. But order has to be restored. Disorder in the region does affect the rest of the country. It affects people wanting to invest in Nigeria."
From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Tuesday, 23 November 1999
Ijaw vow to resist state of emergency
By Chigozie Ndulaka
AN imposition of a state of emergency on Bayelsa State as threatened by the Federal Government may provoke greater violence as the people have vowed to resist it "at all costs".
In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) monitored in Lagos yesterday, an Ijaw youth leader, Felix Tiodolu, said the declaration was unacceptable to his people, accusing the government of undue belligerence against Bayelsa. He cited Lagos, Sagamu and Kano where similar violence had led to the killing of policemen and no martial rule was imposed.
On what the group's reaction would be if the government eventually made good its threat, Tiodolu, who noted that the government had the right to do so, said such an action would demonstrate the hatred the government had for the Ijaws, adding: "If the government goes ahead to do it, we will use all the resources at our disposal to resist it".
The youth leader noted that the Ijaws had human resources which they could use to resist the imposition, adding: "Bayelsa is the centre of Ijaws and imposing a state of emergency in Bayelsa means imposing a state of emergency on the whole of Ijaws".
He said a state of emergency is dangerous because both the governor and the members of the House of Assembly would lose their mandates, "a development they would resist.
From the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper
Journalists To Boycott Assembly
Journalists covering the Enugu State House of Assembly have threatened to boycott the Assembly Complex, following the attack on journalists on the floor of the house by the chairman of the information committee, of the house, Mr. Callistus Nnamani.
Nnamani, also a journalist, attacked pressmen, on 31 August, over the report on the purported plan of some lawmakers to impeach the speaker of the state house of assembly. Clatus Enebe.
He disclosed that the journalists were not supposed to report the members' meeting held in Abuja while they are in charge of Enugu State.
However, his statement on the issue nearly caused confusion among the lawmakers who told him that he (Nnamani) had no right to speak for the house about the publications in the media while some lawmakers even threatened to remove him as the chairman of information committee in the house.
Lagos NUJ Elects Officers
At a keenly contested election held on 4 September a new executive council of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) has been elected to run the union's activities for the next two years.
The election which saw the emergence of Mrs. Funke Fadugba a News Editor at the Daar Communications Nigeria Limited operators of African Independent Television (AIT) and Raypower FM radio as the new chairman by polling 563 votes as against his contender, Mr. Gbolahan Gbadamosi The chairman of the Guardian Newspaper chapel of the NUJ who polled 521 votes, may have laid to rest the crisis that has engulfed the union for about two years now.
Lagos State NUJ had been engulfed in crisis shortly after the election of Mr. Lanre Arogundade as the chairman for the second term.
Other officials of the Lagos NUJ elected are Abubakar Tahir as the first vice chairman, Ebenezer Edohasim, second vice chairman; Mr. Olisa Egbunike, secretary general.
Others are Mr. Uwen Ankak, assistant secretary general; Mr. Charles Oyemade Olufewa, Mrs. Akinsowo-Thomas and Alhaji Isola Asho.
MAGAZINE FACES LEGAL ACTION OVER REPORT ON JUDGES
Some judges and magistrates allegedly indicted by the Justice Kayode Esho panel on the state of the judiciary are contemplating legal action against a weekly magazine, The News which published the panel's report on August 30 without necessary official approval.
According to The Guardian (of Lagos), since the publication, reactions, misgivings and condemnations have trailed the report by some of the affected judicial officers who, besides briefing their lawyers to contest the publication in court, have variously described the magazine's action as a witchhunt and a dangerous move to destroy their career and disgrace them out of office.
The late General Sani Abacha had in December 29, 1993 commissioned the panel to probe the judiciary and make recommendations on how to reform the system.
The panel was composed of eminent jurists, including Justice Chukwudifu Oputa now heading the panel on human rights abuses, Justice E. Nwokedi, Chief Remi Fani Kayode (SAN), Mr. Ibrahim Abdullahi (SAN), Sheikh Ahmed Lemu, Prof. M.G. Yakubu and Lt-Col. R.S. Bello-Fadile.
Although the panel submitted its report on July 5,1994 to Gen. Abacha, the administration, however, refused to gazette and publish the report.
The administration of General Abdulsalami Abubakar also ignored the publication of the panel's report until it left office on May 29. Also, the new civilian government of President Olusegun Obasanjo has not considered the panel's report.
The indicted judicial officers criticised The News for publishing a report that has not been gazetted in a white paper. Their argument is that government is still fine-tuning it to ensure that no one is wrongly victimised.
In this vein, they are already calling for the retraction of the publication as amplified by the 48 hours ultimatum given by the counsel to one of the judicial officers named in the said publication, Mr. Olatunji Kwami Bajulaiye, a Chief Magistrate Grade 1 with the Lagos State judiciary.
His lawyer, from Victor U. Opara Chambers, has given the magazine 48 hours to retract the story or be liable for libel after the ultimatum expires.
The letter to the editor-in-chief of the magazine signed by a counsel from the Chambers, Mr. Frank Eke and titled "Defamation of character, Libellous publication concerning Olatunji Kwami Bajulaiye," directed the management of the magazine to retract the story associated with the magistrate in the publication.
According to counsel, Bajulaiye was portrayed in the publication tiled "Tainted Judges" as "a magistrate with general and persistent reputation for corruption".
He claimed that "the portrayal in those offensive words in their ordinary meaning have lowered the esteem of the magistrate in the eyes of right thinking members of the society and exposed him to hatred, contempt and ridicule as well as discredit his office and profession."
Against this backdrop, the counsel, therefore, demand a retra tion of the publication, an unreserved apology in writing which will be published in the same magazine and N50 million being damages resulting from the publication or be prepared to face court action.
The Esho panel report, which is yet to be gazetted and made public, recommended about 47 judges and magistrates to the government for discipline.
DAILY TIMES FACES REORGANISATION
Workers of Daily Times of Nigeria Plc will not receive their 12 months salary areas totallying about N72 million ($720,000) until a proper audit of the company's account is carried out, the Managing Director, Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi-Ojo, has said.
Adinoyi-Ojo, who put the 72 year old company's current debt portfolio at about N520 million, ($5.2m) disclosed that the management of the company has decided to start paying salaries as at when due from last month.
He said: "The 12 months arrears will be put on hold. We are not saying we are not paying the workers. But we want to take a second work at this salary. We have asked a firm of chartered accountants to audit this salary and our other debts and liabilities to make sure that unpaid loans and cash advances are deducted from what we are owing them. When we arrive at a figure, we'll then work it out with each staff on how we are going to pay."
The managing director said several steps had already been taken by the new management to curb executive privileges, express and operational overheads.
"We have streamlined official car repairs, hospital and utility bills at homes of our staff. We have directed that all our outstations will have not more than four people except in Abuja. Hence, from now, the company's offices in the states are only expected to maintain a salesman, an advertisement clerk and an account clerk. We have also decided that in some stations where we have a whole building as office, our staff confine themselves to no more than a two bedroom flat and when we have not more than one or two people representing Daily Times they should take only one room," he said.
Besides, Adinoyi-Ojo disclosed that as part of its cost-saving strategy, the company will transfer the printing of Daily Times newspaper from Concord Press to its Agidingbi office.
Efforts, according to him, are also being made to clear a new printing press awaiting clearance at the port, of which the company is owing the Ports Authority over N10 million ($100,000).
He disclosed that the 16 departments in the conglomerates had been merged to six and that recommendation has also been made to the Government to reduce the companies subsidiaries from seven to five.
"Times Ventures is to be merged with Times Publications Division, Times Books to merge with times Press. We will retain Naira Holding and Times Properties jointly owned with the Stock Exchange," the managing director stated.
From Kilima News Report
OUTCRY Magazine, Lara Publications, St. Louis. MO