Nigeria Weekly News Highlights #6
index19.jpg (19306 bytes)

Nigeria Weekly News Highlights

Dec. 19, 1999

Forward With  A United Nigeria: Nigeria Shall Rise Again!

Magazine FrontPage

OUTCRY Magazine

Free Website Design


nigerianflag.gif (11532 bytes)

naija-coat3Nigeria.gif (5444 bytes)

nigerianflag.gif (11532 bytes)

head2_small.jpg (3098 bytes)

niger2.jpg (11476 bytes)

December 18, 1999

REGISTRAR of a Federal High Court was Wednesday arrested by detective in Enugu over alleged N10,000 bribe.

The suspect (names withheld) was said to have received N10,000 marked money from a litigant who wanted to swear to an affidavit in the court.

I learnt that the court registrar who hails from Imo State was arrested by four plain clothes policemen who immediately handcuffed him.

Police sources said that the detained registrar had been petitioned in the past by lawyers and other litigants over series of bribe allegations made against him.

I learnt that the suspect was fond of receiving amounts ranging from N50,000 to N100,000 ostensibly on the prompting of judges to influence court decisions.

According to sources, lawyers who asked for certified true copies of court proceedings from the registrar were made to part with between N15,000 and N30,000, thus prompting some of those aggrieved to petition the police and judicial authorities.

A lawyer who once petitioned the registrar said that he was forced to pay N25,000 to obtain the record of court proceedings that would ordinarily not have cost more than N6,000 for his client.

"When I wanted the court proceedings, I approached him and he said that he needed 12 reams of duplicate papers, four bottle of correction fluid and four tubes of ink and that I should pay N25,000 to enable him buy the materials I preferred purchasing the items, but because I could not give him money, he delayed the job until I gave him N25,000. Even at that, I had to complain to the presiding judge before I could get the record of proceedings.

"I know other lawyers who were asked to pay money to him for onward transmission to judges. Since money is always extorted from them on the pretext that the judges who would receive such gratifications would deliver judgement in their (lawyers) favour. I think luck just ran out against the registrar in this matter," the lawyer who spoke under condition of anonymity said.

The police in Enugu confirmed the story saying that the suspect would appear in court as soon as investigations on the matter were completed.

Vanguard Transmitted Saturday, December 18, 1999


THE EMERGENCE OF APC: The North will respond to further attacks on her interests — Mohammed

THE upsurge of violence, perpetrated by militant youths of the Niger-Delta and the O’odua People’s Congress (OPC) in the South-West, side-by-side reprisal attacks across the country has added more worries to the growing feelings of insecurity in Nigeria.

But those actors always adduce reasons, justifiable or not, for their actions. It was such that the Federal Government was beginning to get really bothered about these militia groups. Even for the leaders of the bodies, there was also another concern that people were trying to demonize the groups by fingering them for every trouble-shooting in the country.

And suddenly, there was another one, the Arewa People’s Congress (APC) which was launched last week as a counter to what OPC or other groups stood for. The initiators noted on Friday, December 10, 1999 that the formation was to protect Northern interest.

Alhaji Sagir Mohammed, the Wazirin Ringin and a retired military intelligence officer in this interview blows hot on the destructive tendencies of the groups that eventually gave rise to the coming of APC.

Perhaps speaking the mind of the broader spectrum the North, Alhaji Mohammed warns that a re-occurence of the attack on any "northern interest" will not go unreplied. To him, restructuring of Nigeria could be done peacefully without necessarily shedding blood. One thing he warns against is the likelihood of the return of the military to the centre stage of our body polity owing to the threat to a one Nigeria. Read on.

Recently, a faceless organisation, going by the name Hausa/Fulani Concerned Youths of Nigeria issued a reprisal threat on Yorubas as a result of the unfortunate clash between the two ethnic groups in Lagos recently. Given the delicate nature of peace within the area, particularly in Kano, what is your reaction to this ugly trend?

Unfortunately, that statement like most statements you see on the pages of newspapers are not statements that reflect the views of the majority of the people in the North. They are views expressed by some few splinter groups who have become so aggrieved with the situation in the country, considering the level of mayhem, the level of carnage and the kind of utterances that are emanating. You see, people have got different ways of interpreting things. 

Some interpret or express their views through violence and you know that Kano has a history of violence. We are not saying that under the democratic dispensation now, we should encourage violence in any form. We must understand that what others are doing is a threat to the security, to the stability and to the corporate existence of Nigeria. And the more they make that threat, the more the threat becomes a reality. Now, are we (North) saying that we also should be thinking the same way and preaching violence? The answer is no. Islam does not like violence. 

What steps are the leaders in the North taking to halt any outbreak of inter-tribal clash?

Honestly, we are making series of consultations. These consultations are with the view to engaging the Federal Government constructively on how best we can tackle these things so that innocent lives will not fall again. The government has to be more decisive. If it would lead to the declaration of a state of emergency in these troubled places, so be it. Let it happen. Mobilise all the troops to make sure the situation is brought under control. But you see, what I am saying is, should there be a re-occurence of this kind of mayhem against our Northern interests, the North will react by defending itself. Those behind the coming of Arewa People’s Congress also made it clear that it was formed to protect the interests of the North and Northerners. We had bargained for peace. We gave the presidency to the South-West on a platter of gold. They did not use guns and did not coerce us into it. We gave them voluntarily. 

Even the much talked-about June 12 mandate, we gave Chief Abiola that mandate and nobody in the North supported the annulment of that election. Just like they (Yorubas) were aggrieved on June 12, so also are we aggrieved in the North about so many other things. What we are saying is, let there be peace. Let the Yoruba leaders who are now silent talk. Let them know that the corporate existence of this country is more paramount than primordial sentiments of individuals. If people are talking about Sovereign National Conference (SNC), let us do it peacefully. If they want to restructure the country, let us do it peacefully because we don’t want to shed blood.

Beyond your thinking of peaceful means out of the present imbroglio, what are the leaders thinking about? Are you in the same way contemplating a platform to counter this offensive?

We have been contemplating, not countering but containment. Yes, we are seriously thinking about an organisation, a much more organised outfit that will be seen to be protecting and championing the cause of the entire North without any distinction. We are Northerners. 

What kind of organised formation are you talking about. Besides, what would be its


Well, the thrust will primarily be based on dialogue and at the same time decisive action where necessary. What I mean by decisive action is, we believe we have the capacity, the will-power to go to any part of Nigeria to protect our Northern brothers in distress. That I think was why those behind APC founded it. 

Don’t you envisage a situation whereby this will aggravate the situation?

Well, aggravation, we don’t aggravate. We did not start it. It is left for the government to bring everything under control. You know I have told you that the Quaran says the recompense is on the person who is committing evil, not any other person. And so it is senseless for somebody to think that we can attack Yorubas in the North. That is evil. That is satanic thought. You can’t do that because they are innocent people. If it becomes necessary, if we have to use violence, we have to use it to save our people. If it means Jihad, we will launch our Jihad there. If they kill us, fine. 

Have you, the leaders, made formal representation to the government on how to bring this under control?

The modus operandi to be applied, the objectives and how to achieve the objectives are yet to be worked out. But now, all we believe is dialogue. We believe in meeting its constitutional obligations of protecting and preserving the territorial integrity of the country and preserving peace and security anywhere. It is only in the absence of dialogue and where we see further attacks on Northerners in any part of Nigeria that we will consider other options but mark you, we don’t want to turn the North into a battle ground. Those who have declared war, we will go to their places and fight the battle with them.

How will these aggrieved youths be pacified to also embrace dialogue instead of violence?

You see, these youths are also not senseless. What we are saying is, let their leaders talk to them and you will see that they will turn a new leaf. In the case of the OPC, I expect the Yoruba elders like Pa Abraham Adesanya, Justice Adewale Thompson to come out and condemn the avoidable deaths we see there. We expect Ijaw leaders to do the same. We expect the Igbos to continue to talk to their youths so that they would remain as peaceful. We expect the Hausa leaders to talk to their children to avoid any senseless carnage.

Let those ministers who are members of Afenifere like Chief Bola Ige comment. Because right now, there is the question of double standard. He is a member of Afenifere and if the Afenifere leaders are condemning the President (Obasanjo) for giving the shoot-on-sight order in Lagos, then you start to wonder where such people like Ige stand. He goes to the executive council, they take decision there, then he goes to the executive of Afenifere. Something has to be done here. The daughter of Pa Adesanya, the minister of State for Defence should come out and talk. Otherwise, we will know that there is a conspiracy of silence. It means that they are trying to force us also to become members of such Northern irrenditism.

But the Internal Affairs minister, Chief Sunday Afolabi had spoken against acts perpetrated by such militant groups in Nigeria...

He is not a member of Afenifere. Even the person that I had always thought that he is in the vanguard of opposition, promoting Afenifere and all that, Dr Doyin Okupe had come out and spoken. With that he commands my respect. And you see the problem, with this tension, tension in Kano, tension in Sokoto, Niger-Delta, look, we are trying to say yes, military, we can’t do it. My fear is that the military are probably carrying out what they call concurrent activities prelude to intervention. This is what I am suspecting. I don’t want to believe that we are trying to invite the military to come back because of our attitudes. I think we are giving them a wrong signal. The military that we have pushed aside, we are giving them wrong signals and that is not good enough. I just hope that the Federal Government should invite leaders of thought, invite leaders from the South-West, invite leaders from the North, East and other geo-political zones. They need to sit down and let the Federal Government talk to them and let them go back and talk to their people. 

There should be an explicit mission that should there be any further violence, whether it is religious, policy, the government will not hesitate to declare a state of emergency. We should not think about America. We should not think about the West because they cannot help us on how to live. We know the peculiarity of our people and we should always think within the peculiarity of our people and forge unity of purpose, forge how we are going to live in peace and harmony. And if people are talking about restructuring, I have said, let us restructure peacefully. If we want to revert to confederation, what is wrong with that?

There are ominous signs, dangerous signs but we don’t want that. We just hope that the Almighty Allah will preserve the territorial integrity of this country so that we remain as one and indivisible country.

Vanguard Transmitted Saturday, December 18, 1999


By Fred Iwenjora

THE pains of widowhood and the anguish of being orphaned, are the sorry expressions one finds on the faces of the bereaved residents of 40, Olabiran Street, Shomolu.

Amid words intended to comfort them, they merely stare at the sympathisers emptily and nod when they muster enough thoughts and courage to appreciate the presence of the strange and/or familiar faces.

For them, it is an emotional wreckage occasioned by the brutal murder of their father (or husband) alongside his son. As they rest their cheeks on the palms, bow their heads in total submission or whisper among themselves, there is no doubt that for them, the memories remain eternally bitter.

That has been the mood of the family members of Mr. Aderemi Badejo Okusanya, the Vice Chairman of Shomolu Local Government Area who was killed at his residence last weekend with his son, Segun by unknown men.

And when Governor Bola Tinubu visited the Okusanyas, Tuesday, the signs of fear and torture were evident on those who gathered to welcome the number one citizen of Lagos State, who ironically, came under similar attack a day after the LG boss was murdered.

Amid Tinubu’s commiseration, the bereaved children and the only widow present then, would audibly gnash their teeth to show their understandable grief and feelings of hopelessness.

Ever since, family friends, political associates and other sympathisers have not ceased to stream into the family house of the Okusanyas located on the topmost floor of the two-storey building.

Wale Okusanya, one of the surviving children of the assassinated council vice chairman had just led out some of his friends. Obviously overwhelmed by emotions, he stood still and had his full attention on the enlarged portrait of his late father placed steps away from the staircase. Beneath the "portrait of this patriot" as one of the deceased’s associates described the former, was a condolence register which had been signed by no less than eight hundred people as at Wednesday.

"The wicked have done their worst," Tinubu, the 643rd signatory, wrote in red ink, "but God is not asleep and His mercies endureth forever. Rest in perfect peace, Amen."

For Wale, the sad memories go beyond losing a "caring" father. He was with the fallen Shomolu vice chairman when the assailants stormed their home. Till today, Wale battles the trauma of ever remembering his last moments with his father, their reactions when they were alerted of the presence of hoodlums and how his father detailed him to go and hide somewhere.

He battled till the end not to betray emotions when he found the courage to talk with Weekend Vanguard on the ugly events of December 11, 1999. "My experience is made worse by the fact that I was there with my father as events unfolded," says Wale.

"Anybody who has never experienced this kind of thing would never know how it pains to see your father killed without being able to offer any assistance or making attempts to save him. This is one thing that you cannot wish even your worst enemy to encounter in life. I can’t see myself recovering from the shock. I can’t.

"It was about 6 a.m. and members of the family were just waking up. My father asked for water to brush his teeth. He also asked me to get his slippers. That was what I was searching for when Ajibola, one of my younger brothers ran upstairs, screaming that robbers were coming up to our house.

"Our reaction immediately was to try and barricade the door to prevent them from gaining entry. It was like a drama. We closed the door but three seconds after, they were already at our flat, banging on the door. At that point, my father looked at me and asked me to go and hide elsewhere.

"I didn’t want to leave my father alone but he insisted that I should leave. I left my daddy with his nephew who came in from London. I went to the back of the flat and sneaked into another flat. We used one mosquito net to cover ourselves."

In a flash, things happened. Holed in there, Wale and others could do nothing but pray for divine intervention. "We continued to pray for the safety of our father. But I heard the assailants shouting. After a while, I heard a gun shot, then another. At this stage, I had begun to cry. I was so frightened because I didn’t know what would have befallen our father.

"Almost immediately, I heard people wailing outside and cursing that the hoodlums would never go free. Then, I came out and rushed in to where my father was. Oh God, what I saw was my father lying motionless in the pool of his own blood. It was such a terrible sight."

Nothing prepared the already devastated Wale for what was lying ahead of him as he was asked by others to go to the mosque in front of their compound to report what was going on.

"When I got to the gate of our house, I saw a dead body. When I looked closer, it was the body of my younger brother, Segun who had also been shot. I was really confused. I ran back and told others of what I had just seen.

"Look, my brother, I have never been confused and shattered like that in my life. We didn’t know what to do. Crying wasn’t enough. A lot of us felt like death was the better choice. To lose a caring father and a promising younger brother who was only 18 were tragedies nobody could bear. We can’t be consoled by mere words.

"Our plea is that the government should fish out those behind these painful deaths and let them face the wrath of the law. It will be good to know that those who killed our father have been found. That’s the only news we’re waiting to hear."

Wale and the other children of the slain council vice chairman are, however, saddened by reports that their father would have been involved in family squabbles over landed property. As they prepared for the burial yesterday at Ijebu-Imodi in Ogun State, having committed their brother, Segun to mother earth on Monday, the family minced no words that late Okusanya lived in "absolute peace" with his other relations.

Tolani Banjo-Odusote, the second daughter of late Badejo Okusanya describes as "wicked" the insinuation that her late father was involved in any tussle. ""It’s wicked for people to make such insinuation at a time when we’re trying to gather our pieces together," she says.

"Our father lived in absolute peace with his brothers and sisters. It’s only those who didn’t know the kind of person that he was that would say such things about him. He was such a man of love, a man willing to allow even an enemy have his own thing if that would bring about peace.

"The Badejo Okusanya family is not in disarray. They are mourning the death of their beloved one. Our father had property at Ikotun, another in Surulere and the other in Lagos Island. He had no problem with a tenant, let alone his relatives."

The two wives of the deceased, Alhaja Iyabode Badejo Okusanya and Alhaja Abiodun Badejo Okusanya were still being shielded from journalists as late as Wednesday because they are too shocked to talk now.

"Ha," exclaimed Wale, "let’s not contemplate talking to the wives. That will mean starting what we may not be able to contain. The women have been in a total mess since the double tragedy hit us. What we do these days is to curtail the number of people that see them. Look, there is no pretence; these are difficult times for all of us."

That was the much that Tolani admitted too. "The times are rough for us but we rely on the Almighty Creator to guide us," she says. "Under the circumstances that they died, it’s damn painful to lose a father and a brother the same day.

It was my brother, Wale who came to my place which is about fifteen metres away. He told me that our daddy was very ill and wanted to see me immediately. I was washing few of my dresses. When he said that, I was amazed because I was with our father on Thursday (December 9) and he never showed any signs of illness at all.

"I kept asking myself what the problem could be as I ran in to put on a gown and rushed to our house. As I got near our home, I noticed that a small crowd had gathered. People were just staring at me. I came up and saw his body covered with white cloth that had blood stains all over.

"It’s a scene we shouldn’t remember (at this time, she was struggling not to break down as her voice had become faint). I was jittery but managed to open the cloth over him. Then I saw my father’s face and his chest with a gun shot wound. It was big. I was just kissing him and asking ‘daddy why? Why are you doing this to us?’ That was what they said that I kept saying. At this point, I didn’t know how I left the room.

"To be told that my immediate younger brother was also killed knocked me off. I couldn’t bear it any longer. And let’s not get into what I did or how I reacted. It’s not necessary. What did Segun do to them? He was an easy-going and likeable young man who was very close to his God.

"Those who killed our father and brother will never go unpunished. This is one assurance that I have. We thank the Lagos State Governor (Senator Bola Tinubu) for his visit and words of encouragement to the family.

"We also appeal to him and the Federal Government to find out those who killed our father and brother. Having contested election (under the Alliance for Democracy banner) and won, our father was more concerned in how to better the lives of people in Shomolu Local Government in particular and Nigeria in general.

"His death is a threat to democracy. Those who contested elections and won must be protected. What we ask is that government goes all out to find out those who were responsible for the death of our father and our brother."

Oyindamola, a second year Mass Communication student of the University of Lagos and another child of late Okusanya, lamented that their father died so that his children would live. "I heard that his killers were asking of his children and our father answered them thus: "I am their father. What do you want from them? He died so that the rest of us would be saved. That tells you the kind of person that our father was. He was always willing to make sacrifices for people.

"These people (assassins) kept asking of our little brother, Ajibola who had run upstairs and was pouring water from a bucket on the assailants. We thank God that they didn’t find the kid. They would have shot him.

"It’s most frustrating when you see life taken away from your father and brother in such dastardly manner. It makes the heart to bleed when you realise that some people walked into this place and killed these people who matter a lot in our lives.

"I have been living in the hostel and he used to give me money every week. Now, I wonder how I’m going to cope. He used to talk about our problems freely with us. Today, I wonder who will give us such fatherly care and advice.

"Asking me whether he had enemies that would have been responsible for his death is one question that I can’t be able to answer. He loved people and was generous but you know that with politics, you can’t be sure of anything. He had been in politics for a very long time so that if he ever had any enemy, I wouldn’t have known.

"We leave everything to God and hope that only God will take care of the family that he left behind."

Dr. Adelaja, a London-based nephew was with the murdered council boss when the assassins called. In his own account of what happened on that fateful Saturday, he told Weekend Vanguard that "I had been staying with him for quite sometime because he was to facilitate my return to England where I live. He had always been very helpful to me and to a lot of other people who would come for one assistance or the other.

"I was with him here on the day that the assailants came. We were barricading the door together but at the time we were overpowered, I quickly rushed to a corner. We were all in panic. The gunmen fired through the door (the bullet hole is still there).

"They were asking where his children were but he was, as we knew, a man that would never give away anybody let alone his own children. When the whole thing had died down a bit, I peeped through the kitchen door only to see my brother in the pool of his blood.

"We rushed to see whether we could salvage the situation. But it was too late. He had been fallen by these wicked people. How I wish that we would have had the opportunity to sit together again to talk about the events of that day. It can’t be. They killed him so brutally but God will revenge for us.

"My position is that the government of Nigeria must take security of lives and property very seriously. Democracy must guarantee that we live. We have to prove that it is not only the men in uniform who can protect the citizens.

"The responsibility for the present regime is to expose those behind this crime. He (late Okusanya) was no mean personality. As a vice chairman of a local government area, he deserved to be well treated even in death.

"The way we treat this matter will give confidence to other lesser Nigerians that they are also safe. This was a man who was so loyal to his friends and associates. And we cannot be talking of allowing people who killed such a nice man to be walking our streets free."

From both the bereaved and the sympathisers, it is the same cry: arrest the killers of Okusanya.

But for his immediate family members, the slain LG boss had paid the supreme sacrifice so that his children could live and that makes his death more painful to his children.

Vanguard Transmitted Saturday, December 18, 1999


Saturday, 18 December 1999

Workers in nationwide protest against proposed fuel price increase

WORKERS nationwide have signalled what their reaction would be should the Federal Government go ahead with the planned increase in fuel price.

In Delta State, workers staged a protest rally in Asaba, to press home the objection to the proposed like in fuel price. What the workers need is a living wage, not hardship, they said, adding: Besides, President Olusegun Obasanjo, during his election campaigns, never promised fuel increase, he promised a living wage. Why should he now introduce hardship into workers lives by this increase?

The workers, numbering over 1,000, marched through the major streets of Asaba before heading for the Government House, on Awori Road where their resolutions were read by the state chairman of the Nigeria Labour Congress, (NLC) Mr. Ovuozourie Macaulay.

Some of their placards read: We produce oil in Nigeria, Nigerians should not be made slaves to our oil products; Deregulation of petroleum products prices will ruin the lives of Nigerians; The ruling class should not use oil to punish Nigerians.

Also in Ekiti State yesterday, workers staged a peaceful protest against the proposed deregulation, describing it as an attempt to strangulate the poor by the rich.

The workers who marched through the streets of Ado-Ekiti and later converged at the Governors Office, said they would not accept any hike in the prices of petroleum products from the ruling government.

The state governor, Chief Adeniyi Adebayo, who addressed the workers rally supported their cause, saying: The proposed deregulation of the petroleum sector is an unfortunate gift from the ruling party.

Adebayo wondered why the ruling party will want to compound the plight of the masses through fuel price increase. He, however, urged the workers not to be violent in their protest and assured them of his administrations support in ensuring that their legitimate demands are met.

The state Chairman of (NLC), Mr. Ade Ajayi, warned that workers would fight the proposed increase with the last drop of their blood. According to him, if the government found it impossible to increase workers salaries, it should not compound their situation by imposing fuel like on them.

He noted that those behind the proposed increase would not feel the impact because they ride government vehicles. The earlier the government has a re-think on the issue, the better for the nation.

And in Ondo State, workers added pep to their protests as they and their dependants danced along the major streets crying and singing to attract the sympathy of passers-by.

They later stormed the governors office and disrupted activities for about 30 minutes, vowing to make the country ungovernable if President Olusegun Obasanjo goes ahead with his plan.

In Bauchi State, Governor Ahmadu Adamu Muazu, said the chain reaction of the planned increase in petroleum price would be chaotic for the country:

Addressing members of NLC who came to deliver a letter to President Obasanjo through him, Muazu, however advised them to take the outcome with calmness and maturity.

Alhaji Muazu, who promised to deliver the letter, and to advise the president against the planned hike, urged the workers to employ dialogue in resolving the matter.

Confusion reigned on the streets of Kaduna when civil servants besieged strategic location in the city protest Federal Government's decision to increase pump price of petrol and other petroleum products from January next year.

The protesters, in their thousands, turned out with placards inscribed with scathing remarks about the countrys leaders.

Other groups who joined the placard-carrying demonstrators included market women, students, commercial vehicle drivers and motor-cyclists who also canvassed the support of the state government against prohibitive taxes and levies, by officials of the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Board.

The protesters, led by the officials of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) were initially hesitant on the protest but were encouraged when they saw lorry loads of armed policemen cordoning off the NLC state secretariat where the state Chairman of NLC, Mallam Ahmadu Ubale, boldly led them to the streets where they distributed leaflets and chanted protest songs against any form of fuel price. They were, however, largely unmolested by the police who just maintained order.

The workers who later terminated their protest march at the Government House, demanded to see Governor Alhaji Ahmed Makarfi who yesterday arrived from abroad where he had gone for medical treatment. But, the deputy governor, Mr. Stephen Shakari granted them audience.

In his address to the state government, the NLC boss declared that apart from the direct negative impact on the welfare of citizens, deregulation of prices of petroleum products will aggravate the crisis of production in the country.

Manufacturers, he noted, would have to pay more for energy and petroleum products in the medium and long term with such public utilities like NEPA, NITEL and Water Corporations, increasing their tariffs to meet the increases.

In his petition to President Olusegun Obasanjo through the state government, the NLC state chairman stated that workers in Kaduna, market women, students, peasant farmers, commercial drivers and motor-cyclists totally disagree with your intention to increase the pump price of petrol and petroleum products next year.

Mallam Ubale argued that the petroleum sector is the foundation of all other economic and social activities in the country, saying government explanations justifying the necessity to introduce new fuel pump price, was unfair. We cannot talk of perfect competition in a market in which there are only nine powerful marketers namely Agip, A. P. Chevron Elf, Mobil, National, Shell, Texaco and Total and these multinationals have the resources and technology to hold this country to ransom.

What is amazing is that Mr. President has been reported as saying that he does not know what the new price increase would be when the deregulation takes effect. And this is with immediate effect, without knowing what the immediate consequences are in terms of price, the labour leader said.

He however pointed out that with the current hardship in the country, particularly among workers, rural and urban poor, an increase in fuel price through deregulation, would amount to declaring an economic war against an already impoverished populace.



Saturday, 18 December 1999

Abachas family loses fight to retain property

THE Abacha family yesterday lost the second round of the legal battle to retain the property situated at Plot 288 Diobu GRA Phase Two, Port Harcourt.

Justice Joy Akpugbunum threw out the application for the stay of execution of the judgment that reverted the ownership of the property to a pensioner, Chief Samuel Eke-Spiff.

Ruling on the application by counsel to the Abacha family, Mr. S.R. Dapaa Addo for the court to grant a stay of execution of the courts judgement of November 18 pending appeal, Akpugbunum in rejecting the application, noted among other reasons, that granting the application was tantamount to defeating the initial judgement which declared that the Abachas stay on the property was illegal, null and void.

The nature of the subject matter is land. The court had in its judgement declared amongst others that the subsequent grant of a building lease over the same plot 288 GRA phase II in favour of the 3rd defendant is unconstitutional, null and void. The effect of this is that the 3rd defendant no longer has any legal hold over the said plot 288. To grant a stay of execution in favour of the applicant will amount to defeating the same judgement that has declared their stay on the property unconstitutional, null and void.

She pointed out that to maintain the status quo until the final determination of the appeal would not meet the justice of the case. Akpugbunum also reasoned that a declaretory judgement such as this, one made by the court could not be stayed because it was not a judgement capable of enforcement, adding: subsisting judgements are clear orders of the court and unless reversed on appeal, they must not be vitiated. Consequently, when a party is successful in a litigation, he is not to be disturbed from the enjoyment of it even if an appeal is pending on it unless substantial reasons are shown.

Justice Akpugbunum said that having not found any such substantial reasons, the application should be dismissed.

She pointed out that in considering an application such as the following issues called for determination:

bulletwhether there existed special or exceptional circumstances to warrant granting the application;
  1. whether the court could stay execution in a situation where execution has already been levied;
bulletthe chances of the applicants on appeal, based on the existence of substantial points to be argued there;
bulletif by the nature of the matter in dispute, maintaining the status quo until the determination of the appeal will meet justice; and;
bulletto what extent the court could stay a declaratory judgment. To Addos argument that unless Eke-Spiff was restrained, he might dispose of the eight-storey building towards which he never made any contribution to as a third party, she stressed that it did not constitute sufficient ground to stay the execution of the courts judgement.

According to her, the subject matters of the case was land situate at plot 288 GRA phase 11, Port Harcourt and not the building.

The court cannot therefore be seen to restrain the plaintiffs in respect of an order that was not made by the court, she added.

Besides, execution having been levied, could not be set aside except on grounds of irregularities or wrongful execution.

Another ground for the dismissal of the defendant's application was that the chances of their succeeding on appeal were not there. The chances of the applicant succeeding on appeal are virtually nil. The same reasoning is equally applicable to the other grounds of appeal, Akpugbunum explained.

Arguing the application, Addo said the High Court has in inherent jurisdiction to grant stay of execution pending appeal. He supported his argument by referring to Ogunremi V Dada (1962) ANLR P. 663 at 672, Coker V Aseyemo (1965) 1 ANLR P. 120.


Saturday, 18 December 1999

Court orders NUJ scribes arrest for alleged contempt

From Isa Abdulsalami, Jos

A JOS high court has ordered the arrest of the National Secretary of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Mr. Mohammed Kihalid, for his alleged refusal to appear in court despite receiving court summons.

Justice Thomas Naron, issued the bench warrant yesterday when he was reliably informed that Khalid had been adequately served with forms 48 and 49 pursuance to a committal proceeding against him and three others.

Former chairman of the Plateau State , Council of NUJ Ayuba Gokum, and 15 other journalists, had gone to court to restrain both the National Delegates Conference and Plateau State Council of the NUJ from conducting the national delegate conference held in Minna, Niger State, until the court decided whether local council information officers are members of NUJ and qualified to vote at the delegate conference.

The NUJ had between the December 3 and 5, in disobedience to the order of the Jos High Court, which granted the restraining order, went ahead to conduct the conference.

The court also directed Plateau State Secretary of the union, Jamaine Goma, who has not made himself available for service, to be served the forms to enable him appear in court on January 24, 2000.

Justice Naron, however, granted bail to the state chairman of the NUJ, Chris Gyang and one Theophilus Dashe, who were present in court on self recognition despite the insistence by plaintiffs counsel, Mr. Solomon Umoh, that they be kept in prison until they purge themselves of the contempt proceedings before the court.

The case was subsequently adjourned till next January.



Saturday, 18 December 1999

Crime prevention conference

THE State House of Assembly, through its Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and a security consultancy oufit is organising a two-day state conference on the {Role of Local Government in Crime Prevention} with the theme {Using the Community/Grassroot Approach in Crime Prevention: The Local Government Initiatives}. It is scheduled for December 21-22, this year at Gateway Hotel Otta, Ogun State.

Lagos State Governor Bola Tinubu will declare the conference open. The deputy governor Kofoworola Akerele-Buknor is expected among other government officials as a special guest.


Friday, 17 December 1999

Nigeria gets deadline to request Swiss probe of loot

SWITZERLAND has given Nigeria up to January 20 next year to request Genevas judicial co-operation on the probe into money laundering allegations against the late General Sani Abacha.

Genevas public prosecutor Bernard Bertossa said yesterday that Swiss authorities were yet to receive such request. He did not specify the consequence of failing the deadline, but an apparent implication is that some $551 million (about N5.51 billion) blocked in several bank accounts linked with the former Head of State may be freed.

The Swiss police initially froze some accounts in October, and days later prosecutors opened an investigation into money laundering. In all, about $551 million have been frozen in Swiss banks since investigation were opened into the charges of money laundering, fraud and breach of trust.

Bertossa yesterday said the inquiry currently covered dozens of accounts in about 10 banks. Seven are in Geneva, and three in Zurich. If it is established that the Nigerian state was improverished, then the money could be returned, the public prosecutor said in Geneva, adding that the process would take time.

He explained that there could be appeals, which would slow down the process, noting that it took 12 years for the late Fernard Marcos funds to be returned to the Philippines.

Speaking in Abuja on Tuesday, Vice President Atiku Abubakar said the Swiss Government had pledged assistance in the repatriation of $600 million (about N6 billion) out of an estimated $2.5 billion corruptly acquired and stashed in that countrys banks by former public officials.

Following the freezing of the $551 million in Swiss bank accounts, the examining judge in Geneva, George Zecchin, told the ATS news agency that it was likely the case would not stop there, and that other sums of money would be frozen.

The Olusegun Obasanjo Administration had in October requested Swiss federal police to provisionally freeze some accounts of the Head of State who died last year, those close to him and some companies.

A lawyer representing the Nigerian government, Enrico Monfrini, said at the time that they were looking for more than $2 billion, although the amount embezzled was probably more. He said proof had been destroyed.

The late Gen. Abacha and his allies are suspected of having plundered the Central Bank of Nigeria.



Friday, 17 December 1999

Contract inflation to incur seven years in jail

 From Adamu Abuh, Abuja

INFLATION of contracts will attract seven years imprisonment and a fine of one million naira, according to the anti-corruption bill to be passed by the House of Representatives today.

The members, however, deleted a clause declaring guilt on any public officer whose lifestyle is not commensurate with his past and present emoluments.

Deliberations on the bill, presented to the National Assembly by President Olusegun Obasanjo, began on Wednesday and ended yesterday after the assembly held two separate sessions on it.

When passed today, it will have to be harmonised with the resolutions of the Senate, before being returned to the president for signing into law.

Another aspect of the bill indicates that any public officer who appropriates any sum allocated for a particular project to another will be liable to one year imprisonment.

It says: any public officer who transfers or spends any sum allocated for a particular project or service, on another project or service, shall be guilty of an offence under this act.

And on conviction be liable to one (1) year imprisonment or a fine of fifty thousand naira.

Also, any public officer who awards contract without budget provision, approval and cash backing shall be guilty of an offence under the act and on conviction be liable to three years imprisonment and a fine of N100,000.

For persons offering any form of inducement or reward on account of any assistance rendered by any public servant in the promotion, execution, or procuring of any contract with a public body or sub-contract to perform any work, provide any service, do anything or supply any article material or substance shall be guilty of an offence.

However, the provision for prosecuting public officers who live above their means led to sharp divisions consequently upon which it was rejected.

It says: any person who being or having been a public servant maintains a living above that which is commensurate with his present or past official emoluments; or

Is in control of pecuniary resources or property disproportionate to his present or past official emolument; or

Shall, unless gives a satisfactory explanation to the court as to how such pecuniary resources or property came under his control, be guilty of an offence.

Nduka Irabor (Ika, Delta, PDP) who led the arguments against the clause said it was unrealistic to implement, as it might lead to abuse by officers of the proposed anti-graft commission.



Friday, 17 December 1999

Govt disburses N68.73b as December grants

 By Tony Ndiulor, Senior Finance Correspondent

A TOTAL sum of N66.73 billion has been released by the Federal Government to the three tiers of government as allocations from the Federation Account for this month.

This is the third in the series since the decision was taken by the government in September to disburse the funds monthly as against the former policy of quarterly revenue releases.

Of the amount, N32.36 billion or 48.49 per cent went to the Federal Government while state governments, including Abuja are to share N17.28 billion or 25.90 per cent. The local councils got N13.35 billion (about 20 per cent) leaving the balance of N3.74 billion or 5.6 per cent for special funds.

From the special funds, the moribund Oil Minerals Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) got the lion share of N1.79 billion followed by ecological funds N1.34 billion while the stabilisation funds got N611 million.

This months allocation is the highest so far. It is about N8.73 billion or 15.05 per cent higher than last months N58 billion, and about N11.73 billion or 21.33 per cent higher than the October sum of N55 billion.

Also, N3.83 billion was disbursed as Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue to the three tiers of government.

Of the amount, the Federal Government received N570 million or 14.88 per cent while N1.92 billion or 50.13 per cent was allocated to the states, leaving the councils to share the balance of N1.34 billion or 34.99 per cent.

The VAT account revenue is an improvement on N3.68 billion which was distributed last month but a drop by N50 million when compared with the N3.88 billion shared in October.

The breakdown of the allocation to states and councils, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), from the Federation Account and proceeds from VAT for this month shows Abuja ahead of other recipients with N667.3 million.

It is followed by Kano, Lagos and Delta states, with N642.741 million, N640.226 million and N630.644 million respectively.

Ebonyi State got the least allocation of N340.615 million which is slightly higher than Gombes N348.851 million, Ekitis N354.524 million, Nassarawas N358.956 million, Enugus N378.248 million and Zamfaras N388.98 million.

But councils in Kano State topped the list, receiving N710.510 million, followed by their Katsina counterparts with N548.173 million. Oyo and Lagos councils came third and fourth. The FCT councils will share N118.176 million.

Lagos State, however, maintained its dominance in terms of VAT receipts with N271.1 million, trailed by Kaduna, Kano and Rivers with N78.391 million, N76.194 million and N70.285 million. FCTs N19.153 million VAT allocation makes it the last on the list.

Friday, 17 December 1999


Ife varsity VC restates plans to restore peace

From Sola Shittu, Ile-Ife

THE Acting Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University Prof. Roger Makanjuola has reiterated his administrations determination to restore peace and security to the institution.

Speaking yesterday at the 28th convocation ceremony of the institution, Makanjuola regretted that the university had been going through some very bad times of recent.

It is a year that was dominated by students unrest, involving continuous confrontation between the students and the university authorities.

He added: So bad were things that the university had to be closed temporarily at the time of last convocation by students. The unrest led to prolonged closure of the university.

He said the greatest tragedy that befell the institution occurred in July 10, during which seven students of the university were killed by cult members. All these deaths were tragic but what stands out about July 10, was that this was cold blooded murder of students. We must never forget that day. We must not forget, because we must ensure that such a terrible event never ever happens again in this university.

Makanjuola stressed that a lot needed to be done to address perennial student crises. Among the most important are to ensure that the conditions under which they live and study are acceptable, he said.

The vice chancellor also advocated improved communication with the students, pointing out that the students were intelligent and mature and therefore should be given a say in matters that concern them.

He regretted that the issue of the student leaders expelled by Prof. Wale Omoles administration had dragged the institution backward and it needs to be resolved so that we can move forward, giving an indication that the student leaders may be recalled.



Friday, 17 December 1999


OPC faults police claim of journalists membership

 From Ifedayo Sayo, Ado-Ekiti

THE Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in Ekiti State has denied allegation by the State Police Command that it has a journalist among its members.

A statement yesterday by the state coordinator of the Ganiyu Adams faction of OPC, Chief Onifade said it is highly embarrassing and disappointing that disgruntted elements who claimed to be security operatives could be going around man-hunting journalists in Ekiti State under the guise of looking for OPC members.

Onifade warned security operatives not to forment trouble by harassing innocent individuals, saying we shall not tolerate any form of harrassment from any quarters.

The statement is in reaction to the man-hunt by the State Police Command for the editor of a local newspaper, Ekiti Sun, Mr. Jackson Adebayo.

Adebayo who has since gone underground was alleged to be the state secretary of OPC and is being sought as part of efforts to prevent the ethnic group from having a foot hold in there.

Onifade warned that if the police or any security agent has any score to settle with anybody, they should not link it with OPC as we have been peaceful since our existence in Ekiti State in February, 1999.

According to him, OPC would not tolerate any plan by anybody to disrupt the peace of the state, adding that the police should help to maintain the peace instead of formenting crisis.

He condemned the linking of OPC with the crisis at the ailing Oodua Textile Industries, Ado-Ekiti, stressing that OPC has never been involved in the crisis between workers and management of the company


Friday, 17 December 1999


Military pensioners write Obasanjo over alleged neglect

MILITARY pensioners in Lagos State have petitioned President Olusegun Obasanjo over the non-implementation of the recent minimum wage increase in their pensions.

The retirees operating under the name Concerned Military Pensioners in a letter to the president, noted that serving officers were already benefiting from the new policy, pointing out that they also were entitled to better living conditions.

According to the letter, Our hopes were brightened when on the 11th May, 1999, a government circular, Ref: N0. SWC/S/04/S.8/25, was released, entitled Review of Pension Rate with a hundred and fifty per cent increase (150%) with an effective date of January 1, 1999. While we were still awaiting the joyous occasion of the implementation of the increase and the arrears to be paid, another government circular, Ref: N0 B63216/S.1/X; dated 6th July, 1999, was subsequently released from the Office of the President i.e (President Obasanjo), titled Further Review of Pension; adding yet another thirty per cent (30%) to the previous review, with an effective date of January 1, 2000. This good gesture by the president further heightened our joy.

In fact, we thought that at least before the end of June 1999, the 150 per cent increase, together with the arrears would have been fully implemented, thereby serving as a bird at hand, as we await January 1, 2000 to receive the president’s gift. This in fact, would have minimized the hardship and suffering of ourselves and our families, by alleviating the poor living conditions to which we have been subjected to over the years.

They said they had tried without avail to get their entitlements. They therefore implored the president to intervene.


Swiss Freeze 120 Nigerian Accounts

by Philip Nwosu, Foreign/Defence Reporter

The Swiss government Tuesday initiated the first move towards the retrieval of State funds stashed away in foreign banks by former Nigerian maximum ruler, the Late General Sani Abacha and his cohorts with the freezing of accounts valued at N55 billion ($550 million).
The accounts, about 120 of them were said to be located in 12 banks in Switzerland and belonged to Gen. Abacha, his former National Security Adviser, Alhaji Ismaila Gwarzo and a former Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu.
A British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) report monitored Tuesday in Lagos said that a number of unidentified Nigeria businessmen and companies were also linked to the frozen accounts.
The report said all those involved in the 120 frozen accounts were suspected to have systematically pillaged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over a period of years, especially under the military era.
The BBC also said that the Swiss government has called on the Nigerian government to present a formal request for legal assistance to enable it retrieve the funds.
The Swiss government added that all these moves would be concluded in one month after which if nothing was done by its Nigeria counterpart, the frozen accounts would be defrozen.
The report noted that within this period also, the Nigerian authorities should be able to provide a specific link between their domestic investigations and the blocked assets.
Switzerland had always been criticised as a money laundering conduit with a number of high profile investigations into the dealings of former African heads of state.
At present, the bank account of former Zairean President, Mobutu Sese Seko, is still frozen pending legal action.
This recent action by the Swiss government came on the heels of cries by Nigerians that the account of these former government functionaries be frozen and the money repatriated to the country.
About $15 billion is estimated to be owned by Nigerians in various accounts abroad.
This amount makes up the largest share of a total of $110 billion private savings of sub-saharan Africans, held outside the region. It is followed by those held by Zaireans which is estimated at $8 billion (N800 billion) and Sudanese placed at $7 billion (N700 billion).
The revelation was made by the World Bank Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) at a workshop recently in Lagos.
The organisation explained that the amount is an accumulation of monies held by private Nigerians as well as those stolen by government officials over the past years.
In view of this, MIGA's Africa Regional Manager, Dr. Ken Kwaku stated the need for the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo to initiate policies capable of convincing holders of these private savings to bring back the money to Nigeria.
He explained that if only 10 per cent of this amount could be attracted back into the region, then sub-saharan Africa's investment climate would be much brighter than it is presently.
This amount is said to be about one-third of the GDP of the region which is more than half the total debt owed by the region
Nigerian Post Express Newspaper

Nigeria to launch space satellite next year

NIGERIA plans to launch its space science satellite in the year 2001, Minister of Science and Technology, Chief Ebitimi Banigo has announced.

Addressing the 7th meeting of the National Council for Science and Technology in Yola yesterday, Chief Banigo called on the private sector to dedicate a significant proportion of its resources to research development to help actualise the new policy thrust on science and technology being put together by the ministry.

He also urged scientists and technologists to collaborate with government in solving societal menaces through the development of necessary scientific and technological devices.

The era in which research and development projects commenced as theoretical concepts, meandered from one laboratory stage to other, only to finally end up in the archives is now over, he stressed, adding that for science and technology to play its key role or serving as a catalyst for social and cultural advancement, industrialisation and sustain ability of the human system in the country, "the supposed domain per excellence should begin to have value for the society which it serves."

He added that the only way to "give concrete expression to the services of science and technology is to make their products available in the shelves for commercialisation."

Chief Banigo regretted that many commercialisable research results were now "lying unused on the shelves of research institutes and tertiary institutions of learning which made people to ponder why the research results are not being commercialised."

Declaring the meeting open, Gov. Bonnie Haruna of Adamawa State urged the National Council for Science and Technology to use the state as its experimental base for the proposed space science satellite. Haruna urged science and technology experts in the country to work up to the challenge facing the country to ensure it assumes its rightful position among the comity of nations.

Vanguard Transmitted Thursday, December 16, 1999


NEPA for restructuring —IGE

THE National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) is to be restructured into 14 companies which are expected to be privatised over a period of 30 months.

This is part of the strategy to boost electricity supply in the country, according to Power and Steel Minister, Chief Bola Ige.

Chief Ige spoke at the first US-Africa Energy Conference in Tucson, USA, where he outlined to the international community, Nigeria’s vision of a strategic national power policy.

He said that the new national power policy was intended to create a new power trade and free market within the country that would also be promoted in West Africa.

Ige said that the Federal Government’s overall goal was to ensure that electricity served as the life-blood for Nigeria’s economic growth and national development.

Noting that the challenges of attaining the national goal were enormous, considering the current poor state of Nigeria’s power system, the minister, however, stressed that the government had the political will to pursue it.

He characterised the social problems associated with carrying out reforms in the power sector as general inertia of operators in the sector, corruption and fraud, the culture of not paying tariffs, the notion that electricity is a social service, vandalisation of installed equipment and insufficiency of well-trained manpower in critical areas.

Under such a given scenario, he said that the government was deregulating the power sector and encouraging private investors to participate in power generation, transmission and distribution as well as creating an enabling environment and a transparent regulatory framework to usher in free power trade in the coming millennium.

He said that the restructuring of NEPA would be done quickly and efficiently without impairing the services being provided or negatively affecting staff morale.

The 14 companies resulting from the restructuring of NEPA, he said, would comprise three generation companies, one transmission company, one common services company and at least nine distribution companies.

Ige announced government’s plan to provide electricity to 586 communities in the next two years, explaining that by February, 106 of these communities would have been served with electricity.

"The overall target of government is to ensure that 50 per cent of the Nigerian population have access to electricity in the next four years," he said. The minister also announced that government intended to create electricity infrastructure to improve the transmission grid system and build inter-state gas pipeline network.

He noted that government’s policy of encouraging private participation in the sector recently resulted in the signing of power purchase agreement with Enron Inc of Houston, US.

Under the agreement, the minister said that the company would provide an emergency diesel-fuelled, barge-operated 90 megawatts (mw) of power in Lagos for the first 15 months and subsequently provide a permanent land-based gas-fuelled 540-mw supply, also in Lagos.

Vanguard Transmitted Thursday, December 16, 1999

Thursday, 16 December 1999

Ige in U.S., explains govt power policy

MEASURES by the Federal Government to boost electricity supply in the country were yesterday outlined to the international community by Power and Steel Minister, Chief Bola Ige.

Ige told participants at the first U.S-Africa Energy Conference which opened in Tucson, United States on Monday of government's vision of a strategic national power policy which include the deregulation of the sector, restructuring of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) into 14 companies and subsequent privatisation of the resulting entities within 20-30 months.

The new national power policy, according to him, intended to create a new power trade and free market within the country that would also be promoted in West Africa. He said government's overall goal was to ensure that electricity served as the life-blood for Nigeria's economic growth and national development.

Noting that the challenges of attaining the national goal were enormous, considering the current poor state of the country's power system, the minister, however, stressed that the government had the political will to pursue it.

He listed the social problems associated with carrying out reforms in the power sector as corruption and fraud, the culture of not paying tariffs, the notion that electricity is a social service, vandalisation of installed equipment and insurrection of well-trained manpower in critical areas.

Under such a given scenario, he said the government was deregulating the power sector and encouraging private investors to participate in power generation, transmission and distribution as well as creating an enabling environment and a transparent regulatory framework to usher in free power trade in the coming millennium.

NEPA's restructuring, according to him, would be done quickly and efficiently without impairing the services being provided or negatively affecting staff morale.

The 14 companies resulting from the restructuring of NEPA, he said, would comprise three generation companies, one transmission company, one common services company and at least nine distribution companies.

Ige announced the government's plan to provide electricity to 586 communities in the next two years, explaining that by February, 106 of these communities would have been served with electricity.

The overall target of the government is to ensure that 50 per cent of the Nigerian population have access to electricity in the next four years, he said.

While announcing government's intention to create electricity infrastructure, to improve the transmission grid system and build inter-state gas pipeline network, he noted that the government's policy of encouraging private participation in the sector recently resulted in the signing of power purchase agreement with Neuron Inc. of Houston, U. S.

Under the agreement, the minister said the company would provide an emergency diesel-fuelled, barge-operated 90 megawatts (MW) of power in Lagos for the first 15 months and subsequently provide a permanent land-based gas-fuelled 540 MW supply, also in Lagos.

Besides, he said, three other power projects were now pending, including one for a 340 MW power supply for Bonny by Mobil, a 700 MW project in Abuja by Asea Brown Boveri and a North-South gas pipeline network by Texaco Nigeria Plc.

Noting that the problems of the power sector were common to African countries, Ige suggested that a collective approach be adopted in the search for solutions, with each country tailoring generalised solutions to fit its own environment.

He proposed the establishment of an open power market initiative in Africa or an appropriate forum where different governments would regularly exchange ideas and share ideas on implementation of strategies among African countries or with international bodies and development nations.

Africa, the minister said, would need significant attention in the areas of power policy formation, restructuring existing state-owned agencies for privatisation and programmes for procurement, inventory and revenue management.

Besides, he said Africa would also need support in the areas of developing a regulatory framework for derogated power sector, guidelines for independent power projects, tariff, structure management for power trade and training of manpower.

It is expected that African ministers attending the conference will resolve to create a forum to meet regularly to discuss regional energy issues.



Thursday, 16 December 1999

Ebonyi to prosecute parents of children not in school

DETERMINED to ensure that all children in Ebonyi State benefit from its free education programme, the state government has threatened to prosecute parents whose wards are caught hawking instead of being in school.

Governor Sam Egwu who stated this during a visit to Onicha Local Council, said that as soon as the House of Assembly passed the Free Education Bill, the State Task Force on School Discipline would be empowered to arrest such offending children and their parents.

He explained that the human and material efforts of the government would be wasted if those targeted for free primary and secondary education refuses to take advantage of it.

The governor, however, regretted that children constituted the bulk of hawkers in urban towns in the country, counselling parents to "arrest" them when they returned for Christmas and send them to school.

Governor Egwu stated that the task force on school discipline would, if need be, travel to all urban cities in the country to fish out under-age indigenes of the state hawking in such cities and send them to school.

He commended the chairman of Onicha Local Government and his councillors for their tremendous efforts at improving the living standard of the people, also admonishing the citizens to support them so that they would do more.

Speaking in Lagos, yesterday, at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos, during the presentation of Marketing Management: Practical Approach written by Ogba Ike Elechi, he said his government had deliberately introduced free education at the primary and secondary school levels to lure young people back to school.

Lamenting that the state is the most educationally disadvantaged in the core east, as most Igbo youths on the streets of Lagos are those that could not go to school and so came to Lagos as servants or hawkers to earn a living.

Egwu, who was represented by his Lagos State Laison Officer, Mr. Barry Oko, told Igbo youths to appreciate education.


Thursday, 16 December 1999

U.S. to help resolve Niger Delta crises

THE United States government is ready to help Nigeria in resolving the Niger Delta crises, according to its Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Mrs. Susan Rice.

She stated this in an address to the first U.S-Africa Energy Ministers Conference in Tucson, U.S. on Tuesday, saying Nigeria's return to democracy was a boost to the continent's prospects.

She also stated that there was no substitute for the President Olusegun Obasanjo's current initiative in dealing with the Niger Delta problems.

She identified persistent conflicts in the continent as one of the major problems it should confront as it progressed in democratisation and economic reforms.

Political conflicts, she said, were not just disrupting the lives of the people but also scaring investors away, adding that while the U.S. government was ready to assist in the resolution of these conflicts, it was for Africa to decide either for peace or for war.

Asides conflicts, Rice said the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa posed the greatest threat to its security and potential prosperity.

But even then, progress made in Uganda and Senegal in reducing the incidence through the promotion of grassroots awareness, demonstrated that something could be done about the problem, she added.

She called for greater efforts in tackling the pandemic, including removing the stigma associated with it, increasing public awareness and providing affordable treatment for victims.

Rice praised the political and economic reforms that many African countries were undertaking, saying that such efforts were bound to open doors for private business.

Africa, she said, had become an important supplier of energy to the U.S., having supplied about 1.3 million barrels of oil per day to the U.S. in 1998.

More than that, she said the U.S. would be looking more and more to Africa for its supply of natural gas whose demand in the U.S. would increase by more than 60 per cent by 2015.

Nigeria is represented at the conference by Power and Steel Minister Chief Bola Ige.



Thursday, 16 December 1999

Obasanjo woos German investors

IMPEDIMENTS and obstructive policies to investment and privatisation would be cleared to ensure untrammelled enterprise to international interests, President Olusegun Obasanjo said yesterday.

Giving this assurance in Stuttgart, Germany, after an extensive tour of Daimler-Chrysler Company, manufacturers of Mercedes Benz vehicles, President Obasanjo announced that the Anambra Motor Manufacturing Company (ANAMMCO) would be privatised.

He said the motor company could be developed to the highest standard as obtained in Stuttgart in collaboration with Daimler-Chrysler.

The President noted that Nigeria had a lot to benefit from its association with the company in terms of additional job opportunities, development of industries and strengthening of the economy.

Earlier, the authorities of Daimler-Chrysler announced that the company had granted six scholarships to Nigerians as part of efforts to strengthen relations between the two countries. Nigeria would become the headquarters for the production and distribution of Daimler-Chrysler buses and trucks.


Thursday, 16 December 1999

Switzerland promises to repatriate stolen $600m

From Emeka Nwankpa and Oghoghor Obayuwana, Abuja

THE Swiss Government has pledged to assist in the repatriation of $600 million out of an estimated $2.5 billion loot stashed in that country's banks by Nigeria's former public officials.

Vice President Atiku Abubakar disclosed this when an eight-man delegation from the United States, led by Under-secretary of State for Political Affairs, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, visited him on Tuesday in Abuja. He urged the U.S. government to go the extra mile and utilise its international clout to prevail on European countries to co-operate in Nigeria's effort to recover her stolen money.

He also called on U.S. to support and facilitate Nigeria's move for debt forgiveness in view of the severe debt over-hang which had been stalling infrastructural development in the country.

The vice president also canvassed more areas of co-operation and assistance from the U.S. by way of huge investment, technical aid, military training and facilities to be able to enhance the on-going restructuring of the Nigerian military.

He restated government's commitment to maintaining law and order in the country, and warned ethnic militants not to dare government or misconstrue its disposition towards dialogue as ineptitude and lack of courage to deal with the situation at hand.

He, however, pledged government's determination to ensure that the rule of law was upheld.

He appealed for understanding and appreciation of the Nigerian government's efforts in quelling the crises in the Niger Delta and Lagos, saying that the Federal Government would not be intimidated by gangsters and hoodlums disguised as tribal or local champions.

Abubakar assured the visitors that the Nigeria Police Force was currently being funded and equipped to contain and respond promptly and effectively to crisis.

Pickering, in response, commended Nigeria's democratisation efforts and said the steps taken so far were cheering and welcome, adding that although the on-going mo' administration were equally laudable, there was need for more practical steps to eliminate corruption in the country.

Stating that the U.S. was committed to working closely with Nigeria to enhance its economic recovery, he said: We are increasingly focusing on Nigeria and we would even triple and quadruple our level of assistance to Nigeria in areas of investment and technical assistance.

The envoy urged the government to step up efforts aimed at addressing some lingering social strifes in some parts of the country. He also stressed the need for further exploration of areas of dialogue to address the issue of infrastructural provision with a view to assuaging the hostilities of the Niger Delta people.

Pickering also praised Nigeria's peace initiative in the African sub-regional and continental flash points and pledged U.S. military co-operation towards reforming and equipping the Nigerian Army.

He further called for more commitment in curbing drug trafficking and extradition of drug culprits. This, he said, would convince the U.S. Congress about the seriousness of the Nigerian authorities in ridding the country of narcotics.

He also said his country was looking into the report of its team which came to assess the state of readiness of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport for the purpose of restoring air links between the two countries.

The special envoy billed to meet with President Olusegun Obasanjo in Germany, later in the week, however, said before leaving for Angola that much remained to be done to improve the lives of the ordinary Nigerians despite commendable strides made so far by the government.

Speaking with the delegation, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Chief Dubem Onyia, said the only way democracy could be sustained and its dividend felt by Nigerians was through continued assistance from friends like U.S.

He explained that the present administration had started the fight against corruption from the top, adding: We are trying to consolidate our democracy by putting in place policies that touch the lives of the people.

Chief Onyia re-emphasised the need for the international community to give Nigeria a breathing space to stabilise its fragile democracy before mounting pressure for debt settlement.


Thursday, 16 December 1999

 Govt sacks 18 varsity boards

NUC for overhaul, vice-chancellors to go

From Emeka Nwankpa, Abuja

SWEEPING reforms were yesterday effected by the government in the university system. Eighteen of the 24 governing councils of federal universities were dissolved, while some vice-chancellors and other key institutional officers are to be removed.

A reconstitution of the National Universities Commission (NUC) was also approved by the Federal Executive Council at its weekly meeting at the State House, Abuja, presided over yesterday by Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. President Olusegun Obasanjo is currently on a four-day state visit to Germany.

Information Minister Dapo Sarumi, said after the meeting that the measures followed recommendations by visitation panels raised to probe activities of the universities.

He did not name the vice-chancellors to be removed. But he listed the 18 universities where governing councils were being dissolved as Othman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto; University of Calabar; Bayero University, Kano; Federal University of Technology, Akure; University of Jos; Federal University of Technology, Owerri; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria; University of Agriculture, Abeokuta; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Federal University of Technology, Yola and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.

Others are the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife; University of Ilorin; Abuja University; University of Lagos; University of Ibadan; University of Port Harcourt and Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike.

Chief Sarumi said: The council considered the over two decades of relative obsolescence, obscurity and general frustration in the universities, and noted that this gave rise to the constitution of 24 visitation panels to the universities.

Before this, the last time any of the universities had a visitation was 15 years ago. After an extensive review of the report of the panel set up to collate the reports of the visitation panels, the council decided that the governing councils of 18 of the universities be dissolved immediately.

The minister added that in the composition of new governing councils for the universities, the FEC noted that due consideration should be given to granting the universities autonomy as much as desirable.

He also said: Based on the conclusions and findings of the visitation panels, council also decided that some of the vice-chancellors and key officials of some of the universities must go.

According to him, the council also approved the creation of a monitoring unit in the Federal Ministry of Education to ensure full implementation of the white paper on reports of the visitation panels.

Anther revelation from yesterday's meeting is the setting aside of N11 billion to urgently reclaim forest areas nationwide.

The project, Sarumi said, would cover the reforestation of various climatic zones, including the semi-arid, guinea savannah, derived savannah, lowland and rain forest, as well as freshwater mangrove.

States to benefit from Zone One of the project where the soil are expected to be stabilised are Bauchi, Adamawa, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara; while those to benefit from Zone Two are Kwara, Kaduna, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Taraba and the Federal Capital Territory.

Benue, Ebonyi, Enugu, Kogi, Kwara, Osun and Oyo states are to be covered under Zone Three; while Abia, Anambra, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Ogun, Ondo and Imo states would be covered under the lowland rainfall zone where, due to exploitation of timber, there has been gully erosion.

The last zone which lies within the oil-producing and coastal belt of the country covers Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Lagos and Rivers states.



Obasanjo Unfolds Foreign Policy Thrust
by Josiah Emerole, Abuja

AS the world approaches dawn of the 21st century, Nigeria's foreign policy will shift from Africa to a more global perspective, President Olusegun Obasanjo has said.
One of the first things Nigeria would do in refocussing its foreign policy is to facilitate the enactment of national laws and regulations to prevent stolen public funds from being lodged and protected in foreign banks.
President Obasanjo disclosed these Saturday night in Abuja in an address delivered at the annual patrons Dinners of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA). He was represented by Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
He however, explained that Africa will continue to be the primary theatre of the nation's foreign policy because of the hope which African countries respose on Nigeria.
This administration endorses the universal values of the contemporary globalisation process, which are development, human security equity, ethics, inclusion, and sustainability. Over foreign policy would, therefore, now be guided by a more global orientation which takes the entire globe, not just Africa, as the canvass of its exertions," he stated.
Adding further he said, "the immediate concern of our diplomacy is with the revitalization of our economy, with emphasis on the restoration of the international image of this great country, reaffirming the confidence which our friends had in us, attracting responsible and efficient foreign investments, addressing the problems of the debt burden and capital flight and strengthening regional integrative relations."
This overriding and permanent aim of the nation's foreign policy, the president said is to project and safeguard the national interest, adding that the shift is aimed at making Nigeria's policy apparatus virtually more pro-active in orientation rather than reactive.
He lamented that despite globalisation, the historical contradictions between the developed and developing countries have persisted as the overall gap between them kept on widening."
He however called for the strengthening of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to enable it achieve the renaissance which it needs, urging African leaders to stand by their recent resolve to reject future military incursions into governance anywhere in the world including Pakistan.
He also called for the decentralisation and reforms at the global levels of institution such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as the only way of making them more responsive and representative.
"We must restate our behalf that there is need for the expansion of the permanent membership of the UN Security Council to reflect the current broader geographical representation within the global body. And we call for at least two permanent seats for Africa, with full veto powers in an enlarged Security Council," he said.
In addition, he said," as we prepare to enter the new millennium, I am confident to say that this great country, Nigeria, is ready to resume its historic role of championing the aspirations and hopes of Africa, a continent that has long been relegated to the periphery of global affairs. We insist that globalisation be made to work for people not just for profits.
"Thus, in the 21st century we will struggle for a globalised world where there would be less poverty and deprivation, less marginalisation of peoples and countries, less disparity within and between nations, less violation of human rights, less instability of societies, and less environmental degradation."
On looted funds, the president welcomed the support which his administration has received from some sections of the world to ensure the recovery of Nigeria's funds siphoned out and lodged in foreign banks by corrupt individuals.
He called for an international convention on the recovery of the funds, adding that his administration is working towards facilitating the enactment of national laws and regulations to prevent stolen public funds from being lodged and protected in foreign banks.
"I would want to assure you that the recovered monies would be judiciously used for the development of the country including alleviation of the devastating poverty ravaging our people," he assured.
He stressed that the country may offer an ideal environment for the domiciliation of foreign capital with a bulmark of the administration's commitment to the rule of law, sanctity of contracts, human rights, democractic order, transparency and anti-corruption."
But continuing his call to the international communities for debt relief, Obasanjo said that debt relief was the only way the developed country can help the poor democracies to survive as the debt overhang is too heavy and poses a serious threat to the survival of democracy especially in Nigeria.
On his administrations part, he said it was committed to maintaining and nurturing the mechanisms essential for consolidating democracy and human rights.
"We must return to the true spirit of federalism in which equity, fairness and justice must become sacred principles. In particular, we need to uncover human rights abuses of the past in order to learn the right lessons, to comfort the injured and to promote national reconciliation," he further added.
Nigerian Post Express Newspaper


Tuesday, 14 December 1999W


By Kayode Matthew, Ise-Oluwa Ige & Ifeoma Okologume

THE trial of Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late Gen. Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, Abacha’s son, Mohammed and two others for the alleged murder of late Mrs. Kudirat Abiola yesterday took a dramatic turn with the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Christopher Segun terminating his handling of the case.

His withdrawal followed allegations by counsel to the accused that he was likely to be biased.

Mohammed Abacha’s counsel, Mr. J. B. Daudu had filed a motion praying the court for "an order that the court should decline forthwith from presiding over in any way the criminal proceedings in respect of the charge involving Mohammed Abacha."

The grounds upon which the application was brought are:

*At the hearing on December 8, 1999 the Chief Judge so conducted himself as to disclose an ineradicable bias against Mohammed Abacha and all other defendants.

*The Chief Judge so conducted himself giving the impression that a conclusion had already been reached by the court.

In a 10-paragraph affidavit in support deposed to by one Alhaji Mustapha Bulama, a member of the defence team, he averred that he was in court on December 8, 1999 when the case came up and witnessed what transpired.

He stated that on the day the defendants were brought into court and remained standing throughout proceedings.

"The leading counsel for Major Hamza Al-Mustapha and Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, (Mr. Clement Akpamgbo) made an oral application for the court to permit the defendants to sit while proceedings were going on.

"The Chief Judge refused to grant the said permission and stated in open court thus: No, No, you want me to allow criminals to sit down in my court, No!"

According to him, "the words used by the Chief Judge together with his attitude, gestures and expression clearly demonstrate bias against the defendants and show that the Chief Judge has already reached a decision as to the guilt of the accused persons before the trial commences."

At yesterday’s proceeding, Attorney-General of Lagos State and Commissioner for Justice, Prof. Yemi Osibajo who is leading the prosecution team suggested that the charge should first be read to the four accused persons and if they had any objection, this could be taken before the accused made their pleas.

Abacha’s counsel, Daudu did not object to this as he said "that is the position of the law. I agree that the charge could be read but the plea should not be taken."

Other defence counsel also agreed with this while at 10.10 a.m. all the four accused were asked by the court registrar if they understood English language when they all replied in the affirmative, the charge was then read to them.

A four-count charge of conspiracy, murder and accessory after the facts for the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola was preferred against them.

Addressing the court, Mr. Daudu prayed the court to strike out an earlier application he filed to attach the former charge brought by the state. He said since the state had abandoned the charge and filed a new one, he would also be substituting the application with a new one.

This was subsequently struck out by the court as there was no objection from other counsel.

Continuing, Mr. Daudu said "based on what transpired at the last adjourned date, I have instructions of my client to seek the transfer of this case. We shall be praying the court to decline presiding over this matter.

"The application was filed this morning and it explained the facts and circumstances. The court should see the application before proceeding with the matter.

"The court should therefore stand down the matter for an hour or two to enable the court look at our application."

Prof. Osibajo in his submission said "there is a delay in the matter because he (Daudu) chose to file this application this morning. The matter took place last Wednesday.

"To carry on in this matter this way is inimical to the administration of justice."

At this stage, Mr. Daudu suggested that the matter be adjourned till January in view of the Ramadan fast as it would be strains for them to be coming for the trial.

He contended that "the accused are facing a serious charge and the punishment is grievous. One day will not be sufficient as we shall need to attach further documents to our application.

"We are the one in custody, we are not complaining. So why the rush to proceed to trial?

In his response, Professor Osibajo said: "It is obvious that they want an adjournment by all means. We have just been served with the motions this morning but we are ready to go on.

"An adjournment till January will certainly be against due administration of justice. I urge a stand down of the matter for an hour or two or tomorrow.

"We are the ones who would be prejudiced because we have just been served now. A further adjournment of this matter is an attempt to delay the prosecution of the accused.

"In this particular case there is no need for record of proceedings. I therefore urge the court to stand down the matter for an hour."

Justice Segun granted the request of the prosecution and rose for one hour.

When the judge resumed at 12.05 p.m. after he had studied the motion ,asking him to hands off the matter he said openly: "I am not interested in this case. I don’t have any interest whatsoever in this case. I am a very busy person.

"To take this case is an additional responsibility. I shall therefore be withdrawing from the case. In a one sentence ruling, Justice Segun said "the case is hereby transferred to Court 13, and the matter is fixed for tomorrow (today)."

Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun presides over Court 13 at the Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High Court. But shortly after the ruling, human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana who had earlier announced his appearance in the matter on behalf of the children of the late Alhaja Abiola said the trial judge, Justice Christopher Segun acted well.

Said he: "I think the Chief Judge, Justice Christopher Segun has acted well and appropriately."

Dismissing speculations that the defence counsel might want the accused persons tried in the North, he said "under the Nigerian Criminal Law, every law student knows that an offence is triable where it is committed. Except the law is amended, no judge will concede to such a request."

Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, December 14, 1999

Date of Article: 12/14/99
Three Soldiers Killed, Two Wounded As Colleague Goes Berserk

Agency Report

A soldier on Thursday in Kadara Village, in Guri Local Government Area of Jigawa, shot and killed three of his colleagues, wounded two others in a scuffle, before killing himself, the News Agency of Nigerian (NAN) reports.
All the soldiers were said to be members of the state anti-crime outfit, "Operation Flush."
Eyewitness said the incident occurred when six members of the outfit, patrolling the area on Kadara Market day, engaged themselves in a shoot-out over money that was allegedly extorted from drivers on that day.
It was learnt that, at the end of the day's work, a misunderstanding arose among the soldiers, over the sharing of the "loot," which culminated in one of them going berserk.
The eyewitness said that after shooting his colleagues, the soldier set the operation's vehicle ablaze, and later shot himself to death.
It was further learnt that the bodies of the deceased had been taken to Kano, while the two wounded soldiers were first moved to Hadejia General Hospital for emergency treatment, before they were moved to Kano.
When contacted by phone, the Leader of the security outfit in the state, Captain A.M. Bolarinwa, described the incident as an "in-house affair.

Nigerian Post Express Newspaper

Tuesday, 14 December 1999W

Why I was attacked—Tinubu *Police confirm holding AD chieftain

By Kenneth Ehigiator, Emma Nnadozie, John Ighodaro, Chikodi Nwasah & Amaka Madu  

GOVERNOR Bola Tinubu of Lagos State yesterday gave a graphic account of the attack on him by bandits early Sunday, and why he was attacked. 

He attributed the attack to inadequate policemen in the state to protect the residents.

Leader of the Yoruba, Chief Abraham Adesanya, AD National Vice-Chairman (South-West), Senator Ayo Fasanmi, and Lagos lawyer, Chief Gani Fawehinmi have also spoken on the incident, while the police are holding at least two men, including an AD chieftain over the incident. 

Relating his experience to AD leaders who visited him in his office, Gov. Tinubu said:

"The incident, to me, was a frightening one, but why it happened I don’t know. I broke my fast about 8.00 p.m., I prayed until 9 O’clock. And after the normal Muslim prayers, I attended to my commissioners who were concerned about the water and waste problems in the state. 

"The last set of friends left me at 2.30 a.m. We were discussing water shortage, the refuse problem in Lagos and security. After deciding on water shortage, explaining to them and giving instructions on what to do on electricity, there was a switch to NEPA installations. So, we talked on the refuse. Well, I said I have been looking at refuse clearing every night. 

"I pay some visits to waste collection and disposal and make surprise inspections in the dead of the night. I do check along the line what the security patrol and Rapid Response Squad (RRS) are doing. Once in a while, I get into their net and then talk to the police. They are aware of my encouragements. 

"At 2.30 a.m., my last visitors left my house and at that time, I decided to try out my break at prayers at 3.00 a.m. and 3.30 a.m. I should go and just make the normal rounds of inspection, so I left at that time. 

"While getting out of the house, there was a suspicious Peugeot car parked close to NITEL, just as you get out of the road. So, I asked the driver to turn round and we made the round 360 degrees circle. Going back again, the driver had taken off; but that vehicle did not. We then drove to Ozumba Mbadiwe, Victoria Island, to check on the refuse in the area there at the beach and also do some checks on police patrol. 

"At that time, I had a little bit of cramp in my stomach, and I said well instead of continuing with the inspection, after the Obalende refuse depot inspection, I should go back home. As I was going home, we found that there was an ambush and a huge crowd, there were just two vehicles ahead of us and another crossing the road, with a danfo and a security car in front at the backside of Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS). 

"The mobile police attempted to clear the blockade, there was a crowd of people who tried to choke the policeman and dispossess him of his gun. They started firing in the air and from then on it was a drama of some sort. The securitymen were excellent. It was swift. They got me protected and in between the bandits fired at my vehicle. They dropped me back home and went back to the scene to rescue their mates who were left behind. That’s the story precisely." 

Gov. Tinubu confirmed that four of the bandits were killed by the securitymen, while five of them were arrested. 

He also confirmed that two of his securitymen were wounded, one seriously and that they were currently being treated in an undisclosed hospital. 

The governor could not, however, tell whether his attackers were armed robbers or members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), but was quick to state that some enemies of democracy in the country were hiding under the cover of the OPC to destabilise the country. 

"If it is OPC, what were they doing there at that time of the night, armed with axes, guns and other dangerous weapons?" Tinubu queried. 

The governor, who said he expected the incident because of the inadequate number of policemen in the state asked the Federal Government to urgently allow him to recruit additional 20,000 policemen to protect lives and property in Lagos State. 

Policemen so recruited he added, would still be under the command of the Federal Government, but would take orders from him, while the cost of maintaining and equipping them would be borne by the state. 

"I will continue to put pressures on the Federal Government in Abuja until they yield to our call," he said. 

He also spoke about encouraging and strengthening the Neighbourhood Watch and vigilante groups to complement the efforts of the police in the interim, while permanent solution to the problem would be for the Federal Government to urgently solve the economic problems in the country. 

Asked whether the attack was the handiwork of his political enemies, considering the assassination of the Deputy Chairman of Shomolu Local Government Area and his son, Gov. Tinubu said: "I don’t see it coming from enemies. To suspect that may lead to self-destruction and psychological problem. I would say they are enemies of democracy, enemies of progress." 

The entourage, led by Afenifere Leader, Senator Abraham Adesanya, included Baba Omojola, Pa Solanke Onasanya, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Ayo Opadokun, Alhaji Ganiyu Dawodu, Mr. Ojekunle Ferreira and Chief Olanihun Ajayi. 

*Police quiz AD chief  

The police are already interrogating an Alliance for Democracy (AD) chieftain in the state and another man who claimed to be a member of OPC (names withheld) over the attack on Gov. Tinubu. 

Although Lagos State Police boss, Mr. Mike Okiro confirmed only the arrest of the alleged OPC member whose identity he did not disclose, a source said the AD chieftain was arrested in the early hours of yesterday and taken to the police headquarters in Ikeja for interrogation. 

It was gathered that their arrests followed confessions made by the five men arrested at the spot of the attack on the governor. 

The state police boss who first denied the arrest of anybody over the incident later confirmed that only a top member of OPC had been picked up. 

"Those we have arrested so far confessed that they were members of OPC. They said that they were about 66 in number and were drafted to the scene after being told that they were going to fight armed robbers. 

"They said that when they sighted the governor’s entourage, they were ordered to attack and they blocked the main road with their buses. We are yet to establish the motive for the attack and insinuations making the round that the attackers came from Ajegunle are not true. 

"We are also not carrying out any mop-up exercise to fish out the rest of the attackers. We cannot hastily go into conclusion either, until we conclude investigations.  

"After our investigations, if anybody is indicted, we will not hesitate to allow the due processes of law to take its course. 

"The attack on Gov. Tinubu is not strange in the country. Ministers and governors have been attacked in the past. Individuals have also been attacked. There is nothing strange. The only thing was that he was able to avert the attack with the security around him. Lagosians should not express any fear because of the attack. 

"We have, however, beefed up security in the governor’s entourage. In fact, the security around him before the attack was good if not something drastic would have happened. My advice to Lagosians is that we should be careful about security. Know when you move out and avoid things that will make you susceptible to attacks." 

On the brutal murder of Vice-Chairman of Somolu Local Government and his son last Saturday, Mr. Okiro said, "we have not made any arrest yet. We are still looking at possibilities." 

*Adesanya reacts  

Leader of the Yoruba, Chief Adesanya reacting, yesterday, to the attack on Gov. Tinubu said the brains behind it were enemies of democracy. 

Senator Adesanya, who spoke in the Governor’s Office when chieftains of AD paid the governor a solidarity visit, said the attackers were merely using the name of OPC.  

"Some people are doing this hiding behind OPC. This was how they started during the regime of Gen. Sani Abacha when they started using the name of NADECO to cover up for whatever evil they were perpetrating in the country," Senator Adesanya said. 

He warned Nigerians to be vigilant because according to him, "we are gradually slipping back to the era of Abacha. We shouldn’t go back to the era of Abacha, but it seems we are going back to that era now in the name of OPC." 

Senator Adesanya wondered why the Federal Government was not allowing states to raise their own police, adding that if that were the case, the attack on Gov. Tinubu would not have happened. 

Adesanya challenged the Federal Government to guarantee lives and property in the country, especially Lagos State because of its status as the commercial nerve-centre of the country. 

*Gani too... 

Lagos lawyer, Chief Fawehinmi in his reaction said, "the reported attack on Gov. Tinubu of Lagos State yesterday, Sunday, December 12, 1999 at 3.30 a.m at Race Course area of Lagos State must be thoroughly investigated by the Inspector-General of Police and the State Security Services (SSS). 

"It is curious that Gov. Tinubu was alleged to have been attacked at 3.30 a.m. and four of the attackers were reported to have been killed and five others held. Some newspapers, described the attackers as members of OPC, while others described them as armed robbers. 

"Unless a thorough investigation is conducted by independent bodies like the police and the SSS to ascertain the true facts of the attack, the propagandist machinery of Lagos State government may engineer false rumours and innuendoes, reminiscent of the organised burning of the German Parliament in 1933 by Hitler and his agents. Thereafter, Hitler used the occasion to clamp down on his opponents: the Communists, the Jews, the Gypsies and others, many of whom were lied against and assassinated by agents of Hitler.  

"It is in the light of this that I demand that the Nigerian people must know the whole truth and nothing but the truth of the attack at an unusual time of 3.30 a.m because since the 29th of August, 1999 when the news of Tinubu’s scandal broke out till date, so many unusual events have been taking place in Lagos State including five communal clashes which have claimed more than 200 lives. 

"We want the truth of the Tinubu attack."


*And Fasanmi  

Similarly, the National Vice-Chairman of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in the South-West zone, Chief Ayo Fasanmi condemned Sunday’s attack on Gov. Bola Tinubu describing it as "most unfortunate." 

Senator Ayo Fasanmi in a statement in Osogbo stated that "the news of gunmen attack on Gov. Bola Tinubu has come to me with a very rude shock. It is most unfortunate.  

"Most importantly, I thank God for sparing the life of the governor from the machination of evil doers in the garb of mischievous militants." 

The AD, he said, was opposed to violence in all its ramifications, stressing that "those who live by the sword will always perish by the word." 

Meanwhile, the Lagos State House of Assembly yesterday sent an SOS message to President Olusegun Obasanjo, asking him to grant special concession to the state on the issue of security. 

In a motion sponsored by Dr. Adewale Ahmed, he noted that the "house do call on Obasanjo to urgently address the issue of security in the state by way of granting special concession to the state on the issue of security." 

Many members of the house were concerned about the rising crime wave in the state, which they said was shocking. 

According to Mr. Ola Animashaun, "one is not safe. Even in the house you stay, one is not safe. If the governor with all his siren and security outfit is attacked by armed robbers, then who is safe in Nigeria and Lagos." 

Mr. Farouk Oshodi declared that "there is no doubt that Lagos is under siege. Lagos State more than ever before needs its own state police. If Gov. Bola Tinubu should be attacked who else is safe."

Vanguard Transmitted Tuesday, December 14, 1999


Tuesday, 14 December 1999

 Esso finds another oil field in Lagos!

By Tajudeen Adigun, Energy Editor

A MAJOR oil and gas yielding field has been discovered in Lagos State, boosting the state's profile in crude petroleum resources.

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) yesterday announced the discovery of the field, {Erha}, south-east of the metropolis. Located 165 kilometres offshore in the deep water oil block, Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 209, the field was discovered by Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited Ů an affiliate of American multinational, Exxon Mobil Corporation.

It is the second of such find in Lagos State. An indigenous oil prospecting company, Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum Company Limited, had discovered a field, {Aje}, offshore Badagry town in 1996.

In announcing the latest discovery, the DPR did not state its precise location. But industry operatives have said it is located offshore the fishing town of Epe.

A statement yesterday by Mrs. Belema Osibodu for the DPR, petroleum industry’s regulatory organ, indicated that two wells were drilled on the oil field by Esso. {Erha-1} is the discovery well drilled by Esso between December 1998 and February, this year. {Erha-2} was drilled last September by Esso to appraise the field for more oil and gas deposits.

Yesterday's statement by the DPR reads: Exxon Mobil Corporation today announced that its affiliate, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited, has confirmed a major deepwater oil and gas discovery in Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation's Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 209, approximately 100 miles (165 kilometres south-east of Lagos.

The discovery well, named {Erha-1}, was drilled from December 1998 to February 1999. The appraisal well, {Erha-2}, was spudded in 3,860 feet (1,180 meters) of water on September 9 and drilled to a total depth of 12,287 feet (3,745 metres). It encountered an oil bearing reservoir that flowed at a rate of 2,800 barrels per day from the test interval.

The OPL, according to Osibodu, is being operated by Esso in partnership with Royal Dutch Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCO) under a production sharing contract (PSC) with the NNPC. Esso holds 56.25 per cent participating interest in the venture while SNEPCO has a stake of 43.75 per cent.

Under the PSC, the partners bear the full pre-production cost of the venture, but share proceeds from the output with NNPC on agreed terms. A part of the proceeds will, however, be dedicated over a specific period to service NNPC's share of the pre-production and operational costs.

Although there are no fewer than 15 oil blocks on-shore and off-shore Lagos State, the discovery of {Aje} oil field by Yinka Folawiyo was the first major indication of the state's hydrocarbon potential.

Yinka Folawiyo and its Canadian partner, Liberty Technical Services, against geological prediction discovered {Aje} in crude oil multiple pay reservoirs. That discovery, the first in the Nigerian sector of the Benin basin straddling Nigeria and Benin Republic, was in the company's OPL 309.

Some nine other local and multinational companies are actively exploring the area for petroleum resources. Such companies and their OPLs include Alfred James Petroleum, OPL 302; Optimum Petroleum, OPL 310; McBel Nigeria Limited, OPL 301; General Oil, OPL 304; Sunlink Petroleum, OPL 311; Dynamic Petroleum, OPL 315 and Devine Oil Company, OPL 312.


Tuesday, 14 December 1999

 Tinubu confirms attack, renews call for state police

By David Ogah, Lekan Sanni, and Sylvester Ebhodaghe, Lagos

GOVERNOR Bola Ahmed Tinubu has confirmed Sunday's attack on his convoy by bandits during an early morning routine patrol, describing the experience as frightening.

He spoke yesterday as the state House of Assembly in reaction to the attack, passed a resolution urging the presidency to provide additional security for the state, while the police confirmed the arrest of two prominent persons in connection with the incident.

Tinubu recounted his ordeal while receiving leaders of the Afenifere and Alliance for Democracy (AD), who were on a sympathy visit to him. They included Chief Abraham Adesanya, Ayo Adebanjo, Ayo Opadokun, Pa Solanke Onasanya, Ganiyu Dawodu, Olanihun Ajayi, Baba Omojola, Ojekunle Ferreira and the Deputy-Governor, Kofo Bucknor-Akerele.

The governor said the attack reinforced his position that the state needed at least 20,000 additional policemen to adequately safeguard lives and property.

Narrating the encounter, Tinubu said it occurred as he toured the metropolis, monitoring refuse clearance by members of the Lagos State Waste Management Agency (LAWMA) and the performance of the state security task force, Rapid Response Squad (RRS).

He said: The incident to me was a frightening one but it happened; but I don't know why. As I was returning home from Obalende, I found that there was an ambush and a huge crowd, two vehicles ahead of us, another one crossing the road, a Danfo bus and the security car in front. The mobile police attempted to clear them.

There was a surge of people who wanted to choke the policeman and dispossess him of the gun. They started firing in the air and from there on, it was drama. But the security boys were excellent, very excellent.

It was swift, they got me protected and in between they fired at my vehicle. I heard just gun shots. They (security) dropped me back (at home) and went to rescue their mates who were left behind. That's the story precisely.

The governor said he went on the tour because the previous evening, after breaking his fast and praying, he had held discussions with his commissioners on the refuse situation in the state, as well as water scarcity and security.

According to him, the commissioners expressed concern over these issues while his last guest left at about 2.30 a.m. He, thereafter, decided to go out. Tinubu went on: While getting out of the house, there was a suspicious Peugeot car parked close to NITEL, just as you get out to the road. So I asked the driver to come round and we made the rounds 300 degrees circle.

Going back again (to the spot), the driver had taken off. That vehicle was not there any longer. That eliminated the fear of whether it was on reconnaisance or not.

He said, he then decided to proceed on his trip.

His first port of call was Ozumba Mbadiwe Street to check its refuse situation.

There, he developed “cramp in the stomach” and decided to go back home after inspecting the Obalende refuse depot.

The governor said he could not tell whether the attackers were members of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), but held that anybody possessing dangerous weapons at that hour must be armed robbers.

According to him, the bandits blocked all the roads in the vicinity, including the one leading to NITEL and Broad Street with vehicles.

He also said he could not link the attack to political enemies, adding: “There are lots of trials going on in the state which call for additional security and alert to the leadership of the state.”

“There is inadequate protection of lives and property of the people. Even if it is OPC, what were they doing at that point with weapons?

“I don’t want to do any classification until thorough investigation is carried out, but they were in possession of various weapons. About seven of them were apprehended later, who made confessional statements in the hospital.”

He said two of his security aides were injured, one of them seriously. “My car was shot at with bullet pellet. They (bullets) penetrated the car but we thank God,” he remarked, reiterating his call for the drafting of additional policemen to the state.

He said: “If the Federal Government is wise and wants to wake up to its responsibility, then it should give us the room to train and develop 20,000 police(men). If this is going to be cumbersome, we are going to place these 20,000 under the federal police but they are going to be dedicated to our state, they will take their orders from the state governor who is the chief security officer of the state. That is the spirit of federalism and the true spirit of the constitution itself.”

Adesanya who responded on behalf of the team, said what happened during the rule of the late Gen. Abacha when every bad thing that happened in the country was attributed to the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) was being repeated in the country.

He said: “Anything that happens now is attributed to OPC. I personally believe that some people are doing this, giving OPC a bad name to hang it. They have their own secret agenda and that is what they are doing.”

He, however, agreed that if OPC members are found to have been involved, they must face the music.”

Adesanya urged the federal government to do something about the security situation in the state and not lay every problem at the doorstep of the OPC.

He also supported the call for a regional police force, to ensure their effective protection of lives and property.

The state assembly, also yesterday, urged the Federal Government to expedite action on the security problem by granting Lagos special concessions.

The members deplored the attack on Tinubu and its security implication, with some of them calling for the imposition of a curfew.

Majority Leader Farouk Oshodi (Oshodi/Isolo I) said the state was under siege and the security situation terrible.

Lagos, he said, should have its own police force, while curfew should be imposed on the entire state.

This was supported by Wasiu Eshinlokun Sanni who also urged the assembly to pass a bill for the establishment of its own police force, as Zamfara State Assembly did on the Sharia.

The police have, however, confirmed the arrest of a chieftain of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) and another top member of the OPC over the attack.

The arrest, {The Guardian} learnt, followed the confession of five members of the gang arrested during the shoot-out with the police. This brings the total number of arrested suspects to seven.

The state police commissioner, Mike Okiro, confirmed the arrest and pledged to unravel the gruesome murder of Shomolu Local Government Vice Chairman, Mr Aderemi Badejo Okusanya, also at the weekend.

On the latter’s murder, he said: “It is, no doubt, a case of assassination because nothing was taken from him. They just shot him and his son and then fled.”

Those arrested over the attack on Tinubu have been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Panti, Yaba, he added.

He also gave assurance of police resolve to protect lives and property but urged the public to also be security-conscious


Tuesday, 14 December 1999


Bodies of slain policemen in Odi found

From Joseph Ollor Obari, Port Harcourt

THE bodies of seven policemen killed by some youths in Odi, Bayelsa State, which triggered government's deployment of troops to the community, were yesterday received and deposited at the Federal Medical Centre mortuary, Yenagoa, the state capital.

A mortuary attendant at the hospital told {The Guardian} that the bodies were brought in at about 2 pm by a team of security operatives who had spent several days searching for them.

Chief Superintendents of Police (CSP) Thomas Jokotola, Robinson Obaze, Mr. George Nwine, a DSP, Sergeant Emmanuel Bako, Cpl Ayuba Silas, Cpl Shaibu Zamayi and Elias Bitrus were killed on November 4 by youths demanding fairer treatment from an oil company sited in their community. Soldiers deployed to fish out the culprits however unleashed mayhem on the town, resulting in its destruction.

Confirming the recovery, police spokesman Mr. Nyanaba Agbozi, told {The Guardian}: We recovered the seven corpses intact; the first seven that were killed. The doctor was there to look at the bodies and you can still know them by faces, by hair and by body.

He said that the state police commissioner would address the press today on the development.

Hospital sources said the bodies were exhumed from a common grave.

It was also learnt that because the mortuary was filled to the brim at the time the bodies were brought, they were provided temporary spaces while awaiting autopsy.

They were arranged in two rows. The first took the first four according to their ranks, while the second took the other three, the source added.

Within one week of the killing of the policemen, five others were also killed in the council area.

A police account has it that the officers were in Odi to verify the safety of men at the town's police station, when they were rounded up by the rampaging youths. There had also earlier been a report that the police post was razed on November 2, prompting the fact finding mission.

President Olusegun Obasanjo on November 12 gave Governor Dipreye Alamieyeseigha a two-week ultimatum to apprehend the killers failing which a state of emergency would be imposed on the state.

Ahead of the ultimatum's expiration, the governor on November 20 deployed soldiers to the community who in carrying out the assignment unleashed mayhem and are reported to have razed down the entire community.



Monday, 13 December 1999

Nigerians' fundamental rights will be protected, says Atiku

From Emeka Nwankpa,


VICE-President Atiku Abubakar restated at the weekend the government's readiness to respect the fundamental human rights of Nigerians

He spoke while receiving a delegation of the National Human Rights Commission, led by its Chairman, Justice Paul Nwokedi.

He assured the delegation that the administration would not do anything capable of infringing on the rights of the citizenry.

Pledging government's continued support for the commission's activities, the vice president described it as a necessary instrument in the preservation of citizens' rights.

According to him: "This government is a product of human rights struggle and we are conscious of this fact; hence one of our first acts was to set up a panel to investigate human rights abuses of the past."

Nwokedi had earlier called for increased funding of the commission and a review of its enabling acts, to strengthen it by removing it from the supervision of the executive to that of the legislative arm.

He said that unlawful detention of citizens by security agents had abated in the last few months in the country.

In a speech to mark the human rights day, Nwokedi said the development was one of the gains of democracy.

He noted that some policemen were still arresting and detaining people illegally, adding however, that investigations had shown that the culprits were acting on their own.

He deplored a situation where security personnel who violated the rights of citizens were not reprimanded by the government, saying it usually gave the impression that it condoned the action.

He said it was a thing of joy that there was currently a decline in cases of human rights violation in the country.

"I am happy that the mental siege has been lifted," he said, adding that conferences, seminars and workshops were no longer being routinely disrupted by security agents.



Monday, 13 December 1999

Jemibewon unveils five-year plan for police

From Kate Da Costa, Abuja

A five-year development plan that will address inadequacies in the police force, especially the poor numerical strength and the decadence in the system, was unveiled at the weekend by Police Affairs Minister, Maj. Gen. David Jemibewon (rtd).

Under the arrangement, a three-phase plan comprising the short-term from January 2000, December 2001, medium-term from January 2002 to December 2003 and the long-term from January 2004 and beyond is being envisaged.

Ultimately, the goal of the plan is to ensure that by the year 2004, the entire workforce of the police will stand at 200,000 with a yearly recruitment of 25,000 men.

Conversely, undesirable elements in the organisation will be shed off for the next five years through the retrenchment and retirement of about 10,000 officers.

Major Gen. Jemibewon disclosed this in Abuja at the weekend during a ministerial press briefing.

He attributed the near-comatose condition of the force to systematic destruction saying something drastic would have to be done to shore up its image and restore confidence of the public in it.

He said: "The Nigerian police force which was designed to serve as a civil force, has literally turned out to be an instrument of coercion rather than a legal means of societal control".

Acknowledging that the force had had to work in an inclement environment, he said: "The force has been operating with deficient logistics, unattractive welfare, inadequate manpower, inadequate funding, dilapidated barracks for officers and men, unfriendly society and a hostile local press".

This situation aptly gives the picture of the Nigeria Police Force, especially as at today. The Ministry of Police Affairs is therefore saddled with the onerous assignment of reforming the Nigeria Police Force, a daunting task which we pledge to positively address, notwithstanding the poor economic situation of the country," he promised.

He revealed that N2.5 billion had been provided for motorised vehicles, fitted with sophisticated equipment and deployed to Lagos and Abuja to check the increasing crime wave.


Monday, 13 December 1999

Privatisation: Journalists barred from parley

REPORTERS invited to cover discussions between the Federal Government and a World Bank team on privatisation of the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) were barred from the venue of the talks at the weekend in Abuja.

As soon as the talks opened, government officials who felt it was premature to allow reporters to witness the discussions, asked them to leave the venue.

The session, which was chaired by the Minister of State for Power and Steel, Alhaji Danjuma Goje, had in attendance the Permanent Secretary, Alhaji Abubakar Mamu, Managing Director of NEPA, Alhaji Bello Suleiman, and executive directors.

Others in attendance were the Director-General of the Bureau for Public Enterprises, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, and some officials of the ministry.


Monday, 13 December 1999

Nigeria to launch satellite in 2003!

From Sunny Igboanugo, Enugu

NIGERIA will in 2003, launch its own satellite into space, Science and Technology Minister, Chief Ebitimi Banigo has said.

The ministry is currently identifying key partners in the private sector to work with in the national computer technology programme to get the project on stream.

Bamigo, at the Y2K computer national awareness campaign in Calabar, Cross River State believes that the success of the space programme would improve "our communication and information system".

The minister who noted that Cross River State ranks top among the few states that are ready to tackle the millennium bug crisis, warned that failure to tackle the problem, would get the country's bid for technology break-through in the next century backward.

Urging concerted effort at stemming the problem, he disclosed that the ministry would use Cross River State as a podium to jump-start Nigeria's technology.

In his opening address, the Cross River State Governor Donald Duke acknowledged the seriousness of the Y2K non-compliant.

Painting a sombre picture of the consequences that might arise from Y2K non-compliant, Duke said lives could be lost due to wrong signals from an aircraft's computer system or where wrong information is fed into a diagnosis which will eventually be used for the treatment of a patient.

Advising against handling the issue with levity, the governor said the state government has carried out compatibility tests on most of its computers.

Besides, he said the government intends to set up a computer laboratory at the state library complex Calabar with the 120 computers donated to it by NABTEX, a United States Education Foundation.

He called on the private sector to meet the many challenges of today's advancing world, since government alone cannot initiate and execute all forms of development projects.

In his welcome address, the Y2K Computer National Awareness Programme Co-ordinator, in-charge of Akwa-Ibom, Rivers and Cross River states, Mr. Thank, God Ebuyi Okiyefe, expressed appreciation for the orderliness exhibited in the report in the state.


Monday, 13 December 1999

Obasanjo outlines new foreign policy thrust

From Emeka Nwankpa, Abuja

NIGERIA'S foreign policy direction in the imminent century will be more proactive rather than reactive, President Olusegun Obasanjo has said.

Under the proposed policy focus, he noted that while Africa remains the primary centre-piece, the on-going globalisation process which professes development, human security, equity, ethics, inclusion and sustainability would be adopted for the country in its march to the new millennium.

Obasanjo, represented by Vice President Atiku Abubakar at the yearly patron's dinner of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, (NIIA) at the weekend in Abuja, said Nigeria's foreign policy which had maintained its main historical thrust in the struggle for unity, peace, security, economic development and co-operation, would now be guided by a more global orientation capable of taking the entire globe, not just Africa, as the canvass of its exertion.

"The immediate concern of our diplomacy is with the revitalisation of our economy, with emphasis on the restoration of the international image of this great country, reaffirming the confidence which our friends have in us, attracting responsible and efficient foreign investments, addressing the problems of the debt burden and capital flight and strengthening regional integrative relations. We have to achieve all this in the face of daunting challenges," he said.

He noted that Nigeria, at the dawn of a new millennium, was ready to resume its historic role of championing the aspirations and hopes of Africa, a continent which he remarked had long been relegated to the periphery of global affairs.

Advocating that globalisation should be made to work for people and not just for profits, the president said in the next century, his administration would support the struggle for a globalised world where "there would be less poverty and deprivation, less marginalisation of peoples and countries, less disparity within and between nations, less violation of human rights, less instability of societies and less environmental degradation."

Describing globalisation as the latest stage in the evolution of the economic system of the advanced nations in the post-industrial phase of their development, the president noted that "while it appeared to offer enormous opportunities for poverty eradication and human advance, the so-called opportunities were yet to be evenly distributed between countries and peoples."

He added that "despite globalisation, the historical contradictions between the developed and developing countries still persist as the overall gap between them kept on widening. The reality is that a poor developing country cannot today take advantage of a globalising world economy unless it has at last the following pre-conditions:

 an educated citizenry with the requisites skills,

 efficient physical infrastructure, such as energy, water, transport and communication;

 a network of export-based industrial production; and

 advanced technology"

The president added that his administration was determined to bequeath a legacy of democracy, political stability, a strong economic growth level and a visionary leadership with the commitment and critical understanding of the globalisation process, stressing that they were the necessary virtues which should underpin the nation's foreign policy thrust in the 21st century.

"As we face the challenges of the 21st century, we will strengthen our foreign policy apparatus to make it more result-oriented, the overall aim being to shift from a virtually reactive approach to more pro-active orientation. We have already embarked on a revitalisation and refocusing drive in order to boost our image abroad and to return the country to normalcy in diplomatic relations," he said.

This, he said, informed the recent posting of military attachess to Nigerian missions abroad while seven new foreign missions were being opened in Asia, Europe and South America.

He said the overriding and permanent aims of the foreign policy were to project and safeguard national interest, adding that the majority of Nigerians who stood up against brutal military dictatorship and decadence should be saluted for their tenacity, perseverance and sacrifice.

One of the challenges before the present crop of political leaders in the country is the external debt overhang which he said rose from $3.5 billion in 1980 to $32 billion as at this month, while servicing arrears had shot up to $3.5 billion yearly, representing 33 per cent of the nation's yearly export earnings.

"This administration insists this debt overhang is too heavy and that it is a potential and serious threat to our new democracy as it could frustrate the provision of infrastructural facilities and social services which the Nigerian people badly require to improve their living conditions. We want the older and industrialised democracies in the world to appreciate that they have a political responsibility to help democracy survive and thrive in Nigeria and the Third World at large. We therefore appeal to the advanced countries to support the elected government in Nigeria in its determined effort to achieve rapid socio-economic development for the upliftment of the living standards of the people," he said.

The president lauded the support from certain sections of the international community in his administration's efforts to recover stolen public funds siphoned out of the country and lodged in foreign banks, saying that while there was need for an international convention on the recovery of such ill-acquired wealth, his administration would work towards facilitating the enactment of national laws and regulations to prevent stolen public funds from being lodged and protected in foreign banks.

He restated his government's conviction that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) should remain one of the major pillars of the African integration project whose objectives would be realised as soon as the recently proposed African Economic Community became fully functional.


Monday, 13 December 1999

Tinubu survives attack

By Ben Akparanta, Police Affairs Correspondent

LAGOS State Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu escaped attack early yesterday in an ambush laid on the island by gunmen, re-enacting a grim history.

His convoy was said to have been waylaid at about 12.30 a.m. at the Race Course, Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) - a short distance from his official residence at the Lagos House, Marina. He was reportedly returning from a late night inspection of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority's (LAWMA's) clearance of refuse dumps and the activities of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS), the anti-crime outfit.

Tinubu's official car was said to have been riddled with bullets, while police escorts killed four of the assailants in the encounter confirmed yesterday by State Police Commissioner Mike Okiro. Five other persons were arrested at the TBS scene of the incident.

Informed accounts said the attackers barricaded the route leading through the TBS to Marina with five buses. They obstructed the governor's pilot car and tried to disarm the advance security escorts, using one of the guns seized to shoot at Tinubu's car.

However, men of the RRS maintaining the rear escort reportedly engaged the intending assailants in a gun duel lasting several minutes, and which left four of the intruders dead.

Yesterday's attack, less than 24 hours after Shomolu Council Vice-Chairman, Mr. Aderemi Badejo was shot dead with his son by unidentified assailants, was said to have left Tinubu shaken. He reportedly summoned a security meeting yesterday afternoon at the Governor's Office, Alausa in Ikeja, to discuss the renewed threat to safety heightened by activities of militant groups.

Police sources said a sergeant in the governor's advance escort team sustained machete cuts while being overpowered by the attackers yesterday. Efforts were reportedly underway to identify the four culprits killed.

Police Commissioner Okiro said in a telephone conversation with The Guardian yesterday that the attack was carried out by members of the Oodua People's Congress (OPC). He said the attack took place at about 12.30 a.m. when the governor was returning home.

According to him, Tinubu's convoy ran into a blockade mounted with commercial volkwagen buses known as Danfo. Policemen in the convoy alighted to inquire what was happening; and on reaching the blockaders, one of them was macheted in the shoulder as a gun shot simultaneously rang out.

Okiro said that at that stage, the police returned fire. He confirmed that Tinubu's vehicle was riddled with bullets, but the governor himself escaped unhurt.

He added that "two or three of the attackers" were shot down by the police, while "between four and six" were arrested. He was not specific on figures.

Yesterday's attack on Governor Tinubu was the second of such against the state's chief executive. His predecessor, former Administrator Brig.-Gen. Mohammed Marwa (rtd), then a Colonel, escaped a bomb attack on December 16, 1996. It was barely three months after his assumption of office.

The blast occurred at the T-junction on Opebi, Ikeja Link Road, near Lagos Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Ikeja, at 7.55 a.m. obviously targeted at Marwa's convoy which was headed to Alausa secretariat.

Although, the state administrator escaped unhurt, three persons - two of them in his convoy - sustained injuries. They were the police driver, Corporal Olusola Umushokha; a soldier, Corporal David Simon Umoh who lost one of his eyes; and a passer-by, Mr. Apata Collins.

The 4.5 kilogramme bomb went off as the convoy passed by, narrowly missing the car Marwa rode in and the spare car. But another car marked LAGH 06, with six occupants including two of the persons injured, as hit by the blast.

Barely 48 hours later, on December 19, another bomb went off near the state government secretariat in Alausa, leaving 18 soldiers and two civilians injured.

The blast, which went off at 7.55 a.m. was targeted at members of the State Task Force on Environmental Sanitation and Special Offences. Its impact wrecked a Lagos State Transport Corporation bus conveying the task force members.

Brig.-Gen. Marwa, who was then staying on Isaac John Street in the Government Reservation Area (GRA), Ikeja, had to relocate to Lagos House, Marina where he resided until leaving office last May.

Magazine FrontPage

OUTCRY Magazine

Free Website Design