Saturday, 24 February 2018
Headliners

Headliners (1858)

The jailed former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, lost a legal appeal on Thursday against a 13-year prison sentence for embezzling 50 million pounds ($78 million) in one of Britain's biggest money-laundering cases.

Ibori, who ran Delta State for 8 years, was trying to get his sentence reduced. His lawyers argued that the original judge had indicated the term would be shorter.

Judge Antony Edwards-Stuart rejected that argument at the appeal hearing and also said that money laundering should attract close to the maximum 14-year sentence.

Ibori pleaded guilty to 10 charges of fraud and money-laundering in February 2012 and is the most prominent Nigerian politician to be successfully prosecuted for corruption, in one of the most graft-ridden countries in the world, according to monitoring group Transparency International.

The Ibori case was heard in London after prosecutors argued that, although much of the activity in question took place in Nigeria, some money did pass through Britain and British banks.

During his trial last year, a London court heard the stolen fortune was used to buy six foreign properties and a fleet of cars, although the judge said the total amount stolen may in fact be "in excess of 200 million pounds".

The biggest single fraud involved misappropriating $37 million in fees when Ibori's Delta State sold its stake in the Nigerian mobile telecoms company V Mobile.

The Ibori case was heralded as a major success for London's police, with Britain long seen as a destination of choice for corrupt Nigerian politicians to spend their ill-gotten gains.

Ibori, who was elected governor of Delta in 1999 during Nigeria's transition from military to civil rule, could still play a prominent role in Nigerian public life on his release.

Eligible for parole halfway through his jail term, he is likely to be out of prison in 3-1/2 years, having served a year since the trial, a year beforehand awaiting trial in London and a year in Dubai from where he was extradited to Britain.

 

Posted On Thursday, 02 May 2013 18:37 Written by

BARCELONA (AFP) – Bayern Munich cruised into their third Champions League final in four years as a 3-0 win over Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Wednesday gave them an incredible 7-0 aggregate victory.

The absence of Lionel Messi from the Barca starting line-up almost eradicated any hope of an unlikely comeback before the game had even begun, but Bayern showed their 4-0 first-leg win last week had been no fluke with a display of controlled dominance.

Arjen Robben opened the scoring for the visitors with a trademark left-foot strike just after half-time before a Gerard Pique own-goal and Thomas Mueller’s header in the final 20 minutes ensured Bayern booked their place in an all-German final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on May 25 in some style.

Already without Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba through injury and suspension respectively, Barca were handed another huge blow before kick-off as the persistence of a hamstring injury suffered in the first leg of the tie against Paris Saint-Germain in the last round forced Messi to start on the bench.

Without their talisman, Barca started tentatively and only a desperate sliding challenge from Pique prevented Robben from having a clear shot on goal after he galloped clear down the left on 11 minutes.

Pique had to be alert again seven minutes later as he again slid in to deny Philipp Lahm at the end of a wonderful Bayern move.

Pedro finally forced Manuel Neuer into a save on 23 minutes with a long-range effort that the German number one turned round the post and Xavi then had the hosts’ best chance of the first period as he hooked over on the volley after Cesc Fabregas had chested the ball down inside the area.

However, Barca were still out of sorts with a number of uncharacteristically long balls failing to find their target and another weak effort from distance by Adriano was the only other effort they managed on goal before the break.

It only took three minutes after the restart for Bayern to completely wipe away any lingering doubts they would be travelling to London for the final when Robben collected a raking crossfield pass from David Alaba, cut inside Adriano onto his favoured left foot and buried a rasping drive past Victor Valdes into the far corner.

Robben ought to have had a second moments later as another quick Bayern break caught Barca outnumbered at the back, but this time the former Real Madrid man couldn’t get the required touch to Franck Ribery’s cross and the ball dribbled wide.

A sustained period of possession from the German champions then brought cries of “ole” from the visiting fans, much to the chagrin of the locals as Barca chased shadows in the way they are so accustomed to making their opponents do.

With home coach Tito Vilanova acknowledging the game was up, he then withdrew Xavi and Andres Iniesta, whilst Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes took off Bastian Schweinsteiger to avoid him picking up another yellow card which would see him miss the final.

But further pain was inflicted upon the hosts 18 minutes from time when a beautiful pass from Luis Gustavo played in Ribery down the left and his cross was sliced into his own net by Pique.

And three minutes later it was 3-0 on the night as more terrific play from Ribery saw him burst past Alex Song and dink a lovely ball to the far post for Mueller to head home his third goal of the tie.

 

Posted On Thursday, 02 May 2013 13:46 Written by

• Reps wade into Jonathan, gov feud

• Say political witch-hunt dangerous to democracy

• Probe grounding of aircraft

• Why plane was registered in U.S., by Rivers

WITH the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Otelemaba Amachree, warning Tuesday of a plot by the Felix Obuah-led People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to impeach Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the crisis in the state is set to take a turn for the worse.

The alarm was raised in a statement signed by the speaker. According to the speaker, a fake mace has been smuggled into the state to enable five members of the house who belong to Nyeson Wike’s faction hold an emergency session and impeach the governor.

The statement reads in part: “We have been reliably informed that a fake mace has been smuggled into the state to enable FIVE members of the house hold an emergency session even when the house adjourned sine die on Tuesday, April 23, 2013.

“The Abuja plan on ground is to falsely impeach the Rt. Hon. Speaker and the Executive Governor of Rivers State Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi and create confusion through varied responses, which they hope will make the state ungovernable and provide them with some kind of warped basis to introduce Emergency Rule in Rivers State.”

The statement further stated that there were strong indications that some persons had been detailed exclusively to create systemic collapse of security in the state thereby putting lives and property in danger.

“This is undemocratic , unacceptable and a complete violation of the mandate that the good people of Rivers State have vested on us. We call on the good people of Rivers State to remain calm, watchful and law-abiding as the scenario unfolds.”

And outraged at the alleged persistent rift between President Goodluck Jonathan and Amaechi, the House of Representatives yesterday began moves to broker truce between them.

Amaechi is alleged to be interested in the Presidency in the 2015 polls. This has allegedly drawn the ire of Jonathan who is alleged to be interested in seeking re-election in 2015.

This clash of interests has allegedly culminated in the Presidency attempting to oust Amaechi as chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, and the grounding of a Rivers State-owned aircraft by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) at the weekend.

Besides, the Rivers State government yesterday insisted on its ownership of the controversial Bombardier BD 700 Global Express jet, stressing that it was registered as a United States (U.S.) aircraft “ to preserve value, provide ease of operation and the sourcing of available pilots.”

Yesterday, a member of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Ahmed Idris (PDP, Wase, Plateau), who raised the issue of the rift between Jonathan and Amaechi under matters of urgent national importance, claimed that there were political undertones in Amaechi’s plight.

The lawmaker insinuated that the Presidency had made impunity, lawlessness and political vendetta the order of the day.

Pleading for the intervention of the House presided over by Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, he stated thus: “ I am concerned that this incident raises serious issues as to the abuse of power by the Executive and the use of state machinery to witch-hunt perceived political opponents which is extremely dangerous and detrimental to any democracy and tends towards dictatorship and draconian tendencies typical of the military era.”

Without any form of objection from the members, the Speaker mandated the House Committee on Justice and Aviation to, as a matter of urgency, extensively investigate the justification and circumstances surrounding the grounding of the aircraft and report back to the House within two weeks.

The House’s intervention came against the backdrop of the decision by the newly-inaugurated state executive council of the state People’s Democratic Party (PDP) led by Felix Obuah giving Amaechi a 48-hour ultimatum to explain the real ownership of the state’s aircraft that was grounded last week or face a disciplinary action.

This ultimatum came despite explanations from the state Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mrs. Ibim Semenitari, that all the documents of the aircraft were in place and that the state had applied formally to the minister of aviation for the import licence.

The House of Representatives is also set to partner stakeholders in the environment to develop a common agenda for the sector’s sustainability.

The parliament said the agenda was to help promote an effective and co-ordinated environmental policy that would tackle pollution and degradation as well as other issues related to the environment.

The Chairman of the House Panel on Environment, Uche Ekwunife who made the disclosure in Abuja yesterday, said “in order to achieve this, the committee will convoke a national conference on environment between May 20 and 21, 2013.”

She said the House was concerned about the level of devastation and trauma environmental problems cause the people of Nigeria and the economy, adding that the condition of the environment was often a reflection of the state of the well-being of a nation and its people.

According to Ekwunife, decisions concerning the environment often focus on the role of government, legislation and law enforcement but “ protecting the environment, however, is the responsibility of all stakeholders, including industry, indigenous groups, environmental groups, the general population and the media.”

The chairman noted that serious environmental pollution and degradation in the Niger Delta had dislocated the way of life and livelihood of numerous communities.

The House has also ordered an investigation into delays usually associated with accessing funds of dead persons by their named beneficiaries.

Specifically, the joint committee on Judiciary and Justice of the Chamber was given the mandate to convene a stakeholders’ meeting with a view to finding a way out of the lingering problem and report back to the House within two weeks.

Abiodun Abudu-Balogun who sponsored a motion on the need to stop the pains named beneficiaries of such funds usually go through in efforts at accessing them, said that it was time Nigerians were saved from the harrowing experiences.

According to him, while the process of obtaining letters of administration by such bereaved families at probate divisions of state and federal high courts is very cumbersome and corruption-ridden, banks which are custodians of the funds often use “both official and unofficial hurdles to frustrate beneficiaries.”

The lawmaker stated that unofficial statistics put the figures of such unaccessed funds at between N400 billion and N1 trillion with the banks, and according to him, obtaining a single letter of administration usually lasts over a year.

Besides, the House mandated its Committee on Health to investigate the high maternal and child mortality rate in the country and make recommendations on how to improve maternal health and safety in the country.

Adopting a motion brought by Daniel Effiong Akpan, the House lamented that despite the huge funds appropriated for the health sector in the yearly budget, the primary health care system in the country was still poor as the majority of women were unable to afford access to quality health services.

The reaction of the Rivers State’s government came on the heels of the state chapter of the PDP’s threat to sanction Amaechi by today if no explanation is given about the ownership of the aircraft.

Reacting to statements attributed to officials of different agencies in the aviation sector on the status of the aircraft, Semenitari said that the plane belonged to the state.

“Aircraft N 566 RS arrived in Nigeria and has been operating since October 2012. It was bought by the Rivers State Government and registered as a U.S. aircraft in the first instance, to preserve value and provide ease of operation and sourcing of available pilots. To qualify for N-registration, an operator must be a U.S. citizen hence the Rivers State government entered into a trust with Bank of Utah Inc, a bank which specialises in aircraft trust,” Semenitari said.

According to her, the relationship between the state government and Bank of Utah is that of a trustor and trustee and that an N-registered aircraft enjoys the privileges of a U.S. citizen and that trust agreement for the purpose of registration is common in the aviation industry.

The commissioner stated that there were other aircraft owners in Nigeria with N-registered aircraft. This practice, according to her, was because of the ease of movement that N-registered aircraft are privileged to enjoy. She therefore, wondered why the Rivers State government had been singled out for criticism.

She faulted the aviation authorities’ claim that the aircraft was given clearance to travel Accra-Port Harcourt-Accra whereas it was Port Harcourt-Accra-Port Harcourt. She also explained that the aircraft was being operated through a local operator, Caverton Helicopters, pending an approval of importation licence by the Minister of Aviation.

“Request for this licence was filed by the operator on behalf of the Rivers State government and this was expressly stated in the request filed on August 27, 2012 and received in the minister’s office on September 4, 2012. The Rivers State government is a responsible sub-national and guardian of the resources of its people. It will at all times and in all circumstances act within the confines of the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” Semenitari added.

The commissioner observed with concern that all of the information and queries about this aircraft had only been through the mass media. She reiterated that the government of Rivers State had not received any communication from the Ministry of Aviation or any of its agencies querying the status of its aircraft.

 

Posted On Wednesday, 01 May 2013 14:15 Written by

The political forces against Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State cut sharper, yesterday, after 27 lawmakers loyal to the governor out of 32 in the State House of Assembly were suspended by the new leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PPD in the state. Their seats were immediately declared vacant.

The action of the Felix Obuah led faction of the party opposed to the governor was immediately rebuffed by the House leader, Hon. Chidi Floyd who decried the action of the new PDP executive as lawless and part of a set agenda directed at destabilizing the state.

The pressure against Amaechi nonetheless, Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum, Dr. Babangida Aliyu yesterday said attempts to clip the wings of the nation’s governors would be counterproductive as he said that those fighting the governors would come begging in 2015. Aliyu spoke while receiving secretaries of the PDP in the 19 Northern states. It was not clear if he had knowledge of the latest perceived moves against Amaechi who is chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF.

The National Secretariat of the party was yet to be communicated on the development in Rivers State last night just as there were mixed indications of a court action allegedly instituted by some elements in the House to stop Obuah from his action.

Obuah, who was penultimate week confirmed by the National Secretariat of the party as the new state chairman of the party announced the suspension of the lawmakers at a press briefing at the state secretariat of the party in Port Harcourt. He also declared the seats of the 27 lawmakers vacant.

The latest development follows last Saturday’s ban by federal authorities on the official aircraft of the Rivers State government from flying in the country.

Why they were suspended — Obuah

Obuah, who was flanked by other executive members of his party, said the suspension followed an earlier ultimatum handed the lawmakers to reverse the suspension slammed on the elected Chairman, Vice Chairman and 17 councillors of the Obio Akpor Local Government Area  last week.

“Furthermore, you will recall that on April 22, 2013, the party issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Rivers State House of Assembly to rescind the order on the dissolution of Obio Akpor Council, which was flagrantly disobeyed. The party hereby, suspends all the 27 members of the House of Assembly that carried out such action while their matter is referred to Disciplinary Committee for further action.”

When reminded that those suspended had earlier vowed not to accord recognition to his leadership, Obuah,  said he remained the authentic chairman of the party in the state.

It will  be recalled that those suspended had in a statement pledged their loyalty to deposed Chairman of the party, Chief Godspower Ake.

The leadership of Ake was sacked by an Abuja High court judgment recently, a verdict the Ake-led structure had  appealed.  The lawmakers had described the court judgment that sacked the Ake-led leadership as a travesty of justice.

Those suspended by the party are the Speaker of the House, Mr Amachree Otelemaba, Asari Toru I; Mr Augustine Paul, Abua/Odua; Ewor Nname,  Ahoada East I;   Nwuche Ibiso, Ahoada East II, Deputy Leader;  Dr Chigbo Sam Eligwe, Ahoada West.

Others are Brown Onari, Akuku Toru I;  Mr Anabaraba Benibo, Akuku Toru 2;  Ikuinyi Owaji Ibani, Whip, Andoni; Horsfall Godstimes,  Asaritoru 2; Aye Atamah, Bonny;  Tonye  Ezekiel, Degema;  Chidi Lyold, Leader Emohua;  Amadi Victor, Etche 1; Golden Chioma, Etche 2; Barikor Innocent, Gokana; Wanjoku  Azubike, Ikwerre; Legborsi  Nwidadah, Khana 1; Leyii Kwanee, Deputy Speaker Khana 2; Gift Nwokocha, ONELGA 1; Lucky Odili, ONELGA 2; Belema Okpokiri, Okrika;  Miller Anderson, Opobo/Nkoro;  Victoria  Nyeche, PHALGA 1;  Irene Inimgba, Deputy Whip, PHALGA 11  and Chief Felicia Taneh, TA I.

The party also called on  Governor Chibuike Amaechi to explain alleged issues over the ownership of the Bombardier aircraft that was recently grounded. According to Obuah,  the aircraft allegedly belonged to Bank of Utah.

“From the records made available to us and the statements credited to the acting Director General of Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, Joyce Nkemakolam, the Bombardier B.D 700 global express aircraft with registration number RS purportedly bought by the Rivers State Government was false as its registration showed that it is owned by the Bank of Utah trustee of   Salt lake city, Utah, United States of America .

“The government of Rivers State led by Amaechi owes a public explanation to the entire people of Rivers State and PDP in particular as to the true owners of Bombardier BD, 700. He should also explain the identity and the role played by the Bank of Utah of USA in the purchase of the aircraft and the identity of the owners of the said company should be unveiled.”

Reacting to the development yesterday, Hon. Floyd, the Majority Leader of the House told Vanguard on telephone that Obuah’s action was subjudice and an act of lawlessness.

“Unfortunately for them we already have an order of the High Court when we got information from some of their so-called supporters that this was what they were up to and this is the next thing in the act because what they are doing is melodrama, it is Act two.

“Once we got hint of that we immediately approached the court for an interim order restraining them from taking such an action. The order of the court came this morning and apparently when they got wind of the matter in court, they now rushed to dish out their own suspension, so the matter is already subjudice. The matter has been adjoined to the  May 5,” he added.

Noting that the action was a continuation of the plot against the peace of the party in the state, he said:

“This is also to call on Nigerians that this is the real script that has been handed down to them. This is a group of young men who can get judgment without buying forms (PDP congress forms), so you don’t expect them to play by the rules, this is a group of lawless people.”

Chief Olisa Metuh, the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP when contacted last night, said the party was yet to receive news of the development.

“There is always a channel of communication and they have not been communicated and the NWC is not aware of such a development.”

Nobody can clip wings of govs — Aliyu

Receiving state secretaries of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) from the 19 Northern states in his office in Minna, yesterday, Governor Aliyu said the efforts to clip the wings of the governors would instead nudge them to do more for their people just as he affirmed that the Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF is not being used to champion the presidential aspiration of any governor.

“Nobody can clip the wings of the governors. At the party, presidential or other levels, anybody that thinks he can clip the wings of a governor is wasting his time,” the Niger State governor said.

”Instead of clipping, we must strengthen the governors to be able to produce more because we use the forum to discuss who has done what and try to compare notes and encourage others to do more from the excellent jobs where necessary and also learn not to commit the same mistake where any governor has done wrong in the implementation stages since we have seen what such governor or governors have done,” Dr. Aliyu explained.

According to him, “we don’t discuss who will be what. We hear a lot of noise on who wants to be president, vice president e.t.c but that is the work of God. However, we must continue to talk the truth and that is the only way for Nigeria to progress because if we keep quiet, we will run into a lot of problems.”

The governor pointed out that the desire or move to clip the wings of the governors has led to a lot of crisis in the PDP and advised on the need to be cautious for the future of the party.

“Many of the crises of my party today are based on the desire to clip the wings of the governors and whether you call a governor the leader of the party or not and whether it is there in the constitution of the party or not, the governor is still the leader of the party because the party produced the governor and when there is a symbiotic relationship with the government of the party, the party will be as strong as the government it produced,” the governor remarked.
He said people should not forget so soon how the governors’ strength were used to attain political heights during elections and that if their wings are to be clipped now, they would still be strong factors in the 2015 presidential election.

“We know what happened during our congresses; we know what we had to do to produce leadership of the party at the national level and how the governors were used. How will it be after that if they now want to clip their wings? There will be 2015 and if you clip their wings now, you will be clipping your own wings and not the governors’ wings,” Gov. Aliyu declared.
Governor Aliyu also reiterated his support for the merger of the major opposition political parties into the All Progressive Congress, APC, saying that the evolving party should not be regarded as an enemy but as a friend of the PDP.

“We should even embrace APC so that we don’t fight many political parties but fight only one.”

Posted On Tuesday, 30 April 2013 13:38 Written by

Dr. Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs was in the Corporate Office of Vanguard Media Limited during which he had an interactive session with Vanguard editors on topical issues affecting the polity. He spoke on the administration’s response to the Boko Haram insurgency, corruption and the face off between the presidency and Governor Chibuke Amaechi of Rivers State among other issues. Excerpt:

Flip-flopping of the FG on Boko Haram
We are not in touch with Shekau. There is no flip-flopping. When you are saddled to run and govern a country like Nigeria, there are so many so many considerations that come into play. To manage and to pilot the ship of this country in order that it does not capsize is an arduous task.

When the president went to Borno and Yobe, and he said ‘I will not grant amnesty to ghosts’,  he was right and it was correct. I said Shekau is the leader, I did not say he is the recognised leader because he is the one that comes up and nobody has opposed him. So, it is not like the presidency has recognised him as the leader but the whole world knows that the face of Boko Haram is Shekau.

Are you in touch with him?
The argument is unassailable that we do not know the real person because Shekau himself  is a virtual personality. You only see him on television and youtube

Virtual personality
He is a virtual personality and we have been corroborated by the fact that two or three people in the Boko Haram arrangement have borne the same name. So, these are virtual personalities and virtual personalities are not in perspective terms, are not too far from ghosts. So, that was the position of government.

But then, the issue of politics in Nigeria and the peculiarity of Nigeria now comes into play. You have the president of a nation taking a logical, decisive and correct step. The Sultan of Sokoto is the spiritual leader of the entire Muslims  in the entire north. He is also the paramount traditional leader in the entire north and he was the one who spoke at first. Later on, virtually all the spiritual leaders in the north except for Sheik Gumi, came together and said they supported the suggestion given by the Sultan.  The leadership of the elite class in the north came together to state their position. Should they be ignored?

Are you aware Northern Christians are opposed to the  Amnesty plan?
That is true. When we have a conflict like this, various interests are at play. We have faced a civil war in this country, over one million people were killed on all sides, but eventually it ended. We all had to bear the individual pains that we bore in order for the country to move on, it is impossible to ponder on all shades of opinion and rule a nation.

Sacrifices for the country
Some will pay sacrifice, some will keep paying sacrifices and the country must find a way for which it must go ahead. Christians in the north have been consistently victims of many of these religious riots and yet Christians in the south have not thought it necessary for a reprisal, even though we are pained. That is the sacrifice we are paying for nation building, it will not always be like this.

Some people have been killed, some churches have been burnt, some people have been forced to relocate but the crisis continues. If the crisis continues, more people will be killed and so, you solve the problem one after the other. If we are able for instance to end the Boko Haram insurgency with this amnesty, everything becomes quiet, then you now go back to the victims and see how you can attend to them. But can we be attending to the victims now that more victims are been brought into play; or is it not better for us to stop the things that cause victimization first? Whatever is required for us to have peace, let us have peace.

What is the problem between President Jonathan and Governor Amaechi of Rivers state?
It is politics. The answer is politics. I can tell politics is at play.

What kind of PDP politics are you talking about?
Are you not aware that PDP is its own problem and all the problems of criticism within the PDP is created by the PDP.

Why does the president percieve Amaechi to be a stumbling block ahead of 2015?
Governor Amaechi cannot be a stumbling block to Mr President’s aspiration.

So why is he moving against him?
He is not moving against him. There are two things. If I want to achieve an objective and in achieving that objective,  it will affect you, my primary purpose is not that it will affect you, my primary purpose is to achieve the set goal that is before me. So if there are collateral damages, there are collateral damages.

What are goals of the President for the Nigerian Governors Forum?
Stability of the country. We all know that the NGF was already becoming a destabilizing factor in the polity, that is the truth and let us all face it.

In what way?
The government must go in one direction and if there are dissension, there is problem. We have 36states in Nigeria, 23 of them are PDP governors and the NGF is headed by a PDP governor. Now if the NGF now becomes an opposition platform, then there is a problem. It is not what people are thinking, it is not a matter of whether somebody wants to get to a position or somebody wants to run for an office. We are a government, we are party and we must move in one direction. If we move in different directions, we are not going to achieve much.

Why must all Governors agree to the President?
All the governors do not have to agree with the President. What I am saying is that we are the majority party in Nigeria and the ruling party is the PDP and inside the PDP, there is no federalism and that is the truth. There is no federalism inside the political party, we have just one party, the party has one mission, one goal, one objective and one leader.

So you cannot say because of democracy, you now start to pull the party apart or pull the party down.  That is our business and that is why we have problems with people who do not understand politics, they have refused to understand there is no federalism in the party. If the party takes a decision that we are going this way and members of the party seem to be going the other direction, the party has taken a decision and we should all move in that direction.

Can you give one example where Amaechi went against the interest of the party?
There are too many examples.

Give an example where some PDP Governors in the forum spoke against the wishes of Mr President?

If the Federal Government takes a decision for example on Sovereign Wealth Fund and it is something the party has agreed that it must be established and the NGF says no it cannot be established.

Despite being a fugitive from the United Kingdom, former Governor of Bayelsa state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha was pardoned. Did the government take the case in Britain into consideration?

Why should government take into consideration what is existing outside its own shores?  We get too much holier than thou in this country. We are a sovereign nation and if Alamieyeseigha has a problem with Britain, let them sort it out with him.

Posted On Monday, 29 April 2013 14:05 Written by

The Peoples Democratic Party has accused the Edo State governor, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, of spearheading an alleged rigging of the local government polls in the state.

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisah Metuh, alleged in a press conference on Sunday, that the governor rigged the polls through the Edo State Independent Electoral Commission.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary alleged further that Oshiomhole plotted to rig the elections even before the day of the election by constituting a state electoral commission that was allegedly dominated by card carrying members of the ACN.

He also queried the use of a bus reportedly belonging to the Deputy governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, to carry electoral materials and personnel to polling centres, allegedly shown in a video clip during the conference.

Metuh said the PDP would ensure that the results of the local government polls were challenged in court.

He lamented that the opposition, who had always cried for credible election, had not done well in the conduct of elections in states under their control.

He insisted that the PDP, which had ensured the conduct of free and fair elections at the federal level, would not accept the rigging and subversion of the will of the people as was alleged to be the case in Edo.

Posted On Monday, 29 April 2013 13:46 Written by

The National Judicial Council has suspended Justice Abubakar Talba of the Federal Capital Territory High Court from office for 12 months without pay.

According to a statement by its spokesperson, Soji Oye, the council also warned Justice Okechukwu Okeke of the Federal High Court, who is to retire from service on May 18.

Justice Talba’s suspension followed the recommendation of a fact-finding panel that investigated allegations against him in his handling of a police pension case involving an Assistant Director in the Police Pension Office, Mr. John Yusuf.

Rising from its meeting held on April 24 and 25, the NJC concluded that Justice Talba did not exercise his discretion judicially and judiciously with regard to the sentences he passed on Yusuf.

The NJC at its emergency meeting held on February 20, 2013, set up a fact finding committee to investigate the allegations levelled against Justice Talba.

The council, however, observed that the charges that had been brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission against Mr. John Y. Yusuf in the first charge sheet containing counts 1 to 10 under Section 315 of the Penal Code that provides a maximum jail term of 14 years and a fine, were dropped by the EFCC counsel and substituted with another charge with only three counts under Section 309 of the Penal Code that gives a lesser punishment of two years’ imprisonment with or without an option of fine.

 The NJC, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, also issued a serious warning to Justice Talba to desist from unreasonable exercise of judicial discretion in all matters brought before him.

On the various petitions written against Justice Okeke, the council considered his responses and decided to seriously warn him.

Justice Talba sentenced Yusufu to two years in jail after pleading guilty to three counts in the N32.8bn police pension fraud. The jail term was to run concurrently.

The judge, however, gave the convict an option of N250,000 fine for each of the three counts. The sentence sparked negative criticisms of the judge throughout the nation.

Posted On Saturday, 27 April 2013 18:48 Written by

The Northern Governors’ Forum on Thursday lamented the effect of the   Boko Haram insurgency on the North and pleaded with members of the violent Islamic sect to accept the planned amnesty for them by the Federal Government.

The Chairman of the forum and Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, stated this while receiving the report of the forum’s Committee on Reconciliation, Healing and Security, in Abuja  on Thursday.

Aliyu, who  said the activities of the insurgents had led to destruction of many lives and property, also advised the Federal Government to  complement the resolve of  the forum  by taking into account, the findings and recommendations of its committee.

 “Members of the insurgent group are called upon for immediate ceasefire; accept the offer made by the Federal Government and come forward for dialogue and eventual submission of arms,” the governor said.

Boko Haram Leader,  Abubakar Shekau had 0n April 10, said the sect members did not need anmesty because they believed they had done nothing wrong. He stated that it was the Federal Government that needed pardon by the group whose activities in the past few years had led to the loss of at least 3,000 lives and property worth millions of naira in parts of the North.

“Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you (a) pardon,” Agence France Presse had  quoted him as saying in   Hausa language.

But Aliyu, who said the governors were determined to ensure that the amnesty succeeded, explained that   “the formation of the Reconciliation, Healing and Security Committee was as a result of recurring incidence of violence and wanton destruction of lives and property which crippled the economy of Northern states and paralysed socio-political activities of the region.”

He  therefore urged  “the Federal Government   to operationalise and streamline  critical components of the (proposed) amnesty in line with conclusions of this committee (Northern governors’ committee) towards successful and sustainable achievement of the noble objectives of the peace process.

“This will no doubt go a long way in evolving a robust framework for peace building and enforcement, wealth creation, and economic regeneration in providing practicable solutions to the security challenges.”

The chairman said it was time Northerners began to see themselves as one because they were treated as such in other parts of the country irrespective of their ethno-religious backgrounds.

He also  decried what he called an increase in the fraud associated with fuel subsidy payments which, according to him,  was now a case of outright stealing with nobody asking questions.

The forum’s  chairman noted that the  masses believed that governors were doing nothing over the development.

He said, “Today,  we were asking a question when reports of issues came ( at the National Economic Council meeting); we were asking: ‘how many of you people have gone to the filling stations and bought fuel at subsidised rates?’ Very few, where is the subsidy going?

“There were some people  discovered to have lied and collected money in the name of subsidy. Where are they? Today, we  are   told that there is more thievery in our oil sector than before.

“The illegal bunkering and the stealing of oil are affecting what comes to the federation account. Why because, if you catch one thief and you do not punish him, an honest man    will think that it is better to become a thief than to be  honest. We must as individuals, as parents and administrators, stop these things. We must punish those who have been caught.”

Giving a background of  the formation of the Northern Governors’ Forum Committee on Reconciliation, Healing and Security, Aliyu said, “You may wish to recall that concerned about the destruction, killings and instability in the northern states, and in response to these challenges, the committee  was set up on July 26 , 2012 and inaugurated on August 22  in Abuja.”

Aliyu said the first step towards   peace process begins at the family level  through  proper upbringing of children and adherence to  moral obligations.

He  added  that the governors would soon meet in Kaduna to study the recommendations contained in the report  with a view to implementing them.

In his remarks,  Bauchi State Governor, Isa Yuguda, said, “We have investigated enough, we have killed our people enough, the entire northern Nigeria is filled with our own blood, that of our wives, our parents  and  our grandparents without reason.

“We must appreciate that in the Nigerian nation, we are talking about 400 tribes  and only 20 are from the South . The   remaining   are in northern Nigeria. I have about 50 tribes in Bauchi.

He said Islam got to Southern Nigeria first before it came to the north  and pointed out that Muslims in the South were living  in peace  with  Christians.

 “Why are they not killing themselves? he queried, saying there is a lesson those in the north must learn from the South.

Governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State said, “The north is a sleeping giant. It has potential  in terms of human and material resources. Its eminent sons and daughters have performed credibly well in the affairs of this nation for decades. There is no excuse for the north to keep hurting itself.”

Earlier, Chairman of the Committee, Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim, observed that the insecurity in the north had dire consequences for the corporate existence of Nigeria.

He recalled that the committee submitted its interim report on  February 14, 2013 and requested an extension of time to enable it to complete its assignment.

Zakari said, “The north has suffered very serious economic, social and psychological devastation with relationships among the people severely fractured. Specifically,   the  underlying sources of insecurity in the northern states are deeply rooted in the following:

• Economic inequality and narrowing opportunities, conflicts and unhealthy competition among  ethnic and religious identities , ownership and access to resources (land and territory), unequal access to political power among  groups and the feeling of lack of respect; and

• Appointments into traditional headship positions, the deterioration in personal and inter-group relationships, poverty, illiteracy and ignorance, widespread impunity, injustice and  disregard  for  the rule of  law.”

Zakari said  those factors were  surmountable if serious consideration  was given to some of the recommendations in  the committee’s    report.

He added, “Your excellencies, the people of the north are tired of having committees formed every time a crisis erupts, while the recommendations of reports of the committees  are hardly implemented.

“It is the collective view of the committee members  that the north must get its act together. For too long, it has been seen by the rest of the country as lagging behind despite its huge human and natural resources.”

 

Posted On Friday, 26 April 2013 13:15 Written by

Ahead of the 2015 elections, former military head of state, Major General Muhammed Buhari (retd) has warned that no party should think of rigging the election as that will be impossible.

Buhari spoke Monday at the public presentation of the book, Witness to History: ACN and the Struggle for Democracy, Liberty and Justice, written by Lai Muhammed, ACN’s National Publicity Secretary, held at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, southwest Nigeria.

He said with the merger of opposition parties to form All Progressives Congress, APC, everyone should mobilise people in their constituency for a change of guard at the helm of affairs in 2015, adding that the All Progressives Congress, APC, had offered Nigerians the solution to their problems.

“With this merger, we should mobilise our constituency, and I don’t think that any political party along the line will attempt to rig because there wouldn’t be any need for that. Nigerians are very serious about it and we are determined to continue with our plan,” he said.

Buhari added that he and other progressives were solidly ready to ensure that the votes of Nigerians count in the next election.

“This book, I think should be in the library of most schools-secondary and university, because if we don’t read such genuine work, we will keep on repeating our mistakes. I am sure that we are coming up with the solution. And the solution is that, let all the parties, except the party in power, agree to come together and give an alternative to Nigerians,” he stated.

Buhari said the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, would be holding its convention in Zamfara State, while the All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP,  would hold theirs in Abuja the same day with his party to formally ratify the merger into APC.

Speaking, former governor of Lagos State and national leader, Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu said the APC is the moving storm that would eventually end the reign of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in 2015.

Tinubu said the PDP –led government had failed the country and that 2015 is the time for change and that the APC would take over power and bring about that change.

“The ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party has been warned about the rot in the judiciary. But they did not heed. They need to go. It has been warned against insecurity and insurgency in the Niger Delta. Yet, it never listened. It is time for them to go. The storm is here. It is a positive storm. APC is the storm to effect needed change in Nigeria,” he said.

He said ACN had been in the opposition for too long, saying that “In fact, we should stop using the term opposition. We are progressives. We are government in waiting because we are progressives. We are not just opposition.

“We stand for something. It is for this reason we oppose those in power. We do not oppose for the sake of opposing. We stand for peace, liberty and justice. Let me also add that we stand for prosperity, welfare, empowerment, development, tolerance, unity, eradication of corruption and brotherly love,” he stated.

He added that the the APC was out to oppose injustice, poverty, ignorance, indifference and bad governance as well as oppose anyone in power whose activities create condition that allowed corruption, injustice, poverty, unemployment and insecurity to lives and properties to thrive.

Tinubu said whether the PDP liked it or not, “we shall always continue to oppose them for those things. Our overriding mission is to gain power at the national level from those that are there and bring about the progressive change that the party in government has not been able to achieve.”

Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola said there would be a vacancy in Aso Rock  in 2015, appealing to Nigerians not to take anything for granted, urging them to discard the ruling party’s statement that there “is no vacancy in the highest office in the land. Then to what purpose are they organising election because the very notion that there is an election suggests that as a matter of law, there will be a vacancy in 2015.”

Niger State Governor, Dr. Babangida Aliyu, who also spoke at the event, urged the people of Nigeria “to pray for the success of the merger so that we will not take things for granted in this country.

“I would like people to pray for the success of the merger so that we will not take things for granted in this country. In the United States, there are many registered political parties. But whenever election comes, it is only the Republicans and the Democrats that we know.

“When people come together it is because they share certain things in common. We need to create opportunities for people to really look at the option and say this is where we will have a better person. Let us not allow personal ambition to becloud the general goals,” he said.

Posted On Tuesday, 23 April 2013 18:25 Written by

Governor of Edo state, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, Monday sounded a stern warning to 79 year old Chief Gabriel Igbinedion to tread softly, reminding him that he was not bigger than the law.

The warning confirms the love lost between the governor and the the Benin high chief and father of former governor of the state, Lucky Igbinedion.

Speaking at the swearing-in of newly elected chairmen of 14 local government councils of the state, Oshiomhole said, “there is evidence that he [Igbinedion] has undermined the prosperity of the state for a very long time,” adding that those who live in glass houses do not throw stones.

“I want to send a warning to Chief Igbinedion that he should take it easy; he has acquired a lot of government land that the people have not engaged him on. He walks as if he is above the law. He was a chief tax collector in this state, pocketing 25 to 30 per cent of every kobo that accrued while his son was the governor. I have not looked back because my mandate is to look forward.

“I want to put him on notice that if he continues with elderly rascality, I will bring him to justice. He must never ever underestimate the fact that I have the will and I have the capacity to deploy that will. If he crosses the law, he will be cut to size. Elders must teach the younger ones to behave responsibly,” Oshiomhole said.

Governor Oshiomhole was initially associated with the Igbinedions as a friend.

Posted On Tuesday, 23 April 2013 13:31 Written by