Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Headliners (1800)

The Minister for Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Wednesday in Abuja said that the nation’s  economic outlook  remained strong and good in spite of the global economic uncertainty. A statement signed by Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, said that the various economic indications showed that the economy remained robust.

``The Nigerian economy is strong. Our economic performance is robust when viewed against a whole range of objective factors. Inflation is now down to a single-digit at 9.0 per cent in January 2013 compared to 12.6 per cent in January 2012.

``The exchange rate has been relatively stable and the fiscal deficit, at just under two per cent of Gross Domestic Product, is on a downward trajectory and below our threshold of three per cent,” she said.

According to her, the national debt is at a sustainable level at about 19.4 per cent of GDP.

The statement said that the overall  GDP growth for 2012 was 6.5 per cent and projected at 6.75 per cent for 2013 against the projected global growth rate of 3.5 per cent.

``The above facts have been independently validated by international ratings agencies such as Fitch, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s who have upgraded the country's economic outlook, even as other countries were being downgraded. In addition, Nigeria's bonds have recently been included in the Barclays and JP Morgan Emerging Market indices,’’ Okonjo-Iweala said.

She called for support of all stakeholders to ensure that more jobs were created for Nigerian youths.

She said that there was the need to accelerate the slight two per cent poverty decline between 2003 and 2010.

On the discrepancy in account balances of the ministry and CBN on excess crude account, she said that the ministry usually rendered its account after the Federation Account Allocation Committee meeting at middle of the month

``Whereas CBN data are reported at the end of each month. There is thus a time lag between the reports from the two institutions. As a result, there are usually some differences due to 'transit items' which are yet to be reconciled in both accounts.

`` The CBN excess crude reports have included the one billion dollars allocated to the Sovereign Wealth Fund. This is still domiciled with the CBN, whereas the Ministry of Finance does not regard it as part of the distributable excess crude account,’’ she said.


Posted On Wednesday, 27 February 2013 15:11 Written by

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, Tuesday, finally signed the 2013 Appropriation Bill into law, ending weeks of stand-off between the Executive arm and the National Assembly over the budget estimates.

A statement released, Tuesday evening, by the presidency said President Jonathan appended his signature to the contentious budget after the executive reached a truce with the lawmakers.

“Following consultations and an agreement between the Executive and the Legislature on the 2013 Appropriation Bill, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan today signed the bill into law.

“…As part of the understanding reached with its leadership, the observations of the executive arm of government about the Appropriation Bill as passed by the National Assembly will be further considered by the National Assembly through legislative action, to ensure effective and smooth implementation of the 2013 Appropriation Act in all aspects,” a statement signed by presidential spokesperson, Reuben Abati, read in part.

The budget passage comes more than eight weeks after the Senate and House Representatives unanimously approved a N4.987 trillion estimates against the N4.92 trillion the president forwarded to the lawmakers.

Despite the budget being passed by the National Assembly, in record time, on 20 December, 2012, the presidential assent was delayed due to bickering over differences between the estimates proposed by the executive and the one passed by the legislature.

President Jonathan’s reluctance in appending his signature to the budget, after it was reportedly forwarded to him on 13 January, forced some lawmakers to threaten to invoke the relevant sections of the constitution to override the president.

The lawmakers had, apart from slightly raising the total budget figure, also increased from $75 to $79, the oil benchmark proposed by the President.

In passing the budget, the lawmakers also declined to provide funds for the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, on account of the president’s refusal to honour their request to sack Arunma Oteh, the SEC Director-General, with whom they have had a running battle.

In a meeting the president had with the lawmakers for them to shift ground on Oteh and the oil benchmark, the National Assembly leadership did not budge, insisting the two issues were non-negotiable, reason the president stalled in approving the budget.

Posted On Wednesday, 27 February 2013 14:32 Written by

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Tuesday re-arraigned the former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Erastus Akingbola, over a N47 billion bank fraud.

Akingbola’s arraignment along side Bayo Dada, before Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo  followed the promotion of the former trial judge, Justice Habeeb Abiru to the Court of Appeal.

The matter had almost reached judgment stage before it was transferred to Justice Onigbanjo.

With the transfer, the matter will now start afresh.

At today’ proceeding, Akingbola was arraigned before Justice Onigbanjo on a 22- count charge of allegedly defrauding his former bank while he was the managing director.

Akingbola allegedly transferred the bank’s 8.5 million pounds into his domiciliary account.


Mr Abdulraheem Jimoh, Intercontinental Bank’s Chief Inspector, alleged that Akingbola converted the sum to his own use. Jimoh, who was being led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), told the court that the illegal transfers were made between March 16th and May 13th 2009 . He alleged that Akingbola used Inter-Capital Market Limited (ICML), a subsidiary of the bank, to carry out the transaction by unilaterally increasing its lifeline from N2 billion to N5 billion. The witness said: “they had a lifeline of N2 billion which, as at the time of this transaction, had been completely used. On March 11, 2009, ICML applied for an increase from N2 billion to N5 billion.

“The application was made to the Executive Director Investment and Strategy (Intercontinental) and the request was recommended and approved by the ED.” He said that the normal process was for the bank’s Board Risk Committee to ratify and approve such a request when it was a necessity.”

“In this case there was no approval or ratification,” he added.

According to him, it was from this increase that ICML gave N2.1 billion to another company, Regal Investment Company Limited, owned by Dr Raymond Obieri, the Chairman of Intercontinental Bank.

Jimoh alleged that the N2.1 billion was distributed to six bureau de change operators who converted it to foreign currencies by selling it to their customers.

The said the bureau de change operators later paid the money back into the bank’s Inter-Departmental Suspense (IDS) Account, Jimoh added.

He said that the sum of 8.5 million pounds was paid by a lady called Loveth into the account of Fulgher, a United Kingdom-based company in charge of leasing Intercontinental Bank offices.

The money, he said, was paid into Fulgher’s account with Royal Bank of Scotland.

The witness said the money was later transferred to Akingbola’s domiciliary account which was an irregular banking practice.

He said: “what we observed is that as at the time of the transfer of the 8.5 million pounds to Scotland, Akingbola did not have sufficient amount in his domiciliary account.

“He had only 10,043 pounds in his account. Ordinarily, banks do not transfer fund to customers whose accounts are not credited and Intercontinental Bank does not transfer funds from its NOSTRO account either.”

Jimoh claimed that Intercontinental Bank had no transaction with Fulgher on such an amount and therefore the transaction was not a transaction of the bank.

Earlier, Akingbola’s lawyer, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, had brought two applications dated July 15 and July 19 respectively, before the court. Fagbohungbe asked the court to discontinue the trial pending the hearing of the applications.

This was opposed by the EFCC, who claimed that the defence was trying to frustrate the trial and asked the court to dismiss them.

Abiru, however, ruled in favour of the prosecution and ordered that the trial should continue because the applications could still be heard any other time.

Posted On Tuesday, 26 February 2013 19:58 Written by

A former Head of State and National Leader of the Congress for Progressive Change, Maj.-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has said Nigeria is in the grip of bad government.

According to him, the Peoples Democratic Party wants to retain power by hook or crook.

Buhari, who was the 2011 presidential candidate for the CPC , spoke in Abuja on Monday at  an  interactive session  with  the party’s  elected representatives.

He said the events of the last 13 years had shown that the PDP did not possess the capacity to lead  the country.

Because of this, he said, it was obvious that the PDP  was not in the position to move the country forward and should therefore be booted out of power  in 2015.

The PDP, however, asked Nigerians not to take Buhari for his words, adding that the “serial presidential aspirants has lost focus and is not in tune with the reality in the country”.

The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh,  in a telephone interview with our correspondent,  said that  Buhari had yet to recover from his numerous rejections at the poll by Nigerians.

Buhari, however, said the PDP had never won election in the country.

He said while other political parties were merging and planning alliance, the PDP was busy aligning with the Independent National Electoral Commission, security agencies and the judiciary in order to remain in power.

The former Head of State  said, “A brief glance at the political history of Nigeria confirms that to hold power at the centre, you need a broad coalition, alliance, merger or whatever you may like to call it.

“Today’s situation is no different. The country is in the grip of a bad government whose only purpose is to retain power by hook or by crook – preferably by crook.

“PDP does not need merger or alliance – they are already merged and are in alliance with the  Police, INEC, and  the  Judiciary with the NNPC and pension funds.

“The country is tired of PDP; we are tired of oppression; we are tired of corruption; we are tired of insecurity and we are tired, full stop!”

Buhari urged the  elected representatives to know that the only way to send the PDP packing from Aso Rock  was through the merger which the CPC   is pursuing with two other opposition political parties.

Apart from the CPC, the other two political parties in the merger are the Action Congress of Nigeria and the All Nigeria Peoples Party.

The Katsina State-born general called on those in attendance at the event to regard themselves as  part  of the great movements  that would come together to unseat the PDP.

“I believe merger is the only way to prevent continuation of this bad governance. The political class is at one that the only way to stabilise the nation is for the opposition to merge and face the ruling party,” he added.

Buhari  said while elected members of the CPC  could hold their heads high that they were truly elected,  the same could not be said of their PDP counterparts.

According to him, “You were actually elected. You did not use police to intimidate voters; you did not use INEC staff to inflate your votes. You won in spite of all attempts by government to rig you out. How many in the PDP can say that? Very, very few.

“You can, therefore, hold your heads high and regard  yourselves as genuine representatives of your constituencies.You are true sons of democracy; your positions are   even more important than  those of  party officials and party leaders because you are the face of  the CPC.”

He also called on the people to work within the 1999 Constitution to effect the change in the leadership of the country.

Metuh, however, said Buhari was still day-dreaming, adding that his language did not portray him as someone desirous to lead the country.

He said Buhari should know that Nigerians were tired of “people who instigate; people who cause violence with their words and people who are in the habit of causing tension when they speak.”

The CPC national leader, he said, had not come to terms with the reality that Nigerians would not tolerate someone who  would continue to fight as a loser of election till eternity.

He said, “It is un-presidential for someone to be saying a rival political party has merged with state institutions like INEC, Police and the judiciary.

“That statement does not befit a man who says he wants to lead the country. We will want to add that such a comment is a pepper soup discussion that does not suit someone of Buhari’s status.

 “We understand his plight. He is a serial loser and does not know that Nigerians are tired of him as everlasting presidential aspirant.”

Posted On Tuesday, 26 February 2013 15:03 Written by

ABUJA- THE National leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday described the  election of former Chairman of Board of Trustees, BoT,  Tony Anenih into the office of Chairman of the board  as a bold step towards ensuring peace and harmony within the ranks of the Party.

In a statement  signed by PDP  National Publicity Secretary,  Chief Olisa Metuh, the PDP however  expressed confidence that Chief Anenih’s antecedents as a mobilizer and consensus builder over the years will contribute to the long term stability of the Party.

Metuh said,  “Chief Anenih’s tireless participation and critical role in the formation of the PDP places him in good stead to provide wise counsel and direct the influential Board of Trustees to follow the noble ideals of the founders of the Party.

His wealth of experience and acclaimed reputation as a democrat and consensus builder are assets that the Party needs at this critical point in our democratic evolution.

” Chief Anenih’s unanimous election by all members of the Board of Trustees has disappointed opposition elements and doomsday prophets who expected the process to result in rancor and acrimony.

“This  is yet another signal that the PDP is ever united and ready to overcome all perceived obstacles in our drive to provide focused leadership and service to the people of Nigeria.

“PDP calls  all Party members across board to give maximum cooperation to the new chairman of the BOT who has himself pledged to broaden the spread of the umbrella to accommodate all tendencies.”

Posted On Tuesday, 26 February 2013 14:29 Written by

Three years after they were handed a clean bill of health by the Abuja Division of the Appeal Court, the Supreme Court, yesterday, gave the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, the nod to prosecute erstwhile Senate President, Chief Adolphus Nwabara and former Minister of Education, Prof. Fabian Osuji, over alleged roles they played in the N55million money-for-budget scandal that rocked the upper legislative house in 2005.

Equally okayed for trial yesterday was Senator Ibrahim Abdulazeez who the anti-graft agency said was among the legislators that benefited from an initial N50million bribe that was offered to the then Senate by Prof. Osuji with a view to ensuring favourable passage of the year 2005 budget of the Federal Ministry of Education.

The accused persons were hitherto answering to a 15-count criminal charge bordering on bribery and corruption.

It will be recalled that the ICPC had on April 12, 2005, arraigned the ex-Senate President alongside six others before an Abuja High Court presided by Justice Hussein Muktar who eventually granted the accused persons bail on self recognition after they each deposited N10million.

Aside the aforementioned persons, others who equally pleaded not guilty to the charge were Senators John Azuta Mbata, Emmanuel Okpede, Badamasi Maccido and one Dr Garba Shehu Matazu.

Nevertheless, shortly after they were arraigned, the accused persons urged the trial court to quash the charge against them, insisting that the proof of evidence did not disclose a prima-facie case capable of warranting their prosecution.

Following refusal of trial Justice Muktar to accede to their request, Wabara and four of his co-accused persons took the matter before the appeal court in Abuja, where they contended that the trial judge erred in law by granting the ICPC leave to prefer a charge against them when its application to do so was not accompanied by statement on oath disclosing sufficient evidence of commission of any offence.

It was also their argument that the application by the ICPC was not supported by statements of “Star witness” such as Senator Chris Adigbije whose three incriminating statements against them they said were not attached to the application.

Besides, they accused the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo of prejudicing the minds of the public including the trial judge through a national broadcast wherein he was said to have directed the trial judge to go ahead and jail them for their manifest corrupt tendencies at the legislative house.

In its verdict that was delivered by Justice Mary Peter Odili on June 1, 2010, the appellate court panel upheld the arguments of the accused persons and not only quashed the charge against them, but equally discharged all of them.

Meantime, before the appellate court could conclude the proceeding before it, two of the accused Senators, Okpede and Maccido, who were part of those that endorsed the appeal, died.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, ICPC, proceeded to the Supreme Court were it posed eight questions for determination, among which included whether the appellate court was right in holding that for the consent of the high court judge to prefer charge to be secured pursuant to section 340(2) (a) and (b) of the Criminal Procedure Code, such application must be accompanied by statements on oath or otherwise disclosing sufficient evidence of the commission of an offence.

“Whether the appeal court was right to hold that the national broadcast by the President of Nigeria, was a communication to the trial judge by a person in command of influence over him and that the broadcast, was clear example of the manipulation of the judiciary and judicial process by the executive.

As well as “whether the appeal court erred in law when they held that the accused persons had not in any way been implicated in the proofs of evidence supplied with the application for consent.”

In their unanimous judgment yesterday, a five-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court led by Justice Dattijo Muhammad upturned the decision of the appellate court, saying “the judgment of the court below to the contrary is perverse.”

The apex court further relied on the decided case-law in Oniah v Onyia, 1989, 1-NWLR, part 79 and the case of Adebayo V Babalola, 1995, 7-NWLR, part 405, and held that after carefully examining the proof of evidence, statements of the accused persons, other relevant exhibits and documents tendered by the ICPC, it was satisfied that they disclosed “sufficient materials on the basis of which the trial court exercised its discretion judiciously and judicially.

“on the whole, I hereby allow the meritorious appeal, set-aside the judgment of the court below, restore the trial court’s decision and remit the case to the court for the trial of the respondents to be conducted and concluded expeditiously,” Justice Muhammad held.

The other Justices who concurred to the judgment yesterday were Justices Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, John Afolabi Fabiyi, Olukayode Ariwoola and Kumai Bayan Aka’ahs.

Posted On Monday, 25 February 2013 00:12 Written by

The Federal Government yesterday said it has so far recovered about N26 billion from the petroleum subsidy cabal which defrauded government of about N232billion last year.

Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance,  Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed this yesterday while briefing State House Correspondents after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting at the Presidential  Villa, Abuja.

Iweala observed that the recovery followed President Goodluck Jonathan’s  resolve to tackle corruption alongside other socio economic challenges facing the country.

Anambra governor,  Peter Obi, who also doubles as deputy chairman of the Governors’ Forum, had disclosed that the National Economic Council (NEC) plans an anti- corruption session to brainstorm on how to tackle the malaise in the country.

Governor Obi had said that no government has been more vocal  about the issue  of corruption and mismanagement of resources that the current administration.

“Whether it is in pension or elsewhere , what is happening in pension and the issue of subsidy did not happen today. What we are talking about is the overall impact, whether it is the money we used to fund education, health, and any other sector,  what we want is to make sure that the money is utilised in the manner that is effective  and productive and lowering the effect of corruption.”

Okonjo-Iweala, contributing, reiterated  government’s efforts at tackling corruption, describing the decision of  the NEC  as very “necessary.

“It is interesting that you now have members of the National Economic Council  debating this issue. What can we do to make sure  that in each and every sector, we have accountability, to ensure transparency. This is something that the president will very much want and those of us on the side of finance very much welcome”.

The minister also disclosed that  efforts to clean up  fuel subsidy fraud have been yielding fruit, as government has so far recovered about N26 billion of the N232b stolen.

“There  was some clean up in the N1trillion  worth  of subsidy transactions when it was investigated by  the Aig-Imoukhuede committee and he reported openly how N232 billion worth of transaction was found to be questionable.

“As a result, we identified 25 companies that  were found to be guilty and we published their names  in the newspapers for Nigerians to see, and we set about  recovering the money and N26 billion  is what we have been able to recover so far. This  is part of the commitment of President Jonathan to ensure that the sector is properly cleaned up.”

She disclosed that the government has also acted quickly in freezing the account of the Pension Commission, when  it was identified that there was fraud in the system.

“We are now building a new department  to take over the pension fund, government is tightening up on the old pension” she said.

Okonjo-Iweala, who also spoke on the 2013 budget, said both the president and members of the National Assembly had been meeting to  harmonise areas of differences in the best interest of Nigerians.

“We want the budget that can be well implemented, so to that extent, we have  seen various talks with the National Assembly and it is still ongoing, trying to iron  out the areas of differences in the budget. As you know, it is a give and take process, but at the end of the day I think we are having a constructive engagement on the issue.


Posted On Friday, 22 February 2013 14:12 Written by

Seven French tourists, members of the same family—three adults and four children, were kidnapped Tuesday by unidentified men in northern Cameroon, near the border with Nigeria, a source close to the French embassy in Yaounde said.

President Francois Hollande of France believed the Nigerian Ansaru terror group, the same group that kidnapped seven foreigners at a construction site, run by SETRACO in Jama’are, Bauchi state of Nigeria, was behind the latest abduction.

“Seven French tourists were captured today by men, apparently on motorbikes, in the Cameroonian locality of Dadanga on the frontier with Nigeria,” the source said. “Clearly the tourists were returning from the Waza natural park.”

A security source in the area told AFP the kidnapping “involved three adults and four children,” adding that security forces were hunting for the kidnappers the length of the border with Nigeria.

An anonymous source in Waza park said the tourists went to visit the park yesterday. “They slept in the park’s tourist camp where they left this morning,” the source said.

It’s the first time that Western tourists have been kidnapped in Cameroon, although hostage taking frequently occurs off the Cameroonian coast, the last incident dating back to February 8.

President Francois Hollande confirmed that seven French tourists from one family, including four children, were kidnapped Tuesday in northern Cameroon and said he suspected a Nigeria group was responsible.

“What is most probable is they were taken to Nigeria,” Hollande said, adding that they were seized by a Nigeria-based “terrorist group that we know well”.

Posted On Wednesday, 20 February 2013 14:52 Written by

For Dame Patience Jonathan, wife of Nigeria’s President, Sunday 17 February, was a day of thanksgiving and praises to God over the still mysterious illness that took her away from the country for many weeks last year without any official explanations by the Presidency.

Though the first lady did not lift the lid on the nature of her affliction during the thanksgiving which began at Aso Rock Presidential Villa on Sunday morning, she however left no one in doubt that it was life threatening as she revealed that she was dead for a week and had nine surgeries within one month at the German hospital she was treated.

In her testimony during the thanksgiving service attended by her husband, members of the Nigerian cabinet and bigwigs of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mrs. Jonathan said she would have been dead but for God’s intervention.

The wife of Nigeria’s President added that her condition was so critical that she was the one asking for the surgeries while her travail lasted. She added that God gave her a second chance and sent her back to earth even after she gave up the ghost because she has not completed the assignments He gave her.

Mrs Jonathan who likened her case to that of Biblical Lazarus said but for the divine intervention, her corpse would have been brought back to the country like that of Stella, the late wife of former President Obasanjo who died in Spain where she went for a tummy reducing operation.

“I am not Lazarus but my experience was similar to his. My doctors said all hope was lost. A black doctor in London who is with us in this service was flown in when the situation became critical. It was God himself in His infinite mercy that said I will return to Nigeria. God woke me up after seven days”, Mrs Jonathan said.

“I know that some people somehow leaked the information that I was dead. They are people that I trust and rely on; to them, I was dead and I would never return to the country alive. Some of them even sold my things off. “I won’t say everything here. It is the Lord’s doing that I returned alive. When God says yes, nobody can say no”, she added.

Mrs. Jonathan said her experience has now made her more committed to serving humanity: “The day I came back, I said God I have nothing to say, I offer myself to you. I will be doing things that will touch the lives of the less privilege”, she said.

The thanksgiving was rounded off with a session of praise and thanksgiving at the banquet hall of the Presidential Villa Abuja attended by President Jonathan, former Head of State Yakubu Gowon and Ernest Shonekan, Vice President Namadi Sambo and his wife, Christian clerics led by Pastor Ayo Oritshejafor, President, Christian Association of Nigeria, members of PDP, technocrats, ministers, businessmen and others.

Speaking at the event in which notable gospel musicians like Yinka Ayefele, Asu Ekiye and Onyeka Onwenu performed, Mrs. Jonathan thanked her husband, friends and her staff for standing by her during the period of her illness. While thanking Nigerians whose prayers, she said contributed to her healing, Mrs Jonathan however asked Nigerians to continue to pray for inhabitants of Aso Rock presidential Villa.

The First Lady who also reiterated her commitment to continue to serve humanity, especially doing things that will touch the lives of the less privileged in the society implored Nigerians to continue to pray for their leaders at every level.
Significantly, the Presidency had insisted that Mrs. Jonathan was not ill, but only resting abroad when it became public knowledge that the President’s wife, Patience has been evacuated to Germany.

Mrs. Jonathan’s spokesman, Ayo Osinlu, told journalists on 3 September 2012 that the President’s wife travelled out of the country to take a “moment’s rest”, though he refused to disclose her whereabouts: “If you look at her itinerary in August, you would be wondering how she was able to accomplish that. In the course of this week, she will be back home. But remember, it all depends on her plans,” he said.

Reuben Abati, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, curtly told reporters that the story “was a rumour and there is nothing like that”, when he was asked to confirm if the First Lady was taken outside the country for treatment.

Posted On Sunday, 17 February 2013 22:19 Written by

At least six foreign workers have been seized and a security guard shot dead by gunmen who attacked a construction company site in northern Nigeria, officials say.

One of the workers seized was Italian, one was Greek and two others Lebanese.

But UK officials could not confirm a report that another was British.

No-one has admitted the abductions but the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram, has staged a series of attacks in northern Nigeria.

A security guard was killed as the attackers targeted the workers' camp at Jama'are in Bauchi state.

Correspondents say it is the biggest kidnapping in northern Nigeria in recent times.

Police station attacked

Lebanese foreign minister Adnan Mansour said two of those held were from Lebanon.

An Italian and a Greek national were also abducted from the site run by Lebanese-owned firm Setraco, the foreign ministries in Rome and Athens confirmed.

Another of those seized was a Filipino, a union leader at Setraco told the BBC.

The Italian ambassador in Abuja said, "Italy's absolute priority is the safety of its compatriot," Ansa news agency reported.

A UK foreign office spokesman said it was investigating reports of a Briton being kidnapped.

The raid was preceded by an attack on the local police station, when two vehicles were blown up, in the town of Jama'are, some 125 miles (200km) north of the state capital, Bauchi.

The attackers then moved on to a camp belonging to Setraco, killing a guard and seizing the workers. Setraco is currently expanding a major road in the area.

The state capital has itself been attacked several times by Boko Haram, which wants to impose Sharia (Islamic law) across Nigeria.

Earlier this month, nine polio vaccinators were shot dead at two health centres in northern Nigeria.

Some Nigerian Muslim leaders have previously opposed polio vaccinations, claiming they could cause infertility.

The BBC's security correspondent Gordon Corera says Boko Haram has emerged as one of the most prolific militant groups in West Africa, carrying out a large number of low-level attacks but also some more sophisticated attacks.

Posted On Sunday, 17 February 2013 14:32 Written by