Saturday, 18 November 2017
Items filtered by date: September 2016
Thursday, 29 September 2016 22:42

Breaking: APC wins Edo governorship election

Candidate of the‎ All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Edo State governorship election, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has been declared winner of the ‎September 28 governorship election by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Nineteen political parties contested in the election which was initially scheduled to hold on September 10, but had to be shifted to September 28 over security concerns as advised by security agencies.

INEC’s Returning Officer for the election, Prof. Kayode Soremekun, Vice Chancellor, Federal University, Oye Ekiti, who declared Obaseki winner of the election, said the APC flagbearer polled a total of 319,483 to beat his closest rival, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who polled 253,173 votes.

He disclosed that out of the 1,900,223 total voters registered across the state, ‎622,069 were accredited for the election, out of which 613,244 voted.

‎Mr. Obaseki won in 13 local government areas of the state, while Pastor Ize-Iyamu won in five.

The results for the two leading parties from the 18 local government areas as announced by the INEC are as follows:

Edo North: Akoko Edo – APC: 24,545; PDP: 13,027; Etsako East – APC: 18,078; PDP: 12,552; Etsako West – APC: 29,199; PDP: 10,843; Etsako Central – APC:10,373; PDP: 8,827; Owan West – APC: 12,862; PDP: 10,132; Owan East – APC: 12,862; PDP: 10,132.

Edo Central: Esan West – APC: 13,114; PDP: 16,311; Esan Central – APC: 9,781; PDP: 10,180 and Esan North-East – APC: 9,130; PDP: 16,220; Igueben – APC: 7,802; PDP: 7,560; Esan South-West – APC: 9,554; PDP: 11,466.

Edo South: Ovia North-East – APC: 17,561; PDP: 13,149; Ovia Soouth-West – APC: 12,820; PDP: 8,810; Ikpoba-Okha – APC: 33,469; PDP: 26,096; Oredo – APC: 37,612; PDP: 30,492; Egor – APC: 26,177; PDP: 19,514; Uhumwode – APC: 10,911; PDP: 8,667 and Orhiomwon – APC: 15,260; PDP: 16,446.

Pronouncing the APC candidate, Mr. Goodwin Obaseki, as winner of the gubernatorial election, Professor Soremekun said: “I hereby declared that Mr. Godwin Obaseki of the APC, haven satisfied the requirement of the law by scoring the highest number of votes, is hereby declared winner of the election and is returned elected.”

Published in Headliners

The governorship election in Edo has recorded an impressive turnout with voters arriving at polling stations in large numbers across the state.

As early as 7.30 a.m., voters were seen in large numbers eager to cast their vote in all the polling centres visited.

It was also observed that the exercise in all the polling stations monitored was peaceful and orderly.

Adequate security personnel were deployed to ensure orderliness at the polling stations.

Officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, also arrived early with election materials and were getting set to commence the conduct of the exercise.

At Fabiyi Akpata Primary School, Benin, many voters were present, while INEC officials and security agents were seen manning the units and maintaining order.

ACP, PDP, APC and ACPN agents in the six units said they were impressed by the conduct of the election and expressed hope that the exercise would be successful.

Mrs Angella Akenzua, 68, said she was impressed by the orderliness in the conduct of the exercise, particularly the early arrival of officials and election materials.

At Uhonmora Ora in Owan West Local Government Area, election materials arrived at Ward 2, Units 10-13 as early as 7.39 a.m. and security agents and INEC officials were also ground.

Accreditation and voting commenced at Afuze 1, unit 11, Owan East at 8.30 a.m. with many voters checking their names on the voter register pasted on the wall.

At Iguododo Primary School, Evboehighae, Iwoba Ward and Evbokabua, all in Orhiomwon Local Government Area, accreditation and voting were peaceful.

The situation was the same in Oredo Ward 7, New Era Secondary School, as INEC officials and materials arrived at 7 a.m., while armed security personnel were monitoring the proceedings.

But the card readers in the Oredo ward 7 were not functioning well, so also in Ward 2, Unit 6 and Ward 3 Unit 10 in Uromi Essan North-East Local Government Area.

The same situation was observed in Etsako West Local Government Area.

Voting and accreditation had commenced at Apena ward 10, unit 11 and unit 13, and at Iyamho Primary School.

Published in News & Stories

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has arraigned a former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman O. Jibrin and two others: Rear Admiral Bala Mshelia (retd) and Rear Admiral Shehu Ahmadu (retd) before Justice A. S Umar of the FCT High Court sitting in Maitama, Abuja on a 4-count charge bordering on criminal conspiracy. 

They were docked alongside Harbour Bay International Limited on Wednesday.

One of the naval chiefs docked by EFCC for N600m fraud

One of the naval chiefs docked by EFCC for N600m fraud

The naval chiefs whilst in office allegedly bought a house worth N600 million from the account of Naval Engineering Services without the said purchase contract being captured in the budget.

The naval chiefs arriving in court to face the N600m fraud charge

The naval chiefs arriving in court to face the N600m fraud charge

It was also alleged that the documentation for transfer of ownership of the property was done such that a private company owned by the family of the first defendant (Vice Admiral Jibrin) became the buyer. The case is on going.

One of the naval chiefs docked by EFCC for N600m fraud

One of the naval chiefs docked by EFCC for N600m fraud

suspect-3

Published in Business and Economy
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 23:52

House of Reps suspends Abdumumin Jibrin

The House of Representatives on Wednesday suspended Rep. Abdulmumin Jibrin (APC-Kano), the embattled former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, for a year.

Specifically, Jibrin was ordered to abstain from the lower legislative chamber for 180 legislative days for breach of privileges of members.

Jibrin’s suspension would see him barred from the premises of the National Assembly in the course of the disciplinary action and would not receive salaries or allowances.

Part of the punitive measures further stated that Jibrin would not be able to hold any position of responsibility for the lifespan of the current National Assembly.

These followed the adoption of the report of the House Committee on Ethics and Priviledges chaired by Rep. Nicholas Ossai at the plenary, presided over by the Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr Yussuf Lasun.

According to the report, the committee found that Jibrin’s statements were injurious, scandalous and denigrating to the House as an institution.

It also stated that Jibrin’s statements brought down the image of the members thereby subjecting the house to opprobrium.

The report further said that the action of Jibrin amounted to an infraction of section 21 and 24 of the legislative House.

It would be recalled that Jibrin had alleged that the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers, were corrupt and should resign.

Dogara had announced, shortly before the House went on a two-month recess, the removal of Jibrin in a speech he read in plenary on July 20, alleging budget fraud and serial betrayal of trust.

Upon resumption on Sept. 20, the House moved a motion the next day to have Jibrin probed for allegedly breaching the privileges of members.

Rep. Emmanuel Orker-Jev, (APC-Benue), proposed sanctions against Jubrin for the damage his allegations allegedly caused on the house.

The House also demanded that Jibrin should tender a formal written apology upon serving out the period of his suspension.

Jibrin had obtained an Abuja court injunction to stop his suspension by the committee.

Reacting to the suspension on Wednesday, Jibrin wrote a letter to the House, Attorney-General of the Federation and security agencies, promising to continue his anti-corruption crusade.

He threatened to initiate charges of contempt of court against the speaker and the house.

Published in Headliners
Wednesday, 28 September 2016 23:47

Former police I-G Etim Inyang dies at 85

A former Inspector-General of Police (I-G), Mr Etim Nyang, has died in Lagos at the age of 85.

His son, Nyang Etim-Nyang, said in a statement that the former I-G died on Monday at Reddington Hospital, Lagos.

”We write to formally announce the call to glory of our father, Obong (Sir) Etim Okon Inyang, Inspector General of Police (retd).

”The sad event occurred at the Reddington Hospital, Lagos on Sept. 26, 2016 at the age of 85,” the family said in the statement.

Inyang joined the Nigeria Police Force on Oct. 1, 1949 and rose through the ranks to become Nigeria’s top cop until his retirement in October 1986.

He was at various times Commissioner of Police in Kano and old Bendel States and was also appointed Vice Chairman of the Constitution Review Committee in 1987.

A recipient of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), Inyang is survived by his wife, Mary, and five children.

Published in News & Stories

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Tuesday re-arraigned a former governor of Abia, Orji Kalu and two others on a 34-count amended charge bordering on fraud.

Kalu, his company, Slok Nigeria Limited and his former Commissioner for Finance, Jones Udeogo, were re-arraigned before Justice Anwuri Chikere of the Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday.

The defendants’ plea that the court should await the pending appeal by Slok before the Supreme Court failed.

NAN reports that Chikere had refused the defendants’ objection to their arraignment and ordered that the charge be read to them.

Kalu and others were, in the amended charge, accused of diverting about N3.2 billion from the Abia government’s treasury during Kalu’s tenure as governor.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charges and Chikere allowed them on bail on the terms attached to the bail granted them on April 30, 2008.

They had, eight years earlier been arraigned before Justice Adamu Bello, who is now retired.

The court adjourned the case till Dec. 6 for commencement of trial.

Published in Headliners

A witness in the ongoing trial of the personal assistant to former President Goodluck Jonathan on domestic matters, Waripamo-Owei Emmanuel Dudafa on Monday told the Lagos Federal High Court presided by Justice M.B. Idris how he received a total sum of N1,667,162,800 from the former presidential aide through five different companies between 2013 and 2015.

The companies are Pluto Properties and Investment Limited, Avalon Global Property, Rotato Interlink Services, Seagate Property and Ebiwise Services Limited.

The witness, Murtala Bashir Abubakar made the disclosure when he was
led in evidence by the prosecution counsel Rotimi Oyedepo and was
asked to explain to the court his relationship with Dudafa.

The witness, a Bureau de Change operator who plies his trade under three different companies, Na Mu Duka Ventures, Yamusa Oil Services Limited and 313 Ventures informed the court that he knew Dudafa since the accused was a Commissioner for Local Government in Bayelsa State under the administration of Governor Timpre Sylva.

He further told the court that the only relationship between the two of them was that of Forex, a relationship that continued up to the time Dudafa became a personal assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan.

In explaining the nature of their transaction, the witness informed the court that Dudafa usually sent two of his staff, Festus and German with Dollars in order to change same and deposit the Naira equivalent into specific accounts provided by Dudafa via text messages.

The witness disclosed those text messages he received from Dudafa on his Samsung mobile phone which he used to receive those messages from Dudafa. The mobile phone as well as Ownership Attestation Form were admitted and marked as Exhibits E and E1 respectively.

When asked whether all the instructions on how to disburse the money were received via text messages, Murtala said all of it but the last transaction in which Dudafa invited him to the Presidential Villa and handed him cash of $4,000,000 (Four Million Dollars Only).

The witness was confronted with exhibits A-B3 in which he identified all the transactions that transpired between himself and Dudafa from 2013 to 2015 both from his companies’ accounts and his personal account.

At the end of the examination in chief, the witness confirmed that all the Dollars he received during the transactions in question, came from Dudafa.

When it was time for the defence to proceed with cross examination of the witness, counsel representing the Dudafa, Gbenga Oyewale requested the court for an adjournment.

Sunday Abumeri, counsel to the second defendant also aligned with the position of Oyewale in seeking for an adjournment.

Rotimi Oyedepo objected the prayer of the two counsel but Justice Idris eventually granted the application of the defence counsel and adjourned the matter to Tuesday, 27 September, 2016 for continuation of trial.

Published in Business and Economy

President Muhammadu Buhari said his government is not ready to negotiate with Boko Haram until it is clear who is leading the terror group.

“I gave directives on three different occasions and I am not ready to go beyond this unless the leaders of Boko Haram come out in the open and say that they are leaders of Boko Haram,” he told VOA on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“Then I will be ready to talk to them but not [to] somebody coming to tell me that they are bringing one person or two people today and that they are leaders of Boko Haram,” he said, speaking in Hausa.

In recent weeks, longtime leader Abubakar Shekau and former spokesman Abu Musab al-Barnawi have each stated they are leading the Islamist extremist group.

Buhari also said the frustration over the inability to liberate the Chibok girls needs to be put in perspective.

He said that Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 Nigerians since it began its insurgency in 2009 and the kidnapping of the 230 girls from the northeastern town of Chibok in 2014 is just one of many atrocities they have committed.

Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram leader

Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram leader

He added the government will work to reunite Chibok girls with their parents and make sure that they return to school.

Niger Delta Avengers

Buhari stated that a new group targeting the oil industry in the Niger Delta, the Niger Delta Avengers, is not only causing security issues but also hindering economic and development progress in the country.

The militant group has claimed responsibility for attacks in the south and at one point, cut the country’s oil output in half, according to Bloomberg. He said the insurgents are “blowing the pipes providing electricity services to the Nigerians.”

However, Buhari said this is not going to prevent the government from addressing Nigeria’s electricity and power shortfalls. The government is planning to construct more dams in the northeastern area known as the Mambila Plateau to provide hydropower as well as add dams in other locations, he said.

“We are working toward this tirelessly,” he said.

Gunmen in Niger Delta

Gunmen in Niger Delta

Buhari added that his government will negotiate with the Avengers if they are open to it, but cautioned that he is fully prepared to continue the military campaign to its conclusion.

“If they are not ready for compromise, so be it. We are ready for them,” he said.

Corruption in government

Buhari acknowledged the longstanding, ongoing problem of corruption of Nigeria, but said he cannot deal with it in the same manner as in 1983 when he came to power through a coup.

During that time, commonly known as the “war against indiscipline,” his government was able to arrest and swiftly imprison those suspected of corruption.

Now, he said, things are different.

“We have to investigate, confirm before arresting people,” Buhari said. “We have to observe or follow due process before we prosecute them. This is what is wasting our time. Irrespective of this problem, we were able to recover a lot of money both in Nigerian currency and foreign currency.”

Buhari came back to power when he defeated incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 election.

Published in Headliners
Sunday, 25 September 2016 23:48

Resign now, Tinubu tells Odigie-Oyegun

The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has asked the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, to resign immediately.

The former Lagos State governor accused Oyegun of betraying the party in the conduct of the primary election for the party’s candidate in the Ondo governorship election.

Tinubu’s media office in a statement on Sunday accused Oyegun of sabotaging the will of democracy in Ondo State by overriding the decision of the appeal panel that asked for a fresh governorship primary following investigations that showed that the delegates’ list used had been tampered with.

Michael Olusegun Abraham, an aspirant for the governorship ticket of the APC in Ondo State, had in a statement at the weekend expressed disappointment at Oyegun over the emergence of a former President of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, as candidate.

Tinubu in his statement said: “The APC, a party born of the quest for democratic good governance, is under critical threat by those who managed to be in the party but never of it. From the party’s inception, the principles of democratic fairness and justice were to guide APC internal deliberations. Party founders realized that only by intramural fair dealing could the party remain faithful to the progressive ideals that we presented to the Nigerian electorate as our governing creed. If the party could not justly govern itself, it would find it difficult to establish and maintain just government throughout the nation.

“In essence, the party was the embodiment of a democratic promise made between its members as well as a democratic vow made to the public. Evidently, some errant members believe promises and vows are mere words to be easily spoken and more easily broken. Chairman John Oyegun has breached these good pledges in a most overt and brazen display. In doing so, Oyegun has dealt a heavy blow to the very party he professes to lead. It is an awful parent who suffocates his own child for the sake of a few naira. The party was supposed to buttress APC members elected to government at all levels. Because of Oyegun’s conduct of our affairs, the party is rapidly becoming an albatross to those it was meant to help.

“Oyegun’s comportment regarding the Ondo State primary will become the textbook definition of political treachery and malfeasance of the basest order. In early September, the state primary was held. A purported winner was named. Having faith in the ways of the party, Tinubu publicly accepted what he assumed to be a verdict honestly derived. As a democrat, one must face the possibility of defeat and accept such as outcome with as much grace as one would embrace victory. One of the few bright spots during the conduct of the primaries was Jigawa Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Badaru Abubakar. He chaired the primary convention with decorum and impartiality. He was unaware that a tampered list had been slipped into the process.

“Indeed within hours of the announcement, news began to filter in that gravely disturbed me. Credible allegations of fraud troubled the waters. The delegate list had been materially altered by someone in a strategic position to so do. The names of over 150 valid delegates were excised to make room for an equal number of impostors. This was not a clerical error. The alteration was wilfully executed that the primary would be directed toward a chosen end that bore nothing in common with the will of most state party members. A cunning few had tried to deceive the many into believing they were outnumbered. “A conspiracy to steal the Ondo primary had been uncovered.

“Fortunately, the grand deception afoot had been unable to cover its tracks fast enough. Truth began to cry for justice. Several candidates filed petitions contesting the result. The party established an investigative board to review the evidence. In a two to one decision, the panel found the delegate roster had suffered tampering. The panel recommended that a new primary should be held using the valid delegate list. This recommendation was tabled before the National Working Committee (NWC).

“After many hours of deliberations spanning several days, a final vote was held by the NWC. Before hand, NWC members agreed that the decision of the majority would become the stance of the party. Such is the way of democracy. The NWC voted six against five to cancel the fraudulent results and hold an honest primary. For a moment, it seemed the party would restore its integrity by giving democracy a chance. However, those who sought to scam an entire state would not let the vote of 11 people spoil their enterprise.

“After the NWC vote, a noticeably agitated Chairman Oyegun proposed the NWC engage in prayer before concluding the meeting. Adhering to this chairman’s request, NWC members began to pray. Seeing that the others had taken his bait, Oyegun used the prayerful interlude to secretly excuse himself from the meeting. Contravening the NWC decision and in violation of all rules of fundamental decency, Oyegun decided to safeguard the fraud done in Ondo by perpetrating a greater fraud. Oyegun arrogated to himself the right to submit the name of Rotimi Akeredolu to INEC as the candidate of the party.

“Truth has finally come to light. There exists a regressive element in the party that cares nothing for the progressive ideas upon which this party was founded. They joined the APC because it was the best ride available at the time. Now they want to guide the party into the ditch. They want to turn the party into a soulless entity incapable of doing good, just like they are. When such a person tastes power, they shed all good restraint. They come to abuse the trust given them as if they are the owners of that trust and not its mere custodians. These people did little to build the party but now will do much to wreck it.

“Our party was to stand for change. Oyegun and his fellows seem to be on a different wave length. They are the cohort of Unchange. The APC wants to guide Nigeria into a better tomorrow. Oyegun and the cohort of unchange want to pull Nigeria back into the past where rigging and vote stealing were the old and new testaments of politics. They want the people to think that there is no alternative to their reactionary system of skewed politics and imperious government.

“Thus, they seek to turn the APC into a factory of the very political malpractices the people soundly rejected in the past election. To choke the APC in this manner is to kill the chance for progressive reform for the foreseeable future. Much more than the Ondo primary is at stake. Oyegun has revealed his team’s game plan: It is the destruction of progressive politics and governance on behalf of the people.

“As party chairman, Oyegun was supposed to protect our internal processes and be an impartial arbiter, a person in whom all had confidence. Instead, he donned the garment of a confident man, duping the NWC, the party, and INEC in one fell blow. He has robbed APC members in Ondo State of the chance to pick in a fair manner who they believe is the best candidate.

“As such, he has broken faith with the party and probably has broken a few laws. The consequences of what he has done are more expansive than a man of his scope can fathom,” Tinubu said as he said that Oyegun must have been under some major sinister influence as to allow what happened. “With strong expectation, we await a response to Oyegun’s wrongdoing from those who clamored so long and loudly about Tinubu’s alleged role in the Ondo primary.

“Leading into the primary, a prominent lawyer from Ondo published lengthy missives alleging that Tinubu was a malicious hand intent on rigging the primary. His letters spoke of his great love for democracy and justice. Though Oyegun has assaulted democracy in a most public and vulgar way, this lawyer’s prolific pen will remain stilled. He dare not publish a word about this travesty. His silence will be sign for all who care to decipher its meaning.

“The plan was to point the accusing finger at Tinubu. With everyone focused on Tinubu, they would have distracted all attention from the heist they had set in motion. As fate would have it, the trickery they hoped to conduct in the shadows has come to light.

“Those who so actively attributed imaginary wrong to Tinubu now stand dumb and mute in the face of confirmed impropriety. They remain silent for reasons they cannot divulge. Oyegun and his ilk turn out to be gangsters adorned in the tunic of party authority.

“Oyegun has engaged in the strange math where five is greater than six. This smacks of how the PDP conducted its affairs and orchestrated its own downfall. Tinubu disparaged such malpractice when it was not in his party. Tinubu surely disowns it now that it has invaded the party he helped bring to fruition.

“Tinubu has consciously refused to hold any official position with the party to avoid the perception that he was trying to control all and sundry. Tinubu has even kept his peace for some time despite many things that happened within the party that were not quite right. He exercised this forbearance because the party is young. A collective endeavor cannot avoid the mistakes and errors of organizational newness and evolution.

“Yet, the wrongs Oyegun committed had nothing to do with newness or the mistakes occasioned by the path of reform. His actions are in the nature of the old wrongs that have afflicted our national politics much too long. If Oyegun wants to walk backward into the past, he has every right to it. However, he has no right to drag the party or any of us with him. Against our choosing.

“The informal title of national leader of the party was given to Tinubu at the onset which he accepted it as a sign from those who wished to recognize my contributions to the party’s formation. It is an honorific title which he has been proud to wear until today. I would rather not have any title yet reside in a party that honors democracy than hold a title in a party that says it honors me but that treats justice with indecency. I find greater honour and comfort where democracy and fairness are found and respected.

“Oyegun has done the irredeemable. His coup is an insult to party and to patriot, to reason and to the reform agenda of this government. To remain silent would be to admit the defeat of the reform and progressive change many have labored to bring forth. While the forces resistant to change and reform are strong, Tinubu dare not submit to them. Tinubu encourages all party members not to submit to them. If we acquiesce in this wrong, the one greater than this shall cascade upon us.

“Oyegun’s transgressions are a warning. He is but the mercenary of forces that seek to return the nation to the old ways. If they get away with this infraction, no telling what or whom they will undermine tomorrow. Much is at stake. On the chopping block, lies the future of the political party in which the majority of voters had placed their confidence. To rescue the party, Oyegun must go. He has shown that he and democratic fair play cannot exist in the same party at the same time.

“If Tinubu is to choose between John Oyegun and progress toward a better Nigeria, the choice has already been made. For those who care about the party, who care about Nigeria and its chance for a better tomorrow, now is the time to stand against this brewing evil before it grows to encompass all we have built and all we hold dear.”

Published in Headliners
Sunday, 25 September 2016 22:47

Sunmi Smart-Cole: It’s the ‘75th shot’

TO many people, his story begins and revolves around photography. That notion seems to be right but it is absolutely wrong. Don’t just think about Sunmi Smart-Cole and visualise photography alone. Doing that may not be a balanced reflection on a journey that commenced 75 years ago in Port Harcourt without the glamour that has largely distinguished it so far. Now, whenever the name crosses your mind, also think barbing, architecture, drumming, and journalism.

Though, there are other glitzy fields of endeavour that also add up, the aforementioned, in many ways and different scales, defined the man, whose formal education abruptly ended at 15 because of hunger.

With these areas of pursuit being part of his story, it is amazing that he is synonymous with photography in a way that literally subsumed other areas that also contributed in making him a brand. Indeed,   Smart-Cole lives and personifies photography like no one had done in Nigeria or better still Africa. Since 1976 when he took to photography, Smart-Cole, who was born on September 25, 1941, to a Nigerian and Sierra Leonean parentage, had applied panache, power and character in a fashion that leaves no room for him not to be admired. Through his lens, remarkable stories have been told, bridges have been built and records have been made and broken across the world. To have eventually engraved his name on gold with these feats appear surprising given that he was just a ‘’common barber” (the phrase he told SundayVanguard, was used by the late Brig Gen Benjamin Adekunle in describing him when the latter pushed him into a drainage system at Yaba.’’ Unlike many big names in Nigeria today, becoming the brand that he is was neither accidental nor unmerited, as Smart-Cole, who is being celebrated today by family and friends, told Sunday Vanguard in a chat that his bold steps were inspired by the nonavailability of funds to continue with his education at the age of 15.  

The Sunmi’s Place

‘’I stopped going to school at the age of I5 because my mother, who was just a petty trader, could not fund my education because she had no money. I became an elementary school teacher but hunger made me to set up a barber shop,” he said, during the interview that was held at his Yaba residence. Named the Sunmi’s Place, the saloon, which he said was located in Yaba, was sort of a melting pot for socialites especially the young at heart in Lagos in the 60s.

‘’My barber shop, Sunmi’s Place, was located at number 1 McEwen Street, off Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba.   I borrowed £40   to pay   the rent   and also borrowed   £12   to buy equipment and furniture from the late Chief Adetuniji Soyede, paternal grandfather of Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, wife of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo. I had been an elementary school teacher at the age of 15. My self-education started at that time.   I was buying old books and magazines like Time magazine, News Week, Readers Digest among others. I learnt how to speak in English by always waking up between 4 and 5am to listen to the BBC radio. That was how I learnt how to speak English.” Interestingly, the majority of his clientele then later became men of power and influence in the contemporary Nigerian society. Continuing, he said: ‘’The other language I speak is Krio Pidgin. At 17, I was apprenticed to an architectural draughtsman who taught me the rudiments of architecture. I had the dubious distinction of designing the washrooms at Ikoyi Club, Lagos, when I worked with Nixon and Boris, the country home of the Prime Minister of Sierra Leone, Sir Albert Margarai, in his village, Gbamgbatoke. I also designed an extension to the house of Mr. Johnie Smythe, QC, a one-time Attorney General of Sierra Leone and another house with a swimming pool at the top, for BBC presenter of   “Good Morning Africa” programme, Pete Myers.  

Artist and Road Manager

‘’ In 1966, the late musicologist, bandleader, and impresario, Mr. Steve Rhodes, appointed me Artist and Road Manager instead of Artist and Repertoire manager in his company because I could not read music. I road-managed musicians like Fela Ransome-Kuti and the Koola Lobitos, Victor Uwaifo, Sunny Okosun, British singer, Militants Small of the M Boy Lollipo fame, Ghanian dancing group, the Rolling Beats, and Pat Finn and The Hikers. ‘’I had been adjudged to be one of the best drummers in Nigeria and was a founding member of the Soul and Jazz group, The Soul Assembly, reputed for bringing and popularising African-American Soul music to Nigeria. Mr. Rhodes refused to manage our group because we were not full-time musicians.” His career in the music industry, he told Sunday Vanguard, was, however, punctuated by his sack by Rhodes over what he termed a conflict of interest. ‘’At that time, I was still a red meat eater. I went to Koriko Bar on the ground floor of Bristol Hotel to buy sausage rolls for lunch. I returned to find my termination letter on my desk. I had been dismissed for “conflict of interest”. I was extremely sad,” he quipped. Interestingly, music still lives in Smart-Cole, as his living room where this interface held, had a corner dedicated to musical instruments which were arranged the way it is done in studios. A striking aspect of this encounter was that in spite being interrupted within intervals by issues regarding today’s birthday celebration, the renowned photographer, was always able to reconnect with the subject hitherto being discussed. During one of such instance after a long interlude, he said: ‘’The barber shop was also a cultural centre. People came to read foreign newspapers and magazines. During the civil war, luxury items like foreign publications, butter extra were banned.

The ban was lifted at the end of the war, in 1970 but I had my way of getting butter from the airport. They also came to listen to Jazz, Soul, and Classical music. On Friday and Saturday evenings, they came to find out where the parties for “hep-cats” and the “in-crowd” will be held. I started operating the shop in 1967 and shut it down, in September 1972, when I migrated to the United States of America to live “permanently”.   I returned home after ten years. I lived in Mountain View, California, where I worked with VIDAR Corporation as a Technical Illustrator and Architectural Drafter. I began my study of photography in 1976, at Foothill College, Los Alto, California. ‘’I thought myself barbing, drumming and photography. I went into photography in America because I wanted something that would bring out the real artist in me.’’ Agreeably, taking to photography quickened the blossoming of the infinite stars that had lived in Smart-Cole, as his lens and craft earned him fame and influence beyond Africa. Going through a voluminous compendium of his jobs entitled: Sunmi’s Lens: Medium Between Man And Nature, attested to how people of substance and commoners seamlessly converged courtesy of his creativity. On the strength of this, Sunday Vanguard asked how he felt clocking the age of 75. Cheerfully, he took a sip of coffee earlier served and responded thus: ‘’I feel grateful to God because I know people I was growing up with that died in their 20s. A friend of mine who was a pilot got shot down three days before the end of the war.   He was shot down two weeks before the end of the war. A childhood friend of mine, Prof Tunde Cole-Onitiri, a Prof of medicine died four years ago of heat stroke. He died at his office in Lekki, Lagos. He was not sick. He was in his of office and as he was moving his private papers to another office,   he started feeling very hot because they had removed the air condition in his office. Before the person he sent to get a cooling fan came, he had slumped and died.   I am just a few years older than him. To me, he died young. Sometimes, you want to say why them?  

Total knee replacement

‘’ I am having a thanksgiving service with Holy Communion to thank God  for saving my life at least three times.   As a result of one of the accidents, I had total knee replacement surgery. I fell down inside a helicopter while I was taking photographs over Bonny LNG in 2002. I was sitting down with an English-Nigerian. When you are in a helicopter you have to make sure that you are belted down all the time and it was their responsibility to make sure that I was belted down. But this fellow saw something interesting and asked me to photograph what he saw. I completely forgot that I was in a helicopter and unbuckled.   As I did that, there was a jolt, my head hit the roof and I landed on my knee. My leg turned and my toes were   backward. My knee was smashed.

Much later, I ended up going to America for a total knee replacement surgery which cost about $30.000.  

Editor of Lagos Life

‘’Before that, I was involved in an accident when I was at the Guardian which led to the pain I have now on my neck. As Editor of the Lagos Life Newspapers, I was returning to the Guardian from Apapa on Isolo Expressway, a policeman with a machine gun stood in the middle of the railway and was trying to stop lorries coming from Apapa Wharf because he was collecting bribe or trying to collect bribe. A lorry loaded with bags of flower, rammed into my car. From the middle of the highway, I ended up at the service lane at Cele Bustop. People were diving into the bush, I was lying down in the car because the seatbelt pulled me down, I grabbed the steering, hit my one leg down on something which turned out to be the break. I came out but the car was smashed. I didn’t see any blood and thought I was okay but I knew I was shocked. We went to a police station in Surulere. We saw the police and told them what happened. They managed to bring back the policeman who caused the accident. The accident happened in July when the car was only four months old.”I bought the car new on credit. As Editor of Lagos Life, I could not afford to buy a car, my salary was N900 monthly. But cars like Peugeot sold for N1400 while Volkswagen sold for N400. Prof Wole Soyinka, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, the current Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, and myself were assisted in buying the car by the late Alex Ibru because people used to line up   to buy cars. Alex did four of us a favour by telling us to come and choose the colour we preferred.  

Audu Ogbeh couldn’t buy a car

‘’We bought the cars from Rutham Motors. Audu Ogbeh was a minister but he could not afford to buy a car because he was not stealing.

He could not afford to buy a car under Shagari’s government even though he was   a minister. The purchase of mine was financed by Societe Genrale Bank, a Guardian lawyer cosigned for me. My salaries were paid into the bank while the money was deducted within the span of three years. Something interesting came out of that.   I didn’t know I had sustained an   injury in that accident that happened in 1986. Six months later, I started feeling very poorly. My late friend, Prof Tunde Cole-Onitiri said it was cervical spondylosis. He thought it was just part of aging but when an   x-ray was done, it was found out that a bone on my neck got chipped and was erupting against a nerve. When it got bad, my doctor said I should be allowed to travel out of Nigeria to have a rest because of my workload. Alex Ibru asked me to go Zimbabwe and rest at one of the two houses he bought there when the whites were running away. I actually changed my route at the airport and went to London where I spent two weeks.  

Buhari-Idiagbon regime

‘’Audu Ogbeh and others were arrested then by the Buhari-Idiagbon regime. They said he must prove how he bought a car without stealing. The government was dismissed in 1983 and they asked him to come and explain how he bought the car in 1985.   A warder was sent to the Guardian office with a letter addressed to Dr. Ogunbiyi. The letter was written by Audu Ogbeh. I thought he needed   some things and I took the decision of opening the letter. He wrote in the letter that security men were coming to question Ogunbiyi and he should tell them nothing but the truth. And after questioning   Yemi later, they released Audu Ogbeh. The truth is that none of us, including Wole Soyinka, could afford to buy a new car at that time. ‘’Wole Soyinka had not won the Nobel Price then, he was just a university Prof, who was managing himself with proceeds from his books. I am not saying that I am vouching for Ogbeh but there is a handful of people, who had been in public office, especially in the past, who never stole anything.

Today, we are worried about what to do to people who stole billions of dollars in Jonathan’s administration and some are saying that everybody is corrupt. That is wrong. Everybody is not corrupt. When the army overthrew the government of Nigeria in I966, they   said the Prime Minister who was among those killed was corrupt. But less than three days later when the banks opened, they found that the man had only 25 pounds in his bank account. That shows that not everyone who held office in the past was corrupt.’’  

Godliness and contentment

‘’In the old days, some people had plaques in their homes with inscriptions like ‘’Cleanliness is next to godliness.” But then there was also godliness and contentment. Compared to most people out there, you might say I am well to do. I have always been contented. That is why I am afraid that we shouldn’t have a revolution, because if such happens, a man, who has a commercial motorcycle might be killed by those who can’t afford it. If that should be the case, what then would now be the fate of those, who have cars.’’

On Lagos in the good old days

Explaining how Lagos made his stardom possible in the good old days, Smart-Cole, who is reputed to ‘’know   Lagos just like Lagos,’’ said: ‘’When Lagos was Lagos, if you drop a piece of paper on the floor and you are caught, you could be sentenced to six months in prison. A police officer from the rank of inspector upwards would administer the cane after putting a piece of cloth on the person’s buttocks. After then they will pour Izal (a brand of germicide) on the person’s buttocks. When the British were here, there was a punishment called Leave Township. It involves sending the offending person back to his village and holding the traditional ruler of the person’s town responsible if the person returns to Lagos. They also did that to prostitutes who have been arrested several times.  

Then the police obeyed the law because of honesty. There was a case when a policeman and his colleagues were sent to the scene of derailment in Offa. The man was busy searching pockets of the dead.   He was arrested by his colleagues, brought back to Lagos and tried. But he later escaped from jail only to join the Nigerian Army during the war. Things are bad but there was a time in this same town when taxi ran all night while nightclubs closed at 2pm.    

Mansions rotting away

On craze for properties among Nigerians, he said ‘’This is my first house. I had a parcel of land at Borno Way which I bought initially for N14 million. By the time I sold it seven years later, I got N45 million. I added N10 million to that amount to buy this place. That is how civilize people act. It is better than building mansions like some in Victoria Island that are currently rotting away because there is nobody to maintain them. This place belonged to the YABA Medical college, it was the first place where medical doctors were trained in Nigeria. Even the first Premier of Eastern Region, Dr. Micahel Okpara, was trained here. When Obasanjo started selling houses, he sold it to the last man, who lived here. He didn’t have money and had to get Briscoe properties to develop it after which we started buying.’’ Since Smart-Cole, who is widely travelled is synonymous with photography, describing his 75 years birthday as his 75th shot, is not really a bad idea.

Published in Business and Economy
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