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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Traffic gridlock along Lagos-Benin Expressway on Thursday, 16/10/2014

Protesting physically challenged persons besiege Bayelsa House of Assembly gate on Thursday

Friday, July 20, 2012

Almajiri School makes no sense by Shettima Yerima

Alhaji Shettima Yerima
Alhaji Shettima Yerima, an activist and president of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum wonders why the federal government is yet to arrest ex-governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff whom he considers a prime suspect in the Boko Haram insurgency. The youth leader who describes the president's new initiative, the Almajiri School as crazy also canvasses for the establishment of Arewa Ministry in order to tackle the myriad of problems confronting the north. Excerpts.

You were in Kaduna and some parts of the north recently, what was the level of destruction?
The problem of northern Nigeria did not start today, that is why I disagree with those saying that it was because Jonathan was President hence some people were making it difficult for him to govern the country.It started after independence. The situation has always been going from bad to worse and now it is indescribable. It has come to a point for people to be recruited by any kind of group to foment trouble in order to survive. Nobody could have imagined that at 52 Nigeria would have a case of suicide bombers. It is a clear indication that something went wrong. These people did not just wake up one day to become what they are. They have been there since the days of Obasanjo. We have been told that when the leader of this group was arrested, prominent politicians were among those who bailed him saying they were not from this country. This said leader of the group was used to achieve political gains. But at a point he became a problem between government and these politicians. We now have a situation where an average armed robber goes to the bank and now calls himself Boko Haram. Somebody killed his political opponent and it is called Boko Haram. People take advantage of this situation because there is an existing group calling itself Boko Haram who were aggrieved because certain injustice had been meted out on their leader. So, the situation has gone beyond Boko Haram. Some of those arrested are not even Muslims, like the case of Bauchi, Damaturu that even a security officer was involved. There was a situation in Yenagoa where somebody was dressed like a Muslim to bomb a church, only to find out that he was not from the north, he was not a Muslim just because he had a disagreement with his Pastor. If you put all these together, you will discover that a lot of things are happening. When I look at people, bringing sentiment into it and accusing the north, I feel bad. I get worried that people don’t see beyond what is happening. Nobody is witch-hunting the southerners in the northern part of the country. The bomb does not know an Hausa man or a southerner. Once they put it in a public place, people will die not minding whether he is an Hausa or Ibo man.
But there were cases of church bombings?
Even the mosques were affected. Sometimes in Jos, over 300 people were killed in a Mosque. Was there any propaganda about that? It was an eid-il-Maolud day, when the gunmen killed about 300 people on the floor of a mosque.Which religion supports violence? None, Islam does not allow for violence. The Prophet does not declare war on the Christians. They are called ‘People of the Book’. In the north, we know how many die daily. Recently, there was a bomb in a Mosque in Fagge Central Mosque, Kano, but for the grace of God, it was found before it went off by security agents, suspects were arrested. Just because somebody is bent on fanning the embers of religious violence and declare war! An Imam was killed on a Friday Prayer in Kano, nobody talked about that. How many Imams have they killed now? We must learn to be just to stories.
What are the leaders and elders in the north doing to assist government in bringing this to an end?
If you follow the issue, you will see that a lot of elders have condemned this act on several occasions. The Elders forum, ACF condemned it. The Elders Forum as a body that complements other organisations is working under the leadership of Maitama Sule to ensure that this issue of violence is brought to an end. They have raised a fundamental issue, only God knows why the government cannot arrest Ali Modu Sheriff. They said the best way to solve this issue is to show sincerity in treating this issue. Government should have arrested the prime suspect of that incident who was the Chief Security Officer of that state, who could have instructed the killing of the leader of that group. If Yusuf was alive today, he would have told us a lot of stories about this group. An instruction must have been passed; the police could not have pulled the trigger after the Army handed him over to them; somebody must have given the instruction either from Abuja or from the State. You think followers will fold their hands when their leader is killed. Of course they will react. If I am killed today as a leader of an organisation, there are tendencies that people will react. We are not saying Yusuf was right or wrong, but they would have allowed justice to prevail. So, government should have arrested Sherriff except they have any other thing they are hiding or perhaps like Jonathan said that the Boko Haram members are in his government. Then who will be held responsible if government is involved. I agree with his statement, the former NSA also said it, unfortunately, they sacked him unceremoniously after what he had done for this nation. If not for anything, he should be commended for sustaining the unity of the country. He inherited the problem. The problem started from Muktar, during the Yar’Adua government, so it has nothing to do with a Niger Delta man. This is a problem that affects Nigeria as a whole and not only the northern part of the country.
The media are witnesses to high rate of beggars on the streets, how does begging become part of Islam or a culture of a Hausa man. No! People were forced into it because they have no means of livelihood. We have had opportunities to make Nigeria a better place to live through our leaders. But today they deserve to be stoned in public because they are part and parcel of this problem in the north. The same media celebrate them. This is not right! We cannot move further until we tell ourselves the truth. We cannot do anything, until we are able to reflect on the past, present and champion a new cause for a better Nigeria.
So, what in your own view are the short and long term solution?
The government is not ready for the short term but a long term by opening Almajiri school. That is crazy. Yes. Tell me one person that is not an Almajiri in Nigeria. Today the constitution has made the Federal government stronger and the states weaker. Anything you want to do, you have to go to Abuja and lobby for it. In fact, if you want to be your local government chairman, you have to lobby for it in Abuja, no matter your credibility or acceptability. So, who is not an Almajiri. The Vice President himself will have to lobby. The day he falls in the black book of the first lady, he is finished. If they don’t remove his security, they make sure he doesn’t do any major job. They make him redundant. The system has succeeded in making everybody a beggar to survive. The day they discover you are a threat to them, they will destroy you and make you subservient to them. That is why you see people often times compromise because they want power. Even those who call themselves progressives change tunes the moment they get into power. Look at Obasanjo and Atiku after 2003 election. The latter was more of a spare tyre that does not function simply because the president does not want to see his face. So, the problem in the northern part of the country requires a total overhaul and you can't do it all at once, there are short measures to take rather than creating Almajiri school.
The concept of the Almajiri is that they are children of poor people, beggars and less privileged of the society. You cannot compound the problem by carving them out of the society. What they would have done is to integrate them into the existing public schools; give them free education at primary and secondary school levels and enact a law to make it compulsory for every child to go to school and make the parents liable for it. You are doing it to protect our future. When the Niger Delta case came up, we thought it was only Niger Delta until it spread to other parts of the country in form of kidnapping, rape and terrorism. Today, by extension that was what gave birth to what we are seeing today. The belief is that if the language of violence is only what the government understands, if you take up guns, they respect you, honour you, then they will fester in it. Boko Haram will come and go someday but what will happen in other regions. Nigeria has a way of creating trouble without knowing how to get out of it. May be the government will one day think it. We also need Arewa Ministry to address the major problems. In fact that is our focus now, we will demand for it and we will achieve it. That will take care of our own affairs just like we have the Ministry of Niger Delta. Who knows, maybe, someday the Yoruba will decide to have Oodudua Ministry and the South East will declare for Ibo or Ohaeneze Ministry, Massob and so on. But I think the regional government would have been better with the situation we now find ourselves. People are not happy with the system. The system is not working for Nigeria. The president said in his last Media chat that he cannot declare his assets.
That takes us to 2015, what is your take about whether or not Jonathan should contest in 2015?
It is too early to talk about 2015, but what we are seeing and the situation, he does not deserve a second chance and I don't think the vote of the South-South alone can make Jonathan President in 2015. Unless they want to do that to break the country to impose him on Nigerians. Every section of this country is tired and disappointed with this government. We were part of the struggle that made this government. The Niger Deltans were never in the forefront for Jonathan realising this dream. When the Save Nigeria Group was formed, they were just few that came. We were more in number than them. The South West moved the idea and some of us came and we insisted that he must be an acting President. If he hadn’t been the acting President, perhaps, it would have been a different story today. We pushed, under the leadership of Tunde Bakare, I was one of the strongest voices in the North. Despite my relationship with the government, and my background as a northerner, I stood behind him demanding that due process must be followed. The constitution must be respected no matter how lopsided it is. Of course I have my reservation with the constitution. That is our legal document but it lacks legitimacy. We stood, we fought and we marched, mobilised people to Abuja and Lagos. That was what gave birth to doctrine of necessity that brought Jonathan as an acting president. Election came and people mobilised from all parts of the country for Jonathan. We believe that he had a different background compared to the old crooks and we said, let us try a new thing. But if this is how people who went to school without slippers suffer and become leader only to produce this kind of government, then we will never go for people who go to school without slippers. It does not worth it. We thought, he was part of the society, he had seen poverty; he came like every other average Nigerian being somebody who had a dose of it, he would make an impact in the lives of common Nigerians. But now the situation has degenerated from bad to worse. Then somebody will tell me that it is either he becomes president or they break Nigeria, to hell with that threat. We can no longer be threatened but the right thing must be done. Nobody is afraid of anybody and nobody must use anything to blackmail or threaten anybody. Time will tell, 2015 is at hand. We have learned our lessons, we have seen the government of the Ijaws by the Ijaws and for the Ijaws. And when they see us, they abuse us, abuse our elders without respecting the fact that we were part of the struggle that made Jonathan. Nobody is afraid of death, death comes but once. A man in you dies the moment you saw tyranny and you could not speak. We must speak and if we die in the course of speaking, so be it.
How is the north preparing for 2015 then?
We are mending fences with our christian brothers in the northern part of the country, the Hausa Fulanis. We are trying as much as we can to unite ourselves and speak with one voice, like the legacies left behind by our founding fathers. Sir Ahmadu Bello never castigated anybody, no matter the religious or tribal differences. He was able to bring every body on board. That is what we are doing.
You said earlier that the constitution lacks legitimacy, what do you mean?
The 1999 constitution lacks legitimacy in the sense that the making of that constitution was totally wrong. There was no time Nigerians sit at any conference to produce that document. Few people sat down during the Military era under AbdulSalami Abubakar to arrive at it, even his number two man, Mike Akhigbe was not part of it. He is alive today, if that is not true, I challenge him to speak. They rushed it up and bogged it with so many decrees to protect their interests and that of their cronies; impose it on Nigerians and called it 1999 Constitution. It lacks legitimacy because there was no input of all Nigerians. I am not a lawyer but I know the difference between legitimacy and legal document. All Nigerians must be seen to have representative who will come to make their position clear in it. Less than 15 military officers and few civilian cronies sat down to produce it. That is not done, no constitution in the whole world was made like that. We challenge that legitimacy and we are still challenging it in the Federal High Court Abuja. We are not saying it is not a legal document, but its legitimacy is what we are challenging. The National Assembly can make laws but they cannot make constitution. There is difference between the two. The legitimacy makes it un-amendable.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Helicopter crash in pix

DIG, three others die in helicopter crash

IT was another dark day in Plateau State, yesterday, as the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in-charge of Operations, Mr. John Haruna and three others were killed when a police helicopter, which was delivered last December crashed into buildings in Kabong area of Jos, the state capital, minutes after take-off.
Haruna who had been in the state since Monday following Sunday’s bomb blast at St. Finbar’s Catholic Church, was said to be on his way back to Abuja when the surveillance helicopter crashed into three buildings at about 11 am turning them into rubbles.
The disaster, yesterday, threw the Police Headquarters into mourning with the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar, who flew in the helicopter for two days without problems, shedding tears. The incident also drew tears from other police officers and men.
How it happened
Residents said apart from a nine-year-old girl who was injured and rushed to hospital, there was no loss of life in the affected houses. “Only a pig was killed”, a resident said.
The helicopter had along with the one used by the Special Task Force (STF) hovered the town in the wake of the violence that greeted the blast.

DIG Haruna John
Residents said they noticed the police chopper hovering with an unusually loud sound and later saw it nosedive and crashed into the buildings following which they rushed to the scene.
The helicopter was said to have burst into flames as it crash-landed, giving the occupants little chance of survival. Youths, who rushed to the area were said to have made efforts to put out the fire with buckets of water before the arrival of fire fighters and other security agents.
According to an eye witness, Solomon Achus, “I noticed that the helicopter was unusually sluggish and making a strange sound and suddenly, I saw it coming down until it crashed into the buildings. Thank God there were no deaths on the ground as most people were not at home.”
Mali Waziri, whose house was destroyed, said he was at work when he got a call that his house was affected. “When I rushed here, I discovered that my house had been completely destroyed and all my property was nowhere again.”, he said.
Confirming the incident to journalists, Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Dipo Ayeni, described the death of DIG Haruna and others as a monumental loss. He said others in the aircraft were Haruna’s orderly, the pilot and his assistant.
He explained that he saw Haruna, who he said was on his way back to Abuja into the helicopter, which took off from the Prison field just opposite the police headquarters and minutes later, the crash was heard. He said it was difficult to guess the cause of the crash unless investigations were concluded.
Commander of the STF, Major General Ibrahim Mohammed and other top security officers were at the site to oversee rescue efforts. The remains of the DIG and others were later taken to hospital.
Spokesman of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB), Mr. Tunji Oketunbi, who confirmed the crash noted that although the agency heard about the crash, but it did not have the jurisdiction on military disaster.
He however stated that if the AIB, was called upon or invited, it would not hesitate to assist in unraveling the cause of the accident.
Oketunbi said: “We heard about the crash of a helicopter in Jos. Although, the AIB does not have brief to handle military accident, we will not hesitate to assist if we are called upon during the accident investigation.”
Yesterday’s crash brings to three the number of helicopters that have crashed in the last few years with the last being the AOS Helicopter which crashed on the border between Kwara and Oyo State killing the chief executive officer of a sugar company.
DIG Haruna, pilot, co-pilot, orderly were on routine patrol – Police
Also confirming the disaster, the Nigeria Police Force yesterday identified three other senior officers, who died in the crash as ACP Garba Yelwa -Pilot; CSP Alexander Pwol-Ja, Co-Pilot and Sergeant Sonatian Shirunam-Orderly.
According to a statement by the Force Public Relations Officer, DCP Olusola Amore, “the tragic event occurred at about 11. 30am on Wednesday (yesterday) in Jos, Plateau State. The officers were on routine aerial patrol before the unfortunate incident occurred.”
The man Haurna
Haruna had before his elevation to the rank of DIG, served as Commissioner of Police, FCT; Commissioner of Police, Niger State; Commissioner of Police Benue State; Commissioner of Police Federal Operations, Commissioner of Police, Anambra State and Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge Operations, Lagos State.
Born on August 16, 1956, in Karim Lamido LGA, Taraba State, Haruna enlisted into the Nigeria Police force on June 5, 1978 as a Cadet Inspector and rose through the rank to become a Deputy Inspector General of Police.
Late DIG Haruna John is survived by wife and children. Burial arrangements for the deceased officers will be announced after due consultation with their families”, it concluded.
Questions trail DIG Haruna’s death
However, Haruna and other officers’ death has elicited questions within the security community in the country especially the Nigeria Police Force as it emerged yesterday that the BELL helicopter in which the DIG and three other officers crashed near Rukuba in Jos, was one of the four new helicopters delivered to the Nigeria Police from the US between October and December last year.
In fact, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Dahiru Abubakar, was flown in the helicopter by the AIG in-charge Helicopters, Mr. Samuel Illesanmi to Ila Oragun, Osun State when he went to inspect facilities at the Mobile Police Training School for officers last Friday, March 10, 2012.

HELICOPTER CRASH— Damaged part of the crashed helicopter which claimed lives of DIG Haruna John and three others yesterday in Jos. Photos: Taye Obateru
From ILA Oragun, the IGP was flown to Jos, where Assistant Commissioners of Police (ACP’s) who had been on Course at the Police Staff College, graduated the following day which was Saturday, 11th March 2012.
From Jos, after the graduation ceremonies he presided over, the same helicopter flew the IGP to Kano where he had some official engagements. The helicopter returned to Abuja the same weekend.
But following the Boko Haram attack on St. Finbars Catholic Church and another COCIN Church in Jos at the weekend, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petirin in company of DIG Haruna John, paid an operational visit to Jos on Monday, 12th of March 2012, to assess the attacks on the churches and reassure the people of Jos that security agencies were putting strategies in place to checkmate further attacks from the terrorist sect.
After the CDS left for Abuja, DIG Haruna John was said to have sought the permission of the IGP to remain behind, carry out some surveillance to enable him put new strategies in place that would checkmate the incessant attacks of Boko Haram.
He had completed that assignment, and the Bell helicopter flown by Assistant Commissioner of Police Garba Yelwa (Pilot) and CSP Alexander Pwol-Ja (Co-Pilot), had taken off from the Rukuba Army Barracks without any electrical, mechanical or detected problems, when about five minutes into the flight, the unexpected happened leading to the crash of the helicopter.
An officer who spoke under condition of anonymity said: “The crash of that helicopter should be investigated. It cannot be ordinary. This is an aircraft that is new. It has been flying all over and nothing, not a single sign to indicate there was a problem and suddenly it catches fire on air. There is more to this and I hope the IGP will not take it lightly”.
Another officer said he could vouch for himself, having had the privilege of flying one of the Police helicopters that the machines were in top shape and that knowing the person in charge of the helicopters, he did not compromise when it comes to the conditions of the helicopters.
“The reason is because Mr. President has flown in these helicopters, the Senate President flies these helicopters, the Service Chiefs, ministers and top government functionaries fly these helicopters and we have not heard of things like this. Why is it when it came to the turn of DIG Haruna John to fly that the helicopter crashed?” he wondered.
Force headquarters thrown into mourning
Meanwhile, the Police Force Headquarters in Abuja was thrown into mourning yesterday following the incident.
The chief mourner, Vanguard gathered was IGP Abubakar, who was said to have wept because the news of the crash and Haruna’s death hit him like a sucker punch.
At a time when he (IGP) was bent on repositioning and reviving the force, Mr. Haruna John who the IG said was responsible for bringing into fruition, his plans to put in place counter measures that would make Nigerians forget the shortcoming and discomfort of Police Check Points was killed while on operational duties.
In fact, many officers and the rank and file consider Mr. Haruna John as one of the best operational officers the Nigeria Police has produced to date and as the backbone of the IGP. Having worked with John in Lagos and many other places, the IG knows the efficiency and capability of the officer, hence his recommendation to the Police Service Commission that  Haruna be appointed the DIG Operations.
Aside the IGP and members of the Police management team who grieved at the news of his death, another officer who wept on hearing about Haruna’s death was his bosom friend and someone considered Haruna’s brother in the force, AIG Jonathan Johnson.
For the rank and file officers, many of whom adored DIG Haruna John because they hoped  the revival of the Nigeria Police Force back to its lost glory would come to fruition with MD Abubakar working together with Haruna.
Many recalled how DIG Haruna John who was decorated about a fortnight ago felicitated with them after the decoration exchanging banters with them irrespective of whether you are a Corporal, Sergeant or senior officer, promising that time had come for the Force to change for the better
Meanwhile, Vanguard gathered that moments after the death of the DIG and other officers was made known to the IGP, he summoned a meeting of the management team, after which he delegated the DIG in-charge Administration, Mr. Dauda Fakai, the DIG in charge Force CID, Mr. Peter Gana and AIG Jonathan Johnson to go to the house of Mr. Haruna to sympathize with his wife and family.
Please keep comments brief and precise

Monday, March 12, 2012


Getting a clear picture of how much money Nigeria has lost to corruption over the years is almost impossible. The system is hemorrhaging cash in so many places that accountants often struggle to make sense of it all. The state oil firm, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), does not measure its output. The government estimates that average output is 2 million to 2.6 million barrels of oil a day, making Nigeria Africa's biggest producer.

"Right now, no one can tell you exactly how much of our crude is extracted from our soil," said Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, who sits on the board of directors of NEITI. "We depend on records from the oil companies. That clearly has to change."

The NEITI audit shows some startling gaps: $540 million missing from $1.675 billion in signature bonuses - these are advance payments to develop fields, a standard producer country demand. Then there's 3.1 million barrels of oil missing from NNPC declarations about its joint ventures compared with the figures released by NNPC's international partners. That equates to 0.25 percent of the output. NNPC also received $3.789 billion in dividends from Nigeria LNG, a liquefied natural gas venture over the 2006-2008 period, but there is no record of those dividends being paid into the federal accounts.

An NNPC spokesman did not respond to requests to explain the irregularities listed in the report in detail. The firm denies malpractice. When asked about corruption last month, NNPC managing director Austin Oniwon replied that the issue was overblown. "Corruption in NNPC is in the imagination of some people," he said.

The NEITI report says foreign oil majors may have underpaid royalties "of $2.33 billion arising from subjective interpretation of volume, pricing," and grading variables. "We are questioning the basis of those calculations," Orji explained. "They are not calculated on the basis of empirical fact. And there is connivance by officials."

Foreign firms also seemed to have underpaid petroleum profit tax by over $1 billion, NEITI said. The report recommended a review of the tax returns of Chevron and Exxon Mobil. Exxon officials were not immediately available to comment. A Chevron spokesman said the firm "complies with all laws and regulations in the locations where we operate, as a matter of long-standing policy Chevron does not release specific financial details."

The NEITI audit has only just been delivered to the government. Another audit, this time by KPMG and focusing on the state oil firm, was delivered to the oil ministry in Nov 2010. The government has not published it. A copy reviewed by Reuters shows similar practices. It notes that NNPC invoices for domestic crude in U.S. dollars but pays the government in naira and that "exchange rates used by NNPC were lower than (those) ... published by the CBN (central bank)", causing a loss of 86.2 billion naira ($550 million) to the treasury from 2007 to 2009.

KPMG also said fuel subsidy claims were based on unverified declarations of fuel imported or refined rather than actual retail sales at pump stations. Analysts say this highlights a scam: fuel import ships - operated by private importers, not just the NNPC - are declared full in order to claim subsidies but are really half empty, having sold to Nigeria's neighbors where prices are higher.

"Some of the issues that were revealed were shocking," the head of the House of Representatives fuel subsidy probe, Farouk Lawan, said. He added government officials had understated NNPC payments by billions of naira. Daily consumption of petrol is 35 million liters, yet importers were being paid for 59 million liters a day.

"That means subsidy is being paid on 24 million liters but is not being consumed by Nigerians," he said. "Either those products were not brought in or they were brought in and diverted or ... smuggled out. Most likely a combination."

Asked about the KPMG report in January, President Jonathan pointed out that he had set the investigation in motion. "If there are queries, we further those queries to them (the

Friday, March 9, 2012

Another embarrasing moment for Nigeria: UK govt. deports 120 Nigerians over immigration offences

The British government yesterday deported about one hundred and twenty Nigerians from the United Kingdom over immigration offences ranging from lack of valid papers in their host country, over lack of the required stay permit and other related offences.

The deportees were said to have arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos aboard a chartered cargo aircraft in the early hours of yesterday so as not to draw undue attention.

According to a source who pleaded anonymity noted that the deportees were mainly young men and women who were aggrieved of being repatriated back to Nigeria unprepared.

Vanguard reports that most of the deportees wearing woe-begun looks, were busy making phone calls to their friends and relatives with a view to picking them up at the airport, even as they made frantic efforts to move their luggage neatly packed with some Ghana Must Go bags from the cargo wing of the airport into the main gate to access any part of town.

Scores of airport workers  stopped by to interface the deportees, as some of them narrated their experience of not knowing what to fall back on, now that they were back in the country they left many years ago.

One of the deportees contacted Mr. Wale told Saturday Vanguard  that he blamed the Nigeria government for his predicament as well as other deportees from the UK stressing that if the country’s  economic situation were pleasant, Nigerians would not have any business traveling abroad to humiliate themselves in a bid to survive.

Mr. Wale said : " How do I cope now that we have been sent home unprepared." 

Meanwhile another deportee, a young lady who did not want her name in print said : " I am not interested in discussing why we were brought back home, but, my problem now is how to get out of this international airport without drawing unusual attention. I must add that it is not a pleasant experience." 

Cars, mainly commercial limousine operators and car hire operators were also seen lined up at the main entrance of the cargo terminal to ferry the willing deportees to their respective destination.

Meanwhile, scores of security officials were on hand to ensure the situation does not degenerate into violent in whatever form.