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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.

Security officials intercepts 11 cartons of explosives at MMIA

Security agencies at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport ( MMIA) under the aegis of the Nigeria Customs Service(NCS), Murtala Muhammed International Airport ( MMIA), Command yesterday intercepted eleven cartons of explosives weighing 95 kilogrammes which were allegedly smuggled into the country.

The eleven cartons of explosives labeled catridge powder devices and chargers were flown in from South Africa since February 24, 2012, but vigilant personnel at the Nigeria Aviation Company Limited ( NAHCO), warehouse alerted security agencies, when they observed that the importer wanted to smuggle them out of the cargo terminal without declaring the items, even as the relevant duty on the items were not been paid to government.

Speaking on the seizure, the Customs Area Controller, MMIA Command, Mr Charles Eporwei Edike, while parading the suspect, before journalists affirmed that the importer, who claimed that he is a miner in Kaduna State brought in the explosives into Nigeria concealed in pallets made of other goods without disclosing to the relevant authorities the content.

Mr. Edike further explained that it was those vigilant security agents at the terminal that discovered that the goods were undeclared explosives that were concealed along other goods that notified the Customs authorities as well as other relevant agencies including the Nigeria Police to carry out tests on the items, which were found to be prohibited explosives.

The Customs Area Comptrollers also gave the name of the consignee as Miero Marble Granite and Stones Limited in Kaduna State, with one Mr Michael Awara Ernest as the representative to collect the explosives at the cargo terminal.

The Customs boss added that the name of the manufacturer ( consigner ) of the explosives as Nobleteq Arms and Ammunition Gateway Industrial Park in Centurion, South Africa.

The Customs boss added hat the explosives and the suspects have been adequately handed over to the police and other security agencies for proper investigations in order to ascertaining the motive for the importation of such items into the country.

He however assured that the long arm of the law would be meted out on operators who do not abide by government rules and regulations, affirming that it was wrong and criminal for anybody to import and want to clear any prohibited goods out of the airport without proper documentation and payment of the prescribed duties.

He said : "There was no documentation and duty paid. The explosives were concealed in a pallet with other items. Even, the law does not permit that any consignment is released without physical examination, which must be done after the relevant payments has been done. In this case the explosives were almost released until the vigilance of our officials led to the discovery’’

“What has happened is an absolute prohibition, the importer needed a permit and user certificate and police permit, but all these he did not secure, yet embarked on the criminal way to smuggle out the explosives. We want to warn that no agent should have access to any consignment until relevant payments including government duty are paid’’

‘‘In this case the consignee only paid handling charges; rather he evaded customs duty, which should have been paid first’’ he added.

Lagos Canoe Mishap: How 12 children lost their lives

•As 9-year-old boy swam towards the river bank
•I was saved by my school-bag--- Survivor

As the  people of Ojota community in Otto/Awori Local Council Development Area of Lagos State still grapple with the tragedy that befell the community couple of weeks ago after a rainstorm caused a canoe carrying several children to school including market women to the neighbouring community to capsize, killing eight of the children and the market women, more facts on how it happened have emerged. 
Societygist gathered that the canoe which was about 12ft long, had 21 children on board and two market women left the shores of Ojota community about 6:30am for Igbede community aboard the canoe without any safety measure in place. The paddler who resides in Igbede would be at Ojota community as early as 6:00am to carry children and market women to Igbede town.
At 6.30 am that fateful day, 21 children, two women including the wife of the Baale of Ojota boarded the canoe and they were paddled out of the precinct of their community bidding farewell to their parents and families. The children who were pupils of different primary schools were apparently used to the terrain since it was a daily routine to go by canoe to their various schools. Their village, a very small community is separated by a river which they had to cross to reach their various schools.   They were almost at the bank of the river after 30minutes paddling in the canoe when the tragedy occurred. The hitherto calm atmosphere changed, following an unprecedented dark cloud which hampered vision. The violent wind which lasted for few minutes wrecked  havoc and the canoe was thrown back into the middle of the river. All the children, the women and the paddler went down the river but a few of them are alive to tell the story.
Amazingly, Fawas Ayuba, a 6-year old boy of Caritas Biachi Nursery/Primary School, Igbede was saved by his school bag hanging on his back which prevented him from drowning.   This gives an indication that the pupils would have been saved if they had life-jackets on them.  However,  Yusuf Rufai, a 9-year old pupil on board swam through the river to the shores of his community.  Yusuf who broke the news of the incident to the people of his community said he was trained on the techniques of swimming by his father and  those were the things that came to his mind at the time of the mishap.  Sad enough, Tope Patience, a 17-year old girl and Primary 6 Pupil of St. Mary’s School, Igbede whose education was delayed as result of the fear of going through the river by canoe to school dived into the river apparently to save others.  But in spite of her   swimming dexterity which she was known for, she could not live to tell the story.  She was said to have  dived in, rescued two children but in an attempt to save her own younger brother, she dived in again but  died in the process. Saturday Vanguard gathered that her body was found with another child hanging on her chest  with  both hands clinging to Tope’s neck. Her brother’s body was also found .  The Bale’s wife, Madam R. Hassan, a 50-year old market woman and another fish seller and twelve children could not be rescued.  Their bodies were found few days later and buried at the shore of  the various points they were recovered. 
Saturday Vanguard went to Ijaniki en route Ojota Community to speak with eye witnesses, the school authorities, the parents of the deceased children and the survivors including the Baale of the Community community.  On going to Ojota Community, there was no speed boat available, neither was there any regular boat to that area was on hand.  Saturday Vanguard crew had to charter a canoe with an insistence on life-jackets to undertake the scary 30 minutes journey.
 At St. Mary’s Anglican Primary School, Igbede, the Head Mistress, Veronica Atoyebi, revealed that three pupils of the school lost their lives while others were from other private schools.  According to her;“ that day, the pupils decided to come early and so, they were coming together with other private school pupils alongside two market women.  As they were about to anchor, there was a heavy storm which blew away the canoe.”
The HM further revealed: “What we heard was that the woman who chattered the canoe used to go to the village everyday to buy fish and she was always in the village between 6 and 7am. So, the children used that opportunity to board the canoe with her.  At the shore, a woman was directing the sailor not to anchor where they were supposed to anchor; that he should move to the other side to create enough space. And according to an eye witness, there was an argument and all of a sudden, the wind blew the canoe to the middle of the river.”
Confirming the number and identity of those who were dead, she said: “out of the 23 passengers on board, 12 people died.  Among them were three pupils including an early child care pupil, primary 4 and 6 pupils in our school.  They are Tope Patience, Pry 6; Mistura Hassan, Pry 4; Aminat  Kareem, ECC Class.”  She hinted that survivors from the school were immediately taken to the Health Centre in the town and the bill was paid by the Chairman of the Ijanikin Development Council Area,  Hon. Robert Olukayode Bolaji.  Two of the pupils were seriously affected due to contraction of infection that went through their lungs but they were treated and discharged.
She said that since the incident, the other children have not attended school. “Right now, the children haven’t been coming to school. We were told that government is making efforts to get a link road through the neighbouring villages so that they will not be crossing the river again.
“There is a school called  (Ese-Ofin), where they don’t have to come through water but if they have to walk through that path,  it would take them 4 hours to get to the school. So, government wants to make a link road for  them and at the same time provide Keke Marwa  that will be conveying the children to their schools.”
Asked if there was no attempt by individuals around to rescue the pupils, she said: “it was cloudy and dark, it was between  6:30 and 7:00am and because of the heavy storm, it was very difficult. Although people tried to rescue them, it was too late. Even the survivors made effort to rescue others but to no avail. One of the survivors rescued three children. But the two adults (fish seller and Baale’s wife) died.”
On recovering all the bodies, she said, “Not all the bodies were recovered the same day. Three bodies were recovered on the third day of the incident. There was a particular girl, (Tope) who was  in primary six, her corpse was recovered the third day with a child clinging on her neck. She died while trying to rescue the younger brother. Tope could swim, she had rescued two other children but she couldn’t make her last attempt to rescue her brother. Unfortunately, the child she attempted to rescue was  dead and floating before Tope was found dead. The child clinged on her neck which led to her death.”
She stressed that the school had gone to pay a condolence visit to the families of those who lost their lives.  “We have gone to condole with the parents. What we were told was that the paddler has been helping the children for years without charging them any money anytime the woman chattered his canoe to the village to buy fish. The story we heard was that the sailor (Baba Ologoro) was almost dead but he was rescued,” she stressed.
Atoyebi disclosed that there is cordial relationship between the two communities.  “We have good relationship with the people in the community. It was a natural disaster and we thank God that the community  where the children belonged to do not hold it against us.”
Those who survived are Muyibi Aliyu Saliu, Primary 6; Hassan Jamiu Ojonla Primary 6; Idowu Falilat Titilayo  Primary 4; Rufai Yusuf   Primary 3 and Sherif Hassan Primary 5 among others from other schools. 

Ojota Community
It is a community of small enclave with about five thousand people with most of them having close family ties. It’s large expanse of land was filled with coconut plantation which defines their major source of income. The absence of basic amenities does not deter them from going about their daily activities.  In fact, they have to cross the stream to get any of their basic need including drinking water.
Saturday Vanguard  saw women in the area  weaving mats at every nook and cranny of the village. Some families have restricted their children and wards from going to school as a result of the distance and the impediment of crossing the river or walking for more than four hours if they chose to go through a narrow path to link a neighbouring town (which has another primary school) Ese-Ofin, before any child could go to school.
But according to their leader who will soon celebrate his centenary birthday, Amisu Hassan Olakesan, Baale of Ojota, “it was only recently we had to let them go to school through the water.”  The  children however had become used to it before the February 13 rainstorm that caused the mishap.
“The community lost twelve people including my wife,  we are still mourning,” he said.
According to him, “I was not at home when the incident happened. But I was called to come over to the village. I was curious to know what happened. Then, I was told that a canoe has just capsized and that my wife was there, then, I said, “she was dead” because I knew she could not swim.  My wife was in her late 50s. People living in this community live as families and can be regarded as large extended families.”
He stated that the state governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola had paid a condolence visit through the Commissioner for Rural Development.  
He said:  “government instructed that the children should not cross the river again to go to school, that the governor has given directives that there will be a link road to the next village (Ese Ofin) and that they will provide tricycle (Keke Marwa) that will be conveying the children to and from school. They equally said they have given a two week ultimatum to clear the road. but we are yet to see any development to that effect,” Baale said. 
 “Since the incidence, our children haven’t been going to school, our call is that government should speed up with their plans so that the children can go back to school,” he pleaded.
We have been suffering in this community for long. We don’t have water, we buy sachet water which used to be transported  through the river. We don’t have electricity power supply, no health centre, school, town hall, jetty spot for those who are plying through the water. We want them to come to our aid.”  adding that “it is a dangerous trend that there is no healthcare facility here.  It means that our pregnant women who are in labour cannot access good healthcare except they go to Igbede on water. We don’t have traditional maternity home too except for some of our aged fathers who have taken midwifery as a profession.”
“We have a solar energy powered by generator. It was donated by  Pastor Cornelius Ojelabi, the Hon Commissioner for Rural Development in 2001 when he was Chairman of the Council. It works only at night. The children are already frightened as a result of the incident, so they should do whatever they want to do fast so that these children can go back to school,” he said.
On the death of his wife, he  said she died because she could not swim. He disclosed that out of his five wives, only one is still alive and that he intends to marry another one regardless of his age. “I had five wives but four are dead.  I still want to marry another one, if I see a good woman who can take care of me. I want to marry an old woman like me who can take care of me, wash my clothes and cook for me.” Asked  the rationale behind his decision, he said: “I am still very strong and fertile. Before I became Baale, I used to be a fisherman and it is a profession I chose to do all my life. Even now, I still go fishing,” he said.
Funmilola Ayuba, 30-year-old mother of  Fawas Ayuba

My boy’s  school bag helped him to stay afloat on the water. My  son attends Caritas Biachi Nursery/Primary School, Igbede.
Every morning, he goes to school through the water. He was two years when he started school and since then, he has been going through the water. I don’t have any option than taking him to the school beyond the sea. We want our children to go to school.
“On that fateful day, he was reluctant to go to school. He said he didn’t want to go but we perceived their examination period was near and so we persuaded him to go. He cried and was reluctant. So, when I heard of the incident, the first thing that came to my mind was that my son doesn’t know how to swim and that he must have died. But when I knew that he was alive, I was happy. I condoled with other women who lost their children. There was just one exercise book inside the bag.
“There is no school around this community except  a government school (Ese-Ofin) in another community. And any child who would go to such school from here must be ready to trek for four hours.
“Right now, we are still waiting for government’s promise. We have called on the government to help us, we don’t want our children to cross the water again even though they gave us life-jackets to wear whenever we want to cross the water. They have also promised to create a link road that will be taking them to Ese-Ofin.We have been persuading the children to go to school but they are all afraid. Since, the incident, I have not been to the school and I don’t want my son to go to the school again. I don’t want him to cross the water again.
Odunola Rufai, 42 
That day, there was no sign that it was going to rain but when the storm was waging, our belief was that nothing would happen to them because there were older people with them. One of them, Jamiu came to inform us of the incident. Then, I rushed to the place. On my way, my son met me and said, “Arewa” meaning (Beauty). Then, I asked how he managed to survive. He told that, at first all of them were drowned in the water. And that he floated and started swimming. As a small child, he was tired but he tried to swim out of the water. When he got to the shore, (Egba) he was tired but some people rescued him. Before the incident, his father used to teach him how to swim, how he shouldn’t allow anyone to cling on him and how he should take off his cloth if anyone tries to cling on his clothes.
He said that when the canoe capsized , someone tried to hold his clothe and he took it off and threw his bag away. It was the third day that he was able to narrate how the incident happened. Yusuf is nine years old. He was born on February 4. He is in primary three. He is supposed to be in primary four but I advised that he should be allowed to repeat the class because of his poor performance.
When he was asked to explain how he escaped, he was speechless. Before the incident, Yusuf has been swimming and even paddling canoe for his father. Even Tope knows how to swim but she didn’t know that it is not good to allow anyone cling in front of one’s neck. She was supposed to carry such person at the back.

Kemi Musibau
All my children were in the boat with their father. I would have lost all my children if my husband (Aminu Musibau) wasn’t in the canoe. He rescued seven children out of all the children. I lost my younger sister. It was God that helped the man. If not, he would have been dead. The children that survived were Zainab, Fathia, Yusuf, Bilikis, Iya Abigel, Afisu, Quahum, Fawas, Ganiu. My husband is a cameraman.He works at Igbede.

Nike Muyibi, 42

Tope was seventeen years old. She was going to St. Mary’s School, Igbede. She was in primary six. She knows how to swim but on that day, she had already come out of the water when she discovered that her brother was still there. She then went to rescue her brother Muniru Muyibi but unfortunately, someone else held her on the neck and she was drowned. The boy also died. Since then, I have been passing through hell, I don’t know if I can live without Tope. She was a good child. She was industrious. She has been living with me since she was six years old. I adopted her because her father divorced her mother. So, I adopted her and she has been living with me until her death. She didn’t start school on time. We were afraid of them crossing  the water to school but because schooling is compulsory, we had no choice than to allow them. But since the incident, all the children are now afraid of  going to school. This is the third week since that incident happened and the children are yet to go back to school. The only school that the children can go to without crossing the water is Ese-Ofin. And it will take four hours for a child to get to the school. We want government to come to our aid because our children are no longer going to school.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Following the success of the popular Highlife weekend on the show,
Nigerian Idol upped the ante with their latest offering. Themed The
American Legend show, the final six performed hits from American stars
through the years; from Elvis to Donna Summer, the night was replete with
a medley of hits. Joining the judges table last weekend was none other
than rapper and self-acclaimed Mr Incredible, MI. upcoming act Brymo who also
performed at the show.
“The massive popularity of Nigerian Idol continues to astound us,” stated
Project Manager Tiwa Medubi. “We are receiving feedback from all over the
country and in countries like the UK and Germany. We are grateful for all
the love, encouragement and appreciation being poured on us and we are
committed to doing even more,” she added.

After a performance of the song, ‘Number 1’ by MI, Najite kicked off the
show. Clad in an all black ensemble with complementary gloves and a fierce
attitude to match, Najite delivered ‘Aint no mountain high enough’ by
Diana Ross, the performance turned out to be her most powerful yet and she
got commendations from the judges. Next was Stephen Onochie with a
heart-warming performance of Bette Midler’s ‘Wind Beneath my Wings’. His
performance was impressive, and even earned him an invitation to sing at
Charly Boy’s 35 th Wedding Anniversary.  Lynda Giami, shed her shy mien by
delivering Tina Turner’s ‘What’s Love Got to Do With It?’ earning her the
moniker the ‘Light switch babe.’

Maintaining his signature pose, Joe Blue showed why he is still in
contention to become Nigeria’s Idol with his performance of Cher’s
‘Believe’ spraying the audience with pixie dust. Mercy had another great
evening as she performed Donna Summers ‘She Works Hard For The Money’.
With her stunning black dress, charisma and strong vocals she left the
audience in awe with her exhilarating performance.

Honey Adum was the last performer of the night, as he performed Elvis
Presley’s ‘Fever’. With an Elvis hair do to match, the contestant gyrated
As the show continues to grow in popularity, sponsor Etisalat reiterates
its support for the popular show. “Etisalat continues to support Nigeria’s
immensely talented youth especially the teeming young Nigerians who desire
to become the next big thing in music. Nigerian Idol represents the
biggest music platform for young Nigerians just as Etisalat represents the
biggest communication platform for young Nigerians,” said Idiare Atimomo,
Manager Youth Segment, Etisalat Nigeria.

The show is also enjoying a growing international audience too and
receiving positive reviews. The popular pop-justice.com had words of praise
for the show, comparing it to the biggest show in the United Kingdom. “The
show focuses on constructive criticism in a way UK reality pop shows
haven't really since Pop-stars and Pop Idol .” The judges Charley Boy and
Jeffrey Daniel were also commended for their unique styles of judgment.

Fans can vote their favourite contestants to remain in the competition by
sending the contestant’s number via SMS to 33680 or dialing the number
directly from an Etisalat line.

Nigerian Idol is proudly brought to you by Etisalat in association with
Pepsi and Sony. It is supported by Air Nigeria, Kentucky Fried Chicken and
Megalectrics (owners of Beat FM, Classic FM and Naija FM).