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Monday, January 30, 2012

Al-Mustapha, Shofolahan to die by hanging

Embattled former Chief Security Officer, CSO, to late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, Major Hamzat Al-Mustapha and a protocol officer in the MKO Abiola campaign organisation, Alhaji Lateef Shofolahan, today, at the Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere, were sentenced to death by hanging for  the conspiracy to murder and murder charge preferred against them.

Justice Mojisala Dada of Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere delivered the judgment Monday afternoon.
“Evidence proves  Al-Mustapha, Sofolahan  killed Kudiratu Abiola
Judge Mojisola Dada of the Lagos high court ruled that Army Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, chief security aide to Abacha, was guilty of conspiracy and murder of Kudiratu Abiola, wife of late presidential candidate Moshood Abiola.
“Evidence was manifestedly heavy that they killed Kudiratu Abiola. In view of this, they are guilty of conspiracy and murder,” Dada said in her ruling which lasted several hours.
“The prosecution has proved its case beyond all reasonable doubt. In view of this, they should be hanged.”
The annulment of the 1993 elections helped paved the way for Abacha’s rise to power.
Al-Mustapha was the powerful chief security officer to Abacha, who ruled Nigeria with iron hand from November 1993 to July 1998 when he died.
Abiola was a wealthy businessman and presidential candidate jailed in 1994 after he challenged the military’s decision to annul the vote. He died in jail a month after Abacha’s death in circumstances yet to be clarified.
The judge said Sofolahan “acted as Judas Iscariot. He was friend to the Abiola family in the open and enemy in secret. He sacrificed his master (Abiola) because of his personal greed. He was a viper.”
Al-Mustapha’s defence lawyer Olalekan Ojo said he would appeal the court judgement.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kano massacre: Why we struck - Boko Haram

Boko Haram sect who claimed responsibility for the serial bomb blasts
and shootings that rocked the commercial city of Kano on Sunday
explained that the action was carried to force government release its
members currently being detained by the various security agencies in
Kano State.

One Abdul Qaqa who claimed to be the spokesperson of the sect told
journalists on telephone from his hideout that Kano State government
which has refused to effect the release of the sect’s members in detention
should be blamed for the violence.

Kano State government, he stated had remained intransigence despite the
sect’s repeated calls for the release of its members and other “innocent”
Nigerians in detention for alleged robbery and sundry crimes.

Qaqa said they have given the government ample time to set free their
fellows to no avail hence the decision to strike and prove its worth to both
the government and security agencies.

Qaqa added that they will not relent in fighting for the rights of their
members, many of whom he said are innocently held warning that the
Federal Government will continue to pay for the continued oppression and
killing of innocent Muslims in the country.

“We are only scared of Allah but no one. We must regain our faith and
freedom soon. No amount of propaganda against us will deter us. We are
guided and strengthen by Allah as you can see”, Qaqa said.

Earlier on December 18, 2011, the sect through one Shekarau, its leader,
had reportedly written Kano State government warning of an impending
strike if its members were not released from detention.

"We are therefore compelled to write this letter to inform Kano residents of
this development so that when we launch attacks in the city as we have
been doing in Maiduguri, they should not blame us," Shekau said in an
email to some journalist.

One month later they struck and destroyed Police stations, immigration
offices, government buildings and the headquarters of Nigeria’s State
Security Services, SSS, among others.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pain, frills and thrills of ‘Mother of all Strikes’ ...as protesters, others count losses

The massive protests throughtout the country in the last five days remind us of how strong the ‘will’ of the people is especially when they decide to assert it. The  streets were deserted, offices, shops and markets shut while agitated crowd gathered at major points across the country to express their grivances.
It has been a very challenging moment, perhaps, the mother of all protests, as some dubbed it.  It has crippled governace and rendered socio-economic activities prostrate.  Many more people are joining the protest as the hundreds of thousands of people milling to meeting points show.
 As the protest is becoming more tensed by the day, some are already lamenting the socio-economic effect of the strike action which they said had made life even more difficult for them.  A 54 year -old widow, Ajoke Olopade who sells pepper at the Ikorodu garage market told Saturday Vanguard how his son who was knocked down by a rampaging Okada rider on the second day of the strike action almost lost his life as hospitals and clinics were shut.
She noted that essential services like medical  should be on duty to attend to emergency situations, especially those arising from the on-going protest.
“My son was hit by an Okada on Tuesday and I have been running helter skelter for treatment. When the incident happened, I had thought doctors will be available at government owned hospitals to take care of people but I was there waiting endlessly until somebody advised I should go to to a private hospital.”
She continued: “At that point,  there was no vehicle to take us and the poor boy was bleeding profusely.  I continued to pray because I thought he was going to die.  We eventually got somebody who took us to a private hospital. After 24 hours, there was no improvement. We had to take him to a  local herbal home in Ajegunle later in the day where he is currently receiving treatment.  Save for the herbal home, it would have been a different story today mainly because of the strike action.”
 Madam Olopade, the breadwinner of the family of four who could not fight back tears said: “I have spent quite a lot on transportation and household items. I’m a widow and don’t know how to continue,” she said. She maintained that if the government does not revert to the old price, life would be unbearable for the peasant.
Another trader, Bolaji Koledola at Ketu Market said he and his family live on his daily proceed from his petty trading which has ceased in the last five days.  “Our welfare is important. We have to live but I think we have to go on with the stike because even when when we get back, things are very unbearable. Our expenses have increased immediately after the removal of the subsidy. I really don’t know how we’ll manage under this situation and people always frown at the slightest increase we make on what we sell.  So, every thing is getting more difficult. But I want the strike to go on until the the president rescinds his decision,” he said. 
Wale Oladele, an enterprenuer, said the continued strike action has cost companies huge losses, even as he said the policy itself was damaging to business.  He argued that there is a drop in the purchasing power of people which will further lead to a sharp drop in sales if the new policy subsits. “I noticed that people stop buying as a result of high cost of everything. So, as an enterprenuer, I also can’t quantify what I have lost in the last one week. But I also think some companies might close down,” he said.
“Take Nigeria for example, we were told we make about N320billion per day. Can you then imagine that we must have lost N1.6trillion about what they said we need for subsidy in a year.” Oladele advised that the government should not allow the situation to degenerate to the extent of government losing its legitimacy before the people who voted it into power. “When the people’s desire becomes irrelevant to the government, the legitimacy of the government will not matter to the people.”

Casualties of the protest

The protest which started like a storm in a tea cup has snowballed into deaths, killing not less than 15 people and many injured. Million others record immesurable socio-economic losses.
In the commercial hub of Lagos, the protest which was largely peaceful has left some people dead and scores of others injured as prostesters clashed with police in some  areas.  In Yaya-Abatan junction, Ogba, Lagos, a young man, Demola Aderinto who was playing football on the street with his colleagues was gunned down by a policeman as he wanted to pick the ball after seeing group of protesters advancing towards him.  The incident left four others sustaining various degrees of injuries  Among the four, Monday, Samuel, Ejiofor and Abubakar are receiving treatment in Lagos hospital.  Still, the protesters, gathered at the Salako street, home of the deceased where they held prayers for the family as they continued the struggle. 
At Ibafo, Ibadan Expressway, a middle aged man who was said to be travelling in a commercial bus was also hit by a strayed bullet of the police. He died instantly.  According to eye-witness account, the man who was sitting close to the door of the bus was felled by bullet after a sporadic shooting by a policman hanging in the police van.  “We were coming from Ketu. On the our way, we saw barricades on the road, apparently by the protesters.  Immediately, we saw a police van with one of them shooting sporadically into the air.  We had thought that they would make a way for us to pass,  but suddenly the conductor just alerted that somebody had been hit by a stray-bullet, and we watched as he went down,” said an eye witness. Another reports said the strayed bullet also killed another by-stander in the Obafemi-Oyewole, Ibafo area after the protesters clashed with police.
In Ketu, at Demurin Junction, about two kilometres away from the Gani Fawehinmi Park, Ojota, where the prosters had gathered to listen to the address of the conveners, two people died instantly owing to recklessness of a certain bus driver.
An eye witness said: “It was an accident.  A motor cyclist popularly called Okada, carrying two other persons was hit by a bus.  The bus was coming in the same direction. He apparently was looking at the heavy crowd of protesters but did not see the bonfire mounted on the road.  By the time he saw it, it was too late. He manouvered but hit the Okada rider with the two persons. One of the three fell in the fire with the door of the bus falling on him. He was roasted to death instantly.”  The eye witness continued that one of the remaining two jumped out while the other was crushed to death.
Just as the brutality of the police claimed lives of protesters in some areas, the sympathy of the police manifested in some other areas as they joined in the protest.  Some were seen offering assistance to the protesters in some areas.  At Union road, Abeokuta Expressway, Lagos, police not only joined in the protest, but also gave some satchets of water to some of the protesters. They also ensured that the procession was peaceful.
Apart from members of civil society organisations; politicians, political activists, musicians and Nollywood stars joined the protest in all parts of the country.  In Lagos, from Ikorodu to Ojota, from Yaba to Obalende and from Lekki to Ajah, some celebs showed their presence, addressing the crowd. While KWAM 1, Femi Kuti, 9ice,Desmond Elliot, Pasuma,Olu Maintain, Niggar Raw, Jide Kosoko, Ras Kimono Ronke Oshodi-Oke, Soul Sultan among others took turns to address the crowd condeming the policy. The Ikorodu scenario was not too good for Alhaji Mukadas Eyiwunmi, popularly known as Muka Ray.  The star actor, after leaving the podium, was harassed by hoodlums and was dispossessed of his cell phone.  It took the frantic effort of some of the organisers who prevailed on the hoodlums before the versatile role interpreter got his phone back.
Even as protesters used the greater part of the day to chant anti-government slogans, some used the period to play football, for others, it was party time as they engaged in dancing competitions and other games.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

More pictures on the protest in Lagos

Jonathan panics as Lagos crowd gatheres again

As anti-fuel subsidy removal protests spread across the country, the Presidency may have given up on the massive crowds that have attended the protest rally in Lagos since Monday. A competent source informed Society Gist that the growing crowd of protesters which daily gather at the Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park in Lagos is a major source of concern to the authority in Abuja. Notably, government is said to be worried and remain unsettled, despite assurances from security that the situation in Lagos was under control.
The nationwide protest which entered its fourth day on Thursday again witnessed unprecedented turnout which an analyst fear may grow to the mark of a million people if protest continue till Monday, next week. According to the analyst, “I am beginning to worry that a quarter of the population in Lagos may just head for Gani Fawehinmi Park at Ojota by Monday if this anger and frustration continue. I won’t be surprised if one million protesters turn up one day”.
Whereas some protests in other parts of the country have turned violent in the course of the week, Abuja is concerned that report of the growing crowd of protesters in Lagos tend to give the impression of the beginning of ‘Nigeria Spring’. To starve us off this impression by demobilizing the crowd through sentiments and blackmail, some aides of the Presidency were said to have perfected the propaganda of accusing leadership of the Congress of Progressive Change (CPC) of taking advantage of the protests to hit back at President Jonathan who recently got his mandate affirmed by the Supreme Court which just a few days back dismissed the suit filed by CPC’s presidential candidate, Mohammed Buhari. Already some individuals close to the Presidency have begun media propaganda targetted at Buhari, Bakare and el Rufai. Notably, Tony Uranta, a Niger Delta activist and friend of the Presidency openly accused el Rufai and Bakare of being the masterminds of the anti-fuel subsidy removal protests when he appeared on Channels Daily Sunrise on Wednesday to drum up support for the government on its deregulation policy. Another President’s man Kingsley Kuku who is the Senior Adviser on Amnesty Programme also pointedly accused political opponents of President Jonathan as sponsoring the protests that have practically shut down the country. Although Buhari has not shown up in any of the protests, his running mate in the last presidential election in April, 2011, Pastor Tunde Bakare has been a dominant voice at the Gani Fawehinmi Park in Lagos. Former Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mallam el Rufai; a CPC’s stalwart has also shown tenacity in the protests in Abuja, the federal capital territory.
However, it would appear that the spirit behind the resilience of Nigerians in the ongoing battle is unassailable; given the wide array of stakeholders who have openly identified with the protests. Indeed, despite the unusual crowd in Lagos, the participation of notable stakeholders; particularly in the entertainment industry is said to be a source of major worry. Some aides of the President are irked that Nollywood actors and Musicians have openly identified with protests against the policy of Jonathan administration considering the immense support and solidarity accorded Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidential campaign by the Nollywood family.
Meanwhile, Yenagoa, capital of Bayelsa State; the home state of President Jonathan has since Tuesday witnessed series of solidarity support and public endorsement of the controversial deregulation policy. Youth groups and traditional rulers as well as women have openly endorsed the decision by the government to remove subsidy which consequently jerked up pump price of 1litre of Premium Motor Spirit; otherwise known as Petrol to N140 from N65. Also demonstrating public support for the President in Bayelsa is the state Branch of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN) whose leadership undertook a monitoring of the state capital to ensure that members of the transport union are not forced to embark on strike. The national body of RTEAN had earlier dissociated itself from the nationwide strike ordered by organized labour. However, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) is fully in solidarity with the Nigeria Labour Congress. Despite the demonstration of solidarity for the President in Bayelsa, public offices and commercial activities are crippled by ongoing nationwide strike.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Reactions on 'The Sultan is right'

IN the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
My piece last week has inspired lots of comments, emails and questions. Some are positive and some negative. But I must say it gives me pleasure to further react to them, especially the one sent by one  Marxwell Chambers, a non-Muslim I guess.  Not only because the issue relates to the terror unleashed by Boko Haram group which some people believe is Islamic but also because it touches on terrorism which I had treated on this column and it will be better to elucidate on it particularly Jihad; a very miscontrued word in this part of the world. At the mention of the word jihad, what goes to the mind of non-muslim and unfortunately they hold on to that is a holy war. It is not about that. Essentially, it is a personal struggle to carry out righteous deeds.
Islam is not addicted to war, and jihad is not one of its ‘pillars,’ or essential practices. The primary meaning of the word jihad is not “holy war” but “struggle.” It refers to the difficult effort that is needed to put God’s will into practice at every level of your personal, social as well as political life.  Let me illustrate this better with the saying of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) who told his companions as they marched home after a battle: “We are returning from the lesser jihad (the battle) to the greater jihad.” Which means Jihad is not essentially about fighting but more about your deeds to fellow human beings. I have provided detailed response on this issue below.   But first just take a look at some of the questions.
Is there any hadith that says that:  Paradise has been reserved for Mujahidin; Only Muslims who carry out Jihad will enter paradise;  Paradise can only be attained through swords?
Furthermore, you said: “Islamic laws stand for maintenance of peace and prevention of riots and disturbances.” Is there any single ayah from the Qu’ran that says: fight those that do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day; Fighting is imposed to all Muslims whether they like it or not; Muslims should never cry for peace?
Is it written in the Qur’an that: Muslims are to fight all those that do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day? Muslims are not to take Jews and Christians as friends? Muslims are to force Christians to accept Islam? 
On Mujahideen and Paradise
The Prophet (s.a.w) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and His Messenger, performs Salah and observes Sawm (fasts) of the month of Ramadhan, Allah will admit him to Paradise, no matter whether he fights in Allah’s cause or remains in the land where he was born.” The people said, “O Allah’s Messenger! (s.a.w) shall we acquaint the people with the good news?” He said, “Paradise has one hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the Mujahideen who fight in his cause, and the distance between the Heaven and the Earth. So, when you ask Allah (for something), ask for Al-Firdous which is the middle (best) and the highest part of Paradise. Sahih Bukhari, (p391, vol.1).
This Hadith recognises the efforts of Muslims in the cause of the propagation of Islam. Propagation which in other words is called Jihad and not the war-war that is ignorantly ascribed to it; can be done in several ways as explained by the Quran: i, your wealth by spending in the cause of Islam,  ii, by striving with your life (not by killing) but taking a great risk with your life  to preserve Islam; iii, by spreading the message, preaching, teaching, calling and encouraging people to Islam. 

Greatness of

The hadith further illustrates the greatness of paradise stating the distance between two grades of it - the distance between the Earth and the sky. The greatness of the paradise can be further established by a Hadith in Tirmizi in which it is stated that, if the total universe was to be placed in only one of these grades of paradise, it would be adequately accommodated. Allah has created the Heavens as a gift in exchange for the sacrifices and the noble deed of Jihad. Without miscontruing the meaning of Jihad, and like I have expressed above, it is the non-muslims or better still the christians who have contrived another meaning to the word with the sole aim of decimating Islam.  They are quick to manipulate the minds of people to believe just like my friend that jihad in Islam is all about killing. It is not. It is your personal struggle which does not necessarily mean fighting or killing somebody. In fact, it means more of urgent and momentous task of extirpating wrongdoings from one’s own heart and one’s immediate society. As Muslims, we do jihad in preaching and teaching the religion, we do jihad by spending to build Islam or help Muslim brother in adversity, we also do jihad by also defending the cause of Islam.  Those who strive to do all these are called the Mujahids which will gain paradise, not by wantomly killing people and destroying properties. Paradise is not only meant for these people, it is meant for those whom Al mighty Allah bestows His grace for admittance. One of the conditions for deserving of this divine grace is worshipping Him and doing good deeds (Salat and Ihsan). I have not read in the Quran or the hadiths my friend’s claim that paradise can be attained through sword.  If there is any verse like that in the Quran, I challenge him to bring it forward.
On fighting
During the nascent Islamic era, the few early Muslims experienced a lot of anguish, persecution and killings. The Quraish people (non believers) oppressed and harmed the muslims, put them to trials and caused them a lot of afflictions in order to keep them away from their religion (Islam), even to the extent that they chased them out of their homes, some of them fled to Ethiopia, some went to Madinah. 
They used to tie a rope around the neck of Bilal (a reverted Muslim) (a.s.w) and drag him through the pathways of Makkah.  Yasir’s family was tormented beyond what a normal human being could endure. Abu Jahl also tried to kill the Prophet (s.a.w) while the latter was in prostration praying in the Mosque.  But amidst all these, they did not fight, they did not even abuse any one of them. They fled to Madinah. Yet, the unrelenting unbelievers like we have today, grouped in Makkah and launched attack on the fleeing Muslims in Madinah. The Muslims were confused not knowing what to do until the revelation of the verse: “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loves not transgressors. And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter... But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful... If they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression” (2:190-193).  
This is the verse that non-Muslims usually quote and they do it out of context of the revelation and meaning. At that point, it became expedient for the then Muslims to defend themselves.  Note: it was not an attack.  It was not even obligatory but because by its nature, war is disliked by the human soul because of the liability, of being killed, or being taken as a captive, or being injured, with the destruction of the wealth and properties, the spreading of fear and awe in people and the possibility of being exiled from one’s homeland, it is discouraged and became only the last resort in the true meaning of jihad.  At that point, the Muslims did not like the option and they were reluctant until another verse was revealed that: “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” (Q2-216).

To be continued next week

Boko Haram attacks another church killing pastor’s wife, 5 others

 In its renewed attack on Christians after the deadly Christmas Day bombing of a church in Madalla, Nigeria State, the notorious Boko Haram sect on Thursday again attacked a branch of the Deeper Life Bible Church in Gombe, killing six worshipers including the wife of the pastor, Johnson Tauro, and injuring ten others.

The affected branch of the church is located in Nasarawo district of Gombe town, which is also the capital of Gombe State. Gombe State before the imposition of selective emergency rule in four states in the north had been relatively peaceful and devoid of the serial Boko Haram bombings.

“I lost my wife during the gun shot when they began opening fire on us through the window of the church. “They were in large number when they attacked us and I cannot ascertain their number, because we just began hearing gunshots inside the church and everybody within began to run for safety,” Pastor Tauro narrated.

According to Pastor Jauro, the sect struck at about 7 pm with sophisticated weapons which they shot sporadically into the air to announce their arrival.

Pastor Jauro disclosed that the ten people wounded include children and women who were in the church for a vigil. He said the causalities were taken to both the Gombe Specialist Hospital and the Federal Medical
Centre in the town for medical attention.

A joint military patrol arrived the scene of the incident shortly after the shooting to assist the injured seek medical attention.