Sunday, December 26, 2010

Role of the President's aides in Abuja Independent Bomb Blast Saga via SaharaReporters

An account of the role played by aides to Goodluck Jonathan in trying to convince Heny Okah to dump the blame for the Independence Day bomb blast in Abuja on “Northern elements” are emerging, just as Mr. Okah's lawyers received the news of a January 4, 2011 date to appeal his denial of bail application which has enabled his continued detention in South Africa. Last month, he was denied bail by a South African magistrate after the judge said "The accused was untruthful and he lied to the court" .

Saharareporters has obtained a confidential report which might a major role in the trial that details calls made to Okah by several key Jonathan aides the night after the bomb blasts, at a time MEND was claiming responsibility for them. Those named in the secret report include Jonathan's former ADC, Moses Jituboh, a police officer whose current designation is “Personal Security Officer to the president;" the Minister for the Niger Delta, Godsday Orubebe; and Tony Uranta, the same Jonathan operative who was recently named in the $50,000 bribery of the Save Nigeria Group (SNG).

The secret document shows that four calls were traced to Mr. Orubebe, and several calls as well as a key text message were traced to Mr. Uranta, who used telephone numbers: +2348075407801, +2347084961205 and +2348069280206 to communicate as he acted as an intermediary between Mr. Okah and President Jonathan up to the night after the Abuja bombing in October.

The document shows that after the bombs went off, Uranta sent a text message to Okah, saying, "Please get JG to withdraw claim," ["JG" being the shortened form of "Jomo Gbomo", the mysterious but widely-known email name used in MEND releases] but Okah responded by text, saying , "Don't even think about that".

Mr. Uranta responded with another text message to Mr. Okah, saying the critical words, "Govt will blame bombing on Northern elements."
That was the last text message before Mr. Uranta joined a delegation of Niger Delta delegates which “commiserated” with Jonathan over the bombings. Meanwhile, as Jonathan possibly thought the deal to blame the blast on "Northern elements" had sailed through with Mr. Okah, he announced publicly that MEND was not responsible for the bombing even as the MEND had already claimed responsibility.

As was exclusively reported by SaharaReporters, Mr. Okah's house was ransacked by the South African police the day before the Abuja bombings, and his phones and laptops—as well as those of his children—confiscated. The search had been initiated by the Nigerian government, having been tipped off by Western security agents about the impending blast. MEND had also issued press releases announcing its intentions prior to the blast.

The confidential document revealed that Jonathan called his South African counterpart, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa to have Okah arrested to "prevent" the deadly blast. In turn, Zuma directly asked South African prosecutor, Shaun Abrahams, to get a Magistrate to issue a search warrant and an arrest warrant for Okah's arrest.

Two South African Magistrates, Nonhle Jadezweni and PJ du Plessis, were contacted to issue the search warrant and warrant of arrest. Both initially refused to comply, for lack of sufficient information or disclosure of course of action, but Mr. Du Plessis was told by the prosecutor that it would be in the interest of the Nigeria-South African bilateral relationship.

As Du Plessis was contemplating the next course of action, Mr. Abrahams put a man whom he said was President Zuma on the phone to tell the judge how important it was to issue an arrest warrant for Okah. The prosecutor then went ahead to produce an Interpol "Red Notice" which was issued in 2007 on Okah.

On the part of Magistrate Jadezweni, a search warrant was issued to the effect that Okah was a violent criminal with stockpiles of arms in his Johannesburg mansion. A search into Okah house did not yield any arms.

Dumisa Ntsebeza SC has now joined Okah's defense team and will be with him at the South Gauteng High Court in Johanessburg in two weeks to try and secure his bail. Okah's legal team is requesting the magistrate records as a way of proving that his arrest and detention was orchestrated politically because of his refusal to be used by Jonathan to endorse his candidature as president in the upcoming 2011 general elections.

If Okah's trial proceeds as planned, revelations from his team will ultimately reveal the extent of the Nigerian government’s involvement with Okah at the highest levels. The involvement of President Zuma and the Johannesburg Magistrate, Heine Louw, were attributed to pressures on South African business interests in Nigeria. Mr. Louw is due for promotion to the South Africa High Court system.

Meanwhile, MEND sources said they are planning series of attacks that would cripple Nigerian oil production between now and January 2011. Chevron has already suspended production due to recent pipeline sabotage. A MEND source told SaharaReporters that their sabotage campaign would affect as much as 500,000 barrels per day.

MEND's threats follow the disappearance of four militants from Port Harcourt prison a few days ago. Our source said they fear that Tamuno Tonye Kuna, known as "Commander Obese", who recently surrendered to the Joint Military Task Force, may have been killed by JTF operatives along with the four missing militants.

“Commander Obese” was reportedly lured out of the creeks by Farrah Dagogo with his fighters and made to turn over some hostages.

Said a MEND source to SaharaReporters, "President Jonathan promised Obese N500 million and a second Amnesty, but they arrested him as soon as he surrendered his forces."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Former First lady Rendered Homeless in Potomac, MD.

This saga echoes a scene from a Nigerian home video, except that it is real. Imagine going from first lady, with all the largesse, to homeless, where you now have to depend on government assistance to survive in a foreign land. It is sad tale, but is the fate of Mrs. Aisha Abubakar Audu, former first lady of Kogi state.

Thursday, lawyers to Prince Abubakar Audu, who has been on a warpath with his wife, Aisha, showed up at their holiday home in Potomac, Maryland and evicted Mrs. Aisha Audu and her three young children from their home.

In the words of the former first lady, "Prince Abubakar Audu owns houses in this town but could not provide a place for us to stay. Instead, he has evicted us from a home we have known for 10 years".

“We were thrown outside at a temperature of less than 30 degrees, while he waited around town to be handed the keys to his company home. He has claimed victory over his wife and children to vacate his home".

“He acted shamelessly and like we are NOBODY!”

“We are now homeless but have been provided temporary accommodation by the USA Human and Health Services, under the abused persons programs, where I and the kids have been attending therapy since this ordeal started".

"They have also provided school for the kids. The neighbors provided immediate help to cushions our plight before we were taken to a shelter as we were not allowed to take anything from the house”.

“Audu has a second house used as a guest house when he is in USA, It is located at 3928 Highwood Ct, there is another apartment which is not currently on rent (managed by his son, Bashir Audu, a student) at Unit N6F 1155 23rd street and unit N6M 1155 23rd street and Unit-PH3 1111 23rd street, all in NW Washington DC under the sham names of Goldwindow, Mercury Belside & Sunshine llc which he solely owns and operate”.

“He could give instructions to allow any member of his family use especially as he had locked us out in Abuja too leaving us with nowhere to go even if we were to return to Nigeria”.

“He also has refused even through his divorce attorney to accept temporary relief for the kids, claiming he is not agreeing to divorce me and has not been properly served”.

“Meanwhile all my personal belongings including that of the children has been confisticated by him in our home in the villa in Abuja, Jos, Kaduna, Lokoja, Alloma, Ogbonicha and London. We cannot get into any of these houses without his instruction to caretakers, police and guards and that was the only reason we came to the USA home believing that he will come to his senses eventually if I just hanged on a bit, but now it is obviously clear that my life has been in danger all along and it has all been a setup”.

“Before moving to our home in the USA which we had always used as a family for over 10 years without any approval from his sham company, eminent personalities like the Ohinohi of Ibira land, HRH Alhaji Ado Ibrahim, former Chief of Defence Staff, Rear Adimiral Ibrahim Ogohi, former Minister of Defence, Alhaji Kwankwaso, former Governor of Sokoto state, Alhaji Atahiru Banfarawa including family members, all got involved to talk to him to act responsibly and follow the Islamic rites instead of the ritual oath on his father's grave, based on allegation by his 35 year old daughter, Meimuna of my plot to poison her father (Audu)”.

“They solicited that he should make amends to the developing situation and where a divorce is the ultimate; he should do it properly instead of locking us out of the house without adequate provision”. “But he was adamant and will not listen or even agree to pay the children’s school fees towards the next school session so that that the kids could continue with their school at the America International School, Abuja”.

NBC Plc to Delist, Sends Notice to NSE

Nigerian Bottling Company Plc: Proposed Scheme of Agreement
Nigerian Bottling Company Plc (“NBC” or “the Company”), wishes to formally inform the Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”) of a proposed Scheme of Arrangement (“Scheme”) between the Company and its members, involving a cancellation of part of its share capital, such that the Company would become a wholly owned subsidiary of its majority shareholder, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company S.A. (“Hellenic”).
The proposed Scheme would be effected under the provision of S539 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (“CAMA”), which allows for an arrangement to be proposed between a company and its members.
The proposed structure envisages a cash consideration to be paid as compensation to shareholders for the cancellation of the shares of the Company which Hellenic (through its subsidiaries) does not already own. The terms and conditions thereof will be incorporated in a Scheme document to be circulated within the stipulated statutory period to all the Company’s shareholders for their consideration.
The proposed Scheme includes a cash payment ofN43 per NBC share as consideration to the minority shareholders. The proposed price would provide all minority shareholders with a premium of 37.4% to the 30-day average closing price and 43.2% to the closing price of NBC shares on the NSE on December 13 2010 which was N30.03 per NBC share.
The proposed Scheme will also be subject to the approval of the shareholders at a meeting of the Company, convened on the order of the Federal High Court (“FHC”), and will only become binding and effective upon obtaining the approval of not less than three-quarters in value of shares held by those present and voting, in person or by proxy, at the said meeting and the subsequent sanction of the FHC.
An application will consequently be made for the delisting of the Company’s shares from the Daily Official List of the NSE. The Company will also be re-registered as a private company in accordance with the relevant provisions of CAMA.
REFERENCE: Proshare’s Daily Market Report oF August 23, 2010 where the planned delisting was placed before the market.
The consequences of the ongoing imbroglio on the exchange have taken a new dimension as it was reported in the dailies today that three foreign blue chip companies (from Breweries, Conglomerate and Food & beverages subsectors) might be threatening to pull out of the bourse. According to the information gathered, loss of confidence, crisis in the Exchange and market meltdown was among the reasons why these companies are threatening to pull out from the stock exchange.
This further strengthens our stand as expressed in our previous reports that there are urgent needs to resolve the ongoing crisis; the more the crisis lingers, the worst it may continue to get for the market as this will make the market unattractive for reasonable investors. Foreign investors will be scared away further.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

INEC Recovers 16 stolen DDC Machines

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) says it has recovered 16 out of the 20 Direct Data Capture (DDC) machines stolen at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.

A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Kayode Idowu said 20 machines were stolen out of 6000 imported by Zinox Technologies Limited. "Sixteen of these have been recovered by Thursday afternoon, and security agents are working assiduously to recover the four outstanding and apprehend the culprits."

Idowu said the integrity of the DDC machines cannot be compromised by those behind the theft, saying "there are adequate safety features to forestall any nefarious use of the stolen items; as such, the integrity of the electoral processes would not be compromised."

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives yesterday resolved to institute an investigation into the reports that the Direct Data Capture machines imported by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have been stolen at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.

Adopting a motion on the matter sponsored by Rep. Halims Agoda (PDP,Delta), the House directed its committees on Electoral Matters, Aviation and Internal Security to investigate the issue and report back to the House in one week.

Aviation Minister, Mrs Fidelia Akuabata Njeze sy blamed the theft of DDC machines on lack of CCTV cameras and the porous nature of some of the airports in the country. The minister disclosed this while answering questions at the presentation of her ministry's score card in Abuja.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

No going back on controversial clause – N’Assembly

The National Assembly has concluded plans to go ahead with the process of amending the 2010 Electoral Act (First alteration) in spite of the public outrage against it.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information and Media, Senator Ayogu Eze, who made this known at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday, said the public hearing on the bill seeking to amend the Act might begin on Thursday.

Section 84 of a bill which seeks to make federal lawmakers members of the National Executive Committees of their political parties, had attracted criticisms from opposition political parties, civil rights groups and prominent Nigerians.

But, Eze said at the press conference that the outcome of the public hearing on the bill would determine the direction to be followed by the lawmakers.

He said, “We need the public hearing because the process of making laws here is very clear and we cannot bypass any of the procedure because people are speaking for or against.

“When people speak for it, we will still go ahead and conduct public hearing, when they speak against, we will still conduct public hearing. Preparations are in top gear. All things being equal, we might be having the public hearing on Thursday.”

The Senate spokesman added that in order to save time, the committees handling the bill in both chambers of the National Assembly might merge to conduct a single public hearing.

According to him, the two committees, would after the public hearing submit a harmonised version of the bill to the chambers.

“If possible, they may eliminate the time that would have been wasted on setting up a conference committee. Everything is being done to ensure that that matter is treated speedily,” he said

The senator assured that the leadership of the Senate would be open to criticisms, and urged critics to appear at the public hearing to make their contributions.

He said, “The Senate President say, we are a listening National Assembly, we represent the people, at the end of the day, what will happen is what the Nigerian people desire and what will be in the overall interest of our democracy.

“That is what will guide our actions. We want to assure you that we will tale on board, all the views that have been expressed to the public hearing.”

There was, however, tension in the House of Representatives on Tuesday when the two lead sponsors of the bill in the House complained that one their colleagues — Mr. Patrick Obahiagbon — used abusive and unparliamentary language in his opposition to the controversial clause in the bill.

The sponsors of the bill — Mr. Igo Aguma and Mr. Cyril Maduabum — therefore urged that Obahiagbon be penalised for his action.

Obahiagbon, the first lawmaker to openly condemn the clause, had said that it would amount to ”legislative rascality and parliamentary gambadoism” if the House went ahead to pass the bill.

Raising a point of order on privilege and quoting from the Legislative Houses, Powers and Privileges Act at Tuesday’s plenary, Aguma noted that the Action Congress of Nigeria lawmaker went beyond the norms acceptable to the House to castigate his colleagues in the public.

Aguma urged the House to refer the matter to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to investigate it and make appropriate recommendations to the House.

Aguma‘s prayer was a veiled call for the suspension of Obahiagbon, as the committee would have applied the relevant rules and recommend his suspension.

On his part, Maduabum informed the House that Obahiagbon appeared on a television programme where he allegedly asked Nigerians to ”take up arms against all members of the National Assembly.”

He said, “This is an incitement to violence; it simply means that by his action, we are no longer safe as legislators.

“The lives of members of our families are also at risk because he is inciting the public to come and attack us in the course of doing our job as legislators.”

But as tension rose, the Speaker, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, called for caution and sought to hear Obahiagbon‘s side of the story.

This attracted noisy reaction as the majority of lawmakers opposed the idea of allowing Obahiagbon to speak. They wanted the matter to be referred to the Committee on Ethics and Privileges immediately.

The speaker, in a bid to ensure fairness, insisted that Obahiagbon must speak amid loud protests by lawmakers.

When he rose to speak, Obahiagbon admitted to have addressed a news conference where he used the language complained of.

He, however, explained that he used ”legislative rascality” contextually to mean that he hoped his colleagues would not ignore the opposition to the bill by going ahead to pass it.

His explanation elicited further uproar as the lawmakers shouted him down. At this point, Bankole intervened again, saying that it was clear that Obahiagbon offended his colleagues by describing them as ‘legislative rascals.’

The speaker then advised Obahiagbon to withdraw the language and apologise to the House.

He also observed that by admitting that he considered the decision of the House to pass the bill as unethical, Obahiagbon ought to know that it was a matter for the Committee on Ethics and Privileges to handle instead of going to the public.

Obahiagbon bowed to pressure and tendered an apology, saying that “the House of Representatives will live forever.”

He also said that he offered an ”unreserved apologia.”

Many lawmakers still felt that Obahiagbon did not apologise properly, but Bankole intervened again to restrain them from fuelling the tension.

The speaker appealed for calm and urged his colleagues to focus more on other serious assignments before the House such as the amendment to the 1999 Constitution (2nd Alteration). [PUNCH]

2011: Northern leaders alarmed by Jonathan’s ambition – Atiku

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar on Tuesday said President Goodluck Jonathan’s declaration to pick the Peoples Democratic Party’s ticket for the 2011 presidential election came to Northern elders as a ‘rude shock.’

Addressing a news conference in Abuja on his selection as the compromise aspirant of the Northern Leaders Political Forum, the former vice-president said this was because Jonathan was aware of an existing agreement within the party to rotate power between the North and South. He said zoning had become part of Nigeria’s political culture, adding that this was why the PDP zoned the office of President to the South in 1999.

In 2002, Abubakar said an expanded caucus of the PDP reaffirmed the zoning of the Presidency to the South for another four years, after which it would be the turn of the North for eight years.

“Our current President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, was present at that expanded caucus meeting and voted in support of zoning. It, therefore, came as a rude shock to most Nigerians, including Northern leaders in the PDP, when indications emerged that Dr. Jonathan would, in utter disregard of the PDP constitution and extant agreements, offer himself for election to the office of President in 2011.

“We were alarmed that the progress that we had made as a nation to address our diversity in relation to power-sharing would be jeopardised, with consequences that might be catastrophic. It was that concern that led to the formation of the Northern Leaders Political Forum, which immediately began wide-ranging consultations across the country to alert Nigerians to the dangers inherent in one man, just because he feels he could, casually abandoning agreements painstakingly reached by broad sections of the country on the critical issue of power sharing.”

He said those opposed to zoning were not concerned about the stability of the country. He also told the audience that anti-zoning elements, in their desperation, resorted to a dangerous strategy of ethnic and religious politics to advance their selfish agenda. Zoning, he said, was not new to the country as it was also adopted during the First Republic.

“That was why in the First Republic, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe from the South was ceremonial President, Tafawa Balewa from the North was the Prime Minister and other key positions went to people from various ethnic and religious groups. We maintained that tradition under military rule and through all civilian administrations.

“Zoning and rotation have never been perfect, but we have always recognised their importance for peace, unity, fairness and justice in this country. It is the mechanism which, at this stage of our development, ensures that every segment of the country, especially minority groups, have a chance of producing the occupants of the most important offices in our country.”

He said it was ironic that the country’s foreign reserves were being depleted while funds in the Excess Crude Account were reducing.

He said, “Why are our budgets not being implemented? Why has the money in our Excess Crude Account disappeared at a time when oil prices have been way above the benchmark used for our budget estimates?

“Why are our foreign reserves being depleted to dangerous levels leading to rating agencies downgrading our status? Why is this government quickly dragging us back to indebtedness after we worked so hard and sacrificed so much in the past to pull ourselves out of debt slavery? Clearly we need a new leadership in this country. That is why I am in this race.”

He pledged to work tirelessly to achieve victory for the PDP and lead the effort to build a Nigeria of his vision. This vision, according to him, is of a country which “creates conducive conditions and incentives for productive investment in the industrial sector, agriculture and social services; investments that will create massive numbers of jobs which will keep our youths gainfully employed and help to tackle the high level of insecurity in the country.”

Among those who were at the briefing were the Directors-General of Abubakar Bukola Saraki Campaign Organisation, Gen. Aliyu Gusau Campaign Organisation and Ibrahim Babangida Campaign Organisation, Dr. Udenta Udenta, Senator Ben Obi and Dr. Raymond Dokpesi respectively.

Others at the briefing included former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo; erstwhile Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani; Mr. Chris Mammah and Chief Musa Elayo.

The Director, Media and Publicity of the Jonathan/Sambo Campaign Organisation, Mr. Sully Abu, told our correspondent on the telephone that “there was nothing in what Atiku said on both economy and zoning.

“On zoning, the PDP has said the President is qualified to contest and every loyal member of the party has to abide by the party’s position. Atiku may not know anything about loyalty since he has been in and out of the party.

“Concerning the economy, he is not sure of his facts. There are rating agencies that have rated the Federal Government high and we do not know why he is using his pre-determined position to react. He is, however, free to pick any of the agencies he likes for the purpose of campaign.”

Meanwhile, the Deputy Director-General of the Ibrahim Babangida Campaign Organisation, Senator Kanti Bello, has described the selection of Abubakar as ‘irrational.’ Speaking on the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation monitored in Kaduna on Tuesday, Bello argued that the committee’s choice did not go down well with him.

But media spokesman to the former vice-president, Mallam Garba Shehu, said the senator had the right to his opinion since he had to please his boss (Babangida). [PUNCH]

Navy, Customs impound seven military trucks, arms in Lagos

The Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogbor, on Tuesday said eight military trucks had been seized by the Nigerian Navy on Monday at Tin Can Island Port, Apapa, Lagos.

Speaking at a news conference in Lagos, Ogbor said the trucks were covered with a camouflage tarpaulin and were neatly tucked into a container. He said two suspects had been arrested in connection with the issue, adding that they would be released to the appropriate authority after investigations.

According to him, “Items found in the trucks included A Chevrolet double cabin vehicle covered with a camouflage tarpaulin spread neatly tucked into a container. Inside the vehicle were some pistols, hundreds of live ammunition, bulletproof jackets, military boots and sundry prohibited related items.

“Heavy duty military trucks used for the movement of troops and logistics were also impounded by the command. The trucks are seven and are painted in military colour.”

Ogbor said the Navy and other security agencies were prepared to combat criminals in the country.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Customs Service on Tuesday displayed two pistols and 1,431 rounds of ammunition it discovered in a vehicle brought into the country from the United States in a container.

The Area Controller, Tin Can Island, NCS, Mr. Austen Warikoru, told newsmen in Lagos during the inspection of the arms and ammunition in Lagos that two suspects had been arrested in connection with the seizure.

He said, “The concealment of contraband items arm and ammunitions was in a 40ft container UESU 456777/3. The suspects, Mr. Ifeanyi Edom, who is the clearing agent and the purported brother inlaw to the importer, Mr. Ume Uzoezie, are in Customs custody.

“The container was re-examined on November 20, 2010 in the presence of the suspects.”

According to him, the container contained two used pistols, one AR-7 Explorer with S/No A124431-CAL.22 and AMPSOR 206 CAL. 38 Special with serial no A946122. He gave the details of the ammunitions as 1100 rounds of Remington brand of 22 calibre bullets, 100 Remington special of 32 calibre; 100 Monarch brand of 38 calibre and 31 Acquita (Super-maxim) of 22 calibre.

Other items discovered in the container were used clothes, various gifts items, personal belongings and four cars. (PUNCH)

Lagos Security Trust Fund now N6.2 billion

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), on Tuesday said the Lagos State Security Trust Fund had raised over N6.2bn in materials and money in the past three years.

Fashola, who spoke at the fourth town hall meeting on security organised by the LSSTF in Lagos, said the contributions of the people of the state to the fund had boosted his administration’s fight against crime. He, however, lamented the impact of the economic recession on the contributions of major donors to the fund.

The governor, therefore, called on individual and corporate donors to continue to support the LSSTF. He pointed out that a centralised police force, whose ability “to perform its duties is predicated on the level of support it receives in material and logistics provided by its principal, the Federal Government.”

Also speaking, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo, said operatives of the Lagos State Rapid Response Squad foiled at least 64 armed robbery attacks between October 2009 and September 2010.

Akpoyibo said the crime rate in the state had dropped by 79 per cent, adding that security agents responded to 25 fire outbreaks and 27 accidents in the state within the same period.

Akpoyibo praised the state government for setting up the LSSTF, saying it was responsible for the success recorded so far. He said the fund had bolstered security in the state through capacity-building.

The police commissioner, who commended the public-private partnership approach to security management in the state, declared ‘zero tolerance’ for crime. He said the state government’s mission was “already being realised as crime indices have now assumed a downward trend.”

According to him, it is normally expected that in mega cities, armed robbery, murder, fraud, car theft and trans-border crime will be at a high level. He, however, said the reverse was the case in the state.L

INEC Releases New Election Timetable...Full details !!!

The Independent National Electoral Commission on Tuesday ended months of speculations on the new guidelines for full blown political activities by releasing the revised election timetable for the 2011 general elections.

According to the new timetable, National Assembly elections will hold first on April, 2, 2011. They will be followed by the presidential election on April 9, 2011.

The process is expected to end on April 16 with the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections.

The INEC Chairman Prof. Attahiru Jega, read out the timetable at a news conference in Abuja.

He said the release of the timetable/election guidelines was in line with the powers conferred on the commission by the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the 2010 Electoral Act and all other powers enabling the commission to perform its functions.

Other details of the election schedule show that campaigns by political parties will begin on December 1, 2010.

The party primaries will start on January 1, 2011 while the last day for the submission of forms CF001 and CF 002 (affidavit and personal particulars of candidates for all elections) is January 31, 2011.

The date for the registration of voters, pursuant to Section 9(5) of the Electoral Act (2010), has been fixed for between January 15 and 29, 2011.

Section 9(5) of the Electoral Act , provides that the exercise be carried out 90 days before polling day.

The new timetable also states the last day for the withdrawal/substitution of candidates by political parties.

For National Assembly elections, parties have up till February 14, 2011 to substitute candidates. Parties also have up till February 21, 2011 to submit nomination forms for candidates contesting the National Assembly poll.

February 21, 2011 is the last day for parties to substitute candidates for the presidential poll and February 28 for the governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections.

Electioneering is expected to end on April 1, 2011 for the National Assembly elections and April 8, 2011 for the presidential contest.

Governorship and Houses of Assembly elections have April 15 as the last day for electioneering.

Jega, who was flanked at the news conference by national commissioners of INEC, also announced that the run-off for governorship and presidential elections (if any), would be held within seven days after the announcement of the result of the affected poll.

Sections 179 (4) and (5), and Section 134 (4-5) respectively of the 1999 Constitution provide for this.

The commission had, in a timetable released on September 7, 2010 , fixed the voter registration for between November 1 and November 14.

INEC also scheduled party primaries for between September 11 and October 30. It had planned to hold the 2011 general elections in January.

But at a meeting with leaders of the 63 registered political parties on September 21, Jega said the January date was not feasible.

He had said that the commission had missed many of its timelines that were crucial to the registration of voters as well as the recruitment and training of ad-hoc staff for the elections.

At the meeting, INEC and the parties agreed that the 2010 Electoral Act and the 1999 Constitution should be amended to allow for the postponement of the poll.

President Goodluck Jonathan had in October sent a bill to the National Assembly proposing amendments to sections 5, 10, 11, and 17 of the constitution (first alteration) Act and Sections 76,116, 132, and 178 of the 1999 Constitution.

According to him, the amendments will extend the deadline for the conduct of the election to the end of April 2011.

The National Assembly had passed the bill, which mandated INEC to hold the general elections not earlier than 150 days and not later than 30 days to May 29 .

In the first amendment, the commission was supposed to hold elections not earlier than 150 days and not later than 60 days before May 29.

Earlier this month, the National Assembly had forwarded the bill to the 36 state Houses of Assembly, which on Monday, said that they had approved it. (PUNCH)

Delta Assembly steps down 2 commissioner-nominees over credentials

The Delta State House of Assembly on Tuesday stepped down the confirmation of two commissioner-nominees for failure to summit their certificates.

The nominees, Ngozi Okolie and Leonard Esegbue, were however, given up to Wednesday to submit the credentials or lose their nomination. The House took the decision when it was discovered that the duo, who had appeared with four others, did not submit copies of their credentials. Other nominees - Paulinus Akpeki, Brave

Enodeh, Dumbiri Uweh and Peter Ekereokosu - were screened and confirmed. The state's Acting Governor, Sam Obi, had on Thursday, forwarded list of six persons to the Assembly for confirmation as commissioners. Obi was sworn in as Acting Governor on November 10, following the nullification of Emmanuel Uduaghan's election by an Appeal Court in Benin, Edo. Mr Obi dissolved the State Executive Council on Monday and sent 27 names to the

Assembly for approval as commissioners to enable him reconstitute the council. The list which contained names of 24 members of the dissolved cabinet and three new ones, was read out during the Assembly's proceedings on Tuesday. -(234next)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

“Farida Waziri Has No Plan Of Resigning” - EFCC can disclose that Farida Waziri,chairperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has no plans of stepping down. At least not until 2012, when her tenure elapses. This clarification became necessary in light of a bogus

media advisory currently in circulation, which opined that Mrs. Farida Waziri had contemplated resigning as the czar of the anti-corruption agency over alleged interference by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr.Mohammed Bello Adoke.

Mr. Femi Babafemi, spokesman for EFFC, whom the statement was attributed to, has distanced himself, saying that the statement was “fake” and that the authors may have cloned his email”.

Here him:

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has described as cheap blackmail and an act of desperation by disgruntled elements a widely circulated statement credited to the anti-graft agency in which spurious and ridiculous allegations were made against the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN as well as the EFCC Chairman, Mrs Farida Waziri”.

“A statement by the Commission on Tuesday November 16, 2010 accused those behind the fake statement of cloning the e-mail address of the Commission's spokesman, Femi Babafemi and using same to send their own statement to media organizations including on-line publications some of which had already published the so-called statement which was written in bad language and taste”.

“The Commission wishes to disown the statement in its entirety and urge all those that may have received it as well as the general public to disregard it as it is not in any way related to the reality of things on ground in the EFCC”.

"The statement is just one of the numerous antics of crooks to set the office of the AGF against the EFCC in their desperate bid to cause confusion and disaffection between the two personalities heading the two public offices. They have tried this before now by sponsoring various publications attacking either the AGF or the EFCC chairman as a ploy to create the impression that such publications were sponsored by either of the two officials against the other”.

"We wish to assure the masterminds of this criminal act that this is yet another of their failed plots to want to escape justice using all manner of crooked means. If they have failed to deter us from continuing their investigation and prosecution by killing and maiming our officials, sending of bomb threats and others, then their latest antic of trying to set the AGF against the EFCC will equally fail”.

"We wish to emphasize that the EFCC chairman is not contemplating resigning her appointment on a non-existent ground that the AGF is interfering with the work of the Commission. The support of the AGF for the anti-graft agency has in no small measure helped to facilitate the recent successes recorded in the war against corruption especially some high profile convictions recorded by the EFCC”.

"We also wish to assure the criminal minds behind the latest plot that we will continue to work with other security agencies to trail and track them no matter who they are", the statement stated”.

Bogus Press Statement: Linked To Chris Oyakhilome`s Newspaper (National Daily)

Earlier, National Daily, a publication owned by Chris Oyakhilome, the controversial head pastor of Christ Embassy Ministry, published a story captioned:Farida Waziri battles AGF Adoke, Pays Aondoakaa N1.3 billion Monthly”. The poorly worded, fabricated statement, which was a joinder to the aforementioned story reads:

Farida Waziri battles AGF Adoke, Pays Aondoakaa N1.3 billion Monthly - Rejoinder

The Attention of the Economic and Financial Commission, EFCC has been drawn to the recent publication in The National Daily Newspaper, posted on the Sahara reporter’s website. In the said publication, it was alleged that the Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri and the Honourable Attorney General and Minister for Justice are at war, and that the AGF wrote a memo accusing the leadership of the commission of ineptitude in the handling of petition amongst others.

The Farida same publication also accused Mrs. Farida Waziri of paying the sum of N1.3 billion to the former Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa. These accusations are baseless and sponsored by the enemies of the EFCC, however it is pertinent to put the record straight.

Mrs. Waziri’s relationship with Mr. Adoke remains cordial, but the EFCC will not entertain any tele-guiding of its activities by the AGF’s office or any agency of Government.In recent times the office of the AGF has waded into the commission’s activities thereby scuttling its prosecutions. These intrusions are not in the best interest on the fight against corruption.

The activities of the AGF office are embarrassing to the commission and have brought us in bad light to the public perception on the fight against corruption. It has made the commission to lose its focus.

Our recently published Advisory List was highly condemned by the AGF in a letter it wrote to the commission.

It is worthy to note that the EFCC lose of focus is as a result of the intrusion of the AGF office, which has made The Chairman of the Commission, Mrs. Farida Waziri to contemplate resigning from the job.

We urge the public to continue to support the fight against corruption.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

JTF dislodges militant camp in Bayelsa

The Niger Delta special security forces, the Joint Task Force codenamed Operation Restore Hope have raided a militant camp allegedly operated by one Keiti Sese also known as Commander Nomukeme (mad man) in Forupa community on the Atlantic fringe of the Bayelsa State.

But the militant leader, the target of the special forces’ invasion of the coastal settlement of Forupa narrowly escaped arrest. He was said to have fled through the mangrove creek following a tip-off by his supposed loyalists. However, soldiers have reportedly taken over his camp as base.

BOF gathered that the military action ordered by the Federal Government against acts of terrorism and resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta which was made public, weekend, may have commenced in the first week of November as men of JTF swooped on the militant camp at Forupa on November 8 leading to the dislodgement of the group allegedly terrorising the community.

It was, however, learnt that the JTF met stiff resistance from the camp as they were engaged in exchange of gunfire that lasted about 10 minutes before the militants capitulated to the superior fire power to soldiers.

Two members of the camp were reportedly nabbed by the JTF which also discovered unspecified number of arms, a 3d seismic programme map used in tracking routes of oil pipelines in the area as well as list of over 36 registered members of the group.

According to a statement by the Commander of JTF, Major-General Charles Omoregie, other items recovered at the camp include, identification cards of five militants supposed to have also allegedly embraced the amnesty programme.

The camp, reportedly opened last year by ”Commander Noukeme” was located at the Corpers’ Lodge and medical facility in the area allegedly seized by the group.

The JTF Commander, in the statement stressed that the military action became imperative following the incessant complaints by indigenes of the troubled Foropa community on the atrocities of the group.

“Keiti Sese alias Commander Nomukeme “mad man” had indeed, become a thorn in the flesh of Foropa and neighbouring communities,” he added.

But, Keiti Sese, alias ”Commander Nomukeme” in a statement issued from his hide-out and made available to newsmen, weekend, accused JTF of trying to kill him on the alleged orders of some ex-militant leaders benefiting from the alleged huge illegal bunkering business in the Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of the state.

Sunday, November 14, 2010 Vindicated! As Government Reveals Identity of Apapa Wharf Arms Dealer

The Nigerian government, yesterday confirmed our report of Wednesday, October 12th captioned, Suspect in Weapon Intercepted @ Apapa Wharf, Seek Refuge in Iranian Embassy. reported that the mastermind of the arsenal of weapon intercepted at the Apapa Wharf has gone into hiding and that the man identified by impeccable security sources, is an Iranian business man.

Corroborating our finding, the government, identified the Iranian as Mr. Azimi Adajani, and said that security operatives are still interrogating the Iranian national who applied for a Nigerian visa in Teheran on the July 14, 2010 (and has been linked with the Nigerian consignee of the arms disguised as building material). broke the story that the suspect, Mr. Azimi Adajani is taking refuge at the Iranian embassy in Abuja and cannot be arrested by Nigerian security operatives, because according to article 22 of Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, which Nigeria and Iran are signatories,

“The premises of a diplomatic mission, such as an embassy, are inviolate and must not be entered by the host country except by permission of the head of the mission. Furthermore, the host country must protect the mission from intrusion or damage. The host country must never search the premises, nor seize its documents or property”.

In October when Mr. Azimi Adajani, who is not licensed to deal in arms in Nigeria , took temporary residence at the Iranian Embassy in Abuja , an Iranian Embassy official confirmed to that he was with them.

When asked to corroborate our findings, SSS spokeswoman,Mrs Marilyn Ogar, repudiated our correspondent, saying “the story was a figment of our imagination”.

Speaking to news men, yesterday, the Hon. Minister of foreign affairs,Mr. Henry Odein Ajumogobia said, : “One of the individuals (diplomat and a businessman) connected
to the shipment is an Iranian national... the Iranian ambassador has now directed that access be given to our security agencies to interrogate the individual who is connected to the Nigerian shipper. At the appropriate time, the National Security Adviser will give details on this.”

Militants Attack Home Of Jonathan's "Amnesty" Adviser, Timi Alaibe

Gunmen armed with explosives have attacked the home of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's top adviser on the Niger Delta oil region, police in the southern state of Bayelsa said on Friday.

Timi Alaibe, who was the main co-ordinator of an amnesty programme for militants in the region last year, was not at home when the attack happened late on Thursday night, his aides and family members said.

"His house in Opokuma was attacked by yet-to-be identified gunmen some minutes to midnight last night. They attacked the place with dynamite and guns causing damage to the building," Bayelsa state police spokesman Eguavoen Emokpae said.

He said the motive for the attack was unclear and no arrests had yet been made.Thousands of gunmen laid down weapons under the amnesty programme, brokered by President Jonathan, which brought more than a year of relative peace in the heartland of Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.

But the militants were always highly factionalized and while the main field commanders were given significant payments for accepting the amnesty, some of their followers have complained that stipends have gone unpaid and that there are no jobs.

The main militant group, the Movement of the Emancipation for the Niger Delta (MEND), kidnapped seven foreign crew members from an Afren oil rig on Sunday, including two U.S., two French, two Indonesian and one Canadian national.

It also claimed responsibility for car bombings near an Independence Day parade in the capital Abuja on October 1, which killed at least 10 people.

A resurgence in violence in the Niger Delta would be an embarrassment for Jonathan, who is the first Nigerian head of state to come from the region, in the run-up to presidential elections expected next April.

The Niger Delta amnesty is considered one of the main achievements of the current administration in Africa's most populous nation. (Reuters)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Labour suspends strike

Lead Image

NLC leaders at a rally in Lagos. Photo: SUNDAY ADEDEJI

The National Executive Council of the Nigeria Labour Congress has announced the suspension of the three days warning strike it started today.

At a media briefing in Abuja, the union says it is suspending the strike till December 5 to allow for the intervention of the National Council of State whose meeting comes up later this month.

President Goodluck Jonathan and other senior government officials yesterday held a meeting with leaders of organised labour, but failed to convince them to abandon their planned strike for today. The workers' leaders however agreed to hold a meeting this afternoon to discuss the president's request for more time.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Funke Akindele, Star Nollywood Actress, Robbed!

Dare devil-armed robbers, last week, robbed star actress, Funke Akindele at gun point in Ojodu area of Lagos. The popular actress, popularly known as ‘Jenifa’ was returning home from a visit and was in the car with some people when the armed men double-crossed her car and demanded that she handed over her valuables or risk being shot.

The actress, it was learnt, promptly obeyed and gave the sons of the gun her Blackberry phones and a bag full of money. One of the armed men who recognized her later threw a bundle of N50 000 into the car saying: ‘Jenifa, use that one to take care of yourself’. Funke was said to have been visibly shaken after the encounter and left the venue thanking God that her life was spared.

A close aide of the actress told Showbiz Now that the actress is still in a state of shock, lamenting the loss of enormous contacts and an undisclosed amount of money. ‘Funke cannot talk much now o. She is still in shock but grateful no one was hurt in the car’.

The actress, we learnt, has also postponed the premiere of her highly anticipated movie, Omo Ghetto which was to take place at the National Arts Theatre on October 24. The reason behind the postponement is still unclear and no one can say for sure if the robbery incident has anything to do with it.

EFCC files fresh charges against El-Rufai

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Friday at the FCT High Court filed fresh charges against Nasir El-Rufai, former Minister of the FCT.

It will be recalled that El-Rufai was on Wednesday in Abuja discharged by a Federal High Court on the eight-count charge for lack of jurisdiction to try the case.

Justice Adamu Bello of the Federal High Court had said that the charges were brought under the Independent and Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000, which had been repealed.

Confirming the filing of the suit by EFCC lawyer, Head, Media and Publicity of the commission, Mr Femi Babafemi, said that EFCC, through Mr Adebayo Adelodun (SAN) filed an eight count charge against El-Rufai.

The EFCC, he said filed charges on May 5 against El-Ruafai over alleged criminal conspiracy and abuse of office.

The charges, he said included irregular revocation and re-allocation of a parcel of land originally belonging to PHCN Plc.

``As you well remember, the Federal High Court through the Honourable Justice Bello said that the court lacked the jurisdiction to try the accused.

``He also said that the charges ought to have been filed under the amended Act of 2003 at the FCT High Courts.

``The EFCC had earlier investigated a petition chronicling allegations of abuse of office against Malam El-Rufai.

``On how he allocated government land to his friends, wives and family members, in flagrant breach of the Abuja master plan.

``The former minister, between 2003-2007, allocated 10 plots of land in choice areas of Abuja and in various sizes to his family members.

``Those, who got the land include his wife, Hadiza Isma El-Rufai, who got two plots, one in the Asokoro District and the other in the Kubwa district.

``Other family members who were allegedly allocated plots are Bashir A El-Rufai, Asia Ahmad El-Rufai, Ibrahim El-Rufai, and Binta Ahmed El-Rufai.

Also included are Tijani Rufai, Rufai Hamza, and Ali Rufai,'' Babafemi said.

Voter registration: INEC set to award DDC machine contracts —Jega

click to expand image

Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, said in Abuja on Thursday that the revalidation of quotations for the procurement of the Direct Data Capture Machines to be used for voter registration had been completed.

Jega made this known at the INEC Federal Capital Territory stakeholders meeting, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

He said the process of procuring the machines was fully on course while the contracts would be signed next week.

Supervising National Commissioner of INEC in the FCT, Dr. Chris Iyimoga, represented Jega at the event.

Jega said INEC initiated a process of asking all original respondents to the commission’s Request For Quotations to revalidate their quotations, to prevent claims of misunderstanding.

“In the spirit of accountability, INEC rejected the demand for price variation demanded by manufacturers with the best quoted price for the entire procurement, which pleaded that it under-quoted on the printer requested by the commission,” he said.

He said INEC decided that all the 11 respondents would revalidate their quotations with more comprehensive RFQs.

“This process of revalidation has been completed and the commission has fully negotiated with the selected companies,” Jega said.

He said the manufacturers had physically demonstrated their equipment, using INEC software, “and we are now going through the process of approvals.”

Jega said the commission had recorded success on the software currently being field-tested nationwide.

“The tests have been very successful, recording an average registration time of between three and four minutes per registrant,” he added.

The INEC boss said the commission had developed comprehensive operational plans for both the registration of voters and elections, including day to day activities, deliverables and financial implications.

He added that INEC had commenced work with development partners to establish an electronic real time monitoring of the registration process and elections, with the possibility of integrating high quality videos.

‘Okah, bomber exchanged 1,126 phone calls in 54 days’

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The South African prosecutors in the case against the leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Mr. Henry Okah, on Thursday tendered more evidence against the terror suspect at a Johanesburg Magistrate’s court.

The evidence includes 1126 telephone calls he made to one of the suspects, Mr. Ben Ebere (aka Ben Jessy), between August 7, 2010 and September 29, 2010. He was also said to have sent 59 Short Message Systems to Ebere between July1 and September 2010.

Ebere and Chima Orlu, who the prosecutors added was also in constant contact with Okah before and on October 1, were declared wanted by the Police shortly after the October 1 twin car bombings that killed 16 people and injured 66 others.

The MEND leader is facing trial in South Africa for allegedly being the mastermind of the blasts. He had on Wednesday told the court that the case against him was flawed.

His brother, Charles, was among a new set of suspects arraigned in secret before an Abuja Magistrate’s court on Thursday.

When the hearing of Okah’s bail application resumed on Thursday in South Africa, the prosecutors tendered a supplementary affidavit revealing his communication, with Orlu and Ebere.

However, the affidavit didn’t state the content of the telephone calls and messages.

According to the affidavit deposed to by Lt. Col. Noel Zeeman of the South African Police Service, Orlu had 43 voice calls and exchanged 27 SMSs with his “co-conspirators and co-perpetrators” on the day of the blasts in Abuja.

The affidavit reads in part, “Orlu‘s telephone records have revealed that he had been in contact with the accused (Okah) on numerous occasions leading up to October 1.

“Of greater significance is that Orlu had sent an SMS message to the accused (Okah) at precisely 10. 58:59am on Oct. 1, 2010.

“This SMS was followed by another SMSs from Orlu at 13. 13:01am and again at 13. 29:59pm the same day.”

It said that SMSs were also sent to Orlu by Okah on September 30, 2010 at 12.38:11p.m and on October 1 at 6.02:39am, 7.40:20am, 7.41:22am and 7.41:35am.

The affidavit which was tendered by the prosecution council, Shaun Abrahams, added that Okah had 1, 126 telephone calls with Ebere between August 7 and September 29, 2010. He was also said to have exchanged 59 SMSs with Ebere between July 1 and September 2010.

Zeeman said, “Ebere had been in contact with the accused right up to Sept. 29 2010. There were 1,126 calls from the accused to Ebere during the period, from August 7, 2010 to Sept. 29, 2010.

“There were also 59 SMSs sent from the accused to Ebere during the period July 1, 2010 and September 2010.”

The prosecution added in the affidavit that investigations also revealed that two vehicles – a Honda and a Mazda 626 – were purchased in Lagos on Okah’s instruction “by persons complicit in the crime” prior to the detonation of the bombs on October 1.

It stated that on Okah‘s instructions, the vehicles were conveyed to Port Harcourt, Rivers State where their boots were loaded with dynamite which were wired with timers.

The affidavit said at 11 am on October 1, the Honda was used in an explosion that went off at Shehu Shagari Way while approximately 10 to 15 minutes later, the Mazda 626 was utilised in the second explosion.

It said the explosions took place under the supervision of Orlu and Ebere, who acted on the instruction of Okah.

According to the affidavit, an e-mail communication between Okah and two arrested persons in Nigeria — John Tarmy and First Man — on October 1, 2010, reads, “Done, tell them to leave now.”

It added, “This selfsame e-mail was forwarded from First Man to Tarmy at 11.15am on October 1, 2010 and forwarded to the accused (Okah) the same day at 16. 25:40.

“There are further e-mail communications between the accused and persons arrested in Nigeria for the bombings of October 1, 2010 in Abuja with very revealing evidence. These are presently being investigated.”

The affidavit also showed that there were witness statements which implicate Okah as having been the mastermind of the attacks.

The prosecution told the court that Nigerian authorities had confirmed their willingness to render assistance to South African investigators against Okah.

“As a result, letters of request for mutual legal assistance will be submitted to the Nigerian Federal Government to obtain specific evidence,” it stated.

It said in order not to jeopardise investigations in South Africa and Nigeria, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses have deliberately been withheld for purposes of Okah’s bail application.

Zeeman stated that he had communicated with Nigerian law enforcement agencies which indicated willingness to supply more information.

Abrahams had said at the resumption of the hearing that the state had a strong case against Okah and that he should be denied bail.

Defence counsel, Rudi Krause, however, asked the court to step down the matter for him to study the new information and be able to respond.

In Abuja, there was confusion over the number of suspects arraigned in secret before a magistrate court in Wuse Zone 6. While the News Agency of Nigeria put the number at five, some television stations said the accused were between six and seven.

NAN, however, gave only the names of Charles, Ernest Orlu (younger brother of Chima Orlu), and Edmund Ebiware.

It was learnt that Okah’s son, Boloebi; Sola Ladoja; Charles’s securityman, Felix; and his friend were among those arraigned.

When our correspondent contacted the former governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, to confirm if Sola was his son, he replied that no member of his family was arraigned before any court on Thursday.

The accused persons were brought to the magistrate court in Wuse Zone 6, Abuja in two tinted buses amidst tight security by officials of the State Security Service.

Our correspondent learnt that as early as 5am, SSS operatives numbering over 50, arrived the court premises and cordoned off the nearby Makeni Street to ensure that nobody, including lawyers, gained entrance to the court premises.

Moments after the accused emerged from the closed-door session, the SSS operatives only allowed journalists a photo opportunity to capture the accused as they re-entered their vehicles.

A secondary school pupil, Nelson Akula, who was making a telephone call in front of his house on the street was beaten and whisked to an unknown destination by the operatives when they were driving off after the session.

A Naval officer who challenged them was threatened with guns. As at 7pm on Thursday, the whereabouts of Akula were unknown.

It was not clear whether the SSS brought them before the court for an order to remand them in custody pending the conclusion of investigations.

When our correspondent called the SSS Assistant Director, Public Relations, Mrs. Marylyn Ogar, to ascertain why the arraignment of the suspects was done in secret, she replied, “If you were in court you need not ask me why it was a secret affair; as such I don’t have any reason for the why, no further comment please.”

Chief Magistrate Oyetunde Oyewunmi adjourned the case till November 24 and ordered the prosecution to ensure that the suspects were allowed access to their lawyers in the interest of justice.

The suspects were accused of carrying out terrorist acts, conspiracy to cause bodily harm as well as felony against the state.

NAN quoted the counsel to Charles, Mr Oghenevo Otemu,as having told journalists after the short court session, that he was surprised at the secret trial.

He said that Okah’s trial in South Africa was more transparent as his counsel and journalists were allowed access to the court.

Also speaking, Mr Onyechukwu HighKing, lawyer to Ernest wondered if the case was transferable.

HighKing said it was wrong to arrest and join Ernest, an oil company worker in Port Harcourt, for prosecution in an offence allegedly committed by his brother.

On his part, Mr Ugochukwu Ezekiel, counsel to Ebiware, said the government was denying the accused persons their fundamental rights to representation and fair hearing.

“The accused should have the right to access to the counsel of his choice. We will fight it legally in court,’’ Ezekiel said.

The SSS had earlier arraigned nine suspects in connection with the blast, thus bringing the total number of accused persons standing trial to 14.

Ekiti PDP dares Fayemi over planned probe of Oni

PEOPLES Democratic Party, PDP, in Ekiti State, has dared the new governor of the state, Dr Kayode Fayemi, to go ahead with his threat to probe the immediate past administration led by Engr. Segun Oni, saying the planned probe was aimed at blindfolding the people from monitoring the programmes of the new government.

A statement by the Party’s Director of Communication and Strategy, Mr. Jackson Adebayo, said ACN government was merely playing a script to deceive the people of Ekiti State.

According to the statement: “All this threat of probe on our party’s government led by Engr. Segun Oni by the ACN Governor, Mr. Kayode Fayemi, has come to us as an attempt to blindfold the people of the State from monitoring the much celebrated developmental agenda of the ACN government.

“We challenge the Governor; Dr. Kayode Fayemi, to carry out this retrogressive threat so that the world would know who has come to develop the state and those who have come to mortgage the fortune of the Fountain of Knowledge.’’

PDP maintained that there was no amount of threat that could change the legacy of transparency and accountability of the PDP government led by Segun Oni, saying that Fayemi should face the reality on ground that it would be difficult for him to match the work done, both completed and on-going.

“There is no doubt that the government is in confusion now as to where its programmes will start. This has led to the lopsided appointment that was just released. Or how can one imagine the governor and the secretary to the state government coming from Oye Local Government Area, an area out of the 16 local government areas.

In normal political calculation, the governor comes from one district, the deputy from another district while the secretary to the state government will represent the third district.

Okah exposed; brother, 6 others arraigned

STATE Security Service, SSS, yesterday, arraigned Charles Okah, younger brother to the embattled ex-leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, Mr. Henry Okah, his son, and five other accused persons before a Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Abuja over their alleged involvement in the October 1 twin-bomb blasts.

The suspects were arraigned on a day the South African prosecution tendered before a Johannesburg court revealing evidence on Henry Okah’s contacts with the suspects on how the Abuja bomb blasts were planned and executed.

Henry Okah who is facing trial in the South African court over the same Abuja bomb attack is presently battling to be granted bail which the prosecution is opposed to.

The seven accused persons were brought to court in a commando-style by SSS operatives who chased lawyers, court clerks and journalists out of the court premises, even as they barricaded all streets connecting the court and forbade any form of movement by residents within the area.

One of the four Abuja blasts suspects, Mr Charles Tombrah Okah, in handcuffs, being led out of the Federal Capital Territory Chief Magistrates Court, Wuse Zone 6, yesterday in Abuja

Charles, his son, Boloebi Okah; Edmund Ebibare, accused of exchanging text messages with Chief Raymond Dokpesi; Ernest Nwosu Olu, younger brother of one Chima Olu that was earlier declared wanted by the SSS; Shola Ladoja, Felix Kuffre said to be a security man for Charles as well as his unidentified visitor, were marshalled into the lower court complex around 8: 45 am after they arrived in two unmarked buses with tinted glasses.

30 SSS vehicles

Over 30 SSS vehicles that escorted them were used to block all the streets leading to the court while armed operatives mounted sentry with a view to ensuring that no one got close to the perimeters of the Magistrates court located in Wuse zone 6, Abuja.

Frantic efforts by three lawyers from Keyamo Chambers, who insisted that Charles Okah and his co_accused persons had contacted them to handle the case, was vehemently resisted by the SSS men who maintained that they acted in accordance with an order from above.

It was not until around 9:30 am, when the court had concluded its proceeding and the accused persons about to be whisked back to an unknown detention centre, that the Public Relations Officer of the SSS, Mrs. Marilyn Ogar, succeeded in prevailing upon the stern looking operatives to allow journalists to take pictures from afar.

Marilyn, however, refused to answer questions thrown at her by newsmen, stressing that she was not allowed to speak to the press on the matter.

She said: “I cannot say anything to the press on this matter as I am not permitted to do so. The fact that I have done you people a favor by allowing you to take pictures, is that not enough? This is how you people usually put someone into problem.”

Efforts to get a copy of the criminal charge preferred against the accused persons equally proved abortive, just as the defence team, led by one Mr. Oghenovo Otemu, decried the closed door pattern adopted by the SSS in prosecuting the matter as a violation of section 36 of the 1999 constitution.

He said that not only were the accused persons denied access to their counsel, but that the SSS had refused to furnish them with a copy of the charge upon which they were standing trial.

Otemu said: “We have repeatedly applied for the charges against our clients but both the court and the SSS blatantly refused. It is important for the prosecution in this matter to realize that the accused persons also have their fundamental rights enshrined in the constitution.

“So far as we are concerned, there is no proper charge before this court and whatever decision the court takes in this political trial will amount to a nullity and we are taking steps to ensure that the constitutional right of the accused persons to fair hearing and defence by counsel of their choice as stipulated in section 36 of the 1999 constitution is respected and enforced.”

Meantime, Vanguard reliably gathered that before adjourning the matter till November 24, presiding Magistrate Oyebola Oyewumi , yesterday, threatened that she would hands-off the case on that day should the SSS continue to shroud the prosecution in secrecy and the accused persons denied right of representation.

The source who pleaded anonymity, said that Magistrate Oyewumi went ahead to order open trial in the matter, yesterday, stressing that she would only hear the matter when it was allowed to undergo a normal court proceeding.

The magistrate was said to have also ordered the SSS to furnish the defendants with a copy of the charges against them, as well as allow them access to counsel of choice.

Though the source refused to speak further on what transpired inside the courtroom, SSS PRO, Mrs. Ogar, however, maintained that all the accused persons were properly arraigned in court.

Meanwhile, as the prosecution reopened its case in the application against bail for Okah, in the South African court, the supplementary affidavit tendered by the prosecution showed phone records of Okah’s communication with one Chima Orlu (still at large) severally around the period.

An affidavit deposed to by an officer with the South African Police Service, SAPS, Lt. Col. Noel Zeeman stated: “Orlu’s telephone records have revealed that he had been in contact with the accused on numerous occasions leading up to October 1. Of greater significance is that Orlu had sent an SMS message to the accused at precisely 10.58:59 a.m on October 1, 2010. This SMS was followed by another SMS from Orlu at 13hr 3:01a.m and again at 13h29:59 p.m the same day.”

Purchase of cars in Lagos

Zeeman, revealed that SMSs were sent to Chima Orlu by the accused on September 30, 2010 at 12h 38:11p.m and on October 1 at 6h 02:39am, 7h40:20am, 7h41:22am and 7h41:35am.

The affidavit stated that investigations revealed that two vehicles, a Honda and a Mazda 626 were purchased in Lagos on the instruction of the accused prior to the detonation of the two vehicle improvised devices on October 1.

It stated that on Okah’s instructions, the said vehicles were conveyed to Port Harcourt where booths of the vehicles were loaded with dynamite which were wired with timers.

The affidavit further said at 11 am on October 1, the Honda was used in an explosion that went off at Shehu Shagari Way while approximately 10 to 15 minutes later, the Mazda 626 was utilised in the second explosion which killed 12 persons and injured many others.

It said the explosions took place under the supervision of Orlu who acted on the instruction of Okah, adding: “On October 1, 2010, Orlu made a total of 43 voice calls and had sent 27 SMS messages to co_perpetrators and co conspirators.”

It said Ben Ebere, who is at large, and also known as Ben Jesse, assisted Orlu in supervision of the said explosions.

It added: “Ebere had been in contact with the accused right up to September 29 2010. There were 1,126 calls from the accused to Ben Ebere during the period, from August 7, 2010 to September 29, 2010. There were also 59 SMSs sent from the accused to Ben Ebere during the period July 1, 2010 and September 2010.’

The affidavit said an e_mail communication between arrested persons in Nigeria, namely, John Tarmy, First Man and the accused on October 1, 2010, communicates the following “done, tell them to leave now,” adding: “This selfsame e-mail was forwarded from First Man to John Tarmy at 11h15am on October 1, 2010 and forwarded to the accused the same day at 16h25:40.

“There are further e-mail communications between the accused and persons arrested in Nigeria for the bombings of October 1, 2010 in Abuja with very revealing evidence.

These are presently being investigated.”

It revealed that Nigerian investigators had also revealed that the accused brother, Charles Okah, conspired with the accused and Orlu and others in coordinating and directing the detonation of the bombs.

It said there were also witness statements which implicate the accused as having been the mastermind of the attacks, while Nigerian authorities have confirmed their willingness to render assistance to South African investigators against the accused.

“As a result, letters of request for mutual legal assistance will be submitted to the Nigerian Federal Government to obtain specific evidence,” it stated.

It said in order not to jeopardise investigations in South Africa and Nigeria, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses have deliberately been withheld for purposes of the application.

Ziman stated that South Africa and Nigeria were working closely in the matter and he had communicated with Nigerian law enforcement agencies which indicated willingness to supply more information.

Prosecution counsel, Shaun Abrahams, who tendered the affidavit in court, said the State had a strong case against Okah and he should be denied bail.

Defence counsel, Rudi Krause asked the court to step down the matter for him to study the new information and be able to respond.

S-West PDP stakeholders lament loss of Ekiti – Gov Daniel

GOVERNOR Olugbenga Daniel of Ogun State yesterday admitted that things were no longer rosy for the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] in the South West saying that members of the party would have to be careful to prevent the total annihilation of the party in the area.

According to him, the loss of Ekiti State was the worst disaster to have ever happened to the party which he said has not been able to manage its successes very well.

Addressing members of the Presidential Campaign Council of Goodluck Jonathan for President in the South West Zone at his Asoludero Court in Sagamu, the Governor said members of the party would have drop their individual selfish aspirations for the common good of the party if it would regain its glory.

He said “in this room our expectation is that we should tell ourselves the truth and if the truth must be told; in the politics of the South west, we do have challenges. My worry is that when former President Obasanjo was there we could not take Lagos. I do not think we have managed our victory well.

Ogun State Governor, Otunba Gbenga Daniel who is the south west coordinator, Goodluck Sambo presidential campaign commitee welcoming the Ondo State coordinator, Chief Olusegun Agagu to the 2nd edition meeting of the Southwest committee meeting held at the governors private residence in Sagamu, Ogun State with them is a PDP stalwart in the zone, Senator Yinka Omilani

“The worst disaster is losing Ekiti State. If we are not carful, and God forbid, it could be the end of our party in the South West. The capacity of our party to manage crisis is nil. We are all endangered species.

“If we think deeply, we will know. We must forget this issue of I want to be Governor, Senator or anything. We must work together, otherwise we will look like jokers, and if we lose it; it will be terrible.

“In Ogun State, there is no other party. What we have is internal crisis. But we will not concede one inch of space to the rampaging machinery. What happened in Ekiti State is a big shame to all of us without exception. What we have in our hand is a major challenge.

“In Osun, what I am hearing is scary. If that kind of thing happen, it will be a disaster. I think people here should be able to go back home and tell the Governor some things. We must bury self interest.

“I was with the former Governor of Ekiti and some members of his exco yesterday and they are feeling bad. They feel unhappy. They feel a sense of abandonment and feel bad that their President even congratulated the new Governor a few hours after the court case; they feel he should have at least waited for 24 hours. But I explained to them that he is the president of all”

Daniel said that on the issue of Jonathan for President, the people said that they should at least be left alone to decide who to support for the Presidential race and that some of them complained that even the Speaker has congratulated Dr. Kayode Fayemi in a paid advert.

The Governor who was apparently ready to be brutally frank with the delegates was about going on before newsmen were asked out of the meeting.

There are indications that the former Governor of Ekiti State Engr. Segun Oni may leave the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for another political party in the country.

Sources at yesterday’s meeting revealed that Oni who was sacked by the Court of Appeal, Ilorin last week may resort to this option as a result of his frustration over the refusal of President Jonathan to intervene on his behalf over the Ekiti gubernatorial dispute.

The source further said that the Presidency bluntly refused to help Oni when his assistance was desperately needed before the Appeal Court judgement was delivered. Oni was conspicuously absent at the meeting even though his name was advertised in some national dailies as one of the facilitators of the gathering.

Although the assembly of PDP chieftains in the zone was for the purpose of setting up structures for the Jonathan Presidential Campaign Council, it also became an opportunity for reviewing the fortunes of the party in the zone, especially in the light of the loss of Ekiti State to the rival Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

Indeed, the entire leadership of the party in the zone was engaged in a serious soul-searching as was reflected in the somber mood at the meeting which held inside the residence of the Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel.

In his effort to ensure that the mobilisation of the zone for President Jonathan is total, Daniel had reached out to many groups including those outside the PDP. One of such groups was the Coalition of Odua Self Determination Groups (COSEG) which made a presentation at the meeting.

The Secretary of the group Mr Razak Olokoba who spoke on behalf of COSEG expressed their reservations over the call of the Presidential Council for the people of the South-west zone to throw their weight behind President Jonathan in next year’s general elections.

He continued: “ The attitude of the people and leadership of the Ijaws toward we the Yorubas has been suspicious since President Jonathan assumed office”

Olokoba cited the recent flooding incident in Lagos and queried why the President should only pledge peanuts as financial assistance on behalf of the Federal Government.

“How can the peanuts he pledged to give the zone be enough to address the flood disaster which affected Lagos and Ogun States?” he asked.

He recalled that sometime ago when the militants of the Niger Delta wanted to blow up the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos but had to be stopped because of the intervention of COSEG. He expressed regret that the militants still went ahead to blow up Atlas Cove also located in Lagos last year.

He insisted that the position of the group is that the people of the South-West should be allowed to enjoy their lives in a true federation.

Olokoba lashed out at politicians who hail from the zone adding that the group was not impressed with the agenda of the PDP in the zone.

“In the last 10 years, Yorubas have experienced 43 percent economic depression” he said.

He urged the gathering to be cautious over recent political happenings in the country especially against the background of some people who have been beating the drums of war over the issue of power shift.

Said he: “ The threat of war in this country is real because there are two ethnic groups desperate to capture power; the two groups are the Ijaws of the Soutth-South and the Hausa-Fulani of the North”.

He therefore advocated that convening a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) was still essential for the survival of the nation.”

According to him: “ Our demands also include restructuring of the federation so that those who want Sharia law to be implemented in their zone could have their way while other zones in the country who want things like special security arrangements including police road-blocks may incorporate same into their security mechanism to check crime as this may not be necessary at the same time nation-wide”.

He observed that many
Igbos may have embraced crime as a response to the second class status the people of that zone have been reduced to since the end of the civil war.

In his own speech at the occasion while presenting the report of a Committee which was set up to articulate the interest of the people of the zone, a chieftain of the party Chief Victor Oladunni said there is need to present a paper to President Jonathan on how the mineral resources of the zone have to be exploited adding that if the Olokonla Free Trade Zone is established, it would boost the economy of the zone.

He also lamented over the dilapidated state of the federal roads in the zone adding that his committee had earmarked the Lagos-Ibadan Express road; the Shagamu-Benin Express road and the Ibadan-Ife roads among many others which are in a deplorable condition.

He also called on the Jonathan administration to allocate more revenue derived from VAT to Lagos since the former federal capital generates more than 70 percent of the fund.

Earlier before Daniel’s speech, 17 field officers for the Jonathan/Sambo campaign team from the states in the South West, South East and South South were presented by the Director of Planning and Strategy; Mr. Mike Omeri and were inaugurated by Governor Daniel.

Also inaugurated were 27 people from Ogun State with Prince Yanju Lipede as State Coordinator and the 26 others as coordinators in the 26 states constituencies in Ogun State.

The coordinators who are said would monitor delegates would each be given a vehicle by the state and would give weekly or bi monthly reports to the state coordinator.
Prominent members of the party in attendance included Senator Yinka Omilani, the Minister Youth Development; Senator Akinlabi Olasunkanmi, former Minister of Defence; Chief Demola Seriki, Ambassador Musiliu Obaniko, former Deputy Governors of Lagos State; Sen. Kofoworola Bucknor Akerele, Femi Pedro and Rafiu Jafojo, Senator Femi Ogunlewe, Ambassador Adeniran, Senator Wahab Dosumu and Prince Dayo Adeyeye