Friday, May 30, 2014

Super Eagles land in U.S

Super Eagles players landed in the United States on the final leg of their pre-World Cup camping on Thursday evening, reports.
The team left London on Thursday morning and will begin preparations for the June 3 meeting against Greece immediately.
Team officials said training will hold on Friday morning at the Lincoln Financial Field.
Stephen Keshi’s squad of 30 will be cut to the final 23 on June 2, in time to meet the FIFA deadline.

Suspected terrorists arrested in Spain

Spain’s interior ministry says it has arrested six men on terror charges in its north African enclave of Melilla.
A statement said the men were suspected of trying to recruit fighters for militant groups in Libya and Mali.
Spain has arrested dozens of suspected militants in its enclaves in Melilla and Ceuta in recent years. The cities lie on the southern Mediterranean coast and are surrounded by Morocco.
Earlier this week, about 400 migrants breached the border fence in Melilla.
The enclave is a major crossing point for those seeking work or asylum in Europe and there have been several attempts to storm the 6m-high (19ft) border fence in recent weeks.
Friday’s arrests were carried out by Spanish police in co-ordinated raids.
One man detained was described by the interior ministry as the “first Spanish jihadist” to have returned from the conflict in Mali.
He was also suspected of attending a training camp run by Mali’s Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao).
In March, Spanish and Moroccan police detained seven men whom they accused of running a militant cell spanning both countries.
Together with a second Spanish enclave, Ceuta, Melilla is the European Union’s only land border with Africa.

Excitement as Project Fame audition begins

SINCE the auditions for the seventh season of the MTN Project Fame began last Saturday across the West Africa countries, including Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, students of tertiary institutions and a cross section of entertainment- loving youths have begun to show their excitement.
Akeem Adepoju, a student of the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Osun State said he is prepared to have another great time watching the telecast of the reality show this year. “I just can’t wait to watch the contestants perform,” he said.
In Lagos, students from the Yaba College of Technology, Yaba, were also enthusiastic about seeing the shows. Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the headline sponsors of the show, MTN, is planning to hold Project Fame’s concerts in different parts of Nigeria before the opening gala in July. The concerts, according to the organisers, will hold in Lagos, Benin and Ilorin.

Boko Haram Kidnap 2 Borno Emirs


Members of the Boko Haram sect on Friday kidnapped two Borno Emirs, Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Idrisa Timta and the Emir of Uba, Alhaji Ismaila Mamza.
They were abducted at about 10am today.
They were on their way to attend burial of Late Emir of Gombe who died two days ago when they were abducted.
They were kidnapped near Shaffa town in Hawul local government area of Borno State.
A top officer at the Department of State Services confirmed it.
The two emirs were elevated to first class status by Borno State governor early this year.
Details later.

Police Probe Couple Over Alleged Murder Of Ward

The spokesperson of the Lagos State Police Command, DSP Ngozi Braide, on Thursday, said that the command has begun investigation into the role of a couple in the alleged murder of their 12-year-old ward. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the couple is being detained at the Pen Cinema Police Division in Agege, Lagos.
Braide explained that the couple allegedly beat the boy, whose name was given as Onyedikachi Mbanozo, to death over an undisclosed matter.
“On May 27, 2014, at about 2.30 pm, the divisional police officer, while on patrol with his officers, received an anonymous call alleging that the man and his wife (names withheld), of No.22, Omitola Street, Agege, Lagos, allegedly beat a boy living with them to death.
“On receiving the information, police patrol vehicles moved to the scene and brought the suspects and the deceased to the station for further investigation.

Vehicle Smuggling Nears End With New Transit Policy At Land Borders


The beauty of policies is that when diligently enforced, they are more effective and efficient than any form of force. In every society and in every sector of human endeavours, well thought-out policy frameworks enforced to the letter have always yielded long-lasting solution to die-hard problems.
In Nigeria today, smuggling has become the country’s nightmare, threatening the local economy and the government’s purse.
Vehicles remain one of the most smuggled cargoes into Nigeria from the land borders. But with the recent launch of a new vehicle transit scheme at Seme border, which is expected to be replicated at other borders such as the Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic, international trade experts and Customs sources have reached an equilibrium point as to the right policy to end the vehicle smuggling menace.

Arepo: Family panics over fate of missing cops

The site of the incident. Inset: Elogbamien
RELATIVES of one of the nine cops, who were said to have been missing after a shootout between policemen and suspected pipeline vandals in the Arepo community, Ogun State, have expressed fears over the fate of their member.
PUNCH Metro had reported on Monday that that there was a gun battle between the police and vandals, and no fewer than seven were feared dead.
Our correspondent had reported that the police were first attacked by the vandals, and they had replied with equal firepower.
Our correspondent had also reported that the families of some missing policemen had besieged the site, searching for their relatives.

Fashola Urges Lagos Voters to Reject Opposition

As the entire country marked Democracy Day yesterday, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has asked all eligible voters in the state to reject the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the next elections.
Also, the governor accused the federal government of corruption and mismanagement, noting that the PDP-led government under President Goodluck Jonathan was generating revenues into private pockets.
He criticised the Jonathan’s government while handing over a 2.9 kilometre Road named: Yaya Abatan Road and seven other connecting inner-city roads in Ifako-Ijaiye to mark the 2014 Democracy Day.
Fashola handed over the road project, which cost over N2.5 billion in company of the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, and other members of the state executive council, thereby urging the state’s eligible voters to make their decision based on performance.
He said: “In 2013, we handed over Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge. It has reduced traffic congestion in the axis of Lekki and Victoria Island. In 2012, we inaugurated the Lagos Traffic Radio. It is the only type in Africa. It was designed to help us plan our journey and give us information.

Voters’ Registration: Residents Lament as INEC Machines Fail to Work in Enugu

The ongoing fresh voters’ registration exercise embarked upon by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address the sudden disappearance of 621 polling units in Enugu State yesterday witnessed serious hitches.
Names of notable stakeholders including the state Governor Sullivan Chime, Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Eugene Odoh; chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the state, Vita Abba, had disappeared from the INEC register as a result of what INEC described as human and machine error.
But, residents of Enugu who trooped out to take part in the fresh registration exercise in the state were disappointed as INEC machines deployed for the exercise failed to work in most of the centres.
THISDAY checks revealed that in some of the registration centres, the people who came out in their large numbers were seen waiting patiently as INEC officials and some council workers battled to fix the machines.
Most of the machines had battery, cord or thumb-printing problems, making the ad hoc INEC staff manning them to frequently shot down which made the process slow.

Amosun Grants Amnesty to 15 Prison Inmates

Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, has pardoned 15 inmates in prisons across the state as part of activities to commemorate the Democracy Day.
The governor commuted the death sentences passed on nine inmates to life imprisonment and freed six others who have less than one year to serve their terms having been certified by the prison officials to have been reformed and also in accordance with the advise of the Commission on Prerogative of Mercy headed by the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice of the State, Mrs Abimbola Akeredolu.
Amosun, while addressing the inmates yesterday, said the Democracy Day is a time to ponder on further ways of bridging the gap between government and the people and reflect more on practical ways of improving on their living conditions, irrespective of their status.
"We have chosen today, being democracy day, to interact with you as leaders and see how we can improve your living conditions," he told released inmates.

Society for Family Health Dragged to Court over Condom Advert

Society for Family Health has been dragged before a Federal High Court in Lagos over a Gold Circle condom advert published in a national newspaper on May 12.
In the suit filed by Sonnie Ekwowusi on behalf of the Project for Human Development (PHD), the applicant is asking the court to declare that the said condom advert, which was published without the Health risk warning clause, is illegal and unconstitutional because it contradicted Articles 2,3 4, 48, 49 and 50 of the Nigerian Code of Advertising Practice, Sales Promotion and Other Rights/Restrictions on Practice (fifth edition) of the laws of the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON).
Joined in the suit filed pursuant to Order 2 Rules (1)(2)(3) & (4) of the Fundamental Right (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009, of the 1999 Constitution, are The Guadian Newspapers Limited and APCON.

Ladoja’s Son Dies in Auto Crash in Lagos

Adebola Ladoja, one of the sons of the former Governor of Oyo State, Senator Rasheed Ladoja, yesterday lost his life in a ghastly auto crash in Lagos. The accident occurred on Eko Bridge.
The deceased, who was driving a Golf saloon car with registration number AKD 107 CJ, was said to have been on his way to Lagos Island when a DAF truck, with registration number JJJ 59 XA ran into his car.
According to an eyewitness account, the driver of the truck, identified as Justice Osaghai, who was on top speed, lost control and rammed into the median of the bridge before it eventually ran into Ladoja’s car.

Dangote Disburses N540m to Borno Women, Youths

Succour came the way of the distraught people of Borno State when the business mogul and President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, disbursed a sum of N540 million to vulnerable women and youths in the state.
The disbursement carried out under the micro-grant national programme instituted by Dangote foundation is meant to lift and empower women, widows and youths to meet immediate family and livelihood needs, by providing a one-time grant to start up enterprises that will boost their economic and consumption activities and help reduce their vulnerability.
Speaking at the ceremony in Maiduguri, Dangote said the Foundation in response to the widespread poverty in Nigeria, in 2011, instituted a cash transfer intervention called the  the Dangote Micro-grants Programme, to provide cash transfers to select poor and vulnerable Nigerians.  The disbursement is expected to be completed in 24 months.
He explained that the cash transfer intervention focused more on women who bear the greatest brunt of poverty.

Ogun APC Crisis: Osoba Hints of Mass Defection

Former Governor of Ogun State and national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Olusegun Osoba, Thursday hinted on the possibility of a mass defection of loyalists to a yet-to-be disclosed political party.
According to him, the crisis in the ruling party in the state had got to a point of no return.
Osoba, who spoke in his residence while addressing members of his party during the consultative forum, ruled out the possibility of working with the state Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, of and his faction of the APC with a total rejection of the sharing formula of party offices.
The former governor, however, disclosed that himself and the party executive members had reached a consensus not to negotiate with anyone or group with regard to the ongoing crisis in the APC in the state.
On this note, the former governor had directed his loyalists to commence compilation of a new members’ register in the 236 wards across the state.

Siemens Bribery Scandal: Appeal Court Discharges, Acquits Momife

The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal has discharged and acquitted a former Chief Executive Officer of M-Tel, Edwin Moore Momife, who was charged with three others for allegedly receiving bribes from a multi-national German firm, Siemens Limited.
In a unanimous decision, the court held that Momife had no case to answer and that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should not have put him on trial because no offence known to law was committed.
Justice Tinuade Akomolafe-Wilson who read the court judgment, noted that the Siemens officials Momife was said to have conspired with were not charged and were also not at large.
In the circumstances, the court held that the accused person could not have conspired with himself.
The court also held that even though the accused admitted receiving flight tickets from Siemens, there was no relationship, business otherwise, between Siemens and the accused, and therefore the offence of receiving bribe without value consideration was not sustainable.

Okonjo-Iweala Now Ranks 44 on Forbes Most Powerful Women List

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has moved 39 steps up in the latest Forbes list of Most Powerful Women in the World.
She moved from last year’s ranking of number 83 to 44.
Malawian President, Joyce Banda and her Liberian counterpart, Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Shirleaf, ranked 40 and 70 respectively as well as Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija (90) are other African women on the Forbes latest list of Most Powerful Women in the World.
In an addendum accompanying the list, Forbes said since Okonjo-Iweala’s comeback as Nigeria’s Finance Minister, the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) had displayed a 6.8 per cent robust growth between 2012 and 2013, particularly given the relatively sluggish global recovery.
It stated that: “Okonjo-Iweala was key to developing the reform programmes that helped stabilise Nigeria’s economy and improve governmental transparency,” adding that “she has now turned her attention to Nigeria’s 14 per cent unemployment rate.”

14 Die In Edo Road Crash

Tragedy struck yesterday when 14 persons lost their lives in ghastly motor accident along the ever-busy Benin-Okene Highway, by Ewu slope, in Esan central area of Edo State.
The accident involved a 15-seater Toyota Hiace bus, belonging to the Edo City Transport Service (ECTS) and a truck.
It was, however, learnt that the truck collided head-on with the bus when it was trying to over-take another truck.
While sources claim that the accident occurred after the brakes of the Toyota Hiace bus had failed, another eyewitness narrated that the truck behind suddenly smashed the bus against the other truck, resulting in the instant death of its 14 occupants, including the driver.

Chibok Abduction: Muazu A Pathological Liar – Borno SSG

Adamu Muazu

Secretary to the Borno State Government (SSG), Ambassador Baba Ahmed Jidda, has described the national chairman of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Adamu Ahmed Muazu, as a pathological liar for informing Nigerians that both the minister of state for education, Mr Nyesom Wike, and the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) had written to the governor not to allow exams to go on in Chibok, but that the governor insisted.
Muazu was shown by Channels Television yesterday during an interview alleging that Governor Ibrahim Shettima knows there was a letter from both the WAEC and the education minister, specifically telling him that Government Secondary Chibok was not safe for the 2014 WAEC exams but he (Shettima) disregarded it.

Two Policemen, One Other Killed in Fresh Fulani Attack

Three persons including two policemen were yesterday killed in a fresh attack by gunmen suspected to be Fulani herdsmen at Mayokam Village in Bali Local Government Area of Taraba State.
The gunmen, numbering over 100, according to residents of Mayokam and adjoining villages, invaded Mayokam and Danburam villages at about 3p.m. armed with dangerous weapons including guns, machetes, bows and arrows and began to shoot sporadically before setting several houses ablaze.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the state police command, Mr. Joseph Kwaji, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), who confirmed the incident to journalists, said the gunmen attacked a police patrol vehicle that made a bold attempt to repel them and killed two of the officers and went away with their rifles.
According to Kwaji, “Over 100 suspected herdsmen who invaded  Danburam and Mayokam villages yesterday attacked a police patrol team that attempted to rescue the villagers, killed two officers and made away with their rifles. The attackers also killed a yet to be identified person and set several houses ablaze and displaced hundreds of people in the process.”

Our Report Indicted Alison-Madueke, NNPC, Say Makarfi, Saraki

Contrary to media reports purporting to suggest that the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, and the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have been absolved of any blame concerning the unaccounted for oil fund, former governors of Kaduna and Kwara States, Ahmed Makarfi and Bukola Saraki, have said the report of the Senate Finance Committee actually indicted the minister and the oil corporation.
The submitted report had stated that neither the $48.9 billion nor $20 billion belonging to the federal government was missing, as alleged by the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi.
Makarfi, who spoke in an interview with journalists in Kaduna, said it would be too hasty to conclude that the report of his committee would be the final one on the controversies surrounding the unaccounted for funds because certain recommendations in the report are interim.
According to the former Kaduna governor, since there is an ongoing forensic audit on the issue, it was proper to wait for its outcome.
“I will not want to say our report is the final report because certain recommendations in the report are interim.  There is an ongoing forensic audit and we said that will be subject to the outcome of the forensic audit.

Democracy Day: Solve Nigeria’s Problems By Voting Out PDP – Amaechi

Rivers State Governor and Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has again stressed that the way to solve the numerous problems facing the country is for the electorate to vote out the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) in next year’s election.
Amaechi spoke at the 2nd International Conference on Democracy and Good Governance with the theme, ‘Nigeria’s Democracy: Issues and Challenges’ held at the new Dr Obi Wali Convention Centre in Port Harcourt, Wednesday.
According to him, something is wrong with the country and posed to participants at the conference the question: “Do you like Nigeria the way it is now? (The audience answered ‘No’.) Do you like the way Nigeria is being governed now? (‘No’, the audience again chorused.) Simple, you have one answer. Vote out those who have kept us inside this kind of situation, vote them out whether they are from Niger Delta or from Southern Delta or from whatever Delta. We need to vote them out now and change Nigeria.
“We need to change Nigeria now and that is what APC offers, and that is what I stand for. If you are not satisfied the way Nigeria is being governed now, it means that they should not be given another chance. If you are not satisfied that there is corruption and corruption is called ‘common stealing’, if you are not satisfied with that, vote them out.

Jonathan Offers Conditional Amnesty to Boko Haram

• CAN kicks against offer
Jaiyeola Andrews and Segun Awofadeji

Determined to explore various options that can rein in the increasingly destructive attacks on Nigerians by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, President Goodluck Jonathan has announced the offer of amnesty to members of the outlawed Islamic sect.
The offer may be patterned after the type offered the Niger Delta Militants who renounced violence, surrendered their arms and embraced dialogue; after which they were put through a de-militarisation process and non-violence training.
The scheme is presently running in batches supervised by the amnesty office Abuja.
But the Bauchi State chapter of the  Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has urged the president to rescind the decision, arguing that not only has the terrorists rejected all past entreaties for dialogue and reconciliation, the real reason why they are striking is because a southerner is in power.
President Jonathan, in his Democracy Day broadcast yesterday promised to “pursue all options” that could lead to the containment of the insurgency attacks on Nigeria, adding that his government is maintaining an open door policy on the matter.

There Is God O: The Portent For The Rest Of Us! By Rotimi Fashakin

'There is God o' was the well-rehearsed, indecently languid and inexorably ineffectual attempt to rail-road the rest of us into the Jonathan family conundrum! How do i mean? Please, let us explore together from the very beginning:
Dr Good-luck Jonathan was brought on from his OMPADEC job to join the governorship ticket of Chief DSP Alameseigha. As Deputy Governor, his wife came under huge indictment by Ribadu's EFCC after the former's impeachment. The indictment was given the usual 'slow poison' that other indictments got in the usual PDP family affairs. Where was God then? Obviously, on His Throne as the Governor of the Universe!
Owing to his Principal's (Alams) wrong footing in the extremely fierce OBJ/ATIKU imbroglio, he became the Governor of Bayelsa state by default. Where was God? Very much on His Throne as the Almighty God!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The only Nigerian journalist with access to Boko Haram flown home to negotiate with group

Nigerian journalist, Ahmad Salkida, who previously worked for Daily Trust and Premium Times and reported extensively on Boko Haram, fled Nigeria to Dubai 2 years ago after being accused of being a Boko Haram sympathizer. He said he fled after 'his life and that of his family became endangered' after security agencies began to mistake his in-depth reporting on the terrorist group as evidence of his closeness to them. He went underground for several weeks before finally fleeing Nigeria. Salkida was perhaps the only Nigerian journalist/civilian to have access to Boko Haram, and he said at the time that he'd turned down Boko Haram's many requests for him to publish exclusive interviews and materials for them.

Anyway according to new reports, the Nigerian government flew him back home a few weeks ago to negotiate with Boko Haram on their behalf, since he's the only civilian who has allegedly seen Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau and come out alive. He reportedly came back home after the Nigerian government assured him that he will not be arrested.

Kim K makes it official. Changes name to Kardashian-West

A few days after marrying Kanye West, Kim has changed her name on her Twittter and instagram accounts to Kim Kardashian West. She did so today May 28th.

She refused to change her name to Humphries back in 2011, telling her husband then that the Kardashian name was already a brand and she couldn't drop it or add anything to it. Guess she knew that marriage wasn't going to last. I hope this one does.

Manchester United Football Club owner Malcolm Glazer dies

The owner of Manchester United football club, Malcolm Glazer, has died. The billionaire business man who bought Man U in 2005 and also owned NFL team Tampa Bay Buccaneers, died today May 28, three days after his 86th birthday.
He was the president and chief executive officer of First Allied Corporation, a holding company for his varied business interests. He was worth $4billion. 
He left behind a wife, 6 children and 14 grandchildren. May he RIP!

Two girls raped, hanged in India

Two teen girls have been gang-raped and hanged in northern India, authorities said.
The deadly attack happened Tuesday night at a village in Uttar Pradesh state’s Budaun district, said R.K.S. Rathore, a deputy inspector-general of police.
The victims were 14 and 16 years old and were cousins, police said.
In their complaint, the families of the girls have accused three brothers of rape and murder, Rathore said.
“Both the attackers and the victims were of backward castes and from the same village,” he said. “We are investigating all possible angles and collecting evidence. So far, we have no evidence that points to any kind of enmity.”
One of the men has been arrested and charged, according to police.
The hunt is on for the other two, Rathore said.
A police constable has also been arrested over allegations that he sided with the suspects and delayed the registration of the case.

Ukrainian military helicopter shot down, 14 dead

At least 14 people, including a general, were killed Thursday when a Ukrainian military helicopter was shot down by “terrorists” near Slovyansk, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told parliament.
Turchynov said the chopper, which was carrying soldiers for a troop rotation, was shot down using a Russian rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
Militants in the rebel stronghold claimed responsibility for downing the helicopter, a spokesman for the militants said. The aircraft had flown there from Kramatorsk, he said, where the Ukrainian military has a substantial presence.
The large loss of life will be a major blow to the Ukrainian military, which on Monday toughened its approach to the separatist movement when it launched a fierce assault on militants who’d taken control of part of Donetsk airport.
Also in Slovyansk, the self-declared mayor told CNN that pro-Russia separatist militants are holding four European observers who have been missing since Monday.
But he declined to say where exactly.

Boko Haram Gunmen Kill 35 in Borno Villages

Zacheaus Somorin in Berlin with agency report
Boko Haram gunmen have killed 35 people in attacks on three villages in Borno state near the border with Cameroon, a military source and residents told AFP on Thursday.

Dozens of Boko Haram gunmen, dressed in military uniform, stormed Gumushi, Amuda and Arbokko in all-terrain vans and motorcycles, opening fire on residents and torching homes with petrol bombs, they said.
Details to follow

Sisi wins Egypt’s presidential election

Former Egyptian army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, won a landslide victory in a presidential election on Thursday but a low turnout may have deprived him of the strong mandate he needs to fix the economy and face down an Islamist insurgency.
Sisi won 93.3 percent of votes cast, judicial sources said, with most ballots counted after three days of voting. His only rival, leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, gained 3 percent while 3.7 percent of votes were declared void.
But a lower-than-expected turnout figure raised questions about the credibility of a man idolised by his supporters as a hero who can deliver stability, Reuters says.
The stakes are high for Sisi in a country where street protests have helped topple two presidents in three years.

Aturu, others kick against taxes for religious bodies

Some prominent lawyers in Lagos State on Thursday kicked against the payment of taxes by religious organisations in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the delegates at the ongoing National Conference in Abuja had on Wednesday voted in support of taxing both churches and mosques.
The lawyers told NAN that the move by the conference was a clear misplacement of priorities.
A human rights lawyer, Mr Bamidele Aturu, said the delegates should focus on important issues that would foster the unity and development of Nigeria.
Aturu said it was the duty of the National Assembly to promulgate such laws, adding that the non-payment of taxes by religious organisations was not an issue in Nigeria.
“For me, it is a misplacement of their priorities and they are only going to create more controversies which may make their report unacceptable at the end of the day,” he said.
Another lawyer, Mr Wale Ogunade, said the conference should address issues such as unemployment, poverty, corruption and national unity.

Missing $20b: Senate panel never cleared minister, NNPC – Saraki

Chairman Senate Committee on Ecology and Environment, Senator Bukola Saraki, on Thursday denied media reports that the Senate Committee on Finance had cleared the Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over the alleged missing $20billion.
Saraki, who is also a member of the Finance Committee, said nothing significant has changed to suggest the clearing of the minister and the NNPC.
He stated that even though the report of the committee has been laid before the Senate, more was still being done to unravel the missing money.
The former Governor of Kwara State, according to a statement issued by his media aide, Bamikole Omishore, in Abuja, urged the media to wait for the official release of the report to the public before jumping to conclusions.

Jonathan gets locally-made vehicles from Stallion Group

President Goodluck Jonathan was on Thursday presented with three Made in Nigeria models of Nissan vehicles in commemoration of the nation’s Democracy Day.
The Chairman of Stallion Group, Mr. Sunil Vaswani, presented the three vehicles to the President at the International Conference Centre where a special event organised to mark the nation’s Democracy Day was held.
The vehicles which where said to have been produced at the Stallion Nissan Motors Plant located on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway included a Nissan Patrol SUV, Nissan Almera (Sunny) saloon car and a Nissan NP 300 Pick-Up.
After inspecting the vehicles, Jonathan later took the driver’s seat of one of them while Vice President Namadi Sambo took the front passenger’s seat.

Jonathan declares amnesty for Boko Haram members -Minister

Boko Haram sect
Minister of Youth Development, Mr. Boni Haruna, on Thursday disclosed that President Goodluck Jonathan has announced amnesty for members of the Boko Haram sect as parts of his administration’s youths-friendly programmes and policies.
Haruna disclosed this while giving an overview of youth’s position in the present administration’s transformation agenda at a special event tagged “A day with young leaders of Nigeria” to mark the nation’s Democracy Day in Abuja.
The minister said series of integration programmes have been lined up for members of the sect who would surrender their arms and embrace peace.
He therefore called on them to embrace the government’s gesture.

Jonathan, most democratic President in Nigeria’s history -Dickson

Bayelsa State Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson
As Nigeria marks 15 years of democratic rule, Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, has called on Nigerians to be supportive of the policies and programmes of President Goodluck Jonathan.
Dickson, who described Jonathan as the most democratic leader in the history of the country, expressed satisfaction with the President’s commitment, dogged disposition and adherence to democratic principles in the face of daunting security challenges.
In his Democracy Day message, the governor extolled the calm disposition and focus of President Jonathan, whom he said had continued to lead by example.

MASSOB demands reopening of polys, COEs

The Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra has demanded an immediate reopening of polytechnics and colleges of education closed because of the strike by academic staff.
In a statement by its National Director of Information, Mr. Uchenna Madu, MASSOB condemned what it called the insensitivity and callousness of Nigeria’s Federal Government in handling the strike, which has been on for more than eight months.
Members of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and College of Education Academic Staff Union had been on strike since September and December 2013 respectively.
Madu said, “The closures of the polytechnics and colleges of education have grossly affected the academic and moral growth of their students. This is not healthy for the future of our children who are tomorrow’s leaders.”

10-year-old poet bags N6m scholarship from FG

The Federal Government on Thursday rewarded a 10-year-old poet, Chukwuemeka Obi-Obasi, with N6 million scholarship for rare display of talent.
Supervising Minister of Education, Chief Nyesom Wike, who announced the award, said President Goodluck Jonathan approved the scholarship to encourage the emergence of fresh talents.
Obi-Obasi, who performed last week at the opening of the First Annual Conference of Certified Librarians in Abuja, had impressed the minister with his poem titled: “Nigeria my country.”
“This administration has always placed emphasis on discovering talents and encouraging them.
“Such rare display of talents by our young ones is an indication that in spite of the current challenges, there is still hope for our country,” Wike said.
The minister said the N6 million, which would be paid at once, would cover Obi-Obasi’s school expenses to the completion of his secondary education.
Obi-Obasi, who thanked President Jonathan for the scholarship, urged his peers to identify their talents and put them to good use.
The primary five pupil of Heritage Academy, Wuse 11, Abuja, said he hoped to develop his talent in writing and poetry, and also wish to read law in the University.
Also speaking, mother of the boy, Mrs. Chinyere Obi-Obasi, described her son’s success as a “moment of joy” for the family.
She said that her family would forever remain grateful to the present administration for the award.

Stop blame game, take responsibility, Uduaghan urges leaders

Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, on Thursday asked Nigerian leaders to stop passing the buck and take full responsibility for the insecurity crisis in the country.
Uduaghan spoke at Asaba, where a special church service was held to mark the 2014 Democracy Day.
Special prayers were offered for the peace and unity of the country, and release of the abducted female students of the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State.
The governor said sponsors and members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram were not faceless and could be fished out and made to face the law.
He said, “It is impossible for someone not to know who knew someone who knew members of the Boko Haram sect.
“We all have to be involved to solve the problem of Boko Haram, leaders have to take responsibility at the national and state levels rather than pass the buck.

Govt ready to dialogue, re-integrate Boko Haram members – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has reiterated his administration determination to use all available options in handling the threat of terrorism in the country, including dialogue, de-radicalization, rehabilitation and reintegration of members of the dread boko haram that renounce terrorism and embrace peace.
This was made known by the president during his Democracy Day broadcast to commemorate 15th years of uninterrupted democratic governance in Nigeria.
“For our citizens who have joined hands with Al Qaeda and international terrorists in the misguided belief that violence can possibly solve their problems, our doors remain open to them for dialogue and reconciliation, if they renounce terrorism and embrace peace.
My government, while pursuing security measures, will explore all options, including readiness to accept unconditional renunciation of violence by insurgents, and to ensure their de-radicalization, rehabilitation and re-integration into the broader society,” he said.
The president shared his thought with parents and guardians of the abducted Chibok girls, assuring them that the security operatives are working round the clock to ensure the safe release of the girls and reunite them with their families.
President Jonathan also enumerated some of his achievements in office, which include high national economic growth rates, steady improvements and expansion of national infrastructure including airports and roads, the restoration of rail transportation, the efficient implementation of a roadmap for improved power supply, a revolutionary approach to agricultural production, as well as advances in education, sports, youth development, healthcare delivery, housing, water supply and other social services.
The president paid tributes to patriots who made the sacrifice for the restoration of democracy in the country, noting that he ordered a low-key celebrations in deference to the current mood of the nation while enjoining the citizens to protect the gains of the Fourth Republic.

Apple agrees to buy headphone maker Beats for $3bn

Apple has confirmed it will buy headphone maker and music-streaming service provider Beats Electronics.

The deal is worth a total of $3bn (£1.8bn), and is thought to be Apple’s largest acquisition to date.

As part of the acquisition, Beats co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr Dre will join the technology firm.

Apple boss Tim Cook said the deal would allow the firm to “continue to create the most innovative music products and services in the world”.

In a statement, Apple said it is paying an initial $2.6bn (£1.6bn) for Beats, and approximately $400m (£239m) “that will vest over time.”

Beats was founded in 2008 by music producer Jimmy Iovine and hip-hop star Dr Dre and until recently was best known for its headphones.

PRESS RELEASE: Unlawful Attack Of The #BringBackGurgirls Abuja Family By Sponsored Thugs

By Oby Ezekwesili & Hadiza Bala Usman
Following our march to meet with President Jonathan, during which he was represented by a delegation led by the Secretary to the Government, a speech was read on his behalf advising our movement #BringBackOurGirls, Abuja Family: “...that protests should be directed at the terrorists…”.
Last Monday May 26th , being the 27th day of our daily gathering at the Unity Fountain and the 42nd day since the abduction day of our girls, we observed a large contingent of a new group that arrived in over 30 Federal Government SURE P Buses with a message that aligned with what we had been told during our meeting with the Federal Government delegation.

CBN Directs Banks to Upgrade Chief Compliance Officers

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and discount houses in the country to ensure that no chief compliance officer (CCO) is below the grade of a general manager without its prior approval.
The central bank stated this in a letter to banks and discount houses titled: “Status and Reporting Line of Chief Compliance Officers of Banks,” with reference number: BSD/DIR/GEN/LAB/07/013.
According to the letter signed on behalf of the Director of Banking Supervision by K.O. Balogun, available information had revealed that chief compliance officers of some banks and discount houses are below the grade of general manager without its prior approval.
The CBN noted that equally worrisome was the fact that most CCOs do not report directly to the board of directors of their respective institutions.

Seleka rebels kill 11 in CAR church attack

At least 11 people have been killed in an attack on a church in the Central African Republic.
Eyewitnesses said members of the Seleka militia group threw grenades before shooting indiscriminately at the Church of Fatima in the capital Bangui.
The mostly Muslim Seleka rebels have been involved in heavy fighting with mainly Christian fighters in the anti-balaka militia since March 2013.
The conflict has displaced about 25% of CAR’s 4.6 million population.
The attack on the church followed hours of fighting in the PK5 neighborhood of Bangui.
Eyewitnesses said those inside the Catholic church were seeking shelter from the clashes.
Rev Freddy Mboula told the Associated Press (AP) that he was in the church when shooting was heard outside.
“There were screams and after 30 minutes of gunfire there were bodies everywhere” he said.
The priest of the church, Jonas Bekas, told Reuters that the death toll would probably rise because there were so many wounded.
“It would have been much worse if the anti-balaka militia had not come to defend us” he said.

Pakistan stoning victim’s husband condemns police

The husband of a Pakistani woman stoned to death by her own family in broad daylight outside a Lahore court says police just stood by during the attack.
Farzana Parveen, who was three months pregnant, was pelted with bricks and bludgeoned by relatives furious because she married against their wishes.
“They watched Farzana being killed and did nothing,” her husband, Muhammad Iqbal, told the BBC.
There are hundreds of so-called “honour killings” in Pakistan each year.
UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said she was “deeply shocked” and urged Pakistan’s government to take “urgent and strong measures”.
“I do not even wish to use the phrase ‘honour killing’: there is not the faintest vestige of honour in killing a woman in this way.”
Mr Iqbal described the police as “shameful” and “inhuman” for their failure to stop the attack.

Jonathan’s Democracy Day Speech

Fellow Nigerians,
1.I greet and felicitate with you all, today, as we mark 15 years of uninterrupted democratic governance in our beloved country.
2.Our dear nation, Nigeria, has certainly come a long way and made notable progress since our first Democracy Day on May 29, 1999 when the military finally relinquished power and handed over to a democratically-elected government, marking the true beginning of a government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan
3.Although I have ordered a low-key commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day in deference to the current mood of the nation, there can be no doubt that the past 15 years, the longest period of sustained democratic governance in our country, have been a blessing to us, as a people.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Obasanjo Talks to Boko Haram, Abducted Chibok Girl Escapes

•  Sect kills 34 in Borno, Yobe villages, hoists flag in community •  Cameroun boosts border forces  • Documents contradict WAEC, police claims on kidnapping
Michael Olugbode and Zacheaus Somorin in Berlin with agency report

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has met with people believed to be close to Boko Haram in an attempt to broker the release of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls by Boko Haram, even as it emerged last night that one of the abducted girls had escaped from her captors.

Confirming this to THISDAY yesterday, the former president said the talks were only exploratory, adding: “As an African father, a Nigerian father or grandfather, any of the girls could have been my daughter or grand daughter… So I am only trying to reach out to see what can be done to secure their release.”
But despite the global effort to secure the release of the girls, the sect continued its onslaught on communities in the North-east where it killed 34 people, including armed forces personnel and policemen, on Monday.

Family stones woman to death

A 25-year-old woman was stoned to death by her family outside one of Pakistan’s top courts on Tuesday in a so-called “honor” killing for marrying the man she loved, police said.
Reuters reports that Farzana Iqbal was waiting for the High Court in the eastern city of Lahore to open when a group of around a dozen men began attacking her with bricks, said Umer Cheema, a senior police officer.
Her father, two brothers and former fiance were among the attackers, he said. Iqbal suffered severe head injuries and was pronounced dead in hospital, police said.
All the suspects except her father escaped. He admitted killing his daughter, Cheema said, and explained it was a matter of honor. Many Pakistani families think a woman marrying her own choice of man brings dishonor on the family.

We Can’t Corroborate Nigerian Over Location Of Girls, Says U.S.

US rodriquez

The United States has said that it did not have independent information to confirm Nigeria’s claims to know the whereabouts of more than 200 abducted schoolgirls and questioned the wisdom of making public such information.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Reuters that “We don’t have independent information from the United States to support these reports that you referenced,” when asked about chief of defence staff Air Marshal Alex Badeh’s statement that the military knew where the abducted girls were.
“We, as a matter of policy and for the girls’ safety and wellbeing, would not discuss publicly this sort of information regardless,” Psaki said.

Obanikoro admits knowledge of military on Lagos roads

Minister of state for Defence Senator Musiliu Obanikoro has denied disowning the presence of military on Lagos roads. The minister in a statement dismissed media report of last Thursday which quoted the Attorney General of Lagos as saying he (Obanikoro) disowned the military when contacted.
“We wish to state clearly that at no point did Senator Obanikoro speak to the Lagos State Attorney General Ade Ipaiye, any official of Lagos state government or any individual whatsoever concerning the purported appearance of men of the Nigerian Military on Lagos roads, talk the least of disowning anyone,” the statement quoted the minister as saying.
The minister criticized the Lagos state government for “the growing fixation” over “anything Obanikoro,” describing it as ridiculous.
“This new story is another futile attempt to drag the Honourable Minister into the childish bickering and serial pettiness that has become characteristic of the Lagos State Government in recent times,” it said.

Oshiomhole announces free transportation for students

Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State yesterday said school pupils in the state would begin to enjoy free bus services from today, May 28. Oshiomhole, who spoke in Benin at a ceremony to mark the 2014 Children’s Day, said the gesture was part of measures to ensure their safety. “I know that the condition of a child cannot be much more different from the condition of the parents. There is no doubt that things are hard around the country. It is quite possible that many of you have parents who are unemployed, just as you have brothers who have challenges. Let me assure you that Edo State government will continue to do everything possible to support children. That is why we will continue to build new schools that will appeal to the young ones. We are working hard to clean up the teaching group to ensure that only those who are competent and capable are in the classrooms to teach and to impact knowledge”, he said.

MEND backs prisoner swap for Chibok girls

The Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) yesterday urged the federal government to yield to demands by the Boko Haram to swap its prisoners with the over 200  abducted Chibok girls. MEND in a press statement in Port Harcourt yesterday signed by its spokesman, Gbomo Jomo, said the only option for the safe return of the girls appears to be the swap option.
“MEND supports a prisoner exchange initiative with Boko Haram towards the release of the Chibok schoolgirls as the only viable safe option and the threshold towards maintaining contact, further ceasefire and eventual long-term peace and security in that region. From our experience, it is impossible for any forceful commando-type rescue in forests or creeks to be successful. The Israelis encouraging such a move should understand that Sambisa forest is a different kettle of fish from the Entebbe International Airport”, the group said.
It commended the federal government for releasing 53 of its members who it said were illegally detained in the Port Harcourt prison.

Jonathan demands unconditional release of Chibok girls

President Goodluck Jonathan has re-emphasized that his govern-ment will not negotiate with the Boko Haram insurgents to secure the release of the abducted Chibok girls, saying they must be freed unconditionally. The president re-echoed his government’s position in Abuja at the Asu Ekiye musical concert and fund raising concert held at the Sheraton Abuja hotel.
Jonathan, who was represented by his Senior Special Assistant on Youth and Students Matters, Comrade Jude Imagwe, commended the resolute spirit of the Nigerian masses in the face of insurgency. He said the Nigerian people have won the fight against terrorism by their resolute spirit.
He urged Nigerians to support government’s efforts at bring back the girls adding that the terrorists have declared war on the citizens and they must rise up as one to fight and win back the country.

Boko Haram live lavish life in Sambisa forest – Dr Gana

Dr. Fatima Zanna Gana is the founder of the Purple Heart Foundation and one of the active members of #bringbackourgirls campaign. Her foundation is involved in taking records of the women and girls abducted by the Boko Haram sect in Borno State for the past three years. In this interview, she says members of the sect live a lavish life in the Sambisa forest largely because of the money they get from unknown sources. So far, what would you say about the campaigns on bring back our girls?
For the campaign, I think it’s been good. We kept our heads together. We’ve been doing our meetings, going out for our campaigns, and now the world knows about the girls and the other girls that have been missing for three plus years.
So, I feel it’s doing well. It is just unfortunate that we still have no news of anybody being rescued.
The police have been preventing people from protesting.
How has that affected the effort?

Cameroon Deploys 1,000 Soldiers To Border To Help Nigeria Fight Boko Haram

Cameroon has deployed about 1,000 of its troops, and dozens of armoured vehicles to its border with Nigeria, as a way of helping to stem activities of the Boko Haram Islamist sect around north-eastern Nigeria.
According to spokesman of the Cameroonian Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant Colonel Didier Badjeck, the troops “will help to carry out reconnaissance, and be ready to respond with enough fire power.”
Nigeria’s leaky borders with its neighbouring countries has always been identified as one of its major weaknesses in combating terrorism, as the Boko Haram’s foot soldiers have previously launched attacks, only to flee into Cameroon for cover.
They have also organised a few attacks in the region, most notably the kidnapping of 10 Chinese workers in the central African country in the middle of May. A soldier was also murdered in that attack.
Paul Biya, the Cameroonian President, was unwilling to get involved in Boko Haram’s battle with Nigeria, but he changed his stance during the recent regional security summit in Paris, which was attended by all of Nigeria’s neighbours that share the common border.

Obasanjo Holds Talks To Free Chibok Schoolgirls- PM News, Nigeria

caption: Olusegun Obasanjo

Former president Olusegun Obasanjo has met with people close to Boko Haram in an attempt to broker the release of more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls, a source close to the talks told AFP.
The meeting took place last weekend at Obasanjo’s farm in southern Ogun state and included relatives of some senior Boko Haram fighters as well as intermediaries and the former president, the source said.
“The meeting was focused on how to free the girls through negotiation,” said the source who requested anonymity, referring to the girls seized on 14 April from the remote northeastern town of Chibok, Borno state.
Reports of the talks emerged as Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, said the girls had been located while casting doubt on the prospect of rescuing them by force.
Obasanjo, who left office in 2007, has previously sought to negotiate with the insurgents, including in September 2011 after Boko Haram bombed the United Nations headquarters in Abuja.

Ghana’s President Mahama Tasks Army To Be On Guard For Boko Haram, Other Insurgents

caption: President Dramani Mahama

Ghanaian President John D. Mahama has charged the country’s Armed Forces to ‘be on the alert’ for asymmetrical terrorist attacks from Islamist militants, including the Boko Haram. This call is following an upsurge of attacks in Nigeria, as well as a reported heightened activity in the sub-region. Mr. Mahama, who also doubles as the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), thus tasked his security chiefs to immediately strategize and work towards countering any possible terrorist attack on the country.

Take responsibility for Boko Haram, NAF tells Shettima

ABUJA—THE Northern Alternative Forum, NAF, has taken a swipe at the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, on his recent outburst on CNN against the security operation in the North East and blame on the federal government for the abduction of school girls in the State owned Secondary School, Chibok.
NAF which spoke at a press briefing by its chairman, Alhaji Gidado Ibrahim, accused the governor of making the ongoing military operation in the North East a subject of self-exoneration of responsibility in the crisis of the abducted girls, rather than blaming his government for its failure to protect them, even after promising to offer them protection on the advice from the Minister of Education and WAEC to relocate them.
The group however, urged the governor to swallow his pride and take the responsibility for the emergence of Boko Haram and their damages, which have now turned the state and the region into a theatre of war.

Delegates vote to tax churches, mosques

Stop state sponsorship of pilgrimages
But split on scrapping of pilgrim boards
FG, State governments to stop sponsoring Pilgrims
DELEGATES at the on- going National Conference yesterday voted to enlist churches, mosques and religious organizations into the tax net.
A mosque
A mosque
The delegates in their deliberation on the report of the committee on religion also voted that federal and state governments should stop the sponsorship of Islamic and Christian pilgrimages.
However, a move to scrap Islamic and Christian pilgrims boards sharply split the delegates yesterday leading to an uproar and forcing the conference leadership to move the vote on the issue to today.
The decision to make religious bodies pay taxes came up when a delegate representing Civil Organisations, Mallam Naseer Kura in his contribution to the debate on the report observed that religious leaders were making much money and should be taxed.

Obi Visits Akunyili in India, Calls on Nigerians to Pray for Her

Prof Dora Akunyili
The former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi, has called on Nigerians to remember the former Minister of Information, Prof. Dora Akunyili, in their prayers.
He made the call yesterday from India where he had gone to visit the former minister who is undergoing treatment in an India  hospital.
Obi, who expressed happiness that Nigerians across ethnic and religious divides are together in wishing Akunyili well, unlike the condemnable practice whereby sicknesses  of highly-placed Nigerians are celebrated for what Nigerians think as punishment for their contributions  to the nation’s woes, said the gesture explained how dear and beholden she is to Nigerians.