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Friday, 27 June 2014

"High-level corruption rocks $470million CCTV project that could secure Abuja"

 Ibanga Isine
Since the installation of the CCTV cameras, criminals have launched violent attacks on Abuja without being detected.
The failure of the National Public Security Communication System, NPSCS; otherwise known as the CCTV project, has heightened the level of insecurity in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, PREMIUM TIMES checks have revealed.
The project which was initiated by late President Umaru Yar’Adua, was conceived to help security agencies in the Federal Capital Territory check the growing insecurity in the federal capital.
But since the installation of the CCTV cameras and allied equipment, criminals and insurgents have over and over again launched violent attacks on the city without being detected.
Between 2010 when the project was initiated and now, Abuja has come under seven deadly attacks, leaving scores of people dead and properties worth billions of naira destroyed.
The first bomb explosion in the city occurred on 1st October, 2010, a few meters from the Three Arms Zone, during the country’s 50th Independence Day Anniversary celebrations.
Three Arms Zone is home to the Presidential Villa, the National Assembly Complex and the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND claimed responsibility for the twin car bombs which killed 10 and injured many more.
On June 16, 2011, a suicide bomber drove a bomb-laden car and rammed into the parking lot of the Police headquarters, shortly after the convoy of the then Inspector-General of Police, Hafiz Ringim, entered the complex.
Two persons died, including the traffic warden who prevented the bomber from ramming the bomb-laden vehicle into the main building, while several cars at the parking were burnt.
On August 26, 2011, another suicide bomber rammed a bomb-laden car into the United Nations building along the Diplomatic Drive in Abuja, killing about 20 persons.
Another suicide bomber, on April 26, 2012, attacked the Abuja office of the Thisday Newspaper, ripping off the roof of the building and killing innocent staff.
However, on April 14, twin blasts rocked the Nyanya Motor Park killing 71, while 124 persons suffered life-threatening injuries.
Barely two weeks after the April 14 attack, another one occurred opposite the same Nyanya Motor Park on May 1, killing nine and injuring scores of persons.
On Wednesday, June 24, another bomb went off at Emab Plaza, a busy shopping plaza in the heart of the capital, killing 21 persons.
In all the attacks, the CCTV cameras installed across the city could not pick up images of the perpetrators of the dastardly acts.
PREMIUM TIMES has learnt that some of the CCTV cameras installed around the capital city are mere toys, ostensibly fixed to deceive the public.
Top officers at the Force Headquarters, who pleaded not to be quoted because they were not authorized to speak on the matter, said while some of the cameras were functional, several others, were dormant, making the task of policing the city a difficult and sometimes impossible one.
It was also found that most of the crimes in the city are committed outside the CCTV coverage area as most of the functional cameras are concentrated within the Three Arms Zone and some parts of the Business District.
One of our sources said, “The truth is that the CCTV cameras in Abuja are not helping us much in tackling insecurity in the city. It is like taking an inadequate dosage of a drug when you have a major health challenge.
“The drug will not work because it does not meet the required dosage. But when you take the required dosage, the drug will be able to deal with the ailment.
“That is the same situation we have with the CCTV cameras installed here in Abuja. Some of the cameras are working but a lot more are not working thereby creating many dark spots in the city.
“The camera is not helping much because most of the crimes occur in some of the dark spots. If a crime is committed in some of the coverage areas, it will be possible to detect them with the cameras.”
Another official revealed that the NPSCS project has been a subject of hire-wired intrigue and corruption by top officials of the Police Affairs Ministry and the Presidency.
“The contract was awarded and paid for, long before the present IGP came on board but a lot of people are trying to rope him into the problem when they know those who were responsible for the failed project,” he said.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the NPSCS project was initiated to help Nigeria tackle the increasing level of insecurity in the country as far back as 2010.
Investigation showed that late President Umaru Yar’Adua was persuaded by some of his powerful aides to award the $470 million project to the Chinese firm, ZTE Corporation, in August 2010 without carrying out due diligence on the company.
The project, which was funded through a $600 million credit facility obtained from the Chinese EXIMBANK, was slated for completion in May, 2011.
Part of the project consisted of the installation of Close Circuit Television Cameras, CCTV, in many parts of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The NPSCS project is based on the Global Open Trunking Architecture (GoTa), a new technology that provides strategic telecommunications solutions to targeted clientele.
Olusegun Aganga, the then Minister of Finance, led the Federal Government’s delegation to Beijing where the loan agreement for the project was signed with the Chinese EXIMBANK in June 2010.
Former Minister of Police Affairs, Adamu Waziri and the then Inspector-General of Police, Halfiz Ringim, were also part of the delegation.
The $600 million financing portfolio for the project was secured as a soft credit loan with three percent interest repayable in 10 years after an initial 10 years of grace.
The project was expected to create a dedicated trunk system for inter-agency communications and linkages as well as remove critical national security agencies from private network operators and service providers.
Late Mr. Yar’Adua had during a visit to China on March 1, 2008, made a brief stop at Shanghai where he held talks with top executives of ZTE Researching and Development Centre.
The outcome of the discussion culminated in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Federal Government of Nigeria and ZTE Corporation.
The government, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, made a down payment of $70, 500,000 which is 15 percent of the total contract sum and signed a Sovereign Guarantee to the tune of $399, 500, 000 to enable ZTE source the loan from the Chinese Government.
However, the project was piloted with the installation of solar-powered security cameras and allied security infrastructure in many parts of Abuja.
But PREMIUM TIMES has learnt that some of the materials deployed for the critical national security infrastructure are of low quality compared to what those used in China. Yet Nigerian authorities are not known to have lifted a finger in protest.
This newspaper also learnt that the contract was signed and executed in secrecy based on the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, signed between the Nigerian government and the Chinese firm.
Article 4 of MoU specifically indicated that the terms agreed upon by the parties be kept secret.
“The terms of this MoU are agreed by both parties to be confidential. All confidential information shall not be disclosed to third parties or used for any other purpose or the possibility of a business relationship between the parties unless agreed by both parties,” the document read.
The secrecy clause in the MoU, PREMIUM TIMES gathered, was created to allow top officials of the Police Affairs Ministry and the presidency to negotiate away some of the critical elements of the project.
The source at the Presidency further confided in PREMIUM TIMES that the secrecy clause violated every rule of transparency and accountability and should not have been allowed in the MoU.
When contacted, the Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, told PREMIUM TIMES he was not competent to speak on the NPSCS contract.
The Chief Press Secretary at the Police Affairs Ministry, James Odaudu, told PREMIUM TIMES the CCTV project is a sensitive national security operation that should not be discussed publicly.
When further pressed for comments, he said, “It is not possible that the whole of Abuja can be covered in one phase of the project. It is an ongoing project with a lot of rooms for expansion.
“If there are challenges, we will sort them out with time. There are no projects without challenges.”
Mr. Aganga, the then Finance Minister, now Minter of Trade and Investment would not speak to PREMIUM TIMES or reply to an email sent to him on the matter.
When PREMIUM TIMES visited ZTE Corporation Nigeria at No. 5 Dep Street, Maitama, Abuja to speak with its officials on the matter, a security man at the gates said visitors are not allowed into the premises unless on invitation.
Attempts to convince the private security staff on the need to alert top officials of the company on the presence of our staff, also failed.
An email to the corporate headquarters of the company in China was not also replied, weeks after it was sent.

National Conference okays State Police


The National Conference sitting in Abuja on Thursday broke a generational jinx with a resolution that henceforth, any state of the federation desirous of having a State Police Force can establish, fund and control it.
This resolution, when enacted into law would put to rest the long debate and controversies over the establishment of state police. The state police when established by states that desired them are to compliment the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force.
The areas of jurisdiction of the Federal police will cover the entire country and on clearly spelt out matters and offences while the jurisdiction of the State Police will cover the state and operate within the laws enacted by the State Assembly.
The conference also resolved that in addition to establishing state police, states laws should also provide for community policing. The decisions were made while considering the report of the Committee on National security.
The Conference agreed with the report of the Committee that state governors should be involved in the running of the Federal Police in their respective states. It was also agreed that officers of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police in the Federal Police should be deployed to their states of origin.
It was reasoned that this will address the concern of language and culture, as this group of officers actually constitute the operational component of the force.
To make the police more people friendly, the conference called for the amendment of section 214 of the 1999 constitution so that The Nigeria Police Force will be called The Nigeria Police.
A proposal for the establishment of a National Border Patrol Force to secure and protect the nation`s border was also approved by the conference. The Border Patrol Force is to be domiciled in the Ministry of Defence.
In mapping out security architecture for the country, the conference accepted the proposal for the creation of a Security and Intelligence Services Oversight Committee (SISOC).
The committee is to be composed of a retired Chief Justice of Nigeria as chairman, a former head of the Civil Service, and a former Director General of the State Security Service or National Intelligence, as members.
Similarly, the conference also accepted the proposal for the establishment of Water Way Safety Corps to man the waterways and riverine areas. The corps is expected to perform similar functions as that of the Federal Roads Safety Corps (FRSC)
The proposals mandating government to enact a law that would impose speed limit on convoys of government officials and limit to the number of vehicle to be in such convoys were also accepted by the conference.
The number of vehicles in the convoys is to be determined by Federal Road Safety Corps in consultation with the Police and the Department of States Security Service.
Such a law is expected to reduce the recklessness of convoys of government officials which had in the past led to loss of lives; it would also reduce wastage of government funds.
The conference also agreed that retired military personnel should be mobilized and trained to fight terrorism.
In addition, government was also mandated to set up Counter Terrorism Architecture to among others: harmonize national counter terrorism efforts; and provide the platform for foreign assistance.
It would equally interface between Nigeria and Africa Union (AU) countries especially contiguous states such as Niger, Chad, Cameroun and African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism and engage the services of well trained counter terrorism operatives to work within the established in-country infrastructure.
The proposal that the federal character outlook of the military be reflected at the entry point into the Nigeria Defense Academy in cases of officers and at the recruitment stages and training depots, in case of soldiers, airmen, and sailors was also accepted by the conference.
Conference also agreed that table of equipment including clothing should be updated regularly instead of waiting for the declaration of a state of emergency.
The conference at its plenary also approved the proposal for the establishment of a Military Industrial Zone which will include but not limited to collaboration with the industrial and manufacturing sector in the area of research and development, production, use and support for military, training weaponry and equipment.
A proposal for a compulsory life insurance for all armed security personnel by government was approved by the government.
The conference also accepted the proposal that the Federal Government should set aside a special fund to rehabilitate and reconstruct the North East, which has suffered devastating attacks from Boko Haram.
Similarly the conference also agreed that all the communities such as Odi in Bayelsa State, Zaki Biam in Benue state and others that were destroyed in the process on restoring internal peace be compensated.
On gender issue, the conference agreed to the proposal that government should ensure gender mainstreaming with respect to recruitment into the Armed Forces and the various security agencies.
The Conference also agreed that there should be a compulsory life insurance for all armed security personnel by government as well as imploring the Federal Government to look into all pending Police Reform Committees/Panel Reports and implement their recommendations.
It was agreed also that the Inspector general of Police should be the accounting officer of the Nigeria Police and be answerable to the Nigeria Police Council on financial matters.
Delegates agreed that the government should review the procedure of using the military in the aid of civil authority in matters of internal security because the existing procedure referred to as the “blue and brown cards” which was signed by the Prime Minister in 1960 is obsolete.
The Nigeria Air Force, the delegates indicated, should be more involved in the management of Total Radar Coverage of Nigeria (TRACON) in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority in securing the country’s airspace.
SIGNED
AKPANDEM JAMES
ASSISTANT SECRETARY, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATION

Abacha loot: Transparency International blasts Jonathan for encouraging corruption


Transparency International has berated the federal government of Nigeria of its decision to drop charges of theft against Mohammed Abacha, the son of deceased military dictator, General Sani Abacha.
Mohammed Abacha had been charged with helping his father steal and launder about N446.3bn through various shady foreign accounts between 1995 and 1998.
The government in a shocking move last week withdrew the charges over moves that political analysts say is to clear the path for Mohammed to run for the governorship of Kano State under the platform of the ruling PDP.

But Transparency International in a statement by Chantal Uwimana, Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa said: ‘Allowing the theft of public funds to go unpunished sends the wrong message that those with powerful connections can act with impunity. The case should have been fully prosecuted and the government has not given adequate reasons for dropping the charges.’
‘The global anti-corruption movement, deplores the action taken by the government of Nigeria to drop corruption charges against Mohammed Abacha, son of the late president of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha and calls for their immediate reinstatement.
‘The government had accused Mohammed Abacha of receiving stolen property worth millions of dollars. The money is believed to have been stolen by his father when he was President.
‘In his lifetime Gen. Abacha was investigated for corruption and human rights violations. Recently the United States government froze US$458 million in assets it claims he and co-conspirators stole from Nigeria. In separate legal proceedings, Liechtenstein agreed on June 18 to return US$224 million held by companies linked to Gen. Abacha.
‘Corruption is widespread in Nigeria and despite claims by the government to make tackling corruption a priority too few people have been held to account for a series of high profile scandals. At the same time about live in poverty.’
Nigeria, one of the world’s largest oil producers, is believed to have lost over $500 billion dollars to corruption.

Ekiti Election process skewed in favour of PDP – APC


“If an integral part of the process was badly tainted as we have clearly and fully demonstrated above, then the entire process cannot but be tainted.”

The All Progressives Congress, APC, said on Thursday that the governorship election in Ekiti State was manipulated to favour the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, candidate, Ayo Fayose.
The APC stated this at the end of the inaugural meeting of the National Working Committee, who were sworn into office last week.
Mr. Fayose of the PDP defeated his closest challenger, APC’s Kayode Fayemi, by about 100,000 votes to emerge winner of the election held on Saturday.
The APC, in the communiqué, released after the meeting said the process leading up to the election was tainted, thus affecting the whole election.
“If an integral part of the process was badly tainted as we have clearly and fully demonstrated above, then the entire process cannot but be tainted,” it said in the communiqué signed by its spokesperson, Lai Mohammed.

Read the full communiqué below.
It is no longer news that the governorship election in Ekiti State has been won and lost, and that our candidate, Gov. Kayode Fayemi, has shown rare sportsmanship by conceding defeat and congratulating the winner, Mr. Ayodele Fayose.
We are very proud of Gov. Fayemi for his conduct and comportment before, during and after the election, and we hail him as a true democrat in the true spirit of the APC’s belief that election is never a do or die affair, and that Nigerians must always be free to elect those to govern them. After all, it is said that the just powers of governments are derived from the consent of the governed.
Gentlemen, election is a process, and whatever happens on the voting day is only an integral part of that process. What happens before, during and after the voting day complete the process.
If, therefore, we view the just-concluded election in Ekiti as a process, then we can confidently say that while the events of the voting day itself may have led many to believe that the election was free and fair, the same cannot be said of the events before, during and after the election.
We therefore believe that we owe it a duty to the continuous improvement of our electoral system and indeed the sustainability of our democracy to X-ray this election within the context that we have outlined above and draw the necessary lessons
Incidents before election day
We believe that the events leading to the D-Day in Ekiti negate the principles of a free, fair and credible election. From the militarization of the election to the police attack on our supporters, arrest and detention of our leaders across the state and the use of huge funds to induce voters, the federal authorities skewed everything in favour of the PDP.
Militarization of the process:
With thousands of armed troops, police, state security and civil defence personnel deployed to Ekiti, the state was simply under a total lock down. While we believe that the police and the civil defence indeed have a role to play in providing the necessary security for the election, we do not see why soldiers who were armed to the teeth need to be deployed to a non-belligerent situation like an election, especially at a time that their services are more needed elsewhere to turn around a slow motion war that is daily claiming the lives of our compatriots. The questions to ask are: who ordered the deployments of the troops and for what purpose. Who gave the orders to stop Gov. Rotimi Amaechi from reaching Ado-Ekiti, as the Army captain who stopped and threatened to shoot him said he was acting under ”orders from above”.
It is worth mentioning that the physical prevention of Gov. Amaechi from joining his colleagues at the final campaign rally of Gov. Fayemi in Ekiti is a direct function of the unnecessary deployment of troops to Ekiti for the election. This event will go down as the biggest affront to democracy in our country in recent times.
Also worth mentioning is the flagrant abuse of national institutions that led to the country’s aviation authorities shutting down airports in Akure and elsewhere on the same day that our party had its last campaign rally in Ado-Ekiti. This act of impunity was targeted solely at the opposition, and it runs against global standards. Let’s we forget on the same day the helicopter ferrying Governor Adams Oshiomhole fro Benin Airport to Akure en route Ekiti for that finally rally was prevented from taking off. Airports are never shut without the issuance of a NOTAM -  Notice to Airmen. Again, who gave the orders for the closure of the airports?
While still on this, it was widely reported that two aircraft made a total of three flights to Akure Airport ferrying what is suspected to be raw cash for use in the Ekiti election. This was neither denied nor investigated, just like no one investigated the police attack on our peaceful supporters during a peaceful procession in Ado-Ekiti on June 8th that led to the death of one person; the teargassing of Gov. Fayemi when he intervened to save the situation; the interception of over 200 boxes of electoral materials by security agents in Ekiti and the busting, three days to the election, of a pro-Fayose and PDP gang in a resort owned by Fayose’s Campaign Manager while they were thumb printing ballot papers ahead of  Saturday’s election. The 22 young men, who were arrested, were also caught preparing INEC form EC8.
Incidents during Election Day
On the eve of the election and on election day, without any reason, security personnel arrested APC leaders and supporters across Ekiti, ferrying them far away from where they could vote or monitor the conduct of the election. This is an attestation to the fact that the security operatives were in the state more for a sinister motive than just to provide security for the election.
In fact, the compromise by the security operatives became more obvious when a so-called Special Task Force comprising of Military, Police, SSS and NDLEA officers were summoned to a meeting Friday afternoon – a day before the election, near the Tantaliser fast food eatery at Ado-Ekiti.
In the presence of AIG Baka Nasarawa, Mrs Florence Ikhanone (National Director of SSS) and Brig.-Gen. Momoh, who was the head of the military to the election, Mr. Ayo Fayose’s Chief Security Officer, Kayode Adeoye, and Chris Uba addressed the curiously-named Special Task Force which included 67 SSS operatives, 30 soldiers, 30 NDLEA operatives and 70 mobile policemen.
(Messrs.) Adeoye and Uba reminded the officers of the Special Task Force of their duty to President Goodluck Jonathan, who was identified as their benefactor, and how the officers must ensure that their benefactor wins the election.
This was the same team that went round the state from Friday evening and throughout the duration of the election picking leaders of the APC from across the state in specially-designated black buses with Presidency plate numbers.
The case of the Campaign Manager of Gov. Fayemi, Mr. Bimbo Daramola, was particularly traumatic and saddening. His fiancee and aged father were harassed by armed soldiers who invaded his country home in the middle of the night, with guns being pointed at them as if they were common criminals. The Campaign Manager himself, an honourable member of the House of Representatives, was hounded into an unknown place by soldiers….all this because of an election!
Also on the receiving end of the brutality by security agents were accredited journalists, some of whom were ”deported”, so to say, to neighbouring Kwara State by paid agents of state who turned themselves to enforcers for the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Mopol Commander who led the operation to ”deport” journalists from Ekiti is the same fellow who led policemen to attack harmless APC supporters who were holding a peaceful procession in Ado-Ekiti. This obviously poorly trained and unprofessional police officer, who was on a mission in Ekiti, acted with such impunity because he once served as the ADC to Goodluck Jonathan when he was a deputy governor in Bayelsa State, and felt he was not accountable to anyone.
Incidents during and after Election Day

While our leaders and supporters were being hounded and arrested across Ekiti during and after the voting, some PDP ministers and PDP stalwarts were  moving around freely, with armed escort, even with a restriction on movement in place. What business did these Ministers and their cohorts have in Ekiti during the election? What was their role in the election?
These are questions begging for answers.
Conclusion
At a press conference addressed by our Chairman on June 20th, we warned that our democracy was in clear and present danger from anti-democratic forces who are bent on winning elections, especially in the South-west, at all cost. Today, we restate that warning and call for a reversal of the incidents that made sure a level playing ground was not provided for all the candidates at the just concluded election in Ekiti.
While voting on Election Day may not have been characterized  by the usual brigandage and violence,  we submit that the entire process was everything but free and fair. If an integral part of the process was badly tainted as we have clearly and fully demonstrated above, then the entire process cannot but be tainted. Voting in Ekiti may have been free of the usual violence or manipulation at the collation centres, but the entire electoral process in the state was neither free, fair nor credible.
Therefore, in order to prevent a recurrence of what happened in Ekiti, especially the militarization of the process, the harassment and intimidation of citizens, especially those in opposition, my party has decided to challenge in court the role of the military in policing elections. We will also encourage our leaders and supporters, who were arrested, harassed and intimidated to seek the enforcement of their constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights that were recklessly abridged by the security agencies, especially soldiers.
In this regard, we commend the good people of Nigeria who have spoken out openly against these bare-faced acts of hooliganism by the very agents of state paid by taxpayers to prevent such acts.
Our decision to act is not only to ensure that these irresponsible and unconstitutional acts are not repeated in subsequent elections, especially that in Osun in August and next year’s general elections, but also because we have always said that evil thrives when good men do nothing!
Alhaji Lai Mohammed
National Publicity Secretary
(The Communiqué was issued at the end of the inaugural meeting of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja onThursday, June 26th 2014).

Super Eagles boycott training over unpaid appearance allowance

The Super Eagles cancelled a schedule training session on Thursday after a meeting where the players demanded the immediate payment of their appearance fee.
The Super Eagles may be heading the way of the Black Stars of Ghana if nothing is promptly done to settle the bad blood already brewing in camp over unpaid allowances.
Football news website, Kickoff.com is reporting that the Super Eagles cancelled a schedule training session on Thursday after a meeting where the players demanded the immediate payment of their appearance fee.
The Black Stars, who were embroiled in a similar disagreement with their country’s officials, were eliminated from the completion after an uninspiring performance against the Portuguese national team in their last group match. The Ghanaians lost the match by two goals to one.
The Black Stars players had threatened to boycott the match with Portugal if their appearance fees were not paid. It took the intervention of the Ghanaian President, John Mahama and the $3 million cash that was flown to the team in Brazil before they withdrew their threat.
The Super Eagles media officer, Ben Alaiya, told Kickoff.com that the team was in a meeting and would come out for training afterwards. But an hour later, a bus, which was ready to take the team to training, re-parked, with officials saying the training had been cancelled.
Kickoff.com says during the meeting, the players asked to be paid the appearance fee agreed with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) for making it past the group stage of the competition.
Kickoff.com says the Secretary- General of the football federation, Musa Adamu, left Brazil for Nigeria for more cash prior to the meeting. An official of the Federation, who was not named, told kickoff.com that Mr. Musa left to get money to prosecute the other rounds of the competition.
It is hard to imagine that the team is having problem with finances after, President Goodluck Jonathan approved the NFF’s budget of N2 billion, one of the biggest budget by teams in the competition, to execute the World Cup.
Mr. Amadu is expected to return to Brazil before the team’s round of 16 match with former world champion, France in Brasilia

Why I can’t celebrate Fayose’s victory - Femi Falana


A legal practitioner, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has called on the people of Ekiti State to be moderate in celebrating the victory of a former Governor of the state, Mr. Ayo Fayose, in the last governorship election. He said the governor-elect “cannot change.”
He however said since Ekiti people had made their choice, “I can only wish them well.” Falana, in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja, on Wednesday, said the credibility of the election being used as a defence point in political circles depended on certain factors.
He said, “Ekiti people have voted and made their choice; I can only wish them well. We know what happened before, I am a student of history. I know that Fayose cannot change and so why do you think I should be celebrating? I can only wish Ekiti people well for their choice. Fayose regretted it the last time. So what has changed?. Fayose said he had changed, which is a reflection of the fact that what happened the last time cannot be tolerated in a civilised society; let’s wait and see. He didn’t come with any programme and no manifesto in this election. If people opted for him, you can only wish them well.”
When asked whether the election was free and fair, Falana said, “It depends on what you mean by a free and fair election.” He added, “In terms of the accreditation, in terms of the actual voting and the collation of results, the Independent National Electoral Commission did very well this time and there was a noticeable improvement.“
"But when you look at the totality of the election, militarisation of Ekiti State, harassment by security forces, disenfranchisement of some people by the military forces, and the fact that the place was invaded with 30,790 policemen, soldiers and members of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, you can’t say that was a free and fair election. You must have an election in a free and fair atmosphere.”
Falana applauded the incumbent Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, for accepting defeat and congratulating Fayose.The human rights lawyer said, “Fayemi’s action is very commendable. The governor acted as a patriot and he hasn’t disappointed me. When you are defeated in an election, you must learn to congratulate the winner and he had said it earlier that ‘if the election was credible and I lose, I will congratulate the winner’ and that is what he has done. I think other Nigerian politicians should emulate that. But the duty is on INEC; if INEC conducts a good election, nobody will go to court. That is what Fayemi has shown. He is an enlightened guy and a patriot.”

Kidnapped ship's captain told ransoms may be funneled to Boko Haram

By Kyung Lah and Kathleen Johnston, CNN Investigations

Watch this video

Was ransom money funneled to Boko Haram?

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Capt. Wren Thomas was kidnapped from his ship off Nigeria
  • He was held in jungles and swamps while captors demanded ransom
  • During debriefing, FBI said ransom could fund Boko Haram terror group, Thomas says
Houston (CNN) -- Wren Thomas grew up in the middle of the cornfields of central Illinois, longing, he says, to do something important in his life "to make his family proud." So when a cousin beckoned him to come work on boats off Louisiana, he jumped at the chance.
His goal: to be a ship captain, "the best that I could be."
"It meant strength, accomplishment,' he said when he finally was made a captain in 1991 and traveled the world for various shipping firms. With a wife, eventually three children and boat to lead, Capt. Wren Thomas had achieved his piece of the American dream.
"I wanted to be in charge of my own destiny,'' he recalled during an interview in his attorney's Houston office.
River between life and death
Boko Haram victim: I was left to die
All of that came crashing down on October 23, 2013 when Thomas was piloting his supply boat, the C-Retriever off the coast of Nigeria towards a Chevron-owned oil field.
Over the next six hours, he would huddle with his crew in an incredibly hot, water-sealed tank room as a half-dozen pirates stormed his boat and began their siege looking for their prize: the American captain and his American-born engineer. Thomas reluctantly gave up when the pirates started firing guns through a hole in the room door. He told his engineer they had no choice if the rest of the 13-member crew, still in hiding, was to be spared.
"I told him, 'Look I think it's time we give up. If we don't give up we are either going to die or somebody is going to get killed from ricocheting bullets.'"
Thomas and his engineer were the only ones to be kidnapped by the pirates, driven away in a speed boat and held in Nigerian swamps and jungles for 18 days. The experience was so horrific that even today Thomas is unable to bring himself to reveal all details of his captivity.
"We weren't being punched or kicked or anything like that but just I've told people that I would have rather been punched then went through what I went through," Thomas said. "The mental abuse of it with the guns pointing at you. And knowing how unstable these guys are."
Thomas said there were about 18 Nigerian kidnappers, some chain-smoked marijuana or crack incessantly, constantly waving their weapons and making threats.
Food consisted of instant noodles -- on days the negotiations were going well -- and maybe a bottle of water. And his captors blared their music constantly, fixated on, of all things, country singer Dolly Parton's song, "Coat of Many Colors," and the music of hip hop artist 50 Cent.
"I knew I was going to die. We knew it every day, every night," he said.
Despite the chaos in the jungle, Thomas said the leaders were organized, using satellite phones to negotiate, first demanding a $2 million ransom. Thomas believes the payoff was eventually whittled down to several hundred thousand dollars, though CNN cannot confirm who paid the ransom or who received it.
Thomas said one evening he and his engineer were told to get in a small boat with six pirates. They motored for about two hours to reach a village. There, four of the pirates got out and met some other men who handed them backpacks, Thomas told CNN. They returned to the boat and counted the cash stuffed into the bags. After a dispute, Thomas says he and the engineer were taken to the other men and told to lie on the ground until the pirates left. Then they were put in a car and driven off. Later they were transferred to a second car, where a representative from the shipping company was waiting for them. At that point they were finally free, 18 days after being seized at gunpoint.
After a debriefing by his ship managers, then a similar one by the FBI in Lagos, Nigeria, Thomas returned to the United States last November, days after his release. He has been seeing mental health advisers and other medical professionals since.
But his hostage-taking and the negotiations that freed him have raised alarm bells in counterterrorism circles and elsewhere for numerous reasons; not the least is Thomas' claim that the FBI told him the money paid for his freedom may eventually have wound up in the hands of the notorious terror group Boko Haram.
That is the same group that in April kidnapped nearly 300 Nigerian girls. They're also blamed for laying waste to multiple villages in the northern part of the country, burning them down and killing many people in bomb attacks.
Thomas said during his debriefing in Lagos the FBI indicated that the money paid for his freedom may have been funneled through other groups before making its way to Boko Haram. The FBI would not comment. CNN cannot independently confirm whether Boko Haram received any money from the kidnapping.
Yan St-Pierre, CEO of Modern Security Consulting Group, said his contacts believe Boko Haram, once confined strictly to the northern parts of Nigeria, is benefiting from the increase in piracy along the west coast of Africa. But the group is perhaps not directly carrying out the kidnappings itself.
"So when people are asking, is there a link between Boko Haram and piracy in Nigeria, it's not the one they usually expect it to be,'' said St-Pierre, whose firm was not involved in the Thomas case. "It's one that is not necessarily logistical and operational. It's one that is more subtle. Essentially they will probably provide personnel every now and then, but it's not a fixed structure. So we are talking more (about) providing means to wash the money, to clean it. To make sure the smuggling routes, personnel, sex slaves, drugs, weapons above all else, these pirates need weapons.
"So if Boko Haram provided the weapons in advance for example and said, 'Well we will get a cut of the ransom,' which is standard policy within these groups within the region in general, this would make absolute sense to say, well the ransom money that was paid for the captain ended up at the very least partially into Boko Haram's hands, quite probably as a payment for services delivered."
Major oil companies have an official policy of not paying ransom for personnel or the thefts of fuel and ships on the high seas. And subsidiary companies, like Capt. Thomas' employer Edison Chouest, aren't talking, so it is unclear if they, too, have the same policy.
It is against U.S. law to deal with terrorists but that issue becomes murky when dealing with ransoms for captives because so many middle men are involved, counterterrorism sources said; it is hard to say who is a terrorist and who is just a common criminal.
Piracy off the coast of Nigeria is on the rise, according to one study published by Oceans Beyond Piracy, a project of the One Earth Foundation. By contrast, piracy off Somalia -- on the other side of the African continent -- dropped dramatically in 2013 to only 23 vessels attacked from 237 ships attacked in 2011, the same group reported. In West Africa, the group estimates there were at least 100 total piracy attacks and characterized them as more violent and frequent.
Thomas, in a series of emails, says he warned his company, Edison Chouset, that security was deteriorating and he feared some of his own Nigerian crew members. His attorney shared two of the emails with CNN.
In one email to his operations coordinator, Thomas, summing up his fear of the security situation, wrote "I am also asking to not to return to Nigeria."
Thomas said company officials told him things would improve but never did. On the day he set out on his fateful trip, Thomas said dock workers announced over two-way radio where the ship was going and what supplies it was carrying. He said those communications left them doomed before they ever got to their destination.
"The pirates (later) told me they knew where we was going ... they knew my cargo, they knew my position, they knew the track I was taking."
CNN made multiple attempts to contact Edison Chouest for comment but the company refused to return multiple calls or an email.
Thomas said two representatives from the company stayed near his wife in their hometown during his ordeal and the FBI was also in contact. But once he was freed, the communications virtually ended. It wasn't until January that someone from the company offered to assist in his medical care and other financial needs, he said.
Thomas is now consulting with a Houston attorney on his next move as he says he is medically unable to return to his overseas duties as a ship captain.
"Life is hell for me now," Thomas said. "Life will never be the same again. The man that my wife married is not the same anymore....I walk around all day paranoid. I'm sad. I can't sleep. My family is hurt."
Earlier this year, Thomas finally broke his silence, giving an in-depth interview to a shipping newsletter gCaptain. He is talking now, he says, so others don't face the same fate.
His attorney, Brian Beckcom, represented members of the Maersk Alabama crew that served with Capt. Richard Philips, whose capture by Somali pirates was made into a movie starring Tom Hanks. He said he believes these companies owe crew members, like Thomas, the same level of protection now provided to crews off the Somalian coast.
"Now all the ships in East Africa have armed guards, or most do, and piracy has plummeted in East Africa. West Africa is now the hotspot and there is no question that these companies are making hundreds of millions in (oil) profits should do something more than they're doing to protect the men that work over there," Beckcom said.

Boko Haram Funded From Outside Nigeria —Ethiopian PM.


VISITING Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, on Wednesday, observed that funding for terror organisations operating in Africa, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabab in East Africa, come from outside the continent.
Speaking at a joint press conference with President Goodluck Jonathan in State House, Abuja, to round off his two-day visit to the country, he also said the resort to suicide bombing by terrorists was an indication that the war on terror was succeeding.
The Ethiopian leader noted that the East African region had been fighting terrorism for the past 10 years, while stressing the need for cooperation by leaders of worst hit countries in the effort to drive the process of the war on terror on the African continent.
“You know terrorism is not African agenda only. There has been terror attack in Boston, United States and many parts of the globe. So, it is not something that is new to Nigeria, Ethiopia and other African countries. It is a global phenomenon and you see that there was terror attack in Iraq recently and is expanding.
“We have to see it as a global phenomenon that has to be tackled together in unison. It should not be left to this or that region or this or that country. We have to bear in mind the genesis of this terrorism,” he said.
Desalegn said Nigeria and Ethiopia had reached an agreement on the fight against terror with the countries’ chiefs of staff working on the modalities adding that “we are working as one with Kenya to fight this terrorism and the chiefs of staff are in Nairobi, discussing how to fight this issue as we speak.”
In his remarks, President Jonathan observed that Ethiopia had a longer history of terrorism than Nigeria, adding that the country had a lot to learn from the East African country’s experience.
The two leaders commended the exchange of high level visits between their countries and resolved to maintain this in order to promote and deepen mutual understanding and cooperation.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Presidency Dispels APC’s Accusation Of Repression

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity

Presidency Dispels APC’s Accusation Of Repression

The Presidency has dispelled accusation by the opposition APC that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration was repressive ahead of Saturday’s governorship election in Ekiti.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati, said in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday that the accusation was absolutely wrong.
The statement said the Jonathan administration had been most tolerant of opposition and most respectful of citizens’ rights of association.
“This accusation cannot stand at all. The Jonathan administration remains committed to democracy and its principles.
“Where elections are concerned, it is a matter of public record that Jonathan is committed to free, fair and the integrity of elections.
“This is in fact one of the major areas of achievements of his administration’’, the statement said.
According to it, in the Ekiti election and any other elections, the government is committed to one man, one vote; and one woman, one vote.
“At the same time, the security agencies have an obligation to ensure that the people, who want to compromise the integrity of the process, are not allowed to do so.
“Rather than cry wolf where there is none, it is the APC and its leaders that should embark on soul searching’’, it added.

REMARKS BY GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI TO NEWLY ELECTED PARTY OFFICIALS, LADI KWALI CENTRE, ABUJA, 18 JUNE 2014


 Mr. Chairman, Your Excellency Chief John Odigie Oyegun,
Former Chairman, Your Excellency Chief Bisi Akande,
Your Excellencies former and present Governors,
Distinguished Senators,
Honourable Members of House of Reps. and State Assemblies,
Party Executives,
Invited Guests,
Members of press

With your permission Mr. Chairman, may we observe a minute’s silence and prayers for the safe release of the abducted Chibok girls and for return of peace to our dear country.
Ladies and gentlemen, I congratulate you for the honour and privilege bestowed on you by the party to run our affairs. It is an onerous task. We have internal and external enemies ready to sabotage and frustrate our efforts. You are our spear heads and our leaders.
I would like, with your permission Mr. Chairman, to thank, on behalf of our party the Interim Management Committee under the leadership of Chief Bisi Akande. His personal integrity, experience and competence marked his tenure as party Chairman.
In addition, his capacity to hold Legacy Parties together and ability to manage the structures of the Merged party up to and including the conducted convention were exemplary. No praise is too high for Chief Akande. Thank you sir.
I would also like this gathering to join me in thanking the Convention Committee led by His Excellency, Alhaji Aliyu, Magatakarda Wamako, Governor of Sokoto State for the conduct of our just conducted convention. Thank you, sir.
May I address a few words to our newly elected members? Our supporters and party have high expectations of you. We in the APC expect nothing less from you than to steer this party through successful primaries and successful General elections in 2015.
· We expect quality directives to state chapters of the APC;
· We expect justice from the centre in all adjudications;
· We expect timely communication between the centre and the states;
· We expect effective supervision in administrative conduct of state leaderships.
That way we shall be on our way to success, by the grace of God.
Again I wish to congratulate you on your choice and wish you successful tenure and our party success.
General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR
 

The Ekiti Saga: The Road To Tyranny And Anarchy By Senator George Akume

 

Thursday the 10th of June 2014 will remain a very frightening and disturbing day in the history of democracy in this country since 1999. The nation woke up to the incredible news that the military “had barred all APC Governors from entering and attending the APC Governorship grand rally for their Ekiti State colleague, Dr. John Kayode Fayemi. There was also an alleged threat by soldiers to shoot one of the APC Governors-Rotimi Amaechi in the process. It was like a coup d’état rehearsal by soldiers in a Banana Republic. Whichever way one looks at this saga, it represents a major threat to democracy and dangerous drift towards total anarchy in Nigeria.
It will be recalled that only a week ago, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan led all PDP Governors and other stakeholders to the same Ekiti State for a similar rally for the PDP Candidate, Ayo Fayose. No PDP Governor was stopped or harassed and the incumbent APC Governor provided all the needed security for the rally to hold successfully in the true spirit of democracy and fair play. The PDP rally was successfully held with fanfare.
It is shocking and embarrassing that soldiers (not even the Police) will invade the state to not only frustrate a reciprocal rally by the APC but to also assault some of the APC Governors in the process. The questions to pose are:– could the soldiers have acted without the knowledge of their Commander-in-Chief? Where did they take their orders from? Is their action in tandem with their avowed loyalty to defend democracy in the country or an attempt to introduce a new system of government? To sum it all, is their action in conformity with the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which the Armed Forces have sworn to uphold? Or is it a wake up call of what to expect in 2015?
BREACH OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
Sections 40, 41 and 42 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) guarantees freedom of movement and freedom from discrimination respectively for all citizens of this country. For the avoidance of doubt;
S.40 provides “Every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests.”
This right is only subject to the powers of the INEC and not any other authority. The restriction of APC Governors in this case was not at the instance of INEC.
S.41 specifically guarantees that “Every citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof ….” without molestation.
This right is only subject to a law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society for restricting the movement of a criminal suspect to prevent him from leaving Nigeria.
S.42 provides that a citizen of Nigeria of particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person, be subjected to any restrictions to which citizens of other political opinions are not subjected to in the application of any law. Conversely, no citizen of a particular opinion shall be accorded privilege or advantage above others of a different political opinion in the application of any law. This is aimed at providing level playing field for the opposition in a democracy.
What has happened in Ekiti State has brought to the fore a major challenge to democracy and has raised the fundamental question as to whether we are prepared to be ruled by law or by anarchy. If this can happen to Governors who enjoy some level of immunity, what is the fate of the common man? Where is the assurance that we may not wake up one day only to lose our democracy and country?
I wish to appeal to Mr. President to respond to this situation promptly, appropriately and decisively before it gets out of control. It is a grave security situation that is capable of throwing the whole democratic process upside down sooner than can be imagined. It is a warning to all, not just APC. Nigerians must learn from the Arab spring, the experiences of Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia etc.
We must appreciate that the beauty of any democracy is opposition. The road to tyranny must be very stiffly resisted. Our leaders of today must avoid threading the ways of the likes of Charles Taylor and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia to the International Criminal Court of Justice after they have left office.
INEC should equally wake-up and respond to this call appropriately and decisively to ensure that they are no intimidated by soldiers or any authority in the conduct of all elections. They must ensure that elections are not only free and fair but seen to be conducted in a free and fair atmosphere.
God help us to remain a free, democratic and indivisible country.

Senator George Akume
Senate Minority Leader.     
 

Presidency and Military's Impunity: APC Addresses World Press Conference In Lagos


Democracy In Danger As Nigeria Comes Under Creeping Fascism

 Being the text of a World Press Conference addressed by the National Chairman of the
All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Oyegun, in Lagos on Friday, June 20th 2014

Gentlemen of the press,
I have called this World Press Conference today to alert Nigerians and our international friends of the grave threat posed to our democracy and indeed the very survival of our nation by an increasingly-tyrannical federal government.
Less than 48 hours after I released an open letter to President Goodluck Jonathan, warning him to halt the impunity in Ekiti and not to plunge Nigeria into a political crisis, the federal government has now overreached itself and turned Ekiti into a war zone, where constitutional guaranteed rights have been suspended.
|| "If an army captain and his troops can enforce unlawful orders, as was done when Governor Amaechi and other key leaders of our party were denied their constitutionally-guaranteed rights of free movement, free assembly and free speech, just to mention a few, can't the same troops be given orders to hijack ballot boxes or tamper with the electoral process in Ekiti on Saturday?"
|| "We state clearly that our party will not accept the outcome of any election in Ekiti State that does not comply with the best practices. The people of Ekiti must be allowed to vote freely and without molestation for the candidates of their choice on Saturday, and the votes must not only be counted, but they must count."
The final electioneering campaign of our candidate in the Ekiti election, Gov. Kayode Fayemi, on Thursday 19th of June, 2014, provided the perfect setting for the Jonathan-led administration to bare its fangs with a series of arbitrariness and unconstitutional acts that threaten the very fabric of our democracy...
First, several APC Governors were prevented from attending the rally. The helicopter that was to ferry Gov. Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State from Benin to Akure was denied permission to take off by the aviation authorities apparently acting on "orders from above".
Then while the plane bearing Gov. Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, who is also the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors' Forum, was allowed to land at the Akure Airport, his convoy was stopped by soldiers at the border of Ondo and Ekiti state, and ordered to return to Akure by the leader of the troops, an army captain who said he was under orders not to allow him into Ado Ekiti and threatened to shoot him if he defied his orders.
Gov. Amaechi was detained along the road in the bush for as long as it suited the soldiers before he was forced to return to Akure. While the Governor was being detained on the road, the convoys of the Minister of Police Affairs and the Minister of State for Defence sped past and were not stopped by the troops.
But the worst was yet to come. On arrival in Akure Airport, he found out that the airport has been shut, leaving him stranded. By the time other Governors, including Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and Ibikunle Amosun of Rivers, and party leaders including myself, Chief Bisi Akande and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu arrived at the Akure Airport for their onward journey to their various destinations, they discovered that the airport has been shut, apparently on the same nebulous ''orders from above''.
Thus, all the party leaders and supporters who came to the rally from across the country, including Sokoto, Abuja, Kano, Owerri, Port Harcourt and Lagos, were forced to travel by road back to their destinations, with the dangers inherent in such night journey.
Against the background of my narration, and the over-militarization of Ekiti State ahead of Saturday's election, many questions come to mind
1. If one of the candidates in the election could be prevented from holding his final rally with the full compliment of his party leaders and supporters, a treatment that was not meted out to other candidates, can we honestly say that a level playing field has been provided for all the candidates in the election?
2. If a state Governor, despite the high office he occupies and the constitutional immunity from arrest which he enjoys, could be detained and ordered around by security agents, what fate will befall ordinary Nigerians under this administration that is increasingly sliding into fascism?
3. If key institutions of state can be abused so brazenly just to stop the opposition from moving freely because of a state governorship election, what will happen during next year's general elections?
4. Where in the world are airports shut at the whims and caprice of the ruling party just to punish the opposition? Is it not true that in recent times, the airports in Kano and Gombe, among others, have been shut just to prevent the opposition from using them?
5. If an army captain and his troops can enforce unlawful orders, as was done when Gov. Amaechi and other key leaders of our party were denied their constitutionally-guaranteed rights of free movement, free assembly and free speech, just to mention a few, can't the same troops be given orders to hijack ballot boxes or tamper with the electoral process in Ekiti on Saturday?
Doesn't this give a cause for concern in view of the over-militarization of Ekiti State ostensibly to provide security for the election but now obviously to stifle the process and rig the election?
6. Is President Jonathan aware of the treatment being meted out to elected Governors under his watch. If so, what is he doing to stop this madness before it gets out of hand?
These are some of the questions agitating our minds and, indeed, the minds of all Nigerians.
Now, let us place the events of the past 24 hours side by side with the events of the past few days leading to the elections in Ekiti viz:
1. On June 8th 2014: Our supporters, armed with nothing but brooms, were engaged in a peaceful procession on the streets of Ado Ekiti when they were attacked by gun-totting policemen acting on ''orders'' from above. One of them was killed and when Gov. Kayode Fayemi attempted to intervene, he was teargassed and threatened with arrest by the Mopol Commander
2. Within the past three days, two aircraft, one a Beechcraft 1900 and another a Hawker 900, made a total of three trips to the Akure airport ferrying cargoes of money for the Ekiti election. When one of these cargoes burst open, naira notes with wrappers bearing the name of a popular bank spilled out. The offloading of these cargoes, which were then loaded into bullion vans heading for Ado-Ekiti, was supervised by Minister of State for Defence, Mr. Musiliu Obanikoro, as widely reported in the media and yet unrefuted. Placed against the background of a statement credited to a PDP leader that huge amounts of money have been made available by the FG for the Ekiti election, this raises huge concerns.
3. Last week,over 200 boxes of electoral materials were intercepted by security agents in Ekiti. INEC quickly claimed that the boxes contained wasted materials, contradicting the story by the driver of the vehicle carrying the materials. To date, Nigerians have yet to be provided with full and credible information on these suspicious materials.
4. On June 18th, a pro-Fayose and PDP gang was busted in a resort owned by Fayose's Campaign Manager thump printing ballot papers ahead of Saturday's election. The 22 young men, who were arrested, were also caught preparing INEC form EC8.
5. Under the guise of providing security for the election, Ekiti State has been turned to a war zone, with thousands of armed policemen and troops as well as fearsome armoured personnel carriers dotting the entire Ekiti landscape. Never before has an election been held under such armed invasion! The truth is that security for any election does not have to be so invasive, except it is programmed to achieve one thing and one thing only: to intimidate voters!
Against this background, my party, the APC, doubts very seriously whether a free, fair, credible and transparent elections can be held in Ekiti on Saturday .
Beyond the elections, we are concerned that the PDP-led federal government has grown so desperate to capture Ekiti State at all cost that it is willing to do anything, and I mean anything, to scuttle the electoral process and even threaten the very survival of our country.
In view of this, we have resolved to:
1. Alert all Nigerians to the antics of the federal government in witch-hunting the opposition through an egregious abuse of power as well as abuse of national institutions. We urge all the good people of our dear nation to speak out against this unprecedented acts of desperation and impunity. Never in the history of our democracy has a sitting Governor been so shabbily treated as was meted out to Gov. Amaechi on Thursday. Not even in the days of the abhorrent military rule were such brazen abuse of national institutions committed by the federal government.
2. We call on our international partners to condemn this growing impunity by the ruling party and the government it controls at the centre. Actions have consequences, and whoever fails to condemn the acts of impunity being perpetrated by the central government will not have the moral right to condemn the reactions that such actions may elicit.
3. We state clearly that our party will not accept the outcome of any election in Ekiti State that does not comply with the best practices. The people of Ekiti must be allowed to vote freely and without molestation for the candidates of their choice on Saturday, and the votes must not only be counted, but they must count.
Also, we want to call the attention of Nigerians to the fact that under the Electoral Act, troops are not supposed to be deployed to polling stations. Also, police personnel deployed to polling booths are not expected to carry arms. All these stipulations of the Electoral Act must be strictly adhered to on Saturday.
We also have it on good authority that a detachment of troops will be sent to the Ekiti State House on Saturday to escort Gov. Fayemi to vote and then put him under virtual house arrest thereafter. This is totally unacceptable.
Finally we need to ask: What is the role of the Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, in the Ekiti election? Is he now the chief enforcer for the PDP? It is important to clarify this issue.
4. We urge President Goodluck Jonathan to live up to his pledge, made several times over, that he would always ensure that elections held under his watch are free and fair, and that his ambition is not worth the life of any Nigerian. The President should call his dogs of war to order before their precipitate a serious crisis in Ekiti.
5. We remind the President not to allow Nigeria to unravel under his watch, through acts of omission or commission. We urge him to take a lesson from history, and to realize that the crisis of 1965, 1983 and 1993 all started from the South-west over elections that were either manipulated or annulled. Our country is still reeling from the effects of those crises and we cannot afford to plunge the nation into another crisis.
6 Finally, we urge the good people of Ekiti to go out and vote massively for the candidates of their choice on Saturday. They should not allow the overwhelming presence of security agents to intimidate them, if that is what their deployment was programmed meant to achieve. They must defend their votes to the hilt and reject any attempt by a band of desperadoes to choose their leaders for them. After all, ultimate power flows from the people.
Chief John Oyegun
National Chairman, All Progressives Congress (APC)
Lagos, June 20th 2014
 
 

TEXT OF THE ADDRESS BY BRIGADIER-GENERAL IBRAHIM A. SABO (rtd), CHAIRMAN, PRESIDENTIAL FACT-FINDING COMMITTEE ON THE ABDUCTION OF CHIBOK SCHOOLGIRLS, AT THE PRESENTATION OF THE COMMITTEE’S REPORT, AT STATE HOUSE, ASO VILLA, ABUJA; ON FRIDAY, JUNE 20, 2014.

JONATHANIANS SHOULD NOW ACCEPT THAT THE CHIBOK GIRLS WERE INDEED ABDUCTED: Their fact-finding committee chairman speaks:

Protocol
On the 6th of May, this year, Your Excellency, Mr President, inaugurated a Fact-finding Committee on the mass abduction that took place in the small hours of the 14th of April, 2014, at Government Secondary School, Chibok, in Borno State. In defining the mandate of the Committee, Your Excellency’s directive was as clear as crystal. On that occasion, you stated unequivocally that the Committee was neither a judicial, nor an administrative panel of inquiry.
2. Your Excellency also stated that the Committee’s work was not a substitute for on-going efforts by the security and intelligence agencies to secure freedom for the schoolgirls, who were forcibly snatched from their hostels where they resided while writing their West African Senior School Certificate examinations.
3. After five weeks of work, the Fact-finding Committee is now ready to submit its report. The report, which the Committee is presenting today, covers the six terms of reference that guided the Committee’s work. These were to liaise with the Borno State Government and establish the circumstances leading to the school remaining open for boarding students when other schools were closed; to liaise with relevant authorities and parents of the missing girls to establish the actual number and identities of the girls abducted; and to ascertain how many of the abducted students have returned. The Committee was also mandated to mobilize the surrounding communities and general public on citizen support for a rescue strategy and support, as well as articulate a framework for a multi-stakeholder action for the rescue effort. The final term of reference allowed the Committee the latitude to advise Government on any matter incidental to the assignment.
4. Let me use this opportunity to express the Committee’s gratitude to the numerous sources and stakeholders with whom the Committee interfaced in the course of its fact-finding mission. The Committee’s interactions took place in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja; Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, as well as Chibok.
5. I wish to put on record that the Presidential Fact-finding Committee received the full co-operation of all the stakeholders. In addition to nominating three representatives who participated actively in the proceedings of the Committee, the state government also facilitated access to a number of stakeholders. Indeed, the Committee interacted with persons and groups considered relevant to the realisation of our fact-finding mandate. The singular exception was a Senator from Borno who, after agreeing to an appointment with the Committee, turned around to avoid the meeting, on the excuse that he had another appointment, and would thereafter be unavailable for another one month, or so. Not that his non-appearance has materially, or in any way, affected the outcome of the Committee’s findings. But the Senator’s avoidance of an interface with the Committee may well speak to a motive not too difficult to discern.
6. Your Excellency, in carrying out its assignment, the Committee was not unmindful of the circumstances that led to the Committee’s composition and inauguration. After Boko Haram struck at Chibok on the 14th of April, this year, there were varying and conflicting accounts of what happened, and even more so of the number of persons affected by the unspeakable atrocities on that night of April the 14th.
7. As most Nigerians already know, there were some persons who doubted whether, in fact, any student was abducted from Government Secondary School, Chibok. On the other hand, for those who believed that there was abduction, there were lingering doubts as to how such a number of kidnap victims were conveyed, considering also that information was sparse as to how the raiding insurgents evacuated the victims.
8. Mr President, the Committee here wishes to lay to rest any residual doubt whether or not any student was abducted at Chibok. There was mass abduction on the night of 14th April, 2014. During the siege on the school, 119 students escaped from the school premises, before the insurgents took away their classmates. A total number of 276 students were, thus, abducted. As of today, 57 of the abducted students have been reunited with their families after escaping along the zig-zag transport route taken by the insurgents, or by bolting to safety when the insurgents laid-by for a rest. Sadly, 219 students remain unaccounted for.
9. Details of the circumstances of Government Secondary School, Chibok, remaining open, in spite of the ravages of Boko Haram in the state, are contained in the report of the Committee. Also contained in the report is the detailed explanation of the pain-staking measures taken by the Committee in arriving at the number of students still to be accounted for.
10. Permit me, Mr President, to convey the burning hope, wishes, and fervent prayers of the parents and relatives of the abducted schoolgirls, who desire that their daughters and wards be rescued alive and reunited with their families.
11. But there is no mistaking the trauma and deep-seated fear of some of the schoolgirls, who escaped from the Boko Haram abductors. The parents and guardians of the schoolgirls are no less gripped by nagging worries over the incident. On May 29th, the Committee visited Chibok, where we interacted with community members and leaders, as well as parents and four of the girls who regained their freedom from the abductors. Tried as we could, the four girls were hesitant to discuss the full details of their experience, citing the fear of possible reprisals from Boko Haram elements. In fact, parents of other girls who escaped were hidden from the public glare, also because of the fear of reprisals.
12. Nevertheless, in the course of the Committee seeking to mobilize the surrounding communities and general citizenry, to support a rescue strategy and operation, the point was also made about the dicey nature of the kidnap situation. The schoolgirls are in the hands of insurgents whose record of wanton destruction of life and property in the North-East of the country is well known. The Committee has articulated options in the rescue strategy, and these are contained in our report.
13. The Committee’s report has also raised and addressed a number of issues that are incidental to the Committee’s terms of reference. These incidental matters deal with insurgency in general, as well as the military-political responses that are vital to overcoming the current security challenges.
14. However, although the Committee has already begun the process of mobilizing the communities, in tandem with term of reference number four, it is as yet unfinished business. Achieving more worthwhile outcomes in this regard will require more time and a more compact team than the current time-frame and composition of the Committee permit. Recommendations on the way forward are detailed in our report.
15. In conclusion, the Committee members and I would like to express our gratitude for the opportunity to have undertaken this assignment in a very trying moment in our country’s history. We are, nevertheless, pained that the schoolgirls remain in captivity. The hostage situation that this represents is obviously delicate.
16. Much as Nigerians and the rest of the world have been galvanized to drum up support for freedom for the Chibok schoolgirls, little will be achieved through finger-pointing. Getting the girls out, and safely, too, is by far more important than the publicity generated by the blame game that has tended to becloud the issue.
17. In view of the detailed security findings and recommendations contained in the report, we advise that in order not to jeopardise on-going rescue efforts and also the possibility of compromising National Security matters, we recommend that the report be treated with utmost confidentiality. This, however, does not preclude Government from releasing information that may be useful for better public understanding of issues surrounding the abduction saga.
18. On behalf of myself and members of the Committee, it is now my honour and privilege to present to you, Mr President, the Report of the Presidential Fact-finding Committee on the Abduction of the Chibok Schoolgirls.
Brigadier-Gen. Ibrahim A. Sabo (rtd)
20th June, 2014
 

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Stop Refrigerating These Foods!

Ever notice how many of the fruits and vegetables you buy aren’t in the coolers or refrigerated section of the store, but somehow they end up in the fridge when you get home? Maybe many of us are just creatures of habit (bad habit), but if no one ever told you, let me be the first to say that there are some foods that SHOULD NOT  be refrigerated. Here’s a list of 10 you don’t need to refrigerate and how you should store them instead.
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onions

1. Onions
Scallions and chives are safe in the fridge (whew!), but moisture will cause onions to soften and become moldy. This is why you should store onions in a cool, dry place and AWAY from potatoes. Potatoes give off moisture and gases that cause onions to rot faster.
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