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Monday, 30 May 2016

Professor Who Plotted Armed Struggle Against Abacha Dying Of Cancer

He is a Professor of Anatomy, practised medicine and worked in some of the world’s best hospitals and universities. In 1995, Prof Adesegun Adebanjo, younger brother to the late Col. Victor Banjo, bought  arms worth millions of dollars with his entire life savings. He was shipping them to Nigeria with the hope of starting a war of liberation for the Yoruba and Itsekiri nations, when his dream was cut short by Beninoise gendarmes. Adebanjo now lives in extremely poor conditions. Worse still, he is battling with cancer without succour. He speaks with Adewale Adeoye in an exclusive interview. Prof. Adesegun Adebanjo
It is now 20 years since your arrest in Benin Republic over the June 12 annulled election. How do you see Nigeria’s democratic experience since your return?
Our major problem is rooted in our differences and the futile attempt to build a nation out of many nations. For a long time right from independence, the ethnic groups have always had different agenda. This is why we hardly can develop given the structure and superstructure of Nigeria. Since independence, the fundamental problems are the same. You need to see what is going on all over the world, while Nigeria continues to squelch in the mud with an illusion of development. Nothing fundamental has changed since 1999. For me, what I saw in 1962 on the streets in the South West convinced me that there is a section of the country that has the agenda to bring the whole country under its domination. Imagine, we had to fight 38 years of military rule and nothing fundamental has changed.
What propelled you to take such deadly risk of arms struggle during the June 12 crisis?
Before then, I had witnessed series of events during the operation wetie in the South West. I saw how soldiers of Northern origin shot and killed my people with glee. I was  living witness. I saw people shot and the soldiers were laughing. During the June 12 crisis, I was in the United States and a friend told me that they had a good intelligence report that the June 12 election result would be annulled.  I came back into the country. One day on the streets of Lagos, people came out in large numbers to protest. Suddenly, I again saw these same non-Yoruba soldiers open fire on innocent people. A lot of people fell and there was a stream of blood. The soldiers were excited. They were so happy. It happened around the Yaba area. I was a witness. Then I told myself that this had to stop. It was that day I said that the Yoruba people must fight back.
How did you organise the armed resistance?
Throughout that week, I was ill. It was sickening. I had depression due to the killings of the people that I saw on the streets of Lagos. I went back to the US. Then at a conference on poor nations that I attended in Philadelphia, there was a debate on whether Nigeria’s debt should be written off. I spoke and said that the debts should be written off. Then one adviser to President Bill Clinton stood up and said that Nigeria is one of the richest countries in the world and that one person can write off the debt. He said the solution was for Nigerians to change their leaders. Then one Fulani man stood up and said his people were born to rule and that there was no point changing the leaders. He said handing over power to the South was like committing suicide. I got up again and said that we were going to resist the hegemony and fight. He thought it was a joke. I put aside my medical research. I started reading books about dictators, about wars, about guerilla warfare. I read about Adolf Hitler, about the revolutions across the world. In the past, I had personal contact with some of the dictators like Idi Amin. I knew him. I was a lecturer at Makerere University. I also knew Museveni who was my junior in the school. I started reading about different types of arms, how to procure and ship them. I read about training guerilla and the theory and practice of combat. I pushed away all the medical books. The question then was: Will the average Yoruba person fight? So, I came back to Nigeria and started scientific research on whether or not the Yoruba would fight. I was amazed to discover that many Yoruba people were ready to carry guns and fight for their liberation. I discovered that 90 percent of people I interviewed were ready to fight if armed. I discovered that even old women and people above 70 years were ready to fight if armed.
How did you raise the money?
It was my entire savings in the US, about 4million dollars. It’s really not about money, but about determination. Museveni started with only five people. He had only one pistol. All you need is a core group of committed people. So I invited some people in Nigeria, they were enthusiastic, but when the issue of arms came, slowly, slowly, they backed down. I decided to lie low for months, then started with another group. In planning, you train ten people; the ten will train another ten people. In guerilla army, you don’t train too many people. You train them on how to access and recruit more people. So, I spent my savings on buying the arms. I bought rifles, AK-47, which is a very good rifle. If you put it in water, it would stay there for years. I bought SKS; with that you could shoot from long distance of about 1000 meters, equipped with laser beam, telescope and silencer. I bought Uzi, the Israeli weapon you could keep under your Agbada. We had machines that could cut arms too and several medical utility. I was bringing the weapons, when I was arrested in Benin Republic.
What happened, how were you arrested?
At Cotonoue, we were asked to deposit 5,000 dollars. The other option was to off-load and bring them by trailers. One custom rating saw the stub of a gun in the carton and decided to pull it out. He sent it to the gendarmes. They pounced on the containers. I was not there then. I was in Nigeria. My comrades said I should not show up in Cotononue, that they would go there and take responsibility. That was an error. One mistake I made was to go there. I came forward, with my wife, Ngozi. They ransacked the containers throughout the night. We had bullets that could penetrate armoured tanks or steel. The Benin Republic soldiers saw the weapons, but they had no such weapons in their own armoury. They actually did not know how to use the weapons. I was later arrested and detained with my comrade wife.
How did they treat you in detention?
It was traumatic. We were given gari to eat for the over one year.
Did the Sani Abacha regime get to know about your plans and what did he do?
Immediately Abacha heard, the Beninoise authorities told us Abacha was scared. He sent Col Frank Omenka of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, (DMI). The first thing they did was to arrest members of my household, including my younger brother. We were informed that Abacha could no longer sleep. He sent emissaries to me, offering 100 million dollars to the government of the Republic of Benin, to bring me back to Nigeria. The military high command in Benin Republic held a meeting and said ‘Let this man go.” But the then President of Benin Republic, said “No, we won’t allow him to go.” A top military officer came to relay everything to us that Abacha had given them 100m dollars to bring me back into Nigeria and for me to give up arms struggle. I was about to be brought to Nigeria; it was President Bill Clinton who intervened and asked Benin Republic not to deport me to Nigeria on human right grounds. The top military officer then told us that Abacha was planning to invade Benin Republic. He said this prompted the US government to send two war ships into Benin Republic, though it was said that the Clinton administration was so worried over how someone could have taken so much arms out of the US without the knowledge of the FBI or the CIA. The US intelligence community felt it was an extraordinary venture. Clinton called President Neociphoe Soglo on phone, telling him not to send us back, that if he did, he would be sending us to death. I was then taken to Wida, in the North of Benin Republic. I was begged not to escape since “you are bringing money to our country.” Each time Benin was broke, they would ask Abacha for funds, which he gladly released.
How did you secure your release?
We were not registered as prisoners, because under the ECOWAS rule, what we had were goods in transit; they could only be accompanied to the border, not opened or seized. Benin Republic had no right to inspect the goods. So, the detention was illegal. We were taken to court later and charged for attempt to overthrow the government of Benin Republic, but they had no evidence. The judge, a Yoruba woman later released us. But the Beninoise President, Soglo called the judge and asked her to order our detention.  It was Abacha at work.  I said this was wrong. She said it was political. We stayed for several extra months. Mathew Kerekou had become the President and the country could not pay salaries of its soldiers and police. Using us as blackmail bait, they rushed to Abacha for money again. After the third adjournment, we were released. It was Moshood Fayemiwo, a Nigerian journalist, then Publisher of Razor Magazine and former Students’ Union President of the University of Lagos that assisted me in escaping to Ghana and later to Uganda and then to Zimbabwe. It was in Ghana that I met other exiles like Dr Bunmi Aborisade who now lectures at the Afe Babalola University. He was declared wanted by Abacha regime, and many others that took refuge in Ghana at the time. In Benin Republic, there were lots of traitors. One of them was an official of the United Nations who took money from Abacha and promised he would ensure our capture.
Did Abacha stop pursuing you after your escape to Ghana?
No. As soon as we escaped to Ghana, Abacha was after us. A meeting was facilitated between me and Abacha’s aides. The meeting was held in Ghana, where Abacha’s agents offered me 50million dollars to call off the arms struggle. They asked for my account number and that the money would be paid in days. The Abacha agent said everybody has a price and that I should take the 50million dollars. He said “I have permission to offer you even a billion naira if you can give up arms struggle.”
Your arms were seized. You had no money. Why didn’t you take the 50m dollars offer?
No. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself, with my conscience. I just told him, no deal. At the negotiating table, the Fulani man said something I will never forget. He said “I’m Hausa-Fulani, for the first time I have met a Nigerian who cannot be bought.” I was contented. The game was not over. Abacha continued his witch-hunt. He sacked over 200 soldiers of Yoruba extraction. He took the Yoruba as his enemy. I had to flee to Uganda.
When did you return to Nigeria?
I came back in June 1999.
How have you been coping?
It’s been really tough. I’m now suffering from a type of leukemia. It is a kind of cancer that affects parts of the blood cells when it goes crazy. They displace some cells in the marrow.
What happened? How did you discover that you had cancer?
It happened some years ago when I travelled to the United States. It was through a routine check that the physician discovered that I had this kind of blood cancer.
How have you been treating the disease?
It requires a costly treatment like all cancers and I don’t have any money. The drugs are expensive. You need Ritusimah or Ritusin or Bendamusin. One vile is 10,000 dollars. I will need about six vile. It is a specially prepared drug which kills the cancer cells that contain CB 20. I need series of treatments over a period of six months. The experts have said that I need between six to eight million naira, going by the various drugs and the tests. There are so many cancers of the blood. This is just one variety of the blood cancer.
Does it mean that no help has been forthcoming from any one?
Well, I have not told many people. I thought I could raise money from friends but they are not forthcoming.
One would expect you to have had some savings, having worked for so many years as a Professor of Human Anatomy?
I worked at the Obafemi Awolowo University as a lecturer until the early 1990s. But I didn’t get my gratuity. I worked at a private university; I also was not paid my entitlements. I have worked all my years without entitlements. The one I got in the US was what I plunged into the liberation struggle.
You are the immediate younger brother of the late Col Victor Banjo. What do you think of his place in history?
There have been a lot of distortions about Nigerian history. For instance, Prof Grace Alele Williams, when the Federal Government gave her an award, was listed as the first Nigerian woman professor. This is not correct. My elder sister who is still alive, Prof Adetoun, is the first woman Professor in Nigeria and in Africa. My eldest brother, Dr Ademola Adebanjo, was the first General Manager of the old Electricity Commission of Nigeria, the precursor of National Electricity Power Authority, NEPA. He was the best student in the world among those who sat for the London GCE in 1948. My immediate elder brother, Col Victor Banjo, was a brilliant engineer and soldier. He was the first Nigerian military engineer. He was arrested and detained by Gen Aguiyi Ironsi. He found himself on the side of Odumegwu Ojukwu. I can tell you that Col Banjo was responsible for the design of all the locally made military weapons of Biafra. He did the design and construction: the bunker, the armoured tanks and all the ingenuity. He was an engineer and was responsible for converting tractors and other equipment into military equipment in Biafra. He was instrumental to the building of Ojukwu bunker as an engineer. Biafra has failed to acknowledge his skill and inventions and in fact consciously subverted it. He was one of the best graduating students of his set in England.
Why did he lead the campaign to invade his own fatherland?
The Yoruba had very few people in the then Nigerian fighting force. This is the first time I’m releasing this information. The first Nigerian Engineering Ordinance was to be established in Ibadan, Col Banjo was to be the head. The idea was to manufacture military weapons locally in Ibadan. During the war before he came to Ore, my brother had plans to defend and protect the Yoruba people, even as Northern soldiers were stationed across Yorubaland. Col Banjo made secret arrangement to ship arms into Yorubaland from one of the Nordic countries. The arms were actually on board. He was working on establishing the first military ordinance in Yorubaland. He had also started to train about 200 members of a core group that would defend Yorubaland under his command. I think at a point……..(breaks the conversation)”
When was the last time you saw Col Banjo before his unfortunate execution?
He was executed by Col Odumegwu Ojukwu. I saw him some months before he was detained. But we were communicating with him throughout the time of his detention until he was murdered by Biafra.
Did you ever find out where he was buried?
We did our own private investigation.  He was buried in Enugu. We know.
As it is now, what is your dream of a greater Nigeria?
For development to make any meaning in Nigeria, we must go back to the old regions. We need a loose federation. The emergence of any decent or honest man as president is not the issue. There is something fundamentally wrong with the foundation. We need to rebuild the foundation for any meaningful development to take place. The world has left us behind. For instance, scientists have just discovered the gene that is responsible for aging and they want to tamper with it to be able to increase the lifespan of man. Here, we are still talking about basic needs like light, water; what kind of development is that?  What we have are people looting the country dry and blind without sanctions. For me, I’m most concerned with the Yoruba people and their leaders. We must realise that freedom is not free. People who desire freedom must be able to make sacrifices. We cannot get the best without fighting for the best, without suffering, without sweat, without making sacrifices, if possible, death. If we want good life without any effort, it is like expecting to harvest without planting and tilling the soil. There is nothing more difficult to handle today, nor more daunting, nor more inevitable than to establish a new order in Nigeria, through restructuring for regional autonomy.

Rewane asks: How come militants returned after Buhari stepped up anti-graft war?


Bismarck Rewane, a renowned economist, is bothered by the resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta region, wondering why the attacks on oil installations started after the current administration “stepped up its anti-graft war”.
Speaking on a special edition of Politics Today, a programme on Channels Television, Rewane encouraged the government to focus more on intelligence gathering because the attacks could be a “massive conspiracy”.
“Who are the avengers and what are they avenging? The Niger Delta struggle was about self determination, resource control, about environmental pollution, all the way from Isaac Boro to Ken Saro Wiwa,” he said.
“The destruction of assets at this time happen to coincide with the step up on the anti-corruption war. Is there a link between the anti-graft war and the militancy? What is this all about? There’s a riddle that needs to be unravelled.”
Rewane said the attacks have been more disturbing because oil installations where Nigeria generates huge revenues have been the main targets.
He said the disruption in oil production is capable of affecting the economic programmes of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
“The reality is that the disruption of oil production and its impact on our fiscal revenue and our foreign exchange resources, on our exchange rate, and our external reserves is profound. Really huge!” he said.
“Now, what is more disturbing is that oil assets that have been disrupted are those where Nigeria gets it highest revenue, so the impact on the fiscal revenue of Nigeria is beyond comprehension.
“One asks the question: ‘Who are these people, and what do they want?’ Is this a proxy war for the politically disgruntled? Because this is a very elaborate attack, they go deep into the water, and they are well sophisticated. These are not people who are talking about amnesty.
“So, we need to talk about intelligence. There could be a massive conspiracy. This is crunch time for Nigeria. The last thing we need now as a bullet in our head is a drop in production.”
Analysing the different reactions that trailed the increase in the pump price of petrol under the previous and the present administrations, Rewane said while former President Goodluck Jonathan had “trust and fiscal deficits”, his successor had “a trust surplus and a fiscal deficit”.
Rewane explained that labour unions could not organise a successful strike under Buhari because of “trust surplus”, but advised the president to work on “fiscal deficit”.
“The reason why this time the strike on petroleum failed was because the president has what is called a trust surplus, but has a fiscal deficit. The combination of both made sure that everything failed,” he said.
“What Jonathan had was a trust deficit and a fiscal deficit. What is happening now is that because of the trust surplus, we’ve been able to right that but the trust surplus is being used and you have to build on that and you have to reduce that fiscal deficit as you go along, so there’s an equilibrium there.”
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I lost my wife, son, money to pro-democracy struggle — Prof. Banjo


Banjo
Professor Adesegun Banjo, a medical doctor and scientist, who launched an armed struggle against the military junta of General Sani Abacha tells KAYODE FALADE about his foray into guerrilla warfare, his incarceration at the Republic of Benin prisons and his health challenges. He refused to mention a lot of names in the interview
How did you get involved in the armed struggle for Nigeria’s democracy?
I am an academician. But a lot of people make mistakes; they think academicians are people who just stay in their laboratories. I am a scientist, we feel everything they do and we are conscious of what is going on in our country.
As young chaps in the university, we all had ambition. Mine was to be a medical doctor and scientist. But I was politically conscious because I attended Ibadan Grammar School which was in the seat of (Chief Obafemi) Awolowo’s government. Thus, we saw everything and were aware of everything. I was aware of the arrest of about 31 members of the Action Group.  I was aware of the “Operation wetie” and all the fight with the Yoruba. It was at that time that I thought that one day, we might have to fight the northerners who the British government handed power to. I believe in one Nigeria because I realise that the greater a nation is, the more powerful. Small nations have no power; they have to align themselves with bigger countries to be powerful. And that is why in those days, the Western powers decided that Africa must not be developed. In the 60’s when African nations were clamouring for independence, the West made a declaration that Asia and African nations would remain raw-material producing countries and receptors of finished products. But China developed. India, Pakistan, Malaysia have all developed. So only Africa has failed to develop. Nigeria is the key to African development. If Nigeria develops, Africa develops.
 I was aware of all these. I also attended Oxford University where I learnt about British manoeuvring, their foreign policies towards Africa. I was the first Nigerian to get in the Elite Class of 14 in medical school.
Then came June 12, 1993 when the freest and fairest election held in Nigeria was won by Chif MKO Abiola . The election was later annulled. But before this, my friends in America had told me that Abiola would not be allowed to be the president. I asked why and they explained that though he won the election, the Hausa Fulani rule would continue. I told them that things had changed but they insisted that the election would be annulled. And true to what they said, the election was annulled. And there was no good reason given. It was only that the neo-colonialists never wanted a Westerner to be at the helms of affair. They wanted a continuation of the Hausa Fulani feudal rule which is similar to neo-colonialism.  Feudalism does not want the people to develop and neo-colonialism does not want countries to develop.
And in 1993, people were agitating and there were protests as people rose up in the South. Then one day, I was Ojuelegba in Lagos, people were protesting and the people were stoning the soldiers. Suddenly, the soldiers opened fire on the protesters and people fell. The soldiers stood afar giggling and pointing at the people who were on the ground bleeding dying and dead. Of course, I too went flat on the ground because that was the way to avoid gunshots.
And I thought in my mind, these people were shooting human beings and were laughing as if they were shooting games. I was terribly disturbed by that incident. Then I made a determination to fight. I realised that talking would not remove Abacha; we had to fight him with weapons. I asked myself the question, ‘will all these soldiers still continue to laugh if they were faced with weapons? And will they still continue to fight?’ From time immemorial, when people are faced with death, they ask themselves, what am I dying for?
I told myself that 90 per cent of these people shooting unarmed people down will run if faced by an armed group with equal or superior weapons. I doubt they did it because is Abacha worth dying for?
After this, I returned to the States where I was teaching and doing research. Around the early part of 1994, at a conference about writing-off the loans of poor countries, every one was leading for theirs to be written off, a certain man who turned out to be an adviser to President Bill Clinton on economy stood up and said if all loans were to be forgiven, Nigeria’s should not because Nigeria’s money was outside and only one Nigerian could pay off their country’s debt. As this was going on, I argued that still it was a debt that could be written off. But the man said that Nigeria was so rich and that her problem was her ruling class which should be changed.  And that if she did that, she might not even have to owe again because she was a very rich country. Then one fellow, a northerner, stood up and said, ‘We have ruled Nigeria since independence when the British that saw the rulership in us handed over to us. And we will continue to rule Nigeria because we are born to rule and to hand over to the South is to commit suicide.’ He said it with glee. I sat there boiling.
I got home that night and could not sleep. I then reviewed the history of Nigeria from 1914 till that time.
There and then, I decided that something drastic must be done. I decided that I was going to organise an armed struggle.
What did you do after?
I abandoned my research. I started buying and reading books about dictators, revolution and guerrilla warfare. I read so many books about arms struggle; various types of armed struggle: urban, guerrilla, and jungle; about Hitler and Genaral Franco. I knew Idi Amin personally. I also read about South American countries that were poor as ours. I studied all them and I noticed something common in all of them.
What is that?
It is the insatiable lust for power. One of the members of our organisation worked in the Aso Rock. He sat at every meeting and he told us a lot of things which could not be relayed. I read about the human psychology of arm struggle and  how to sell arm struggle. I also read about weapons and came to the conclusion that the best weapon for guerrilla warfare is the Russian AK47 assault rifle. You can drop it in a mud, pick it up and it will still fire. It is very easy to dismantle and reassemble. You don’t need to clean it as often as you must clean others. Another good gun is the Israeli uzi. These were the ones I chose and of course the berretta as handgun.
Also, I raised some money because I knew we needed money.
How much did you raise?
I raised about $60m. Some of it was mine. In fact, a major part of it was my life savings. Let’s look at it this way. To arm one guerrilla soldier adequately, one needs at least $10,000. He must have a gun, a pistol, bullet proof vest, bushdators, steel reinforced boots, a small camp pack. And since you are not going to buy these things officially, you buy in the black market which would be more expensive. I planned an army of 3,000 which is like $30m. Then, logistics, medicines, anti-snake venom serum, dressing, transport, communication equipment at least within the range of 10 miles and so on.
How did you raise this fund? Did you have external collaborators, and so on?
I never raised a kobo from Nigeria. I won’t be able to tell you in details how I raised the money. But some of it was my own money.
You can see the enormous money one had to spend. And I needed an army of about 3,000 people. I could not do it alone so, I had to inform some people. They were Yoruba. I needed a core group which could be only about 50 to 100 people. When you look at it, Fidel Catro started with 90 people but they were betrayed. Only seven of them escaped. They included Fidel, his brother who is now ruling, Raul; Che Guevara and a few others. In Uganda, it was started by five people, three of them died leaving Musseveni and another person. So you don’t need a high number of people to start. I planned to only get 50 highly trained and bring them to Nigeria to train others. We were fighting for the people so we didn’t have to kill them; we only needed to fight and kill those working for Abacha. We knew we had to fight the army but in a guerrilla warfare in that type of sceme, you hit and run away.
What now happened?
I had got 25 people. Surprisingly, the people I had recruited dropped out one after the other remaining three of us: a doctor friend of mine, my wife and I. It was the three of us that underwent the intense training by ex-American GIs I hired at a training camp I rented.
How old were you then?
I think I was 55 years old then.
Where did you recruit your people from?
We were all Yoruba living in the US. We were all discussing Abacha together and contemplating the arm struggle.
The fact that I had a family history helped me to raise funds. Many of them knew my late brother, the late Col. Victor Banjo. They were quizzical about the intention of some Nigerians who had come to raise money for that purpose and spent it on something else. In fact, I knew one who after raising funds to raise an arm struggle used the money to buy a house and a Rolls-Royce.
If this had not been so, I would have raised more.
How many people did you eventually raise?
I planned to raise funds to arm 3,000 but at the end of the day, the money I raised was able to arm more than that number. In fact, there was an organisation that eventually got through to me. After talks with them, they were able to supply arms that could arm half a million people.
How did you get to know this organisation?
I was in my lab one day when the phone rang and on picking up the receiver, a voice asked if I was Dr. Banjo. I answered in the affirmative. He now said, ‘we know what you are doing.’ I quickly dropped the receiver. He called back and assured me of the confidentiality of our discussion. He said if I was interested, I should come to a train station dressed in red. Exactly midday on the appointed day, I was there. A man got in touch with me and after some manuouvering, took me to a car which took me to their office. But I had a hood over my head.
At their office, I was informed that they were an oil company with interests in many other things. To cut a long story, short after offering to help my course, i asked what they wanted. Their simple answer was oil. They said if I eventually won, I would sell Nigerian oil to them. I told them that it was sold in an open market. But they said, no, that our oil was sold to some particular countries and people. It was the first time I got to know that oil was not just sold anyhow. I agreed.
What were your terms?
They introduced someone to me and asked me to draw a list. I thought I was having fun with them so I drew a list which contained all sorts of things like tanks, fighter helicopters, 5000 AKs or similar categories, 2,000 berretta, 3,000 uzis, armoured vehicles, Surface to Air Missiles and all sorts.  I was just having fun. But do you know they got them?
How did you take delivery?
No, I did not take delivery. But the ship got to the high seas in Lagos. I was taken to the ship in a motor boat. And I was shocked. Twenty tanks, five helicopter gunboats and when I saw the racks of guns I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Was that the shipment that was seized?
No, it was not. It was the one I routed through Cotonou, Republic of Benin that was seized. Thirty people came with the ship to train us. I was glad and a little scared. But I was arrested shortly after.
What became of the shipment?
When I was arrested, two of them came to the Cotonou prison to see me. I told them to wait for two weeks that I would soon be out.
However, when I realised that I was not going to be released as I thought, I sent word to Yoruba leaders to send some of our retired generals to come and see me in prison. I wanted to introduce them to these people so that they could take delivery of the consignment. Nobody came. After six weeks, they had to leave.
How were you captured?
I should not have come forward. I should have sent somebody else. My principle is that what I can’t do, I can’t send others.
What were the things inside the shipment that was seized?
A lot of things were there. They even included a bullet manufacturing machine. It could produce bullets for four types of guns: AK47, SKS, berretta pistol 9mm and double or single barrel shot guns. I also bought raw materials that could produce up to 500,000 bullets and 5,000 boxes of bullets, jungle camouflage, bulletproof vests, and ballistic helmets apart from guns.
How were you discovered?
It was the shipping company that sort of slowed us down. I routed it through Cotonou sea port.
Ordinarily they were not supposed to open the trailer that carried these arms, I paid N1.5m as bribe. On the day of the delivery, the agent of the sgipping company, a Denmark firm, said Nigerians didn’t usually return containers and that I should pay $5,000 for the container since it was a special one. I would have paid him but for the short time notice. So, I decided to get a trailer and offload the consignment into it. We got some dock workers and we started offloading. Unfortunately, unknown to us, one of the persons hired to join us was a security agent for the Republic of Benin. While offloading, he found the stock of a gun and he alerted the port’s security. It was not the gun itself but the stock. I bought some stock so that it could be folded and put under agbada. I didn’t know how he passed across the information to the Beninese Ports Authority. Suddenly, they pounced on us and seized the container. But I left when they seized the container. I should not have come back. I should have asked somebody else to come back.
Why did you come back?
I allowed myself to be persuaded that if they saw me, the commander would release the consignment. And he wanted to but for their president who insisted that I must not be released. We were not taken into custody until later in the evening. The thing happened in the morning. And I went away after. I told them I was coming back. That was my greatest undoing. Being a guerrilla leader entails a lot of responsibilities and if anything happens to him, that is the end of the struggle. That was the mistake I made. I allowed myself to be captured. But when they were offloading in the night, they found so many other things.
They had an executive meeting which before he left (head of the ports) to attend, he was hopeful for our release. But when he came back, he was looking gloomy. He said every other person voted that we should be released but President Sogolo (President of the Republic of Benin) insisted that we should be detained.
Why did he (Sogolo) do that?
We did not know. It was later that we learnt that President Sogolo allegedly received $100m from Abacha. Our existence was initially denied for 10 days. Then, we were taken to prison. And the torture started.
Were you tortured?
You think they didn’t torture us? I was tortured. I was beaten mercilessly and all sorts of unprintable things were done to us. Finally, they took me to Wida to kill me. Come and look at this. (He showed the correspondent a detailed diagram of the Wida Prisons and where he was kept).
What is the significance of the cell?
The cell was specially built for me. There was only a wall between my room and the huge prison septic tank. Faeces, fluid, maggots seeped through and covered everywhere. They pushed me there. Immediately, they pushed me in that night, I was stepping on maggots – millions of them. What a significant and ingenious way to kill a person!  There was no window, only some small slates. The gas that came in displaced the oxygen; hence there was no oxygen but putrid gas in the cell.
They pushed me into the place at night and within minutes I was losing consciousness. I was breathing but I realised that there was no air and that I was only breathing in putrefying gases. I quickly went to the slits, I pushed in my nose and took some six puffs and my head cleared. Then I knew I would live. They pushed me there every night for four and a half months. And for those four and a half months, I never slept in the night.
When the guards came back the following morning of my first night there, as they opened the door one of the three pulled his gun and wanted to shoot me. I quickly cried out that I was not a ghost. They could not believe that I could still be alive.
Why?
He told his fellows that, ‘this man was supposed to die overnight.’ They knew they had brought me there to die. And it was true, if I had not discovered those slits, I would have died. It was a gas chamber. I would have suffocated.
They would push me there at 7pm and open the door at 7am every day for four and a half months.
Did you suffer any health issue while you were there?
Yes, I did. I had a stroke when I was there. I was rightist (right handed). Now, I write with my left hand. I am one of those lucky few who have bilateral cerebral dominance ; that both hemispheres of my brain can perform. If one goes, the other can take up its functions. I was unable to speak at first but now I can speak. My right hand shakes.
For how long were you detained?
We were detained for 14 months.
Were you tried?
Yes, we were tried thrice and freed but we were not released. But before our eventual released, we tried a number of escapes.
How many times did you try to escape?
I planned about 12 escapes.
Within those 14 months?
Yes. One was almost successful until we were betrayed at the last moment.  I had a Swiss Army knife that had 28 functions, two of which was to cut steel and wood. I cut the iron in our cell, cut the wood and got to the wall that had broken glasses over it. We had to use our mattress and cardboard to cover the broken bottles on the 10-feet wall.  My wife was on the wall and as I was passing our stuffs to her, some people raised the alarm outside and we had to quickly jump back. We heard shootings. They eventually discovered that it was us as our mattress was still on top of the fence.
How many of you were offloading and how many of you were arrested?
We were many but I claimed responsibility. So they asked the others to go.
How come your wife was with you in prison?
She was also asked to go but she refused. She wrote a statement and implicated herself. She didn’t want me to be there alone.
Were you sharing the same room?
No. She was in the female section and I in the male. Did you know that in the prison, our meal was a cup of garri per day? Yes, only garri with nothing else. We would soak it in the morning, take some and finish the rest in the evening. That was what we took for 14 months.
Was that what they were giving other prisoners?
Yes, but they allowed their relatives to bring them food. As we had nobody to bring us food, we were stuck with the garri.
Do you have children?
Yes, I have children
How old were they then and where were they?
I have a daughter who was already a medical doctor then. My first son died in 1994.
Was it during the struggle?
Yes.
Was he also involved in the arm struggle?
Yes. He died of bullet wounds during training. It was a shooting accident. A gun went off in his hands and he was mortally wounded.
How many of you were trained?
We had a system of training. The system adopted was this. We trained the first 10. Each of those 10 would also train 10 other people each. As so it would go on. In that way, if there was a betrayal, you could only betray the 10 people you trained with.
Did your son train with you?
Yes, he trained with us.
How did your wife take it?
The person I call my wife now is not my first wife. She is my second wife. She became my wife later. She was a member of my team. It was in prison that we signed ourselves as husband and wife.  My first wife was the mother of the boy that died. She did not train with us because she never believed in the struggle.
Where is she now?
She is dead. She died when Abacha was hunting them. They had to run. I couldn’t see them. I had sent all of them abroad. She died in America.
But my son died here in Nigeria. I was the one training him and others because I had been highly trained.
How would you quantify your loss to the struggle?
I lost everything. I lost my money. I lost my health. I lost all.
When were you released eventually?
I was released after 14 months.
Copyright PUNCH.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

BREAKING! FULL TEXT: PRESIDENT BUHARI’S DEMOCRACY SPEECH

MY COMPATRIOTS,
IT IS ONE YEAR TODAY SINCE OUR ADMINISTRATION CAME INTO OFFICE. IT HAS BEEN A YEAR OF TRIUMPH, CONSOLIDATION, PAINS AND ACHIEVEMENTS. BY AGE, INSTINCT AND EXPERIENCE, MY PREFERENCE IS TO LOOK FORWARD, TO PREPARE FOR THE CHALLENGES THAT LIE AHEAD AND REDEDICATE THE ADMINISTRATION TO THE TASK OF FIXING NIGERIA. BUT I BELIEVE WE CAN ALSO LEARN FROM THE OBSTACLES WE HAVE OVERCOME AND THE PROGRESS WE MADE THUS FAR, TO HELP STRENGTHEN THE PLANS THAT WE HAVE IN PLACE TO PUT NIGERIA BACK ON THE PATH OF PROGRESS.
WE AFFIRM OUR BELIEF IN DEMOCRACY AS THE FORM OF GOVERNMENT THAT BEST ASSURES THE ACTIVE PARTICIPATION AND ACTUAL BENEFIT OF THE PEOPLE. DESPITE THE MANY YEARS OF HARDSHIP AND DISAPPOINTMENT THE PEOPLE OF THIS NATION HAVE PROVED INHERENTLY GOOD, INDUSTRIOUS TOLERANT, PATIENT AND GENEROUS.
THE PAST YEARS HAVE WITNESSED HUGE FLOWS OF OIL REVENUES. FROM 2010 AVERAGE OIL PRICES WERE $100 PER BARREL. BUT ECONOMIC AND SECURITY CONDITIONS WERE DETERIORATING. WE CAMPAIGNED AND WON THE ELECTION ON THE PLATFORM OF RESTORING SECURITY, TACKLING CORRUPTION AND RESTRUCTURING THE ECONOMY. ON OUR ARRIVAL, THE OIL PRICE HAD COLLAPSED TO AS LOW AS $30 PER BARREL AND WE FOUND NOTHING HAD BEEN KEPT FOR THE RAINY DAY. OIL PRICES HAVE BEEN DECLINING SINCE 2014 BUT DUE TO THE NEGLECT OF THE PAST, THE COUNTRY WAS NOT EQUIPPED TO HALT THE ECONOMY FROM DECLINING.
THE INFRASTRUCTURE, NOTABLY RAIL, POWER, ROADS WERE IN A DECREPIT STATE. ALL THE FOUR REFINERIES WERE IN A STATE OF DISREPAIR, THE PIPELINES AND DEPOTS NEGLECTED.
HUGE DEBTS OWED TO CONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS HAD ACCUMULATED. TWENTY-SEVEN STATES COULD NOT PAY SALARIES FOR MONTHS. IN THE NORTH-EAST, BOKO HARAM HAD CAPTURED 14 LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, DRIVEN THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES OUT, HOISTED THEIR FLAGS. ELSEWHERE, INSECURITY WAS PALPABLE; CORRUPTION AND IMPUNITY WERE THE ORDER OF THE DAY. IN SHORT, WE INHERITED A STATE NEAR COLLAPSE.
ON THE ECONOMIC FRONT, ALL OIL DEPENDENT COUNTRIES, NIGERIA INCLUDED, HAVE BEEN STRUGGLING SINCE THE DROP IN PRICES. MANY OIL RICH STATES HAVE HAD TO TAKE TOUGH DECISIONS SIMILAR TO WHAT WE ARE DOING. THE WORLD, NIGERIA INCLUDED HAS BEEN DEALING WITH THE EFFECTS OF THREE SIGNIFICANT AND SIMULTANEOUS GLOBAL SHOCKS STARTING IN 2014:
A 70% DROP IN OIL PRICES.
GLOBAL GROWTH SLOWDOWN.
NORMALIZATION OF MONETARY POLICY BY THE UNITED STATES FEDERAL RESERVE.
OUR PROBLEMS AS A GOVERNMENT ARE LIKE THAT OF A FARMER WHO IN A GOOD SEASON HARVESTS TEN BAGS OF PRODUCE. THE PROCEEDS ENABLE HIM TO GET BY FOR REST OF THE YEAR. HOWEVER, THIS YEAR HE COULD ONLY MANAGE 3 BAGS FROM HIS FARM. HE MUST NOW THINK OF OTHER WAYS TO MAKE ENDS MEET.
FROM DAY ONE, WE PURPOSELY SET OUT TO CORRECT OUR CONDITION, TO CHANGE NIGERIA. WE REINFORCED AND GALVANIZED OUR ARMED FORCES WITH NEW LEADERSHIP AND RESOURCES. WE MARSHALED OUR NEIGHBOURS IN A JOINT TASK FORCE TO TACKLE AND DEFEAT BOKO HARAM. BY THE END OF DECEMBER 2015, ALL BUT POCKETS AND REMNANTS HAD BEEN ROUTED BY OUR GALLANT ARMED FORCES. OUR IMMEDIATE FOCUS IS FOR A GRADUAL AND SAFE RETURN OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS IN SAFETY AND DIGNITY AND FOR THE RESUMPTION OF NORMALCY IN THE LIVES OF PEOPLE LIVING IN THESE AREAS.
EFCC WAS GIVEN THE FREEDOM TO PURSUE CORRUPT OFFICIALS AND THE JUDICIARY WAS ALERTED ON WHAT NIGERIANS EXPECT OF THEM IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION. ON THE ECONOMY, IN PARTICULAR FOREIGN EXCHANGE AND FUEL SHORTAGES, OUR PLAN IS TO SAVE FOREIGN EXCHANGE BY FAST TRACKING REPAIR OF THE REFINERIES AND PRODUCING MOST OF OUR FUEL REQUIREMENTS AT HOME. AND BY GROWING MORE FOOD IN NIGERIA, MAINLY RICE, WHEAT AND SUGAR WE WILL SAVE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN FOREIGN EXCHANGE AND DRASTICALLY REDUCE OUR FOOD IMPORT BILL.
WE RESOLVED TO KEEP THE NAIRA STEADY, AS IN THE PAST, DEVALUATION HAD DONE DREADFUL HARM TO THE NIGERIAN ECONOMY. FURTHERMORE, I SUPPORT THE MONETARY AUTHORITY’S DECISION TO ENSURE ALIGNMENT BETWEEN MONETARY POLICY AND FISCAL POLICY. WE SHALL KEEP A CLOSE LOOK ON HOW THE RECENT MEASURES AFFECT THE NAIRA AND THE ECONOMY. BUT WE CANNOT GET AWAY FROM THE FACT THAT A STRONG CURRENCY IS PREDICATED ON A STRONG ECONOMY. AND A STRONG ECONOMY PRE-SUPPOSES AN INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTIVE BASE AND A STEADY EXPORT MARKET. THE MEASURES WE MUST TAKE, MAY LEAD TO HARDSHIPS. THE PROBLEMS NIGERIANS HAVE FACED OVER THE LAST YEAR HAVE BEEN MANY AND VARIED. BUT THE REAL CHALLENGE FOR THIS GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN RECONSTRUCTING THE SPINE OF THE NIGERIAN STATE. THE LAST TWELVE MONTHS HAVE BEEN SPENT COLLABORATING WITH ALL ARMS OF GOVERNMENT TOREVIVE OUR INSTITUTIONS SO THAT THEY ARE MORE EFFICIENT AND FIT FOR PURPOSE:
THAT MEANS A BUREAUCRACY BETTER ABLE TO DEVELOP AND DELIVER POLICY
THAT MEANS AN INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY, ABOVE SUSPICION AND ABLE TO DEFEND CITIZEN’S RIGHTS AND DISPENSE JUSTICE EQUITABLY.
THAT MEANS A LEGISLATURE THAT ACTUALLY LEGISLATES EFFECTIVELY AND
ABOVE ALL; THAT MEANS POLITICAL PARTIES AND POLITICIANS COMMITTED TO SERVING THE NIGERIAN PEOPLE RATHER THAN THEMSELVES.
THESE ARE THE PILLARS OF THE STATE ON WHICH DEMOCRACY CAN TAKE ROOT AND THRIVE. BUT ONLY IF THEY ARE STRONG AND INCORRUPTIBLE. ACCORDINGLY, WE ARE WORKING VERY HARD TO INTRODUCE SOME VITAL STRUCTURAL REFORMS IN THE WAY WE CONDUCT GOVERNMENT BUSINESS AND LAY A SOLID FOUNDATION ON WHICH WE CAN BUILD ENDURING CHANGE.
AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP HAS BEEN TO GET OUR HOUSEKEEPING RIGHT. SO WE HAVE REDUCED THE EXTRAVAGANT SPENDING OF THE PAST. WE STARTED BOLDLY WITH THE TREASURY SINGLE ACCOUNT, STOPPING THE LEAKAGES IN PUBLIC EXPENDITURE.
WE THEN IDENTIFIED FORTY-THREE THOUSAND GHOST WORKERS THROUGH THE INTEGRATED PAYROLL AND PERSONAL INFORMATION SYSTEM. THAT REPRESENTS PAY PACKETS TOTALING N4.2 BILLION STOLEN EVERY MONTH. IN ADDITION, WE WILL SAVE TWENTY-THREE BILLION PER ANNUM FROM OFFICIAL TRAVELLING AND SITTING ALLOWANCES ALONE.
FURTHERMORE, THE EFFICIENCY UNIT WILL CUT COSTS AND ELIMINATE DUPLICATIONS IN MINISTRIES AND DEPARTMENTS. EVERY LITTLE SAVING HELPS. THE REDUCTION IN THE NUMBER OF MINISTRIES AND WORK ON RESTRUCTURING AND RATIONALIZATION OF THE MDAS IS WELL UNDERWAY. WHEN THIS WORK IS COMPLETE WE WILL HAVE A LEANER, MORE EFFICIENT PUBLIC SERVICE THAT IS FIT FOR THE PURPOSE OF CHANGING NIGERIA FOR THE GOOD AND FOR GOOD.
AS WELL AS MAKING SAVINGS, WE HAVE CHANGED THE WAY PUBLIC MONEY IS SPENT. IN ALL MY YEARS AS A PUBLIC SERVANT, I HAVE NEVER COME ACROSS THE PRACTICE OF PADDING BUDGETS. I AM GLAD TO TELL YOU NOW WE NOT ONLY HAVE A BUDGET, BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, WE HAVE A BUDGET PROCESS THAT IS MORE TRANSPARENT, MORE INCLUSIVE AND MORE CLOSELY TIED TO OUR DEVELOPMENT PRIORITIES THAN IN THE RECENT PAST. 30% OF THE EXPENDITURE IN THIS BUDGET IS DEVOTED TO CAPITAL ITEMS. FURTHERMORE, WE ARE PROJECTING NON-OIL REVENUES TO SURPASS PROCEEDS FROM OIL. SOME CRITICS HAVE DESCRIBED THE BUDGET EXERCISE AS CLUMSY. PERHAPS. BUT IT WAS AN EXAMPLE OF CONSENSUS BUILDING, WHICH IS INTEGRAL TO DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT. IN THE END WE RESOLVED OUR DIFFERENCES.
WE HAVE, THEREFORE, DELIVERED SIGNIFICANT MILESTONES ON SECURITY, CORRUPTION AND THE ECONOMY. IN RESPECT OF THE ECONOMY, I WOULD LIKE TO DIRECTLY ADDRESS YOU ON THE VERY PAINFUL BUT INEVITABLE DECISIONS WE HAD TO MAKE IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS SPECIFICALLY ON THE PUMP PRICE OF FUEL AND THE MORE FLEXIBLE EXCHANGE RATE POLICY ANNOUNCED BY THE CENTRAL BANK. IT IS EVEN MORE PAINFUL FOR ME THAT A MAJOR PRODUCER OF CRUDE OIL WITH FOUR REFINERIES THAT ONCE EXPORTED REFINED PRODUCTS IS TODAY HAVING TO IMPORT ALL OF ITS DOMESTIC NEEDS. THIS IS WHAT CORRUPTION AND MISMANAGEMENT HAS DONE TO US AND THAT IS WHY WE MUST FIGHT THESE ILLS.
AS PART OF THE FOUNDATION OF THE NEW ECONOMY WE HAVE HAD TO REFORM HOW FUEL PRICES HAD TRADITIONALLY BEEN FIXED. THIS STEP WAS TAKEN ONLY AFTER PROTRACTED CONSIDERATION OF ITS PROS AND CONS. AFTER COMPREHENSIVE INVESTIGATION MY ADVISERS AND I CONCLUDED THAT THE MECHANISM WAS UNSUSTAINABLE.
WE ARE ALSO ENGAGED IN MAKING RECOVERIES OF STOLEN ASSETS SOME OF WHICH ARE IN DIFFERENT JURISDICTIONS. THE PROCESSES OF RECOVERY CAN BE TEDIOUS AND TIME CONSUMING, BUT TODAY I CAN CONFIRM THAT THUS FAR: SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF ASSETS HAVE BEEN RECOVERED. A CONSIDERABLE PORTION OF THESE ARE AT DIFFERENT STAGES OF RECOVERY. FULL DETAILS OF THE STATUS AND CATEGORIES OF THE ASSETS WILL NOW BE PUBLISHED BY THE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION AND UPDATED PERIODICALLY. WHEN FORFEITURE FORMALITIES ARE COMPLETED THESE MONIES WILL BE CREDITED TO THE TREASURY AND BE OPENLY AND TRANSPARENTLY USED IN FUNDING DEVELOPMENTAL PROJECTS AND THE PUBLIC WILL BE INFORMED.
ON THE NIGER DELTA, WE ARE COMMITTED TO IMPLEMENTING THE UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME REPORT AND ARE ADVANCING CLEAN-UP OPERATIONS. I BELIEVE THE WAY FORWARD IS TO TAKE A SUSTAINABLE APPROACH TO ADDRESS THE ISSUES THAT AFFECT THE DELTA COMMUNITIES. RE-ENGINEERING THE AMNESTY PROGRAMMES IS AN EXAMPLE OF THIS. THE RECENT SPATE OF ATTACKS BY MILITANTS DISRUPTING OIL AND POWER INSTALLATIONS WILL NOT DISTRACT US FROM ENGAGING LEADERS IN THE REGION IN ADDRESSING NIGER DELTA PROBLEMS. IF THE MILITANTS AND VANDALS ARE TESTING OUR RESOLVE, THEY ARE MUCH MISTAKEN. WE SHALL APPREHEND THE PERPETRATORS AND THEIR SPONSORS AND BRING THEM TO JUSTICE.
THE POLICY MEASURES AND ACTIONS TAKEN SO FAR ARE NOT TO BE SEEN AS SOME EXPERIMENT IN GOVERNANCE. WE ARE FULLY AWARE THAT THOSE VESTED INTERESTS WHO HAVE HELD NIGERIA BACK FOR SO LONG WILL NOT GIVE UP WITHOUT A FIGHT. THEY WILL SOW DIVISIONS, SPONSOR VILE PRESS CRITICISMS AT HOME AND ABROAD, INCITE THE PUBLIC IN AN EFFORT TO CREATE CHAOS RATHER THAN RELINQUISH THE VICE-LIKE GRIP THEY HAVE HELD ON NIGERIA.
THE ECONOMIC MISFORTUNE WE ARE EXPERIENCING IN THE SHAPE OF VERY LOW OIL PRICES HAS PROVIDED US WITH AN OPPORTUNITY TO RESTRUCTURE OUR ECONOMY AND DIVERSIFY. WE ARE IN THE PROCESS OF PROMOTING AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCKS, EXPLOITING OUR SOLID MINERAL RESOURCES AND EXPANDING OUR INDUSTRIAL AND MANUFACTURING BASE. THAT WAY, WE WILL IMPORT LESS AND MAKE THE SOCIAL INVESTMENTS NECESSARY TO ALLOW US TO PRODUCE A LARGE AND SKILLED WORKFORCE.
CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA WILL OFFER MORE FISCAL INCENTIVES FOR BUSINESS THAT PROVE CAPABLE OF MANUFACTURING PRODUCTS THAT ARE INTERNATIONALLY COMPETITIVE. WE REMAIN COMMITTED TO REFORMING THE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK, FOR INVESTORS BY IMPROVING THE EASE OF DOING BUSINESS IN NIGERIA.
MEANWHILE, THE FIRST STEPS ALONG THE PATH OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY IN RICE, WHEAT AND SUGAR – BIG USERS OF OUR SCARCE FOREIGN EXCHANGE – HAVE BEEN TAKEN. THE LABOUR INTENSIVE FARMING ENTERPRISE (LIFE), WILL BOOST THE ECONOMY AND ENSURE INCLUSIVE GROWTH IN LONG NEGLECTED COMMUNITIES. SPECIAL INTERVENTION FUNDS THROUGH THE BANK OF AGRICULTURE WILL PROVIDE TARGETED SUPPORT. CONCERNS REMAIN ABOUT RISING COST OF FOODS SUCH AS MAIZE, RICE, MILLET, BEANS AND GARI. FARMERS TELL ME THAT THEY ARE WORRIED ABOUT THE COST OF FERTILIZERS, PESTICIDES AND THE ABSENCE OF EXTENSION SERVICES. THE FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS ARE ON THE SAME PAGE IN TACKLING THESE HURDLES IN OUR EFFORTS AT INCREASED FOOD PRODUCTION AND ULTIMATELY FOOD SECURITY.
I WOULD LIKE TO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO EXPRESS MY APPRECIATION FOR THE INCREASING ROLE THAT OUR WOMEN ARE PLAYING IN REVITALIZING THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR. MODERN FARMING IS STILL HARD AND HEAVY WORK AND I SALUTE OUR NIGERIAN WOMEN IN SHARING THIS BURDEN. IN THIS RESPECT I AM VERY PLEASED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE GOVERNMENT WILL SHORTLY BE LAUNCHING THE NATIONAL WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT FUND, WHICH I HAVE APPROVED TO PROVIDE N1.6 BILLION IN MICRO-FINANCE LOANS TO WOMEN ACROSS THE NATION TO ASSIST IN REHABILITATING THE ECONOMIES OF RURAL COMMUNITIES, PARTICULARLY THOSE IMPACTED BY THE INSURGENCY AND CONFLICT.
WITH RESPECT TO SOLID MINERALS, THE MINISTER HAS PRODUCED A ROADMAP WHERE WE WILL WORK CLOSELY WITH THE WORLD BANK AND MAJOR INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS TO ENSURE THROUGH BEST PRACTICES AND DUE DILIGENCE THAT WE CHOOSE THE RIGHT PARTNERS. ILLEGAL MINING REMAINS A PROBLEM AND WE HAVE SET UP A SPECIAL SECURITY TEAM TO PROTECT OUR ASSETS. SPECIAL MEASURES WILL BE IN PLACE TO PROTECT MINERS IN THEIR WORK ENVIRONMENT.
FOR TOO LONG, OURS HAS BEEN A SOCIETY THAT NEGLECTS THE POOR AND VICTIMIZES THE WEAK. A SOCIETY THAT PROMOTES PROFIT AND GROWTH OVER DEVELOPMENT AND FREEDOM. A SOCIETY THAT FAILS TO RECOGNIZE THAT, TO QUOTE THE DISTINGUISHED ECONOMIST AMARTYA SEN “POVERTY IS NOT JUST LACK OF MONEY. IT IS NOT HAVING THE CAPABILITY TO REALIZE ONE’S FULL POTENTIAL AS A HUMAN BEING.”
SO, TODAY, I AM HAPPY TO FORMALLY LAUNCH, BY FAR THE MOST AMBITIOUS SOCIAL PROTECTION PROGRAMME IN OUR HISTORY. A PROGRAMME THAT BOTH SEEKS TO START THE PROCESS OF LIFTING MANY FROM POVERTY, WHILE AT THE SAME TIME CREATING THE OPPORTUNITY FOR PEOPLE TO FEND FOR THEMSELVES. IN THIS REGARD, FIVE HUNDRED BILLION NAIRA HAS BEEN APPROPRIATED IN THE 2016 BUDGET FOR SOCIAL INTERVENTION PROGRAMMES IN FIVE KEY AREAS. WE ARE COMMITTED TO PROVIDING JOB CREATION OPPORTUNITIES FOR FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND TEACHERS AND ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND ARTISANS ACROSS THE NATION. 5.5 MILLION CHILDREN ARE TO BE PROVIDED WITH NUTRITIOUS MEALS THROUGH OUR SCHOOL FEEDING PROGRAMME TO IMPROVE LEARNING OUTCOMES, AS WELL AS ENROLMENT AND COMPLETION RATES. THE CONDITIONAL CASH TRANSFER SCHEME WILL PROVIDE FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR UP TO 1 MILLION VULNERABLE BENEFICIARIES, AND COMPLEMENT THE ENTERPRISE PROGRAMME – WHICH WILL TARGET UP TO 1 MILLION MARKET WOMEN; FOUR HUNDRED AND SIXTY THOUSAND ARTISANS; AND TWO HUNDRED THOUSAND AGRICULTURAL WORKERS, NATIONWIDE. FINALLY, THROUGH THE EDUCATION GRANT SCHEME, WE WILL ENCOURAGE STUDENTS STUDYING SCIENCES, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING AND MATHS, AND LAY A FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT FOR THE NEXT GENERATION
I WOULD LIKE TO PAY A SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO OUR GALLANT MEN AND WOMEN OF THE ARMED FORCES WHO ARE IN HARM’S WAY SO THAT THE REST OF US CAN LIVE AND GO ABOUT OUR BUSINESS IN SAFETY. THEIR WORK IS ALMOST DONE. THE NATION OWES THEM A DEBT OF GRATITUDE.
ABROAD, WE WANT TO ASSURE OUR NEIGHBOURS, FRIENDS AND DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS THAT NIGERIA IS FIRMLY COMMITTED TO DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES. WE ARE READY PARTNERS IN COMBATING TERRORISM, CYBER CRIMES, CONTROL OF COMMUNICABLE DISEASES AND PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT. FOLLOWING ON THE PARIS AGREEMENT, COP 21, WE ARE FULLY COMMITTED TO HALTING AND REVERSING DESERTIFICATION. ELSEWHERE, WE WILL INTENSIFY EFFORTS TO TACKLE EROSION, OCEAN SURGE, FLOODING AND OIL SPILLAGE WHICH I REFERRED TO EARLIER BY IMPLEMENTING THE UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME (UNEP) REPORT.
WE ARE GRATEFUL TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NOTABLY FRANCE, THE US, UK AND CHINA FOR THEIR QUICK RESPONSE IN HELPING TO TACKLE THE RECENT EBOLA OUTBREAK IN OUR SUB-REGION. WE ALSO ACKNOWLEDGE THE HUMANITY SHOWN BY THE ITALIAN AND GERMAN GOVERNMENTS IN THE TREATMENT OF BOAT PEOPLE, MANY FLEEING FROM OUR SUB-REGION BECAUSE OF LACK OF ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY. WE THANK ALL OUR PARTNERS ESPECIALLY SEVERAL COUNTRIES IN THE EU.
WE APPRECIATE THE VALUABLE WORK THAT THE UN AGENCIES, PARTICULARLY UNICEF, ICRC, THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM HAVE BEEN DOING. WE MUST ALSO APPRECIATE THE WORLD BANK, THE GATES FOUNDATION, THE GLOBAL FUND AND EDUCATE A CHILD OF QATAR ARE FOR THE EXCELLENT WORK IN OUR HEALTH, EDUCATION AND OTHER SECTORS.
FELLOW CITIZENS LET ME END ON A HAPPY NOTE. TO THE DELIGHT OF ALL, TWO OF THE ABDUCTED CHIBOK GIRLS HAVE REGAINED THEIR FREEDOM. DURING THE LAST ONE YEAR, NOT A SINGLE DAY PASSED WITHOUT MY AGONIZING ABOUT THESE GIRLS. OUR EFFORTS HAVE CENTRED AROUND NEGOTIATIONS TO FREE THEM SAFELY FROM THEIR, MINDLESS, CAPTORS. WE ARE STILL PURSUING THAT COURSE. THEIR SAFETY IS OF PARAMOUNT CONCERN TO ME AND I AM SURE TO MOST NIGERIANS. I AM VERY WORRIED ABOUT THE CONDITIONS THOSE STILL CAPTURED MIGHT BE IN. TODAY I RE-AFFIRM OUR COMMITMENT TO RESCUING OUR GIRLS. WE WILL NEVER STOP UNTIL WE BRING THEM HOME SAFELY. AS I SAID BEFORE, NO GIRL SHOULD BE PUT THROUGH THE BRUTALITY OF FORCED MARRIAGE AND EVERY NIGERIAN GIRL HAS THE RIGHT TO AN EDUCATION AND A LIFE CHOICE.
I THANK YOU AND APPEAL TO YOU TO CONTINUE SUPPORTING THE GOVERNMENT’S EFFORTS TO FIX NIGERIA.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

No Difference Between Boko Haram and The Niger Delta Avengers





All things considered, the Niger Delta Avengers are no different from the Boko Haram criminality in the Northern part of Nigeria and if I wanted to be too strict I will say that the Niger Delta Avengers are more deadly, more destructive,  more dangerous and consequently more devilish . Boko Haram has been on a hit and run warfare that derives pleasure in hitting and killing soft targets but the destructive Avengers of Niger Delta targets oil installations and the Power Sector, the two most critical sectors of our economy today.

As I write this Nigeria has lost at least one million barrels of crude oil daily in the past one month or so. The power sector output hovering around 3000 to 5000 MW of electricity has been brought down to miserable level of less than 1000MW. What this means is that we have no economy any longer. Nigeria runs a mono economy that depends on crude oil sales and if anything happens to that critical sector , it will affect every strata of our society. There will be no foreign exchange earnings , no money to pay salaries at the federal, state and the local levels, no money to service importation, no money to buy arms , no money to service foreign debts, no money to service foreign missions and no money to build infrastructure etc.

Without electric power no nation on earth will be said to be serious in building its economy, attracting foreign investments or creating jobs. Most of the nation’s power stations are driven by gas , a product of crude oil production process. Much of the gas comes from the Niger Delta. Before the advent of gas turbines we had hydro power stations in Shiroro and Kainji in the North and a coal powered stations in Enugu State and these are now almost obsolete as gas powered plants have proved to be more efficient , cheaper, cleaner and cost effective. This is what these criminals are exploiting to continue to punish 160 million Nigerians.

They are blackmailers, exploiters, oil thieves, kidnappers, murderers, destroyers, oppressors, armed robbers, liars from the pit of hell, corrupt entities, reprobate minds , dolts, cultural savages , embezzlers etc. I lack words to describe these workers of iniquity. They blackmailed President Obasanjo, they blackmailed president Yar’Adua. They blackmailed and held president Jonathan by the throat and squeezed it without mercy until he helplessly and hopelessly surrendered. They got everything, . They got NDDC , they got the Ministry of Niger Delta, they got 13% Derivation, they stole billions of barrels of crude oil, and got billions of dollars, they got oil wells without paying a dime, they robbed oil companies at gun point, they kidnapped for money, they got amnesty from president Yar’Adua and a deal worth more than a billion dollars. Former President Jonathan opened the nation’s Treasury for them and they carted away billions to build Universities, mansions and even buy arms and warships.

The school drop out called Asari Dokubo is building a University in Benin Republic and so is the silly old man called Edwin Clark. Oh My God , these shameless idiots have had it all and have thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They married many wives like Asari Dokubo, owned night clubs, big hotels, estates, all kinds of Special Utility Vehicles, they painted the cities red and intimidated other Nigerians. They wished that the party and the bazaar continue until the 2015 general elections drew near. When it dawned on them that Jonathan may not make it they began to issue threats and intimidation. They got desperate and fear gripped them that a president Buhari may not accept their criminal enterprise and excesses any longer. A president Buhari came on board and removed the feeding bottles from their ugly mouths and hell was let loose. The corruption called the amnesty has to go. Easy money is gone . Extortion is gone . This is president Buhari’s sin.

My take here is that there is no need negotiating with those who have had it all in the past 17 years. The battle has to be fought . We cannot win the battle and lose the war. This president is for everybody and for nobody. These people will not listen until they see that war brings death. There is no difference between Boko Haram and the Niger Delta Avengers. If President Buhari can fight Boko Haram and Shiites to a standstill , these so called Avengers in the Niger Delta should face the same treatment. They have destroyed government installations and facilities , they have killed soldiers and policemen and they have killed many innocent people through the destruction of power installations. This is subversion . This is economic sabotage . This is treason and an open declaration of war on Nigeria as a political entity. Nigeria’s armed forces must apply the doctrine of necessity, intelligence, tact and common sense in the war to reclaim the integrity and honour of Nigeria. We must take war to their doorsteps. If they defeat us let them go with their useless oil  and if we defeat them  and they must be defeated, then other ethnic groups will learn yet another lessons from the war.

Since the massive destruction of facilities in the Niger Delta started, the Governors in the region have not met to condemn the brigandage.  The elders have not met to issue a statement to call the killers and destroyers to order. What we have heard has been cacophony of weak voices drowned in deceit and lies. I saw complicity by this criminal silence . The grave silence is sending a potentially dangerous signals. It is shocking and at best unbelievable. Nigeria can survive without oil and gas. This is the truth we must accept with courage  and call the bluff of these exploiters and blackmailers from the Niger Delta.

I repeat once again that there is no zero tribe, zone, ethnic group, state or culture in Nigeria. Every tribe  or zone in Nigeria has something to bring to the table. Niger Delta is bringing oil and gas to the table while others are bringing food, technology, commerce, intelligence, ideas,workforce etc to the same table. Ours is a case of symbiotic relationship.

Joe Igbokwe
Lagos

Friday, 27 May 2016

The Oba of Benin is born and not made, Oshiomhole's statement, a sacrilege



By - Thompson Omorodion, Ph.D.

There is no debating the fact that an Oba in Benin is installed by the Benin king makers(Usama N’Ihinron), not the governor of Edo State.
The governor of Edo State, following the military inherited Section 19 of the Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Law, 1979, is only to recognize a duly installed Oba and present the ceremonial staff of office after the traditional authority has concluded the coronation process. The statement by Edo State Government regarding the appointment of Oba of Benin by Adams Oshiomhole is therefore another “iconoclastic” blunder, executive rascality, administrative arrogance and apparently disdainful display crude use of brute power him - a slap on the face of the Benin monarchy and the good people of Benin.

In a megalomaniac statement dated 24th May 2016, issued by what has become known as the iconoclastic government led by Adams Oshiomhole, published in many national dailies, a supposed professor of Political Science and Secretary to the Government of Edo State announced, albeit arrogantly, the “appointment of HRH Edaiken N’Uselu, Crown Prince Ehenede Erediauwa as Oba of Benin without prior consultation nor input of the Crown Prince, Benin Traditional Council or the Palace of the Oba of Benin, to which such matter relates – while the obsequies was still on for the former Oba. This is the apogee and height of disrespect, and callous disregard to our revered traditional institution.

It is therefore not surprising that within twenty four hours, there have been massive outpouring of both emotive and rational reactions to the gaffe of the government that is ever acting as alien to us, a reaction which has led the government withdrawing the cursed statement today in a letter signed by the same Secretary to the government of the state. The wording of the withdrawal betrayed evidence of the true intentions of the government in issuing the statement in the first instance.

“The said letter was issued in error as the rites of passage of His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba of Benin are still on”.
The withdrawal came without apology. This may also have been deliberate. The true intention of the APC and Adams Oshiomhole led Edo State government was egoistic, nay – megalomaniac - futile attempt to denigrate the Benin crown, reduce the dignity, prestige and majesty of the Benin crown, and attempt to demystify the glorious mysteries of the Benin Kingdom. This ulterior motive of Adams Oshiomhole and his outgoing iconoclastic APC government in Edo State can be deduced by the x-raying the three main patterns described in the following paragraph and that that have played out within the last 30 days or so.

First, the Edo State government released an article last month describing Oba Erediauwa as an iconoclastic Oba. Shortly after the announcement on Friday April 29 of the passage of Oba Erediauwa, Adams Oshiomhole caused an iconoclastic condolence message to be released which offended the palace and the Benin people. Upon reaction by the public, the government through an aide (rather than the governor making such apology himself) apologized to the palace but he ignored the Benin people who he also offended.

Secondly, the Edo State government, on May 3, disturbed the peace of Benin City by violently removing the former Speaker with thugs, urchins, gunshots and tear gas at the Oba palace area during the mourning period. This is further demonstration of the suspicion that it is a deliberate slight to the Benin people and disregard for the sorrowful mood at the time. Why could Oshiomhole not ask his legislators to sheathe their swords in respect of the mourning of the Oba?

And thirdly, Oshiomhole hurriedly announced that he was appointing the Oba of Benin. The statement by the Edo State government that HRH Prince Ehenede Erediauwa has been “appointed” as the Oba of Benin is not only an abomination but a sacrilege to everything reverent about Benin Kingdom. This is the apogee of disrespect. Oshiomhole, and indeed the governor of Edo State, does not have the right to ‘appoint’ the Oba. The Oba of Benin does not derive his legitimacy or authority from any government anywhere in the world, let alone a state governor like Edo State government.

Can Oshiomhole appoint an Oba? Even if there was a so-called Section 19 of the contentious and pointless 1979 Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Law that purportedly empowers the government to recognize (not appoint, in the case of Oba where there is no contention) an Oba who is corronated by the traditional authority of Benin. In Benin, we call them Uzama N’Ihinron.

We agree that no one is perfect. However, there are higher degrees of responsibility expected from certain high office holders, especially those who have aides and assistants provided for them by tax payers’ money for the purpose of minimizing errors and maximizing effectiveness. A state government is one of such high offices. The plethora of errors, nay blunders, that have characterized this government of Adams Oshiomhole and the APC in Edo state, in recent times, leaves decent and intelligent people to begin to wonder whether this government hasn’t broken down irreparably or its chief officer gone berserk.

We the Benin people are still offended by these gaffes by the Edo State government, and even more annoyed for the following reasons.

1. The governor, not the Secretary to the Government, should have done the withdrawal, and apologized, in light of the gravity of the grievous harm that the announcement has caused our Benin people and our monarchy.
2. The governor has belittled the significance of the coronation of a Benin monarch, usurping the traditional functions of the Uzama N’Ihinron of Benin kingdom.
3.The governor is making the highly cherished traditional rites of ascension to the Oba of Benin of no effect.
4. The governor is giving non-Benins, and even some unsuspecting Benins, the wrong impression that he is the one that has the capacity to appoint an Oba for Benin thereby downplaying the well-known primogeniture ascension rule of Benin kingdom, and most of Edo state peoples.
5. The governor, by his repeated acts of subtle aggression, is daring the Benin people, overstretching our patience and spoiling for a dirty war which would most likely consume him, his party and everything he stands for. Onyearuegbulem is a ready case study in the Benin principle of Aiguobasimwin.

In light of the above identified further flaw of a thoughtless non-remorseful withdrawal by Edo State government in light of such grievous, provocative and denigrating announcement which the government calls ‘error’, I am calling the leadership of the APC, particularly the Comrade Governor, Adams Aliyu Eric Oshiomhole, to come out and publicly apologize, not only to the Benin monarchy - but also, to the Benin people who feel particularly socially embarrassed, psychologically deflated and generally hurt by the grievous harm that that erroneous and annoying announcement has done to the Benin psyche; our collective pride, our cultural heritage and our public image locally, nationally and internationally. Anything short of this further clearly defined apology would make the now popularly held belief to stick for fact, that Adams Oshiomhole is doing all these things to deliberately spite us the Benins and also to denigrate our Crown. But the Enikaro of Benin will resist anyone who seeks to embarrass the Benin or our ancient institutions.

Lessons from Oba Erediauwa’s life


By Editorial Board   
The late, Oba of Benin
The late, Oba of Benin
Given the strong cultural effusion and the personality cult around the traditional Benin monarchy, the passing on of the Oba of Benin, Omo n’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa, provides an auspicious moment to reflect on the dignity, discipline and patriotism which the principled life and respectable leadership of the Oba brought to bear on the Benin people and traditional institutions in general. Erediauwa’s journey to the ethereal enclave of his forebears depletes the quality of sagacious and dignified traditional rulers so direly required as moral voices for the people.
Oba Erediauwa belonged in the caravan of honourable servants. He was the ultimate carrier of royalty, who served, ruled, and led an ancient city with the finest virtues. Despite his exposure and education, he was puritanical about preserving his Bini heritage. Besides their ancient history, the infectious pride of the Bini regarding their culture and monarchy rests on the undiluted richness of the Benin tradition, the unapologetic allegiance to its cultic purity and the long historical diplomatic relationship with other nations, especially European ones. Anyone who aspired to lead such a people must have the moral stamina of a genuine custodian of traditions, the wisdom of a true repertoire of cultural history, and an instrument of justice and peace. Oba Erediauwa exuded all this in one iconic personality.
Born on June 22, 1923, this scion of Oba Akenzua II, ascended the throne as the 38th Oba of Benin, on March 23, 1979. Before then, he was an illustrious super civil servant and public officer by the name of Prince Solomon Igbinighodua Akenzua. For his formal education, he attended the Government College, Ibadan, between 1939 and 1945, and later studied at the Yaba College of Technology, before proceeding to King’s College, Cambridge University, in the United Kingdom, where he studied law and administration.
After graduating from the university, he joined the Eastern Nigeria Civil Service as District Officer, and later moved on to the Federal Civil Service where he retired as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health in 1973. Erediauwa served as a regional representative of Gulf Oil, and had a stint as Bendel State Commissioner of Finance under the military administration of Brigadier George Innih.
As a public servant, he was noted as an administrator of high professionalism, exemplary probity and candour. Perhaps, these were the qualities that informed government’s choice of making him part of the high-powered delegation to the Aburi Conference during the Nigerian Civil War.
Upon his occupation of the Oba stool, he held court with equanimity and justice, settling disputes amongst Edo kin and between the Bini and other ethnicities. Government and state administrators tapped from his wise counsel for a peaceful tenure. In his reign, Benin City rose from a rustic and sleepy town to a sprawling modern city. He also maintained a kingdom of peace and tolerance without sacrificing traditional culture.
In recent times, owing to the sweeping effect of westernisation, the role of traditional institutions has wrongly been viewed as simply symbolic in this part of the world. Apart from being primarily a living form that signposts the cultural history of the people, traditional institutions have succumbed to the pre-eminence given to civil government by the dominant western political order. The effect of this is that traditional rulers have given in to the whims of devious political powers.
A reference, in the not too distant past, was the infamous military regime of Gen. Sani Abacha, when traditional rulers were blackmailed and hoodwinked to support obnoxious policies against the people. When the dictator summoned traditional rulers to Abuja to well up support for an extended tenure, amongst other atrocious plans, Oba Erediauwa, alongside other royal fathers, answered out of respect. But that would turn-out the only time he went to Aso Rock. Having listened to the dictator’s plea, he came back to his people, and vehemently criticised Abacha’s intention. While other monarchs lay low, cowed by the irascible and mercurial Abacha and his killing machine, Oba Erediauwa stood up against Abacha and the military.
One of the lessons to be learnt from the Oba is this: If we want to redeem Nigeria, we need people who will represent the traditional institution this way. As Nigerians can observe today, traditional rulers collude with politicians and public office holders to oppress the people. Some are so power-seeking that they want to be both custodians of their traditional values and promoters of alien culture. This is demeaning of the authority and position of the monarch even as it demystifies the efficacy of traditional institutions.
The life and times of the late Oba Erediauwa also pose a challenge for the Crown Prince Edaiken N’Uselu Eheneden Erediauwa. Judging by conventional standards, the elder Erediauwa seemed to have left shoes too big for anyone to fit into. Yet, it is these shoes that posterity is inviting the Crown Prince to step into as Oba one day soon.
Just as his father, whose firm paternal grip of the Benin Kingdom was like the solicitude of a gentle giant, the Crown Prince is beckoned by the demands of the throne and the times, to display uncommon courage, sacrificial empathy, and eloquent wisdom in the service of the land. He is also challenged to advance the traditional institution with equal integrity, royal distinction, and class which his father fittingly bestowed it by his character and moral finesse. As a distant but respected voice in the affairs of state, the oracular admonition of the traditional monarch is expected, like his father’s, to guide the polity onto the part of values and genuine leadership.

TheGuardian

Thursday, 26 May 2016

THE NATIONAL PROSECUTION CO-ORDINATION COMMITTEE (NPCC)



OBJECTIVE
The objective of NPCC are to-
Co-ordinate efficient, effective and result oriented investigation and prosecution of High Profile Criminal Cases in Nigeria;
Ensure early contact and synergy between investigators and the prosecutors of High Profile Criminal Cases in Nigeria;
Manage information to the public on High Profile Criminal Cases;
Ensure strict compliance with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 (‘‘the Act).
STRUCTURE
The structure of NPCC is as follows-
Honourable Attorney-General of Federation
The Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation is by virtue of Section 174(1) of the 1999 Constitution the Chief Law Officer of the Federation. Therefore, he is responsible for the overall policy formulation and implementation of the entire scheme.
Section 174(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides-
The Attorney-General of the Federation shall have power
To institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court of law in Nigeria, other than a court martial, in respect of any offence created by or under any Act of the National Assembly;
To take over and continue any such criminal proceedings that may have been instituted by any other authority or person;
To discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered any such criminal proceedings instituted or undertaken by him or any other authority or person.

National Prosecution Co-ordination Committee (NPCC)
The National Prosecution Co-ordination Committee is a body comprising of nineteen (19) members; twelve (12) ex officio members and seven (7) external lawyers experienced in administration of criminal justice in Nigeria and other commonwealth jurisdictions. All members of the Committee shall be paid sitting allowances as may be determined by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

The members are as follows-
Mr. Taiwo Abidogun (Permanent Secretary / Solicitor General)      - Chairman
Dipo Okpeseyi, SAN                          
                                        Co-Chairman
Professor Bolaji Owansoye (Executive Secretary, PAC)              Vice Chairman
M.S Diri (Director of Public Prosecution)                                           Member
Chukwuma Machukwu, SAN                                                            Member
Chief Okoi Obono-Obla                                                                   Member
Pius Oteh, Esq)                                                                                 Member
Mrs Juliet Ibekaku                                                                             Member
Abiodun Aikomo, Esq                                                                      Member
Kehinde Oginni, Esq                                                                         Member
Mr. Salihu Othman Isah                                                                     Member
Al-Amin Ado Ibrahim                                                                        Member
Nafiu Yakubu, Esq.                                                                            Member
Tunji Oluborode, Esq.               Member
Eric Onokif Ifere, Esq           Member
Mrs. Diane Okoko                                                      Member
Temitope Adebayo, Esq.                                             Member
DIG Abdulrahman Yusuf (Rtd)                                                         Member
Sylvester Imhanobe, Esq.                                            Member /Secretary
     The terms of reference of the NPCC include to-
Advice the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (HAGF) on the exercise of his prosecutorial powers in section 150 and 174 of the 1999 Constitution;
Prepare the policy strategy document for the co-ordination of investigation and prosecution of High Profile Criminal Cases in Nigeria;
Collect the list of High Profile Criminal Cases in Nigeria and assign the cases to prosecution teams;
Scrutinize the proof of evidence and charges in High Profile Criminal Cases in Nigeria before arraignment;
Coordinate investigation activities of High Profile Criminal Cases in Nigeria
Receive and analyse reports from the investigation and prosecution teams engaged to handle High Profile Cases in Nigeria;
Prepare and submit to the HAGF monthly report of High Profile Criminal Cases supervised by the committee;
Serve as liaison between the HAGF and the investigation and prosecution teams engaged to handle High Profile Criminal Cases in Nigeria;
Sensitize the public on the conduct of High Profile Criminal Cases in Nigeria;
Make rules for its proceedings ;
Carry out any other directives issued by the HAGF;
To undertake any other matter incidental to the achievement of the objective of the Committee as approved by the HAGF.

The Committee is a major thrust of the fight against corruption. The Committee shall be inaugurated by His Excellency, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Friday the 27th May 2016 at the VP Conference Room

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

FCT Minister sacks all Environmental Board management staff



FCT Minister, Muhammed Bello
FCT Minister, Muhammed Bello

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Muhammad Bello, has sacked the director, Abuja Environmental Protection Board, AEPB, Baba Lawan.
The minister appointed Oluwatoyin Olanipekun as replacement.
The minister also removed all heads of department as well as Heads of Unit under the board and directed their deputies to immediately take charge.
The Minister made these changes on Wednesday after he and the FCT Permanent Secretary, Babatope Ajakaiye, met with the former management team of the AEPB.
Mr. Bello directed the Director of the FCT Establishment and Training who was also part of the meeting to issue the new appointees with their appointment letters.
He warned that lackadaisical attitude to work must be stopped forthwith as Abuja must be rid of filth, street beggars, street hawkers and all other environmental nuisances immediately.
The Minister said a lot of things were not going on well at the Board and further warned the new team to work to change the tide immediately.
He said that the former Director and his management team should ensure all handing over processes are completed by Friday.
Meanwhile, the Minister has also directed that the former management team of the Board to be constituted into a Special Task Force on the Recovery of N9.8 billion Debt owed AEPB.
Mr. Bello instructed that the new Task Force be headed by the former Director of the Board and was given eight weeks to do the recovery into FCT administration’s coffers.
At the meeting, the Minister also approved the appointment of Abdullahi Adamu Monjel, a retired Air Force Squadron Leader, to head a special team of 200 security personnel drawn from the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to assist in the enforcement of environmental laws in Abuja.
The Minister was however quick to warn the new management and special team to conduct their duties within the ambit of the law.
Mr. Bello further warned that the FCT Administration would not tolerate any act of abuse of fundamental human rights of the residents in the discharge of their duties.
He urged them to diligently do their job by following and applying the law and due process.
The new Acting Director, Oluwatoyin Omolola Olanipekun, was formerly the Deputy Director, Environmental Degradation & Development Monitoring in the Abuja Environmental Protection Board.