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  • Nubi Achebo
    Saturday, June 16, 2001 Miss Nigeria loses crown By Seyi Odewale, Wilson Akinwale and Muyiwa Adeyemi FORTY-FOUR-YEAR old “Miss Nigeria” beauty pageant
    Message 1 of 289 , Jun 16, 2001
      Saturday, June 16, 2001

      Miss Nigeria loses crown

      By Seyi Odewale,

      Wilson Akinwale and

      Muyiwa Adeyemi

      FORTY-FOUR-YEAR old �Miss Nigeria� beauty pageant suffered its biggest
      jolt yesterday with the desposition of Miss Valerie Ama Peterside, the
      2001 beauty queen.

      At a press briefing in Lagos yesterday, the Managing Director of
      Daily Times of Nigeria (DTN), Plc, Dr. Onukaba Adinoyi-~Ojo, said the
      decision to strip Peterside of her crown was �in accordance with the
      tradition of the pageant�.

      Subsequently, the first runner up in last year�s contest, Miss Amina
      Eyo Ekpo, a student of Applied Chemistry at the University of Uyo, Akwa
      Ibom State, takes over as the reigning queen.

      �With effect from June 14, 2001, Miss Valerie Ama Peterside, ceases
      to be the 2001, Miss Nigeria,� Adinoyi-Ojo declared.

      Last night�s decision followed weeks of controversy over educational
      qualification and age by Miss Peterside during the contest last year.
      She later testified before a five-man panel headed by former
      Information Minister, Chief Tony Momoh, where she again defended her

      Consequently, Adnoyi-Ojo said Quest Communication, the marketers and
      managers of the 2001 event, would have their contract with the DTN
      reviewed to prevent a recurrence.

      �We shall review our relationship with Quest Communications Ltd., the
      marketers and managers of the 2001 event. In that regard, future
      managers or marketers of the pageant will be more closely supervised be
      the owners of the pageant,� he assured.

      Other measures to be taken in addition to the panel�s recommendations
      which earlier in the week advised that the queen be stripped of her
      title, Adinoyi-Ojo said included:

      � authentification of all claims by contestants, through a sworn

      � contestants must either be enrolled in a higher institution of
      learning or must have graduated from one;

      � contestants at previous national pageants would be excluded and

      � signing of an agreement by contestants with the organisers, would
      be strictly enforced.

      Miss Peterside was believed to have entered the pageant last year
      with a sworn affidavit of age declaration. But the panel�s report said:
      �Every available evidence points to the fact that 16th May 1975 is not
      her true date of birth, rather, it is 16th May 1971�.

      The committee�s report noted that apart from the alleged age
      falsification, which the panel found out, it was also discovered that
      Miss Peterside does not possess the qualification she claimed to have.

      "We are convinced that Miss Nigeria attended Ahmadu Bello University
      (ABU) Zaria, but she did not complete her programme as claimed. We are
      worried that someone who occupies such a high office would be found to
      have been involved in examination malpractice and that she would openly
      tell lies about her past, and raise doubts about her integrity," the
      panel stated.

      The report said that the panel was convinced on the basis of
      available evidence that Miss Peterside was born in 1971, which put her
      age at 30.

      It therefore submitted that "we uphold the principle that there is
      responsibility in the face of communal guilt. Because of the role
      played by Daily Times and Quest Communications, even if she continues
      as Miss Nigeria, she would find it difficult to operate," adding that
      "Miss Nigeria is supposed to symbolise the best virtues of Nigerian

      The panel further noted that given the environment created by the
      scandals, "we are not convinced that she will get the required support
      nor would she be in the right frame of mind to discharge her duties

      Consequently, the panel recommended the sacking of Miss Peterside as
      the 2001 Miss Nigeria. "In the light of all this, she should cease to
      be Miss Nigeria. We do not think that she should remain as Miss
      Nigeria," the committee said.

      The panel further recommended that in the future, rules relating to
      the organisation of the beauty pageant be strictly observed, and
      records should be carefully kept and vetted. "For future purposes, the
      conditions set for qualifications should be strictly enforced. Persons
      entering for the pageant should document their qualifications in their
      own handwriting," the report of the panel stated.

      It also recommended that there should be a contract that defines the
      period of reign, remuneration, terms, roles and relationship with the
      Queen which should be signed with the Queen before she starts her
      official outing and engagements. "If such a contract already exists as
      claimed, it should be enforced," the panel stated.

      The panel however indicted the organisers of the Miss Nigeria 2001
      pageant of being rather lax with the rules and that the acrimony that
      they demonstrated before the panel only showed that they themselves
      need to put their house in order.

      "If the promoters of the pageant are different from the organisers
      as appeared to be in this case," the panel stated, "there should be an
      intermediary monitoring committee whose duty would be to ensure that
      the two parties know what is happening".

      In the 2001 Miss Nigeria Beauty pageant, the panel noted that there
      was no proper co-ordination between the promoters and the organisers.
      "There were too many lapses. As at the time of this report for example,
      there has been no record of accounts of what happened since January,"
      the report noted.

      The panel was set up in April 2001 after due consultations with
      Daily Times of Nigeria Plc with Miss Nigeria to look into the
      allegations of false claim against Miss Peterside who emerged as the
      winner of the beauty pageant.

      Six sittings according to the panel's report, were held between April
      27 after its inauguration and June 8, during which evidence and
      arguments from all affected parties were taken.

      Evidence and arguments tendered to the panel included the need to
      prove whether Miss Peterside possessed the minimum qualification
      required for the pageant, which is a school certificate. Counsel to
      Miss Peterside, according to the report, argued that the organizers
      found the claim of possessing the minimum qualification required to be
      "true based on their own investigations and not necessarily because
      Miss Nigeria made such an original claim in the entry form that she
      purportedly filled".

      In her own argument, Miss Peterside "insisted that there are certain
      persons and interests at ABU, Zaria, opposed to her and who seemed to
      have been doing everything possible to sabotage her".

      Apart from Chief Tony Momoh who was chairman, other members of the
      panel were: Mrs. Sefinatu Mohammed, Ms Julie Coker, Mr. Tajudeen
      Adepetu and Dr. Reuben Abati, who served as its secretary.

      In 1957, Daily Times of Nigeria Limited organised the first Miss
      Nigeria contest in Lagos, the success of which proved that Nigerians
      appreciated beauty and ever since; there had been no looking back.

      One of the major reasons for organising the pageant was to create a
      medium for the promotion and projection of the noble and aesthetic
      values in the Africa woman. The first winner was Miss. Grace Oyelude
      who was later succeeded in 1958 by Miss. Helen Anyameluna.

      Other past winners, since 1958 include:

      1959; Miss Nene Etule;

      1960; Miss Rosemary Anieze (Also crowned Miss Independence)

      1961; Miss Clara Emefiena

      1962; Miss Yemi Idowu

      1963; Miss Alice Aleebe

      1964; Miss Edna Park

      1965; Miss Anna Eboweme

      1967; Miss Yinka Balogun

      1968; Miss Foluke Ogundipe

      1969; Miss Stella Owivry

      1970; Miss Toyin Monney

      1977; Miss. Irene Omagbemi

      1979; Miss Helen Prest

      1980; Miss Syster Jack

      1981; Miss Tokunbo Onanuga

      1982; Miss Rita Martins

      1983; Miss Cynthia Oronsaye

      1984; Miss Rosemary Okeke

      1985; Miss Rita Anuku

      1986; Miss Stella Okoye

      1988; Miss Wunmi Adebowale

      1990; Miss Binta Sukai

      1992; Miss Bibiana Ohio

      1993) Miss Janet Olukemi Fateye





      1998) Miss Regina Nnanwubar

      1999; Miss Vien Tetsola

      2000/2001 Valerie Ama Peterside


      Senate Rejects Electronic Voting


      THE Senate ruled out yesterday the use of electronic voting system in
      the next elections as it restated its resolve to allow more political
      parties in the next dispensation just as it ruled out the use of
      electronic voting system.

      Chairman of the Senate Committee on Independent National Electoral
      Commission (INEC), Senator Oserheimen Osunbor, stated this at the
      weekly briefing of the upper House.

      Osunbor posited that the Senate during its retreat in Calabar in
      February this year, had taken a position to the affect that the
      registration of more political parties would enrich the nation's
      democracy and provide for expression of ideological opinions.

      "The Senate took a position on that in Calabar during our retreat. It
      is still the view of the Senate that registering more parties would
      enrich democracy and give people opportunity to express their views,"
      he said.

      The chairman, however, ruled out the use of electronic system of
      voting, pointing out that it was fraught with defects which the
      nation's level of political development would not match . He pointed
      out that even in advanced countries of the world such as the United
      States, the system had not worked well.

      He said: "There are insurmountable constraints to the use of the
      electronic system of voting. Even in the U.S as technologically
      sophisticated as it is, had problems.

      Ogunbor also maintained that contrary to the views expressed in some
      quarters that the national assembly could not legislate over council
      elections, items 11 and 12 of the concurrent list under the 1999
      constitution granted them the jurisdiction.

      "We are of the view that the Senate has jurisdiction under items 11
      and 12 of the concurrent list to legislate on registration of voters
      and procedure for election at local government level and Item 12 says
      that the state houses of assembly can legislate on additional
      provisions to the conduct of these elections provided that they are not
      in conflict with laws made by the National Assembly," he said.

      The establishment of State Independent Electoral commissions (SIEC),
      he added, was allowed by the constitution but warned that their conduct
      must be in line with the laws made by the National Assembly.


      London court jails Nigerians for selling lion meat
      A London court yesterday jailed two Nigerians for trading in banned
      �bush meat�, after they were trapped on film offering meat from
      monkeys, lions, tigers, anteaters, snakes and even a human head.

      Judge Peter Fingret, presiding at the Old Bailey, jailed Mobolaji
      Osakuade, 40, a father of three, and his common-law wife Rose Kinnane,
      35, for four months.

      The court heard that the illegal bush meat imports could have driven
      endangered species closer to extinction and caused outbreaks of
      disease. Some have blamed Britain�s foot and mouth epidemic on
      illegally imported meat.

      The Nigerians were prepared to offer whole lions, antelopes,
      porcupines, goats, cane rats and large, live snails. They smuggled
      banned snakes and lizard skins for traditional ethnic medicines and
      offered tiger and leopard parts, the court further heard.

      �I fully acknowledge that such legislation (banning bush meat
      imports) goes against the beliefs and practices of many people but it
      is clearly for the greater good of society and of our planet that such
      controls exist and are stringently enforced,� the prosecution said.

      It was quite clear from the evidence that both were �fully willing
      and enthusiastic participants� in the shop they ran in east London, he

      Eddie Achunche, a journalist, told the court he had posed as the
      nephew of a tribal chief and visited the store, saying he needed the
      left hand, heart and head of a monkey for a traditional meal for his
      uncle who was heir to a throne.

      He paid a deposit of 200 pounds (about N36,000) and returned later,
      with a hidden video camera to receive the smoked body of a Tantalus
      monkey soup in exchange for a further 150 pounds (27,000).

      Osakuade described the difficulties of smuggling bush meat past
      customs, saying he �cut it into pieces so they can�t detect it. You can
      then put it back together again with string.�

      He told Achunuche he could order a whole lion for 5,000 pounds
      (N900,00) or 1,000 pounds (N180,000) for the head on its own, while the
      going rate for a leg was 500 pounds and for a tail 400.

      Osakuade said he could even get � a human head�, a claim the
      prosecution accepted was an empty boast. His lawyer said his client
      was now a �broken man�, who realised his cultural background which had
      led to these offences must now be left behind.


      Okogie, Mamora Back Tinubu�s Plan To Recruit OPC
      THE Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Dr. Anthony Olubunmi Okogie and
      Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Dr. Olorunnibe Mamora, has
      thrown their weight behind plan by Governor Bola Tinubu to engage the
      services of O�dua Peoples Congress (OPC), to curb the rising wave of
      crime in the state.

      Fielding questions from reporters at a press conference organised by
      the knights of St. Mulumba at the Holy Cross Catholic Cathedral, Lagos,
      yesterday to mark his 65th birthday anniversary, the cleric declared
      that: �if today we have Tinubu saying that the OPC may be merged with
      the police, do you blame him?

      �I buy the idea, so long as we are still not safe live without fear
      can come,� he said.

      Explaining his stand, Okogie said �I bet you, and I can bear my life
      that they know where the robbers are.

      Unfortunately, they do not go for the robbers, they look at faces
      and are reluctant to work.

      But when the OPC and the other vigilantes operate, they go to where
      the robbers are, they go to the nooks and crannies and bring them out,
      even though they don�t have more sophisticated weapons than the

      Archbishop Okogie expressed grave concern about the dastardly
      exploits of armed robbers in the state in the past few weeks and urged
      the Governor to do everything to stem the tide.

      Also lending support to Tinubu�s suggestion is Mr. Olorunimbe Mamora.

      He said the OPC should be incorporated into the system since it is
      for the good of the people.

      Mamora spoke to newsmen on Thursday night at the venue of a lecture
      titled �The Rule of Law and Democracy. Their Relation �inter se,�
      delivered at the Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja

      �I am not aware that Lagosians do not want OPC, rather to the
      contrary, Lagosians want OPC because they have been able to checkmate
      the activities of the men of the underworld largely.

      �Therefore, if they are invited and we see them doing what we want
      them to do all we need to do is to reorganise, harmonise and make them
      a really positive force.

      Mamora said �not minding one or two excesses we should be able to
      utilise them and we are not opposed to their coming back.

      The Speaker claimed that �the police do not want the OPC because some
      of them do connive with the robbers, we have had instances in the past
      linking some top police officers to the robbers.�


      Police quiz Sunny Ade over PMEAN's finances


      PROMINENT juju musician and President of the Performing Musicians
      Employers Association of Nigeria(PMEAN), King Sunny Ade, was yesterday
      invited to the General Investigation Division(GID), of the Lagos police
      command, Ikeja to answer to allegations of financial impropriety
      levelled against him by the association's suspended Vice-President, Mr.
      Rowland Onwuama.

      Onwuama, who was suspended over an alleged financial crime by the
      National Executive Council (NEC), accused Sunny Ade of embezzling the
      association's funds.

      The PMEAN president, in a convoy of musicians, arrived at the GID
      premises, Ikeja about 10.30 a.m. yesterday, where he and his lawyer
      held a closed door meeting in company of the Chief Investigating
      Officer, Mr. Larry Achiluku. The meeting lasted for about four hours.

      At the end of the meeting, the PMEAN president, dressed in a blue
      kaftan, addressed journalists, dismissing Onwuama's allegations as

      "I decided to contest for president of PMEAN because of my desire to
      see that the plight of Nigerian musicians is reduced. In my almost two
      years in office, I have tried against all odds to see that my electoral
      promises are fulfilled.

      "The allegations levelled against my person, I must say, are
      frivolous because the day to day running of the association is done in
      a transparent manner. At the end of the investigations by the police,
      the truth will definitely come out".

      The aggrieved first vice-president also indicted the Lagos police
      command in his petition sent to media douses, a copy of which was also
      sent to the Inspector General of Police. Onwuama alleged that the
      police in Lagos accepted bribes from Sunny Ade. This action, according
      to him, has prevented the police from investigating the allegations

      It was learnt that it was the Inspector-General who ordered a proper
      investigation of the issue. The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr.
      Mike Okiro further confirmed this, when journalists on the issue
      confronted him.

      Okiro said: "I got the briefing from IG's office and I have forwarded
      it to the GID".

      On the complicity of the police, he said: "If he (Onwuama) can prove
      that he, (Sunny Ade) gave out money to prevent his arrest, where and
      who collected the said money; we will prosecute both Sunny Ade and the
      officer(s) who collected the bribe.

      "But, on the other hand, the police will not hesitate to prosecute
      Onwuama if it is found out that he gave false information," Okiro said.

      The musicians' body has known no peace since October last year when
      five members of its executive were placed on suspension over alleged
      financial impropriety and official highhandedness. Rowland Onwuama,
      Kenny George and Okwomose E. Okwomose, first and second vice-presidents
      respectively, were among those placed on suspension.


      Lar, Suleiman join The Patriots


      DETERMINED in their quest for a better federation, The Patriots, a
      group of eminent Nigerians has netted more members from the Middle
      Belt. They include Chief Solomon Lar, Dan Suleiman and other leaders of
      thought in the region.

      Indeed, they are scheduled to be part of the Patriot's meeting
      tomorrow morning at the Ilupeju Lagos residence of legal luminary,
      Chief Rotimi Williams (SAN).

      A source said that this was a fallout of the recent leaders of
      thought meeting held in Abuja where the representatives of the Middle
      Belt backed a restructuring of Nigeria through a national conference.

      According to the source, "Chief Solomon Lar and other eminent
      Nigerians from the Middle Belt want Nigeria to be restructured. It is
      not only the South that has been marginalised. Middle Belt people are
      also aggrieved with the present structure. They want charges. They will
      attend tomorrow's meeting."

      The source, who was in the Abuja parley and also a member of The
      Patriot recalled how Chief Paul Unongo, a former minister of Power and
      Steel, declared at the Abuja meeting that "the train of Nigeria has
      started moving. You cannot stop it but only board it or jump out."

      Tomorrow's meeting which is expected to solidify their resolutions to
      clamour for their core-values - restructuring and true federation will
      be presided over by the chairman of The Patriots.

      Other notable members of The Patriot include, Chief Abraham Adesanya,
      Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN), Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN), Chief Michael
      Ajuluchukwu, Senator David Dafinone and Minister of Justice and
      Attorney General of Federation, Chief Bola Ige (SAN).

      Meanwhile, former External Affairs Minister and a chieftain of
      Afenifere, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi has said that "Nigeria is not an
      island unto itself. There is nothing uniquely Nigerian. The world is
      full of multi-national states, which have been huge successes such as
      Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany, Britain and multi-national states
      which have been woeful failure such as Yugoslavia, the Soviet Union and

      "Those multinational states which have been successful have been
      successful because they practice true federalism, with full autonomy to
      federating units. Those multi-national states, which have failed, have
      failed because they have failed to practise true federalism. They have
      run federal states along unitary lines, and they have paid dearly for

      The Professor of International Relations made these remarks at a
      public lecture entitled Nigeria. A Mere Geographical Expression?
      delivered in Akure, Ondo State capital in commemoration of the annulled
      June 12, 1993 presidential elections and the 25th anniversary of the
      creation of Ondo State.

      Akinyemi added: "It looks to me that the greatest danger to Nigerian
      unity is the refusal of those who refuse to allow for the restructuring
      of Nigeria. Those who make peaceful changes impossible, according to
      John Fritzgerald Kennedy, make violent changes inevitable. If after 87
      years of creation. Nigeria still appears to be an artificial creation,
      it has to be done due to the fact that all Nigerians are not committed
      to the concept of a just and equitable Nigeria."

      He began his lecture by reminding the audience of the comment of the
      late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in 1947 that Nigeria was just a
      geographical expression. Akinyemi added that at the time the late
      Awolowo made the comment, "Nigeria had been a state for about 36 years.
      In the annals of state building, it needs more than even a century to
      develop a sense of statehood, and to transform a state into a

      Wondering whether "the fact that it was the imposition of British
      colonial authority on Nigeria rather than a voluntary act on the part
      of the nationalities that inhabited the space called Nigeria that led
      to a state called Nigeria is what is responsible for Nigeria being
      called an artificial state, is this a Nigerian peculiarity?

      "To a large extent we have tended to focus on the artificiality issue
      as it relates to one aspect of the nationality issue - that is the
      merger of several nationalities.

      But there is another aspect "this relates to the drawing of
      boundaries without regard to whether the physical boundaries are
      coterminous with the nationality boundaries. In that sense, Nigeria was
      and still is an artificial creation because the physical boundaries of
      Nigeria have left the Kanuri, the Hausa, the Fulani and the Yoruba
      split between Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Benin Republics. However, I must
      point out that this situation is not unique to Nigeria or Africa."

      Akinyemi also contended that despite the fact that "the Yoruba nation
      has had more episodes of political stress than any other nation in
      Nigeria, they remain committed to the unity of Nigeria. "We must
      conclude that at no time did the Yoruba nation behave politically as if
      it is thought that Nigeria was a mere geographical expression."

      He equally agreed that "the attitude of the Arewa nation to the unity
      of Nigeria has never been in doubt. Whenever other nationalities in the
      South did anything that the North found offensive or whenever events
      threatened Arewa control of the central institutions of government, the
      Arewa had always threatened to exercise the secessionist card. But now,
      the agitation is about how to wrestle power from the South rather than
      making threats about secession."

      To him, the greatest challenge to Nigerian unity was mounted by the
      Igbo nation when it openly declared the Independent Republic of Biafra,
      an act of secession.


      Two Feared Killed As Chairman, Councillors Clash



      AT least two persons have been confirmed dead while property worth
      millions of naira were razed in Eastern Obolo area of Akwa Ibom State
      following a clash between the council chairman, Mr. Ufikaro Efet and
      his councillors.

      Eyewitnesses said that dangerous weapons, including guns, were freely
      used as the council legislators attempted to resume sitting last

      Prior to Thursday�s mayhem, the council had for about seven months
      known no peace as the councillors and the chairman had often been
      engaged in squabbles with each camp using physical and spiritual means
      to gain upper hand. The chairman was at a time accused of sponsoring a
      herbalist who was captured and brought before the council legislature.
      He was alleged to have confessed to have been employed by the chairman
      to eliminate some councillors.

      It was the herbalist episode it was learnt, which led to the
      legislators� suspension order on the chairman � a suspension the
      chairman described as a hoax having been, according to him, illegally
      effected without due process.

      Already, the State House of Assembly has waded into the crisis,
      calling on the state government to beef up security and restore law and
      order in the area.

      The house, which acted on a matter of urgent public importance
      brought before it by a member representing the troubled area, Mr. Uyio
      Udosen , condemned the killings and destruction in the area.

      It was the members� belief that the laws, rather than ensuring peace
      in the council area, had rather caused upheavals between chairmen and
      their councillors in at least 10 of the 31 councils of the state.

      According to them, it is either the council boss was suspended,
      impeached or was in perpetual crisis most often for flimsy and selfish

      Investigations revealed that in about 10 of such councils, at least
      two council chairmen have been impeached, a third was removed
      outrightly by the governor acting on recommendations of the State House
      of Assembly, while about three have been suspended from office by the

      Niger Delta Youths Oppose Inclusion In Eastern Council

      THE constituent states of the South South geo-political zone will not
      and should not be dragged into the proposed Eastern council, Niger
      Delta Youths Coalition (NDYC), warned yesterday.

      Berating Rivers State Governor, Dr. Peter Odili, for calling for the
      inclusion of the South South states of Delta, Edo, Rivers, Bayelsa,
      Akwa Ibom and Cross River in the newly formed nascent political
      organisation, Eastern Council, the youths said �the move is against the
      spirit of true federalism�. They vowed to resist the move vehemently.

      Similarly, the Urhobo National Assembly (UNA) at the weekend flayed
      Dr. Odili�s call for the inclusion of Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa
      Ibom and Cross River states in the nascent Eastern Council.

      In a statement signed by the General Secretary of the UNA, Mr. Godwin
      Etabidueba, the Assembly Odili�s action amounts to embarking on moves
      to abrogate the South South zone.

      Ijaw Group Decries Crisis In Bayelsa Assembly


      BECAUSE of the prevalent political crisis in Bayelsa State that
      culminated in the impeachment of the erstwhile speaker, Heineken
      Lokpobiri and his deputy, Ayibaesin Ideghotu last Monday, the Ijaw
      Youth Council has deplored the scenario accusing the executive and
      legislative aims of government of holding the people to ransom.

      The youth council in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Isaac Osuoke
      after the organisation's parliamentary session which took place at
      Adagbobiri, Bayelsa while condemning the state's legislative as well as
      the executive arms for their actions and activities which had
      manifested in the political crisis stated that it observed with dismay
      the unfolding "political intrigue that almost plunge the state into

      �The current crisis in the Bayelsa State House of Assembly over the
      impeachment and counter impeachment and the resultant thuggery and
      insecurity in the state capital is an expression of the greed,
      visionlessness and irresponsibility of the Assembly and the executive
      arm of the Bayelsa State Government, � the statement read.

      He explained further that the spate of violence that ensued after the
      suspension of the former speaker of the State's House of Assembly has
      grossly dented the image of government in the state.

      "The Bayelsa State House of Assembly has failed woefully in not
      pushing and passing legislation to support the quest aspiration of the
      people for resource control, self determination and environmental
      justices,� the statement stressed.

      The Ijaw Youth Council accused the assembly members and the executive
      arm of the state government of involving in a project of
      self-enrichment and self-aggrandisement to the detriment of the mass of
      the people of Bayelsa State, stressing "they have done nothing
      worthwhile to promote a better life for the impoverishment and long
      suffering people of Bayelsa State".

      The Ijaw youths body then urged the legislative and the executives
      arm of government to respect the Bayelsa people and ensuring justice
      for all.

      In this regard, IYC said it would be holding a rally match in Yenogoa
      to compel all the parties involved in the crisis to give account of
      their stewardship and clear the air on all the allegations and counter
      allegations of fraud and gross mismanagement of public funds.

      "We blame the Bayelsa State government for working to protect the
      'interest of the oil companies and its friends against the people. This
      is demonstrated by the support of the government in the deployment of
      troops to Nembe, Brass, Yenagoa Peremabiri," Osuaka said.

      IYC, therefore, demanded for a complete demilitarisation and
      restoration of the community rights and protection of human dignity in
      the state.


      De Klerk, Anyiam-Osigwe Foundations To Raise Leadership Institute

      THE Osigwe Anyiam-Osigwe Foundation in collaboration with the Frederick
      Wilhelm de Klerk Foundation have concluded plans to establish the
      African Institute for Leadership Training and Human Development.

      To be based in Nigeria and South Africa, the plan is to set up the
      Institute later in East and North Africa. It is in this connection that
      renowned curriculum planner, political scientist, sociologist and
      educator, Coetzee Bester will arrive in he country on Monday.

      Bester is the Director of Pamodzi Training Services which is
      affiliated to the De Klerk Foundation. He will be holding
      consultations with leaders of different segments of the society in his
      two weeks stay. This will take him to Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Ibadan,
      Owerri and Port Harcourt. Bester has a wide experience in political
      training in many countries of Africa.

      The Institute is a fusion of the ideals of the Anyiam-Osigwe
      Foundation's "Holistic Approach to Human Existence and Development" and
      De Klerk's "Making Positive Changes In Africa Through Proper
      Orientation And Training."

      According to Michael Anyiam-Osigwe, co-ordinator of the Anyim-Osigwe
      Foundation, the idea of the Institute was mooted when former South
      Africa President came to Nigeria last year to deliver the key note
      address at the Second Session of the Memorial Lecture Series.

      "The F.W. de Klerk Foundation was particularly impressed by the work
      of the Mission for Democracy(MDA), which is centred on creating
      awareness on what true democracy is in terms of practice," he said.

      In a subsequent visit to South Africa by members of the Anyiam-Osigwe
      Foundation, it was agreed that the Institute be established to give
      composite training to the individual on leadership, democracy,
      political training, economic enhancement and spiritual development.
      This is expected to cater for the various needs of the regions where
      the Institute will be set up.

      "The Institute will display the highest of standards in its
      approach," Michael Anyiam Osigwe emphasized.

      According to him, the aim is to achieve better quality of leadership,
      better quality of governance, better conception of democracy by the
      electroate and a better quality of life generally.

      WAMI seeks new name for ECOWAS currency

      BY next month, the common currency proposed for the West African
      Monetary Zone, the second in the sub-region, will be named. A central
      bank to serve the purpose will also become functional.

      The supervisory institute, WAMI is studying proposals for the names
      just as preparations reach top gear to recruit key personnel for the
      common Central Bank.

      These issues are key to fulfilling the basic objectives of the
      monetary initiatives, says Dr. Michael Ojo, director-general of WAMI.

      Last April, head of states of Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Sierra
      Leone, and Guinea agreed in Accra, capital of Ghana to induce
      integration in the sub Saharan region with a fast-track approach using
      monetary measures. The result is the West African Monetary zone two
      which is expected to merge with CFA franc zone in year 2004 to form a
      single monetary zone for the sub region.

      Ojo explained that the arrangement was compelled by the difficulties
      encountered by all member nations of the sub regional West African
      Monetary Union to reach a common ground currency for all.

      Ojo stressed that the six nation group is expected to play a role
      similar to the one played by the European Monetary Union which midwifed
      the Euro.

      Ojo said the UEMOA is a smaller group within the regional body but
      doing relatively better.

      "It has become obvious all along that there was much closer
      co-operation among the UEMOA member states than within ECOWAS."

      Hence, the "positive experience of UEMOA group with respect to lower
      inflation and exchange rate stability played a major role in the
      awakening of Ghana and Nigeria to influence the stability and economic
      progress in the sub region.


      Omokomoko� Beat of the minstrel

      IN front of the large dilapidated one storey building in the suburb of
      Sapele, Delta State, the early morning visitor was momentarily at a
      loss as to where to find his target among the numerous rooms in the

      A small bare-bodied boy soon solved that puzzle at the mention of the
      name of the subject. In the two-room apartment was a frail male figure,
      naked except for a wrapper tied round the waist; sleeping on a wide
      bed. A rather roomy woman seated on a wooden chair with a tray filled
      with biscuits and groundnuts on her laps challenged the visitor and
      that brought the sleeping figure to a sitting position.

      Alas, there jumped out the familiar face of the great artist,
      Chief(Dr) Omokomoko Osokpa.

      No doubt, there is a pall of depression around the Octogenarian
      musician who celebrated his 68th years on stage, recently. He had
      suffered a bout of stroke early this year. He is still recovering. The
      blind musician recalls in an interview coducted in in Urhobo language
      to Justin Akpovi-Esade, his experience since he began playing music.

      �I am Chief(Dr) Omokomoko Osokpa, the doctor attached is just an
      appellate, and the trend was common among Urhobo musicians and even
      now. I was born in 1920 and I started playing music in 1933. I played
      music initially with a man called Kaigha in Orogun town, but, I will
      say that God gave me the gift of music because I did not learn the act
      from anybody.

      �The kind of music I play is for the moral upliftment of the society.
      I look at what is happening in the society that is not good and sing
      about it, using the music to tell those involved in such acts to desist
      from it. When I started music, people used to call me a riff-raff. In
      fact, that is how musicians in those days were described. But I am
      happy that my musicianship took me all over the country and I met
      people like (late) I.K. Dairo in Ijebu Ijesha. Victor Olaiya and I were
      friends and he came to visit me at Agbor where I stayed�.

      The king of Urhobo vocalists, as Omokomoko is popularly referred to
      does not see his blindness as a hindrance in his chosen career. �With
      my condition if I did not choose to play music, what else do you think
      I would have done? Tap rubber trees or farm?�

      To Omokomoko, �Things are a little bit easier for musicians now. We
      started with drums and later bottle and gong. In those days when we
      were in the studio to do a recording, there was just one microphone
      that my chorus singers and I used. But now even machines do almost
      everything for the musician. I started in the period of the gramophone.
      Things were not so easy as they are now.

      Omokomoko has just one word to describe how many albums he has
      produced in his almost seven decades of playing music: uncountable! �I
      can�t remember how many records I have done since I started music. I
      can�t, unless we go to my former studio manager, maybe he will know�.

      The reason for this may not be far-fetch as aside the aged musician�s
      claim of getting inspiration to sing almost daily, he also had his own
      recording company - OGS Records, Sapele. �So anytime I got an
      inspiration for a particular song or songs that can make up a full
      album, off, I go into the studio and of course, my engineers were
      always on hand�.

      After the company folded up in the late 80�s, Omokomoko decided to
      collect money in advance before recording for any label, because �I
      don�t want to go chasing pirates or troubling the company for royalties
      when I know they will not pay me. So I ask for a substantial amount
      before I record an album for you. This arrangement saves me a lot of
      trouble. You know I am not getting any younger.�

      Why did the 81-year-old native of Obodeti, Orogun Town of Delta State
      married 13 wives? �I am an only child of my parents, so I felt I
      should �avenge� the inability of my parents by having plenty of wives
      and children. But that is not to be�. Omokomoko was obviously referring
      to his childless state. All his wives except Rebecca have since left

      Up till early this year before he was bedridden, the musician was
      still actively involved in music with his 10-member band. �I fell sick
      immediately I returned from the burial ceremony of Late Chief Eko
      Ovbije in January where I played all through the night�.

      But he is still rearing to go. �If the decision is left for me to
      take, I will go on stage today if I get an engagement. But my wife and
      my doctor will not let me. My age? I don�t feel one bit of the 81 years
      and that is the truth. Till I die, you will continue to hear from me

      The patron of the Performing Musicians Employers Association of
      Nigeria (PMEAN) and the Chairman of Urhobo Musicians Union, expressed
      gratitude on the concern shown by his colleagues to his plight, saying
      �They (musicians) visit me and give me both money and gifts. In fact,
      the whole of Urhoboland contributed to my survival at present. I thank
      all of them who gave and prayed for me�.

      �It is all dance, dance music, no good songs to teach the society to
      have good morals�, said Omokomoko, chastising some of his younger
      colleagues for not engaging issue of morality in their songs. �They
      don�t point out some of the wrongs of government in their music. Some
      are just involved in praise singing. They should change�.

      And Omokomoko is conscious of his current parlous state, as he
      lamented �My illness has depleted my whole finances. I am at present
      in debt, but for God and my wife and a few individuals, I would by now
      be begging in the street. But I thank God�.

      The veteran artiste called on the Governor of Delta State, Chief
      James Ibori, to come to his aid. �What I ask Ibori to do for me at this
      point in time is to provide a bus and a set of musical instruments and
      let me fend for myself the way I know how to � play music. I don�t want
      him to give me money to buy food, let him show that he cares for the
      entertainment sector as well as the entertainers.�

      �The instruments I have at present were bought by Chief Abakoro and
      Mr. Pius Ovbije. But the speakers are bad�.

      (Omokomoko�s latest album entitled Ero me mre mu (My Eyes Have Seen
      Things), according to the musician, was a tremendous success, �but you
      know I have already been paid off by Joromi Records where I did the

      He is sad that of all his 68 years of playing music, his only
      opportunity for an overseas tour came when he took ill. �I have never
      travelled out of the country and it is something I have always looked
      forward to. But when Samson Akporugo (a showbiz promoter) came from
      London recently to take me for a tour, he met me sick.�

      The deep folklorist would not agree with critics that the Urhobo
      musician always appear less inspiring, because he sits mostly through
      his performances. �I don�t agree with you on that. Everybody has his
      ways of doing things and that is our style. To us, that is the most
      regal position a musician should take, that is sitting down. It has
      been like that since we started and without boasting, I am among the
      first people to popularise Urhobo music.

      �Once your male and female dancers are among the audience dancing, it
      kind of make up for the musician�s inability to stand up. That is
      Urhobo style.�

      Would the acclaimed lord of Urhobo folk music, say that his decades
      of musicianship left him with fortune: �Why not? What would I have
      done? I married 13 wives with music, built a house and used three cars,
      though I don�t have anyone now. Music gave me popularity and wealth
      alongside. I am so popular among the Yoruba of old that anytime an
      Urhobo musician visits Yoruba land, he is called Omokomoko.

      �I am not complaining but for my illness, I would not be in this
      state of poverty that I am today. But I trust, God will do something to
      bring me back on my feet again because I am getting restless to go back
      on stage.�

      Better Half Of The Bard
      HER cool mien betrays her real person. Rebecca Omokomoko, the eighth
      out of the 13 wives of the octogenarian musician, Chief (Dr) Omokomoko
      can be aptly described as a rare specie among women.

      Since she was married out to the musician in 1974, Rebecca has stood
      by her marital vows and she has been through thick and thin with the
      man she married.

      Even in childless marriage to the minstrel, Rebecca is not
      bothered. �I took a decision to marry him (Omokomoko ) and I will stand
      by that decision, I guess, till I die.�

      Over the years, Omokomoko�s harem of 13 wives depleted gradually
      until only Rebecca is left. And for the singer and dancer of the almost
      family band, �it has not been easy. I have gone through tough times,
      with people putting pressure on me to desert my husband because he has
      not been able to give me a baby. But like I said earlier on, I find
      happiness here and this is where I will remain till the end.�

      Though the task of caring for an aged and blind musician-husband,
      according to the amiable dancer, is not easy �God, I guess has given me
      the strength and I am coping�.

      Rebecca has since left dancing as she said, �you can see that I am
      getting old. I now sing . My husband�s band has two young dancers
      now. Initially, all of us, the 13 wives were the group�s dancers until
      the rest left and we had to shop for younger dancers�.

      �How I will describe my husband? He is a talented, tireless and
      hardworking musician, husband. He is equally caring that is why I chose
      to remain with him and nurse him in his old age. He is fantastic and
      generous when he had money. If I am given a choice, I will marry him
      all over again�

      Rebecca spends her time attending to her sick husband �and petty
      business. When he is fully recovered, though he claims he is, we will
      begin performance again. But for now I am tending him�.

      Like her husband, Rebecca calls for help from the state government
      and well meaning Urhobo people �now that Omokomoko is still alive, not
      when he dies today, money will start coming for his burial. He wants to
      play music, all we want is assistance now.�

      She also doubles as Omkomoko�s accountant and she reveals that the
      highest the greatest Urhobo musician get to perform a show is N15,000.

      �After paying the band people, there is little left and the shows are
      not that regular. Moreso, we still hire some instruments. We are lucky
      sometimes to get some money from people at the party�.


      Today, Artists Dry Tears Of Refugees


      Art For Humanity

      Women and War, an exhibition of paintings organised by the
      International Committee of the Red Cross , ICRC which opened last
      weekend continues at the Goethe Institut, Victoria Island, Lagos. It is
      part of campaign for a conflict-free human community.

      WEDNESDAY, June 20 is the World Refugees Day. It will go down in
      history as the first day the United Nations Assembly had ever set out
      for the internationally displaced war victims. This year�s event is
      titled: Respect.

      Coming up over two decades after Organisation of African Unity has
      been holding the yearly African Refugees Day, it appears the world has
      finally followed the good initiative from the black continent; after a
      mean long resistance.

      In Nigeria starting from today the Ambassador Segun Olusola-led
      African Refugee Foundation (AREF) and its affliate, the African
      Garments For African Refugees (AGAR) rolls off a series of programme to
      mark the day. Already the AREF is teaming up with the little known
      Nigerian Artistes for Refugees (NARTIREF) to observe the day under the
      expanded theme, Respect Give a Bundle of Joy. Today�s event kicks off
      a week-long programme to give this year�s day a unique �artistic and
      humanitarian touch�..

      According to Mr Fidel Ndubisi, chief executive of Integrated
      Marketing Corporation (IM CORP), the event�s marketing consultants,
      �The purpose of bringing all these other bodies together with AREF is
      simply to draw enough attention to worsening situation of refugees all
      over Africa and particularly in Nigeria�

      Really, the pathetic condition of those victims of war was shown when
      the joint bodies visited Oru Refugee camp, Ijebu Oru Ogun State last
      Sunday. There the visitors barely stopped short of shedding tears only
      because �the main purpose of the visit� as Mr Osita Agu Media Relations
      Director of IM CORP said, �is to raise hopes not to suppress it

      The journey to the Oru camp began at about 10 am that Sunday, with a
      service held at the Household of God Church of Oregun Road, Ikeja. At
      the church the general overseer Pastor Kris Okotie spoke at length on
      the need for the society to help refugee. He preached on the need for
      the society not to forget the refugees because anybody from any part of
      the world can become a refugee by circumstances beyond his control.

      He later invited representatives of the refugee concern groups to the
      church podium for recognition. The delegation was made up mostly of
      popular film and music artistes including Kanayo O. Kanayo, Okey
      Bakassi, Tony �One Week� Muonagor, Julius Agwu, Olisaemeka Ugwunze,
      Seyi Solagbade as well as representatives of AGAR-AREF and IM CORP who
      appealed for assistance for the refugees.

      Okotie, himself a former pop music star and member of NARTIREF
      delegated two pastors from his church, Lawrence Odoemelem and Mike
      Igbokwe � heads of Welfare and Benevolence Department to join the
      mission to Oru camp. He promised that after the Sunday June 10 journey,
      his church will pay its own charity visit to the camp.

      The numerous pot holes and bumps between Ago Iwoye and Ijebu-Oru was
      an appropriate rough prelude to the depressive scenery the team was
      face with at the aging refugee camp; built in the 1980s by the UNHCR.

      The wide expanse of land tucked deep within thickets of woods has
      neither fences nor gates. But it may not need it because the nearest
      human settlement to the place is some long kilometers away. More so the
      tall trees and bush nearby, are enough fences. However, the visitors
      were greeted by a very large crowd, mostly women and children.

      Inside, the camp commandant Mr Lawrence Yegwa led the delegation
      through some of the living blocks � about six structure, two of which
      are upstairs. Some aspects of the buildings received the touch of
      paints, some time ago. The evidence on some of the structures that they
      were once beautifully painted were the flakes and morse on the walls
      that show dangling blades of paints suspended by strands of cobwebs.

      But the painted structures are mansions compared to the others; some
      of which have un-plastered walls. One of the bungalows has no ceiling
      and; an inmate whispered that there is another hall without ceiling.

      One of the structures has its dust-decked door and windows, firmly
      locked. Yegwa informed that used to be the medical centre for the camp.

      The delegation was informed that the medical centre stopped
      functioning sometime in the middle of last year. The doors, looked like
      they were locked a longer time ago.

      According to Yegwa, the local hospital running the clinic for the
      camp stopped coming when the camps debt hit about N150,000 and there
      was no hope of paying the debt.

      Similarly, the camp has one garri processing machine, which has never
      functiond since installation. The inhabitants of the camp said the only
      known fault in the garri making plant is that it was wrongly installed
      and nothing had been dome to change that since inception.

      One of the blocks also serves as school. The structure built for the
      camp by a humanitarian society; The Justice Development and Peace
      Commission (JDPC) of the Roman Catholic Church Ijebu-Ode Diocese serves
      as the only source of education in the camp. In the school, pupils are
      taught up to the level equivalent to primary six. Thereafter, the
      children are at the mercy of providence for education. Only about three
      graduates of the school have had the luck of being sponsored by some
      charitable scholarships to attend secondary schools.

      The camp has three dug wells but only one is functional, and it
      serves the well over 2000 inhabitants.

      The official record of the residents show that 1,700 are from Sierra
      Leone, and 465 from Liberia.

      There is no visible vocation within the camp and none of them is
      employed elsewhere. Not surprising, there are many young girls, many
      pregnant women and many new babies. Some of the families are up to
      eight in number.

      As the camp authorities disclosed, every month the inhabitants are
      given one kilogram of beans and one kilogram of rice each with nothing
      else; that�s how they feed. The result is that they are forced to do
      any menial labour, for any pay, �at least to avoid starving to death�,
      one of the inhabitants said.

      Life in the camp is not even made better by some other
      infrastructures that would have aided it. The public power supply has a
      presence in the camp but for most of the day they only gaze at the
      electric bulbs and wire which, for them constitute more of house
      decoration. The visitor�s were told that electric light reaches the
      camp for about 30 minutes daily and; it comes very late at night.

      However, it is obvious that the residents make utmost use of the
      power supply. They are very current with developments in the Nigerian
      movie and music industry. The camp was agog with excitement when the
      visiting artistes alighted from their cars. Shouts of �KOK!�, �Tony One
      Week!�. �Julius Agwu!��Okey Bakassi!� rented the air, drawing more
      and more people to the central arena. Even toddlers among them know the
      names of the stars. Most of them had no difficulty in recalling the
      popular films or songs the artiste have to their credit.

      Nevertheless, it was this popularity the artistes capitalised on to
      give succour to the visibly depressed refugees. Some of the singers in
      the delegation performed like Tony One Week and Julius Agwu performed
      their popular numbesr. Okey Bakassi, the comic actor who also led the
      NARTIREF arm of the delegation thrilled the gathering with rib cracking
      jokes and urged them to keep their dream alive despite the current

      Kanayo who drew a deafening ovation narrated how he too happened to
      be a refugee during the Nigerian civil war but today he is �using it as
      a testimony�.

      Mohammed Tunis, a former school teacher in Sierra Leone spoke for the
      inhabitants. The man who said he came into the camp in 1997 said it had
      never received a delegation. He remarked that it is exceedingly
      painfully for an able bodied person to be living outside his country as
      a result of a situation he has no control over. But such a pain, he
      said, can be assuaged if other people help to make the refugees�
      condition better.

      Tunis� moaning was well buttressed by the caliber of inhabitants of
      the camp. Some of the inhabitants of Oru Camp are well educated,
      skilled. Most of them said they thought the visitors were employers who
      came to pick people for employment from the camp hence they came out to
      register their names.

      Among such people who came out are Gaye Zargba, an agro- economist and
      Austin Zebey �both Liberians and graduates of University of Nigeria
      Nssuka. There were still some other graduates and skilled men who have
      been locked out for many years in the camp, hopefully awaiting help.
      Some others too, have resigned to dejection.

      But, unfortunately there is a kind of help some people render to the
      camp The camp authority showed the visitors rooms full of rags and such
      unusable materials. The leader said, �if we want to wash the rags
      people do bring to us here, the amount of money we will use to buy
      soaps will be more than the worth of the clothes.�

      To guard against such problem IM CORP said the there is a plan to
      appeal to people to donate something reasonable to the refugees; not
      rags and dust bin materials.

      Over the years, the AGAR project of AREF had been championing donation
      of sewing new and appropriate dress materials to the refugees. It has a
      workshop in Ikeja, Lagos where garments of African designs concept are
      sewn and given to the refugees. This according to art and culture
      patron, Chief Olusola, former Ambassador to Ethiopia is ti discourage
      donation of rags and unusable dresses to the refugees.

      The road work and fund raising dinner planned for the current event is
      also to ameliorate that problem.

      The road work tagged: Give a Bundle Road Walk holds today; it will
      begin at the National Stadium Surulere, Lagos, goes through Maryland to
      the AREF office in Old GRA Ikeja, where AGAR is located.

      The dinner will hold at Eko le Meridien Victoria Island Lagos, on
      Wednesday 20 under the chairmanship of the Minister of Works and
      Housing, Chief Tony Anenih with Chief Goodie Ibru, former president of
      Nigerian Stock Exchange, a patron of AREF as Chief Guest of Honour.

      Artistes in the NARTIREF collective and others will also perform.


      Nations Cup Qualifier
      Super Eagles Face Namibia In Windhoek

      THE four remaining places for next year�s African Nations Cup will be
      determined this weekend in a hectic final round of qualifying matches.

      With 13 matches scheduled for today and tomorrow , 11 nations are
      still in with a chance of reaching the 16-team finals to be held in
      Mali next January.

      The high-profile nations in danger of missing out include Tunisia,
      Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

      Zambia have their fate in their own hands, needing an away win over
      Madagascar, themselves just one win away from reaching their first
      finals, to qualify for the seventh successive time.

      A draw would open the door for Namibia, who would have to beat group
      one winners Nigeria in Windhoek today to sneak through into second

      Zambia will be without many of their foreign-based players for the
      crucial clash in Antananarivo as Dutch coach, Jan Brouwer battles to
      find some consistency with his side. Madagascar will have coaching
      support from Herve Arsene, the former professional from French club

      Tunisia, who finished fourth at the last Nations Cup finals, must
      beat second-placed Kenya in their group three match in Tunis tomorrow.
      A draw could let in Gabon, who must beat group winners Morocco in Fez

      Kenya�s preparations have been hampered by a bizarre travel schedule
      which sees them fly to Tunis via Dubai and London, a 36-hour
      expedition. Coach Reinhard Fabisch is said to be furious with the
      Kenyan Football Federation for their poor organisational efforts.

      In group six, bottom team the Democratic Republic of Congo need to
      beat Zimbabwe in Kinshasa and hope that Lesotho do not pull off an
      unexpected victory over group winners Ghana in Kumasi. Congo, formerly
      Zaire, have a rich tradition in the tournament, winning it in 1968 and
      1974 and appearing in the last five competitions.

      Lesotho led the group at the halfway stage and looked set for a
      fairytale march to a first-ever Nations Cup finals appearance but the
      tiny mountain kingdom have dropped five points at home in their last
      two matches and now must pull off a shock victory to grab the second
      qualifying berth.

      Zimbabwe, who have also stumbled at home, will qualify if they draw
      with the Congo and Ghana beat Lesotho.

      Group four is much more straightforward. Burkina Faso will qualify if
      they avoid defeat against group winners, Algeria in Ouagadougou
      tomorrow. If they lose, then Angola can sneak into the second
      qualifying berth by beating Burundi in Cabinda.

      In the weekend�s other action, Egypt, Cote d�Ivoire, Senegal and
      South Africa, all of whom are safely through, will use their matches as
      preparation for crucial World Cup qualifiers at the end of the month.


      Super Eagles depart June 27 for Sudan

      THE Nigeria Football Association(NFA) has slated June 27 as departure
      date for the Super Eagles to Sudan for its World Cup qualifier against
      their Sudanese counterparts.

      The NFA spokesman, Mr. Austin Mgbolu, told the News Agency of
      Nigeria(NAN)on Thursday in Abuja, that the match had been slated for
      July 1 at 8 p.m. when the weather would be more conducive.

      "The 8 p.m. time fixed by the Sudanese Football Association, for the
      World Cup qualifier is the reason NFA decided that the boys will leave
      on June 27 since the weather won't be too harsh for our players,"
      Mgbolu explained.

      NAN recalls that the NFA had invited a total of 36 players to report at
      the Super Eagles camp at the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano, to prepare for
      the crucial World Cup match.

      According to Mgbolu, there will be no automatic shirt for the 19
      invited foreign-based players, who will join the 19-man squad of
      home-based players. These players are currently training for the match
      against Namibia this weekend in Windhoek in the on-going Africa Cup of
      Nations qualifier.

      He said that screening of the players would be done by the technical
      crew who would consider their fitness, adding that the association
      would not condone late arrival to camp as the match was vital
      especially as it would decide the fate of the country in securing a
      ticket for the Japan/Korea 2002 World Cup.

      The Super Eagles is placed second with 10 points from six matches in
      Group B while the Sudanese are third with nine points from five matches
      and three more matches to play. The Lone Stars of Liberia leads Group B
      with 12 point from six matches.

      Meanwhile, the Super Eagles defeated Sudan 2-0 in the first leg of the
      encounter played at the Liberation Stadium, Port Harcourt.

      The Senate Committee on Sports on Wednesday summoned the football house
      to plan ways of securing a ticket for the country.


      Kenya in 36-hour journey, as oach blasts FA
      KENYA�S coach Reinhard Fabisch has hit out at officials over their
      organisation of travel arrangements ahead of tomorrow�s decisive
      African Nations Cup qualifier against Tunisia in Tunis.

      A victory would guarantee Kenya a place in the finals in Mali next
      January, and a draw would probably be enough.

      But their preparations will be disrupted by a journey that will take
      36 hours.

      The players left Nairobi on Thursday for Dubai where they waited eight
      hours before catching a connecting flight to Paris. They travelled from
      Paris to Tunis, arriving late yesterday afterno�on.

      Fabisch, the outspoken German who is in his third spell as national
      team coach, accused Kenyan Football Federation (KFF) officials of
      seeking to save money at the cost of results.

      �It will be nearly 36 hours between the time we leave our hotel in
      Nairobi and the time we check into the hotel in Tunis,� he said on
      Friday. �Now we just have to try and get there in high spirits.�

      KFF officials said they were forced to switch arrangements after
      being unable to secure confirmed bookings for their original flight
      plan via London.

      �We chose the airline that was not only affordable and convenient but
      one which could confirm the team�s flight back home,� said KFF
      treasurer Levi Obondo.

      �We also have money problems and the only way to go via London would
      be in a class higher than economy class and that is impossible for us,�
      he told reporters.

      Last week, Obondo said the large salary the federation pays Fabisch
      has increased their financial difficulties.

      The build-up to tomorrow� game has also been overshadowed by
      allegations that players are still owed bonuses and appearance fees
      from previous Nations Cup qualifying matches.

      Kenya, who last qualified for the finals in 1992, would only need a
      draw provided Gabon do not win their match against Morocco in the same
      group in Fez this night.

      Former champions, Abiola Babes begin title chase

      By Kunle Solaja

      THE chase for Nigeria's most glamorous football title, the Coca-Cola FA
      Cup begins today in 10 centres. Most of the 20 teams kicking off
      today's national preliminary round are mostly unrated and could attempt
      some form of upsets as the competition gets to the crucial stages.

      But the most significant event, is the return of former champions,
      Abiola Babes who last won the nation's premier competition in 1987
      before the club was disbanded.

      Fourteen years after the historics win against Ranchers Bees in a
      keenly contested duel that spanned two games and was eventually decided
      by penalty shoot-out, Abiola Babes, relaunched last year, will be
      attempting to rekindle their glorious past as they face NIPOST FC of
      Imo State in Benin.

      In another Coca-Cola FA Cup duel, AS Racines of Lagos will face
      Enyimba Feeders of Abia at the PTI Ground in Warri, while Ebiaji Lions
      of Ebony will face Oyo State runners-up, Nihort in Asaba.

      Gulari FC of Yobe and Sunshine Babes of Ondo State will slug it out
      at Lafia in Nasarawa State.

      Iwuanyanwu Nationale of Owerri will be awaiting the winners of
      Gashaka FC (Taraba) and Balyesa State's Admirality for the first round
      clash. Gashaka and Admirality are meeting in Enugu.

      Similarly, Kano Pillars will face the winners of Ikot Ekpene and
      Nasarawa's pioneer clash in Yoba.

      The other fixtures have Ila LG of Oshun facing Urban United of
      Nasarawa in Bida while Kanta Warriors of Kebbi will face Works Rangers
      of Ekiti in Ilorin.

      Vipers FC of Osun will face Customs FC of Sokoto in Abuja while DG
      Babes of Ogun and Shagari United will meet in Minna.


      FIFA Denies Morocco
      FIFA has rejected Morocco�s request for their final African group
      World Cup qualifier away to Senegal next month, to be put back to
      coincide with rivals, Egypt�s last match in Namibia.

      �Morocco asked FIFA to postpone the match (against Senegal)
      until July 22 from July 14, but FIFA refused,� Karim El Alem, the
      Moroccan Football Federation�s secretary general, said yesterday.

      �We wanted our match against Senegal to be played on July 22 to
      coincid e with Egypt�s match against Namibia for more fairness in
      sport and more transparency,� El Alem said.

      Morocco, three points ahead of both Senegal and Egypt in group C ,
      are scheduled to meet the Egyptians on June 30 in Rabat before
      flying to Dakar to play their last qualifier against Senegal on
      July 14.

      Egypt and Senegal will then play their last group C games away on
      July 22 against Algeria and Namibia respectively.


      Gov Tinubu Tennis Cup Venue Uncertain


      AS the date for the Second Governor Tinubu Tennis championship draws
      near, uncertainty continues to reign as to the venue of the event which
      is expected to be the biggest on the local tennis scene.

      It was gathered that the organisers of the championship have decided
      to move the competition from the National Stadium in Surulere to the
      Lagos Lawn Tennis Club in Onikan.

      This decision has, however, been frowned at by the Confederation of
      African Tennis(CAT) which wrote the organisers stating that it could
      not ratify the facilities at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club as it had not
      inspected its facilities.

      An official of the Nigerian Tennis Federation (WTF) who asked for
      anonymity said CAT wrote that it would rather have the competition at
      the National Stadium tennis courts where it was held last year. "CAT is
      aware that the facilities at the National Stadium are good but they are
      yet to inspect the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club facilities so they can't just
      go ahead and allow the venue change."

      The official added that the controversy arose out of a purported
      misunderstanding between the former NTF Secretary Mrs. Funmi Adako and
      Championship Co-ordinator Prince Femi Oladunjoye.

      It is, however, unclear how the organisers intend to put up a better
      showing than last year's event judging from the dilapidated structures
      at the Lagos Club.

      In addition the National Stadium which has seven tennis courts is
      seen as a more central and accessible location to players, journalists
      and other persons who may wish t<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
    • Nubi Achebo
      Govt, Labour talks end in deadlock * Police stop rally in Benue, gov faults fuel price increase From Collins Olayinka (Abuja), Simon Nwakaudu (Makurdi),
      Message 289 of 289 , Sep 7, 2005
        Govt, Labour talks end in deadlock

        * Police stop rally in Benue, gov faults fuel
        price increase

        From Collins Olayinka (Abuja), Simon Nwakaudu
        (Makurdi), Anietie Akpan (Calabar) and Auwal
        Ahmed (Gombe)

        THE Federal Government and Nigeria Labour
        Congress (NLC) attempt at finding amicable
        solution to the present stalemate over the
        increase in the prices of petroleum products
        yesterday hit the rocks as both parties failed to
        agreed on all issues raised.

        Speaking with journalists after the parley, NLC
        President, Adams Oshiomhole, said: "Nothing has
        changed, there is nothing positive."

        Asked what the thrust of the parley was,
        Oshiomhole stressed further: "They asked us to
        come and we tried to discuss the issue of the
        price increase and the consequences of the hike
        and the team admitted not having mandate to
        discuss on these issues. Therefore one can say
        there are no positive indications yet."

        Oshiomhole was however quick to add that the
        phased protest rally scheduled to hold across the
        country will go on.

        His words: "Yes, we were persuaded to shelve our
        proposed rally. But we told them that the protest
        rallies have to go on because they are not
        something we are doing out of fun. But in all we
        expect the government to respond quickly because
        this time, there is no ultimatum."

        The NLC also disclosed that no time has been
        fixed for reconvening.

        Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Hassan
        Lawal described the meeting as successful. "The
        meeting was okay. It was calm and peaceful. We
        have adjourned and we shall be resuming soonest.
        The NLC group wants to go and make consultations
        and we are also going to make more consultations,
        especially on issues raised by the NLC. They have
        intimated us on their intention to hold rallies.
        Nobody is against rallies as long as they are
        peaceful and I want to assure that government
        will not in any way interfere with that. But we
        believe it is better to sit, dialogue and
        understand all the issues concerned."

        The Minister of Information and National
        Orientation, Mr. Frank Nweke Jnr., on his own
        part remarked: "It was successful because we
        basically engaged in dialogue and that is
        consistent with the constitution. No meaningful
        development can take place in an atmosphere of
        disharmony or confusion. So, for the fact that it
        is Nigerians that manage Labour issues is very
        consistent with the constitution and democracy.
        We believe that their attitude is worth
        commendation. We want them to continue in that

        The minister also said that it would be wrong to
        describe the meeting as failure. According to
        him, the meeting indeed recorded some
        achievements. "It would be wrong to say that
        there is no meeting points. What happened was
        that we've met for four hours and there was some
        fatigue. That is why we decided to adjourn to
        later reconvene." He however failed to give a
        definite time when both parties are expected to

        A statement from the office of the Secretary to
        the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot
        Ekaette, said: "The SGF said he has no mandate to
        reverse the increase in the price of petroleum

        The statement however added that Ekaette assured
        that the Federal Government would address the
        problems occasioned by the increase with a view
        to cushioning the hardship.

        "Chief Ekaette however gave an assurance that the
        Federal Government would address problems that
        have arisen from the increase in prices of
        petroleum products so as to lessen the burden
        being experienced by Nigerians."

        The statement also said that Oshiomhole denied
        serving any letter of a nation-wide strike on the
        Federal Government but instead, the NLC and its
        allies have decided on series of public
        demonstrations across major state capitals in the
        country scheduled to begin on September 14.

        "Comrade Oshiomhole told the meeting that the NLC
        had not served notice for strike action but what
        the NLC has proposed is a public demonstration
        against the

        price increase scheduled for next Wednesday,
        September 14."

        Also in attendance at the meeting was Ekaette who
        led the delegation, Minister of State for Water
        Resources, Bashir Awoterebo; Minister of State
        for Agriculture and Rural Development, Otunba
        Bamidele Dada; the Economic Adviser to the
        President, Prof. Ode Ojowu and National
        Co-ordinator of the National Poverty Eradication
        Programme, Dr. Magnus Kpakol.

        Other stakeholders present were the Chairman of
        Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency
        (PPPRA), Chief Rasheed Gbadamosi; its Secretary,
        Dr. Oluwole

        Oluleye; the Group Managing Director of the
        Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC),
        Dr. Funso Kupolokun and the Permanent Secretary
        of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Tieiebi

        Meanwhile, an attempt yesterday by the Benue
        State Council of the NLC to hold an anti-fuel
        price increase rally was thwarted by the police.

        Major streets of Makurdi, the state capital and
        the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Square,
        venue of the aborted rally, were taken over by
        armed anti-riot policemen.

        Also yesterday, the Cross River State governor,
        Mr. Donald Duke, faulted the latest fuel price
        increase, declaring that something is
        fundamentally wrong with the managers of the
        country's petroleum industry.

        Anti-riot policemen numbering over 200 stopped
        the protesters from entering the IBB Square.

        Those who attempted gaining entrance into the
        square were forcibly sent back by the security

        Across the state capital, anti-riot policemen
        positioned themselves at strategic points to
        ensure that the workers did not hold the rally at
        another venue.

        The state NLC chairman, Mr. Boga Abuul, at a
        press conference on Monday, announced that the
        rally would be used to sensitise people on the
        need to support any action to be embarked upon by

        He said that the Benue NLC was waiting for
        directives from the National Secretariat of the
        NLC on what to do to force the Federal Government
        to beat down the N65 per litre of petrol price.

        In a statement justifying its action, the state
        Police Command Public Relations Officer, Mr.
        Adesanya Jinadu, said: "The state NLC is hereby
        advised to immediately call off the protest rally
        and resort to constructive engagement with the
        stakeholders rather than adopting a method that
        will bring about lawlessness and anarchy in the

        He warned that the police would take all
        necessary measures to ensure that lives and
        property were protected.

        Attempts to speak with the NLC chairman on the
        botched rally proved abortive as aides said that
        he had gone into hiding to avoid police arrest.

        Meanwhile, the price increase has affected
        transport fares across the state. Intra and
        inter-city fares have increased by 50 per cent.

        Governor Duke has also decried the increase in
        the pump prices of petroleum products, saying the
        managers of the petroleum industry should be held
        responsible for the citizens' woes.

        Duke wondered why for six years now in the life
        of the present administration, no single refinery
        had been built in the country.

        The governor, who spoke in Calabar at a monthly
        press briefing, noted that "the pump price
        increase is one of those unfortunate issues in
        our economic life. It is shameful that we have
        not solved the problem of our refineries and
        until we stop the importation of products, which
        are marketed at international prices, we will
        continue to have this problem."

        He added: "There is something fundamentally wrong
        somewhere with those managing the petroleum
        industry. Common economic sense tells us that a
        good chunk of it (crude oil) should be refined
        locally. Primarily, Nigeria is a producer of the

        The problem the country is facing, he stated, is
        not the shortage of crude but a shortage of

        In a related development, the North-Eastern
        States Legislators' Forum (NESLEF) has condemned
        the increase.

        The forum at its fifth meeting in Gombe, called
        on the National Assembly to take appropriate
        measures to reverse the new prices of N65 to N50
        per litre.

        According to the group, the Federal Government's
        argument is not convincing enough to justify the
        continuous increase in the prices of petroleum
        products considering the revenue the country is
        realising from the sale of oil in the
        international market.

        It advised the Federal Government to reactivate
        the existing refineries to guard against further

        The legislators also alleged the marginalisation
        of the sub-region in the cassava production
        programme of the Federal Government, adding that
        the zone was very qualified for the scheme.

        They added that the region's cassava was the best
        in the country and therefore needed to be
        encouraged to improve on the production.

        Cholera in Niger threatens Nigeria, says WHO
        By Chukwuma Muanya

        FEARS that cholera now ravaging some communities
        in Niger Republic may spread to Nigeria have been
        raised by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

        The United Nation's (UN) health agency said that
        its apprehension was heightened by a fresh
        outbreak of cholera in Niger districts right at
        the border with Nigeria.

        Seventeen new cases of the disease have been
        reported in Niger's southern Tahoua region since
        August 19, WHO spokeswoman, Christine McNab,
        said. Twelve of the cases clustered in the
        district of Konni included four deaths.

        "It's a very high case fatality rate," McNab told

        Five other cases were found in the past three
        days in the nearby district of Madaoua, she

        The new cases come on top of 108 others,
        including 11 deaths, reported elsewhere in the
        same region since last month. The newly affected
        districts are right by the border with Nigeria.

        "We are concerned about this because cholera,
        while it can be treated easily, often kills those
        who aren't treated," McNab said.

        "We are concerned also because it is so close to
        the border with Nigeria...and we don't want to
        see that spread further or spread across

        Cases of cholera were reported in Nigeria last
        year, according to WHO.

        The agency said it was planning a mission to the
        newly affected districts. Authorities in Niger
        had intervened to treat wells and water supplies
        and distribute medicine.

        McNab however told Agence French Presse (AFP)
        that no link had yet been established between the
        cholera outbreak and the food crisis in Niger,
        although malnourished people will be weakened and
        more vulnerable to infection.

        Officials of the Federal Ministry of Health said
        last Friday that a recent cholera outbreak in
        Kano had killed 30 people. A source from the
        ministry said medical teams were working to
        prevent the bacterial infection of the intestine
        from spreading.

        Romo Adamu, a top health official, said hundreds
        of cholera infections had been reported, with 30
        dead so far.

        The ministry recorded a total of 1,616 cases and
        76 deaths from October 15 to November 23, 2004
        and Edo State recorded 300 cases and 50 deaths
        from September 16 to November 18, 2004.

        In Kano, 20 local councils were affected with the
        case fatality rate highest among those less than
        two years and over 60 years of age.

        The possibility of a major cholera epidemic in
        Nigeria was yesterday corroborated by a public
        health physician at the College of Medicine,
        University of Lagos (CMUL) and the Lagos
        University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Adebayo
        T. Onajole. He said: "Cholera is endemic in the
        whole of Nigeria. It occurs at low levels most of
        the time. When it is in epidemic proportion, it
        is always as a result of a breakdown in social
        services within that environment. It is not
        limited to occurring between September and

        The physician added: "It is always present all
        the time. It is not unexpected in Kano because of
        the way of life and lack of proper social
        services like potable water supply, efficient
        sewage disposal system and poor food hygiene
        processes. It is spread by contamination of water
        or food from somebody who has it. Most of the
        time, it is by faecal contamination of water and
        food. These predispose them to cholera spread,"
        he said.

        Onajole said that cholera outbreak or even
        epidemic is possible in Lagos. "This is because
        the level of hygiene and waste disposal is poor.
        Drinking water pipelines pass through the drains.
        In most markets in Lagos, food items are exposed
        beside gutters and toilets. Nobody is enforcing
        food hygiene. It is not only cholera that can
        thrive in these situation but other diseases.
        Cholera has a shot incubation period and can kill
        within 48 hours."

        WHO said that "the current wave of cholera
        outbreaks started several weeks ago in West
        Africa. So far, 31,259 cases and 517 deaths have
        been reported in eight countries. Seasonal
        factors such as the rainy season, along with
        population movements in the area contribute to
        this unusually high incidence of cholera."

        Cholera, according to Onajole, is a severe
        bacterial infection of the intestine caused by
        Vibrio cholerae, when infected food is eaten or
        contaminated water taken. Symtoms of cholera, he
        said, include diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to

        First Bank, Ecobank unite for pan-Africa services
        By Enitar Ugwu

        FIRST Bank of Nigeria Plc and Ecobank
        International Incorporation (EII), the parent
        company of the Ecobank Group, are set to give
        birth to a pan-African banking institution.

        A statement jointly signed by Ecobank Group Chief
        Executive Officer, Mr. Arnold Ekpe, and First
        Bank Managing Director, Mr. Jacob Ajekigbe, said
        that the agreement on the proposed combination
        "will cover issues such as shareholding
        structure, strategy, integration, management,
        governance, valuation, due diligence, and such
        other steps or actions that may be necessary in
        realising the objectives of the parties."

        It said that both banks believe that the
        combination would enhance shareholders' value by
        eliminating duplication and reducing operating
        costs through shared services. It continued: "It
        is also anticipated that a combination of both
        institutions will have the resources to
        considerably grow revenues by expanding into new
        countries and market segments."

        The bank chiefs explained that the discussions
        would also take into consideration the Memorandum
        of Understanding (MoU) of Ecobank's Nigerian
        subsidiary with two other local banks, namely
        Chartered Bank and Regent Bank, subject to the
        approval of all parties.

        When the deal is completed, the emerging group
        will have total assets of over $5.5 billion and
        over 470 branches and offices in 13 West and
        Central African countries. There will be a
        subsidiary in the United Kingdom (UK) and a
        representative in South Africa.

        Already, Ecobank has over 110 branches in 13
        countries in West and Central Africa and Nigeria.

        First Bank, on the other hand, has over 360
        branches spread across Nigeria, a subsidiary in
        the UK and a representative office in South
        Africa, as well as 10 local subsidiaries and
        associate companies.

        Reacting to the development, Chief Philip Asiodu,
        chairman of the Ecobank Group, noted that "this
        combination marks the second phase of the
        evolution of Ecobank into a leading pan-African
        bank. In the first phase, Ecobank ushered in the
        era of indigenous regional banking in Africa and
        has grown over the past few years into a U.S.$2
        billion banking group, with shareholders from
        over 15 countries in Africa and beyond. Our
        shareholders include Francophone, Anglophone and
        Lusophone nationals and institutions."

        To his First Bank counterpart, Alhaji Umaru
        Mutallab, "the combination with Ecobank gives
        added meaning to the concept of globalisation and
        Nigeria's increasing integration into the global
        economy. By providing a platform that leverages
        First Bank's strong domestic competencies and
        Ecobank's unique and impressive transnational
        coverage, we are creating a sub-regional
        presence, with the financial wherewithal, the
        technological endowment, and the transaction
        know-how to intermediate the financing needs that
        will drive our continent's economic development."


        Minister restates ban on importation of barytes,

        EVEN if future discoveries are not made, the
        Federal Government says that Nigeria has
        sufficient quantities of barytes to meet its
        local needs.

        Consequently, the government has declared that
        the ban on the importation of barytes and
        bentonite will remain in force. Further steps, it
        says, will be taken to increase local production
        and utilisation of the two solid minerals.

        The two minerals are extensively used by oil
        companies in exploration activities and
        maintenance of their wells.

        The Minister of Solid Minerals, Mrs. Obiageli
        Ezekwesili, who restated the government's
        position on the ban of the two commodities in
        Abuja yesterday, said that all provisional
        concessions for barytes and bentonite importation
        would be reviewed.

        She spoke at a roundtable discussion on
        production and utilisation of barytes and
        bentonite. According to her, the ban on the two
        commodities would be maintained with a view to
        boosting domestic production.

        The meeting sought to consider why, despite
        proven reserves of the commodities they have
        remained unutilised in oil drilling activities in
        the country.

        Ezewesili said: "This administration is convinced
        that high-grade barytes and bentonite are not
        only available in commercial quantities in
        Nigeria but are also being mined by such private
        operators like the Nigerian Barytes Mining and
        Processing Company Limited (NBMPC), a subsidiary
        of the Nigerian Mining Corporation (NMC), Jos in
        Plateau State."

        Citing efforts made since 1999 by the Federal
        Government to increase local production of the
        two items, Ezekwesili observed that such efforts
        had resulted in the discovery of barytes reserves
        in Edo, Nassarawa, Zamfara, Cross River, Taraba,
        and Benue states.

        The minister put the yearly market demand of
        barytes at 130,000 tonnes, and assured that

        production can conveniently service all local
        needs for more than five years, even without
        additional discoveries.

        She, therefore, called upon all stakeholders,
        especially drilling companies, to support
        government's efforts to diversify the Nigerian
        economy and break away from its present
        mono-economy status.

        Ezekwesili said the intensity of exploration
        activities and the exploitation of high-grade
        barytes had been largely unsuccessful due to:

        * pricing of Nigerian barytes by mud-drilling
        companies operating at below prevailing
        international market rates;

        * deliberate rejection of barytes at Port
        Harcourt and Warri (Delta State) to frustrate the

        * under-valuation of the specific gravity of
        Nigerian barytes; and

        * under-weighing at the supply depots of the
        mud drilling companies.

        Atiku's family releases list of items with FBI

        A COMPREHENSIVE list of the items taken from the
        United States home of Vice President Atiku
        Abubakar by some officials of the American
        Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) has

        The Vice President's family, in a statement
        yesterday, said that it released the list to put
        the records straight. Some media houses (The
        Guardian not included) had reported that huge
        sums were taken by the FBI operatives from the
        home during a search on August 3.

        The family said that the statement followed "many
        enquiries on the items removed from the house"
        during the raid.

        The statement added: "In order to reassure the
        public, the family has decided to make public the
        information contained on the document containing
        the report of the search which was jointly signed
        by the FBI officials and a representative of the
        family. But at the time of the raid, the family
        had already returned to Nigeria."

        The FBI document is entitled: Receipt for
        property Received/ Returned / Released / Seized.
        According to the Vice President's family, the FBI
        document was signed by the investigators' team
        leader, special agent Mark Stanley of the
        Northern Virginia Resident Agency but operating
        out of the Washington Field Office. The other
        signatories are Patrick Fallon and Michael James
        Lasut of the Washington Field Office, who were
        accompanied by police officer J.P. Cissel of the
        Montgomery county, Maryland Department of police.

        The statement listed the seized documents as
        including "one envelope with house sketch, an
        employee schedule information and employee
        contact information, a green "Standard diary" and
        a 2005 Appointment Book."

        The list also includes a "possible list of camera
        locations, software and operation manual for DVR,
        a kalatel digital recorder, a multiplexer and a
        Manila envelope with William Jefferson's return

        The family said that "the special agents
        concluded that the FBI of the U.S. Department of
        Justice, at the time of conducting a search,
        'certify that the above represents all that was
        obtained by special agents of the Federal Bureau
        of Investigation, U.S. Department of Justice' ".

        The Vice President's family lawyers, who made the
        information available, according to the
        statement, "deplored the attempt by some
        newspapers to sensationalise the issue through
        the fabrication of falsehood."

        The FBI search was a part of investigations into
        the conduct of Jefferson, an American
        Congressman, who is being probed over some
        suspected under-the-table deals with some African
        leaders. Jefferson visited Vice President
        Abubakar's U.S. home two days before the search.
        The Congressman has been linked to an American
        firm's offer to do business with the Nigerian
        Telecommunications Limited (NITEL).

        Also being investigated by the FBI in connection
        with a similar alleged deal is Ghana's Vice
        President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama.

        Customs stops import concessions, targets N230b

        ALL concessions on importation of raw materials
        have been cancelled, the Nigerian Customs Service
        (NCS) disclosed yesterday. Henceforth, only
        President Olusegun Obasanjo can approve the
        granting of duty exemptions or wavers.

        The Comptroller-General of the Customs Services,
        Jacob Gyang also disclosed in Abuja yesterday
        that government lost about N27 billion through
        such concessions last year. He added that with
        the cancellation, the NCS would likely meet the
        N230 billion revenue target set for it this year
        by the government.

        "These adjustments will open more windows of
        opportunity for better collection and there is
        every likelihood that the revenue target for this
        year will be met," he stressed.

        Gyang disclosed that the NCS has already
        collected N111.8 billion as revenue in the first
        six months of this year.

        He said the revenue target for last year was N120
        billion, while N118 billion was collected. On the
        problem of smuggling, he said the activities of
        the agency were yielding positive results as the
        incidence of smuggling had fallen "drastically."

        With regards to textiles, he said the NCS had
        seized about 167 containers of contraband
        imported into the country and that between 80 and
        90 per cent of these containers were loaded with

        He frowned at the suggestion that such seized
        materials should be sold through public auction
        or be distributed to the needy, instead of being

        Justifying the policy of government to destroy
        the goods, the Comptroller-General stated that
        such imports were avenues of laundering drug
        trade proceeds.

        He therefore wondered why proceeds from such
        illegal business should be legitimised by
        distributing them to Nigerians.

        "We are not burning our money because the foreign
        exchange used to import them was not sourced
        legally and so the government is not losing any
        revenue in this respect.

        "Secondly, we have a character problem in
        Nigeria. If we say we should distribute the
        materials to the needy, what is the guarantee
        that it will get to the people targeted.

        "Before you know it, people assigned to execute
        such tasks will corner them and become textile
        merchants themselves.

        "Until we can sort out this character problem we
        can not run like other societies," he said. The
        only imports being disposed by public auction, he
        said, were refrigerators, deep freezers and
        vehicles among others, because burning would
        compound the existing environmental problems.


        New Owu's monarch, Dosumu, for coronation on
        October 3
        From Charles Coffie Gyamfi, Abeokuta

        THE stage is now set for the coronation and
        installation of Oba Olusanya Adeboyega Dosumu,
        Amororo II as the Olowu of Owu. The event is
        slated for Monday, October 3, 2005 in Owu,
        Abeokuta, Ogun State.

        Dosumu, whose selection as the Owu monarch was
        trailed with controversy, will on that day ascend
        the throne as the traditional ruler of President
        Olusegun Obasanjo's hometown.

        He was picked from six contestants, all from the
        Amororo Ruling House, to succeed Oba Adisa
        Odeleye, an architect who died about two years

        In a statement yesterday in Abeokuta, the
        chairman of the Coronation Publicity Committee,
        Mrs. Seyi Aderinokun Olusanya explained that the
        week-long activities to mark the occasion would
        be unfolded soon.

        She said that President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is
        also the Balogun of Owu would be chief host of
        the event, which is expected to draw several
        eminent Nigerians.

        At his Ipebi solitary confinement yesterday, the
        Olowu-elect told journalists that contrary to
        media reports, President Obasanjo did not
        influence his selection as the new monarch.

        He explained that he was favoured for the throne
        because among all the contestants, he was the
        only "direct" descendant of a past Owu monarch.

        According to him, the Owu Chieftaincy Declaration
        states that it is only when there is no direct
        descendant of a past Oba that those from the
        maternal side of a former monarch can be

        He insisted that all his rivals were from the
        maternal sides of past Owu rulers.

        Dosumu, who said that the media had not been fair
        to him in their reports on the tussle for the Owu
        throne, explained that he kept quiet until now
        because of his belief that God would chose the
        right person.

        "I used to pray one prayer during the crisis. My
        prayer was: God, please yourself, if you don't
        want me there (throne), I must not be there," he

        On his plans for his people, Dosumu said he would
        promote peace, love and unity in the community.

        Edo summons security meeting over robberies
        From Mike Osunde, Benin

        AGAINST the backdrop of the rising crime wave in
        Edo State, the state government has summoned a
        security meeting to hold today in Benin-City.

        The meeting is coming in the wake of calls by
        banks for the return of the recently recalled
        joint military-police operations set up last year
        when robbers terrorised the state.

        The joint operation was disbanded recently to
        allow Police take up its responsibilities,
        following the mass transfer of officers from the

        Government House sources said yesterday that all
        divisional police officers in the state, bank
        managers and other stakeholders have been invited
        to the parley slated for Government House.

        At a meeting the bankers held with the state
        Police Commissioner, Muktar Abbass, they called
        for the return of the joint military-police
        patrols. They argued that their presence helped
        to stem the tide of robberies since December last

        The Police have had to foil two bank robberies in
        the last three weeks.

        Addressing journalists after meeting with the
        bank managers, Abbass said the Police were on the
        trail of the robbers and were making conscious
        efforts to frustrate what he called their
        "enterprise" by beefing up security in bank

        At the briefing, Abbass said a number of arrests
        including university students involved in robbery
        operations have been made.

        Meanwhile, a seminar on security and its
        challenges to the Nigerian society will preced
        the episcopal meeting of the Catholic Bishops
        Conference which opens in Benin, next week.

        The seminar, organised by the Catholic
        Secretariat of Nigeria, is apparently in response
        to the growing security problems which the host
        Bishop, Dr. Patrick Ebosele Ekpu, said has become
        pervasive nationwide.

        Ekpu, the Archbishop of Benin Diocese, told The
        Guardian that security was one of the cardinal
        responsibilities of the government to the

        According to Ekpu, if a government fails to
        secure its citizens, it is failing in one of its
        major responsibilities for being a government.

        Nigeria to become major LNG exporter, says

        PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo has assured that
        Nigeria would become a major exporter of
        Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in the next three to
        four years.

        Speaking at a lecture titled: "Nigeria and the
        African Union" on Monday in Mexico City, Obasanjo
        said that everything was being done to make the
        country able to take the lead in the global LNG

        He said that part of his discussions with the
        Mexican president, Mr. Vincente Fox included the
        need for Mexico to purchase LNG directly from
        Nigeria instead of securing it from a third

        He said that both countries had agreed to work
        closely for the enhancement of their economic
        progress, adding that trade missions from both
        countries would exchange visits before the end of
        the year.

        Obasanjo said that both countries had agreed to
        set up a joint commission that would work
        actively for their mutual benefits and called for
        greater collaboration between developing nations.

        He added that what Africa needed from the
        developed world was access to their market,
        stressing that the next WTO meeting in Doha and
        Hong Kong should "truly work for the growth of
        both developing and developed economies."

        Meanwhile, President Obasanjo has said that he
        had found that women in his administration are
        more loyal than men. Speaking at an interactive
        session with members of Mexico's National
        Assembly, Obasanjo said that at least 30 per cent
        of his ministers were women.

        He told the lawmakers who spoke of efforts by
        their parliament to address discrimination
        against women that though Nigeria was also facing
        similar problems, there were no disparities in
        salaries of men and women.

        Obasanjo said however, that the country was
        battling a serious problem of male chauvinism
        "and that is my quarrel with them (men)."

        "They believe that men should be on top," he
        said, pointing out that one of the most effective
        ways of addressing discrimination against women
        was to give the girl child equal opportunities in

        He said that his party, the PDP, also practised
        an affirmative action in favour of women,
        allowing at least 15 per cent of political
        offices for women.


        Ngige, Obi feud splits Igbo confab in U.S.
        From Gordi Udeaja,
        Los Angeles, USA

        BUT for the prompt intervention of the
        President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Joe
        Irukwu on Saturday, September 3, 2005, the
        special awards session of the World Igbo
        Convention (WIC) in Los Angeles, United States,
        would have been disrupted.

        Reason: Members reacted differently to the
        recognition of Mr. Peter Obi, recently declared
        winner of the Anambra State 2003 governorship

        The chairman of the California Chapter of the
        WIC, Dr. Kalu Kalu Diogu, had invited Obi to the
        high table as the governor-elect of the state.

        This was after Chief Ozo Ughamadu, the Deputy
        Speaker of the State House of Assembly, who said
        he was representing Ngige and the state
        government at the convention had been called and
        assigned a seat at the high table.

        While some held that Obi's recognition was in
        order, going by the rule of law, some disagreed
        on the premise that Ngige was still the state

        And pacifying the dissenting factions, Irukwu
        explained that it had been the policy of Ohanaeze
        Ndigbo and by extension all Igbo groups to abide
        by the rule of law. In this regard, he said that
        Obi was only recognised based on the election
        petitions tribunal verdict which declared hin the
        state governor-elect, but that while the appeal
        was pending, Ngige remained the substantive state
        governor and ought to be so recognised.

        It was learnt that both Ngige and Obi were
        formally invited to attend the convention and
        that Obi was not invited as the state governor.

        Addressing the meeting, Governor Orji Uzor Kalu
        of Abia State lamented that 35 years after the
        civil war, the Igbo in Nigeria were still being
        treated as second class citizens in a nation
        their sons risked their lives to create.

        "Ndigbo today are an endangered species in
        Nigeria, we are neglected in distribution of
        wealth. Ndigbo are treated with scorn," he said.

        He said there were enormous oil reserves in
        Anambra and Abia states and nobody was doing
        anything to explore them.

        "Everything Igbo is being destroyed or sabotaged
        across the country. Businesses which I founded
        long before I became governor have been closed
        down by the Federal Government. My sin is that I
        spoke the truth and refused to be used against
        our people," he said.

        Kalu said that the neglect and poverty that were
        visible in Igboland did not seem to worry some
        Igbo sons and daughters in positions of authority
        at the federal level. His address was entitled
        "Posterity will judge us."

        He said: "I have opted for the path of honour to
        stand by our people no matter the odds. I will
        continue to fight for social justice and equality
        in Nigeria, my crusade for a better deal for our
        people is borne out of a deep and sincere belief.
        Some people say Ndigbo are not capable of leading
        the country and allude to the constant changes in
        the leadership of the Senate as a defence. I
        therefore, urge the WIC and this gathering to
        tell ourselves the truth and redefine our
        destiny, as we cannot continue to live in this

        Stressing that this was the only way the Igbo
        could liberate themselves, he urged the gathering
        to support him as Chief Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu,
        Chief Christian Onoh and many other Igbo leaders
        had openly done and identify with his
        presidential aspirations for the 2007 polls.

        Champion Newspapers publisher, Chief Emmanuel
        Iwuanyanwu, however, recommended that the
        Presidency should rotate among the six Nigerian
        geo-political zones, alternating between the
        North and the South.

        Ohanaeze cancels Igbo day in Delta
        From Chido Okafor, Warri

        FOLLOWING the protracted leadership tussle
        between two factions of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Delta
        State, the socio-political organisation has
        cancelled its arrangements for the celebration of
        Igbo Day in the state.

        An Igbo leader, Chief Augustin Asimole, said
        yesterday in Warri that the yearly ceremony would
        not hold because there was no leadership to
        organise it. "It is clear that he who's house is
        on fire does not chase rats," he stated.

        Ohanaeze Nigbo in Delta had been without an
        accepted leadership since last year.

        The problem began when the Olu of Warri, at the
        Warri Township during the last Igbo Day,
        installed Sir Peter Chukwu who was then President
        of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the Delta Central and South
        Senotarial districts, as the Eze-Igbo of Warri.

        But his installation was severely challenged by
        another faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the area
        led by Chief C.C. Anichebe. He was supported by
        some affluent Igbo businessmen in Warri, who
        accused Chukwu of being too ambitious following
        his crowning as Eze-Igbo in Warri.

        The Anichebe faction soon obtained a court
        injunction restraining Chukwu from parading
        himself as Eze-Igbo of Warri. The faction later
        pronounced Anichebe as the new President of
        Ohanaeze in the districts, resulting in the
        closure of the Ohanaeze secretariat in Warri.

        While in search of legitimacy, the faction
        invited the national secretary of Ohanaeze
        Ndigbo, Chief Joe Achuzie to Warri. Achuzie and
        Anichebe supporters visited all the kings in the

        Asimole said the installation of Chukwu as Eze-
        Igbo of Warri was a collective decision of the
        coalition for his contribution to the
        popularisation of the pan-Igbo group in Delta

        Bayelsa govt alleges plot to humiliate
        From Kelvin Ebiri (Port Harcourt) and Willie Etim

        BAYELSA State government officials raised an
        alarm yesterday that a plot to bring down
        Governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha may be afoot
        following the questioning of three of his aides
        on Monday by the Economic and Financial Crimes
        Commission (EFCC).

        The three (names withheld) who were detained in
        Port Harcourt on Monday, but have since been
        released, were accused of money laundering in the
        United States, as reported by the Federal Bureau
        of Investigations (FBI).

        A government official, who spoke to The Guardian
        on the condition of anonymity, expressed concern
        that the EFCC investigation might have been
        politically motivated. He explained that the
        government would wait for the outcome of the

        The Acting Chief Press Secretary to the State
        Governor, Preye Wariowe, confirmed the arrest of
        the men and that they were interrogated for
        alleged diversion of public funds through
        purchases and award of contracts. On purchases,
        the EFCC, according to him, was said to be
        interested in a new boat - Sunseeker - bought by
        the government, which is the official boat of the
        governor and contract for the governor and his
        deputy's lodges.

        On the state government's reaction, Wariowe noted
        that the EFCC has visited several states across
        the federation since its inception to interrogate
        government officials over allegations of

        In all these places, EFCC personnel spoke with
        the people there or invited them to the
        commission's offices in Abuja. There were no
        middle stops.

        "We are at a loss why the questioning of our
        state officials did not take place in Yenagoa but
        in Port Harcourt. We hope there are no political
        undertones to this strange investigation; it
        would appear to us that the target of this EFCC
        onslaught is His Excellency, Chief DSP
        Alamieyeseigha. But then, hard evidence would be
        needed to move against him, so it becomes easy to
        go after his aides," he said

        Wariowe explained that of late, several
        high-ranking government officials, including
        President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chief Justice of
        the Federation, Justice Mohammed Uwais and other
        government officials have come under EFCC

        According to him, it is rather amazing that the
        EFCC should be bothered by the purchase of a boat
        for official use by the governor even when other
        governors have acquired more expensive machines
        for transportation.

        As to the contracts for the building of the
        Governor's Lodge and the Deputy Governor's Lodge,
        the press aide said these were projects that
        began in 1999 and wondered at the reason behind
        the investigation. He further asserted that the
        motive for the continued detention of the three
        government officials was to paralyse the state.

        "We wish to state that the reason behind the
        setting up of the EFCC is noble. The Government
        of Bayelsa State supports it. All Nigerians must
        support the EFCC to carry out their duties
        diligently and effectively. However, where the
        EFCC is turning out to be a vehicle for the
        persecution and demonisation of citizens, then
        our democracy is in danger" he added.

        Why we want fresh polls in Anambra, by INEC

        IF the Independent National Electoral Commission
        (INEC) had its way, it would hold a fresh
        governorship election in Anambra State.

        According to the INEC chairman, Prof. Maurice
        Iwu, the commission is challenging the election
        tribunal's decision and is asking for a fresh

        Iwu told House of Representatives Commission on
        Electoral Matters yesterday in Abuja that since
        the court ruled that INEC never conducted
        elections in 90 out of 213 wards in the state,
        "it makes sense to conduct a fresh elections".

        He argued that the commission being the only body
        responsible for conducting elections in the
        country was convinced that elections were
        conducted in the state.

        "I think the onus now is on the court to now say,
        based on the available facts before it, that we
        conducted or we didn't conduct elections in those
        wards," he said.

        He added: "Now that the court ruled that INEC did
        not conduct electione in 90 wards, I think they
        should cancel the elections."

        Rights group raises alarm on extra-judicial
        By Kayode Falade

        NO fewer than 2,987 people fell victim of
        extra-judicial killings in the country in 2004.

        This was the finding of a human rights group, the
        Legal Defences and Assistance Project (LEDAP).

        The group's national co-ordinator, Mr. Chino
        Obiagwu, made the revelation yesterday in Lagos
        at the presentation of a report, "Impunity in
        Nigeria: Reports of Extra Judicial, Arbitrary and
        Summary Executions in Nigeria 2004."

        Alarmed by the development, the group has warned
        that if unchecked, it portends a grave threat to
        the growth of the nation's democracy.

        It also pointed out that if allowed to continue
        unabated, it could undermine the economic
        development of the country.

        Obiagwu told reporters that what proved most
        worrisome in this development is the impunity in
        which law enforcement agents and other agents of
        the state carry on with this act.

        He also lamented that as most of these killings
        were unreported, the figure must have been more.

        The organisation was further piqued that "out of
        the total death arising from extra judicial and
        summary killings, none has been resolved or
        perpetrators prosecuted to finality."

        According to LEDAP, this shows a 100 per cent
        rate of impunity.

        "In the corresponding period in 2003, LEDAP
        recorded 117 cases resulting in 756 deaths out of
        which only 16 were resolved. It shows that the
        increase in the number of cases resolved shows
        that the accountability capacity of the Nigerian
        state, with respect to the right to life and
        human security, is increasingly declining at an
        alarming rate," the national co-ordinator

        Obiagwu also observed that "impunity is a
        situation where violation of human rights and
        other crimes go unpunished."

        To curb this problem, the group called for the
        complete overhauling of the nation's police

        It stated that it was this step coupled with the
        provision of adequate communication and other
        facilities that could effectively fight crimes
        and control violence in the country.

        "The leadership of the Nigerian Police Force
        should also take concrete steps to prosecute to
        finality policeman that engage in extra judicial
        executions in order to send the proper message
        that the authorities are not condoning the
        killings," Obiagwu said in his address.

        The LEDAP also raised alarm on the unchecked
        influx of small arms into the country and the
        circulation in high number of such.

        The 109-page project report documented not only
        the extra judicial killings in 2004, but the
        summary executions too.

        It also held that an average of five people were
        killed extra judicially in the country in the
        year under probe.

        While fielding questions from reporters, Obiagwu
        pointed out that the police have no right to
        parade suspects and display their photographs or
        images in both the print and electronic media.

        He described this as an infringement on the
        fundamental human rights of the paraded persons,
        stressing that a suspect is adjudged innocent
        until convicted by a court of law.

        He further lamented that most of the paraded
        suspects were never brought to trial in a
        properly constituted court of law.

        Obiagwu alleged that these suspects mostly end up
        as victims of extra judicial killings.

        The LEDAP national co-ordinator also decried the
        situation where the police and other law
        enforcement agents do not implement any judgment
        against them.

        He disclosed that about 150 judgments have been
        made against the police in the last 10 years, but
        regretted that none has been implemented.

        He, however, called on the press to help
        sensitise the citizens on their rights, the
        ignorance of which he said, has been aiding the
        impunity of extra judicial killing in the

        Obiagwu also blamed militia group, vigilance
        group, cults and other groups for summary
        killings. The excesses of these groups,
        especially the militia, he said, should be curbed
        to allow growth of the country's economy and

        Suspected arsonists burn Ado-Ekiti council
        chief's office
        From Ifedayo Sayo, Ado-Ekiti

        AGAIN, crisis erupted in Ekiti State yesterday as
        suspected arsonists broke into the office of the
        Ado-Ekiti Council Chairman, Mr. Taye Fasubaa and
        set it ablaze. The incident occurred in the early
        hours of yesterday. The council boss had in the
        past one and half years been in the eye of the
        storm in the political crisis in the state.

        Fasubaa attributed the incident to the handiwork
        of his political foes who were envious of his
        "soaring popularity in the state."

        He said there was a link between the attempted
        attack on his life a year ago and the latest
        incident, saying he was convinced that the
        arsonist attack was politically motivated.

        Fasubaa said the arsonists arrived at the council
        secretariat complex around 11.00pm on Monday
        night and scaled the fence of the complex to gain
        entrance into the premises.

        They later gained access to the office of the
        chairman through the window after breaking the
        louvres and cutting the burglary proof.

        The arsonists, Fasubaa further explained brought
        along with them petrol and matches with which
        they set the office ablaze and escaped through
        the window.

        Affected by the fire incident were office
        equipment, tables and chairs, the ceiling,
        electronic gadgets and tiles kept in the office.

        However, he said vital documents kept in office
        were not affected by the fire, saying the
        arsonists were only in the office to send warning
        signal to him.

        Fasubaa said he had reported the incident to the
        police who were yet to effect any arrest,
        pointing out that he learnt of the arsonists'
        attack through the security men attached to the
        secretariat complex.

        He stressed that initially, he thought the whole
        secretariat was on fire only to get to the office
        and saw that his was the only one affected.

        Fasubaa, who claimed to have contacted the fire
        brigade service on the attack, said he was sure
        that the perpetrators could be linked to those
        who wanted to assassinate him about a year ago.

        While conducting reporters round the scene, he
        said: "You can see it is a sabotage. They broke
        the louvres and bend the burglary proof to gain
        entrance before they set the office ablaze. I
        know that they are envious of my achievements in

        But they will always fail as they did before."

        Nurses oppose fuel price increase
        From Okumephuna Chukwunwike, Abuja

        MORE criticisms have continued to trail the
        recent fuel price increase in the country as the
        National Association of Nigeria Nurses and
        Midwives has opposed the action.

        The Association in a statement signed by its
        Acting General Secretary, Sam Bolawole and made
        available to The Guardian yesterday said that the
        increase was unexpected and quite agonising in
        view of the prevailing economic reality in the

        "The increase will further compound the already
        chaotic and unbearable living conditions of the
        good people of Nigeria. In view of the above, the
        association is calling on the Federal Government
        to revert to the old rates," they added.

        Describing itself as a humanitarian profession
        that covers everywhere in the country in terms of
        health care delivery service, the association
        also urged the Federal Government to avert the
        impending unpleasant health hazard and economic
        problems the citizens will face if the price was
        not reviewed.

        It, however, warned that they might be forced to
        join other industrial unions in the planned
        nation wide strike.

        "We will be compelled to take this unpleasant
        action if our pleading to revert to the old price
        is not considered favourably. Similarly, the
        association is calling on the traditional rulers,
        religious groups, students, non-governmental
        organisations and well meaning Nigerians to
        prevail on the President to reverse to the former
        price", the statement added.

        Soludo presents 2005 human debt report

        CENTRAL Bank governor, Prof. Charles Soludo will
        tomorrow present the global Human Development
        Report 2005 to some diplomats, development
        partners, civil society representatives and
        senior government officials at the UN House in

        A statement yesterday by the UN Communications
        Specialist, Mr. Waziri Adio, said the report,
        entitled: "International cooperation at a
        crossroads: Aid, trade and security in an unequal
        world," will be launched in Nigeria a day after
        its global launch in New York, where Finance
        Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is featuring as
        the lead discussant.

        Published yearly since 1990 by the United Nations
        Development Programme (UNDP), the Human
        Development Report has become an authoritative
        and invaluable resource to researchers, advocates
        and policy makers across the globe.

        It provides cutting-edge analyses and insights on
        issues that affect human development and features
        the Human Development Index.

        Kidnappers demand N1.5m ransom
        By Alex Olise and Odita Sunday

        KIDNAPPERS struck again in Lagos yesterday. They
        are now demanding a N1.5 million ransom on their
        captor, 15-year-old Jennifer Okhudigbe. This
        happened barely 24 hours after officers of the
        Lagos State Police Command rescued two children
        from the hands of a female kidnapper.

        The incident according to the Deputy Commissioner
        of Police (DCP), State Criminal Investigation
        Department (SCID) Panti, Mr. Olayinka Balogun,
        was reported by the parents of the 15-year-old

        Security report available to the police, he
        disclosed showed that the kidnappers are now in a
        hideout at the Kuramo Beach, Victoria Island,

        The hoodlums had in addition to their demand for
        the sum, instructed the victim's father to come
        over to their hideout with a sophisticated hand
        set with one of the Global System for
        communication (GSM) Lines.

        Crack detectives of the State Criminal
        Investigation Department were seen yesterday
        marshalling out plan on how to rescue the victim
        and apprehend the suspects.

        The Okhudigbes reside in one of the buildings
        located at Ademola Sanya Street, off Aileyun
        Road, Ejigbo.

        The victim's father, Mr. Ofemu Jonathan Okhudigbe
        looked worried yesterday when he visited the
        police to ascertain the fate of his daughter.

        The Guardian had raised an alarm on Monday that
        between six and seven persons are reported
        missing under mysterious circumstances on a
        weekly basis within the metropolis."

        Two weeks ago, a boy was kidnapped by two men at
        Isolo area of Lagos demanding a ransom of N2

        This was after the boy's father had parted with a
        Toyota Camry car and N150,000.

        The kidnappers were subsequently apprehended
        after being lured into a plot hatched by the
        police in collaboration with the victim's father.

        The kidnappers had been invited to come for the
        ransom at the father's resident. On their
        arrival, a team of detectives swooped on them and
        got them arrested. The kid was also rescued

        The suspects were later discovered to be the
        victim's uncles.

        On interrogation, they confessed to the crime
        claiming they needed the money to embark on a
        business trip abroad.

        At the Oshodi area of the metropolis on Monday, a
        team of policemen on routine patrol had accosted
        a woman driving a Toyota Carina II salon car with
        two kids, aged two and six months sweating and
        crying profusely. This attracted the officers'
        attention and they later arrested the woman. She
        is now undergoing interrogation.

        Monarch urges peace in Ekiti, pledges support for
        From Ifedayo Sayo, Ado Ekiti

        FOLLOWING the clash on Monday between the police
        and some of his subjects, the Ogoga of Ikere, Oba
        Adegboye Akayejo, has urged the indigenes of the
        town to shun any act of violence in the interest
        of the community.

        The appeal came on the heels of the protest by
        the people over ongoing plans to impeach the
        Deputy Governor, Mr. Abiodun Aluko, by the State
        House of Assembly.

        The Ogoga was with a member of the ruling Peoples
        Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees, Chief
        Dayo Okondo and other notable indigenes of the
        town who spoke during the visit of the Acting
        Governor, Mr. Taiwo Olatunbosun, to Ikere.

        They all harped on the need for the people of the
        town to be law-abiding, assuring that the present
        political situation in the state would soon be

        Oba Akayejo restated his support for the State
        Governor, Mr. Ayo Fayose. He noted that several
        benefits had accrued to the town from the Fayose
        administration, particularly the newly
        constructed Ikere-Ise-Emure Road,
        Ikere-Igbara-Odo Road, the oil depot still under
        construction, a poultry project as well as the
        appointment of Ikere indigenes into top positions
        in government.

        Okondo dismissed insinuations that the state was
        on fire, noting that people were already going
        about their normal businesses.

        The Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly
        and Acting Governor, Olatunbosun, appreciated the
        support of the Ikere people to the Fayose
        administration, stressing that "Ikere will always
        occupy a pride of place in the heart of the state

        He denied speculations of attempts by the
        government to deprive Ikere people of their
        rights and called on the indigenes of the town to
        continue to support the state government. He
        pledged that the post of deputy governor would
        remain in Ikere.

        Olatunbosun said that those spreading rumours
        that the post of deputy governor would be moved
        out of Ikere were only trying to cause
        disaffection with the government, saying they
        were enemies of progress.

        Hundreds of indigenes had staged a protest in the
        town calling on the state assembly to halt the
        move to remove the deputy governor, saying that
        Aluko had been a loyal subordinate to Fayose.

        Obasanjo restates vow to fight corruption

        PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday restated
        that his administration was now more than ever
        determined to crush all corrupt public officers,
        no matter their positions.

        He spoke in Abuja at the opening of a two-day
        International Conference on Public Audit and
        Accountability Reforms organised by the Office of
        the Auditor-General of the Federation in
        collaboration with the World Bank.

        Represented by the Minister of Special Duties,
        Col. Musa Mohammed, President Obasanjo said: "Our
        avowed zero-tolerance for the scourge of
        corruption derives from our conviction that
        countering corruption and promoting public
        integrity are critical to economic rebirth and
        sustained development. If we must properly ground
        our democracy, if we must engender religious
        commitment to transparency and accountability,
        and make government responsive to the needs of
        our people, then we must make a conscious vow to
        permanently turn our backs on our decadent,
        wasteful, and corruption-driven past."

        According to the President, the audit process has
        a crucial role to play in driving forward the
        administration's economic and political
        regeneration efforts.

        He added: "An independent, efficient, effective
        and innovative Auditor-General's Office is one
        which fosters strong financial management based
        on reliable, sufficient and timely reporting. It
        is your responsibility to ensure full disclosure
        of deviations and effective internal controls
        systems in order to compel respect for the tenets
        of transparency and accountability."

        Also at the ceremony, Senate President Ken
        Nnamani observed that audit has got to be taken
        seriously because the country was sick and tired
        of financial mismanagement by elected executives.

        Represented by Senator Daniel Saror, Nnamani
        said: "There is this hue and cry of poverty in
        the midst of plenty because of mismanagement of
        public funds by those in the executive positions.
        It is almost getting to a point where those
        involved in this act should have their hands
        chopped off because of the dangerous trend."

        He welcomed the concern of the international
        community for the reform programme in the country
        and assured that the National Assembly would do
        all possible to entrench a reign of new laws in
        audit administration.

        Benue seeks truce with Tsav
        From Simeon Nwakaudu, Makurdi

        WORRIED by the continued face-off between it and
        the former Lagos State Police Commissioner,
        Abubakar Tsav, the Benue State government has
        called for a ceasefire. However, Tsav said he
        would continue to point out the defects of the
        Governor George Akume-led administration to
        ensure better governance.

        The state Information Commissioner, Mr. Cletus
        Akwaya, in a constituency briefing at Vandeikya
        Council where Tsav hails from, called on the
        former police chief's kinsmen to prevail on him
        to stop writing petitions against Akume. He noted
        that Tsav's action had deprived the people of

        Akwaya regretted that despite several entreaties,
        Tsav had turned his back on reconciliatory moves.
        He pointed out that the former police boss
        preferred to write destructive petitions against
        government officials with no proof of such

        The commissioner insisted that Akume has
        performed creditably, stressing that what the
        governor needs new is valuable support and not
        unnecessary criticisms.

        He therefore, urged Tsav to retrace his steps and
        end his criticism of Akume in the interest of
        Vandeikya people.

        However, in response to the state government's
        overtures for peace, Tsav said that he would
        cease petitioning officials of the state
        government when they put an end to alleged
        massive looting of the state's treasury.

        Tsav said: "To convince me against petition
        writing, let my younger brother Akwaya, tell his
        boss to complete all the projects he started
        since 1999 including those abandoned by Dr.
        Iyorchia Ayu. Then I can be part of commissioning
        and therefore stop criticising Akume."

        He added that he could not be bought over by the
        state government, saying: "Honesty can influence
        my conscience. I have nothing against Akume. If
        my son is made governor today and he fails to
        perform, I will criticise him."

        Tsav insisted that his criticism of poor
        performance should not be an excuse for the
        governor to deny Vandeikya of developmental

        According to him, even the governor's immediate
        constituency has not benefited from any
        government project.

        Tsav has been an avowed critic of the Akume
        administration over alleged non-performance.

        Ali attributes strife in PDP to struggle for
        From John-Abba Ogbodo, Abuja

        THE National Chairman of the ruling Peoples
        Democratic Party (PDP), Ahmadu Ali, yesterday
        identified a fierce struggle for power among
        members as the cause of the crisis rocking the

        Ali stated this during a solidarity visit to him
        by a coalition of youth associations in the
        country under the aegis "Democratic Crusaders"
        even as members of the National Working Committee
        (NWC) did not attend the meeting.

        Ali, who reflected on the crisis rocking the
        party, particularly the feud between President
        Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku
        Abubakar, lamented that struggle for power among
        PDP chieftains is the party's problem.

        "We have our internal problems and that involve
        the way of politics because people are jostling
        for positions and none of these people wants to
        leave it. They are all willing to remain there.
        Those who had left are coming in their
        thousands," Ali said.

        The national chairman, however, said that despite
        the internal wrangling, the PDP is waxing
        stronger and remains the party to beat in the
        country. "The party is strong. The party is well,
        the party is hale and hearty. The party de
        kampe," he assured.

        Ali advised the youths to be cautious about
        becoming politicians. He said: "I advise you to
        play politics as a hobby. Don't go there to earn
        a living. It is dangerous to start life with
        politics. Have a permanent job, politics should
        not be your main job. It should be an addition.
        It is like wine. When you drink it, it gets into
        your head."

        The national chairman also warned the youths
        against thuggery and advised them not to sell
        their votes during elections.

        The National President of the group, Amidu Anaja,
        said the solidarity visit was informed by the
        recent attempt by some people to demonise Ali on
        account of board appointments, arguing that there
        was no clause in the party's constitution that
        forbids the chairman from having his own nominees
        on the board.

        Anaja urged the chairman not to be distracted by
        "the campaign of calumny, stressing that most of
        the people complaining have no electoral values.

        "We, the entire youths crusading for the good and
        sustenance of democracy in Nigeria urge you to
        remain focused on the good work you started with
        PDP and disregard the machinations of detractors,
        arm chair critics and the Pharisees whose main
        stock in trade is pull him down and searching for
        the specks in the eyes of others."

        The group's leader continued: "In any case, what
        is the big deal having two family members out of
        22 members you are entitled to put on boards in
        your official capacity as the national chairman.
        Since there is no clause in the party's
        constitution restraining you from doing so. Are
        they not bonafide Nigerians working hard for the
        success of the party?"

        But most of the party's NWC, including the
        National Secretary, Chief Ojo Maduekwe and the
        Deputy National Chairman, South, Chief Bode
        George, were absent at the occasion although they
        were in their offices at the national secretariat
        where the event took place. Both Maduekwe and
        George came into the premises almost the same
        time and did not bother to even look at the
        conference hall where the visit took place.

        Breaking the resource control logjam
        By Fred Okpohworho

        THE National Political Reform Conference ended
        recently without an agreement on the percentage
        that should be allocated to the states on the
        basis of derivation. The oil producing states
        ("OPS") of the Niger Delta demanded that the
        percentage be raised from the present 13 per cent
        to at least 25 per cent while most of the non-oil
        producing states ("NOPS") as epitomised by the
        northern states resisted any increase in the
        percentage allocation but grudgingly accepted an
        increase to 17 per cent. The inability of the
        Conference to reach a consensus on this issue led
        the South-South delegates to boycott the last
        sessions of the conference.

        This has led many commentators to conclude that
        the Conference was a failure. It is heartening
        however, that the President has kept the issues
        raised and discussed at the Conference alive.
        While presenting the report of the Conference to
        the National Assembly, the President signalled
        that the issues raised were still subject to
        debate and discussion. It appears, from comments
        emanating from many members of the National
        Assembly, that the legislators intend to subject
        the recommendations of the Conference to intense
        scrutiny and debate before adopting, modifying,
        or rejecting any of them. This is an attempt to
        contribute to that debate and discourse.

        This commentary is not intended to be a wholesale
        appraisal of the success or otherwise of the
        Conference but is intended to suggest ways out of
        what has come to be known as the resource control
        logjam. It may be well to mention however, that
        the fact that the Conference provided a forum to
        put such fundamental national issues like
        resource control on the front burner of national
        discourse is, in itself, a great achievement and
        underscores the wisdom of Mr. President in
        setting up the conference in the first instance.

        I identify with the position of Olorogun Senator
        Felix Ibru as expressed in The Guardian of August
        15, 2005, that the issue should be addressed
        through dialogue and in the spirit of
        brotherliness. Hence, while the OPS are justified
        in their demand for a 100 per cent control of
        their resources, they must also try to understand
        and appreciate the fears of the NOPS. It is my
        opinion that the NOPS understand the position of
        the OPS and see justification for the anger but
        worry about the possible impact an increase in
        the derivation percentage will have on their
        states. In the understanding of the NOPS, an
        increase in the allocation to the OPS on the
        basis of derivation will result in a net decrease
        in the overall allocation to their states. In
        effect a win for the OPS is seen as a loss to the
        NOPS. We must therefore look for solutions that
        will address the problems driving the agitation
        for greater resource control by the OPS that will
        not necessarily be seen by the NOPS as a loss to
        them. We must think outside the box to find
        creative solutions that will at least appear to
        all as a win.

        In navigating our way out of this logjam, I will
        recommend a multifaceted approach. This approach
        will consist of a basket of solutions which, if
        applied holistically or in part, may address all
        the issues and satisfy the interests involved in
        the dispute. What this means is that an enhanced
        revenue allocation formula should be seen as one
        means of placating and compensating the OPS but
        not the only solution. Thankfully, many of the
        solutions proffered can be implemented via
        legislation by the National Assembly, at least in
        the short term, while permanent fixes can be
        addressed through constitutional amendments in
        the long term.

        As for revenue allocation itself, I will urge
        that we consider a graduated revenue allocation
        formula. I suggest that the 17 pert cent
        recommended by the Conference be applied to any
        receipts from petroleum exports up to the amount
        of $30 per barrel and 33 per cent for any
        receipts above $30 per barrel. This way, all the
        states are assured of enough revenue for their
        development in the event that oil prices f<br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
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