Showing posts with label violence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label violence. Show all posts

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Boko Haram Terrorism Threats in Nigeria



Boko Haram Terrorism Threats in Nigeria
AK2011130700138.

ANALYSIS

Dr. Deji James, Human Rights Group: writing from Abuja, it is emphatic that the Boko Haram issue is far from being just a ‘northern’ phenomenon, but nationwide crisis.

One of the greatest challenges President Goodluck Jonathan's administration faces is the growing insecurity across the country. Nigerians are said to now be living in perpetual fear of falling victim to the spate of bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and other acts of terrorism in the country.

Boko Haram, in its fifth straight day of violence, overran a police station in Toro Council in Bauchi State and carted off arms and ammunition. Elsewhere, a heavy explosion followed by bursts of sporadic gunfire hit Maiduguri, where the Islamic fundamentalists have also been waging a campaign of terror.

The Coalition of Ethnic Nationalities of Nigeria (CENN) has said the nefarious operations of the Boko Haram sect must be considered as an act of war and terrorism in the class of a foreign invasion against the country, "and must be drastically confronted as such by the security agencies to prevent further international embarrassment to Nigeria and further loss of Nigerian lives and property".

Governor Obi of Anambra State described the actions of the Boko Haram sect which has resulted in killings of innocent Nigerians in parts of the country, as unacceptable and must be tackled.

Senator Olubunmi Adetumbi, representing Ekiti North Senatorial district of Ekiti State, has justified the recent deployment of soldiers to Abuja to combat the menace of terrorism by Boko Haram, describing the move as a sure way to curtail the activities of the terrorist group. He assured Nigerians that members of the National Assembly will open debate on the matter after recess, saying the issue of terrorism in the country has reached a feverish pitch and needed utmost urgent attention.

Boko Haram has announced its Jihad in Nigeria and its intent on causing further mayhem until its goals of setting up a nation under Sharia is met. For many Nigerians, this is a serious threat, and must be taken very seriously by this President. Boko Haram has basically declared war on the Federal Government of Nigeria, and it is important to evaluate the situation carefully in the coming days on whether to initiate A-grade operations in the North to root out this threat now or allow it to fester and create a growing, inoperable cancer. It is better now to excise the tumor before it spreads.

The Boko Haram menace has taken a new and deadly twist, with the dreaded group issuing threats to eliminate all Christians and even Muslims currently serving in the Federal government. In the statement released by the group last week, it said: “This is a government that is not Islamic. Therefore, all its employees-Muslims and non-Muslims are Infidels.

While the deadly Maiduguri based terror group, Boko Haram, continues to maim, murder and destroy properties, the Nigeria state officials, security agencies are simply at sea as to how to curtail these strings of mayhem. The police most times try to minimize the magnitude of destruction.
Boko Haram’s Terrorism Does Not Threaten Only Nigeria. The Nigerian government has imposed a curfew on the national capital city, Abuja, following recent attacks by Islamist militants. Nightclubs, beer parlours, and cinemas must close by 10pm local time (2100 GMT) and public parks that admit children should close by 6pm. Abuja city’s administration said it has also banned parking of vehicles on two roads where most government offices are located. The security problems bedeviling Nigeria must pique our interest because of its implications for the entire West African sub-region.
To confront this problem we need to have a full understanding of the notion BOKO HARAM. Its direct translation in English means "Western Education is Forbidden" this notion is a very eccentric idea which takes its roots from the colonial era when the British having subdued the fulani's with their artillery batteries in Sokoto had implemented a system of indirect rule in Northern Nigeria, a system which allowed them to pursue their imperialist plans indirectly through the emirs taking full advantage of the existing feudal system.

This grievance has led to mass protests in the north and also the ruling Peoples Democratic Party losing a lot of seats to other political parties. The elite themselves are not safe at all as a result of the spate of high profile assassinations in the country by the dreaded Boko Haram sect. It is very obvious that there is a high level of entropy and ambiguity in the North. The real danger is not in the present but what is yet to come that is why the government must do its best to address the issue of poverty, unemployment and illiteracy in the North.

This time around Nigerians are faced with a problem in the form of terrorist jihadist militants going by the name of Boko Haram which means Western Education is forbidden in the Hausa dialect. The kidnapping of people and blowing up of government infrastructure is one thing but the act of suicide bombing whereby the aggressor is willing to risk his own life by blowing up himself and the intended target to oblivion is a whole different thing entirely.

The recent suicide bombing attack on the National Headquarters of the Nigeria Police Force which is the heart of our nation’s civil security outfit is such an unfortunate event. What even makes the situation more alarming is that it was a suicide attack, the first of its kind in our nation’s history.

This is a war that cannot be won by confrontation because these people live among us and for every terrorist that is killed there will be more to eagerly replace them so it is important that the authorities attack this problem from the roots so that our beloved nation will not follow other countries like Somalia, Afghanistan and the rest.

This is a report of how the fear of Boko Haram is threatening to change night life in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja. It is a season of a long list of forbidden activities after 10pm- including weekends. The Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, acting on intelligence and sound security advice, is toeing the path of caution.

Barely an hour after a local government council chairman was shot dead on Sunday evening in his house in Maiduguri by suspected members of the Islamic fundamentalists, Boko Haram, the group was reported to have bombed another local drinking joint at Wulari mammy market in Borno state capital leaving several persons dead and many others injured.

AFGHANISTAN! That was what it called its based in Kanamma, Yobe State. It uses guerrilla tactics as a means of doing devilish things, yet it professes Godliness. Drive-by and ride-by sporadic shooting of police officers and innocent passers-by have become another way of wreaking havoc. Bombs have recently come in handy, and bombs are being deployed with maximum effectiveness. This is the world of Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist group that appears to be fast replacing the militants of Niger Delta.

The issue of security should not be left alone to government. From my own point of view, government alone cannot stop the activities of terrorists which have left thousands of innocent Nigerians either dead or wounded. People in their thousands are relocating from Maiduguri to their villages and other neighbouring states they consider safe, as the city has been turned into a war zone. When our correspondent visited some motor parks across the metropolis, thousands of people, including students of the University of Maiduguri which was closed on Monday, were seen trying to flee the embattled city.

Death & Destruction, Thy Name is Boko Haram
The members of this sect do not spare royalty or religious leadership. Take: On May 30 this year, suspected members of the sect shot dead Abba Anas Umar Garbai El-Kanemi, the younger brother of Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Umar Garbai El-Kanemi. Also, a renowned Islamic Scholar, Shiekh Ibrahim Gomari Airport ward in March.

There was stampede in Kano, Bauchi, Kaduna, Maiduguri, Abuja, Jos, Kogi, Adamawa, Yobe, and Suleja over Boko Haram terrorism acts on Monday when news of incessant killings and bombing by Boko Haram with military forces were announced.

‘’We want people to know that the Federal Government fought us and therefore by the grace of Allah, we would continue fighting until we succeed or die in the process,’’ he said the sect spokesman. Abu Zaid said the sect members would continue to trail former governors of Borno and Bauchi states, Christian preachers as well as all the enemies of God.

Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have arrived Nigeria to help in the investigation of the 16/6 bomb attack on the headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force in Abuja. The FBI is an agency of the United States Department of Justice that serves as both a federal criminal investigative body and an internal intelligence agency (counterintelligence).

The University of Don said that despite the threats by the police and army to crush Boko Haram, the group has continued relentlessly to attack and kill policemen and military-men with ease. The manner in which they went to attack police headquarters in Abuja underscores the fact that they have intelligent people behind them.

However, it is time for government to act before it is too late!


Dr. Deji James, writing from Abuja, Human Rights Group.
13/07/11



Saturday, May 28, 2011

Security Challenges in Nigeria

Security Challenges in Nigeria

~ By Albert Akpor

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan says he is determined to improve security in the country with a new administration that takes power with Sunday's inauguration.

Security was a driving issue in the presidential campaign following bomb blasts by militants from the oil-rich Niger Delta and attacks on police by members of an extremist Islamic group in the north.

President Jonathan campaigned hard to convince Nigerians that his government was meeting those security challenges. But rioting that immediately followed his election raised anew questions about security preparedness. The New York-based rights organization Human Rights Watch says Muslim-Christian electoral violence in northern states killed at least 800 people. President Jonathan says he is determined to protect Nigerians wherever they live.

“As president, it is my solemn duty to defend the constitution of this country. That includes the obligation to protect the lives and properties of every Nigerian wherever they choose to live,” he said.

Delta State University political science lecturer Benjamin Agah says part of the problem is that suspects arrested after attacks are often released without prosecution, returning to the streets for the next round of violence.

“The same people who ought to be found guilty, who ought to be jailed or who ought to be punished, they are the same people who will still come out again, untouched by the law. So the president has a lot of security challenges,” he said. Agah says the new government must be willing to better equip security forces, especially in remote areas of the north.

“There are some places now that can not be policed ordinarily except through air. So the police should be fully equipped. They should be given the requisite necessities to enable them to fight these criminals,” he said. Public affairs analyst Kole Shetimma says insecurity is a problem for the president that runs far deeper than spending more money on police.

“In these security challenges, I think that we should not approach it from a law-and-order perspective. I think we have to look at the socio-economic and political conditions that have given way to some of these major problems,” said Shetimma.

In the Niger Delta, for example, President Jonathan helped organize an amnesty for militants fighting against a federal government that they say have failed to develop the oil-rich region. There have been delays in paying monthly stipends to those demobilized combatants and far fewer job-training programs than were promised. Shetimma says the president must address the underlying economic grievances in the Delta.

“How do we ensure that the communities in which this oil is produced have access to some of the oil resources that we have. The new petroleum bill, which gives like ten percent of the oil resources to the communities, I agree that that should be fast-tracked,” said Shetimma.

In the north, the extremist Boko Haram group is fighting to establish Islamic law and says it recognizes neither the Nigerian constitution nor the just-completed election. It is rejecting an amnesty offer from the governor-elect of Borno State, who is trying to end months of attacks against security forces. Shetimma says one of the obstacles is the government's refusal to recognize that security forces acted outside the law last year in killing Boko Haram members in Jos.

“It has to be on how do you respond to the loss of property? How do you respond to the security implications? So I am hoping that this is going to be a comprehensive approach to the issue of Boko Haram,” said Shetimma.

President Jonathan says part of his plans for improving security in the north and in the south is to increase employment for young men who he says are being used as “cannon fodder for the ambitions of a few.”

One of the greatest challenges presently facing security agents in the country, especially the Police is the constant threat by members of the notorious Boko Haram sect operating freely in the northern part of the country. The dreaded group has so much instilled fear and trepidation on our law enforcement agents to the extent that the fear of Boko Haram is now the beginning of wisdom to them all.

In fact, posting to the northern part of the country has become an anathema to, especially members of the police force from the southern part of the country going by the constant killings and attacks carried out by members of this sect who are gravely averse to all kinds and nature of civilization or education. Life before perpetrators of these heinous, sectarian and or religious upheavals has become meaningless and something that could be cut short at will.

Like the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the West, the Egbesu (militants) in the Niger-Delta, Boko Haram came to limelight in 2002. But unlike the OPC and Egbesu, the ideology of Boko Haram was purely Islamism and anti-western civilization.

This sect led by the (late?) Ustaz Mohammed Tusuf, Mallam Sanni Umaru and Abu Darba has as its sole aim, entrenching Shariah law as the official and only religion not only in the North but also in Nigeria as a whole. With its operational headquarters in Kanamma, Borno state of Nigeria, the term ‘’Boko Haram’’ comes from both the Hausa and Arabic words meaning, ‘’western or non-Islamic education’’ and ‘’sin’’ respectively. So, to believers of the faith, ‘’anything western or non-Islamic education is a sin.’’ It therefore goes to say that members of the sect are totally averse to anything that has to do with western civilization and this literally means that ‘’Western or non-Islamic education is a sin.’’

Investigation carried out by Crime Alert revealed that though the fanatical religious movement started in 2002 in Maiduguri, its anti-people, anti-government activities became intense in 2004 when the group reportedly attacked a police formation and killed several senior police officers for reasons only known to members. Afterwards, it became much more hostile to non-members, secular education and of course, the nation’s nascent democracy. In fact, the leader of the sect, in his avowed determination to drive home the group’s ideology was once quoted as saying, ‘’This war that is about to start would continue for a long time’’ if the political and educational system in the country was not changed.

In the mean time, the group’s notoriety assumed international dimension in 2009 as a result of the orgies of violence carried out in nearly all the Northern states, especially, Kaduna, Adamawa, Bauchi and Borno states during which several lives and property worth millions of naira were destroyed by members of the sect.

Apparently irked by this disturbing dimension, the Police in the month of July 2009 commenced investigation into the nefarious activities of the group especially when it was reported that it was stockpiling arms. The police succeeded in not only arresting several of its members but killed their leader. This sparked off another violent clash to the extent that security reports showed that the group was arming itself. It was revealed that, prior to the clashes, many Muslim leaders and non-members of the sect and a security official had warned the authorities about the heinous activities of Boko Haram and their plans to strike a deadly blow on the nation’s stability.

However, Crime Alert scooped the reasons behind the group’s guerilla-like modus oparandi and why security agents, especially the Police is seemingly helpless over the ugly development in spite of their heavy presence in the Northern states where the sect is noted to have wrecked and is still wrecking havoc.

A senior security operative who spoke on the condition of anonymity alleged that a reasonable number of officers and men of all the security agencies from the Northern part of the country, the physically challenged persons from the area and Muslim women who wear hijab are members of the deadly sect. According to him, ‘’I can tell you that the reason why you think we are helpless is that most of us who are members of the group are constantly working against ourselves. As a commander of a squad and secret member of the group, if it is known that the group is operating in one area, you will lead your men to another area. Secondly, if you are the landlord of where the sect grouped or re-grouped to wreck havoc, you dare not inform security agents; it is part of solidarity.

Again, the fact that you hear of sporadic bombings is not because we were not doing our best, but because as security men, you dare not search Muslim women who wear Hijab. Searching them would amount to indecent assault. Meanwhile, most of them carry the bombs, pass them over to the common cripples on the streets begging for alms and before you know it, you will hear explosion even close to checkpoints and most times at police formation or the barracks.’’

Continuing, the source said, ‘’This is why we are seemingly helpless. Except we are able to correct this visible errors which are of course, security lapses, bomb explosions and the menace of Boko Haram sect would continue for a long time.’’ It was also gathered that this ugly development which is receiving the attention of the powers that be will soon be addressed following revelations that the Presidency is taking time to ascertain the veracity of the report while at the same time compiling names of those suspected to be involved.

More over, the Presidency is said to be holding series of meetings with all the security agencies with a view to identifying where there is laxity in the pursuit of this goal. It was also gathered that security at the borders will be strengthened with a view to making it impossible for foreigners to capitalize on the activities of members of this sect and infiltrate into the country.

Meanwhile, reports said the Controller-General of Immigration, Mrs Rose Uzoma has ordered her men at the borders to swing into action and fish out foreigners that collaborate with members of this sect without delay. Sources at the Immigrations headquarters in Abuja said she had already set up a special task force that will report directly to her over the issue with a mandate to deliver positive results within one month. On their part, the State Security Services (SSS) are said to have intensified efforts towards rounding up all those connected with the activities of this sect remotely or otherwise.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Nigeria: emergency aid for people fleeing violence in the north

21 Apr 2011 21:04 Africa/Lagos



Nigeria: emergency aid for people fleeing violence in the north

ABUJA, April 21, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Nigerian Red Cross Society are responding swiftly to the urgent needs of thousands of people displaced in the city of Kano and elsewhere in the north of the country following post-election violence that erupted on 17 April.


"At least 12,000 displaced men, women and children are assembled in six locations in Kano," said Otchoa Datcharry, head of the ICRC office in the city. ICRC and Nigerian Red Cross staff have installed a 5,000-litre water storage bladder, and distributed 2.5 tonnes of emergency food rations (crushed cassava, sugar and bread) and 25,000 litres of water to 9,000 people. "Four more water storage bladders will be installed in coming days," added Mr Datcharry.


In Bauchi, the ICRC and the Nigerian Red Cross distributed 600 kilograms of food items to more than 750 displaced people, mostly women and children, who fled the violence and assembled in an open area in front of an industrial complex. A group of women among the displaced have volunteered to cook and distribute the food.


Assessments of the need for further assistance are under way in Kano, Bauchi and Kaduna and in other violence-stricken areas.


"Nigerian Red Cross first-aid workers treated a total of over 400 people for injuries," said Umar Mairiga, the society's disaster-management coordinator. "Many of the injured were later taken to hospitals."


Since the beginning of the year, the ICRC has given 104 Nigerian Red Cross first-aid volunteers the opportunity to refresh and update their skills. It has also provided training for almost 300 people from 12 violence-prone communities across six states of Nigeria, and supplied 16 state branches of the national Red Cross with first-aid kits to boost their capacity to respond to emergencies.


The ICRC and the Nigerian Red Cross had already provided assistance for victims of violence in the north of the country earlier this year. They brought aid to some 4,000 people in camps in Tawfawa Balewa, in Bauchi state. In the largest camp they installed a 10,000-litre tank to make water more easily available. At the Ungogo Primary School in Kano, where people had gathered after fleeing nearby violence, the Red Cross also built six toilets and a water facility.


"It has been very encouraging to see the dedication and commitment of the various Nigerian Red Cross branches and of their volunteers in responding to this latest wave of violence," said Zoran Jovanovic, head of the ICRC delegation in Nigeria.



Source: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)


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Monday, February 7, 2011

Sylva is a drowning man – Alaibe


•Alaibe

Sylva is a drowning man – Alaibe

Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate in Bayelsa State, Timi Alaibe, regarded as the biggest threat to Governor Timipre Sylva’s second term bid, spoke with some journalists in Abuja during the week on his tenure as Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chief Executive Officer of the Amnesty Programme. Deputy Editor, SAM AKPE, was there. Excerpts…


In the last one year or so, you have been busy helping the Federal Government implement the Amnesty programme for ex-militants in the Niger Delta. What is your candid assessment of the programme? Put differently, would you say the problem of militancy has been solved in the Niger Delta?

You have asked a very direct question and I shall attempt to give you a direct answer. Over all, the Amnesty programme has been a resounding success. I make bold to assert that the programme will go down in history as the sincerest effort by the Federal Government to address the Niger Delta question. You would recall that the late President Umaru Yar’Adua had on June 25, 2009, proclaimed a 60-day unconditional amnesty period for militants in the Niger Delta, as a step towards resolving the protracted insecurity in the region. The terms of the amnesty included the willingness and readiness of militants to surrender their arms, and unconditionally renounce militancy and sign an undertaking to this effect. In return, the government pledged its commitment to institute programmes to assist their disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation and provision of re-integration assistance to the ex-militants. In other words, the programme was structured to have three broad components. One, a security component dealing with the disarmament and demobilization of the various militant groups in the Niger Delta; two, an economic component with commitment to provide access to re-integration opportunities for the ex-militants; and three, to promote the economic development of the Niger Delta. Flowing from this, we proceeded to execute what has become, perhaps, the most successful disarmament exercise in the history of DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-integration) in Africa. By October 2009, (some) 20,192 ex-militants had willingly disarmed, turned in huge cache of arms and ammunition to security agencies and got enrolled in the programme. Going back to your question, I insist that the Amnesty programme has been a resounding success. Where we are currently would be better appreciated when viewed from the pedestal of where we were prior to the amnesty proclamation.

Can you explain that?

Let me take you down memory lane. By January 2009, militancy in the Niger Delta had virtually crippled Nigeria’s economy. Investment inflow to the upstream sub-sector of the oil industry had dwindled remarkably. Exasperated foreign investors had begun re-directing their investments to Angola and Ghana as preferred destinations over Nigeria. At that point, Angola surpassed Nigeria as Africa’s highest crude oil producer. This dwindling investment in the critical oil and gas sector threatened Nigeria’s capacity to grow its crude oil reserves as planned.
Like you may well know, Nigeria targeted 40 billion barrels proven reserves by end of 2010. Clearly, insecurity in the Niger Delta was identified as key reason investors were leaving for more stable business opportunities in Africa. For example, due to militant activities in the Niger Delta, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) by early 2009 had declared force majure on its operations, which caused a drop in its production capacity from one million bpd to about 250,000 bpd. ExxonMobil also experienced increased insurgent activities in its Nigerian operations. Sabotage, oil siphoning rackets and kidnappings of oil workers by suspected militants further threatened the operations of the oil companies and exerted immense pressure on the Nigerian economy. Worse still, citing insecurity, union officials all too often called strikes to protest insecure working environment. It got to a point where Nigeria’s export dwindled to as low as 700,000 bpd, compared with a targeted 2.2 million bpd for the first quarter of 2009. In 2008 alone, it was estimated that Nigeria lost over N3 trillion as a result of militancy in the Niger Delta.


So what has happened since the commencement of the programme implementation, especially in the oil sector?

Shortly after the October 4, 2009, deadline for Niger Delta militants to accept Federal Government’s amnesty offer expired, the government and other stakeholders began counting the positive results from the exercise. With peace restored in the Niger Delta, oil companies and associated companies re-opened shut-in wells; Nigeria’s oil production increased from 700,000 bpd to 2.3 mbpd; construction of East-West Road resumed; kidnapping in the core Niger Delta states drastically reduced; oil bunkering reduced; crime rate declined; signs that the process would succeed accelerated economic development across the nation. With cessation of hostilities, government began giving assurances that Nigeria can once again fill its OPEC (Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries) quota and be trusted by major consumer nations to meet its contractual obligations; Nigeria LNG’s reputation as a reliable supplier of LNG cargoes was restored; with renewed confidence in the international oil market, Nigeria began to exercise more influence in the supply and pricing of oil and, of course, repairs of oil and gas infrastructure damaged during the unfortunate era of militant agitation speedily commenced, while contractors handling development projects also were given lee-way to fast-track their efforts to assure the ex-militants of government’s determination to ensure sustainable development in the Niger Delta. Finally on this matter, let me clarify that while it is true that the late Yar’Adua initiated the Amnesty programme, it is important to place on record that when it seemed that the programme was floundering, it was President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan that revved it up, gave it fresh impetus and provided all that was needed to attain the success that we are talking about today.

So in what state was the Amnesty programme before you resigned in December 2010?

Yes, as at December 2010, (some) 12,917 ex-militants had undertaken non-violence transformational training at the Demobilization Camp we sited at Obubra, Cross River State. For this demobilization exercise in the camp, we engaged experts from Nigeria, South Africa and the United States of America. The transformational/reorientation activities in the camp are tailored to extinguish the belief of the ex-militants in violence and provide them a more powerful alternative – non-violence. In camp, they are taught to promote non-violent method in bringing about a better Niger Delta. The concept of non-violence is a method that is non-aggressive physically but dynamically aggressive spiritually. We inculcate in the ex-militants the fact that non-violence is for the courageous; that only cowards utilise violence as a means of conflict resolution; that the non-violent resister is just as opposed to the evil that he is standing against as the violent resister, but he resists without violence. In the non-violent approach, the attack is directed against the forces of evil, rather than persons who are caught in those forces. It uses the power of love. It is based on the conviction and belief from the long tradition of our Christian faith that the Almighty God is on the side of truth and justice. It is this deep faith in the future that makes the non-violent person to accept suffering without retaliation. The camp also provides career guidance designed to assist ex-militants determine their career aspirations going forward in terms of education, vocational and entrepreneurial skills. After the non-violence training and career classification in the camp, the ex-militants are placed in skills acquisition or training centres, both in Nigeria and offshore. As at December 2010, a total of 4,759 ex-militants who had passed through the non-violence training programme had been assigned to 57 skills acquisition/training centres in 13 states of the federation, while the 2,618 had been slated for training offshore. Indeed, just before my exit, we had sent 38 of them to South Africa. Another 200 delegates, as we now call them, are ready to leave for Ghana for vocational training. The overall re-integration agenda is to groom these ex-militants to become key players in the emerging economies of the Niger Delta – be it in construction, oil and gas, railways, tourism etc. Luckily, the Local Content Act and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) currently in the works in the National Assembly support this aspiration to get transformed and properly skilled ex-militants play key roles in the nation’s oil and gas industry. The final objective, of course, will be to get the trained ex-militants gainfully employed.

Is it not ironical that you are talking so eloquently about the restoration of peace in the Niger Delta while it is on record that a bomb goes off almost every day in your home state, Bayelsa, which is one of the Niger Delta states? In fact, it is even believed that the spate of violence in Bayelsa is threatening your campaign to become the next governor of the state.

Let’s get one fact clear here; the administrative rot in Bayelsa is not a reflection of the success or otherwise of the Amnesty programme. The violence in Bayelsa is politically-driven; the bombings and incessant attacks are induced and sponsored by the state government. Let me pointedly discuss this matter. There is simply no government in place in the State. There is no focused leadership. What you see is an illusion of a presence of a government. After almost four years in the saddle, the so-called incumbent governor has absolutely nothing to campaign with: no programmes, no projects; absolutely nothing, other than the deception that you see on the front pages of some newspapers that he calls his ‘strides.’ What strides? The so-called ‘strides’ have become a butt of joke, even among children. Imagine a state governor listing, as part of his achievements in four years, the fumigation of Okolobiri Hospital! Or is it the huge fraud of unseen and unknown ‘concrete roads and foot-bridges’ he has been listing as part of his ‘strides’? A state government receiving derivation income in billions of naira every month is priding itself as constructing foot-bridges and fumigating a hospital at this time and age. Then, what would the local government do? He is just wasting Bayelsa money to embarrass himself on the front pages of newspapers. Because he has achieved nothing in four years, he has nothing to campaign with; absolutely nothing to tell the electorate, so he is determined to stop other aspirants from campaigning. Can you imagine the governor of a state sponsoring violence disrupt the campaign rallies of other candidates, and at the same time shamelessly accusing the opponents of being afraid to campaign? We will not be cowed; we will not succumb to these dastardly antics of a rejected and drowning man. So, do not use the Bayelsa situation to judge the Niger Delta region. When last did you hear that a bomb went off in other Niger Delta states? By the grace of God, Bayelsa will turn a new page on May 29 this year. To further underscore the failings of the current government in Bayelsa, baseline statistics during the disarmament phase of the Amnesty programme, indicated that Bayelsa has the highest number of militant camps in the Niger Delta. These are patriotic youths of this country who, in the absence of care, resorted to militancy and other forms of self help. Over 9,000 youths of Bayelsa origin are currently enrolled in both phases of the Amnesty programme, the highest number from any state. This throws up the nature of the challenge of unemployed youths in the state because the number mentioned here does not even include those who are not in the Amnesty programme. The current government, meanwhile, has no plans or programmes for the huge population of the unemployed in the state. It got its priorities wrong, or how would it budget N1 billion in 2011 to construct golf course in the state. Golf course for who? Should this be a priority at this time? That man has no vision, even for himself. God will deliver Bayelsa from him.

In a recent interview, Sylva boasted that you are not known in Bayelsa State; that claims in certain quarters that the president backs you are false. The governor even lampooned you as a political ant and that the Labour Party in Bayelsa is nothing but a political graveyard of sorts?

I find it rather time-wasting joining issues with Sylva. I did not read this interview you are talking about, but my associates and aides drew my attention to it and excerpts were actually brought to me. The truth is that the man is simply scared. He knows that the game is up. Bayelsans desperately seek a fresh and better start. Typical of all drowning persons, he is seeking to cling to anything to stay afloat. He has resorted to name-calling and utter falsehood. But I think we should discuss issues and not nonentities. Overcoming the daunting, albeit embarrassing, challenges Bayelsa faces today requires a new vision. Bayelsans are determined, more than ever before, to move forward together, for the challenges we face are bigger than party and politics. It is not about LP, PDP or any other party. Sylva’s government has no sense of direction. Look at all the governors in the South South, from Rivers to Delta to Akwa Ibom to Edo to Cross River; they are opening up roads, building over-head bridges, hospitals, introducing and sustaining quality free education and healthcare projects, empowering their people. Sylva is busy advertising his failure in the media. Do you know how much he spends a week advertising those failures on the pages of newspapers? Add this to the regime of indebtedness he has thrown the state into. The governor should please tell the Bayelsa people the specific development projects that accounted for about N100 billion debt profile he has accumulated for the state. He should be worried about mismanaging the financial and general goodwill of Bayelsa people. Bayelsans are much more concerned about rescuing the state from his mediocre administration. A political party is a mere platform to contest elections. When elected, it is your duty to provide leadership. When you achieve results, nobody cares about your party platform. Sylva has every reason to fret; his cup is full. He is going. He is simply seeking to obfuscate the facts of the politics in Bayelsa today. All Bayelsans support President Jonathan. Indeed, I chose the LP because I support Jonathan. LP is not fielding a presidential candidate in the April elections. Therefore, Jonathan is my presidential candidate. He is the candidate of all well-meaning Nigerians and, by the grace of God, he will emerge resoundingly victorious in the presidential election. So, the current governor of Bayelsa has no escape route. He cannot blackmail Bayelsans to re-elect him, to reward him for crass ineptitude, simply because he is of the same party with the president. No, no it will not happen; our situation is peculiar and urgent; the collective mission of Bayelsa people is to, first and foremost, rescue our state from the grips of failure.

In a publication, you were quoted as saying you left PDP to embarrass the president.

I’m sure the president himself must have laughed when he read that because he knows the truth. I have been told that Sylva is using that as a campaign issue. The man is recklessly desperate. I really don’t think I need to comment on this because when my attention was drawn to that false and manipulated report, I quickly issued a corrigendum which was well-published by the same paper the following day. That cancelled the previous publication. My relationship with the president is well-known. It is unthinkable that I would say such a thing. When I wanted to leave the PDP for obvious reasons, as a mark of respect, I informed the president and other senior party leaders. Permit me not to disclose the details of our discussions. I acted based on the advice of the political leaders of Bayelsa. I left PDP to seek a neutral platform for the actualisation of the peoples’ vision. With our deep knowledge of the delegate system of voting in the primaries of the PDP whereby a sitting governor decides who should vote, we knew clearly that Sylva would rig the process to his advantage. I am in LP to fulfil the aspiration of overwhelming majority of Bayelsans who desperately desire that the state be rescued from the claws of its current clueless leadership. Never in my life would I contemplate embarrassing the man who gave me the opportunity to implement a programme that has turned around the economy of Nigeria by bringing peace to the Niger Delta.

Are you saying that your aspiration under LP enjoys the support of the president?

My brother, for about one year, I worked very closely and directly with His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, as his Special Adviser on Niger Delta. He is a man intensely focused on success; he abhors embarrassing situations, hates failures and loves peace and peaceful environment. I am contesting to be governor of Bayelsa to lead others to free the president and all Bayelsans from the embarrassment that the current state government has become. Do you remember that when the president visited Bayelsa, Sylva was booed and stoned by the people, in the presence of the president of this country? Nothing could have been more embarrassing. He was stoned, booed and insulted. I don’t have any iota of doubt in my mind that Mr. President wants his state to be better governed, developed, peaceful and habitable. I can assure you that from May 29 this year, President Jonathan will be spending his weekends in the new Bayelsa of our dream.


Sylva calls you a political ant.

Let’s discuss issues. Leave Sylva and his ranting alone. He is not worth any decent discussion. I’m not into name-calling. If I were a political ant in Bayelsa, why is he panicky? Why is he sending people to attack opponents everywhere they go to? Why is he running an illegal security outfit called Famutangbe (meaning ‘kill and throw away’ in Izon language)? This is the extent Governor Sylva loathes our people; maintaining a security outfit with a name reminiscent of a declaration of violence against the same people he swore to protect. Why would a governor set up a killer squad under the guise of maintaining peace and security in the state? The same squad supervises the pulling down of billboards of political opponents of the governor without anybody calling it to order. Look, let’s get serious: Bayelsans know me like the back of their hands. All my working life, I have done all I can, all that was within my powers, to bring development to the state. Today, a substantial chunk of the development projects in our state is attributable to my previous service in various spheres, including my service in the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). I am talking of infrastructure and mega developmental projects, particularly roads and bridges construction, shoreline protection, reclamation and canalisation. The excerpts of his interview that I saw, he was talking of uncompleted NDDC projects; what is that supposed to mean? Has NDDC folded up? So, simply because some NDDC projects are on-going or pending in Bayelsa, Timi Alaibe, who left there some years ago, should be blamed? Governors of other Niger Delta states are busy piling pressure on the NDDC to initiate projects or complete on-going projects in their states. Sylva obviously hates NDDC projects because they remind him of Alaibe. That’s pettiness! He spoke also of the Niger Delta Masterplan, which he said we executed at the cost of N25 billion or N45 billion. You can imagine a governor descending to the level of peddling rumours for lack of what to do. For the avoidance of doubt, the masterplan did not cost this amount. Unknown to people, the two lead consultants to the master plan (GTZ International/Wilbahi Engineering Consortium and Norman and Dawbarn Consortium) were companies sponsored and led by two prominent Ijaw personalities; both of them incidentally from Governor Sylva’s senatorial district. More interesting is the fact that Governor Sylva’s company, Sylvasky Nigeria Limited, led the group that provided sector consultancy on tourism. If the project cost the amount he has announced, then NDDC must have paid the money to the lead consultants and himself. I am waiting for him to publish his facts. He is a confused man. Like I said, Bayelsans know me; I have always given the state and indeed the entire Niger Delta region my best and my all. As the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta, I worked round-the-clock and even took risks to rid our state and other states in the Niger Delta of militancy. I am proud to say that today we have paved the way for a better future for these our brothers and sisters who are currently in first-class skills acquisition centres across the country and abroad. As governor of Bayelsa State, I shall, by the grace of God, do much more. We will invest in major critical infrastructure that will involve the construction of roads and bridges that will open up our land-locked communities, villages and towns. We shall reclaim lands from the sea, rivers as well as creeks and protect our shores. We shall diversify the economy of Bayelsa to empower our people and create job opportunities.



Monday, January 10, 2011

Guns and Bombs Defining Nigerian Elections


President Goodluck Jonathan

Jonathan: No one wished this will be the case, Guns and Bombs Defining Nigerian Elections, so get outside help now

Sir, as a Philosopher first and a politician second, it must cause some suffering in your mind as to how the first week of 2011 elections has become marked with hate and violence at this initial stage. It is not April yet?

No one will deny the possibility that the pockets of violence opened across the country could be a metaphor of what is to come, in a few months. Sir, this is the truth and of course it hurts to see how things could turn out moving forward. Sir the news is not good to your ears—a stabbing, a near lynching, home-based killing, a bomb here and there, and individuals openly parading the voting areas with guns, shooting at random, leaving the election and law enforcement workers to run for their lives.

Sir, this ominous atmosphere is certainly not what you wished as a philosopher, as a lecturer, and certainly not in your capacity as a President. Sir, for many observers including this writer, a Clinical psychologist of the human mind, the guess is that you are not a politician in the cut-throat Nigerian or “Niger” sense, but as fate, destiny or accident would have it, you in IT and so it is.

Sir, time is short. It is your obligation to do something now. Thank God for the security outfit around you and that is how it should be as the leader of society in political and social distress, at least for now.

The recent words from the nation’s election chief, Attahiru Jega must trouble your soul, your mind and possibly give you chills; it certainly could especially for a man like you with a face known for its ‘heavy’ look. Here are some of the terrifying Jega-ian words—ballot box snatching by way of violence occurred in some areas. Sir think of that market woman, that young man or elderly and aging male voting for the first time , only to be scared off by the sounds of gun shots, who will he report to?. Even if he or she goes into a police station where the station officer is sitting and writing with the aid of a lamp, a touch light or candle, what will come out of such report is at best nothing—this much you must admit is the reality.

Sir, certainly you have made it clear you want to rule the country in the next four years and like other presidential, gubernatorial and other political contestants would like to win in any way you can, but you are currently the Nation’s ruler, so that average voter needs you now more than ever!

Here is what you could do right away but you should do it differently, not with the country’s law enforcement workers as a number of them are psychically or materially unable to resist bribery, at least by your own admission.
To fully provide a sense of safety and security for the average voters in the next few months, outsource a certain quantity of the security body to foreigners, as it is proper under international law for you to protect the voting citizenry from a society fraught with violence from armed thugs, gun gang affiliates and corrupt armed officials.

A quick way to bring security to a supposed free state like Nigeria is bring in private security firms from the western world and many of these armed and highly professional and no nonsense agencies are owned by Diaporan Nigerians who also has cultural awareness of their native society. This will be the logical strategy and if you can get extra security forces from President Obama who also knows of the African reality and the deteriorating security atmosphere all the better.

Sir, this move is only to oppose and prevent a wider degree of victimization in the next few months, and thereafter end the contract. Sir, you are an Executive President and in cases like this where the county is almost facing constitutional crisis—political assassinations, beating or killing of election officers, and the destruction of election boxes as well as an all-out open terror on the average citizen then the use of your executive order superimposes every other authority. Good luck.

~ By John Egbeazien Oshodi, Ph.D , DABPS, FACFE, is a Forensic/Clinical
Psychologist and an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Behavioral
Science, North Campus, Broward College, Coconut Creek, Florida.
joshodi@broward.edu



Related Links:

President Goodluck Jonathan

President Barack Obama

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

Professor Attahiru Muhammadu Jega



Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11: Day of Remembrance

DAY OF REMEMBRANCE FOR SEPTEMBER 11

I light a candle for everyone of our beloved ones we lost on that fateful day.

I condemned the plan by Rev. Terry Jones to burn copies of the Qur'an and asked my readers to join in the Day of Remembrance Memorial Service, but my news blog www.247nigeria.com was hacked this morning by the enemies of peace.

I have posted my special report on http://forum.247nigeria.com/index.php?topic=262.msg349#msg349, to ask for peace and to say no to violence.

Let us observe the Day of Remembrance in peace.

God bless America.



Monday, March 29, 2010

CAIR Seeks Info on Militia Threats to Muslim Groups

29 Mar 2010 04:01 Africa/Lagos


CAIR Seeks Info on Militia Threats to Muslim Groups

FBI reportedly raids militia after threats of violence against Islamic organizations

WASHINGTON, March 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization tonight called on federal law enforcement authorities to release more information about possible threats of violence against American Muslims by a militia group raided this weekend in several states.

[NOTE TO MEDIA PROFESSIONALS: Charges are expected to be unsealed in federal court in Detroit on Monday. If the reported threats to Islamic organizations are confirmed, CAIR will hold a news conference on the issue later on Monday in Washington, D.C. CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com]

The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said at least seven members of a Christian militia group have been arrested in FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force raids and investigations in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. According to media reports, the "Hutaree" militia was targeted after its members made threats of violence against Islamic organizations.

SEE: Seven Arrested in FBI Raids Linked to Christian Militia Group (Detroit News)


http://tinyurl.com/detnewsmilitia
FBI Arrests 7 with Ties to Christian Militia (CBS)
http://cbs5.com/national/hutaree.militia.group.2.1595616.html


"Given the recent sharp spike CAIR offices nationwide have observed in anti-Islam rhetoric, it would not be surprising that an extremist group would seek to turn that bigoted rhetoric into violent actions," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. "At this stage, we are seeking more information about possible threats to American Muslim organizations and are urging the offices of CAIR and other Islamic institutions nationwide to take appropriate security precautions."

He added that just last week, CAIR called on Republican leaders to repudiate racist taunts by tea party opponents of health care reform targeting a Muslim congressman and another African-American lawmaker on Capitol Hill.

SEE: Muslim Congressman Called 'N**ger' by Tea Party Protesters
http://tinyurl.com/carsonnword


Awad also noted that CAIR recently expressed concern about the reported rise in the number of anti-government and anti-immigrant extremist groups during the past year.

SEE: CAIR Concerned About Reported Rise in Militias, 'Patriot' Groups
http://tinyurl.com/riseinmilitias


CAIR is urging American Muslim individuals and institutions to review advice on security procedures contained in its "Muslim Community Safety Kit."

SEE: Muslim Community Safety Kit
http://www.cair.com/ActionCenter/CommunityToolKit.aspx

Become a Fan of CAIR on Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/pages/CAIR/42590232694
Subscribe to CAIR's E-Mail List
http://tinyurl.com/cairsubscribe


CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair.com; CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid, 248-842-1418, E-Mail: dwalid@cair.com; CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab, 202-870-0166, E-mail: arehab@cair.com; CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia Shearson, 216-440-2247, E-Mail: jshearson@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator Amina Rubin, 202-488-8787, 202-341-4171, E-Mail: arubin@cair.com

Source: Council on American-Islamic Relations

CONTACT: CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper,
+1-202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com; CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid,
+1-248-842-1418, dwalid@cair.com; CAIR-Chicago Executive Director Ahmed Rehab,
+1-202-870-0166, arehab@cair.com; CAIR-Cleveland Executive Director Julia
Shearson, +1-216-440-2247, jshearson@cair.com; CAIR Communications Coordinator
Amina Rubin, +1-202-488-8787, +1-202-341-4171, arubin@cair.com

Web Site: Council on American-Islamic Relations


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Avon Foundation for Women Grants $500,000 to the U.S. To End Violence Against Women


Andrea Jung, Avon Chairman & CEO, and Avon's Global Ambassador Reese Witherspoon announce donation to U.S. State Department's Secretary's Fund for Global Women's Leadership at Women of Courage Awards in the presence of the First Lady Michelle Obama and the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. (PRNewsFoto/Avon Foundation for Women) WASHINGTON, DC UNITED STATES

11 Mar 2010 08:17 Africa/Lagos


Avon Foundation for Women Grants $500,000 to the U.S. Department of State Secretary's Fund for Global Women's Leadership

Donation to Fund International Programs to End Violence Against Women

WASHINGTON, March 11 /PRNewswire/ -- The Avon Foundation for Women (www.avonfoundation.org) presented a $500,000 grant to the U.S. Department of State Secretary's Fund for Global Women's Leadership to accelerate the global movement to end violence against women. Andrea Jung, Avon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, and Reese Witherspoon, Avon Global Ambassador and Honorary Chairperson of the Avon Foundation, made the announcement at the International Women of Courage Awards, hosted by Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton, at the U.S. Department of State.


To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click: http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/avon/37730/


(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100311/MM68434 )


Violence against women is a global epidemic yet efforts to prevent it are underfunded. Nearly one billion women worldwide -- that is one in three women -- will experience violence in their lifetime. Yet around the world, services for victims are often limited or unavailable, and in many countries, laws to protect women do not exist or are not enforced. Women who are abused cannot reach their social or economic potential, which hurts families, communities and entire countries -- and can be especially detrimental to developing countries where involvement of women is essential to growth.


The U.S. Department of State will use the grant to fund innovative and breakthrough programs developed by international non-government organizations for the purpose of ending violence against women.


"We are tremendously privileged to partner with the U.S. Department of State, and share in their resolve to end violence against women. As the company for women, we are equally committed to providing women with an economic opportunity as we are serving as a change agent for critical issues that face women worldwide," said Jung. "We believe the answer to this complex problem lies in forging strong partnerships between the public and private sectors. If we fuse our strengths -- the vast resources and commitment from the private sector, combined with the public sector's regional expertise and grassroots networks -- then our collective efforts can chart a course for a life free of violence against women everywhere."


These new efforts underscore Avon's ongoing commitment to ending violence against women, which includes the Speak Out Against Domestic Violence program launched by Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women in 2004. These efforts have expanded to 45 countries including award-winning programs in Mexico and the Czech Republic. Behind the success of these initiatives is much-needed grassroots mobilization and fundraising driven by the company's network of 6 million Avon Sales Representatives worldwide. To date, Avon global philanthropy has committed more than $16 million to end violence against women, including $8 million coming from the global sales of Avon Empowerment Products developed in partnership with Witherspoon.


"I am proud to serve as Avon Global Ambassador and represent a company with a conscience and the courage to take on hard issues. Although we face many challenges around the world, nothing is more important than ensuring the safety of women and girls everywhere," says Witherspoon. "Investments like the one announced today by the Avon Foundation and the U.S. Department of State are essential to the development and implementation of programs to end this global crisis."


The Avon Foundation for Women, along with Vital Voices, is also collaborating with the U.S. Department of State to host a three-day conference, The Global Partnership to End Violence Against Women in Washington, D.C., from March 9-11. This innovative public-private partnership, which is founded on the premise that local experts are best suited to know what solutions will work in their own communities, will foster the creation of cross-sector collaborations with the goal of reducing violence against women.


To facilitate the Global Partnership, Avon and the Avon Foundation for Women donated $1.2 million to Vital Voices to bring together 15 country delegations consisting of leaders from diverse sectors -- business, government, law enforcement, the nongovernmental organization (NGO) community, academia and others -- in a global forum to share insights, forge collaborations, and seek ways to overcome challenging cultural realities that have been barriers to progress. The Global Partnership will support regional events in India and Argentina in the fall of 2010. Additionally, the Global Partnership will create a violence against women campaign Toolkit that will provide information and strategies to develop effective advocacy, awareness and education campaigns and programs that NGOs can use to reduce violence against women in any country.


Avon Products, Inc.


Avon, the company for women, is a leading global beauty company, with over $10 billion in annual revenue. As the world's largest direct seller, Avon markets to women in more than 100 countries through approximately 6 million independent Avon Sales Representatives. Avon's product line includes beauty products, as well as fashion and home products, and features such well-recognized brand names as Avon Color, Anew, Skin-So-Soft, Advance Techniques, Avon Naturals, and Mark. Learn more about Avon and its products at www.avoncompany.com.


Avon Foundation for Women


The Avon Foundation for Women (www.avonfoundation.org) is the world's largest corporate-affiliated philanthropy focused on women's issues. Since it was founded in 1955, the Avon Foundation has been committed to the mission to improve the lives of women and their families. Now past the half century milestone, the Avon Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity that today brings this mission to life through two key areas of focus: breast cancer and domestic violence. Through 2009, Avon global philanthropy has donated more than $725 million in over 50 countries for causes most important to women.


Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100311/MM68434
PRN Photo Desk, photodesk@prnewswire.com Video: http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/avon/37730
Source: Avon Foundation for Women

CONTACT: Debbie Coffey, +1-917-754-2932


Web Site: http://www.avoncompany.com/
http://www.avonfoundation.org/


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

UN Human rights Chief says New Approach needed to halt Cycle of Violence in Nigeria

9 Mar 2010 18:39 Africa/Lagos

UN human rights chief says new approach needed to halt cycle of violence in Nigeria


GENEVA, March 9, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Tuesday that she was appalled by the latest massacre of hundreds of villagers in the region around Jos in northern Nigeria, and urged the national and local authorities to make a concerted effort to tackle the complex underlying causes of the tension and violence in the region.


The High Commissioner extended her deepest sympathy to the families of the dead and to the wounded from both this weekend's attacks, which some reports suggest may have killed as many as 500 people in three mainly Christian Berom villages, and the earlier attacks in January which also resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people in the Jos region, mostly from the predominantly Muslim Hausa Fulana people.


“In both cases, women and children and elderly people were among those who were viciously slaughtered,” Pillay said. “After the January killings, the villages should have been properly protected.”


The High Commissioner noted the efforts of the authorities to put in place a comprehensive security strategy. “Better security is clearly vital,” she said, “but it would be a mistake to paint this purely as sectarian or ethnic violence, and to treat it solely as a security issue. What is most needed is a concerted effort to tackle the underlying causes of the repeated outbreaks of ethnic and religious violence which Nigeria has witnessed in recent years, namely discrimination, poverty and disputes over land. The Government needs to address these issues head-on.”


Pillay also noted allegations that local politicians may have exploited socio-economic, ethnic and religious divisions. “This is an aspect that needs be scrutinized, and if necessary acted upon, if further bouts of violence are to be deterred,” she said.


The High Commissioner stressed that it was essential that the forces of law and order in the Jos region act in a visibly even-handed fashion, and that justice is seen to be done by all sides.


“The job facing the security forces and the judiciary is extremely sensitive,” she said. “It is important to avoid stimulating new resentments, while at the same time ensuring that those responsible for these atrocious acts do not escape justice. This is the third round of deadly violence in the Jos region in three years, leading to a total number of deaths that may exceed 1,000. Clearly, previous efforts to tackle the underlying causes have been inadequate, and in the meantime the wounds have festered and grown deeper.”

Source: Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Releases displayed in Africa/Lagos time
9 Mar 2010
18:47
Platts Survey: OPEC Pumps 29.31 Million Barrels of Oil Per Day in February
18:39
UN human rights chief says new approach needed to halt cycle of violence in Nigeria
17:12
German Federal Minister Westerwelle voices concern about violence in central Nigeria
12:56
Remarks With Gabonese President Ali Bongo After Their Meeting


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hillary Clinton Speaks on Violence in Nigeria



9 Mar 2010 00:09 Africa/Lagos

Summary: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on violence in Nigeria and the tragic loss of life. Urges all parties to exercise restraint.


Verbatim: "Before I comment on our meeting, I wish to express our concern for the tragic loss of life in Nigeria. We continue to urge all parties to exercise restraint and seek constructive means for addressing the cycle of violence in Plateau State. The Nigerian government should ensure that the perpetrators of acts of violence are brought to justice under the rule of law and that human rights are respected as order is restored."

Media Contact: Robyn Monblatt, +1-202-647-5160, monblattre@state.gov

Source: U.S. Department of State

Web Site: http://www.state.gov/


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Nigeria: Acting President Should Address Abuses

12 Feb 2010 14:31 Africa/Lagos


Nigeria: Acting President Should Address Abuses / New Leader Should Act Boldly on Violence, Corruption, and Lack of Accountability


ABUJA, February 12, 2010/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- Nigeria's acting president, Goodluck Jonathan, should take immediate and concrete steps to address large-scale violence, endemic corruption, a lack of accountability for abuses, and other pressing human rights problems in Nigeria, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the newly mandated leader. On February 9, 2010, the National Assembly voted to name Jonathan acting president, taking over from the ailing president, Umaru Yar'Adua, who has been hospitalized in Saudi Arabia since November 23, 2009.


In his address to the nation following the National Assembly's vote, Jonathan pledged to take on the prevailing “culture of impunity” that has fueled successive deadly outbreaks of inter-communal violence, tackle government corruption “more robustly,” empower a rights-respecting police force, consolidate efforts to end the Niger Delta conflict, and follow through on electoral reform ahead of Nigeria's 2011 general elections.


“Goodluck Jonathan made positive and encouraging statements,” said Corinne Dufka, senior West Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Now the acting president needs to follow up with concrete actions.”


The removal, on February 10, of Michael Aondoakaa, the justice minister and attorney general under whose watch the culture of impunity flourished, was an important first step, Human Rights Watch said. Jonathan should continue this positive momentum by taking concrete actions to make sure that those who commit abuses are held accountable.


In its letter to the acting president, Human Rights Watch called on Jonathan to address the problem of impunity by ensuring that the police conduct a prompt and thorough criminal investigation, with prosecutions, into the January deadly outbreak of sectarian violence in Jos and massacre of at least 150 people in nearby Kuru Karama. He should address the root causes of the violence by sponsoring legislation that bans all forms of discrimination against “non-indigenes.”


The acting president should hold accountable security forces, notably the Nigeria Police Force, for widespread abuses, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and extortion, Human Rights Watch said. This should include a comprehensive criminal investigation into the extrajudicial killings by the police of suspected Boko Haram members in July 2009 and the unlawful killings of more than 130 people by the police and military while responding to the November 2008 sectarian clashes in Jos.


Jonathan should also “more robustly” tackle government corruption by subjecting government expenditures to greater oversight and more transparent financial audits, by calling on the National Assembly to pass the Freedom of Information bill, and by ensuring that government officials implicated in the massive looting of the state treasury are investigated and prosecuted, regardless of how highly placed.


Human Rights Watch further called on Jonathan to tackle the corruption and political violence that underlie the Niger Delta conflict by investigating and prosecuting the politicians who have embezzled and mismanaged the region's vast oil wealth and armed many of the criminal gangs active in the Niger Delta.


On electoral reform, Human Right Watch called on Jonathan to start to restore confidence in Nigeria's electoral system by dismissing Maurice Iwu, the chair of the electoral commission, and ordering a comprehensive and impartial investigation into widespread election abuses committed during and since the 2007 elections.


“Nigerians have suffered from violence, corruption, and state-sponsored abuses for far too long,” Dufka said. “Goodluck Jonathan has promised to create a new era of rights and justice for Nigerians, and there is no time to waste.”


To read Human Rights Watch's letter to acting President Goodluck Jonathan, please visit: http://www.hrw.org/node/88482


Source: Human Right Watch (HRW)


Thursday, December 11, 2008

InterAction Members Respond to the Crisis in Zimbabwe

11 Dec 2008 01:07 Africa/Lagos


InterAction Members Respond to the Crisis in Zimbabwe

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Basic government services are not being provided in Zimbabwe. The public health system has collapsed and cholera and other communicable diseases are rampant. Staggering inflation and unemployment have resulted in shortages of food and fuel. Estimates are that 300,000 people remain at risk of cholera, which is being spread by a shortage of clean water and a lack of functioning sanitation services. To date, the outbreak has claimed over 600 lives.


InterAction members, along with their partner agencies, are providing numerous humanitarian interventions focusing on water, sanitation, hygiene, food distributions, medicine procurement and distribution, health services, education and relief to communities displaced by violence.


A regularly updated list of agencies responding is available at:
www.interaction.org/zimbabwe


InterAction has also developed guidelines on the most appropriate ways to help those affected by overseas disasters: http://www.interaction.org/disaster/guide_giving.html.


InterAction is a coalition of more than 170 U.S.-based private relief, international development and refugee assistance organizations. InterAction members have agreed to abide by a set of standards to ensure accountability to donors, professional competence and quality of service.


Source: InterAction

CONTACT: Nasserie Carew, +1-202-552-6561, ncarew@interaction.org, or
Tawana Jacobs, +1-202-552-6534, tjacobs@interaction.org, both of InterAction


Web Site: http://www.interaction.org/



5 Dec 2008
16:00
Foreign Secretary statement on Zimbabwe


4 Dec 2008
22:40
USAID Increases Assistance for Zimbabwe Cholera Outbreak




Recommended:
"Bye, Bye Mugabe" by Ekenyerengozi Michael Chima.
Available on Amazon