Monthly Archives: April 2011
On 30 April, the Lagos-based but very widely read newspaper, Vanguard, reported that the governor elect of Borno State, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, is proposing to grant amnesty to members of the extremist Islamist sect, Boko Haram, on condition that they lay down their arms and negotiate with the state government on the restoration of “peace and unity” to all parts of the state.
Shettima, reportedly speaking in his first interview after being elected on the platform of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) on 26 April, said: “The challenging tasks before me and the entire party machinery of the ruling and opposition parties are to first address the insecurity to lives and property in the state”.
The governor-elect regretted that: “Insecurity to lives and property has threatened the state government machinery and (held back) its citizens from addressing poverty, unemployment and the reactivation of closed down industries, including the endless power outages of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN)”.
He said that just as the Umaru Yar’Adua administration’s offer of amnesty to Niger Delta militants in 2009, succeeded in calming the violence that had been raging across that region, his own administration would, within its first 100 days in office, hold discussions with Boko Haram towards granting its members amnesty.
He therefore declared that: “As soon as the administration is inaugurated on May 29, 2011, we will sit down at a roundtable with the Boko Haram leaders on how its members could lay down their arms and move the state forward by restoring peace, unity and the protection of all lives and property in Borno state”.
The amnesty, according to the governor-elect, would enable members of the sect to return home and live with their families and relations. He said the envisaged improvement in security to lives and property would provide an atmosphere for moving the state forward.
(See brief commentary on the prospects of Governor-elect Shettima’s proposed amnesty also on this site).
On 28 April, a Nigerian naval officer, Commodore Adejimi Osinowo, was honoured with an award from the President of the United States, Barrack Obama.
The award of the Meritorious Service Medal to Osinowo is in recognition of his distinguished service as deputy commander of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, a multi-national maritime security programme initiated by the US Navy, between November 2009 and May 2010.
The US Ambassador to Nigeria, H. E. Terence P. McCulley who presented the award to Osinowo in Abuja on President Obama’s behalf, said the honour was in recognition of the Nigerian officer’s “outstanding meritorious service” while acting as deputy commander of the APS. A statement by the US Secretary of the Navy, Edwin Mabus, also noted that Osinowo gave outstanding leadership to a staff of 50 officers from 17 countries, during the APS deployment.
Nigeria’s Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral OS Ibrahim, said the partnership between the contributing countries in APS has improved maritime safety, particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, and that the Nigerian Navy has benefitted a lot from the arrangement.
Responding, Commodore Osinowo expressed appreciation to the U.S. for the award and thanked the Chief of Naval Staff for the opportunity given to him to serve during the period.
The origin of APS dates back to November 2006, when 11 Gulf of Guinea nations — supported by the U.S. State Department and military — signed an agreement to fight terrorism and criminal activity in the region. That agreement laid the foundation for the formal APS. The programme seeks to help participating African nations learn skills and methods needed to combat regional problems such as drug smuggling, piracy, illegal fishing, human trafficking, stealing fuel from storages and illegal migration.
APS initially focused on training and equipping West African navies. But the mission has since expanded to include navies on the eastern coast of the continent. In 2009, the program drew in the eastern coast nations of Kenya, Mozambique and Tanzania, as well as the islands of Madagascar, Mauritius and Reunion. Its expectation is that member nations will act more as a regional coalition in dealing with their common maritime security challenges.
On 26 April, political thugs from an opposing party shot a Delta State House of Assembly member, Mrs Patience Ajudua, during the governorship and House of Assembly elections, in Ibusa, Delta State. Ajudua, who was seeking re-election to represent the Oshimili North Constituency on the ticket of the Accord Party (AP), was wounded on the arm. Her driver, who was shot more fatally, died.
The Police spokesman in the state, Mr. Charles Muka, confirmed the incident to newsmen, describing the circumstance as one of “ballot box snatching”. He said the lawmaker was taken to a private hospital where she was treated and discharged. He also said that the police had commenced investigation into the matter and arrested some suspects.
Mrs Patience Ajudua, 49, wife of controversial lawyer Fred Ajudua, was elected to the Delta State House of Assembly in 2007, on the platform of the Accord Party. She has been the Minority Leader in the House.
On 27 April, three people were feared killed while many others were seriously injured following heavy gun-fire by political thugs in Ekpan and Ughelli, near Warri, in Delta State.
The thugs were suspected to be loyalists of the Democratic People’s Party (DPP) governorship candidate, Chief Great Ogboru. They were said to be protesting the announcement that incumbent Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was leading in the governorship election results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Asaba, the state capital.
In Ekpan, residents said three people were killed in the violence, but the Divisional Police Officer, Mr Mauzu Mohammed, told newsmen his reports indicated only one person. He said that: “Supporters of two rival political groups, the PDP and DPP, were fighting each other here. The DPP group said they heard report that Uduaghan was leading their man (Ogboru). Both the police, army and Navy are on ground here and we will make sure there is no loss of lives and property”.
In Ughelli, an unspecified number of people were reported to have been wounded in a similar protest. The protesters, said to be mainly supporters of Ogboru and allegedly armed, took to the streets and started shooting, once reports coming from Asaba, indicated that Uduaghan was leading in the results declared up to that time.
On 21 April, the chairperson of the Rivers State chapter of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mrs Elizabeth Ngozi Odili, was kidnapped from her office on Okporo Road in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Her younger sister, Patricia, told newsmen in Port Harcourt, that Mrs Odili was kidnapped by about 5 men, who shot in the air to scare any possible rescuers while they dragged their captive away. She said the abduction was promptly reported to the police, but that up till 27 April, “we have not established contact with my sister’s abductors nor with her”. She said the family had no idea of who could be responsible for the abduction or what the motive could be.
Apart from her role in the PSN, Mrs Odili is also the National Public Relations Officer of the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), the nation’s umbrella women’s organization. In recent times, that organization has been embroiled in crisis.
Earlier this month, Mrs Odili wrote a petition to the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Josephine Anenih, alleging various anomalies in the preparations for the organization’s national convention scheduled for 27 to 30 April. She had specifically alleged that the national executive body of the NCWS had not met in the last two quarters, and that its president had taken certain decisions and actions unilaterally, in violation of the NCWS constitution. She urged the Minister to intervene and save the organization from disintegration. However, there is no indication that Mrs Odili’s present ordeal has anything to do with the crisis in NCWS.
On 26 April, five people were reported killed as thugs from rival political parties fought over ballot boxes and other electoral materials in Mbayee-Yandev ward of Guma Local Council, Benue State.
According to local sources, trouble started when a group of armed thugs ambushed two buses that were conveying Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) workers to a collation centre and seized them, along with the voting materials they were carrying, at Kaseyo town.
As the thugs diverted the materials to the home of a government official in the area, armed thugs from another party invaded the residence and opened fire.
In the exchange of gunfire, five people were killed. The invaders eventually gained access into the building and set all the voting materials for Mbayee-Yandev ward ablaze. They also brutally assaulted the INEC ad hoc staff for alleged complicity in the attempted diversion of the materials.
INEC Public Relations Officer in Benue State, Jacob Iyanda, confirmed that all genuine materials for Mbayee-Yandev Ward in Guma Local Council were burnt in the fight. He said no result from the ward would be recognised.
The first man was shot dead by a security operative, while he was attempting to escape with a ballot box he had snatched at the Commissioners Quarters polling unit. A motorbike on which he was trying to speed off was immediately set ablaze by voters at the polling unit.
The second man was killed at the Gboko road roundabout. Some accounts said he was also attempting to flee with some ballot materials snatched from a polling unit. Furthermore, they said, he refused to stop when security personnel ordered him to submit himself for a search, which then compelled a security operative to bring him down.
On 26 April, the Police foiled attempts to blow up the offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Burutu and Ogbe-Ijoh towns in Delta State, as detectives removed and detonated three bombs planted by unknown persons. Two of the bombs were found near the INEC office in Burutu, while the third was recovered at Ogbe-Ijoh.
According to a statement from the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Charles Muka, the police Explosive Ordinance Unit received a distress call regarding suspicious devices in the office of the chairman, Burutu Local Government. According to the statement, policemen were quickly dispatched to the area and found the explosives. The devices comprised of “one Nokia phone, one detonator, a dymanite, 2 litres of petrol inside Ragolis bottled water container in each device, all wrapped together with masking tape”.
Security sources say the bombs may have been planted by thugs who wanted to stop the declaration of results from the local governments, if those results did not favour their candidate. However, the police intervention scuttled that plan.
Again, at about noon, another Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was found near the INEC office in Ogbe-Ijoh, headquarters of Warri Southwest Local Government Area.
Sources said the composition of the IED at Ogbe-Ijoh was similar to those earlier found in Burutu. A source at the Bomb Unit said any of the 3 devices could have caused “serious damages”. He said: “The purpose was ostensibly to create panic and to prevent people from voting”.
Police spokesman Charles Muka confirmed the bomb discoveries, and said they were being investigated.