Monthly Archives: January 2012

Al-Mustapha, Abacha’s former aide, sentenced to death over the killing of Kudirat Abiola

On 30 January, a Federal High Court in Lagos handed down a death sentence to Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, the once-dreaded Chief Security Officer to the late military dictator, General Sani Abacha.

Al-Mustapha and his co-accused, Lateef Shofolahan, were found guilty and convicted over their roles in the assassination of Mrs Kudirat Abiola on 4 June 1996. Justice Mojisola Dada ordered that they be hanged.

Mrs Abiola was the wife of Chief M. K. O. Abiola, a flambouyant business mogul who later turned to politics. Abiola was heading to a landslide victory in presidential polls, but the election was annulled by the ruling military junta in June 1993. Abiola was imprisoned by the dictator, Gen Abacha, after he had declared himself President in 1994. His wife was assassinated while he was still in detention, and he himself eventually died in prison, a month after Abacha’s own death in mid-1998.

Al-Mustapha, who was arrested after the return to civilian rule in 1999, had earlier confessed his involvement in the killing of Mrs Abiola; but he later denied, saying he was tortured into making a false confession.

In giving the court’s judgement, Justice Dada described Al-Mustapha as a “venomous beast”.  The judge also described Shofolahan, once a trusted employee of the Abiola family, as a Judas who “sold his master for 30 pieces of silver”.

Dada said: “I think it is amazing that those who are most willing to shed the blood of others are the ones always scared of death”.

Members of the Abiola family, along with some leading human rights and pro-democracy activists, welcomed the judgement. Many said the judgement was long expected and appropriate.

However, the lead defense lawyer, Mr Olalekan Ojo, said both Al-Mustapha and Shofolahan would appeal their sentences and file for stays of execution. Al-Mustapha’s family said the court’s ruling was only a temporary setback.

The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), an organisation based in Al-Mustapha’s northern part of the country, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the sentence was not justifiable, saying there was nothing connecting al-Mustapha to the murder. The AYCF President, Alhaji Yerima Shetima, said: “He was incarcerated for years in jail for want of evidence. How can they justify this sentence?”. He said his group “will appeal against the judgment on his behalf”.

Wife of new Inspector General of Police Abubakar dies in Kano

On 30 January, Hajia Mariam Abubakar, wife of the newly appointed Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Mr Mohammed D. Abubakar, died at the age of 48.

Reports said Mrs Abubakar passed on in a hospital in Kano, at about 5 am. Some sources said she died of cancer, with which she had been battling for some time.

The Inspector General was in the Federal capital, Abuja, when his wife died, but rushed to Kano immediately he got the sad news.

Sympathizers thronged the Abubakar family house near the old Bank of the North building. The callers included police chiefs within the state and Abuja, prominent politicians and Muslim clerics who said special prayers for the repose of the late woman’s soul.

The late Hajia Abubakar was interred at Taurani Cemetery in Kano, at about noon, in accordance with Islamic rites.

In a condolence message to the IGP, President Goodluck Jonathan described Hajia Mariam’s death as “sad, painful and untimely”, especially coming just when her husband most needed her moral and emotional support in confronting the challenges of his new office.

In the statement issued by his spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, the President “lauded Hajia Mariam’s great concern for the welfare of the less privileged in the society, particularly orphans; and noted her several charity works even before she assumed her last position as President of the Police Officers’ Wives Association, POWA”.

The statement said: “The President, on behalf of the Federal Government, prayed Almighty Allah to grant the soul of Hajia Mariam eternal rest and grant her husband and family the strength to bear the irreplaceable loss”.

It also said the President had sent a four-man Federal Government delegation led by the Minister of Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade, to attend the burial and sympathise with the IGP and his family. Other members of the delegation were the Minister of Mines and Steel, Alhaji Musa Mohammed Sada; the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Mr Emeka Wogu; and the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Alhaji Isa Bello Sali.

Gunmen attack police station in Kano, Kano State

On 29 January, gunmen believed to be members of the militant Islamist sect known as Boko Haram, bombed a police station at Naibawa district outside Kano city, capital of Kano State.

Local sources said the attack took place near the Naibawa motor park, a major bus terminal on the fringe of the city. They said a large number of gunmen stormed the area at prayer time, hurled an explosive at the police station and then opened fire on it. They said as the police returned fire, a gun duel ensued.

The Commissioner of Police in Kano State, Mr Ibrahim Idris, said the blast caused damage to “part of the police station”.  He also confirmed that the blast was followed by about an hour-long gun fight, adding that: “We were able to push them out of the area”.

Kano, the largest city in northern Nigeria and populated by about 10 million people, recently came under a siege mounted by members of Boko Haram. The sect said it is fighting to install Islamic governments under strict and comprehensive sharia law across northern Nigeria.

On 20 January, it staged multiple bomb and gun attacks across Kano city, mostly targeting police stations, and killing over 200 persons.

On 26 January, the presumed leader of the sect, Abubakar Shekau, posted an audio tape on the Internet threatened to kill more security personnel, kidnap their families and also attack western-style educational institutions.

On 28 January, the group’s spokesman, Abul Qaqa, told some journalists on phone that security agents had arrested “many” of its members in Sokoto and demanded their “immediate and unconditional” release.

Qaqa he urged senior citizens in Sokoto and neighbouring states to intervene in order to avert a repeat of “the big attack in Kano State”. He said:  “This is an open letter to the Emir of Sokoto (Sultan of Sokoto) Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar 111, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal and the Acting Governor of Sokoto State.

The Sultan of Sokoto is the spiritual leader of all Muslims in Nigeria and has expressed disapproval of Boko Haram’s violence, publicly and repeatedly. Speaker Tambuwal, who hails from the village of Tambuwal in Sokoto State, is the highest ranking figure from the state within the Federal Government.

15 traders killed, burnt by gunmen in Zamfara State

Map of Nigeria showing Zamfara State

On 26 January, unidentified gunmen waylaid and killed 15 traders and then set their bodies ablaze near Birnin Magaji town in Zamfara State.

Local sorces said the traders were attacked as they were returning from a market in neighbouring Katsina State. They said the gunmen, numbering about 100, sprang from the bush and forced the open truck, in which the traders were travelling, to stop.

The Commissioner of Police in Zamfara State, Mr Tambari Yabo Mohammed, said: “The armed robbers waylaid the traders travelling back in an open truck and opened fire on them. They then loaded the truck with 14 bodies and burnt them”. He said a 15th victim died in hospital.

Although the Police chief suggested the attack may have been a case of armed robbery, local sources said it may be linked to some earlier incidents in Lingyado village in Zamfara State.

On 10 August 2011, vigilantes from Lingyado had evicted a group of people from the village whom they suspected of being behind a series of cattle and other robberies. Those evicted regrouped and attacked the village on 2 October, killing 23 villagers.

Commenting on that attack, the governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, had said: “From the information I have received, the attackers who are nomadic Fulani, invited their comrades from as far as Central African Republic, for the raid”.

Supreme Court sacks five governors: Adamawa, Bayelsa, Cross River, Kogi and Sokoto affected

On 27 January, the Supreme Court sacked the governors of five states, namely Adamawa, Bayelsa, Cross River, Kogi and Sokoto, from office.

The affected governors are Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Timipre Sylva (Bayelsa), Liyel Imoke (Cross River), Ibrahim Idris (Kogi) and Magatakada Wamakko (Sokoto). They are all members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In a unanimous decision, a 7-man panel of justices of the apex court chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Dahiru Musdapher, ruled that the affected governors had exceeded the four-year tenure stipulated in Section 180(2) of the 1999 constitution.

The judgment is in response to an appeal filed by the governorship candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Adamawa State, retired Brig Gen Buba Marwa, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The appellants had challenged the decision of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which upheld the earlier decision of a Federal High Court extending the tenures of the five governors beyond 29 May 2011. The two lower courts had ruled that the tenures of the governors started to run from when they took their later oaths of office, following their victory in re-run elections, after their initial elections had been nullified.

In setting aside the judgments of the two lower courts, the Supreme Court held that the tenures of the governors started to count from the time they took their oaths of office after emerging winners in their respective state governorship elections in 2007 and not from when they took their second oaths of office after emerging winners of the re-run elections.

Following the judgment, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke, issued a statement directing Speakers  in the  five states affected to take over and preside in acting capacity until fresh polls are conducted and new governors emerge.

German engineer kidnapped near Kano, Kano State

Map of Nigeria showing Kano State

On 26 January, unknown gunmen abducted a German engineer working with a construction company on the outskirts of Kano, capital of Kano State.

According to the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr Magaji Musa Majiya (an Assistant Superintendent of Police), the victim, identified as Raufach Edgar, is an engineer working with Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company.

Majiya said the incident occurred around 8am, near a bridge under construction. He said the expatriate engineer was seized by a driver, along with two other assailants. He said: “They came and hand-cuffed him and put him in the boot (of their car) and zoomed away”.

The Police spokesman said he could not yet say who was behind the kidnapping and that there had been no communication from the kidnappers.

He said security operatives had blocked all major highways around Kano in their efforts to track down the kidnappers, and that authorities in neighbouring states had also been alerted.

On 20 January, Kano city suffered multiple bomb and gun attacks in which over 200 people were killed. The militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks.

This is the second incident involving the kidnap of expatriate construction workers in the northern part of the country in the last 10 months. It will be recalled that on 12 May 2011, a Briton and an Italian working with the foreign construction company, B. Stabilini, were kidnapped from their lodge in Birnin Kebbi, capital of Kebbi State.

In early August, a video clip sent by unknown persons to the AFP office in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, showed the men blindfolded and urging their governments to meet the demands of the kidnappers, whom they said were from the transnational terror group, al Qaeda. The British, Italian and Nigerian governments said they were investigating the development, but there has been no official update since then.

17 killed as soldiers smash fleeing bank robbers in Ebonyi State

On 24 January, about 17 people were killed, as an armed gang attempted to rob a bank in Ugep, Cross River State, and was later intercepted and smashed by soldiers in Ebonyi State.

Local sources report that three persons, including a policeman, were killed during a gun duel between the robbers and security agents in the bank at Ugep, after the gang had raided another bank at Ikom.

The sources said another four people were killed by stray bullets, as the robbers shot indiscriminately while escaping the town in two vehicles, heading towards Ebonyi State through the Ugep-Abomege Road.

As the robbers fled, soldiers on routine patrol in Ebonyi State were alerted of their movement. Troops from the 103 Battalion and the 24 Engineer Regiment, 82 Division Garrison, blocked all the routes through which the gang could have escaped. The soldiers soon intercepted the robbers as they were heading towards the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway.

In the fierce gun fight that followed, seven of the robbers were killed; two others were seriously wounded and bled to death before reaching a hospital, while six escaped into the bush, apparently with bullet wounds. The soldiers lost one man, with two others wounded.

The Assistant Director of Army Public Relations at the Army’s 82 Division headquarters in Enugu, Lt Col Sagir Musa, confirmed the casualties.

He added that items recovered from the robbers included two RPG7 bombs, 28 empty magazines, two gas cylinders, 37 empty cases of 7.62 mm special ammunition, 22 live rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and two vehicles.

MOHAMMED D. ABUBAKAR, NIGERIA’S NEW POLICE CHIEF

Mr MOHAMMED ABUBAKAR, New Police chief. Courtesy: NAN

Mohammed Dikko Abubakar, appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan, as Acting Inspector General of Police on 25 January 2012, was born in Gusau, Zamfara State, on 5 May 1958.

He enlisted as a Cadet Officer  in the Nigeria Police Force on 31 July 1979.

From 1991 to 1993, he read for and obtained an Advanced Diploma in Public Admininistration from Sokoto State Polytechnic, Sokoto. From 1995 to 1997, he again pursued and obtained a Diploma in Criminal Justice Administration from the University of Lagos, Lagos. While on that course, he also obtained a Diploma in Disaster Management and Control from Isreal in 1996.

For his professional training, Abubakar undertook several courses in Nigeria and abroad.

These include: General Detective and Security Course with the Metropolitan Police, West Hendon, England (1982); Police Mobile Training in Malaysia (1983), Police Mobile Training at Gwoza, Borno State, Nigeria (1983), General Security and Intelligence Course at the Police Academy, Cairo, Egypt (1986), Basic Intelligence Course at Military Intelligence School, Badagry, Nigeria (1987); General Security and Anti-Terrorism Course with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) in the United States (1988-89); and the International Security Course 9 at University of Surrey, England (1991).

He also attended the Intermediate Command Course at the Police Staff College, Jos, Nigeria (1991); Senior Command Course at the Police Staff College, Jos, Nigeria (1995); General Security and Intelligence Course with the Israel Defence Force, Isreal (1996); Disater Management Course at Haifa, Israel (1996);  Senior Executive Course (SEC) 27 at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), in Kuru, near Jos, Nigeria (2005).

Since joining the Nigeria Police Force, Abubakar has held several appointments and positions. He was Assistant Commissioner of Police, State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID), Sokoto Police Command (1991 – 1993); Assistant Commissioner of Police, Federal Operations, Force Headquarters, Lagos (1993); Assistant Commissioner of Police, Murtala Mohammed International Airport Police Command (1993-1995); Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Airport Police Command, Lagos (1995-1998) and Deputy Commissione of Police, Administration (and second in Command), Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja (1998-2000).

Abubakar has held command as Commissioner of Police in Plateau, Abia, Kwara, Kano and Lagos States. He was also Commissioner of Police, Airport Police Command, Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos. In 2008, he was promoted Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) and posted to Zone 2 Command Headquarters, Laogos, comprising Lagos and Ogun States. He was also AIG Zone 5, Benin, comprising Edo, Delta and Bayelsa States. He was later posted to Zone 6, comprising Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Ebonyi States.

His most recent command, since 15 November 2011, was as AIG in charge of Zone 12 of the Police encompassing Bauchi, Borno and Yobe States.

Abubakar is a member of several professional bodies. These include the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), member International Association of Black Police Officers, Fellow of the International Institute of Professional Security (FIIPS), Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Economics (FCE), Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Local Government and Public Administration of Nigeria (FCIPA), Fellow of the Safety Management Institute (FSMI) and Life Fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Industrial Security (LFNIS).

Through his years of service in the Police, Abubakar has received several commendations and awards. In 2007, he was decorated with the Nigeria Police Medal (NPM).

He is married and blessed with children.

President Jonathan sets up Special Committee towards urgent reorganization of Nigerian Police Force

Mr PARRY OSAYANDE, Chairman of the Special Committee

On 25 January, President Goodluck Jonathan established a Special Committee to oversee the urgent reorganization of the Nigeria Police Force.

The committee is to be chaired by the current Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Mr. Parry B.O. Osayande, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police.

The Committee’s other members are the following:

1.      Mr. Cashmir T. Akagbosu, AIG (rtd.), mni

2.      Mr. Bashir A. Albasu, AIG (rtd.), fwc.

3.      Major Gen. S.N. Chikwe (rtd), fwc.

4.      Professor S.D. Mukoro.

5.      Dr. Fabian Ajogwu, SAN.

6.      Aisha Larai Tukur.

7.      Solicitor General of the Federation.

8.      Permanent Secretary, SSO, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) who is to serve as Secretary to the Committee.

The statement further listed the committee’s terms of reference as follows:

1.      To identify the challenges and factors militating against effective performance in the Nigeria Police Force and make recommendations for addressing the challenges.

2.      To examine the scope and standard of training and other personnel development activities in the Police to determine their adequacy or otherwise.

3.      To determine the general and specific causes of the collapse of public confidence in the police and recommend ways of restoring public trust in the institution.

4.      To examine records of performance of Officers and Men of the Nigeria Police Force with a view to identifying those that can no longer fit into the system due to declining productivity, age, indiscipline, corruption and/or disloyalty.

5.      To make any other recommendations for the improvement of the Nigeria Police Force.

The statement added that the Committee’s recommendations shall be implemented along with those of previous committees set up by Government towards reforming of the Force.

President Jonathan fires Police chief Ringim, appoints AIG Abubakar as new IGP

HAFIZ RINGIM: Down and Out

On 25 January, President Goodluck Jonathan relieved Mr Hafiz Ringim of his post as Inspector General of Police, and approved the appointment of Mr. Mohammed D. Abubakar as new Acting Police Chief.

In a statement by Reuben Abati, Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity), Jonathan also “approved the retirement” of all Deputy Inspectors General of Police (DIGs) with immediate effect.

MOHAMMED D ABUBAKAR: New Police Chief

Those affected by the “approval” are: Mrs. Ivy Uche Okoronkwo, DIG POL 2i/c Force Headquarters, Abuja; Mr. Azubuko J. Udah, DIG Administration (“A” Dept); Mr. Sardauna Abubukar, DIG Training (“E” Dept); Mr. Audu Abubakar, DIG Operations (“B” Dept); Mr. Saleh Abubakar, DIG Works (“C” Dept) and Mr. Mohammed A. Yesufu, DIG Planning and Info-Tech (“F” Dept).

Some sources said the President had summoned Ringim to his office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, for a brief meeting earlier in the day. Shortly after the meeting, the President told the embattled police chief that his services would no longer be needed and directed him to hand over to his next in command immediately, and proceed on compulsory retirement.

Ringim’s retirement is the climax of a huge national controversy triggered by the escape of Kabiru Umar (a. k. a. Kabiru Sokoto), suspected to be a key member of the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram. Kabiru, believed to have masterminded the Christmas Day bombing of a church in Madalla, near Abuja, in which over 40 people were killed, escaped from police custody on 15 January.

Outraged by that embarrassing incident, many Nigerians had called on Jonathan to fire the police chief and probably try him for complicity in the suspect’s escape. Sources said the President initially resisted those pressures for two reasons. First, Ringim had been a good friend from Jonathan’s days as deputy governor and governor of Bayelsa State; second, the police chief had only one month more in service, as he was due to retire on 1 March this year.

It does now appear that after the 20 January multiple bomb and gun attacks in Kano, in which the police suffered an embarrassing number of casualties, Jonathan could no longer overlook Ringim’s personal lapses and the badly sunken image of the police under his watch.

Ringim’s successor, Mr. Abubakar, was, until today’s appointment, an Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in charge of Zone 12 of the Police, encompassing Bauchi, Borno and Yobe States – the states that have suffered the most of Boko Haram’s attacks.

Insiders say his appointment could be President Jonathan’s first step towards a comprehensive and long-overdue reorganization of the Nigeria Police Force, to make it more effective in dealing with emerging internal security challenges.

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