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Ambassador Saidu Pindar dies in car crash in Kaduna State

Amb SAIDU PINDAR

On 31 August, Alhaji Saidu Shettima Pindar, Nigeria’s pioneer Ambassador to Sao Tome and Principe, died a car accident. The accident occurred on the Kaduna-Zaria road in Kaduna State.

Details of the accident are yet to be confirmed, but sources said he was traveling to Kano at the time he died. One source said the accident was caused by the bad condition of some spots on the road, but this too, had not been verified.

Ambassador Pindar was born in Biu, Biu Local Government Area of Borno State, on 19 August 1954. He obtained an Electrical Engineering Diploma from Kaduna Polytechnic in 1976, Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Degree from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1980, and subsequently a Master’s Degree in Communication Engineering from the University of Manchester’s Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in United Kingdom.

He started his working life with the Borno State Civil Service, rising to become the Director of Engineering/Chief Engineer at the Borno Radio and Television (BRTV) before transferring to the Federal Civil Service in 1987.

In October 1998, he was posted to the Embassy of Nigeria, Rome, Italy, as Minister-Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary. While on that post, he received commendations from the Italian Ministry of Interior, the Italian Immigration and Frontier Service and a Christian NGO for his commitment towards combating human trafficking and for his compassionate treatment of trafficked Nigerians.

In 2000, he was appointed Nigeria’s pioneer Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome & Principe. At that post, he was credited with contributing immensely to the ratification of the Treaty establishing the Nigeria-Sao Tome & Principe Joint Development Zone (JDZ). He voluntarily retired from the Federal Civil Service after 32 years of public service. In 2004, he was conferred with a National Honour, Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).

Even in retirement, he remained active in private business as well as in political and public life. He was the founder and promoter of Maitama Amusement Park, a leisure and entertainment centre situated in the high brow Maitama district of Abuja. He was also the Executive Chairman of Subotech Engineering Ltd, a company supplying and installing broadcast equipment nationwide.

Politically, he was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). In October 2009, he was appointed by then President Umaru Yar’Adua, into the board of the Nigeria-Sao Tome and Principe Joint Development Authority (NSTP-JDA). He was later the deputy governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Borno State in the April 2011 general elections, but his party did not win.

Ambassador Pindar was a member of several professional bodies, including the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).

He was a founding member of the Biu Emirate Development Association (BEDA) and also the Biu Forum. In recognition of his contributions to the development of Biu Emirate, HRH Alhaji Umar Mustapha Aliyu, the Emir of Biu elevated him from the position of Jarma of Biu to Waziri of Biu in January 2005.

A philanthropist, he sponsored hundreds of students in various schools in Borno, Yobe and Bauchi State under the Shettima Pindar Foundation.

He was happily married and blessed with children.

In a condolence message to the late ambassador’s family, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima expressed shock over the unfortunate incident. He described the late Pindar as a visionary, humble and de-tribalized man, who dedicated his life to the cause of transforming not only Borno State, but the Nigerian nation.

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PROFILE: Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari, Chairman, Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North-East

Ambassador Usman Gaji Galtimari, the man President Goodluck Jonathan has chosen to lead his government’s engagement with the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, was born in the Borno State capital, Maiduguri, in 1938; but his home base is Galtimari, formerly a village unit of Yerwa district, now a district of its own in the Maiduguri Metropolitan Area.

He started his elementary education in Yerwa Central Elementary School, Maiduguri, in 1947, and moved on Borno Middle School, Maiduguri, in 1951. In 1954, he proceeded to Government College, Maiduguri, where he obtained his West African School Certificate in 1959.

From 1960 to 1961, he was at the Institute of Administration, Zaria. In 1962, he gained admission into Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, to read for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Administration which he obtained in 1965. From 1966 to 1967, he was at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, where he further bagged a Master of Arts in Public and International Affairs (MPIA).

He started his civil service career in April 1960 as Assistant Executive Officer in Training, in the then Northern Nigeria Public Service. In July 1965, after he had obtained his first degree from ABU, he was promoted Administrative Officer Class IV. In the same month, he transferred his service to the Federal Civil Service and served there as an External Affairs Officer till May 1966 when he returned to the Northern Nigeria Civil Service and then proceeded to University of Pittsburgh, USA.

On his return to Nigeria in early 1968, Galtimari took up appointment as a lecturer at ABU. However, in April of the same year, he was redeployed to the then North-Eastern State and posted to Muri Division (Jalingo) as Divisional Officer.

From December 1968 to March 1970, he was the Principal Assistant Secretary in charge of the Local Government Department, in the Office of the Military Governor of the now defunct North-Eastern State. In April 1970, he was promoted to the rank of Under Secretary, Government House, Maiduguri, where he served for over two years.

In September 1972, he was appointed Permanent Secretary, Economic Planning and Political Division, Military Governor’s Office, still in the former North-Eastern State. From August 1975 to April 1976, he was the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in the state.

In May 1976, he again transferred to the Federal Civil Service where he was appointed Director, National Policy Development Centre (an in-house Think Tank), under the Cabinet Office, in Lagos. By June 1977, he had risen to the rank of Federal Permanent Secretary, first in the Political Department and later in the Public Service Department of the Cabinet Office, still then in Lagos. He was the Federal Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mines and Power from April 1978 to September 1983, and thereafter Permanent Secretary, Steel Development Department, from October to December 1983.

In January 1984, he was appointed Secretary to the Borno State Government, a post he held till August 1987.

In September 1987, he was appointed by President Ibrahim Babangida as the Ambassador Extra-Ordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Chad Republic. He served on that post till March 1991.

In May 1991, Ambassador Galtimari voluntarily retired from the Federal Public Service, but that was not to be the end of his involvement with the public service.

In December 1995, the then Head of State, General Sani Abacha appointed him a member representing Borno State on the Federal Character Commission. In February 1998, he was further appointed Chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission. He resigned from the chairmanship of the commission in July 2001.

In the course of his public service career, Ambassador Galtimari has served either as chairman or member of many boards and government committees. Among others, he has served as a member of the following: North-Eastern State Consultative Committee; North-Eastern State Local Government Reform Committee; Advisory Board, Institute of Administration, ABU, Zaria; and New Nigeria Development Company, Kaduna. He is also a member, Board of Trustees of the Kanem-Borno Foundation.

He has also served as Chairman of the following:  National Youth Service Corps Committee, North-Eastern State; Nigeria Coal Corporation, Enugu; Nigerian Uranium Mining Company, Lagos; Hadejia-Jama’are River Basin Development Authority, Kano; Chad Basin Development Authority, Maiduguri; and the High-Powered Committee on the BluePrint for Enhanced Public Sector in Borno State.

In 2009, after the Boko Haram uprising in July of that year, he was appointed by the then Borno State governor, Ali Modu Sheriff, as Chairman of the Administrative Committee of Inquiry which investigated the crisis in the state, and submitted a detailed report to the state government.

Ambassador Galtimari is married with children.

In recognition of his services to the nation, he was decorated with national honour of ‘Commander of the Order of the Niger’ (CON) by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

MAJOR ROAD ACCIDENTS IN NIGERIA: JAN – JUNE 2011

1 February: 18 people die in an accident along Dutsin-ma-Kankara road in Danmusa Local Government Area of Katsina State killed 18 persons leaving five others with serious wounds.

8 March: 13 persons died in a ghastly motor accident in Bakiyawa Village in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State. The accident involved a Mitsubishi Canter bus with 26 passengers and an articulated tipper lorry belonging to a construction firm.

8 March: 14 persons died in a fatal motor accident along the Benin-Ore road in Edo State. According to some local sources, the accident occurred when the driver of a commercial bus, in the course of overtaking a truck, ran into an on-coming trailer.

12 March: Six persons believed to be members of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), died when their bus colided with a goods-laden truck,  in Oyo town. About 15 others were reportedly injured.

15 March: Seven people were killed when the motorcade of the Katsina State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, got involved in an accident on Katsina-Daura Road. The governor was unhurt, but his Aide-de-Camp, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Aminu Ibrahim and eix others died.10 other persons sustained injuries.

19 March: About 18 people died, after an 18-seater commercial bus conveying passengers from the eastern part of the country to Lagos, plunged into the Ogbese River near Ugbogi Village, on the border area of Edo and Ondo States.

26 March: Two policemen died while four others suffered injuries, when a vehicle on the motorcade of the Zamfara State governor, Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi had a ghastly accident as the team was heading to a campaign rally in Maradun, headquarters of Maradun Local Government Area of the state.

1 April:  About 30 people were killed in a fatal road accident at a check-point in Narabi village, on the Bauchi State stretch of the Jos-Bauchi highway. The driver of a fuel tanker reportedly lost control and ran into several vehicles awaiting security clearance, at a check-point manned by police and military personnel.

12 April: 18 people were confirmed dead in Sabon Wuse, along the Abuja-Kaduna expressway, after an 18-seater bus travelling from Lagos to Kaduna crashed into a stationary trailer.

13 May:  At least 18 people died while 11 others sustained various injuries as two buses colided and caught fire instantly, near Potiskum in Yobe State.

23 May:  Alhaji Balarabe Musa, 34, who had just been elected to the House of Representatives at the 9 April polls, to represent Kumbotso constituency in Kano State, died in a car crash. The accident occurred on the Abuja–Kano highway, at a town called Tafa in Niger State.

27 May: 26 people were burnt to death in a huge inferno resulting from a motor accident in front of the popular Yaoland Fuel Station along the intra-city Iwo Road-Ojoo route in Ibadan, Oyo State.About 25 vehicles and other equipment worth several millions of naira also perished in the tragedy.

27 May:  Seven persons, including Alhaji Kolo Makama, senior special assistant on special duties/legal matters to the Niger State governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, died in a crash. along Bida road in Niger State. The accident occurred just about 48 hours to the governor’s inauguration for a second term.

1 June: 10 people were killed in a ghastly motor accident at Abukur village along Katsina-Kano road.

7 June: Seven students of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria,died when the commercial bus in which they were riding collided head-on with a petrol tanker.

8 June: 21 persons, including two pregnant women and seven toddlers, died in an auto crash at Ilara Mokin, near Akure, capital of Ondo State.

20 June:  28 people died when buses operated by two Enugu-based transport companies (Peace Mass Transit, PMT, and the Enugu State Transport Company, ENTRACO) collided on the Enugu-Nsukka Highway; four of the casualties were members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) who were returning to their homes after the national service in one  of  the northern states.

20 June: At least 18 people, died in an accident on the Ibadan–Lagos Expressway, according to witnesses. However, FRSC officials later said seven people died.

24 June: Five candidates for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) travelling from Yenagoa in Bayelsa State to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, died in an auto crash at the Ahoada axis of the East-East road in Rivers State.

PROFILE: DR BELLO HALIRU MOHAMMED, MINISTER OF DEFENCE

Dr BELLO MOHAMED, Minister of Defence

Dr. Bello Haliru Mohammed was born in Birnin Kebbi, capital of Kebbi State on 9 October 1945.

He started his primary education in Birnin Kebbi. For his secondary school, he attended the famous Government College (now Barewa College), Zaria. In 1966, he proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), also in Zaria, where he studied veterinary medicine. He is a Fellow of the College of Veterinary Surgeons of Nigeria (FCVSN).

Mohammed started work as a lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, but he was soon summoned to responsibilities beyond the ivory tower. In 1977, he was appointed Commissioner for Agriculture under the military government in the then Sokoto State (the state was later split into Sokoto and Kebbi States in 1995). He was subsequently redeployed as Commissioner for Education under the same government. 

In 1979, when the military was first stepping back to barracks, Mohammed joined the Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), contested Deputy Governor of the old Sokoto State, but his party lost to the National Party of Nigeria (NPN). Thereafter, he remained the GNPP’s Secretary for Sokoto State until 1983 when the army again ousted the civilian government. 

As the military government had also banned party politics, Mohammed turned to the private sector, becoming the Managing Director of Alpha & Beta Merchants Ltd, a general merchandise company. From there, he moved on to the post of Assistant General Manager, and later General Manager, of the Rima River Basin and Rural Development Authority, an agency of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources.

In 1988, he was appointed, by the then military President, Gen Ibrahim Babangida, to head the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) as its Comptroller General. He held that post until 1994, when Gen Sani Abacha as head of state, appointed a Military Sole Administrator (Brig Gen S. O. Ango) to run the Customs Service.

During Gen Abacha’s ill-fated transition programme from 1995 to 1998, Mohammed was a founding member of the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN). After Abacha’s death and the disolution of the DPN and other parties, he then became a founding member of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), having participated in the landmark meeting at which it was decided that the political association then known as G-38, should transform into a broad-based political party. He was in fact one of the four ‘conveners’ selected to form the PDP in Kebbi State in 1998.

After the PDP’S victory in the 1999 elections, President Olusegun Obasanjo in September of that year, appointed Mohammed as a Commissioner on the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), an agency which monitors accruals into, and disbursements of revenues from, the Federation Account, and also reviews the country’s revenue allocation formula periodically, in order to ensure conformity with changing realities. He was one of 37 commissioners representing each state of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory on the Commission. Less than two years later, in June 2001, Obasanjo appointed him as Minister of Communications, a post he held till May 2003.

Soon after he left the cabinet, Mohammed again returned to the party bureaucracy. In June 2004, he was elected National Vice Chairman of the PDP for the North West Zone comprising the seven states of Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, Kebbi, Sokoto, Jigawa and Zamfara.

In March 2008, he was elevated to the office of Deputy National Chairman of the party. In January 2011, he emerged as the PDP’s seventh National Chairman. Meanwhile, he was also the chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), a 20-member body which oversees and supervises the activities of the Corporation and also approves the award of contracts up to certain limits.

Dr Mohammed is married and has six children.

Seven Ahmadu Bello University students die in accident in Zaria, Kaduna State

On 7 June, seven students of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, died when the commercial bus in which they were riding collided head-on with a petrol tanker.

Local resident said the students were coming from Samaru when the accident occurred, along the Samaru-Sabon Gari road around 8pm, under a heavy rain. They also said the accident occurred on a stretch of road notorious for recurrent accidents, especially at night; but it is not clear what exactly caused this particular accident.

Reports say five of the victims identified as ABU students died on the spot. Others, seriously injured, were rushed to the ABU Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), but that two of them were pronounced dead by the next morning.

The Abuja-based and well-regarded newspaper, Daily Trust, reports that among the victims was Idris Umar Idris, son of Mr Umar Idris, a Deputy Commissioner of Police at the Police Headquarters in Abuja. The paper, quoting family members, also reports that the young Idris, a graduate of Computer Science from ABU, was due to commence his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in August this year.

President of Nigerian medical students, Auwal Shanono, killed in transport workers’ fight in Ibadan, Oyo State

A scene of the violence around Iwo Road, Ibadan

On 5 June, the national president of the Nigerian Medical Students’ Association (NIMSA), Mr. Auwal Bala Shanono, was killed in a fight between factions of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, in Ibadan, Oyo State.

Auwal was a 500 Level medical student at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He met his tragic death on his way back from Ile-Ife, Osun State, where he had attended a national conference on preventing maternal mortality in Nigeria (UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report 2009 says “one out of nine global maternal deaths occurs in Nigeria”).

Innocent students caught in a senseless fight

Reports say Auwal, along with four other students, had stopped over at Iwo Road, Ibadan, to board a night bus to Kaduna. On getting there, they were caught in an ambush laid by one of the NURTW factions which had been locked in a vicious struggle for control of public motor parks in the city. Reports say Auwal was shot dead and burnt beyond recognition. The other four students escaped death by the whiskers.

His remains were laid to rest on 8 June, at the Unguwar Kanawa Muslim cemetery in Kaduna. The burial was attended by hundreds of tearful family members, relations, neighbours, friends and course mates.

Griefing Family Seeks Justice

His immediate elder brother, Haruna Bala Shanono, who spoke for the family, lamented that Auwal was their future, “our last hope on this earth”. The grief-stricken Haruna said the late Auwal “was the first person to study Medicine in our whole family, including the extended one consisting of over 500 people. He was everything to us”. He pleaded with President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure that the killers are brought to book.

The National Association of Kogi State Students has also called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, to arrest and prosecute all those involved in the killing. The association’s president, Mr. Dare Zacheus, who made the call in Lokoja on 8 June, further urged the Oyo State government to inaugurate a high-powered panel to investigate the incident and compensate innocent victims.

Refugees from post-election riots: Groups decry poor camp conditions, task govts on welfare

Map of Nigeria highlighting Kaduna State

On 4 June, two groups, namely the Arewa Youth Forum (AYF) and the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Muslims Forum, both decried the conditions of people displaced by the post-election violence last April, and appealed for more active response from governments, regarding their welfare and security needs.

Speaking for his group, the National President of the AYF, Alhaji Gambo Ibrahim Gujungu, told newsmen in Kaduna that although government was doing its best to provide succor to the displaced persons, a lot still needed to be done.

He observed that the N15,000 cash stipends given to each refugee family to secure accommodation in Kaduna State, was severely inadequate. He urged the state government to review the amount upwards, to enable the displaced persons leave the camp and secure rented apartments. He said a provision of N50,000 would have been more realistic towards the accommodation needs of victims.

The AYF leader also urged the Kaduna State government to ensure that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry it set up to investigate the crisis swings into action immediately so that the culprits would be fished out and prosecuted.  He said that punishing those indicted over the post-election violence would serve as a deterrent to other would-be killers and looters in the North and across the country.

Alhaji Gujungu further suggested that the Federal Government should establish a military joint task force which should be deployed across the state, especially in Zonkwa, Kafanchan, Zaria and other flashpoints, in order to curtail future crises.

On its part, the ABU Muslims Forum described the conditions of the refugees staying at Hajj Camp, Kaduna, as pathetic, requiring urgent attention from the state government.

Speaking after a visit to the refugees, the Ameer of the Forum, Dr. Mustapha Isa Qasim, observed that: “It is unfortunate the way these people are being treated by the government. We discovered that the refugees are living on donations from individuals and organisations. We feel that the government has neglected them”.

He said: “Some of them (the displaced persons) are still with gun-bullets on their bodies. More than ten women have given birth in the camp and they are still there at the camp. Had it been that the government has any respect for the refugees, they would have evacuated the pregnant and nursing mothers to a special place…It is unfortunate that these people are being maltreated and nobody seems to care”.

Dr Qasim said the Forum would donate food items, medicine, clothes and money to the refugees, but he also argued that the government must do more.

He said: “Government should rebuild houses for them and ensure that they put adequate security in place so that these people would not be attacked again”.

Two blasts in VP Namadi Sambo’s hometown Zaria, Kaduna State: At least 6 persons injured

Zaria: Gate to the Emir's Palace

On the night of Sunday 29 May and the morning of Monday 30 May, two explosions occurred in Zaria, the second largest city in Kaduna State and hometown of Alhaji Namadi Sambo who was sworn in as Vice President in Abuja, earlier on 29 May.

The first explosion occurred in a beer parlour in the government reservation area (GRA), an elite district, wounding at least four people.

The second, reported around 6am, occurred on the fringe of a refuse dump in Tudun Masallaci, in the Iyan Juma Ward of the city’s ancient quarters.

Local residents said it went off when two teenagers on an errand for their parents unsuspectingly stepped on it. The youths suffered serious injuries and were rushed to a nearby clinic.

The Public Relations Officer of the Kaduna State Police Command, Mr Aminu Lawal, told the AFP news agency that both blasts were caused by “locally-made explosive devices” and that the police had “intensified security in the affected areas”, deploying more patrol teams.

Zaria was a notable flashpoint of the violence that erupted in a dozen northern states, following the 16 April presidential elections. Vice President Sambo’s country home in the city was sacked by the rioters.  

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the explosions. It is also not clear whether the blasts are related to the earlier post-election violence, to other bomb attacks staged by the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, mostly in Maiduguri, Bauchi and Kaduna in recent months, or to the inauguration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan as President  – and Sambo as his deputy.

ANPP governorship candidate, Governor’s brother, five others assassinated in Maiduguri, Borno State

The late Alh Fannami Modu GUBIO

On 28 January, the governorship candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) in Borno State, Alhaji Fannami Modu Gubio, was assassinated in Maiduguri, the state capital.

Killed along with him, were the younger brother of the state’s governor, who is also a former chairman of Ngala Local Government Area, Alhaji Goni Modu Sheriff. The other casualties included two mobile (anti-riot) policemen attached to the governorship candidate (who were dressed in plain clothes), as well as a 10-year-old child.

Gubio, 50, a 1981 graduate of engineering from Ahmadu Bello University, and cousin of Governor Ali Modu Sheriff was, until his death, the Commissioner of Finance and Economic Development in the state administration. He was elected the party’s flag-bearer for the April elections, only two weeks ago. The ANPP controls politics in Borno State.

Local sources say Gubio was returning to his family house from the Jumat prayers at the Shehu of Borno’s palace around 2.15p.m, when the attackers struck. The gunmen, who had apparently trailed him on a motorcycle, opened fire on him and those around him, just as they got down from a jeep. Gubio ran towards a sport utility vehicle parked nearby, but could not make it to the cover. The killers then fled, shooting sporadically into the air to shake off any chase.

Some analyst think the attack bore the hallmarks of the extremist Islamist group, Boko Haram, which has carried out serial killings in the state since last July; but that seems most unlikely, as some say Gubio was himself a “Dan Boko”, a sympathizer with the radical sect. Probably against the background of the contest of interests that had surrounded the choice of the ANPP candidate, the Borno State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed, states categorically that: “Obviously, it’s a political assassination”.

News of the death of the man whom everyone was sure would be the next governor sent shivers through the city. Many shop owners hurriedly shut down their businesses and ran home. Residents deserted the streets as armed police and soldiers patrolled the city. As police cordoned off large neighborhoods searching for the killers, many people hid inside their homes.

However, the next day – 29 January – thousands of people gathered at Maiduguri’s Gwange cemetery, as the remains of Alhaji Gubio and the governor’s brother were buried. Dignitaries at the funerals included the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Garbai Al-amin Ibn El-kanemi; Emir of Biu, Alhaji Umar Mustapha Aliyu; Emir of Dikwa, Alhaji Masta II; Emir of Bama; Senator Maina Ma’aji Lawan; members of Borno State House of Assembly and members of the Borno State Executive Council. Thousands of sympathisers also trooped out to the family houses of both Gubio and Sheriff.

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