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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.

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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.

Police find 8 bomb-laden cars in Kano, AFP reports

Map of Nigeria showing Kano State

On 23 January, the French news agency, AFP, reported a Police source as saying security operatives had found eight cars packed with bombs in Kano city, where multiple bomb and gun attacks killed over 200 people on Friday 20 January.

According to the AFP report, a senior police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said:  “We have discovered eight bomb-laden cars in different areas of the city”. The officer said the bombs were all home-made and that the cars were abandoned by roadsides.

Local sources had earlier reported, on Sunday, 22 January, the discovery of two cars loaded with eight locally-made bombs. The cars, a Honda Civic with registration number BB 748 NSR, Kano and a Kia with registration number FD 966 LND, were found wired with locally-made explosives along Eastern Bypass in Kano city. The Honda car was parked at the NNPC mega-station while the Kia was parked a short distance away, at the Chula filling station along the same bypass.

Witnesses said the cars had been parked at those spots since Friday evening when the city came under the multiple bomb and gun attacks.

The sources further reported that police officers found eight locally-made explosives in the two vehicles. Other items found included cans of drinks, cigarette filters, a kerosene stove, an old electricity metre and electric cables. Reporters said they were unable to obtain police confirmation of the discoveries as they were barred from the police headquarters and the police Public Relations Officer had also switched off his telephone.

A spokesman for the militant Islamist group widely known as Boko Haram had said his group was responsible for the attacks. President Goodluck Jonathan visited the city on Sunday 22 January, and said there would be no let up in efforts to subdue those responsible for the attacks.

Gov Fashola opposes deployment of soldiers against protesters in Lagos

BABATUNDE FASHOLA, Governor, Lagos State: Not a military affair

On 16 January, the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, expressed strong objection to the Federal Government’s deployment of soldiers on the streets of Nigeria’s economic mega-city, Lagos, to prevent protests against the government’s removal of subsidy on gasoline.

The soldiers were deployed across Lagos metropolis on the night of 15 January, especially at the open spaces where protesters had gathered for mammoth rallies all through the previous week. The soldiers had said they were doing routine security duties, but they effectively prevented protesters from gathering in large numbers at the rally venues.

In a broadcast, Governor Fashola noted that the citizens who had gathered for the protests in several parts of Lagos had “largely conducted themselves peacefully, singing and dancing while they expressed their displeasure” at the way government had taken decisions on issues that affect them.

He said “majority of these people, who represent diverse interests, had not broken any law”; and that even if they had done so, “it is the police that has the responsibility for restoring law and order if civil protests threaten the breach of the peace”.

Recalling that all those currently occupying high elective offices once “danced and sang before these same people when we were seeking their votes”, the governor said there was “no justification for sending out soldiers to a gathering of unarmed citizens”.

Describing the presence of the troops on the streets of Lagos as “disquieting”, Fashola urged President Goodluck Jonathan to reconsider his decision to deploy them and to direct their withdrawal.

STATEMENT BY NIGERIAN LABOUR UNIONS ON “SUSPENSION OF STRIKE AND MASS PROTESTS AGAINST HIKE IN FUEL PRICE” ON 16 JANUARY 2012

In the past eight days, through strikes, mass rallies, shutdown, debates and street protests, Nigerians demonstrated clearly that they cannot be taken for granted and that sovereignty belongs to them.

In the last twenty four hours, the Labour Movement and its allies who had the historic responsibility of coordinating these mass actions have had cause to review the various actions and decided that in order to save lives and in the interest of national survival, these mass actions be suspended.

We note the major successes Nigerians scored in these past days, in which they rose courageously as a people, to take their destiny in their hands.

First, the Federal Government that chorused continuously that its decision to increase petrol (PMS) price to N141 is irreversible and irreducible, was forced to announce a price reduction to N97. We however state categorically that this new price was a unilateral one by the Government.

Secondly, Government has been made to adopt the policy to drastically reduce the cost of governance.

A third major success Nigerians recorded is to get the Federal Government to decisively move against the massive and crippling corruption in the oil sector. While until now Government has seemed helpless to tackle corruption, the mass action of the people has compelled it to address accountability issues in the Sector. In this wise, President Goodluck Jonathan has told the nation that the forensic audit report on the NNPC will be studied and proven acts of corruption will be sanctioned.

He also promised that accountability issues and current lapses in the oil sector will be speedily addressed including the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).

A related success of the mass action by Nigerians is the vow of Government to bring to justice all those who have contributed, in one way or another, to the economic adversity of the country.

The Labour Movement commends Nigerians for their resolve to change the country for the better and we shall take advantage of the Government’s invitation to further engage on these issues.

This is in line with Labour’s resolve that the oil industry is too important to be left in the hands of bureaucrats, and that we have the patriotic duty to ensure that Nigerians get the best from this natural resource.

The least we owe our compatriots who have become martyrs in the patriotic struggle to reassert our sovereignty and ensure good governance is to remain steadfast and unbowed. Labour reiterates its demand that those who perpetuated violence against unarmed protests should be brought to justice.

With the experiences of the past eight days, we are sure that no government or institution will take Nigerians for granted again.

In view of the foregoing, Labour and its allies formally announce the suspension of strikes, mass rallies and protests across the country. We demand the release of all those detained in the course of the strikes, rallies and street protests.

We thank all Nigerians, especially market men and women, artisans, youths, students, the Nigeria Bar Association, the Nigeria Medical Association, the National Assembly, Civil Society Organisations, faith-based organizations, artistes and Nigerians in Diaspora, for their invaluable support and active participation during the strikes, mass rallies and street protests.

ABDULWAHEED I. OMAR, President, NLC

PETER ESELE, President, TUC

President Jonathan reduces fuel price, blames labour for failed talks, vows to ensure public order

GOODLUCK JONATHAN President of Nigeria

On 16 January, President Goodluck Jonathan announced a reduction in the pump price of petrol, following a paralyzing week-long strike by Nigeria’s labour unions and mass street protests by citizens.

In a televised early morning address to the nation, rescheduled from 9pm the previous night, the President said the product will now sell at N97 per litre. President Goodluck was to address the nation at 9 pm yesterday, 15th January, but the broadcast was postponed without any explanations.

The new price is N44 down from the N141 announced by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) on 1 January, but still N32 higher than the pre-January 1 price of N65. The labour unions had demanded a reversion to the January 1 price as a condition for calling off the strike and ending the protests. Talks between the government and the labour leaders failed to agree on a compromise.

The President, in his broadcast, blamed the failure of the talks on the labour leaders. He said: “It has become clear to government and all well-meaning Nigerians that other interests beyond the implementation of the deregulation policy have hijacked the protest. This has prevented an objective assessment and consideration of all the contending issues for which dialogue was initiated by government. These same interests seek to promote discord, anarchy, and insecurity to the detriment of public peace”. He warned ominously that “Government will not condone brazen acts of criminality and subversion”.

The President stated that: “Government will continue to pursue full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. However, given the hardships being suffered by Nigerians, and after due consideration and consultations with state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly, government has approved the reduction of the pump price of petrol to N97 per litre. The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has been directed to ensure compliance with this new pump price”.

Jonathan said the Federal Government had already started implementing projects under the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment (SURE) scheme, including a “government – assisted mass transit programme and job creation for the youth”.

The government, he said, was also working hard to reduce recurrent expenditure, in line with current realities, and to cut down on the cost of governance.

The President vowed to tackle corruption in the petroleum industry, as well as other sectors of the economy, pledging “all those found to have contributed one way or the other to the economic adversity of the country will be dealt with in accordance with the law”. He said the report of the forensic audit carried out on the government-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was being studied “with a view to implementing the recommendations and sanctioning proven acts of corruption in the industry”.

The President further promised that: “The legal and regulatory regime for the petroleum industry will be reviewed to address accountability issues and current lapses in the Industry. In this regard, the Petroleum Industry Bill will be given accelerated attention”.

BROADCAST BY PRESIDENT GOODLUCK JONATHAN ON STRIKE AND PROTESTS FOLLOWING THE REMOVAL OF FUEL SUBSIDY, ON 16 JANUARY 2012

Dr GOODLUCK JONATHAN President of Nigeria

Dear Compatriots,

1.  This is the second time in two weeks I will address you on the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. In the last seven days, the nation has witnessed a disruption of economic activities.  Although, the economic imperatives for the policy have been well articulated by government, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) went ahead to declare a nationwide strike.

2.    There was also near-breakdown of law and order in certain parts of the country as a result of the activities of some persons or groups of persons who took advantage of the situation to further their narrow interests by engaging in acts of intimidation, harassment and outright subversion of the Nigerian state. I express my sympathy to those who were adversely affected by the protests.

3.    At the inception of the deregulation policy, Government had set up the Justice Alfa Belgore Committee to liaise with Labour and other stakeholders to address likely grey areas in the policy, but despite all our efforts, Labour refused the option of dialogue and also disobeyed a restraining order of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria.

4.    However, following the intervention of the Leadership of the National Assembly, and other well-meaning Nigerians, Labour accepted to meet with government, but this yielded no tangible result.

5.    It has become clear to government and all well-meaning Nigerians that other interests beyond the implementation of the deregulation policy have hijacked the protest. This has prevented an objective assessment and consideration of all the contending issues for which dialogue was initiated by government. These same interests seek to promote discord, anarchy, and insecurity to the detriment of public peace.

6.    Government appreciates that the implementation of the deregulation policy would cause initial hardships and commends Nigerians who have put forth suggestions and credible alternatives in this regard. Government also salutes Nigerians who, by and large, conducted themselves peacefully while expressing their grievances. Let me assure you that government will continue to respect the people’s right to express themselves within the confines of the law and in accordance with the dictates of our democratic space.

7.    Government will continue to pursue full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector. However, given the hardships being suffered by Nigerians, and after due consideration and consultations with state governors and the leadership of the National Assembly, government has approved the reduction of the pump price of petrol to N97 per litre. The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) has been directed to ensure compliance with this new pump price.

8.    Government is working hard to reduce recurrent expenditure in line with current realities and to cut down on the cost of governance. In the meantime, government has commenced the implementation of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment projects: including the Federal Government- assisted mass transit programme which is already in place, and job creation for the youth.

9.     Furthermore, the legal and regulatory regime for the petroleum industry will be reviewed to address accountability issues and current lapses in the Industry. In this regard, the Petroleum Industry Bill will be given accelerated attention. The report of the forensic audit carried out on the NNPC is being studied with a view to implementing the recommendations and sanctioning proven acts of corruption in the industry.

10. Let me assure Nigerians that this administration is irrevocably committed to tackling corruption in the petroleum industry as well as other sectors of the economy. Consequently, all those found to have contributed one way or the other to the economic adversity of the country will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

11.  My dear compatriots, I urge you to show understanding for the imperatives of the adjustment in the pump price of petrol and give government your full support to ensure its successful implementation. I further appeal to Nigerians to go back to work and go about their normal duties as government has made adequate arrangements for the protection of life and property throughout the federation.

12.  Government will not condone brazen acts of criminality and subversion. As President, I have sworn to uphold the unity, peace and order of the Nigerian State and by the grace of God, I intend to fully and effectively discharge that responsibility.  Let me add that we are desirous of further engagements with Labour. I urge our Labour leaders to call off their strike, and go back to work.

13. Nigeria belongs to all of us and we must collectively safeguard its unity.

14. Thank you. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Nigerian Government, labour fail to reach agreement, but threat to halt oil production still on hold

Protesters in Lagos

On 14 January, talks between the Federal Government and labour union leaders, seeking to end the nationwide strike and street protests sparked by the government’s removal of petrol subsidies, failed to produce a deal, but a threat by workers to halt oil production was put on hold.

Labour officials said the talks could continue as early as Sunday 15 January, but also warned that the strike would continue on Monday if the negotiating parties failed to reach an agreement.

Comments by Senate President David Mark, who had been acting as a mediator, as well as some negotiators on both sides, suggest the Saturday talks made some progress, but stopped short of an agreement. Mark said the two parties were on the “right path”. The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Abdulwaheed Omar said: “The meeting is not deadlocked, but we have not reached a compromise”.

In a more sober assessment, the NLC secretary general, Owei Lakemfa, told the news agency, AFP, that the meeting “did not go well for Nigeria because we did not reach an agreement … because the country is bleeding”.  He said while unions were demanding a return to the pre-January 1 pump price of 65 naira per litre, the government was insisting on negotiating on a price above that.  

Earlier in the day, the executive councils of the two main labour unions, the NLC and the Trade Union Congress (TUC), had met and decided to stick to their demand for a return to the pre-January 1 price.

However, both parties appear keen on ending the strike and avoiding further hemorrhage to the economy. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), which had threatened to start shutting down production platforms if a deal was not reached on Saturday night, said it was staying action to give the talks some more chance.

A statement issued by the PENGASSAN spokesman, Babatunde Oke, said the workers expected further talks on Sunday morning, but added they would “execute the systematic shutdown, if the negotiation process breaks down”.

Gen Ewansiha takes over as JTF commander in Borno State, urges cooperation from residents

On 13 January, Maj Gen John Ewansiha assumed office as the new Commander of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) in Maiduguri, Borno State, pledging to sustain the tempo of the anti-terrorism campaign and urging residents to cooperate with the military mission.

Speaking at the JTF’s headquarters in Pompomari, Maiduguri, while taking over from the former commander, Maj Gen Jack Nwaogbo (now redeployed to the Defence Headquarters in Abuja), Gen Ewansiha said he would sustain the work JTF had been doing under his predecessor.

He observed that as a result of JTF’s security measures and operations in Borno State, most members of the militant Islamist sect widely known as Boko Haram, as well as violent criminals that had been terrorizing the state, had relocated to other states. He pledged that, under his command, the task force would spare no effort towards stopping serial killings and bombings in the state.

“People terrorizing the state should have a rethink, turn up their weapons and come out for dialogue with the appropriate authorities”, he declared.

The new commander also urged residents of Maiduguri and other violence-scared towns not to flee the state. He said the task force was applying comprehensive security measures to protect lives and property, particularly in the five local government areas under the state of emergency declared by President Goodluck Jonathan on 31 December 2011. He appealed to residents to shun rumour peddlers and cooperate with JTF by offering information that could facilitate the arrest of terrorists and criminals.

On the reported excesses of JTF personnel while carrying out their duties, he said the nation’s military does not condone indiscipline and that he would deal decisively with any of his men found violating the ‘Rules of Engagement’ or committing extra-judicial killings. He said: “The soldiers are not mad men and we have our code of conduct, and anyone who falls short is made to face the music”.

However, he also added that troops will defend themselves whenever they are attacked or endangered by terrorists and criminals.

Fuel subsidy protests halted for 2 days, after Government-labour talks paused

Unprecedented protests in Ojota, Lagos

On 12 January, negotiations between President Goodluck Jonathan and labour leaders, over the government’s removal of subsidy on petrol, reported some progress but produced no agreement. Labour leaders said the nationwide strike started on 9 January will continue, pending the outcome of another meeting on Saturday 14 January. But they halted public rallies and street demonstrations for the weekend.

The meeting between Jonathan and the labour leaders was the first since the strike began. The President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Abdulwahed Omar told newsmen that: “We have not concluded discussions yet, but we have had very fruitful discussions. We have to continue on Saturday afternoon… Until we conclude the discussions, we maintain the status quo”.

 The government had come under increasing pressure to make concessions. Over the past four days, tens of thousands of protesters, led by an alliance of labour leaders and civil society activists, had been on the streets of the nation’s major cities, demanding government’s restoration of the subsidy.

The turnout of protesters had grown by the day, with unprecedented crowds massing in several cities, notably the commercial capital, Lagos, and the usually serene federal capital, Abuja. Many said they would continue the protests until the government reverts to the pre-January 1 pump price of 65 kobo per litre.

Earlier in the day, the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), which represents about 20,000 workers, had threatened to shut down output as from Sunday, if the government did not reinstate the subsidy. NUPENG president Babatunde Ogun said if oil and gas fields were shut down, it could take several months to restart them. Meanwhile, a shutdown of natural gas supply would also cripple the nation’s electric power grid.

The strikes and protests had also taken a heavy toll on the economy, as commercial activities had been paralyzed in Lagos and other major cities, all week. Domestic airports had been completely shut and international flights seriously disrupted. The Central Bank governor, Sanisu Lamido Sanusi, told Reuters the strikes were costing the economy more than N100 billion a day.

In some instances, the protests had witnessed incidents of violence: hoodlums had attacked innocent citizens and public property; security operatives had killed at least 10 people – protesters and hoodlums – injuring many more, in Lagos, Kano and Benin.

As at 12 January, the Nigerian Red Cross said it had given first aid treatment to over 300 injured protesters across the country since the strike began. It said it had also provided basic health services to about 4,000 persons temporarily displaced by protest-related violence in Benin City, Edo State.

The two-day pause in public rallies and street demonstrators for the weekend followed pressures on labour leaders and other protest organizers to ease off the lock down, without compromising on the core demands of the protesters and other citizens. With banks and other commercial houses shut for the past four days and ATMs running out of money, many citizens had run out of supplies and cash.  Many demanded that the rallies and demonstrations be suspended for a few days, to enable them re-stock.

Announcing the suspension of the protests at a rally in Abuja on 13 January, NLC President Omar said: “We want to make sure that on Saturday and Sunday people will relax”;  but he quickly added that on Monday morning, “it is going to be the mother of all crowds”.

Some civil society activists warn that the suspension of rallies should not be misread as a weakening of their resolve on the fuel subsidy issue. They insist that unless the government reverts to the old pump price, street protests will continue next week, even if labour calls off the strike.

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