On 28 February, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported that armed pirates opened fire on a cargo ship off the Nigerian coast, kidnapped the captain and chief engineer, and robbed the crew before fleeing. The attack also left one of the 14 crew members missing and another injured.
Noel Choong, head of the IMB’s piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said about eight gunmen attacked the Dutch-owned, Curacao-flagged refrigerated cargo ship near the coast. He said he had received no word yet on any ransom demands.
The IMB said this incident is a continuation of serial piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea. In September 2011, the group had warned that the seas off the Republic of Benin, Nigeria’s neighbour to the west, were becoming a new piracy “hotspot”, partly due to the deficiencies of maritime security arrangements in the region.
Choong said: “The attacks off the Nigerian coast are very violent and they are increasing, So far we have seen seven attacks off Nigeria this year and one off Benin. So that makes eight since the beginning of the year and we believe many more attacks may have gone unreported”.
However, in one of the recent incidents in which a tanker was hijacked, the IMB said Nigerian security vessels intercepted the ship and rescued its crew.
On 4 August, a Nigerian traveling to Malaysia died aboard an aircraft, as a result of drugs he had ingested, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing at the international airport in Mumbai, India.
A report issued in Lagos on 6 August, by Nigeria’s National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), identified the man as 25-year-old Chilaka Ogbonna Emmanuel. The agency said he had left Lagos on 2 August and was on a flight from Doha, Qatar to Malaysia, when the incident happened.
The report said: “His sudden death arising from drug ingestion forced the pilot to make an emergency landing in India where he was confirmed dead in a hospital”. It added that “A post mortem conducted revealed that he had ingested narcotics”, but did not specify exactly which type of narcotics or what quantity he had ingested. The agency said it was investigating the incident.
The NDLEA report is an official confirmation from Nigeria, of the incident which had been reported in India two days earlier.
On 4 August, authorities at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (formerly Sahar International Airport) in Mumbai, India, had reported that a Nigerian, identified as “Chika Imaneal”, traveling with 67 “drug capsules” in his stomach, died on board a flight. They said the pilot of the aircraft requested an emergency landing after the passenger started vomiting and fell unconscious.
The reports said medical experts at the airport declared him dead on arrival and that airport police registered the incident as a case of “accidental death”. The reports added that the body was sent to Cooper Hospital for post-mortem and that doctors at the hospital recovered plastic capsules from his stomach, which were then sent for forensic examination to ascertain their contents. A medical expert said the man may have died of “poisoning” after a capsule burst inside his stomach.
On 4 August, another batch of 449 ex-militants from the Niger Delta was flown overseas for vocational and university training courses under the Federal Government’s post-amnesty programme.
The breakdown of the delegates shows that 310 are going to South Africa; 100 to Malaysia, 25 to India, and 14 to Dubai. Some of those going to South Africa would be training in welding and crane operations, electrical installation and maintenance as well as auto mechanical engineering. Also among the South Africa team are four women, going for aviation and pilot training.
Speaking prior to their departure, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Matters, Hon. Kingsley Kuku declared that the amnesty programme was one of the greatest transformational measures in the country and that it could turn the fortunes of the Niger Delta and by extension Nigeria around.
This batch is the single largest group of ex-militants to be sent abroad for training under the Federal Government’s post-amnesty programme.
On 30 July, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) arrested three men in connection with the trafficking of hard drugs between Nigeria and Malaysia. The three men were arrested at Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, Nigeria’s largest business city.
Two of the men – Sylvester Henry Onovo and Onyedika Emmanuel Ufiri – were arrested while attempting to smuggle 2.575kg of methamphetamine to Malaysia.
Onovo 26, an auto parts dealer at Ladipo auto parts market, Lagos, had ingested 67 wraps of methamphetamine weighing 1.275kg. Ufiri, 36, a trader at the Trade Fair Complex, also in Lagos, ingested 77 wraps of methamphetamine weighing 1.300kg.
The third suspect, Nnamdi John Kingsley, 31, was nabbed at the Nigeria Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) shed section of the airport, while taking delivery of a 32-inch plasma television imported from Malaysia, which had 1.150kg of heroin concealed inside.
On how and why they got entangled in the narcotics web, each of the arrested persons had a story to tell. Onovo said: “This is my first time of trafficking in narcotics. I did not know the implications. I wanted to use the money to buy spare parts from Malaysia”. Nnamdi Kingsley, who operates a video club on Port Harcourt Road, Aba, Abia State, said his business partners in Malaysia sent the heroin to him because he needed money. In his words: “My business partners sent the drug to me inside the television. They told me to clear the television set and raise money after selling the drug”. The NDLEA officials knew those were obviously fairy tales.
Reacting to the arrests, the Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade, said his agency was determined to sustain its relentess campaign against drug trafficking in the country, through diligent investigation, arrest, seizure and prosecution of suspects. He said: “We shall continue to arrest drug traffickers, seize their drugs and prosecute them. The Agency will also not relent in anti-drug enlightenment programmes to guide members of the public”.
On 23 July, a Nigerian student, 20, and his Malaysian girlfriend, 23, were arrested for allegedly faking the girl’s kidnap and demanding a ransom of RM1.47 million (equivalent to N76 million) from her father.
Mohd Adnan Abdullah, a Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police (SAC) and head of Criminal Investigations in Malaysia’s Selangor state, said at about 3pm that day, a man called the girl’s father claiming the girl and her boyfriend had been abducted.
The caller demanded a huge ransom for their release. The girl’s father, who was then in Kuching, capital of Sarawak state, almost 1000 km away, promptly lodged a report with the police.
Mohd Adnan said the Nigerian and the girl were soon picked up at the lobby of a hotel in Penang on the same day. He said: “The couple, who studied at a local private university, said they planned to use the ransom money for their daily expenses and education”.
He added that the suspects had been remanded at the Kajang police station until 30 July to facilitate investigations, after which they may be charged to court. Section 3 of Malaysia’s Kidnapping Act 1961 prescribes the death penalty or life imprisonment for kidnapping.
[PUBLICATION NOTICE: An INSIGHT on Nigerian “Students” and Crime in Malaysia will be published on this website on Saturday, 30 July 2011].
On 22 July, the the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Hon. Kingsley Kuku, reported that the Federal Govenment had, thus far, sent 1,019 Niger Delta ex-militants on academic and skill acquisition courses abroad, since the commencement of its post-amnesty programme over a year ago.
The very first set of ex-militants to be enrolled on vocational training courses were posted to centres within Nigeria on 23 August 2010. Thereafter, on 8 December 2010, the Presidential Amnesty Office sent off the first set of trainees that went abroad, comprising five youths enrolled for vocational courses in South Africa.
Speaking in Lagos, at a pre-departure orientation programme organised for 50 former militants heading to training courses in Sri Lanka, Hon. Kuku said that at present, groups of youth from the Niger Delta, are undergoing training in the U.S., South Africa, Malaysia, Russia, Poland, India, Ghana and the Philippines.
Kuku said another 3,112 were also undergoing skill acquisition training courses at different centres within the country.
He said the government will continue the placement and sponsorship of the fomer militants in training programmes, within the country and abroad, until all the over 26,000 of them who keyed into the government’s amnesty programme are trained for productive endeavours.
He said the government’s sponsorship of youths through these programmes was to prepare them for challenges of developing the region, and contributing to the overall development of Nigeria.
On 1 June, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Office, Hon Kingsley Kuku said that the authorities of the Igbinedion University, Okada, in Edo State, have agreed to offer admission to at least 100 qualified former Niger Delta militants, to pursue various degree programmes in the institution.
Speaking during a visit to the Amnesty Office in Abuja by the Polish Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Przemyslaw Niesiolowski, Kuku gave a detailed account of the Amnesty Office’s progress in the re-training of the ex-militants. He stated that: “Out of the first set of 20,192 ex-militants that were registered by the Federal Government, 5,000 have been placed in skills acquisition centres within Nigeria while a total of 2,618 were undergoing training in reputable institutions and centres overseas.
“Of this number, 476 are undergoing vocational training in South Africa and Ghana, 74 are in educational programmes at Linton University College in Malaysia. We also have 65 in the university in Moscow, Russia”.
“On March 26, this year, 20 of them travelled to South Africa where they are being trained in one of the best aviation colleges in the world to become helicopter pilots and aeronautical engineers. They are doing very well. I am happy to announce to you that 19 out of the 20 have passed through the examinations. The only one who has not passed, I have told them I don’t want him back until he passes the examination. I was informed that 10 of them have had their first joint flight.
“Also, 32 others are in the United States for six-month training in marine mechanics at the Wyotech Training Institute in Daytona, Florida underground drilling”.
The Special Adviser also disclosed that 24 ex-militants have been scheduled for vocational training in Poland and urged the ambassador to facilitate the issuance of visa to them so that they would proceed. He also appealled to the embassies in the country, to partner with the Presidential Amnesty Office in the provision of information on reputable vocational training institutions in their countries, and also on personnel, equipment and funding, since the amnesty programme was a global affair.
Ambassador Niesiolowski, who was initially skeptical about the grant of visa to ex-militants to undergo training in his country, was obviously impressed with Kuku’s presentation, and with the work of the Amnesty Office. He said that after the Presidential Adviser’s explanation on the purpose of the training, as well as the commitment and sincerity of the Federal Government to the post-amnesty programme, his office would facilitate the issuance of visa to the ex-militants.
Niger Delta Amnesty: Over 16,000 ex-militants have graduated from initial re-training, Presidential Adviser Kuku reports
On 16 May, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Mr Kingsley Kuku, reported that 16,336 ex-militants had thus far graduated from the demobilisation course at the Amnesty Training Camp in Obubra, Cross River State.
Speaking at the formal demobilisation ceremony of Batch 13 of the amnesty programme’s trainees at the camp, the Presidential Adviser, represented by the Chief Security Officer, Presidential Amnesty Programme, Lt Col A. A. Adekoya, explained that graduating from the demobilisation camp marked only the beginning of a longer process of reintegration into peaceful society and productive livelihood.
He told the demobilised ex-militants that: “The Amnesty Office shall, in a short while, place all of you who have successfully passed through the demobilisation exercise in this batch, in reintegration centres where you will acquire skills and vocational training. Those of you who have chosen to return to formal education shall be given the opportunity to do so”.
Kuku reported that of the 16,336 ex-militants that have thus far graduated from the demobilisation programme, 2,618 have been slated for training outside Nigeria, 4,759 have been placed in 59 skills acquisition/training centres in 13 states of the country, while the remaining 8,959 are still awaiting further directives.
Over 600 ex-militants are currently undergoing degree and vocational training courses in Ghana, Malaysia, Russia, South Africa and the United States.
On 6 March, the Federal Government sent 74 ex-militants from the Niger Delta to Linton University College, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for degree programmes.
Speaking prior to the departure of the ex-militants, the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Matters, Hon Kingsley Kuku, said the 74 young men, had already undergone non-violence transformational training in Obubra, Cross River State, and had been found fit to proceed to educational training overseas, in line with the federal government’s post amnesty programme. He said the men would do three to four-year courses in business administration, electrical and electronics engineering, and other related fields.
Prior to this, the government had sent a total of 292 ex- militants to vocational courses in South Africa and Ghana. With the present batch, the total number of ex-militants sent abroad for training, under the government’s post-amnesty programme now stands at 366. The Presidential Adviser said that in the coming weeks, more ex-militants (officially referred to as “delegates”) would depart to other countries including Philippines, Russia, Romania, United Kingdom, United States of America, Egypt, Poland and the Netherlands to commence various types of training.
Kuku explained that since the commencement of the re-integration phase of the programme in August 2010, more than 7,000 transformed ex-combatants had been allocated to both local and offshore training centres with more than 2,000 slated for educational and vocational training offshore. He urged the young men proceeding to Malaysia to be good ambassadors of the country.
Mr Femi Falana, a leading human rights lawyer and president of the West African Bar Association (WABA) urged the ex- militants to make the best of their programmes, adding that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as education was all they needed to attain the highest height in life. He said after the training, the Liquefied Natural Gas project, the new refinery project, new town project, regional railway projects, remediation projects and the East/West road project would offer them employment. He particularly urged them to comport themselves well and abide by all the laws of Malaysia, as the country did not tolerate drugs and other vices.