| By J. K. Randle |
THE most powerful man in the world – Barack Hussein Obama the President of the United States of America made a very wise choice. He would spend the Christmas holiday in Honolulu, Hawaii with his family and friends. The Elder Senior Citizens were invited just to bear witness to the fact that “24/7” the president is on duty regardless of the golfing, strolling around, dining with friends and generally trying to “hunk down”.
Incidentally, Barack was born in Hawaii. It’s on his birth certificate dated August 4, 1961, but his detractors insist that he was born on foreign soil – in Kenya !!
On previous occasions when Barack chose to spend his vacation in the Hampton’s, the exclusive playground of seriously rich old money, the conservatives were quick to slag him off as a “nouveau rich” or social climber. Can you imagine, not even the President of America is free to choose where to spend his vacation!! Just because he is black.
Anyway, on Christmas day itself we were aghast that the day was ruined by the poisonous “Christmas card” from the Leader (and God) of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, who released the following damnation of Obama:
“We hold the President of the United States of America responsible for Sony’s release of “The Interview” (an action comedy which depicts a plot to assassinate Kim).
Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a BLACK monkey in a tropical forest”.
In subsequent versions, “black” was deleted.
The “Red Necks” in America chose a different ploy.
They resorted to sly tactics and planted the following story from
“Saturday Sun” newspaper of 27th December 2014 for wide media circulation with the sub-text of Kenya as the birthplace of Barack Obama.
Headline” “YOUNG WOMEN DRAGGED AWAY FROM THEIR VILLAGE FOR DOWRY OF 20 GOATS AND THREE CAMELS”
- Inside the ‘traditional’ tribal wedding that still takes place in Kenya
is the heartbreaking moment young girls in Kenya are sold into arranged marriages for a dowry of livestock as part of a traditional ceremony which marks their passing into womanhood.
Clad in tribal jewellery and with their hair tied up in braids, some of the women can be seen struggling as they are huddled away, traded by their fathers for 20 goats, three camels, and 10 cows.
Many of the girls, who are members of the Pokot tribe, are not aware they have been bargained away until their husbands come to collect them after spending a month in isolation before the ceremony takes place.
Often their parents will keep the details of the marriage hidden for fear that their daughter will run away if she finds out about the deal they have made.
As part of the ritual, which lasts day and night, the village men will also select a bull from the herd of cows which the women will punch into submission before it is executed with a spear-thrust to the heart.
This particular ceremony took place in the bush around 30 miles (50km) from the town of Marigat in Baringo County which is home to around 133,000 plains Pokot.
Many of the girls will be as young as 14, despite Kenyan law now forbidding childhood marriage. As with many tribal customs, however, strict adherence to tradition is considered more important than complying with the law.
The Pokots developed their social structure and practices in order to maximize the chances of survival of each household in an often difficult and hostile environment, but they are coming to be viewed as barbaric and unacceptable in modern-day Kenya.
During the ceremony the girls will sing and stay standing from the afternoon throughout the night and the morning after. At the end of the ceremony, the girls and the boys of the community dance together, supervised by elders.
While the images show the girls’ shock and distress at what is happening to them, it is unlikely to be the first time they have suffered hardships at the hands of their parents and tribal tradition.
The Pokot people are also known to practise female genital mutilation, a practice whereby parts of a woman’s sexual organs are removed using scissors, a razor blade, or glass before they are sewn up and have their legs bound together until the wounds heal.
The tradition is carried out at a much younger age than the forced marriages, in the belief it will help to keep the girls pure until the time comes for them to undergo the ceremony that will see them become women.
However, as the ceremonies are usually carried out by unskilled quack doctors operating miles from any hospital and with no anesthetic or antibiotics, deaths are common due to blood loss or infection.
If the girls do not die, then the stitches can cause them terrible pain and discomfort for the rest of their lives, especially during childbirth.
As with child marriage, the practice has now been outlawed in Kenya, with a maximum penalty of life in jail if a girl dies, but so far there have been no successful prosecutions.
Between Kenya and Uganda there are around 700,000 native Pokot speakers, with the vast majority living in West Pokot country.
Pokot society is largely divided in two between the hills Pokot, who live in rainy uplands and are mostly farmers, and the plains Pokot, who roam the dry lowlands and are mostly cattle herders.”
As part of the subtle but unrelenting efforts of Republicans to get at Barack Obama by emphasising his African ancestry, salacious stories about the African continent have become the staple diet of the formidable right-wing section of the U.S. media – largely culled from the internet. Here are a few samples:
- Front page of “Vanguard” newspaper of December 16, 2014:
Headline: “TOURISM POTENTIAL OF DOG MEAT DELICACY IN AKWA IBOM”
“Akwa Ibom – Dog meat, a delicacy for the Ibibio, Oron, Annangs, Eket and Obolo – speaking people of Akwa Ibom State, has turned out to be not only a source of foreign income earnings to the sellers in the state, it is also enticing consumers and tourists from neighbouring African countries and beyond.
Anietie Effiong, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, Bambo Island, one of the largest and highly patronized dog meat spots, located along the Goodluck Jonathan Boulevard on the outskirts of Uyo, told Niger Delta Voice that because of the increasing patronage from outside the state, his bar had been redesigned to meet tourism standards, as tourists visit the place regularly to digest the delicacy.
Ghanaians, other foreigners
His words: “People come here from far and near; tourists, including the white foreigners, Ghanaians and people from other countries come here to see what we are doing and sometimes taste what we are doing here.
Would you have imagined that this is an ordinary palm-wine and dog meat bar?
This place provides natural ambience, beauty and fresh air whispering and oozing from the bamboo leaves which also shades the place from high sunlight.”
Effiong, who normally prepares a minimum of five dogs daily for consumption by customers, explained that the oily substance in cooked dogs helps to nourish the skin, preserve youthfulness, builds energy and stimulates libido, just as the delicacy has the innate tendency to build immunity and provide mystical protection to the consumers against elemental forces.
He asserted: “in fact, this place has helped to educate a lot of people, who before now, held erroneous and negative impressions about dog meat.
Many of them are now eating dog meat and have attested to the efficacy of its medicinal and nutritional values.
So, the issue has been basically that of one man’s meat being another man’s poison. But we can tell anybody, not because I am promoting my business, that there is no meat yet that is as delicious and as appetizing as dog meat, “Effiong declared.
His sales girl, Miss Blessing Monday, who corroborated his claim, said she observed that people from all over Nigeria and other African countries have come to cherish dog meat as much as the people of Akwa-Ibom.
She said: “Even if we cook and garnish 10 dogs a day, all would be consumed.
Aside from those who come here to buy dog meat directly, many others book and pay in advance to entertain their visitors and guests at wedding ceremonies, birthdays, child dedication and other ceremonies.”
The reason for the appreciable market and patronage, Blessing said, is not unconnected with the fact that dog meat is irresistibly delicious.
Best way to enjoy the delicacy
Proprietor of Ima-Abasi 404 and Palm-wine Bar, Mbiokporo in Nsit-Ibom Local Government Area, Mr. Ekom-Obong Inyang, said there was nothing incongruous about dog meat delicacy.
He said consumers derive even greater pleasure after the consumption of a plate of dog meat combined with plantain or yam and then washed down with a bottle of palm wine.
Aside from its alluring aroma and appetizing appeal, consumers of dog meat, who spoke to Niger Delta Voice at Obio Etoi, Mbierebe Obio, Mbiokporo, Anua Obio, Itam, Uyo and environs, insisted that dog meat is of higher medicinal and nutritional values than any other meat.”
- “New Telegraph” newspaper of November 24, 2014:
Front page headline: “WHY LASU AWARDED 19 PHD CERTIFICATES IN ERROR”
“The Lagos State University (LASU) has said that it decided to withdraw the 19 PhD certificates suspected to be awarded in error in order to check the “certificate mess” in the institution.
Briefing journalists at the weekend, the LASU Vice-Chancellor, Prof John Obafunwa, said that the errors in the certificate were discovered when one of the owners refused to collect hers on the grounds that she was awarded PhD certificates in the programme she did not enroll for.
The VC also said the “certificate mess” was part of the rot in the university, adding that the Senate of the institution was committed to streamlining the problems of “double honours” in the certificates and rectify those awarded for programmes not run by the university.
He said: “Somebody complained to the university’s Senate that she was given a PhD certificate in a programme that she did not enroll in. Specifically, she said that what she enrolled for was MPhil/PhD International Business. She told the Senate that she was given a PhD Certificate in Business Administration and Marketing and that person refused to collect the certificate.
I didn’t even know anything about it until it came to the fore. The case came to the Senate not to Professor Obafunwa. And the Senate directed the Dean of Post-Graduate School, Dean, Faculty of Management Sciences to go and bring all the materials relating to these things. The PhD certificates that they have awarded over the last three to four years. We asked them to let us look at the documents and they came with 19.
The Senate spent about three hours debating this particular issue. Members of the Senate were able to categorise everything into about three groups. I think about eight of them or so, virtually have no problems.
However, the Senate decided that it will like to see their certificates of conversion and what they were admitted for in the first instance. Eight of them were given PhD in the areas they actually enrolled for, but the Senate wanted the documentation.”
- “New Telegraph” newspaper of December 5, 2014:
Front page headline: “MY DAD ALMOST RAPED ME TO DEATH”
“A middle-aged man, who lives at Oyingbo in Lagos, has allegedly defiled his 14-year-old daughter until she could no longer walk upright.
The girl, simply identified as Uzor, said her father pounced on her on December 2, at their No. 4, Akintunde Street home until she found it difficult to walk.
The girl, who spoke with our correspondent yesterday, said her father raped her about 6.30am after she went to live with him.
She explained that she had been living with an aunt after her mother died until her father came to take her away.
Fighting back tears, Uzor said: “I wanted to shout, but his weight was too much for me. My father is fat and I was struggling not to stop breathing. I was struggling to push him off.”
According to Uzor, after her mother died, she went to live with her mother’s elder sister at Ogijo, an Ogun State community near Ikorodu.
The woman was expected to assist the girl in furthering her education, but she did not.
“My aunt did not enroll me in school. I used to hawk pepper and tomatoes for her. My father said he was not happy that my aunt did not enroll me in school. He threatened to take me away. He eventually came and took me to his house.”
Recalling how she was raped, Uzor said: “I was in the room, sleeping when my father called me to warm the soup in the kitchen. A few minutes later, he called me into his bedroom. I thought he wanted to punish me when he called me, because I am always scared of him and my step mother. They maltreat me.
Before I knew what was happening, my father had pushed me on the bed and pounced on me. He tore off my pants and raped me. When he finally got up, I was bleeding from my private part. I could not walk. But I managed to call the attention of an elderly woman on our street.”
The girl said that after the incident, her father left her on the bed and went away. The woman she alerted warned her not to tell anyone. The woman told Uzor, it was an abomination.
“Immediately I left the woman’s house, I went to a pay call centre to call Mrs. Toyosi Bello in Ogijo. I explained the incident to her,” Uzor said.
According to her, she knew Bello, who is the Ogun State coordinator for the Centre for Defence of Human Rights, while in Ogijo.
Bello also told our correspondent that she was in Ogijo when she received Uzor’s call.
The following day, Bello said she went to the man.
She said: “I observed that the woman Uzor reported the incident to is shielding her father from arrest.
Some elderly men in the area begged me not to expose the matter to the public as that would damage the image of the little girl in future. The girl was immediately rushed to the Federal Medical Centre, unfortunately when we got there; the medical doctors were on strike.”
Bello said Uzor’s father was on the run. The girl’s step-mother was arrested, but had since been released.
Uzor has been taken to Project Alert, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), which takes care of victims of rape.”
- “National Mirror” newspaper of December 25, 2014 Christmas Day front page headline: “MY PARENTS RECRUITED ME, SAYS 13-YEAR-OLD SUICIDE BOMBER”
“A 13-year-old female suicide bomber, Zarau Babangida, who declined to detonate explosives loaded on her, yesterday said that her biological father introduced her to the Boko Haram sect.
Zarau Babangida spoke in Kano when she was paraded by the state’s Police Command.
She was among the three female bombers primed to attack Kantin Kwari Market, Kano, on December 10.
The two other girls managed to detonate their bombs, leading to the death of 10 people, while many others were injured.
Zarau said that her biological father took her to a bush in Bauchi State, where she was indoctrinated into the Boko Haram group.
“My parents took me to the Boko Haram training camp in Bauchi State, where we were living. One of the trainers asked me that, do I want to go to paradise, in my reply to him, I said yes. He further asked me, if I can commit suicide and, I said no. He threatened to bury me alive,” she said.
According to her, the three would-be bombers were transported to Kano from Bauchi to carry out the attack.
“They selected three of us, brought us to Kano and took us straight to Kantin Kwari market, where they directed us to separate ourselves to different parts of the market and detonate the explosives loaded on us.
When it was time for the execution, the first girl went ahead and detonated herself with the explosives on her. I stood near the second girl,who asked me to go ahead; I refused and she detonated herself not far from me.
I refused to detonate my own. I stopped a tricycle operator who conveyed me to Dawanau area. We were living in that part of Kano before my father and mother relocated to Bauchi state, but we are indigenes of Yobe State, “Zarau said.
The state Commissioner of Police, Adenrele Shinaba, said that the 13 years old suspected suicide bomber was arrested at an undisclosed hospital in Kano metropolis, following a tip off from a Good Samaritan.
Shinaba stated that the arrest was the result of the synergy between security agencies in the state.
He added that the arrest would douse the tension that had engulfed the state with accusing fingers pointing towards ethnic and religious linkages.
He said: “We will like to disabuse the mind of the general public, that it is not inter tribal war. It is a terrorism act, like we have had in the past; it has nothing to do with any government. We will never allow such people to succeed.
We want the people that are threatening to attack non indigenes in Sabon-Gari to realize that, we all have a common enemy, which is the terrorist. So we cannot start fighting ourselves because that is the aim of the terrorist. Just to cause confusion, they choose soft targets to create panic and fear among the people,” Shinaba said.
Confirming her arrest by security operatives Zarau said: “After the tricycle operator dropped me at Dawanau, he later discovered that I left behind an explosive belt on the back seat. He informed the security agents, who then traced me to the hospital where I was receiving treatment and arrested me.”
Meanwhile, troops in the ongoing military operations against the Boko Haram insurgents on Tuesday brought down a suicide bomber in Gombe State, foiling his planned attack on a military facility.
The Defence Headquarters, DHQ, which disclosed this in a statement through its Director of Defence Information, DDI, Maj-Gen. Chris Olukolade, in Abuja yesterday, also said that troops carrying out a raid in Kano State uncovered a bomb making factory.
The DHQ said that the suicide bomber rammed into a military check point in Bajoga, Gombe State, but failed to achieve his mission.
“His attempt to escape also failed as he was brought down by vigilant soldiers when he tried to flee after hitting a military Amoured Personnel Carrier with his IED laden Honda car.
The explosives, which failed to detonate have been evacuated and handed to the police.
Also in Kano, security forces have raided the terrorists’ hideout in Nasarawa local government area, leading to the arrest of bomb making experts who are already helping in the investigation into activities of bombers lately. Officers believe that the efforts will yield useful clues.
Troops deployed in all locations of the counter terrorism campaign have been directed to sustain the tempo of operations all through the period of seasonal celebrations and ensure that the intention of terrorists to attack civilian targets while avoiding troops is duly frustrated,” the DHQ stated.
- “Daily Independent” newspaper December 16, 2014:
Front page headline: “I KILLED MY SON BECAUSE HE’S STUBBORN — Father”
“A 43-year-old man, Rabiu Yusuf, who resides at Maina Maji in Alkaleri Local Government Area of Bauchi State has tortured his 10-year-old son, Aliyu Rabiu, to death due to his alleged stubbornness.
Speaking to newsmen on Monday at police headquarters in Bauchi where he was paraded among other suspects, Yusuf who admitted he was responsible for the death of his son, said he did not know he will die as a result of the punishment he went through.
He said “trouble started when I divorced his mother and married another wife so my son Aliyu followed his mother to her new home and I was not in support of the arrangement.
I called Aliyu several times to come back home because I want him to be in my custody as his father but he refused. So I went to the mother’s home with annoyance and brought him back home.
“When I brought him back to my house, I chained him and locked him up inside the room so that he does not escape and go back to his mother but unfortunately he died”, Yusuf said.
The Police Public Relations Officer of Bauchi State command, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Haruna Mohammed while parading some suspects arrested by his command before newsmen on Monday said Rabiu conspired with one Ismail Idris and killed his 10 years old son.
Mohammed said the boy who was chained and detained by his father for 10 days later fell sick as a result of the ill treatment and was taken to Rimi Clinic in Bauchi where he later died.
DSP Mohammed also disclosed that police detectives attached to Ningi Division also arrested one Ahmadu Saidu aged 33 years of Rakama Village in Ningi.
He said, “suspect conspired with one Umar Sanda Ali, aged 30 years, also arrested and killed his biological father, one Sa’idu Lawwali, aged 60 years old.
Suspects further burnt and buried the deceased father in a shallow grave at a nearby bush. He stated further that police detectives attached to Dass Division in collaboration with Danga Vigilantes arrested one Yusuf Abdulkadir, aged 46 years, and six others after a fierce exchange of gunfire at Dajin Village in Tafawa Balewa LGA of Bauchi State on December 10, 2014.
He said “suspects conspired and killed a Cattle rearer, one Mohammed Jamo male of Pankshin LGA of Plateau State and took away 32 cows from the victims.
Exhibits recovered from the suspects included one AK 47 Rifle with No. 1087, one assault rifle with No. 2012147, 202 live ammunitions of 7.56mm, 32 cows, and one machete.
All cases are under investigation after which suspects will be charged to court for prosecution,” he said.
(i) “The Punch” newspaper of December 29, 2014
Front page headline: “MAMBILLA POWER PROJECT AS FINANCIAL SINKHOLE”
“Bewilderingly, Nigeria has become a cauldron of white elephants, with 11,886 abandoned projects littering the landscape. The most symbolic of the lot should be the Mambilla hydropower plant located in Taraba State, in the North-East Zone, which was initiated during the Shehu Shagari administration in 1982. Thirty-two years later, the 3,050-megawatt project is yet to take off. One phrase sums up this fiasco: shame of a nation.
No effort by the government to reassure the public can explain away the sheer waste and ineptitude that have characterized the project. Early this month, the Goodluck Jonathan government again signified its intention to complete the project as announced by Mohammed Wakil, the Minister of State for Power.
Wakil said the ministers of Power and Finance would travel to China to finalise the details of the project with the China Exim Bank. He put the contract sum at $5 billion. “In the history of the country, this is so far the most expensive project … one has to follow (the) due process,” Wakil boasted. It is difficult to believe the government. It is fond of dashing the hopes of Nigerians when it comes to providing basic infrastructures and it has since used up its trust capital.
As a country that intends to join the comity of developed nations, Nigeria must set her priorities right. The Mambilla project is one of such critical infrastructure that can be a game-changer in a nation reeling under the crushing weight of poor power generation capacity that only attained a temporary peak of 4,600MW last month. Of course, this is a mere pittance. Demand for electricity in Nigeria is estimated to be about 15,000MW.
In terms of scope, the project is the biggest hydroelectric dam in Africa. Apart from generating electricity, it has three separate dams connected to the Dogan River, which will be utilized for agricultural purposes. The Mambilla project has been stalled in spite of the seeming efforts of successive governments to get it off the ground.
After many years of inactivity, the Olusegun Obasanjo administration offered a window of hope for its resuscitation between 2006 and 2007 when it signed a contract for the execution of Lot 1 (or the civil aspect) of the project with a Chinese consortium – China Gezhouba group and China Geo-Engineering Corporation – for $1.46 billion.
To demonstrate its seriousness, the government paid 15 per cent (about $219 million) to the consortium as an advance. But as usual here, the hope was decapitated. Strangely, the story changed a few months later as the government cancelled the contract, an action that made the Chinese government to also withhold its $2.5 billion counterpart funding for the project. Earlier in 2005, a German firm, Laymeyer, secured a $3.2 million contract for the Manmbilla feasibility study, but carried out no further work after it was blacklisted by the World Bank for bribery in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
In its 2011 annual report, the Ministry of Power said Mambilla would generate 2,600MW and that the Federal Government had signed a contract of /437.2 million with Messrs Coyne et Bellier “for the detailed engineering and project management … with a completion period of 63 months.”
Over time, the timetable for the completion of the project has been shifted. Likewise, the contract sum has been juggled endlessly. In June 2013, Chinedu Nebo, the Minister of Power, put the contract value at $3.2 billion, while Wakil (Nebo’s deputy) stated in September in Gombe that it was $7 billion. For a serious project of this nature, this flip-flop is embarrassing. It is a sign that the project is a vehicle for self-aggrandizement and false promises.
The fresh target of 2018 for the completion of the project is also likely to fail as five years is the minimum period given by the builders for its execution. We call for a comprehensive review of the project. But before then, the government is bound by its social contract with Nigerians to disclose all that it has committed to the project so far since inception in the Mambilla project.
Power is an irreducible factor of economic and social change. A project with such potential must take priority in our development plan. There are many companies across the world that can build this dam to specification in the allotted time. They should be contacted, instead of the government being fixated on Chinese power companies. One of the Chinese firms has yet to deliver on the 700MW Zungeru hydroelectric power project many years after the contract was awarded.
The government should state its plan for the project in the light of the new developments in Nigeria’s power sector. According to the Electricity Power Sector Reform Act (2003) and August 2010 Roadmap for Power Sector Reforms, the distribution and generation companies are supposed to be in private hands. Indeed, 11 DisCos and six GenCos have been privatized, leaving only the Transmission Company of Nigeria in the bands of the government. Under the privatization plan, the government is offering the 10 National Integrated Power Plants it built for sale.
To put an end to the unnecessary delays and corruption that have tainted the process, we suggest that the government should invite bids from competent international companies for the execution of the project. Our government should look to the West to attract private investment to the project and tap from two centuries of expertise in power infrastructure.
This will not only free the government from the financial outlay needed to execute the project, thousands of megawatts will be added to our beggarly power output.”
(vii) “New Telegraph” newspaper December 5, 2014
Back page headline: “OFFICER STEALS N20M, DRAWS SALARIES FROM 15 COMMANDS – Police
A policeman, Victor Banor, has allegedly stolen N20 million and collected salaries from over 15 different commands.
Banor, who has been in detention, yesterday approached a Lagos Federal High Court presided over by Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke.
The policeman, who accused the police of infringing on his fundamental right to freedom, asked the court to compel the police to release or arraign him.
But the police, which opposed his application, said Banor also opened over 25 bank accounts with different names, forged documents and identity cards presenting him as a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) and Superintendent of Police (SP).
The police counsel, Justin Enang, said that Banor was dismissed while serving at the Umunede Police Division in Delta State, for allegedly stealing an exhibit vehicle in a criminal case under investigation.
He added that the applicant escaped from detention and resurfaced at the Enugu State Command with a falsified signature, claiming to be an SP.
Enang claimed that Banor stole N20 million meant for salaries of officers of the Enugu State Police Command.
He said: “After the officer-in-charge of the command’s Mechanised Salary Section (MSS) retired, the applicant assumed office as the O/C MSS. It was while holding this position in March 2011 that he absconded with the money.
While absconding from office, Banor dropped a note stating that nobody should look for him because he had resigned to join militant groups in the creeks of the Niger Delta region.”
The prosecutor said that several officers under the accused complained that their salaries were diverted and that he did not turn up until he was arrested in Onitsha, Anambra State on April 15.
He said: “When he was arrested, he claimed to be a CSP, flashing a police warrant card and demanding to be shown respect as a senior officer.
“Photocopies of forged police identity cards were found on him, with ‘CSP’ Ahamefuna Banor V and ‘W/SGT Hannah Markson Banor, among other names.
Police found badges and insignia of a DCP at his home, and he absconded with a police Beretta pistol loaded with eight rounds of ammunition.
Ongoing investigation revealed a barrage of forgeries by Banor, who opened more than 25 bank accounts using fictitious names with which he had been collecting monthly salaries from over 15 command payrolls.”
Enang argued that if Banor was released on bail, he would not make himself available for trial as he would run away as usual.
He had argued that many lives were still at risk since Banor had refused to produce the police automatic weapon he absconded with.
But Banor said his right had been violated.
However, the judge ordered the police to arraign Banor in court within two weeks.
Aneke made the order in a ruling on an application by the dismissed officer, seeking enforcement of his fundamental right against the police for unlawful detention.
Banor had filed the application before the court on November 11, seeking enforcement of his fundamental rights against the police.
He also joined the Inspector General of Police, the Commissioner of Police, Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) Adeniji Adele Road, Lagos and the Investigating Police Officer (IPO), DSP Solomon Igwe, as respondents.
In his application, the applicant argued that he had been held in custody for over eight months without any charge.
He prayed the court to either order his release from prison, or direct the police to charge him before a court of law.
Aneke, in the ruling, turned down the applicant’s bail request, owing to the gravity of the alleged offence, but ordered the police to charge the applicant within 14 days.
The Judge held that the continued remand of the applicant in custody was in breach of constitutional provisions which required a person to be charged within 48 hours.”
(viii) “The Punch” newspaper December 16, 2014
Front page editorial: “WAITING FOR FORENSIC AUDIT REPORT ON NNPC”
Not surprisingly, the Federal Government has yet to deliver on its promise to release the forensic audit report of the $20 billion that allegedly went missing from the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. Early this year, Lamido Sanusi, then the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, had accused the NNPC of failing to remit $20 billion oil proceeds into the Federation Account.
Sanusi, now the Emir of Kano, had alleged in February that the NNPC had not paid $20 billion of proceeds from oil sales between January 2012 and July 2013 to the Federation Account. But the Finance Ministry put the contentious figure at “only” $10.8 billion. Ngozi Oknojo-Iweala, the Finance Minister said, “Initially, it was $48 billion, then N20 billion; but the figure we have always had is $10.8 billion.” The conflicting figures were not resolved until President Goodluck Jonathan suspended Sanusi as CBN governor in February.
When the furore refused to subside in spite of Sanusi’s ouster, Okonjo-Iweala gave categorical assurances last May at the 24th World Economic Forum for Africa meeting in Abuja, that a forensic audit would be carried out by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and would “last for 16 weeks under the supervision of the Accountant-General of the Federation.” She later promised the report would be ready in November. But the forensic audit report is yet to be released now that the year is running to an end.
An online Law Dictionary says forensic audits are performed by a class of professionals with skill-sets in both criminology and accounting who specialise in following the money trail, keeping track of fraudulent and actual balance sheets and checking for inaccuracies in overall and detailed reports of income or expenditures. It is said that a forensic audit can be conducted in order to prosecute a party for fraud, embezzlement or other financial claims.
But what is our Finance Minister up to in ordering the forensic auditing? Is it the usual diversionary strategy of just dousing the tension that has stalled every investigation of waste, fraud and corruption in the Federal Government? Has the fraud allegation been swept under the carpet again? Every time government obstructs investigations into fraud, it ends up encouraging even more wrongdoing and impunity.
The Senate Finance Committee, which presumptuously cleared the NNPC of any missing money after its own hazy investigation, created another round of controversy by giving the corporation and the government a soft landing. Basing its report on the fact that the NNPC withheld $20 billion out of $67 billion due to the Federation Account, because it was spending money to subsidise petrol and kerosene imports on behalf of the government, only stoked the fire.
As usual, the Senate failed in its primary duty of acting as a watchdog of the executive arm of government though it agreed that the money the NNPC spent or deducted was not appropriated. Curiously, it only called for the removal of subsidies and that the government should send in a supplementary budget to cover the money illegally spent.
But we need to know. Without further delay, the minister, who also coordinates the economy, has to come clean with Nigerians about the audit. We are worried that if the report is not made public now, it might never see the light of day as the nation is entering into an election period, a time when every other thing is subsumed under politics. Many thought the government’s action was merely a ploy to sweep the matter under the carpet. With the pervasive opacity in the affair, they might have been right.
In a properly run economy that thrives on accountability and the rule of law, Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke and top NNPC officials concerned would have resigned their appointments for a proper investigation to hold, or the government would have taken steps to sanction them.
Two months ago in Japan, the industry and justice ministers resigned the same day from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration over allegation of illegal use of campaign funds.
It is disturbing that state governors have been quite silent about the missing funds. Civil Society groups should not join this conspiracy of silence. It is impracticable to know exactly how much Nigeria loses to waste, fraud and corruption through the NNPC annually. In a shocking 2012 report, the Nuhu Ribadu committee on Petroleum Revenue Task Force put it conservatively at U.S.$35 billion over the last 10 years. This time round, the money involved is not a trifle. It will come in handy for an economy facing lower revenues. At this time when state governors are calling for another raid on the Excess Crude Account to augment their income, this is money that can go some way in bailing them out.
The NNPC should be made to toe the path of openness and honour in the way it runs its affairs. As Barack Obama puts it poignantly, “Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their government is doing. My administration will … disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use.”
An organization that contributes 80 per cent to the treasury should be transparent about its activities. Its perennial reliance on a dubious self-accounting status has done more damage than good to the country. The parliament should expedite action on removing the secrecy in the operations of the NNPC.
The result of the forensic audit should be made public now.”
Bashorun J.K. Randle is a former President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and former Chairman of KPMG Nigeria and Africa Region. He is currently the Chairman, JK Randle Professional Services. Email: [email protected]
— Jan. 26, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT