Corruption: The Story Of Fathers, Sons On Trial

Sule Lamido and sons  

A former governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, was the first high profile politician to be arrested and arraigned with his sons over corruption allegations. The EFCC arrested two of his sons over a N10 billion fraud. Aminu and Mustapha Lamido were arrested and interrogated at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja by a team of detectives. The arrest of the governor’s sons was reportedly in continuation of the investigation that commenced in December 2012 when Aminu Sule Lamido was arrested at the Malam Aminu Kano Airport en route Cairo, Egypt for failure to declare the $50,000 he had on him. Although Aminu has since been prosecuted and convicted by a Federal High Court in Kano, investigation on how he came by the money led to other investigations to uncover an alleged money laundering from the Jigawa State government accounts channeled into the accounts of companies run by the former governor and his two sons.

Over N10billion is said to have been transferred from the Jigawa State government accounts into the accounts in which Sule Lamido and his two sons have interest from 2007 till date.    

The anti-graft agency is said to have traced these transfers to 10 companies where Lamido and sons are directors and signatories to the account.

The former governor and his sons were on September 22, re-arraigned before a Federal High Court in Abuja on amended charges bordering on corruption and money laundering.

They had earlier been arraigned before Justice Evelyn Anyadike of the Federal High Court in Kano on July 7. All the accused persons pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Lamido is a veteran politician under the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). He has been a disciple of the late Malam Aminu Kano political school of thought. He was the minister of foreign affairs during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, having served as a member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic. He was the governor of Jigawa State from 2007 to 2015. He is a leading chieftain of the opposition PDP.

Musiliu Obanikoro and sons  

Musiliu Obanikoro, a former minister of state for defence, is a Lagos-based politician who has been a leading face of the PDP for many years. He was alleged to have embezzled money from about N4.7 billion arms fund meant for procurement of weapons for the Nigerian military to combat insurgency in Nigeria.

The EFCC reportedly traced funds allegedly linked to the arms fund to the bank account of Sylvan McNamara Limited, a company in which the former minister’s two sons, Ibrahim Babajide and Gbolahan Olatunde Obanikoro had stakes.

The former minister reportedly confessed to the EFCC that he took N800 million out of the funds he collected, using his sons’ Sylvan McNamara Company.

Obanikoro was a strong stalwart in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. He was the PDP’s governorship candidate in Lagos State.

Before his arrest and subsequent release on bail, Obanikoro went on self-imposed exile, before voluntarily surrendering to the EFCC.

Murtala Nyaka and son  

A former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako and his son, Abdulraziz, a senator representing Adamawa Central, were arraigned for an alleged N29 billion money laundering.

Nyako was elected the governor of Adamawa State in 2007, but his election was nullified. He contested and won again. Just before the end of his second tenure in 2015, Nyako was impeached by the State Assembly.

The Adamawa politician was a naval admiral, military governor and service chief before he retired and ventured into farming. He was among the five PDP governors that defected to the then newly-formed All Progressives Congress (APC). He was very critical of President Jonathan’s handling of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East.

Senator Abdulaziz was a very powerful figure in Nyako’s administration. The Adamawa Emirate turbaned him Sarkin Matasa. The traditional title was, however, withdrawn by the Lamido Adamawa when the EFCC arraigned him for money laundering.

The charges against Nyako and son include criminal conspiracy, abuse of office, opening of multiple bank accounts and stealing to the tune of N29 billion.

The EFCC said the accused had opened over 30 different accounts in Zenith Bank Plc with the money between 2011 and 2013.

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to a 37-count of corruption and money laundering.

Bala Mohammed and son

A former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Bala Mohammed, was also charged for corruption, alongside his son, Shamsudeen.

Mohammed, a retired civil servant, came to national limelight when he served as special adviser to his estranged political associate, Malam Isa Yuguda, who was aviation minister during former President Obasanjo’s administration.

He was elected senator on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) in 2007. He was appointed minister by President Jonathan after the death of President Umaru Yar’adua. He was one of the heavyweight PDP politicians during the buildup to the 2015 elections.

The anti-graft agency had brought a five-count charge against him before the High Court of the FCT sitting in Gudu, but was later withdrawn. The former minister was arrested and detained last year when he went to honour an invitation by the commission.

His son, Shamsudeen, was arraigned before a Federal High Court, Abuja, over an alleged N1.1 billion fraud. He was arraigned with four other companies on a 15-count charge bordering on money laundering offence. The companies are Bird Trust Agro-Allied Limited, Intertrans Global Logistics Limited, Diakin Telecommunications Limited, and Bal-Vac Mining Nigeria Limited.

The Federal High Court, Maitama, Abuja, eventually granted the former minister’s son bail in the sum of N100 million. He was remanded in Kuje prison before he fulfilled the bail conditions. They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Attahiru Bafarawa and son

The EFCC arrested the former governor of Sokoto State, Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa, in connection with the arms deal involving former National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

Bafarawa, a leading northern politician, was the governor of Sokoto State between 1999 and 2007 on the platform of the defunct ANPP and later Democratic People’s Party (DPP). He was the presidential candidate of the DPP in the 2007 elections.

He was also part of the opposition chieftains that formed the APC. But he parted ways with the new party over disagreement with his estranged deputy and successor, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko. Bafarawa subsequently defected to the PDP before the 2015 elections.

He was arrested on December 1 for allegedly laundering over N4.1billion meant for the purchase of arms to fight Boko Haram insurgency. The ex-governor’s son, Sagir, was arrested earlier. Sagir was alleged to have acted as a front for his father when he collected about N4.6billion from the NSA’s office.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Bello Halliru and son

A former minister of defence, Bello Halliru, was arraigned alongside his son, Abba, for allegedly collecting N600 million in the arms deal.

The Kebbi-born politician is a former comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), minister of communications, and lately, the national chairman of the PDP.

Abba was arrested by the EFCC over the allegation that he collected N600 million as a representative of Bam Properties Limited. His father, Bello, was also charged in relation to an alleged involvement in the diversion of arms funds. The Federal High Court in Abuja granted them a N600 million bail. They pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Alex Badeh and son

During the trial of a former chief of defence staff, Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, for alleged graft, the name of his son, Badeh Junior, featured, but he was not charged.

Badeh was the first retired general under trial, whose son was named in the arms deal.

Dozens of other senior military officers were implicated by the presidential committee investigating arms acquisition during the Boko Haram war. The former defence chief’s village was overrun by the Boko Haram insurgents.

Air Commodore Salisu Abdullahi Yushau (retired), a former director of finance and accounts, Nigerian Air Force, said during a court proceeding that he was directed to buy a property worth N240million for Badeh’s son, Alex Badeh Junior.

Badeh was being prosecuted alongside Iyalikam Nigeria Limited by the EFCC for offences bordering on money laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption, to the tune of over N3.9 billion.

The retired defence chief has denied the charges.

Source: Daily Trust

How Abdulmutallab Became A Suicide Bomber

The New York Times, through a Freedom of Information Act request, has obtained documents containing detailed accounts of how slain Al Qaeda leader, Anwar al-Awlaki, mentored a Nigerian, Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to explode a bomb hidden in his underpants, on a flight from Amsterdam in the Netherlands to Detroit, United States, on Christmas Day in 2009.

Mr. Abdulmutallab, commonly referred to as the “underwear bomber” by the U.S. media, is the son of the chairman of Jaiz Bank Limited, Umaru Abdulmutallab. In 2012, he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after a defiant guilty plea.

The 200-page redacted documents, which contained information obtained from Mr. Abdulmutallab through extensive interviews, was released to the newspaper after two years of legal struggle.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had kept the account a secret and rejected a request made by an author of a 2015 book on the life of Mr. al-Awlaki, an American-born Islamic cleric, forcing the New York Times to sue to obtain the documents.

Last December, a federal judge, Ronnie Abrams, ordered the FBI to release the document to the newspaper.

Mr. al-Awlaki was killed by a drone strike ordered by former President Barack Obama in 2011. He was the first American to be killed by the deliberate order of a U.S. president since the Civil War.

In a series of interviews with the FBI, Mr. Abdulmutallab, a wealthy 23-year-old who studied engineering at the University College, London, revealed his journey towards radicalisation and how he sought out Mr. al-Awlaki, who mentored him into becoming a suicide bomber.

Mr. Abdulmutallab told an FBI agent about how he first encountered the Al-Qaeda leader through a recorded lecture he bought from an Islamic store in the United Kingdom in 2005. He became enamored by his teachings.

After a trip to the United Arab Emirates in 2009, he said he felt “God was guiding him to jihad”. He travelled to Yemen to meet Mr. al-Awkali, who then had fully embraced violence and was a rising Al Qaeda leader.

From then Mr. al-Awkali transcended from being his religious hero into his tutor on how to become a jihadist. Mr. Abdulmutallab told agents that the cleric did not only oversee his training in Yemen, but also conceived the plot leading to the failed bomb attack.

According to the report, Mr. Abdulmutallab, in series of interviews, described every person he remembered meeting from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemen branch of the terrorist group is known. He also provided agents with a vivid description of the layout of training camps, Mr. al-Awlaki’s house and many other Qaeda buildings. According to the New York Times, his descriptions were so precise that they may have aided the U.S.in its drone campaign in Yemen.

He said Mr. al-Awlaki, who was called “sheikh” out of respect, introduced him to other Al Qaeda trainers and bomb makers. The American, Mr. Abdulmutallab told the FBI, taught him how to prepare a martydom video, advising him to “keep it short and reference the Quran”.

Mr. al-Awkali told Mr. Abdulmutallab to hide his trail by first travelling from Yemen to an African country before booking a flight on which he planned to detonate the bomb.

Mr. Abdulmutallab flew from Nigeria to Amsterdam before joining Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to Detroit.

He said the choice of the date for the attack had no special significance and was mainly dictated by ticket prices and flight schedules.

Before he departed, Mr. al-Awlaki sent him a final reminder: “Wait until you are in the U.S., then bring the plane down.”

He said he followed the progress of the flight on the seat-back screen. He waited until he approached the U.S. border and went to the plane’s bathroom to make final preparations for the attack.

He thought of detonating the bomb in the bathroom but wanted to be certain that he was doing so over U.S. soil, so he returned to his seat to check the map for a final time before igniting the explosives.

Maybe due to excess moisture, the bomb did not explode but let out a flame. As he tried to get his burning pants off, passengers pounced on him. One passenger punched him and a crew member threatened to throw him out of the plane.

He began confessing to the terror act even before leaving the plane. He said he was a member of Al Qaeda and that he had tried to set off a bomb. He later stopped talking and needed the presence of his relatives who were flown by U.S. authorities from Nigeria to persuade him to become cooperative again.

•Taken from the website of Premium Times

We Don’t Deserve The Treatment We Are Getting, Police Rank And File Cries Out

An anonymous police officer has cried out over the treatment it is getting from the Police Service Commission (PSC) as regards promotion in the force.

In this piece sent to Abuidiqu, the police officer said despite having personnel in the rank and file who have upgraded their educational qualification to attain higher positions in the force, the Police Service Commission shins them to recruit fresh personnel from outside the force.

The piece reads:

The Nigeria Police Force, without mincing words, is the largest government security agency in Africa. Its work force comprising a large chunk of the rank and file, work assiduously in both fair and inclement season of the year, yet are at the receiving end of everything, yet against all odd, they struggled to earn a higher academic qualification with the belief that it will give them a hope of brighter tomorrow.

The Force has three (3) entry points viz: enlistment into the Constable, Cadet Inspectors, Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) cadres respectively. The Force has never been in short supply of those to fill the Constable cadres, obviously because of its low level educational requirements, unlike the ASPs cadre that entails higher academic degrees. Suffice to say, that was when it became imperative for the Police Acts and Regulation to state in Section 39 of Part IV (Appointments) that:

“When vacancies in the establishment of Assistant Superintendents of Police cannot, by reason of UNAVAILABILITY of SUITABLE candidates, be filled by promotions from within the Force, the Inspector-General shall so inform the Nigeria Police Council, and may request it to arrange for the posts to be filled by direct entry”.

From the above, one could clearly see that two key words: unavailability and suitability in time past, justified the actions of the Police Service Commission to source for ASPs materials, directly from among the educated civilians, through Direct Entry. But that cannot be said of the present crop of well-groomed and educated rank and file, some who are already holders of Masters degree; and who auspiciously thought that the journey of career progression for them as begun by two out-gone Inspectors-General of Police in 2014 – 2015 when they were told to file out for documentation exercise, would end up abruptly in 2016.

Needless to remind the PSC that Police Act and Regulation which governs the whole essence of policing in Nigeria, and allocates it with its powers to hire and fire, is in it very self, subject to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (commonly referred to as the grundnorm). And according to section 1(3) of the 1999 CFRN, if any other law (e.g. the Police Act and Regulation) is inconsistent with the provisions of this constitution, this constitution shall prevail, and that other law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void.

Statistically, the Nigeria Police cannot at this time in its history, claim ignorance to the growing numbers of her well educated foot-soldiers i.e members of the Inspectorate and Rank and file. Ordinarily, the Police cannot absorb the 13,386 rank and file (as at 2014) who took part in the Cadet exercise, so they put up measures to prune the numbers, but shortly afterward the exercise was jettisoned, owing convincingly to interplay of powers between some forces, especially our dear politicians who are always hell bent on hijacking every process for their wards and cronies.

One would not be wrong also, if the present Police Service Commission Chairman (an IGP emeritus) is indicted for the fall-out of the ill-fated plans to upgrade rank and file who are eminently qualified, and in superfluous supply to fill what Section 39 of Police Regulation requires as per appointments into cadet ASP. Because as the seemingly mouth piece of the gods, he is already aware of the position of the Police Act and Regulation vis-a-viz appointment to the ASP cadre which is believed to be extant, coupled with the demoralized disposition of the rank and file who are holders of first, second and even third degrees in various academic discipline and obviously struggling to live above poverty line. Yet he wielded his powers arbitrarily on the Inspector General of Police, and denied the rank and file such golden opportunity.

The renewed agitation in the camp of the rank and file today, is not for the commission to deny civilian graduates their placement, or halt the already on-going process, but for the present IGP who has shown tremendous interest in the welfare of the downtrodden of the force, to re-present this issue before the PSC Chairman, so that the yearly enlistment, especially into the ASP cadre, will include in-service graduates in bits-and-batches. Once this is done, in no distant time, a large number of the well-educated members of the inspectorate and rank and file would be absorbed.

The essence of this piece is to re-awaken the consciousness of the PSC Chairman and the IGP, that though the rank and file may not have a legal backing to become dissidents overnight, or possess the strike action to engage in demonstrations, they will however do everything possible in line with the provision of Section 39 (i) (ii) of the 1999 Constitution which guarantees Freedom of expression and the Press, to enlist the support of international media organizations, to air our grievances against this perceived arbitrariness and absolute disregard to the provisions of section 39 of Police Act and regulation and section 1(3) of the 1999 CFRN which has the capacity to render the former null and void to the extent of its inconsistency.

It will interest them to note that if members of the rank and file (who have done basic training) are given this opportunity to fill this vacancies of cadet ASP, less money would be spent re-training them, as the only prerequisite would entail advanced training, against the backdrop of pure civilians whose mentality would needed to be “re-configured’ to think policeman-like.

Finally, help alert the powers that be, that it is not an offence to have chosen to serve Nigeria as a Policeman, therefore the present rank and file have done nothing deserving of the life of servitude they are currently been subjected to. If this trend is allowed to continue, the multiplier effects of this will be indiscipline, dejection, lack of motivation, loss of morale among the rank and file which would lead to breakdown of internal security, and those of our colleagues who took out time pursuing wealth whilst we struggled to get further academic qualification to be better police officers, will laugh us to scorn, that with all the educational attainment / qualifications, what is the difference between us and them. There is an undisputed reason(s) while the FUNDAMENTAL OBJECTIVES AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY has notably specified government’s commitment to her citizens’ education in section 18 of the 1999 CFRN, because a nation struggling to build up intellectually, must reward those who paid the price for education, this is only what will motivate others to strive, because ‘education is power’.

questions must also be ask of why the Nigeria Police is deciding to convert ASP course one 2010 while she has more than enough qualified rank and files to be elevated to same position

On our part we see this as an act of wickedness but still not unaware that some of this things are done without the knowledge of the IGP

As a good father the IGP should come to our rescue

We are losing all the motivation left within us that we may be forced sooner than later to rebel against authority.

How African Media Is Dealing With Fake News

“ALERT: Don’t fall victim to fake news!”

This is the message that pops up when you visit South Africa’s Eyewitness News (EWN) website.

The warning advises readers to be more vigilant about the news they consume.

The message goes on to say that the publication is committed to providing news that is accurate, fair and balanced.

It then links to another page that gives tips on how to spot fake news, with a list of websites it has identified as purveyors of fake news in South Africa.

The publication also invites readers to send in fake stories they come across and those, which they are unsure about.

EWN’s attempt to fight the spread of false news content is probably a first on the continent.

Katy Katopodis, EWN editor-in-chief, told the BBC that the publication felt it had a duty to protect the integrity of journalism by educating its audience.

“We have to be proactive to acknowledge the dangers of fake news and to offer our readers advice on how to spot a fake news story,” she says.

“At Eyewitness News we believe we need to counter the lies and the fake news with the truth and a reality check.

“We all have a responsibility to disseminate news that is factual and correct.”

EWN’s fake news guide was implemented last month amid allegations that the governing African National Congress (ANC) had planned to run a campaign to create and disseminate false information to discredit opponents ahead of last year’s local election in which it lost many seats.

AmaBhungane, an investigative journalism team, reported that a covert operation dubbed the War Room, was intended to “disempower Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters parties” by using digital media and social media influencers.

The ANC has denied the allegations, with one official accused of being involved in the planning of the operation describing it as “fake news”.

The term fake news, which has been used a lot since last year’s U.S. presidential elections, was meant to call attention to falsified news content that was widely shared on the internet, mostly on social media.

Trump ‘Endorsed by the Pope’

An analysis by BuzzFeed released after the US elections found that top fake election news stories generated more total engagement on Facebook than top election stories from 19 major news outlets combined.

The top five stories under this study were positive spins to prop up the candidacy of Donald Trump, including one claiming that he was endorsed by the Pope.

“Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses Donald Trump for President, Releases Statement,” the article’s headline read.

The other stories promoted conspiracy theories about his then challenger Hillary Clinton, which some analysts said helped undermine her campaign.

The creation and distribution of misinformation is not new, the difference at the moment is that spreading false information has been incentivised.

Digital publishing platforms like Facebook and Google have built ecosystems that reward clicks on website links and one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to a website is to entice readers with sensational content.

The Macedonian teenagers became infamous after it was revealed they were behind several fake stories shared during the US election, mostly in support of Mr. Trump, earned thousands of dollars by getting thousands of clicks on articles they shared on Facebook.

In Africa, several articles have managed to fool many and garnered a lot of clicks for their promoters. Here are samples of some of the headlines:

  • Eritrean men ordered to marry two wives or risk jail
  • UK Announces Visa Free Entry for Nigeria and Other Commonwealth African Countries
  • Trump says “Africans are lazy fools only good at eating, lovemaking and thuggery”
  • Robert Mugabe says Zimbabweans are “honest people” but “stealing is in every Kenyan’s blood”.

The allure of getting clicks has seen some publishers take advantage of the interest fake stories generate.

Recently, Kenya’s sports website Game Yetu, owned by a mainstream publisher, The Standard, lifted a story from Mzansi Live, a fake news website in South Africa with an unlikely claim – that Zimbabwe had sent its female footballers to Brazil to be impregnated by soccer legends there:

Game Yetu tried to keep editorial distance from the article by placing it under the rumours and gossip section of its website.

Ms. Katopodis says she is concerned about mainstream publishers pursuing click-bait.

The South African paper editor says that it behoves credible newsrooms and journalists to fact-check stories and promote media literacy.

“I am inspired by how the banking sector has been educating its customers to deal with online scams – we should do the same.”

While there is nothing wrong with curating content to lure readers to read stories on your website, overselling and packaging of news items using misleading headlines does a lot to undermine publishers’ credibility.

With traditional revenue sources drying up and with viral content bringing in the money, for-profit media organisations are caught in a conundrum.

Porn Warning

Huffington Post’s South Africa edition exemplified this.

It recently published a handy guide for spotting faking news, which included this important advice: “Reputable media houses will have credible adverts on their pages. Fake news sites often have pornographic adverts. That should raise red flags.”

However, below the article it had a widget containing a series of fake news stories, including one of U.S. President Donald Trump calling South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma “the best ever”.

  • Culled from the BBC

INTERVIEW: How Nigeria Can Get Out Of Recession – Tambuwal

Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal fielded questions from journalists in Sokoto on wide range of issues affecting his state and the country. He gave his frank assessment of the measures needed to take Nigeria out of recession.

The last administration promised to improve the welfare of religious and traditional rulers in the state. This includes providing them with vehicles and modernising their palaces, why haven’t you done much in that regard?

First of all, this government respects traditional institutions and since we came on board, we have accorded them the respect they deserve. They play important roles in efforts to sustain peace and security, and in a larger sense, they promote religious and communal harmony. Because of their place in our history, we know we cannot do anything less for them. But you will agree with me that our financial situation since we came on board has been precarious. Government has cut back on much expenditure, and has prioritised areas of needs for the whole state. I am happy that our traditional rulers have understood clearly what we are faced with and they have not pressured us to continue with the policy of fixing their palaces when there are more competing needs in our hospitals, primary healthcare centres, agriculture, education, youth, women empowerment among others. Similarly, if you look into the number and importance of projects we met on ground and the pressure to complete them, what we did is the best for the state. We have inherited about 30 large and important projects from the last administration, and we are working hard to complete all of them and put them to use for the benefit of the citizens. These are projects that we have to complete as allowing them rot away will lead to wastage of funds earlier expended to start these projects.

Our philosophy has been to take these gradually, depending on availability of funds, and complete them before delving into new ones. That policy has served us well in the last two years and we are happy to put them to use. What you may not be aware is that many of those projects for traditional rulers were to be executed from the joint accounts with the local government councils. But at the moment, many of those councils cannot carry out any meaningful project outside payment of salaries. We have severally bailed them out from the state government to enable them meet their obligations to workers. In such situations, I don’t think they are buoyant enough to embark on building and repairs of palaces.

You spoke about local government councils, but there are complaints that many of their workers don’t get their salaries on time, what is responsible for that?

We have carried out verification exercise to determine the correct number of workers in each of the 23 local government councils of Sokoto state. What we met on ground was beyond reason because the strength of the workforce in our local governments is twice more than that of Kano that has 44 local government areas. We felt this is not sustainable. We are continuing with the biometric verification to ensure that only genuine workers remain in the schedule of payment, and they will be paid according to their levels. We must do this to sanitise the system and ensure ghost workers or absentee workers do not find sanctuary in the local government system.

Few days ago, you dissolved the management team of the state Board of Internal Revenue, why now and secondly what is the current IGR figure for Sokoto state?

For almost two years, we gave the dissolved team the necessary incentive and support to improve internal revenue base of the state, but they haven’t done that. If you recall, I have stated publicly that we would take action to ensure better performance in revenue generation. After a review of their performance, we decided to bring in new persons to reposition the board. As for the figures, since we came on board, the monthly IGR for Sokoto ranges between N340 to N400 million. When I spoke to the ministry of finance, I was told that the previous administration received up to N500 million monthly. My argument is that this figure they are giving us is meager. What we deduct monthly as PAYE from civil servants alone, should be in the range of this figure, so what happened to other revenue sources? The new team has been mandated to put in place a new framework which will boost performance and improve revenue figures.

With this new target, are we seeing tougher measures against members of the public who are not paying tax?

We are fully aware of the economic situation in the country, especially survival of businesses and the harsh conditions they are operating in at the moment. We will put that in consideration in pursuing what is due for the government. I am saying this because as leaders, we need to be clear about our intentions. Whenever we ask people to make sacrifices, we must reassure them that it is for common good. So we are telling the people that whatever they pay to government as tax, will be applied judiciously for the benefit of all the people of the state.

How will you review the performance of the state’s 2016 budget?

I’ve spoken about this during the presentation of this year’s budget, and in fact when I assented to the budget law a few days ago. Taking a holistic view of the performance of the budget, I feel we can do more. That is why we started this year by making necessary changes in the personnel that drive the budget process, as can be seen from what we did at the board of internal revenue. We will continue to improve the system because time is not on our side. What I’m promising the people is that the performance of the 2017 budget will be better than that of 2016 in terms of implementation, while even distribution of resources will be ensured. We will start new projects across the state, with much emphasis placed on rural areas.

At the meeting of the Northern Governors Forum recently, you agreed to improve the security situation in your states, how far have you gone in that regard?

We discussed many areas of cooperation, for example agriculture, education and the likes. As for security, we agreed to share intelligence and this has been paying off. Take for instance issues of castle rustling; because of renewed onslaught by security agencies and the inter-state collaboration among all the states, this problem has reduced. We still have few scattered instances, but we are working to tackle that as well. This cooperation is extending to cases of kidnapping, armed robbery, civil unrest and the likes. So the more we collaborate the better for us as states, and the better for our citizens.

Your Excellency, the government has done marvelously well in containing the fuel situation which was getting out of hand in the last few weeks, what are you doing with regards to prices of commodities in the market?

We read from the news that the federal government has set up a committee to ensure commodities are not priced out of the reach of the common man. In Sokoto, we’ve already establish the state commodity board which will work to give our farmers and citizens a fair deal. The board will buy grains from farmers and store them. We hope to intervene when situation is getting out of hand as you have stated. We are already taking to the Federal Government and Flour Mill in Nigeria Plc for effective utilization of the Silos here in Sokoto by buying and storing grains so as to do some intervention when the situation arises. We intend to use the commodity board as a platform whereby we can always off-take excess produce from our farmers.

Who or what is responsible for the current economic situation in Nigeria and secondly, what’s the way out of recession for the country?

Experts have called on the Federal Government to inject more money into the system. Personally, I believe creating job opportunities, especially through the construction industry, and injection of more money into the economy, remain a sure way out of the current recession in the country. Ask any Economist about the way out of recession, and I am sure they will inform you that massive construction efforts, backed by release of funds, will create jobs whose multiplier effects will jumpstart the economic barometer. As Speaker of the House of Representatives, I’ve had reasons to disagree with many of the policies of the last administration of President Goodluck Jonathan which we felt were inimical to the overall development and well-being of the people. Many thought we were raising the alarm because we had personal hatred for him. That is not the case. I had nothing personal against the former President. The recession we are currently facing was as a result of the way the economy was mismanaged, largely, by the Jonathan administration. What is the way out? I’ve said we need to inject money into the system and create employment opportunities for the people. And one way to do that is to engage in massive construction projects. It is part of the reason why we encouraged the Federal Government to disburse the funds from the debt relief for states to kick-start activities at regional level. Similarly, we’ve read how immediate-past President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, used this strategy of massive construction works to take America out of economic challenges. So construction projects alone will create a lot of jobs which will benefit the economy. We all know that Nigerians are not happy and are running out of patience, but they should be more patient. It is very easy to destroy but to rebuild the economy takes time.

You have announced an incentive that will benefit some 25,000 women across the state, can you shed more light on this?

What we are doing with the women groups is part of our overall strategy to assist small and medium scale entities to boost their operations. We’ve asked the Sokoto State Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Development Agency (SOSMEDA) to create a data base of all small business run by women in the state. As a starting point, we decided to empower 25,000 of these women who are in the rural areas with a soft loan of N10,000 each. That amounts to N250 million. We plan to expand it as time goes on but we are starting with the first set who are getting the N10,000 each very soon.

Women Who Cut Umbilical Cord With Broken Bottle

By Mercy Abang

After losing her fourth child during delivery at the house of her regular traditional birth attendant (TBA), 42 year–old Kemi Ariyo contracted spiritualists to get to the root of her problems. “I was widely accused to be a witch as a result of the demise of my babies,” Kemi said. “So I approached the spiritualists who pray for pregnant women and see to the delivery of their babies”.

The delivery of the fourth happened in a thatched roof house with three spiritualists around her in her native Ode Ugbo, a riverine community of Ondo State. But in spite of their weekly prayers and their presence during the delivery,  the baby was lost to still birth .

Ariyo’s case may be extreme but generally indicative of the problems that women in rural Nigeria face. Almost on a daily basis, women in her situation consult spiritualists who charge between 15000 naira and 25000 ($48 -$79 ) per delivery – who claim to be praying and fasting and would consistently administer local herbal concoctions (Agbo) to these women between the period of pregnancy and delivery.

According to the National Demographic Health Survey, 2008, Ondo state had a maternal mortality ratio of 742 per 100,000 live births with worse indices at the facility level. Nigeria records one of the world’s highest rates of maternal deaths, with the country being the largest contributor of maternal deaths globally and second largest of under – five deaths with India being the first.

Most families especially those in rural communities – characteristically uneducated and economically disadvantaged – are at the mercies of spiritualists, and unskilled traditional birth attendants that they consult to deliver their babies. “We trust the outcome will be divine, we never trusted government hospitals” explains 60 year- old Taye Idowu in Yoruba.

One day however, Madam Taye, a former traditional birth attendant now maternal health evangelist approached Mrs Ariyo and appealed to her to stop patronizing spiritualists, “I told her that the unskilled birth attendants are the reasons she has been childless” she said.

Taye is part of a corp of maternal health evangelists, mostly reformed traditional birth healers under the Ondo state government’s ‘Agbebiye’ programme – an incentive based referral programme. The TBAs are encouraged to refer their ‘patients’ to the orthodox clinics and earn money. She and others in the 18 local governments of Ondo State are part of the Agbebiye Initiative – a community – based approach and a primary health care model aimed to further improve community ownership to reduce maternal health to zero.

When questioned how she succeeded in persuading the health care providers to stop tending to Ariyo, she explains that she simply reiterated the birth techniques and the dangers she was now aware of. “We were all together in the same community, and I was part of the trade – we use broken bottles to cut the umbilical cord immediately the women deliver their babies, some get home and die from infection. We did not know it was bad.”

I paid a visit to a Comprehensive Health facility Centre in Oba’ile – Ondo South where a 34 year- old trader, Aderoju Fumilayo strapped her new-born baby who was obviously dazed with the heat and noise to her back. As she waited within the premises while women gathered for antenatal care to be attended to, she narrated her experience birthing three of her four kids. She compared those births by the traditional birth attendants to what is obtainable at the health Centre.

“I was normally asked to give them kerosene, Omo, Dettol, Detergent, and 10,000 naira as payment and conduct my babies naming ceremony there before they deliver my babies – I lie on a bench (typically made of wood) sometimes on the bare floor to deliver my babies”, she said.

Standing beside Funmilayo at the health Centre is a 65 – year –old, Olayiwola Fagoroyo, observing as a middle age nurse attends to Funmi. I am told she’s an “Agbabiye Vanguard” – she moves around with the women she refers to this health Centre’ making sure they go for antenatal, deliver the babies at the referred health Centre’s, and ensure the children are properly immunized to prevent mortality.

Dr. Dayo Adeyanju, the state Health Commissioner explained that ‘Abiye’ (safe motherhood program is a prelude to “Agbebiye” a word in Yoruba that means “Safe Birth Attendant” which could also mean “Safe Pregnancy Delivery”, and conducted in partnership with Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs).

“The Programme strives to ensure Universal Health Coverage for comprehensive sexual, reproductive, maternal and newborn health care” he said. “The traditional birth attendants refer their clients to the health facilities for a cash reward and training on vocational skills acquisition (soap making, hat and bead making, catering services and tie and dye making”.

For the commissioner, the incentive provided by government was the major driver in a country like Nigeria that ranks amongst the 10 worst countries in sub-Saharan Africa to birth a child – according to Save the Children Mothers’ index.

But for Madam Kikelomo, a former traditional midwife now registered with government in downtown Akure, “we’ve seen that traditional birth attendant methods are harmful to our women which is why we had to enroll in the “Agbebiye program” – reducing the number of women and children dying during child birth”.

With two dedicated Mother and Child Hospitals, the Ondo State Government has been able to reduce Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) by 84.9 per cent. From 745 per 1000,000 live births in 2009 the indices have drastically reduced to 112 per 100,000 live births in 2016 – a feat which made the state a recipient of a 400 million dollars grant from the World Bank.

“The women are treated free, from natural births and those that undergo caesarian operation, it is also done at no cost – that has helped us to scale – up the numbers”, the Chief Medical Director, Dr Adesina Akintan of the Referral centre (mother and child hospital) Oke’ Aro in Akure tells me. “Our objective is to make sure no woman dies during pregnancy or trying to birth a child”.

Another expectant mother, Mrs Oluwakemi Fagbe at the referral centre in Oba’ile, within Akure Municipality, tells me, “- They have specialists in this place and that is why I am here, Pregnant women from neighboring states also visit this place to deliver because it is free, they even provide free blood donation for our children from age zero to 5 years.”

Outgoing governor Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo, a medical doctor, boasts of meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) targets “between 2010 and 2016, we were able to crash maternal mortality by over 75% since we came on board and of course that can be linked to the Abiye and Agbebiye scheme we introduced”.

“We created an incentive scheme, with every referral by the Traditional birth attendants to access healthcare by expectant women, they are given a coupon, which is N2000 each per referral – with that method, they convinced most of their clients to orthodox hospitals for proper care” said the governor.

For Mrs Ariyo and Mrs Fagbe the knowledge gained by attending antenatal will be passed on to their children as they were all birthed at home through the risky and life threatening traditional birth attendants methods.

A state government document explaining the concept of Agbebiye initiative claims that among those referred by traditional birth attendants, there was no single maternal death with 99% neonatal survival – and facility utilization increased by 20.4% in the primary health care facilities and there was a reduction in the facility utilization of the apex tertiary hospital.

Whether the Abiye programme can be sustained, as fiscal allocations to states continue to decline is a question that time will answer.

***
Mercy Abang is a Freelance Journalist – Media Fixer with Sunday Times of London, BBC, Aljazeera and a former Stringer with the Associated Press – She tweets at @abangmercy..

Meet Kenneth Bitrus Yakubu, The Man Who Kept Custody Of Andrew Yakubu’s Billions

Kenneth Bitrus Yakubu, the younger brother to the embattled former managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, was whisked away on February 3 when EFCC raided his house in Sabuwan Tasha slum of Kaduna.

According to neighbours, neither Kenneth nor Andrew lives in the house but a house keeper.

“It is their old family house. Bitrus too lives in a bigger house in the city. Only the housekeeper lives in the house.

Kenneth, who is in his 50s, is a 1989 graduate of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
Aside the alleged ill-gotten wealth found under his custody, friends describe Kenneth as a good-natured person with good Christian upbringing.
“Bitrus is very religious person. You know their father was a pastor. All I know is that Bitrus is a business man and runs a private school with his wife.
“Even Andrew is a good man. He built a vocational centre named after his parents, Maryamu and Yakubu, in our village. A lot of our youths are trained in the centre,” said Jonathan Ayuba, a resident of Ma Mazah village in Kaduna State.
Security sources said Kenneth will be arraigned alongside his brother, Andrew next week.

Whoever Plans To Arrest Me After My Tenure Won’t Be In Office By Then – Fayoe

Some people have said that your fingers and those of some other PDP governors got burnt after bringing in Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff to head the party and how things turned out. Such people believe you are one of those responsible for decapitating the PDP. How would you react to that?

People are entitled to their views. I’m one Nigerian that  is blunt and will tell you things the way they are. Even, if I made a mistake, I will admit. There is nobody in Rome today  that is holier than the Pope. And there is nobody who can tell you the Pope is a Muslim. There is nobody who would call me Ayo Fayose a mole or an agent of destabilisation in the Peoples Democratic Party. There is no way I could be linked to any political party apart from the PDP. I have demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that I’m a committed party member. I’m consistent and have not been found wanting. It is true I was part of those who brought Ali Modu Sheriff as the PDP National Chairman. But like I told Nigerians, I did it in good faith. In our opinion, we wanted somebody from the North and settled for him because we felt he would be a good material after considering certain parameters that we judged to be right. But I retreated when I realised he would not be able to fulfil the purposes and I’m entitled to my views. It is good for a man to admit when he made a mistake and take steps to correct it. When I realised that he would not be able to serve the purpose we chose him for, I announced publicly that I was turning my back and withdrawing my support for him, for facts best known to me which I have addressed several times. As you know, I’m now the chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, I would rather say things that would unite members rather than divide us. Even after the court cases, it is still the best for the leaders to be reconciliatory. Bringing Sheriff to be the chairman was done in good faith and I have no apology. It was not done to bring down the party. We learn at every stage in life. There are lessons to learn in this one: Don’t stand as a guarantor for people you don’t know too well. Well, everything works for good. This could still end as a blessing in disguise for the party.

Senator Buruji Kashamu faulted your emergence as the Chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum. Do you think he was right?

I don’t want to take issues with Buruji Kashamu. I can’t say somebody is my friend and later say he is no longer my friend. No matter the statement he is making, I will restrain myself from saying things that would further cause troubles within the party. I want to show maturity. In this circumstance, I want to be tolerant. Secondly, he is not in a position to criticise my emergence. He is not a governor and if he wants to criticise me, he should wait for his time and contest. I don’t know what is going on in the National Assembly. I don’t want to go to the senate, so when they are talking in the senate, Buruji Kashamu should pay attention to it and not issues of governors. It is in the wisdom of governors. Governors are leaders of the party but they can’t take decision for the National Assembly. We can’t even criticise their decisions. It is part of leadership traits to know you don’t overstep your bounds. For me, I didn’t beg for the leadership of the forum but my colleagues found me competent and worthy of that position. I didn’t struggle for it. They realised that I fit the position and they unanimously took the decision. There was no dissenting voice. Everybody said it must be me. I won’t take issues with anybody over that and if Senator Buruji Kashamu has anything against that, he should go to court. He knows how to go to court. If he is not too comfortable, I can’t stop him. He has his style. So it is up to him.

Some people say that you have been very careful not to openly criticise Senator Kashamu because of the financial support he has given to you in the past. Is it not a case of being careful not to bite the finger that once fed you?

He has come out several times in the public to say he did not give me money for my election. And if at all you supported people for elections, it does not warrant you to talk to them anyhow. If you are going to support anyone for election, that person must be popular enough. I was governor before I met Kashamu. I was governor in 2003. At that time, Kashamu was not in politics. I was governor for close to four years. Would it be right to say I didn’t have goodwill at that period that it was when he came that he now bankrolled me? It is silly and petty. For whatever I do for people in life, I do it for God. I’m not criticising Kashamu, not for anything,  I’m demonstrating my maturity over and above him. For Kashamu to be praising opposition figures and denigrating members of his party, it shows the character that he represents. For me, I’m not ready to take him on because if you must take anyone on, it must worth it. I want to say clearly there is no basis to take him on. We are not vying for the same position. I’m not from his state, so why do I have to take issues with him? Of what benefit would that be? If Kashamu wants to be president of Nigeria, he would need me. I didn’t say I want to be president of Nigeria. I don’t need him for that. After this mandate, whatever mandate God has for me is in his wisdom, not in my wisdom. So, to put it succinctly,  Kashamu and I are two parallel lines politically. I’m the governor, he is in the senate. We are from two different states. So, clearly, taking issues with him is making him important for no reason.

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There were allegations that you once sent spies to monitor President Buhari in London, did you send your spies this time around too?

I never sent spies to monitor anybody, not even the president. Of what benefit would that be for me? Even if you don’t want Buhari to be president, he is already president. I have been criticising President Buhari objectively and sincerely for what I know him to be and represents. I did not start criticising him when he became the president. Everything I have said has come to pass. Initially, Nigerians were seeing me as somebody who didn’t see anything good in President Buhari, but today the economy has been run aground. I have said it several times that you cannot give what you don’t have. The economic situation of the country at present is as a result of the body language of the president. If you recall what happened during the first administration of Buhari, you will discover it is not different from the situation at present. An orange will not fall far away from its tree. With utmost respect to his office, President Buhari does not have what it takes to run this country. We need a dynamic leader who is exposed. Governance is about carrot and stick. When you look at the activities of a man, you can tell who a man is. By the appointment of Buhari, you will see nepotism, sectionalism, etc. The president is the father of the nation. When a president, as the father, goes out of the country to say my people are thieves, who will relate with them? When you go to the port now, nothing is happening there. When a government does not make the people the cornerstone of its policies, there would be trouble. When the president takes a decision and the National Assembly dominated by his people says otherwise, it shows that person is a dictator. We are in crisis. During the President Jonathan era, the price of petroleum was N86.50 per litre which was the maximum. But during this government, the price has been increased beyond the reach of the common man. This is the worst ever increase and they would still increase more. Prices of commodities would go up because they are trading in dollars. The president does not have an economic team and does not listen to advice. Whatever they decide in his clique, they foist it on the nation. At present, there is nothing sustaining the economy; the economy is sick because the managers of this economy are under the palpable fear to do what the President wants and not what is right. So there is no need spying on the president. That is why I have been very careful since people have been carrying the rumour of his death. I have not made any comment lest people say Fayose has said this. My prayer is that he should return hail and hearty. My prayer is with him. Yoruba would say even if we are fighting, it is not to wish ourselves dead. I pray he returns to the country hail and hearty.

Some Nigerians say you have been  busier criticising the Federal Government than focusing on governance in your state. What would you say to that?

They must say something about me because I have refused to eat fat on the riches of the king. When you don’t align yourselves with the power that be; they would look for a way to blackmail you. Many have been silent now for the fear of the unknown. I’m the longest serving governor; I served under former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo; Goodluck Jonathan and Buhari. So I’m an experienced governor. This is why when I say things, they happen like that. Most of the things I say happen. I have advised the president to take members of the opposition into his advisory team. My criticising Buhari is for the good of the nation. The killings in Kaduna by the herdsmen and the extra judicial killing over the country are worrisome. More people have died within 18 months of President Buhari than at any other time since independence. If the bombing of the IDPs camp had occurred under the PDP, they would have killed the president with criticism. It is unfortunate that those in APC are hypocrites. When you join their party today, you become a saint. Any leader that wants to rule this country must be equitable. They have made a mess of the anti-corruption crusade. Look at the case of the EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu; some judges are being prosecuted based on the report by the Department of State Services. The same DSS wrote a report indicting Magu but the president jettisoned it and cleared him.

What good can you see in the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari? Or is everything about him bad?

Let me put it this way, there is no man that is entirely bad. But when you consider the leadership style of Buhari, his administration is not good. When you look at his appointment, it would tell you who the president is. When you see someone trying to justify the killing of human beings or who pretends nothing is happening; when you see a nation that is in total hunger, do we continue to praise the president? Do we continue to praise the president for exchange rate of the dollar that has gone from N200 to N500? Do we praise him for the killing of Agatu people in Benue? Do we praise him for the killings in Kaduna? Do we praise him for disobedience of court order and human rights abuses? Where are the three million jobs they promised to create yearly? Where is the promise they made that food will be everywhere? Where is their promise that Naira will appreciate against the dollar? They are still running a government based on propaganda. Are we saying if they organised an election today, President Buhari would win? We are fooling ourselves. People are tired. They are not happy. I have not seen anything good in this government. They claimed success in the fight against Boko Haram; if they say they have recorded victory today, the next day, worse attack would take place. There would be multiple bombings. If they tell us something, the next day, worse scenario happens. For me as a person, I have not seen anything tangible. What is the state of our roads? Workers can hardly get their salaries. They have not kept their promises at all.

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Some people believe that this government is eagerly waiting for your tenure to end to arrest you for some of the offences you have been accused of. Are you going to sneak out of the country before the date you would be due to leave office?

May I tell you that anybody that waits for me negatively to complete my tenure would not be in the office at the time. Anybody waiting for my downfall would be swimming in more troubles that time. My name is Peter ‘The Rock’. The man God promised he would build Ekiti and Nigeria on his shoulder. Watch the turn of events. Some people say it is because I enjoy immunity. Don’t other governors enjoy immunity? It is dependent on who you are. They plotted to manipulate the judiciary against me, it didn’t work. The House of Assembly dominated by the All Progressives Congress members attempted to remove me, it didn’t work. The God that put me here does not sleep nor slumber. The God would not allow me to fall into the traps of my enemies. Many things would happen in this country that would amaze Nigerians.

Some of your critics say you have been talking too much as an opposition member and sitting governor of a state. They say that a state governor is supposed to comport himself better. How would you react to that?

That is their funeral. Sometimes they call me Amala governor, what is their business? Those who voted for me know who I am. The Ekiti people love me for who I am and they are happy with me. They (APC) must be worried about me because I am a man of myself. Where in the constitution are they referring to as their type of governor? Who wants to be their type of governor? Those they are using as their standard only exist on the pages of newspapers. They only rely on rigging to win elections. I’m not their mate when it comes to politics: I’m a professor of politics. I’m an authority. They are worried about me because what they call big man does not exist here. Every state is unique. Every one in their own right understand sthe kind of leader they want. What difference has their leadership made? I have no apologies about what they say about me inasmuch as I satisfy my conscience and make my people happy. Look at President Donald Trump of the United States, you may not like him but he is the president today. You may not like the way he talks but the real Americans like him. Where were those people during elections that they did not go to vote? They are crying over spilled milk. By the grace of God. I will defeat APC again. Let them come with every machinery that they have, they will go back in disgrace.

For instance, you also recently indicated interest in joining a protest against the Federal Government initiated by Tuface Idibia. You are a governor, why should you be interested in joining a protest instead of governing your state?

I never said I would join the protest. I only said I support the protest. The planned protest is not against any political party; it is an advocacy for good governance. They only want to talk about things that have affected every facet of our economy. I have never met Tuface (Innocent Idibia) in my life. I read online and I took to my twitter handle to tweet that I support it. How is it their headache that I’m supporting it? Why are they not supporting the call for good governance? In 2011 when they called for Operation Occupy Nigeria, they all occupied. Now that I’m saying we should support the rally, why are they worried? They should go and sit down and allow me to lead my life. I have said what I wanted to say, so I have no apologies. Anybody who is not happy can go and do whatever he likes. I have never seen a place where the police will say you can’t organise a rally. The Court of Appeal has said it expressly. Look at the way they are protesting against Trump, did he use the police to clamp down on them? For you to organise a rally, you don’t need a police permit. You only notify the police to secure the environment if you want them around. Anybody that commits crime during the rally should be arrested.  When they are holding pro-government rally, nobody stops them. It is unbecoming of government agencies to become partisan. We should grow; they should stop dragging us back. We have gone beyond ballot snatching but what we are witnessing now is unpleasant.

You are sometimes seen buying beans on the streets, but some Nigerians have been saying that only a state governor that is not busy will be engaging in such. How would you react to that?

Let them go and contest and become governors too. It is amazing when you see people who cannot win elections in their household criticising a sitting governor. If there is equal opportunity, they can’t get there. If they get there, they can’t perform. That is why it is easy for them to blow grammar and they can’t win elections. I’m not in the calibre of those persons, I don’t listen to them and I don’t want to join them. When you see the likes of former US President Barrack Obama in Mcdonalds and we would be here fooling ourselves; when the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, came to Nigeria in a T-shirt, people were praising him that he is a simple man. People like us when we wear T-Shirts, they say we are touts. That is double standard; they should keep quiet.

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Last week, you shielded operatives of the Department of State Services from arresting Apostle Johnson Suleman in Ado-Ekiti. Some people described your action as an act of hooliganism…

Apostle Suleman is frequent in Abuja, he lives in Abuja. If you want to invite him, why not come in day time? They are beginning to violate the rights of Nigerians. That is an overzealousness of the executive and an oppression of the people. There are so many things I have gone through in life. At this point in time, you need a man of courage. At the end of the day, they invited him. Is that not decent enough? Our country is becoming a police state. I’m not sorry about my action. I have no apologies for going to rescue a man of God. When you rescue a man of God, you have blessings. Saving that man of God has earned me respect. It has represented me as a fighter for the voiceless. Whatever they like, they should say. Why should they visit the man of God at 1am? What kind of wickedness is that? Do they want to kill him? Let them come if they want to invade the Ekiti State Government House. They should come and take away their police and DSS if they want to. I don’t care.

Some people say you are as guilty of some of the sins you accuse Buhari of like oppression and bullying opposition, how do you react to this?

No reaction. Whatever they say I do, they should wait for me to finish my tenure. But let me point out this, nobody can point to any politically motivated violence, killing or harassment since I came into office. Nobody is deliberately put in jail. Some of these people in jail were charged to court during the former administration. The chairman of APC now on the run was charged by the police from Abuja in 2013. I have not charged anybody in the opposition to court and I have not ordered their arrest. Even when they come into town, I tell my supporters to allow them to enjoy because they have right to life. I have not asked any security agency for favour to arrest anybody. You can learn from the opposition and correct yourselves. Intolerance of the opposition cannot help anybody.

Some people believe that you portray yourself as a ‘vibrant’ opposition to the APC-led government but that you are not always being constructive in your criticisms. Would you like to change your style?

No. Everybody is unique in his own way. What I’m doing is in good faith. I’m saying it the way it is. The question is: are Nigerians hungry? Are people being oppressed? Are court orders disobeyed? Are people not being killed? Are the appointments fair to all geopolitical zones? Is the APC not shielding its members from trial? If the answers are yes, then criticising them is the right thing to do. Somebody must be representing the masses and the poor people. Some people in the APC are praising me for saying the truth always. They can’t talk. Courage is a virtue from God. Fearlessness is a virtue from God. If you don’t want to die, why are you a governor? People only want the benefits of the office, not the pains of office. I have nothing personal against anybody: I speak my mind and let the devil be ashamed. I have been criticising Buhari even when I didn’t know he would become the president. Nigerians have now seen they made a mistake in electing him. They voted for massive killing, nepotism and disobedience of court order. Look at what happened in the Rivers rerun elections where they used state power to oppress the people. What goes round comes around. People who are oppressing today could be oppressed tomorrow.

The other time, you said you were praying so as to select the next governor of the state. Has God shown you the person?

Not yet. When it is revealed, I will let the people know.

Several of your colleagues who used to speak out have since kept quiet. Some people say the reason why you are still able to criticise the government is because of the immunity you enjoy as governor. Is that the case?

There are other governors enjoying immunity, why are they not talking? It is about being courageous and speaking for the masses. There are good examples of courageous people in the bible. God commanded Joshua to be courageous and fearless. I’m simply obeying the command of God. Daniel was courageous to weather the storms of life. Joseph was courageous even when they lied against him that he slept with the wife of his principal. So was Moses when he confronted Pharaoh. Despite signs and wonders, Pharaoh wanted Moses dead but God said no. As Pharaoh and his soldiers perished in the Red Sea, so my enemies would perish in the Red Sea.

If you were offered an opportunity to work for President Buhari, would you stop attacking him?

I will never work with him; there is no basis for that. If this assignment is based on principles, we are opposites. Those working with him are strange bed fellows.

How MMM Nigeria ‘Crashed’ – Brian Jonah Dennis

“My Name Is MMM, I Am A Ponzi Scheme” – Brian Jonah Dennis 
I created a website where I promise to double the income of participants by 30%.
The first participant joins with N20k. I need him to be convinced that my website pays So I use my own money to make up for the 30% and he goes home happy. I tell him he gets extra bonuses if he brings a friend and he does exactly that. Two of his friends sign up with N20k each and I return their investment with my own money and give my first client a special bonus for bringing them.

His friends are aware their colleague got a bonus for bringing them in. They get greedy, they bring more people. At this point, everyone wants bonuses as my system is verified and working.

More people join in, so I’m not using my money to pay them anymore, I’m using their money to pay them and waiting for more members to join so there’ll always be money in the system. I see a huge investment of N1m from a greedy participant, I run the website with money and I’ve spent my own money to build the trust in the system so I pair the provider of N1m with myself. Then get about 30 people providing N50k to pay him back in 30 days, he has N1.3m. My system is working, he tells his colleagues in his social class and they’re all excited.

My first members who started with N20k have gotten greedy, they’ve created multiply accounts to cash out but I don’t care. The big fishes are in the game. The big monies are being paired with me, I’m no longer providing money but I’m getting money. Whenever I see a large amount to be donated, I immediately pair the account to mine. Effortlessly a millionaire.

The system continues to thrive because new members keep coming in. There is a wild recession in the country, my scheme is the escape route. People have paid rents, school fees, bought cars and funded their ceremonies with my scheme. I am suddenly an employer of labour.

But all good things must come to an end, I have successfully built a network of participants running into millions but there is a serious cash deficit. It is almost Christmas and almost everyone needs 30% of their investment back. Because I’ve been collecting millions as an admin without donating, and because there are not enough new members to match the financial demands of the existing members, my system has collapsed but I am not done getting my millions from gullible people.

I announce a freeze on the website for technical reasons. I’ve done a lot for them so they believe me that I’m just protecting the system from crash even when it was not the wise thing to believe.
I told them they couldn’t receive money this period but they could still donate.

The one month freeze was an attempt to see if I could pay the existing members from the donations of new members. Sadly, some people had lost faith in the system, the new and existing members were afraid to make donations during the freeze because they were unsure of getting their 30% returns back. Plus there were a lot of evil people on social media spreading propaganda that my scheme was a Ponzi that had ended.

I needed that trust back, so I relaunched my website a day before the scheduled return. You needed to see the excitement. It was Christmas on January 13, I told existing people that had provided donations that they could now get help. I also added some attractive incentives for new members. I still faced the same problem that made me shut down temporarily, even worse.

The people that provided help during the shut down all requested help, plus there had already been a long list of people before then. So I decided to pair those that needed less than N30k first to check the rotation of money. Still there was not enough money to go round. The people that were paired to pay others refused to pay, the trust was gone. People had suddenly realised that it was not possible for 30% to be added to your money unless someone lost their own money.

Several other schemes took over my place when I was frozen. All will eventually meet their ends. Greed always comes to an end.
People still live in delusions of grandeur that I have not crashed. Perhaps they expect me to put a memo in my website that it is over. Lol. I really don’t blame their naivety, I did do a lot for them to trust me.

I would advise that people make more intelligent financial decisions next time. People lost millions to me because of greed. Do I feel guilty? No. I did warn them to use their SPARE money.
My name is MMM and I am a Ponzi Scheme.

Brian Jonah Dennis

REVEALED: How Accidental Airstrike On Rann IDP Camp Happened

Details have began to emerge on how the accidental bombing of an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Rann, Borno State happened.

According to report, the Air Force bombing of the camp on Tuesday was based on an intelligence alert by a foreign country.

The report added that the Air Force was not aware of the existence of the IDPs camp due to lack of synergy among the military, the Emergency Management bodies and the Borno State Government.

According to a source, who gave technical  insights into how the error occurred,  the incident was due to “failure of intelligence”.

The source said: “What happened was that a foreign nation, which had been assisting in the counter-insurgency, provided an intelligence alert on the regrouping of some insurgents in Rann.

“The foreign country based its alert on what its surveillance radar picked. The alert indicated that the insurgents must be smoked out as early as possible. It was on this basis that the Air Force deployed its jet.

“The error occurred because the IDPs camp was not among the list of camps made available to the Air Force. There is a strong suspicion that the camp was recently set up by emergency bodies and Borno State without updating the list given to the military.”

The source pleaded that the country’s name should not be revealed. He stressed that there was no coordination between the military and the emergency bodies on the camp in Rann.

“Yet, we cannot blame the foreign country because it had always given credible intelligence to the military, especially on Operation Lafiya Dole,” the source said.

Another source, who pleaded not to be named, spoke of a technical investigation of how the incident happened. The probe involves the military and security agencies. “It is going to be a comprehensive audit of the information available to the Tactical Air Command, the directives given to the pilot and his crew, how the flight took off, why the plane could not distinguish a settlement from  insurgents’ clusters and why the bombing was done,” the source said, adding:

“It is going to be a classified investigation because a lot of international and national forces/ intelligence agencies are collaborating in the Northeast.”

The pilot and his crew have been grounded for interrogation as part of the preliminary investigation.

“I think we will all come out stronger after this investigation. This is an Air Force that has recorded 6,000 hours of counter-insurgency missions without hurting any civilian. Everyone is actually sad here,” the source said.

Analysis: Sokoto’s 2017 agric allocation supercedes that of every other State

By Abayomi Fidelis

With allocation of N14.6 billion to agriculture in the 2017 budget, Sokoto State has allocated more funds to the sector than all states in the federation, an analysis of this year’s budget estimates from across the country has shown.

Sokoto’s 2017 allocation followed a pattern from last year when Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal allocated over N14 billion to the sector.

Being the mainstay of the state’s economy, experts have commended the government for its consistency and practical efforts to develop the sector, which employs more persons than any other sector in the state.

Available data indicate that over 85% of the state’s estimated five million inhabitants engage in one form of agricultural activity or another.

Analysis published Monday by Abuja-based Daily Trust newspaper indicated that after Sokoto, only Ogun State allocated two-digit figure to agriculture in the 2017 budget estimates. For this year, Ogun allocated N11.6 billion, while it voted the sum of N10.2 billion to the sector in 2016.

Kebbi State, which voted N12.5 billion for the sector last year, hasn’t yet presented its 2017 budget.

The report added: “States with above N5 billion budgets for agric are Kogi (N8 billion), Katsina (N8 billion), Akwa Ibom (N7.4 billion), Borno (N7 billion), Bauchi (N6.7 billion), Kano (N6.6 billion), Jigawa (N6.1 billion), Yobe (N5.7 billion), Anambra (N5.4billion) and Plateau (N5.1 billion).”

In a section it termed “unfriendly agric states,” the report said states with the least budgets for agric include Enugu (N465 million), Bayelsa (N535million), Edo (N1.1 billion), Kwara (N1.13 billion), Nasarawa (N3 billion), Imo (N3.2 billion), Zamfara (N3.5 billion), Bayelsa (N4 billion), Taraba (N4.4 billion), Kaduna (N4.6 billion), Oyo (N4.6 billion) and Lagos (N4.7 billion).

Presenting this year’s budget of N204.3 to the state assembly recently, Tambuwal said the policy thrust of the budget was to ensure sustainable economic development through substantial investment in critical sectors.

They include: education, agriculture, healthcare delivery, exploration of mineral resources, investment in renewable energy and infrastructure, he said.

“We will prioritise effective resources management and seek intervention in areas with high potentialities to create job opportunities, generate income and improve revenue generation,” the governor said.

Tambuwal added that though the financial state of affairs in the country was facing huge challenges, the state’s 2017 budget would address key policy issues.

These will include the promotion of peaceful coexistence and protection of lives and properties.

“We will work to strengthen capacity building of scheduled ministries to ensure they perform better in their tasks.

“Of great importance to us will be the promotion of partnership with the private sector in areas of strategic importance to our development objective.

“We will promote value chain through agro-processing and diversification by way of giving incentives to farmers and producers.

“We will also create backward and forward linkages between and among institutions, partners and other stakeholders to accelerate economic growth,” he said.

 

*Abayomi wrote from Ijora, Lagos

What Many Don’t Know About Major Chukwuma ‘Kaduna’ Nzeogwu

It was a startling discovery for many to find that Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu was not from the Igbo ethnic group from Southern-Eastern Nigeria, but an Anioma or derogatorily referred to as “Bendel Igbo” from Middle-Western Nigeria.

Augustine Esogbue is  an Emeritus Professor who studied and taught in America until when he recently  retired .He was a family friend of the Nzeogwus .According to him  “I cannot remember the house number and road where Chukwuma was born in Doka or Gari meaning metropolis ,because it happened a long time ago . But I was born in House number F11, Ibadan Street, Kaduna on December 25th, 1940. My father hails from Isieke Umuekea Village in Ibusa Town of Oshimili North of Asaba-now in Delta State.When he died, my uncle adopted me, I left Kaduna, my mother and family friend Chukwuma in Kaduna. But I later fled from the custody of my uncle due to the hard labour of farming, because I was the only male in the midst of his female children. My uncle wanted to send me to a Teachers Training College, but I fled the hardship of farming from Asaba, crossed the River Niger on a boat to Onitsha, boarded  a train from Enugu to Kaduna and then to Birnin Yero village railway station along the Kaduna Zaria Road, where my elder brother Peter Esogbue worked in the Post and Telecommunication (P and T), as the officer in charge of the Morse Code of the Railway. The train officials allowed me to have a free ride because they knew my uncle in Birnin Yero. I enjoyed my stay there because there was steady supply of cow hump meat, otherwise known in Hausa language as tozo. I later wrote the entrance examination to Saint John’s -now Rimi College- Kaduna. I met Chukwuma in form two while I was his junior in form one. Up to when I finished secondary school, my mother was in Kaduna, and they were family friends with the Nzeogwus because they come from the same area, and have the same language, even though they understand and speak the Igbo language.”

Professor Augustine said because his class was made up of gifted students, the school Principal, a Reverend father said we are recommended to be the first set of students to register and write the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE) in form five instead of in form six  in 1956 alongside the  senior students in form six. My senior, that is, late Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and his class went on strike to protest the promotion, asking why should we be allowed to take the examination with them. They protested and when they were ordered to go back to school, they refused, and they were later expelled. The church community came and begged the reverend father, and he said they would not let them come back until they apologized. Everybody did except Nzeogwu and one of his friends. They left school without writing the WASCE.

Before then, he was a leader of the Man O’ War Youth Wing. His mother and mine were very close friends. Nzeogwu hails from Okpanam Town where the Asaba Airport was built between Asaba, Ibuzo, and Okpaba in Anioma. He is Anioma just like me or what others call Bendel-Igbo. Many people say Nzeogwu is Igbo. No, he is not Igbo, but Anioma. Some of his classmates can testify to this. They are: George Iweche, President of Back Benchers, late James Bawa from Minna, Professor Peter Oseidebe in Nsukka and many others.

Professor said when they were in college, they loved and revered Sardauna, Azikiwe and Awolowo, and they loved him most when he hosted the Queen during her visit to Kaduna in 1956.

However, somebody who knew Major Nzeogwu as a teenager is Alhaji Abubakar Musa Abubakar who is a community leader in Abakwa in Kaduna metropolis. “I knew Chukwuma since when he was a teenager.He was born in Kazaure Road in Kaduna metropolis and he used to come and stay with his uncle -his father’s elder brother- in Abakpa during the school holidays. The uncle is called Anthony, he is the leader of Igbos in the community, and the house is about one hundred meters to the Abakpa Primary school. But the house has since been sold and its original shape distorted by the new occupants. Nzeogwu used to spend his holidays here.He was known to all then as Chukwuma and he used to assist his uncle with errands and he regularly accompanied him when he went hunting for birds and games around the area now known as the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA Kaduna. Chukwuma attended primary School in Kaduna, but I don’t know whether he attended Secondary school before he joined the Army and did his training in the Nigerian Army Depot, Zaria as a recruit before he was later upgraded to an officer cadre, because he could read and write in the English Language. But he was very fluent in Hausa language.”

Similarly, Alhaji Abdullahi Dan Mata said after Sardauna was killed, some people started saying “Dan Abakpa” meaning he was from Abakpa area of Kaduna metropolis.

He said the people of Abakpa were not happy with the insinuation that the late Nzeogwu was associated with Abakpa, while he was not born or bred there, but  he used to visit his uncle named Anthony.”

On his account of the 1966 coup, Alhaji Abubakar said he was in his tailoring shop when he heard about the coup. He said they later summoned courage to go and see what happened in the late Sardauna’s house, because they heard that the house was burnt and that the Premier had been killed.

He went to the House of Sardauna and then to the house of Alhaji Isa Kaita and joined Alhaji Saidu Barda and Hajiya Ta-Funtua in evacuating the goods of the Minister of Education from the Minister’s quarters to his personal house in Dutse Close, Unguwan Shanu.

According to him, nobody attacked or arrested Anthony, even though he was the leader of Igbos in the community. On the eve of the Nigerian Civil War in 1967, Igbos gathered in the house of Anthony and later proceeded to the South-Eastern Nigeria through the rail station in Abakpa. And after the civil war, they came back and claimed their house, until recently when they sold it and left the area.

Similarly, the chief Driver to the late Premier of the Northern region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Ali Sarkin Mota said, “Sardauna loves children, that is why when he wanted to enlist youths into the army, he did not discriminate between Hausa, Fulani or youths from western and eastern parts of Nigeria to fill the quota of the North.  He just assisted whoever came to him. Chukwuma Nzeogwu added the name Kaduna when he wanted to join the military. He used to visit Sardauna even when he was a military officer.

Alhaji Ali Kwarbai, Sarkin Motan Sardauna said he worked that day till late in the night after taking the late Premier of the  Western Region, Chief Ladoke Akintola to the airport to return to Ibadan.After he informed the Sardauna about an impending coup and some errands, because it was late in the night, and he had a busy  schedule in the morning, he did not go home, but slept in the staff quarters of Sardauna on the day of the coup when Nzeogwu killed Sardauna .He said he survived the ordeal because he lay  down under the bed during the sporadic shooting in the residence. The betrayal and killing of Sardauna by Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu made him sick for almost six months before he later regained his consciousness.

Meanwhile, it is confirmed that late Major Chukwuma “Kaduna” Nzeogwu was buried in Kaduna. His grave is in the Commonwealth War-military-Cemetery located at Kashim Ibrahim Road, with the signboard Major C K Chukwuma Nzeogwu, grave number 9.

This reporter contacted the residence and office of the late Premier which was renamed Arewa House, which is also the center for historical documentation and research of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria, where a senior officer said they were not aware where Nzeogwu was buried.But they later found out and confirmed after two days that Nzeogwu was indeed buried in the military cemetery in Kaduna.

Daily Trust

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