Category Archives: West Africa

Nigeria – Niger Delta traditional leaders meet government to discuss peace

Punch

Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja

Traditional rulers and stakeholders from the Niger Delta on Thursday met the Federal Government and read out terms that would build confidence as well as restore peace in the region.

This follows the ceasefire announced by the Niger Delta Avengers and other militant groups in the region on August 21, 2016.

In a statement, which was read at the headquarters of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation in Abuja by the Bolowei of Gbaramatu Kingdom, Chief Wellington Okirika, the traditional rulers listed six things the Federal Government should do in order to build confidence and stop the destruction of the country’s oil assets by militants in the region.

They said, “Having acceded to the call for a ceasefire by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, on August 4, 2016, the buck has now been passed to the table of the Federal Government as driven by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources – a representative of the Federal Government.

“For the purposes of building confidence in the system, we wish to state here that as a matter of urgency the Federal Government should appoint/constitute a Federal Government dialogue team; release the 10 innocent school children arrested by the Nigerian Army on the 28th of May, 2016 in Oporoza and others in detention on trumped up charges.

“Return the Golden Sword, being the symbol of authority in the Gbaramatu traditional institution; return the three traditional council speed boats in custody of the Nigerian Army; cessation of hostilities perpetrated by the military in the Niger Delta region; and equally important, the Federal Government should make a categorical statement about the opening of the Maritime University, Okerenkoko Delta State for academic activities in the 2016/2017 session.”

Can development bring peace and resilience in West Africa

Institute for Security Studies

Pour la version française, cliquez ici

Dakar, Senegal – Unemployed, idle and fanatical; this is how young members of armed jihadist groups in Mali are portrayed. However, there is little empirical data to support this characterisation.

The Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) conducted a study which interviewed more than 60 youths previously involved with extremists. ‘Factors other than economics, religion or ideology explain why young people join the ranks of armed jihadist groups in Mali’, said Lori-Anne Théroux-Bénoni, Director of the ISS office in Dakar and leader of the research team.

The study questions the conventional wisdom on an issue that is crucial to stability in Mali and the security of its neighbours. It also shows that proactive approaches that prioritise development and the building of inclusive and resilient societies should be part of the solution.

‘The study has important policy implications for how development actors like JICA could design more effective interventions in affected countries or countries at risk’, said Iimura Tsutomu, the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Resident Representative in Côte d’Ivoire.

‘Concepts like radicalisation and violent extremism are currently in vogue, but should be used with caution, as they could lead to solutions that miss the point’, said Théroux-Bénoni.

The results of the study will be launched on 26 August at the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) Summit in Nairobi, Kenya. The side event will assess whether development interventions can address the region’s security challenges and contribute to achieving peace. A policy brief covering the main findings will be available.

For the full programme and registation details, click here.

For enquiries and to arrange media interviews:

Makiko Naemura, email: Naemura.Makiko@jica.go.jp

Marie Sagna, email: msagna@issafrica.org

Nigeria – Emir of Kano warns BUhari against blaming everything on previous government

Premium Times

Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II

 

The Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, has warned President Muhammadu Buhari to avoid repeating the mistakes made by former President Goodluck Jonathan so his administration does not end up in infamy like that of his predecessor.

The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria also warned the government against continuing to blame previous administrations for the nation’s woes, saying what was important was for the administration to concentrate on putting the nation back on the path of progress.

The emir gave the warning on Wednesday while delivering a paper entitled, “Nigeria In Search Of New Growth model” at the 15th meeting of the Joint Planning Board and National Council on Development Planning.

Mr. Buhari succeeded Mr. Jonathan on May 29, 2015.

“If this government continues to behave the way the last government behaved, we will end up where Jonathan ended,” the former CBN governor said. “You may not like it but that is the truth. You have to listen.

“You don’t have to be an economist to know that any system that allows you to sit in your garden, and with a telephone call, make one billion naira without investing a kobo, that system is wrong. It is unsustainable.

“And just so we are not always blaming the previous administration. We have also made mistakes in this administration. We have started retracing our steps or we have to retrace those steps.

“And if we fall into the same holes that we fell into the last time where the government is always right… If a policy is wrong, it is wrong. Nothing will make it right and it has to be changed.”

Mr. Sanusi said there were many voodoo economists parading around the administration and advising the government.

“And many of them are not economists,” the Emir said. “They are demagogues.”

“Look, I’m not going to change. I am never going to be political. I will never tell people what they like to hear. There is nothing we are facing today that we did not know will happen. That is the truth. We made mistakes, many of them deliberate. We ignored every single warning.

“If you take a brand new car, and give a driver who doesn’t have a license to drive it and you have an accident, you really can’t say you are surprised unless you are some kind of idiot.”

The Emir said he would like to know those advising the present government so he could talk to the advisers themselves.

Mr. Sanusi blamed past federal administrations for failing to diversify the nation’s economy during the oil boom, saying Mr. Buhari should not make the same mistakes.

He specifically accused Mr. Jonathan of refusing advice given to him on how to turn the economy around.

Warnings of impending economic doom were also ignored by the former president, Mr. Sanusi said.

The traditional ruler expressed concern that the Buhari administration was toeing the same path like the Jonathan government.

“In a situation where we cannot process tomato. Tomato paste is being imported from China. It is sad,” he said.

He said there was urgent need for the country to return to the drawing board on the deepening and expansion of the economy.

“If we do not expand the economy through wise investment, we can end up in classical Malthusian situation,” he said.

Mr. Sanusi restated his support for the removal of subsidy on petroleum products, saying only a few people were reaping from the system to achieve their selfish ends.

Nigeria – none banks suspended from forex dealing

BBC

US dollars and Chinese yuan notesTHINKSTOCK Bank customers, especially those who import and export goods, will be affected by this ban

Nine Nigerian banks have been suspended from foreign currency trading for not paying money owed to the government, a central bank source has told the BBC.

The banks are said to be withholding a total of $2.1bn (£1.6bn) belonging to the state-owned oil company.

Last year, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the merger of all state accounts into one single account at the central bank to reduce corruption.

It is nearly a year since the deadline to transfer the money expired.

The banks affected are: Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, First Bank, First City Monument Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Skye Bank, Sterling Bank and United Bank for Africa.

Low oil price

The BBC’s Naziru Mikailu in the capital, Abuja, says most commercial banks, especially smaller ones, have suffered as a result of the policy, as government agencies stopped depositing their money with them.

Bank customers, especially those who import and export goods, will be affected by the ban as it means they will not be able to access their foreign currency accounts.

The foreign currency trade ban is likely to have a major impact on the banks involved as it is believed some of them do not have the funds to hand over, a source at the Central Bank of Nigeria told the BBC.

An official at one of the affected banks told the Reuters news agency the non-payment reflected the “dire macroeconomic situation”, rather than deliberate non-compliance.

Nigeria has suffered severe economic problems because of the relatively low price of oil, which provides most of the country’s foreign currency earnings.

The ban will be lifted individually as each bank transfers the money it owes. Each institution is also likely to face a further fine.

The forex trading ban was triggered after the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) complained to President Buhari about the missing money, an NNPC spokesman told the BBC.

Last year, President Buhari estimated government officials had stolen about $150bn in the previous decade.

In the past it was easy for fraud to take place as the government did not know how many bank accounts each ministry held.

Nigeria – Jonathan’s campaign funding under EFCC spotlight; Falae charged with money laundering

Punch


Chief Olu Falae

Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is set to arraign a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae, for allegedly receiving N100m from the Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation during the 2015 General Elections.

The N100m, which was given to Falae on the instruction of a former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Board of Trustees, Chief Tony Anenih, was said to have emanated from the imprest account of the Office of the National Security Adviser in the Central Bank of Nigeria.

A document sighted by our correspondent indicated that the commission would charge the ex-SGF and one-time Minister of Finance with conspiracy to indirectly retain the sum of N100m “which he ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act to wit: stealing, thereby committing an offence contrary to Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012, and punishable under Section 15(3) and 4 of the same Act.”

Falae had, in a statement in February, admitted collecting the N100m, but said he did not know that the money emanated from the account of ONSA.

A detective at the anti-graft agency told The Punch that 78-year-old Falae had been frequenting the EFCC office in Lagos in the last couple of weeks.

“Chief Falae has been reporting to our office every week to answer questions on the N100m he received from the Jonathan campaign organisation. We have told him to refund the money.

“But he said he received the money through Anenih and it was meant for campaign. However, investigations revealed that he deposited N60m into SDP’s account while he kept N40m.

“We told him that he should return the N40m, but he has not been forthcoming. We have no other option but to charge him to court.”

The EFCC had alleged in March that about N3.145bn was mysteriously transferred from the account of ONSA to the account of  the Joint Trust Dimensions Limited, a company allegedly owned by the Director of Finance, Goodluck Jonathan Campaign Organisation, Senator Nenadi Usman.

Usman was said to have transferred N840m to the account of the Director of Publicity of the organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, in Zenith Bank, Maitama branch, with account number, 1004735721, on February 19, 2015.

Falae, who is the National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, allegedly received N100m through a company, Marreco Limited, where he is chairman. The fund was credited into the company’s United Bank for Africa Plc account, 1000627022, on March 25, 2014.

According to the document, N320m was also paid into the bank account of the Goodluck Support Group, an association which played a major role in Jonathan’s campaign.

A former Governor of Imo State, Achike Udenwa, and a former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuliri, also got N350m in two tranches. The first tranche of N150m was paid into their joint account with Zenith Bank on January 13, 2015. The second tranche of N200m was credited into their account with Diamond Bank.

Usman and Fani-Kayode had been arraigned before the Federal High Court in Lagos and their accounts frozen, while Udenwa is expected to be arraigned this week.

The source at the EFCC told our correspondent that since all the others were facing prosecution, it would only be fair for Falae to be charged.

‘He was detained for hours without food’

A spokesman for Falae, Mr. Alfa Mohammed, said any attempt to prosecute Falae would be nothing but a witch-hunt.

Mohammed, who spoke on the telephone, said Falae had been ill for some time because of the stress of shuttling between Lagos and Ondo due to the EFCC investigation.

He said the former presidential candidate was usually grilled for eight hours without food or water.

He said Falae never used part of the money for his personal benefit, adding that the money was used by the SDP to campaign for Jonathan.

He said, “The PDP wanted us to render a service and they gave us money, which we did by adopting and working for Jonathan. So, what is our business with arms deal?

“We never had contact with Dasuki. If you are given money to cook food for guests at a ceremony and after everyone has eaten, you are informed that the money given to you was stolen from CBN, would you tell all the guests to pay you?

“This is nothing but harassment. They want to distract us from the coming Ondo election which we are set to win. The SDP still owes Chief Falae N70m because we asked him to borrow N170m in anticipation that the PDP would pay, but the party  gave us only N100m.

“The N100m came about three days to the election and chief had been spending money before then. He has fallen ill because of the intense interrogation in the EFCC office. The operatives usually grill him for eight hours without food or water. If they are probing party funds, let them start from the APC.”

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Nigeria – Buhari promises justice for victims of Zamfara ‘blasphemy’ killings

Premium Timesed

President Muhammadu Buhari (Photo credit: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk)

PREMIUM TIMES has obtained further details of the killings in the Talata Marafa town of Zamfara State, where eight residents were burnt to death by a mob suspected to be students of Abdu Gusau Polytechnic.

The details emerged just as President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killings and promised justice for victims of the incident.

Some students of the polytechnic reportedly burnt down a house in which eight persons resident there were all burnt to death.

The president on Tuesday said via his twitter handle that he “received news of the mob killings in Zamfara with great dismay” calling it “barbaric and unacceptable.”

The President also tweeted “I assure that the law will take its course. My prayers are with the families of the victims.

“Under my watch we will work to ensure that there is no place for violence in the name of religion, ethnicity, or in any guise whatsoever,” he said.

How the incident occurred

PREMIUM TIMES spoke to a resident of Talata Mafara, Salisu Mafara on Tuesday. He said trouble began when a student of the Polytechnic was accused of blasphemy against Prophet Muhammad.

“The young man was a Muslim before he converted to Christianity and fellow students always accused him of saying nasty things about Islam.

“However, he reportedly said terrible things about the prophet and the students around descended on him and he was seriously injured,” he said.

Mr. Mafara said another resident of the town who speaks the same language with the accused student came to his rescue.

“When they noticed that he was not moving at all, they thought he was dead, but one man who is from the same tribe with him now came and took him to hospital in his car.

“When the mob got to know what happened, they now began to rush to the General Hospital. However, that man just dropped the boy in the hospital and left.

“But before the mob could reach the hospital, another young man, who is an indigene of Mafara, but is a boyfriend to the sister of the attacked student, reached the Hospital before them and took away the injured man before the mob got there.

“When they reached the hospital and realised that the injured man was not there they came back to town and when they saw the vehicle used in taking him to the Hospital the first time, they burnt it down.

“They also went to the man’s House and burnt it down with all the occupants inside. About eight people were in the house and they all died,” he said.

Mr. Mafara also said three other persons may have died when security agents opened fire on the crowd that became uncontrollable.

When contacted, the spokesperson of the Police in the state, Mohammed Shehu said a state security council meeting was held immediately after the incident and a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed.

He also said security was heightened in the town and that everywhere was now calm.

He however, failed to confirm the burning of the house and the killing of occupants.

He said his attention was needed by the Commissioner of Police, Adoge Gabriel, and be abruptly ended the call.

Subsequent efforts to speak with him failed as he did not answer calls or respond to a text message.

A source in Talata Mafara also told us that Governor Abdulaziz Yari, who is from Talata Mafara, was in the town when the incident happened.

The government is however, yet to issue a statement on the incident.

However, the authorities of the Polytechnic has closed the school until further notice.

The Zamfara killing occurred two months after a woman was killed in Kano after she was accused of blasphemy, and a month after a female preacher was killing in the Kubwa area of Abuja by yet unknown persons.

KOWA Party condemns killings

Meanwhile, one of Nigeria’s opposition parties, KOWA, has condemned the killings.

In a statement Tuesday, the National Youth Leader of the party, Jude ‘Feranmi, described the killing as barbaric and called on the authorities to bring the perpetrators to book.

Mr. ‘Feranmi said, “Our condolences are with the people of Zamfara state and the families and loved ones of those who have been killed unjustly in the recent killings by some hoodlums who are hiding under the auspices of religion.

“We condemn in the strongest terms the recent killings of innocent Nigerians by religious bigots who have taken to barbarism to break the law and deny their fellow denizens in Zamfara state the fundamental right to life.

“We state here categorically that the right to life, which is as sacrosanctly entrenched in Chapter 4 Section 33 of our constitution under the fundamental rights of citizens, of those who were killed in the act has been denied.

“Such acts are not and should not be condoled by any persons or group of persons under any umbrella whatsoever in our society. Acts like these are condemnable and should be taken seriously by our law enforcement agencies to ensure that the culprits are all brought to justice and made to suffer for their crimes.

“It is high time for a clear message to be sent by the law enforcement agencies that these criminal acts will be severely punished and that culprits will be brought to justice and this clear message must as a matter of urgency be words backed with ACTION.

“Just recently, the killings in Kano and Abuja of innocent Nigerians have not been meted with the justice that those individuals and their families deserve.

“Previous cases of these kind of barbaric acts have been treated without urgency thereby prolonging the justice needed to communicate to intending criminals that such acts will be handled seriously.

“The National Orientation Agency also needs to as a matter of urgency begin a programme that is focused on religious intolerance and the laws of the land on those who think it necessary to deliver judgements on acts of blasphemy.

“We cannot continue to live like barbarians and keep losing the lives and properties of innocent citizens in acts like this. Acts like this should NOT be tolerated and as much as we will not wish this act that has now turned into a recurrent act away, We need to back words with action.”

Punch

No fewer than eight persons were killed on Monday in Talata-Mafara community in Zamfara State following violence that erupted over alleged blasphemy by a student of the Abdu Gusau Polytechnic, Talata-Mafara.

The state Governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, joined hundreds of people to bury the deceased, who were said to have all been killed when an angry mob set fire on the house of a man who tried to rescue the student.

The student was alleged to have made a blasphemous statement against Islam and Prophet Muhammad and was consequently attacked by a mob.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported that the boy was said to have been beaten to a pulp by the mob, and the man, whose name was simply given as Tajudeen, took him in his car and drove him to a hospital.

Enraged by the act of the man who rescued the student, an eye witnesses to NAN that the mob moved to his (Tajudeen’s) house, set it on fire and killed eight persons.

The governor, who called for an emergency security council meeting over the incident, expressed sadness and vowed that “no stone will be left unturned until all those behind this act are brought to book.”

NAN further reported that the police had imposed a 12-hour curfew in the community, from 7p.m. to 7a.m. daily until further notice, with warning that anyone caught violating the order would be prosecuted.

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Nigeria – Fedgeral Government launching corruption probe of senators and representatives over constituency projects

Punch

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Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami

Ade Adesomoju, Friday Olokor and  Ifeanyi Onuba

The Federal Government has started compiling the list of legislators in both chambers of the National Assembly over constituency projects earmarked for them in the 2014 and 2015 budgets, which were not executed.

The sum of N100bn was earmarked for constituency projects in each of the 2014 and 2015 budgets.

The worth of constituency projects totalled N200bn for the two years.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), told one of our correspondents on Sunday that the compilation was being done by the police, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.

Though he declined to give details “in order not to pre-empt investigation,” the AGF said the funds, the names of legislators and the constituency projects that were not executed would be made public after investigation.

He said his office and the law enforcement agencies had received complaints of how payments were made for constituency projects that were never executed.

He said, “The money for constituency projects had been taken, but certain allegations prevailed that some constituency projects were not executed after the money had been paid 100 per cent.

“If money is appropriated in the budget, paid and the projects the funds were meant for were not executed, it is only natural to take steps to find out what happened. If neither the money nor the project can be produced, then you must take steps in accordance with the law.

“There are cases that are specific; we are compiling them. I will not want to pre-empt investigation, we have to allow investigation to be concluded before we go public.”

When asked which of EFCC or ICPC was involved in probing the constituency project fraud, the minister responded, “including the police”.

One of our correspondents learnt that the AGF had received petitions against many of the federal legislators, including a former Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Jibrin had also petitioned the EFCC, ICPC, the police and the Department of State Services, alleging that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and three other principal officers had requested the inclusion of N40bn projects in the 2016 budget, besides other projects in sums ranging from N20bn to N30bn.

The police are currently investigating Jibrin’s allegations.

MDAs responsible for constituency projects –Lawmakers

However, some lawmakers, who spoke to The PUNCH on Sunday, stated that ministries, departments and agencies under the executive were responsible for the execution of constituency projects.

They explained that lawmakers only identified projects, put them in the national budget, while the MDAs execute them after the president had approved the budget.

The representative of the Oyo South senatorial district at the Senate, Senator Adesoji Akanbi, said any probe into the constituency projects should start from the executive.

He said, “There is a certain amount set aside for constituency projects. Each lawmaker is allocated a certain amount of money and they will identify the projects of their choice. But the execution by contractors has nothing to do with lawmakers. The main role we play is to name the project and make sure that the project is executed.”

When he was asked if it was possible for a lawmaker to influence the selection of the contractor and the execution of the project, Akanbi said, “That means the ministry or the agency handling the project has been compromised.’’

Akanbi, however, said lawmakers could be culpable in the manipulation because they had to certify that the job had been done before the contractor could be paid.

Senator George Sekibo, who is recontesting his election in the Rivers-East senatorial district, also said the projects included in any budget passed by the National Assembly were executed by the MDAs.

The legistlator, who has been in the Senate since 2007, stated that lawmakers were not involved in the execution of constituency projects.

He said, ‘‘Nobody gives a kobo to any senator for constituency project. All a senator does is to recommend a project for his constituency.”

The House also said the role of lawmakers in constituency projects was limited to the selection of the projects, while relevant MDAs carried out the implementation.

It also said no member was handed cash or paid money for the implementation of the projects.

The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, said, “Members do not execute constituency projects, and they don’t receive money for the projects.

“For example, a health centre will naturally be done by the Ministry of Health or any agency so designated by the executive to handle the project. It is not the member who implements the project or appoints the contractors.”

CSOs back FG probe

Civil rights groups, which spoke to The PUNCH, supported the probe.

A United States-based activist, Simon Ajaja, said constituency projects had brought fraud.

He  said, “The idea is an organised fraud driven by the mostly ignoble men and women who have serially foisted themselves on Nigeria and Nigerians as their lawmakers, but with no intentions of making laws that would engineer  national development beyond advancing a cause for themselves via phoney loopholes in the system.”

Also, the Executive Secretary of The Anti-Corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin, urged the Federal Government to carry out a thorough probe.

“The constituency projects have become an avenue for the members of the National Assembly to recoup the outrageous money spent to run elections and to feed their corruption nest rather than serving the purpose they are defined to serve,” he added.

The President of Campaign for Democracy, Bako Usman, said, “This will create more synergy between the executive and the legislature, and even the judiciary. When it comes to budget harmonisation and implementation, issues like padding will no longer occur.”

The National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, advised the government to limit access to money by public officials.

He said, “The government should start institutional reforms that will ensure that people don’t have access to that kind of money again.’’

Efforts to get the reaction of the Senate’s spokesperson, Senator Sani Abdullahi, proved abortive as his mobile phone rang out. He had yet to reply to a text message sent to him.

Copyright PUNCH.