SEN. NDUME’S BAIL APPLICATION SUFFERS SETBACK

A Magistrate Court sitting in Abuja has denied the senator representing Borno South in the upper legislative chamber, Mohammed Ali Ndume, bail. Chief Magistrate Oyebola Oyewumi struck out the charges filed against the senator following an application for discontinuance of the case by the prosecutor, Mr. Cliff Osagie

At the resumed trial of the case, the prosecuting counsel informed the court that fresh charges similar to the one before the court have been filed against Ndume at the Federal High Court.

The prosecutor therefore applied to withdraw the first information report upon which Sen. Mohammed Ali Ndume was arraigned before the court. He told the court that due to the filing of fresh charges against the embattled senator, there was no need to continue the trial.

Delivering a short ruling based on the application for withdrawal of the first information report, Chief Magistrate Oyewumi struck out the case against Sen. Ndume but restated that the trial of the spokesman of Boko Haram sect, Ali Sanda Konduga also known as Al-Zawahiri who is awaiting sentencing, having being convicted on November 22, 2011, will still go on as scheduled.

It will be recalled that Sen. Ndume was arraigned before the court over allegations of disclosing classified information to the dreaded Boko Haram sect. He was arraigned alongside the spokesman of the sect, Ali Sanda Konduga also known as Al-Zawahiri.

OYO STATE GOVERNMENT FLAGS OFF YES-O INITIATIVE

The Oyo state Governor, Abiola Ajimobi has flagged off his Youth empowerment scheme with the employment of 20,000 youth into key sectors of the state’s economy.

At the flag off which took place at the Obafemi Awolowo stadium Ibadan, explained that the scheme is projected to give beneficiaries true sense of belonging as they serve as a resource base for the state.

The deputy Gov. & chairman State steering committee of the Youth Empowerment Scheme of Oyo state (YES -O), Mr. Moses Adeyemo disclosed that the selection of the beneficiaries was rigorous, devoid of bias& political prejudices.

He said the move will go a long way at reducing unemployment, youth unrest& consequently poverty in the state.

For the 1st time in the history of Oyo state, the government employed 20,000 youth to serve various ministries &parastatals under a single scheme to complement the civil service in critical areas.

Out of those employed under the scheme, 5,400 are education cadet, 4,300 are under the ministry of works 2,676 are health cadets,3,700 are agric cadets,2,407 are environment cadets while 1,515 are to provide emergency services. The remaining would be trained in various vocational skills.

Gov. Abiola Ajimobi said the move was necessitated by the threat posed by the ever growing chain of unemployed youth in the society. He said the scheme as presently inaugurated is a mini spectrum of the Youth empowerment scheme of government and urged the new cadets to be agents of change.

The Dep. Gov. & Chairman, State steering committee of YES-O, Mr. Moses Adeyemo said the scheme is one of the basic tools of government towards repositioning the state.

Gov. Ajimobi further reassured the people that he might step on toes while repositioning the state but he promised not to break any toe and urged for greater understanding among the people.

ASUU COMMENCES INDEFINITE STRIKE

The Academic Staff Union of Universities [ASUU] has proceeded on an indefinite strike starting on Sunday.

The National President of the association, Professor Ukachukwu Awuzie who confirmed this told newsmen in Port Harcourt that this time; the strike will be “total and comprehensive”.

He revealed that during the striking period, grading and marking of scripts will not be allowed and explained that the union’s decision is pegged on the refusal of the federal government to implement the core of the 2009 FGN/ASUU agreement.

According to him with the failure of federal government to address the issues even when ASUU granted it a two months grace period it had become clear that the government was not willing to honor the agreement.

Professor Awuzie noted that though the decision to proceed on an indefinite strike is painful, the union would align with allied unions in the country to resist the proposed removal of fuel subsidy by the government.

“NEC, having noted that the federal government neglected, ignored, failed and refused to implement the core components of the 2009 FGN/ASUU Agreement after more than two years of its signing, having squandered two months it requested without achieving any progress in the implementation of the agreement, having sacked the Implementation Monitoring Committee that served as the forum for dialogue with ASUU on this dispute, is convinced that the government is terribly insincere and is manifestly unwilling to genuinely implement the agreement it freely entered into with ASSU.

“The government has abandoned the main tenet of industrial democracy- that all agreements freely entered into must be honoured.

“Therefore, ASUU resolved, painfully, to direct all members of ASUU in all branches nationwide to proceed on a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike, beginning from the midnight of Sunday, 4th December, 2011.

“For the avoidance of doubt, a total, comprehensive and indefinite strike means: no teaching, no examination, no grading of script, no project supervisions, no inaugural lectures, no appointment and promotion meeting, no statutory meetings (Council, Senate, Board etc) or other meetings directed by government or their agents”,

“The World Bank and IMF were decisive in sponsorship and constitution of the Economic Team, which was put in place following the inauguration of Mr President after the April 2011 elections.

“The ruling class has failed. It cannot provide jobs, education, healthcare, affordable transportation, roads and so on. It is incapable of uniting the people; it uses ethnic origin as a political weapon. The ruling class violates the integrity of the judiciary.
“The faction in power, with President Jonathan as head, is unable to protect the people from hunger, robbery, murder of innocent citizens and generalised insecurity. Politically, Nigeria is in a precarious position in spite of the 2011 general elections.

“In recent months, federal government has intensified its campaign for devaluation, privatization and petroleum price increase, which the Nigerian labour movement, including ASUU, shall resist”, he said.

NIGERIA’S ANTI-GAY MARRIAGE BILL MAY PUT FOREIGN HIV, AIDS FUNDING AT RISK- AGENCY REPORT

AP – A bill originally designed to outlaw gay marriage in Nigeria likely has consequences far beyond its initial scope — criminalizing gay groups and organizations could jeopardize millions of dollars of Western aid geared toward stopping the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa’s most populous nation.

Though an oil-rich nation, Nigeria likely cannot afford to scorn foreign aid in the fight against HIV/AIDS, experts say. Nigeria has the continent’s second highest number of people living with the disease, says the United Nations. More than 3 million people are infected with the disease and many do not know their status, according to U.N. estimates.

“There are about 400,000 people on anti-retrovirals in Nigeria at the moment and 95 percent of those are paid for by donor funds,” Nigerian public health physician and health blogger Chikwe Ihekweazu told The Associated Press.

Gay sex has been banned in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people, since colonial rule by the British. Gays and lesbians face open discrimination and abuse in a country divided by Christians and Muslims who almost uniformly oppose homosexuality. In the areas in Nigeria’s north where Islamic Shariah law has been enforced for about a decade, gays and lesbians can face death by stoning.

Under the proposed law passed by Senate this week, couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. The bill also punishes the “public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly” with ten years in prison.

A newly added portion of the bill, leveling 10 years in prison for those found guilty of organizing, operating or supporting gay clubs, organizations and meetings, worries advocates in Nigeria. They fear the law could be used against groups providing aid for HIV and AIDS outreach programs that traditionally consider gay men as an at-risk group.

“We work with them trying to reduce their risk factors, trying to make them more healthy and have safer sex practices,” said Meyiwa Ede of the donor-funded public health organization Society for Family Health. “If we can’t work with them anymore, then they are vulnerable.”

But lawmakers playing to the deeply religious nation’s dislike of gays and lesbians have said donor nations who threaten to cut aid over the bill can keep their assistance, putting at risk the lives of people reliant on anti-retroviral drugs.

The U.S. and U.K. governments funnel huge sums of money into Nigeria for AIDS and HIV outreach. The U.S. government, under the United States’ President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, has given an average of $308 million dollars a year to groups working in HIV prevention, treatment, and support, according to the U.S. Consulate in Lagos.

The U.K. government spends an average of $31 million dollars a year on HIV/AIDS programs in Nigeria, the Abuja office of the U.K.’s Department for International Development said.

Through local partners, the funding reaches heterosexuals, as well as gays and lesbians to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS. Heterosexual sex accounts for 80 percent of HIV transmissions in Nigeria, said the country’s National Agency for the Control of AIDS in a recent report.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron recently threatened to cut aid to African countries who discriminate against gays and lesbians. Advocates fear that could include the HIV and AIDS funding.

Statements from the U.S. and U.K. say both governments are watching the bill closely, but declined to comment further on how it may affect their outreach.

President Goodluck Jonathan promised the United Nations General Assembly in June that his administration was “committing to increase national ownership of HIV and AIDS responses” and to make those responses inclusive. However, six months later, little has changed in a country that makes no attempt to reach gay and lesbian communities.

Nigeria’s Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu told AP that the bill outlawing gay groups would not affect state-funded HIV and AIDS programs if it were to become law. The health ministry has no programs specifically targeting these communities, said spokeswoman Rekia Zubairu.

Rights groups say the lawmakers’ resolve to pass the bill reflects widespread homophobia in Nigeria, but it also shows their disconnect from working-class Nigerians, regardless of their sexual orientation.

“They have the resources to go abroad for treatment, with their big salaries, so they don’t give a hoot about ordinary people,” gay rights organizer Dorothy Akenova said. “The majority of Nigerians are the ones who will suffer for it.”

The bill must still be passed by Nigeria’s House of Representatives and signed by President Jonathan before becoming law.

GUNMEN KILL SIX IN BAUCHI

Gunmen believed to be from the radical Islamic Sect, Boko Haram raided a town in Bauchi, Nigeria’s north central region on Sunday morning, bombing police stations and robbing banks in an attack that has killed about six people, security forces said.
According to the Associated Press, sect members bombed two police stations in Arare and robbed branches of Guaranty Trust Bank PLC and Intercontinental Bank PLC, Bauchi police commissioner Ikechukwu Aduba said. One police officer, one soldier and four civilians were killed during the five-hour attack, he said.

“We did not make any arrest, as investigations are still being carried out,” Aduba said.
Aduba blamed Boko Haram for the attack, saying the assault Sunday mirrored attacks its members have carried out in recent weeks.

The group has launched a series of bombings against Nigeria’s central government over the last year in its campaign to implement strict Shariah law across the nation.

Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a November 4 attack on Damaturu, Yobe state’s capital that killed more than 100 people. The group also claimed the August 24 suicide car bombing of the U.N. headquarters in the capital territory that killed 24 people and wounded 116 others.

Microsoft to Release Office Suits for Tablets

Microsoft Founder Bill Gates

With the wave of tablets introduced into the market and complains about the restriction of tablets with Microsoft Office Suits, Microsoft is now set to accommodate tablet users with tablet versions of the popular Microsoft Office Suits.

According to The Daily Mail, Microsoft office is working hard to release the tablet versions of the suit sometime in mid-2012.

The relationship between Apple and Microsoft when it comes to the Office package has been one of mutual respect. The Apple version on OSX is very stable, capable and works perfectly well, and so this relationship of “quid pro quo” between the two companies has proved to be one area that the competing brands have enjoyed a happy friendship in.

With reports of tablets slowly taking over laptops as the go to PC for pretty much everything, one distinct area currently lacking is the familiar Microsoft Office package for everyday writing/publishing needs.

There is an argument that Microsoft should wait until their own tablet is released, prior to an iOS office application going on sale.

Forrester research analysts are of the opinion that the rise of subsidised, cut-price versions of tablets from Amazon, WhSmith and Barnes and Noble will mean that Windows 8 tablets will face tough competition from cheap varieties and also well-established tablet manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung and Blackberry.

Post Mortem on the Lagos Council Polls

On Politics Today,our correspondent Charles Erukaa went to the streets of Lagos to speak to Lagosians on the Lagos Council polls as the result of the election are being awaited.

Charles Erukaa also tried to reach senior member of the Lagos State Independent Electoral Commission ( LASIEC) to comment.


Representatives of the ACN and the PDP were also invited into the studio to comment.

A look at the Anambra North Senatorial Seat Controversy

Residents in Anambra North senatorial district, on Thursday, took to major roads and streets in protest of the continued delay by the Senate leadership to swear in a representative from the district.

Nine months after last April’s polls, nothing is settled in Anambra North. The decision of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the legislative seats in the zone are still subjects of litigation or controversy. The tussle between Senators Alphonsus Igbeke and Margery Okadigbo over the true winner of the senatorial seat is still on.

Anambra North senatorial zone is the only one without a representative ten months after the inauguration of the 7th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a situation that elicited widespread condemnation from within and outside the zone.

Although the flurry of petitions and media war may appear to have died down, the people of the zone have been gravely short-changed and denied quality representation, which had begun to take its toll on the socio-economic fortunes of the people of that zone.

Painfully, too, time lost in the tenure of lawmakers unlike the Executive arm of government are not re-awarded, implying that if the seventh Senate runs its full course without swearing-in any Senator from Anambra North, the zone will go down in history as a zone that never produced a Senator during the seventh Senate.

Deji Bademosi invited guests to analyse the political uproar in the region.

Independent Anniversary:President’s Address

For the first time in the history of Nigeria,the Independent Celebration which was always marked on the 1st of October annually did not take place at the Eagles Square in the Federal Capital Territory Abuja.

Politics Today looked further into the president’s address durng the celebration which took place at the Presidential Villa.