Abuja to host conference of Africa’s education ministers

The Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Rufai has announced that Nigeria is set to host over 270 delegates and education ministers of the 54 member states of the African Union in Abuja, next week.

Professor Rufai who made the announcement at a news conference disclosed on Friday, said that the fifth ordinary session of the Conference of Ministers of the African Union (COMEDAFU) approved by President Jonathan, will deliberate on global regional and sub-regional development and seek ways of addressing them.

According to the Minister, the conference will open another window for investment and viable economic activities.

The Minister noted that the conference is set to position African higher education as a driver for social and economic development and the attainment of Africa’s collective educational vision.

She also noted that the international event is coming at a time when the country’s educational sector is experiencing huge transformation.

Pension funds not missing but logged into overseas acct.-Afolabi

Pension funds not missing but logged into overseas acct.-Afolabi

21-year-old man sentenced to one year in jail for stealing cable

It’s a lesson hard-learnt for 21-year-old Abubakar Sani who was today sentenced to 12 months in jail for stealing an armoured cable.

According to agency reports, Sani was sentenced in an Abuja Upper Area Court by Justice Adamu Wakili, but was also given an out – the option to pay a N6,000 fine to skip the harsher sentence.

Police prosecutor, Sgt. Ambi Ayuba, said Sani had confessed his guilt in the crimes during investigation and was charged with joint act and theft.

Ayuba told the court the crime had been reported at the Garki Police Station in Abuja on 26 March and the convict had not been acting alone.

Two other suspects, now at large, were with Sani when the trio went into the National Stadium in Abuja and stole the armoured cable, destroying it as they attempted to cut it off.

Police say no shots fired at U.S. Embassy in Abuja

Witnesses and Police officials said sound from fireworks were mistaken for the gunshots heard at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja on Monday.

The Embassy had released a press statement yesterday which read: “We believe there were shots fired in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy. The Nigerian authorities have two individuals in custody. We refer you to the Nigerian police for further information.”

An embassy security official, in a phone interview yesterday, had confirmed what sounded like gunfire, adding that there had been some commotion and police officers had been deployed to the area to maintain order.

Abuja police command spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, had refuted reports of arrest.

Following further investigation, Police confirmed that they found no evidence of gunshots and witnesses in the area said the sound had come from fireworks lit by teenagers in an undeveloped plot near the embassy.

“We believe there were shots fired in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy. The Nigerian authorities have two individuals in custody. We refer you to the Nigerian police for further information,” embassy spokeswoman Deb MacLean said on Tuesday.

According to reports, the U.S. Embassy’s claim had been thorughly investigated and found to be false.

“We have found no evidence to indicate that shots were fired around the embassy and we have not arrested anybody. We are still probing the matter to know exactly what happened,” a police spokesman said.

Gunshots heard near Abuja US Embassy

The United States Embassy in Abuja has reported that shots were fired close to its premises in the Central Business District, today.

“We believe there were shots fired in the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy. The Nigerian authorities have two individuals in custody. We refer you to the Nigerian police for further information,” a statement issued from the embassy this afternoon said.

Security guard at Post 1 of the US embassy confirmed the incident in a telephone interview. The guard, speaking on the basis of anonymity, said gun fire was heard in the vicinity of the embassy and some commotion shortly after.

He added, however, that the situation has been taken care of and Nigeria police forces are on ground to maintain order. There were no casualties from the attacks, the security officer said.

Abuja police command spokesman, Jimoh Moshood, told press that he had no knowledge of arrests.

Abuja court discharges 40-year-old man accused of raping 6-year-old girl

A high court in Abuja has discharged a 40-year-old man who had been faced with accusations of the sexual assault of a six-year-old girl.

According to reports, the court acquitted Sunday Ogbonna, a resident of Jabi, Abuja, who had been arraigned on 13 February for allegedly raping a minor.

Ogbonna had been accused of luring the girl to a secret place at the Jabi Motor Park on 31 November and forcibly having sex with the girl, six years old at the time of the alleged attack.

However, Justice Abubakar Talba, the trial judge presiding over the case, threw it out of court today, saying there was insufficient evidence with which to find the accused guilty.

Delivering the judgement, the trial judge said there were inconsistencies in evidentiary statements given by prosecution witnesses.

Talba said the prosecution witnesses contradicted themselves and their testimonies proved unreliable as a result.

He further noted that the prosecution had failed to meet its burden of proof or provide any medical evidence in the case.

“Consequent upon the above findings, I hereby discharge and acquit the accused,” he said.

Tukur is new PDP’s Chairman

77 year old Bamanga Tukur has been declared the new national chairman of  the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

Mr Turkur emerged, the consensus candidate for the party’s chairman, after all the other ten candidates stepped down for him at the 2012 national conention of the ruling party in Abuja.

Though he was a consensus candidate, votes were still casted to affirm his election. He polled 3,185 votes out the 3,448 of the total votes cast to emerge the winner.

The ten candidates withdrew their nominations, just as the election was about to commence, citing “advice by leaders” and “for peace of the party.

Among those who voted at the event were President Goodluck Jonathan, the Vice President, Namadi Sambo and other top party members.

The emergence of Mr Tukur as the sole candidate for the party’s leadership position took a twist earlier in the week when he was defeated at the north-east zonal congress of the party in Bauchi state.

The party had zoned the chairman’s office to the north-east region with the 77-year old having the blessings of President Goodluck Jonathan and some senior members of the party.  But he was defeated at the zonal congress ahead of the national convention by the party’s acting National Secretary, Musa Babayo

Mr Tukur, had described his defeat at the North-east zonal congress as a ‘charade’ stating that, he believes the outcome of the event will not affect his aspiration to emerge as the next national chairman of the largest party in the country.

12 positions were up for grabs at the convention; eight of them including the national publicity secretary were affirmed after only one candidate remained unopposed for the posts. The remaining including the post of national chairman which had only one candidate still had to be decided by ballot.

Former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola also emerged the sole candidate for the party’s national secretary, a position held by Professor Ahmed Rufai Alkali, who was amongst the ten that stepped for Mr Tukur.

Reacting to the emergence of Mr Tukur as the consensus candidate, Prof Akali explained that there were “rigorous persuasion and consultations” to get other candidates to stand down. “Some of us made the sacrifice to avoid divisions in the party,” he said. “The party is supreme” he added.

The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu described the emergence of Mr Tukur as the party’s leader, as a blessing and added impetus for the Party.

“Alhaji Bamanga Tukur’s emergence is a blessing for the party, being a respected statesman with a rich reservoir of experience and popular support needed to further strengthen the Party and consolidate the gains made so far”, he stated.

He called on the new party officials which he also described as a First Class team to ride on the popular support and good will enjoyed at the Convention to justify the confidence reposed in them by the party faithful and ensure the speedy realization of Mr. President’s Transformation Agenda.

Below are the new national officers of the People’s Democratic Party:

  • National Chairman – Bamanga Tukur
  • Deputy National Chairman – Sam Sam Jaja
  • National Secretary – Olagunsoye Oyinlola
  • National Woman leader – Kema Chikwe
  • National Auditor – Bode Mustapha
  • National Financial Secreatry – Bolaji Anani
  • National organising Secretary – Abubakar Mustapha
  • National Youth Leader – Garba Umar
  • National Publicity Secretary – Olisah Metu
  • National Treasurer – Bala Bawa Kaoje
  • Deputy National Treasurer – Claudius Emekise
  • National Legal Adviser – Victor Pam
  • Deputy National Publicity Secretary – Binta Masi Garba
  • Deputy National Auditor – Umar Ibrahim
  • Deputy National youth Leader – Dennis Arokpe
  • Deputy National secretary – Solomon Onwe
  • Deputy National Organizaing Secretary – Okechukwu Nnadozie 
  • Assistant legal Adviser – Mohammed Magaji

Avoiding contentious acrimony

Ahead of the voting, some governors explained to Channels Television the essence of a consensus candidate where they why they have decided to return some candidates without voting.

According to the governor of Benue state, Gabriel Suswan, “what the PDP as a party seeks to promote is the unity of the party,” adding that the agreement on a consensus candidate “is to make sure that we avoid a contentious acrimony or contest. In every human endeavor or political setting, people should thrive “consensus rather than contest” he opined.

Also speaking, the leader of the Northern governors’ forum and governor of Niger state, Alhaji Aliyu Babaginda, stated that “once an individual is agreed upon; there will be no need for contest because our constitution (PDP’s constitution) allows for standing unopposed.

“There is no point fighting or arguing over anything. There is nothing wrong with a consensus candidate especially when it is generally agreed upon” stated the Abia state governor, Mr Theodora Orji

About 5,000 delegates are at the Eagles square, venue of the event to choose new executives for the national convention.

Tukur emerges consensus candidate for PDP’s chairman

Whilst the election for the new set of executives for the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is ongoing, 77 year old Bamanga Tukur has emerged, the consensus candidate for the party’s chairman, after all the other ten candidates have stepped down for him.

The ten candidates withdrew their nominations, just as the election was about to commence, citing “advice by leaders” and “for peace of the party.

The emergence of Mr Tukur as the sole candidate for the party’s leadership position took a twist earlier in the week when he was defeated at the north-east zonal congress of the party in Bauchi state.

The party had zoned the chairman’s office to the north-east region with the 77-year old having the blessings of President Goodluck Jonathan and some senior members of the party.  But he was defeated at the zonal congress ahead of the national convention by the party’s acting National Secretary, Musa Babayo

Mr Tukur, had described his defeat at the North-east zonal congress as a ‘charade’ stating that, he believes the outcome of the event will not affect his aspiration to emerge as the next national chairman of the largest party in the country.

Former governor of Osun State, Olagunsoye Oyinlola also emerged the sole candidate for the party’s national secretary, a position held by Professor Ahmed Rufai Alkali, who was amongst the ten that stepped for Mr Tukur.

Reacting to the emergence of Mr Tukur as the consensus candidate, Prof Akali explained that there were “rigorous persuasion and consultations” to get other candidates to stand down. “Some of us made the sacrifice to avoid divisions in the party,” he said. “The party is supreme” he added.

Aside the office of the chairman, other offices that have recorded consensus candidates at the ongoing national congress are officials of the party’s National Working committee (NWC), which includes,  Onwe Onwe, deputy national secretary, Olisa Metuh, national publicity secretary and for Minister of Aviation Kema Chikwe, has emerged as the national woman leader.

Dr. Okechukwu Nnadozie will be deputy national Organising secretary, deputy national treasurer, Honorable Claudius Emekise, national legal adviser: Barrister Victor Pam and deputy national publicity secretary: Barrister Binta Machika.

Avoiding contentious acrimony

Ahead of the voting, some governors explained to Channels Television the essence of a consensus candidate where they why they have decided to return some candidates without voting.

According to the governor of Benue state, Gabriel Suswan, “what the PDP as a party seeks to promote is the unity of the party,” adding that the agreement on a consensus candidate “is to make sure that we avoid a contentious acrimony or contest. In every human endeavor or political setting, people should thrive “consensus rather than contest” he opined.

Also speaking, the leader of the Northern governors’ forum and governor of Niger state, Alhaji Aliyu Babaginda, stated that “once an individual is agreed upon; there will be no need for contest because our constitution (PDP’s constitution) allows for standing unopposed.

“There is no point fighting or arguing over anything. There is nothing wrong with a consensus candidate especially when it is generally agreed upon” stated the Abia state governor, Mr Theodora Orji

About 5,000 delegates are at the Eagles square, venue of the event to choose new executives for the national convention.

Witness tells court how El-Rufai allocated land to himself, family and companies

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday told an Abuja High Court that a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-Rufai and two of his officials unilaterally revoked some juicy plots of land and allocated same to themselves, their relatives and their companies.

Sunday Idowu, a former operative of the EFCC made the disclosure while being led in evidence by the commission’s lawyer, Adebayo Adelodun, in continuation of trial of the former minister who is facing an eight-count of abuse of office.

The two other accused persons are the Director General, Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS), Atine Jubrin and former General Manager, AGIS Ismail Iro.

Mr Idowu, an Inspector of Police gave detailed steps taken by his investigative team in unravelling facts behind the accusations against the accused persons.

“We interacted with interested parties notably Abuja Geographical Information Services (AGIS), Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) among others who gave us insight into what actually happened,” the police officer said.

He said that his team identified an official memo written by a senior official of FCDA advising against the irregular conversion of the plots.

“At AGIS, investigation revealed that plots 1201 and 3352 which were originally allocated to PHCN and NIPOST were revoked and then re-allocated to 9 private individuals including two wives of the former minister, daughter of former President Obasanjo, Iyabo Obasanjo–Bello, a serving senator, Philip Aduda and the 2nd and 3rd accused persons,” Mr Idowu said.

The witness further told the court that his team discovered from the Corporate Affairs Commission that Misters El-Rufai, and Iro are directors in the three companies which benefited from the re-allocation, namely: System Property Development Company, SPDC, Express Procurement Ltd and Pure Environment Services.

“In the course of investigation, it was discovered that one of the irregularly converted plots, allocated to one of the wives of the 1st accused person ,with new plot number 337 was also used by him as one of the properties declared as his own in his Asset Declaration Form with the Code of Conduct Bureau,” the police investigator said.

A former Executive Secretary with the FCDA, Sani Alhassan, told the court that after a meeting with the management of PHCN it was discovered that the earlier revocation was no more necessary. He said a memo was written to the former minister advising him to revert to status quo.

The case was adjourned to 25 April for further hearing.

Mr El-Rufai and his co-accused persons were first arraigned on an amended eight-count on Thursday 7 April 2011. Their arraignment followed a petition to EFCC, detailing allegations of abuse of office against the former minister on how he misappropriated government land which he allocated to his friends and family members, in flagrant breach of the Abuja Master plan.

Civil defence parades 87 fake corpers

The Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) on Wednesday in Abuja paraded 87 suspected fake corps members who were arrested in Nasarawa based on intelligence reports.
The Deputy Commandant-General (DCG) of NSCDC in Nasarawa State,  Walter Akubuiroh, who disclosed that the 87 culprits were arrested on Tuesday, said “Due to the security situation in the country, our officers have been keeping surveillance and any abnormality noticed will be immediately investigated, and this arrest is the result of that surveillance”.
Mr. Akubuiroh said most of those arrested were young people, desperate graduates, who for various reasons could not go for the national service and were lured into the illegality by a cartel.

The DCG further said some of the suspects escaped during the raid, but he assured that the command was making efforts to arrest them.
The suspects, aged between 20 years and 30 years, were first camped in Nyanya, Abuja before they were moved to Toto in Nasarawa State, where they were given kits and call-up letters.
They were also training regularly and waiting for deployment letters for their primary assignments before they were rounded up by officers of the NSCDC on Tuesday.

Kainji dam back on stream


The Kainji dam Power Station is back on stream and delivering power to the national grid from its four available units that were shut down three days ago.
Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, made the announcement on Monday morning.
The plant was shut down on Thursday 15 March 2012, following excessive leakage from its dam which threatened to flood the station. Consequently, power from the four units (a combined 233MW of electricity), were cut off from the national grid, following the permission granted by the Minister to shut down the station in order to investigate the source of leakage.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Kainji Power Plant, Engineer Yinka Akinwumi, informed the minister last night that inspection on the four units has been completed and that the plant has been tied to the national grid once more, delivering 233MW of electricity.
Engr. Akinwumi has explained that this problem is “normal” because the plant is old (constructed in 1968) and has suffered maintenance and overhaul neglect since it was commissioned 44 years ago.
He, however, said that there is hope for improvement following an ongoing World Bank programme to rehabilitate four of the turbines in Phase 1 of a two-phased project to rehabilate the station in order to reach its installed capacity of 760MW.
“The (World Bank) maintenance involves an ongoing retrofit of three units and overhaul of the remainder,” he said.
Prof. Nnaji has congratulated Engr. Akinwunmi and his Kainji team for rectifying the problem in a record three days and restoring critical power to the nation.

Arik Air to suspend Abuja-Heathrow flights

Nigerian major commercial carrier, Arik Air, has yet again announced the suspension of flights between Heathrow and Abuja starting 25 March after talks between the British and Nigeria governments over bilateral air service agreements stalled yet again.

This is the second time Arik Air would suspend Heathrow-bound flights. In October, the airline had suspended flights to the UK only to restart them in December.

At the time Arik Air had said the suspension of flights was “due to a number of extraneous factors including operational considerations to support the regional programme ahead of the airline’s launch to new destinations in Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali on December 6”.

The pending suspension this time around, Arik Air says, is “following the inability of the UK and Nigeria governments to come to a solution on the 2008 Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) and access to slots in Heathrow in line with the frequencies agreed in the BASA.”

The UK airport authorities had disallowed Arik Air landing for its flights from Abuja into Heathrow, saying a private company was responsible for selling such slots. The airline alleged that it paid £1.4m to a private company, due to discrepancies in the agreement.

But the BASA agreement between the two countries does not indicate that slots would be sold to airlines from both sides.

The commercial carrier petitioned the National Assembly to intervene in the matter and bring about a resolution.

Arik had reinstated flights in December when UK authorities “facilitated the temporary continuation of the commercial lease of these slots in support of Arik Air’s Abuja-Heathrow operation.”

However, the “interim solutuion” was only available up until March 25.