Liberian president challenges Lone Star with N22m bonus

With preparations for the 2013 Nations Cup qualifiers between  Nigeria and Liberia coming up in October in Calabar taking serious shape, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has challenged the Lone Star to beat the Super Eagles and get $140,000 (about N22m) as bonus.

The president praised and presented the Liberian team a reward amount of $75,000 for thrashing the Black Stars of Ghana, for a friendly game which took place in Monrovia and afterwards made the promise of the N22m reward if the Lone Stars can wallop the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

According to table standing, for Liberia to have a slot in the South Africa 2013 Nations Cup, the Lone Stars will to beat Nigeria squarely or salvage a 3-3 draw as the first leg which was hosted in Monrovia ended in a 2-2 draw.

The team was dubbed to have been gingered by the defeat of the Black Stars to believe that they can perform the same feat against the Super Eagles come October 13th.

Liberia has only appeared twice in the Nations Cup and that was in 1996 and 2002.

Johnson-Sirleaf warns of grave security situation along Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire border

The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has warned that the unstable security situation along the country’s border with neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire was “grave” and could threaten regional security if not handled through concerted regional action.

During a brief visit to the ECOWAS Commission on Friday, on the margin of a visit to Nigeria, Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf affirmed that it was in response to the gravity of the situation that the country has reinforced security along the border but warned of the possibility that the situation could overwhelm the country’s nascent security services with implications for both countries.

Apparently referring to roaming bands of armed elements that have recently attacked neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire from Liberia, the President suggested that “ECOWAS pay attention to the situation to ensure it does not escalate,” during a meeting with the Vice President of the Commission, Dr Toga Gayewea McIntosh and Commissioners who were around to receive the visitor.

She said the region was confronted with the twin problems of security and humanitarian disaster in the area and praised the management and staff of ECOWAS for their service to the Community.

The president noted however that because of the paucity of development in the region, the Community needed to be more aggressive in its strategy for exploring available services to mobilize resources to develop the region’s infrastructure. This, she said, would help stimulate intra-Community trade and the economies of Member States.

The ECOWAS Vice President and the management used the opportunity to brief Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf on regional programmes being implemented for Liberia including a $2.5 million study to integrate the country into the West African Gas Pipeline Project under which gas from Nigeria is transported through a 450-kilometre pipeline to help meet the energy needs of neighbouring countries. The first phase of the programme covers Benin, Togo and Nigeria.

Another study is also being undertaken to explore the possibility of integrating Liberia into the West Africa Power Pool Project which enables Member States to undertake energy trading, thereby promoting the efficient utilization of the region’s energy endowments.

A third infrastructure project being proposed for the country would link it with Dakar as part of the Trans Africa highway project.

Vice President McIntosh had, while welcoming the Liberian president, on behalf of President Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, briefed the visitor of the efforts being made by the new management to revitalize the organization in line with the mandate of regional leaders in order to make it more responsive to the needs of the citizens and the dynamics of the international economic environment.

Defence Academy to honour Liberia’s President at graduation ceremony

The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) will on Saturday honour the former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, and the Liberia’s President Helen Johnson Sirleaf at its graduation ceremony, the commandant said.

The Commandant, Maj-Gen. Chukwuemeka Onwuamaegbu, said in Kaduna on Friday that the two personalities would be honoured at the graduation ceremony of 262 cadets of the NDA 59 Regular Course.

Gen Onwuamaegbu disclosed this when Gov. Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State paid visited the academy, explaining that the graduands comprised cadets from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force and two cadets from Liberia.

He said that Vice President Namadi Sambo would represent President Goodluck Jonathan on the occasion.

He said that security measures had been put in place to ensure a successful ceremony.

President Jonathan had on Friday held a closed door meeting with the Liberian President at the presidential wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport Abuja.

The details of the meeting were not disclosed to journalists.

Pirates seize oil tanker, kidnap crew off Nigeria

Nigeria’s navy says pirates have attacked and seized an oil tanker off the coast of Lagos city.

Commodore Kabir Aliyu said Wednesday that the attack happened off the coast of Lagos. Aliyu said he had no other immediate details about the assault.

The attack marks the third oil tanker attack in recent days in the Gulf of Guinea, which follows the continent’s southward curve from Liberia to Gabon.

The vessel, called the Abu Dhabi Star, was seized on Tuesday night, around 14 nautical miles from the entrance to Lagos port.


Ideye scores after Eagles’ recall

Dynamo Kyiv hit man, Ideye Brown is showing positive reasons for his Super Eagles recall by Coach Stephen Keshi as he netted his 9th goal of the season in the Ukrainian Premier League clash against Chornomorets falling 2-0 at the Olimpiysky sports complex on Saturday.

Ideye was invited last week by Keshi to join other Europe-based players invited for the Super Eagles’ clash against Liberia in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match next month.

Prior to Ideye’s last goal on Saturday, the former Sochaux hitman scored twice when they eliminated Dutch giants Feyenoord 3-1 on aggregate in the previous round of the UEFA Champions League making him the second in the Ukraine goal scorer’s chart with 7 league goals and 9 in all competitions with Henrikh Mkhitaryan occupying the number one spot with just 10 league goals and 14 overall which in no time Ideye may likely surpass with his recent form of play.

And ahead of Ideye and Dynamo Kyiv is the UEFA Champions League play-off round return leg clash against Borrusia Monchengladbach on Wednesday as he will be expected to put up an optimal performance in previous a game where Dynamo got a 3-1 away victory in the first leg in Germany.

Keshi recalls Ideye and Emenike

Super Eagles’ coach Stephen Keshi has recalled Ideye Brown who plays for Dynamo Kyiv and Emenike Emmanuel also in Moscow playing for Spartak Moscow to the squad to come and do battle against Liberia in the African Nations Cup qualifier next month.

With the recall handed down to the duo they will be merging with other Europe-based players to bring the total number of the team to 12.

The Super Eagle’s list drafted by Keshi has been approved by the National Football Federation (NFF) Technical committee.

Ideye Brown and Emmanuel Emenike are both top-rated players in their various clubs.

Their achievements in the Russian league drew the interest of the Super Eagles’ coach and prompted him to consider a recall as he has been monitoring the progress of the young Nigerians.


Liberia responsible for U.N. Peacekeepers’ attack – Ivory Coast

It is no news now that seven United Nations peacekeepers and two civilians plus one soldier were killed by gunmen in Ivory Coast but now the Ivory Coast defence minister has pointed accusing fingers at Liberia saying the attack sprung from Liberia, that the gunmen behind the attack were from neighbouring Liberia.

The defence Minister; Paul Koffi Koffi said on Saturday that to assure of proper security to curb a further attack like Friday’s, a cross-border operations has been started by the Ivorian troops and as of the release of his statement there has not  been any reaction from Liberia.

Earlier this week, New York-based Human Rights Watch warned that Liberian mercenaries and Ivorian fighters who fought on behalf of Gbagbo in the brief civil war last year were launching attacks on Ivory Coast from Liberia.

However, the United Nations has decided to reshuffle some of the troops who are in their thousands as there is now tension building the region which had a little stability since the end of the post-election violence months ago.

According to Koffi Koffi “These people came from the other side of the border. They are militias and mercenaries, and we must go to the other side of the border to establish a security zone. We will clean up and secure the zone. This will be done, of course, with the agreement of the two countries.”

Going back to the election period in the Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara won a 2010 election but only came to power after months of violence that killed thousands after incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede.

Liberia has denied accusations it is not doing enough to prevent the attacks.

After the incident on Friday, the U.N. Security Council “expressed their deep concern at the prevailing insecurity … and continued cross-border movements of armed elements, including militias and mercenaries”.

Nigerian recounts ordeal in hands of Charles Taylor’s army

A Nigerian, David Anyaele who lost both hands during the Sierra Leone-Liberia war, recounts the events that led to the war and the treatments of Nigerians by former Liberia President, Charles Taylor.

Mr Anyaele who spoke as a guest in Diplomatic Channels – A Channels Television programme, said that while he begged the rebels to spare his hands, the rebels insisted on chopping off both of his hands saying “it is only when the Nigerian government sees my two hands chopped off that they will know that we are serious.”

Hear his experience in video below:

Judges sentence Charles Taylor to 50 years imprisonment

Judges at an international war crimes court have sentenced former Liberian President Charles Taylor to 50 years in prison following his landmark conviction for supporting rebels in Sierra Leone who murdered thousands during their country’s brutal civil war in return for blood diamonds.

The Special Court for Sierra Leone found Taylor guilty last month on 11 charges of aiding and abetting the rebels who went on a bloody rampage during the decade-long war that ended in 2002 with more than 50,000 dead.

Presiding Judge Richard Lussick says the crimes Taylor was convicted of were of the “utmost gravity in terms of scale and brutality.”

The 64-year-old warlord-turned-president is the first former head of state convicted by an international war crimes court since World War II.

Court finds Charles Taylor guilty of war crimes

A United Nations-backed court convicted former Liberian president Charles Taylor of aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity, the first time a head of state has been found guilty by an international tribunal since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg.

Taylor, 64, had been charged with 11 counts of murder, rape, conscripting child soldiers and sexual slavery during intertwined wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone, during which more than 50,000 people were killed.

The first African leader to stand trial for war crimes, Taylor was accused of directing Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in a campaign of terror to plunder Sierra Leone’s diamond mines for profit and weapons trading.

“The accused is criminally responsible … for aiding and abetting in the crimes,” Presiding Judge Richard Lussick said as he read out the court’s decision.

Taylor was found guilty of providing weapons, food, medical supplies, fuel and equipment to forces in Sierra Leone which committed atrocities, but not of having ordered or planned the crimes.

“The trial chamber finds the accused cannot be held responsible for ordering the crimes… The trial chamber, having already found the accused guilty of aiding and abetting, does not find the accused also instigated these crimes,” the judge said.

Wearing a dark blue suit and maroon tie, Taylor looked calm and subdued as the presiding judge took more than two hours to read out the charges, evidence and final ruling.

The litany of gruesome crimes covered rapes and enslavement, beheadings and disembowellings, amputations and other mutilations carried out by child soldiers notorious for being high on drugs and dressed in fright wigs.

And in return for providing arms and ammunition for the conflict, the judge recounted how Taylor had received “blood diamonds” from Sierra Leone, including a 45-carat diamond and two 25-carat diamonds.

“Taylor’s conviction sends a powerful message that even those in the highest-level positions can be held to account for grave crimes,” Elise Keppler, senior counsel for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

“Not since Nuremberg has an international or hybrid war crimes court issued a judgment against a current or former head of state. This is a victory for Sierra Leonean victims, and all those seeking justice when the worst abuses are committed.”

Taylor has denied the charges, insisting he tried to bring peace to the region and arguing his trial was a politically motivated conspiracy by Western nations.

But the judge said that “the accused was publicly promoting peace, while privately providing arms to the RUF,” adding that “There was a constant flow … of diamonds from Sierra Leone to the accused, often in exchange for arms and ammunition.”

At the start of the hearing, Taylor seemed relaxed, waving at some people sitting in the public gallery, and separated from the windowless trial chamber by a thick pain of glass.

Later, as the presiding judge’s reading of the judgment appeared to swing against Taylor, the former president clasped his hands more tensely in front of him.


Dangote to open US$35M cement factory in Liberia

The President and Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Cement Nigeria PLC, Aliko Dangote on Friday his company is planning to infuse over US$35 million dollar into the Dangote Cement Liberia limited a subsidiary of the Dangote Cement PLC of Nigeria.

Speaking during the signing of the memorandum of understanding between the Liberia government and the company, held at the head office of the National Port Authority, in Monrovia on Friday, the Mr Dangote spoke highly of the interest his company has in helping to robustly boost the growth of the Liberian economy.

He also said that his company which is expected to start operation in the next six weeks will employ hundreds of Liberians, and other nationals.

He said that the parent company of Dangote Cement Liberia (Limited), Dangote Cement PLC Nigeria which was established in 1978 has to its credit over US$15 billion investment capital, and therefore, promised to infuse similar assets into the Liberian economy.

Signing on behalf of the Liberian Government, the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Matilda Wokie Parker welcomed Mr Dangote and his delegation to Liberia, and lauded the initiatives being applied by his company to come to Liberia and invest.

Speaking to reporters immediately after the signing ceremony, Mrs Parker said the NPA will play host to the operation of the new cement factory, noting, “We are glad to have this multimillion dollar company to begin operation here at the NPA.”

After the signing ceremony, Mr Dangote and his 5-man delegation including the Group Managing Director, Knurt Ulvmoen visited the Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The opening of a new cement factory in Liberia will bring to two the number of cement factories in Liberia. CEMENCO which is currently enjoying monopoly in the sector has been around for over fifty years.