Sacked NIMC Workers Shutdown National Assembly

Sacked workers of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) on Tuesday blocked the entrance into the National Assembly complex demanding their reinstatement.

The workers caused a vehicular gridlock, making it difficult for the workers of the National Assembly to get into their offices.

Attempts by members of the Senate Committee on National Population and Identity Card to appeal to the workers were rebuffed as they insisted on being addressed by the senate president.

The four thousand disengaged staff of NIMC said they came from various states of the country to protest their mass sack.

The protesters want lawmakers to influence the removal of the commission’s management whom they accuse of sacking them without following laid down procedures.

The all-day barricade disrupted legislative activities as the major entrances into the parliament remained blocked thereby leading to a two-kilometre traffic jam on the road into the complex.

The protesting workers who became unruly at some point also promised to return for a bigger showdown if their demands are not met.

University of Abuja Shut Down

The management of the University of Abuja on Monday shut down the institution following students’ protest.

The protesting students reportedly disrupted the second semester examination that was already underway and blocked the Abuja – Gwagwalada road and the main entrance to the University campus causing huge traffic congestion.

Soldiers and policemen are presently making attempts to restore law and order in the University  as at the time of filing in this report.

Some of the protesters, who spoke with Channels Television, said the problem started when students of the Faculty of Engineering protested the inability of the school authority to produce a time table for their examination; even when students in other faculties have started theirs.

This is not the first time in 2012 that the authority would have to shut down the University following students’ protest.

In April, the management of the institution closed the University after a violent protest by students resulted in a breakdown of law and order in the school community.

The students had protested against the suspension of four courses offered by the University

The Federal Government had suspended some courses including Medicine, Veterinary medicine, Engineering and Agriculture because the departments offering these courses have failed to get accreditation from the National Universities Commission.

Ex-militants protest non-payment of amnesty allowance in Abuja

Ex – militants on Wednesday staged a protest in Abuja over the non-payment of their amnesty allowance for the past two years.

The militants who alleged that they had been enrolled into the third phase of the Federal Governments amnesty programme claim that the government has not lived up to its promises to some of its members after laying down their arms.

A former militant, Alex Makaraba, who was among those in the protest said: “The government asked us to drop our guns for the third phase of the amnesty, that nobody should be with arms in the Niger Delta Region so that there will be peace. We’ve dropped all our guns; they gave us certificates and did accreditation. They promised us that very soon they are going to pay us and empower us.”

He said that after two years, the government is yet to fulfil its promise.

“If we are the people producing the oil, apart from the oil, you promise to give this people (the Niger Delta people) a better life, why are they delaying to pay us this our amnesty money of which everybody knows that we dropped our things (arms)?

“Those are things (guns) people use to eat. That is what they use to feed themselves,” Mr Makaraba said.

Reacting to the protest and demands of the ex-militants, the spokesperson of the amnesty office, Daniel Alabra dismissed their claims, saying that the third phase of the amnesty programme is yet to begin.

The amnesty programme was an initiative of late President Musa Yar’Adua. Through the programme, repentant Niger Delta militants were granted amnesty and empowered to be self-dependent. This according to the initiator of the programme will help to bring peace in the once troubled Niger Delta Region.

Army imposes curfew in Cairo district after clashes

Egypt’s army imposed an overnight curfew around the defence ministry in Cairo on Friday after protesters clashed with troops there during demonstrations against military rule and the exclusion of candidates from the presidential election.

A protester catches a tear gas canister thrown by security forces near Egypt's Defence Ministry May 4, 2012: REUTERS

The crowd hurled projectiles and insults at the soldiers sent to defend the ministry after 11 people were killed in fighting there on Wednesday, and called for the overthrow of the head of the ruling army council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

The army fired back water cannon then teargas and riot police surged towards the crowd with batons. Scores of wounded protesters were taken away on motorcycles and dozens of soldiers were injured.

“Field Marshal leave. The people are dangerous,” shouted the crowds, and “Raise your voice. Our revolution will not die.”

The street violence comes less than three weeks before an election that represents the first chance for Egyptians to freely choose their leader. A successful vote would mark the most important step in a messy transition to democracy since the overthrow of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak 15 months ago.

Last-minute changes to the line-up of contenders, bickering over a new constitution and suspicion that the military will continue wielding power after a new president is chosen are making for a chaotic backdrop to the campaign.

The troops pressed forward when protesters began cutting through barbed wire used to seal off the ministry building in Cairo’s central Abbasiya district.

Protesters ripped down a metal fence at an underground railway construction site to build a barricade. Some cried “God is Greatest” as army helicopters swooped overhead.

The teargas scattered the crowd far down the rock-strewn streets. Troops blocked off several streets between Abbasiya and central Cairo using armoured personnel carriers and some fired shots in the air.

The Health Ministry said 128 people were wounded, state news agency MENA reported. The injuries included teargas inhalation and cuts and bruises, some serious, and 82 people were taken to hospital.

“The crowd is coming here with sharp weapons. We have batons and water cannon and teargas to disperse them,” said one commander. “Some of them believe if they kill a soldier they will go to heaven. What do you expect us to do?”

VIOLENCE AFTER DARK

As dusk approached, gunfire rang out from the top of a mosque in Abbasiya. Army special forces climbed the minaret, brought down 10 people and drove them away.

The pro-democracy Sixth of April Youth movement said on its Facebook page its followers were withdrawing from the Abbasiya area because of the bloodshed.

Protesters regrouped closer to the town centre after dark, waiting to return to the defence ministry, and some threw rocks and stones at troops blocking their path, state media reported.

The one-night curfew will last from 11 p.m. local time (2100 GMT) to 7 a.m. on Saturday, the military council said in a statement read out on state television.

The army “calls on all citizens to adhere to this or the military will confront with determination those who try to violate it,” it said, vowing legal action against those responsible for the unrest.

Some election candidates suspended their campaigns on Wednesday after unidentified assailants fired at protesters camping near the defence ministry, starting clashes that the security forces seemed unable or unwilling to quell.

Many of those protesters were hardline Salafi Islamists upset that their candidate was ruled out of the vote, which begins on May 23 and 24 with a run-off in June.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which dominates parliament, saw its first choice disqualified too, handing a potential advantage to Mubarak-era contenders such as former foreign minister Amr Moussa and ex-prime minister Ahmed Shafiq.

Some Egyptians see the last-minute changes to the candidate line-up as proof the generals are trying to manipulate the vote.

“Remnants of Mubarak’s regime are not eligible to assume any power,” Hashem Islam, a sheikh from Egypt’s highest authority of Sunni Islam, Al-Azhar, told protesters at the defence ministry.

Several thousand Islamists, liberals and left-wing revolutionaries also massed on Friday in Tahrir Square, headquarters of the street movement that has transformed decades of tightly-controlled Egyptian politics.

Banners draped in Tahrir demanded implementation of a law banning figures from the Mubarak era from high office. Shafiq was briefly disqualified as a result of the law, but still found his way back into the final line-up of presidential candidates.

Members of the ruling military council on Thursday renewed a pledge to exit politics after handing power to the new president by mid-year. They said the handover could come earlier in the unlikely event that one candidate wins outright in the first round.

But tension between the army’s interim government and the Islamist-dominated parliament has left Egypt in a state of policy paralysis that is deepening an economic crisis caused by more than a year of political turmoil.

Mohamed el-Beltagy, a senior figure in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, said the violence since Wednesday was the result of a deliberate policy to draw an unpredictable reaction from protesters and delay Egypt’s political transition.

“This was done so that they (the authorities) could carry out emergency measures,” he said.

UPDATE: University of Abuja shut indefinitely

The University of Abuja has been shut indefinitely following protests by students of the school over the suspension of four non-accredited courses by the minister of education.

A statement signed by the registrar of the school Mohammed Modibbo however says the university was closed for students to go on Easter break with effect from Wednesday 4 April 2012. The statement advised students to vacate the hostels before 6pm.

Students of the University of Abuja had protested against the suspension of four courses run by the institution.

The Federal Government had on Tuesday suspended some courses in the university. These courses include Medicine, Veterinary medicine, Engineering and Agriculture.
The departments offering these courses have failed to get accredited by the National Universities Commission and many students have therefore been unable to graduate from them for years.

The protesting students have obstructed traffic on the expressway outside the permanent site and refused people access into the university. The expressway is one of the major entry routes into Abuja and also leads to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.

Traffic to and from Abuja on that axis has been halted.

 

 

 

 

Protests in Kano over army’s killing of motorcyclist

Protesters lit bonfires and marched through the northern city of Kano to protest the alleged shooting to death of a motorcyclist on Sunday by military officers deployed to counter Boko Haram Islamists in the state.

Mustapha Sani, 25, was shot in the head and chest by soldiers at a checkpoint outside a bus terminus, an eye witnesses said.

Around 100 protesters took over the Silver Jubilee roundabout in the centre of the northern city and marched through the streets, burning tyres and pelting soldiers with stones Agency report said.

They called for the dismantling of military checkpoints in the city and the soldiers made no attempt to stop the protesters.

“This lawlessness is getting out of hand, we are tired of soldiers and policemen killing and molesting innocent residents they are deployed to protect,” a protester who identified himself s Haruna said.

“We live between the fear of Boko Haram attack and military and police bullets, it is unbearable,” said Laminu Zakari, another protester.

The soldiers manning the checkpoints drove off in two military vans to avoid clashes.

Residents have complained of harassment and extortion by security personnel at checkpoints that dot the city following the January 20 coordinated Boko Haram bomb and gun attacks that killed 185 people.

Military authorities in Kano were not available for comment as the spokesman of the special military unit in the city did not respond to inquiries by reporters.