Boko Haram Plans To Attack Abuja Targets – US Warns

The United States of America has warned of an imminent Boko haram attack in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.

The US Embassy in Nigeria made this known in an emergency message, urging its citizens resident or doing business in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to be security conscious.

The U.S. government said information at its disposal points in the direction of terror attacks by the Boko Haram sect.

According to the Embassy, the attackers have as likely targets hotels frequently visited by Westerners.

It, however, disclosed that there is no additional information about the exact timing of the planned attacks.

“We advise all U.S. citizens to review their personal security plans, remain aware of their surroundings, including local events, monitor local news stations for updates, and report specific incidences of targeted violence to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja or the U. S. Consulate General in Lagos…..Read Full Story Here

 

Vatican Priest Pledges To Advocate For Gay Rights, Expelled By Pope Francis

VaticanGayPriestThe Vatican, on Saturday, sacked a senior priest, Krzysztof Charamsa, who, on the eve of a major meeting of church leaders to discuss the Church’s stance on social issues such as divorce and homosexuality, publicly declared to be gay.

The embattled 43-year-old priest has, however, pledged to dedicate his life to advocacy for gay rights, saying, “I’m out of the closet, and I’m very happy about that. I want to be an advocate for all sexual minorities and their families who have suffered in silence.”

The Vatican in a statement by a spokesman for Pope Francis described the Polish priest’s action as “very serious and irresponsible.”

In the statement, the Vatican noted that he would be immediately sacked from his post as a theologian in the Vatican.

The statement read, “The decision to make such a pointed statement on the eve of the opening of the synod appears very serious and irresponsible, since it aims to subject the synod assembly to undue media pressure.”

Charamsa, who is a mid-level official in the Vatican bureaucracy’s dealing with church doctrine, flanked by his Spanish boyfriend while donning his priest’s collar, on Saturday, had earlier told a news conference in Rome that he was compelled to speak out against the “hypocrisy and paranoia” that he said had shaped the Church’s attitude to sexual minorities.

The fired priest had presented a 10-point “liberation manifesto” against “institutionalised homophobia in the Church,” which he said particularly oppressed the gay men who, according to him, make up the majority of priests.

He also revealed plans for a book about his 12 years at the heart of a Vatican bureaucracy, only just recovering from a scandal under previous Pope Benedict XVI over the influence of a “gay lobby” among senior clergy.

 

FG Unveils Take-off of High Speed Train from Abuja to Lagos

  *Full operation from Abuja to Kaduna begins in March

Nigerians who often feel unsafe in Nigeria’s airspace and yet cannot endure a nine-hour road trip between Lagos and Abuja, have received cheery news from the federal government who announced the planned take-off of a three-hour high-speed train project between the two cities.

Announcing this in Abuja on Wednesday, the Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, disclosed the federal government’s partnership arrangements with private firms within and outside Nigeria towards the commencement of the project.

Umar made this disclosure at the public presentation of a book, “Showcasing Goodluck Jonathan’s Monumental Strides: A Third Party Perspective,” authored by the Director-General of  Citizens Network For Peace and Development in Nigeria,  Mr. Dressmann Preye.

According to Umar who also said the Abuja-Kaduna rail project would commence full operation next month, the federal government equally carried out a number of feasibility studies with the plan to construct more standard gauge lines across the country.

He disclosed that the government had also successfully completed feasibility studies in seven new corridors including, the Abuja-Lagos high speed train adding that different private firms within and outside Nigeria have expressed interests in the project.

The project, largely expected to be private sector-driven, according Umar, would formally take-off in 2018,

“The consultants who carried out the feasibility studies have submitted their reports. Part of the report contains the involvement of the private sector to drive the project. This is because we want to develop these lines under a public, private partnership arrangements.

“We have already received a lot of expression of interests even ahead of advertisement for the purpose from various companies in the country and indeed, in other countries of the world.

“The idea is that, if we have this in place, the trains can move from Abuja to Lagos and from Lagos to Abuja in a maximum of three hours. We are intending to compete favourably with other transportation systems in carrying passengers from Abuja to Lagos.

“When fully actualised, a train will leave Abuja to Lagos and Lagos to Abuja, every hour. The feasibility studies had been completed, it is not a question of story. The trains will start running within the next three years, say by 2018.”

He further explained that the federal government had completed the rehabilitation of western rail lines through the administration’s revivalist strategy in the rail transport sector, insisting that Jonathan’s government is working towards the completion of the eastern line.

He said: “At the moment, the trains are moving from Port Harcourt all the way to Gombe – a distance of over 1, 000 kilometres but as soon as the security situation improves around Borno State, we will complete the line from Gombe to Maiduguri.

“While that is going on, we have constructed the standard gauge from Abuja to Kaduna. We have completed the laying of the track and very soon, President Goodluck Jonathan will inaugurate it and by March this year, we are going to commence full operation on that line.

“We have placed orders for the procurement of locomotives and coaches that we are going to deploy on the track. It is a standard gauge. The trains can move on an average speed of 150 kilometres per hour.

“That means that in a maximum of one and half hours, you can leave Kaduna for Abuja and from Abuja to Kaduna by rail. It is the first standard gauge to be completed fully in the whole of West Africa.”

He used the forum to drum support campaign for the re-election of the president for another term of four years, saying his re-election, would offer him the full fledged opportunity to complete the projects in the works.

Also speaking at the occasion, Preye, the author of the book, said the contents were drawn by a team of independent media practitioners as well as representatives of civil society organisations whom he said carried out an on-the-spot assessment of all projects executed by Jonathan’s government.

“I am convinced that this book, will serve not only as a research material but also, a proof that the transformation agenda is working and is yielding fruits,” he claimed.

In his submission, the book reviewer,  Dr. Casimir Anyanwu,  accompanied by his wife, Senator Chris Anyanwu, said the book embodied the landmark achievements of Jonathan’s government in 15 critical sectors of the economy.

Such areas where he said federal government’s footprints had been visible were macro-economic management strategies; trade and Investment policies; infrastructure development; agricultural transformation;  oil and gas industry reforms; power and renewable energy;  education and health reforms, among others.

(ThisDay)

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Jonathan’s Successor: My Advise To Northern Nigeria By Ahmadu Ali

The Director General of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Organisation, Ahmadu Ali says the Fulani socio-cultural group – Miyyetti Allah, the Yoruba socio cultural groups – Afenifere, and Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) have all endorsed the re-election bid of President Jonathan.

Ali said this at the campaign rally of the PDP on Saturday in Kaduna.

“We should tell ourselves the truth, Miyetti Allah, Afenifere and OPC have endorsed President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election”.

He said the North should start grooming a non-dictatorial leader who is between the ages of 40-50 to take over from President Jonathan in 2019.

“I want to tell my fellow Northerners to start grooming a 40-50 year-old candidate that President Goodluck Jonathan will hand over power to in 2019 and not a dictatorial leader who attempted to kidnap my friend late Umaru Dikko. Is that the person you want to vote for? God forbid!” Ali said.

Ahmed Makarfi, a serving Senator, in his remarks said the PDP “will use our power of persuasion to ensure that, PDP is voted on the 14th and 28th of this month.

“I assure you that by this persuasion and consultations by the Vice President, the governor, many stakeholders and I will deliver Kaduna state to PDP,” he added.

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Presidential Debate: APC Shields Buhari’s Intellectual Laziness, Says Jonathan *Charges APC ‘Prove You’re a Party of Progressive Intellectuals At Debate’

The Presidential Campaign Organisation of President Goodluck Jonathan has accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of stopping its presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari from participating in a presidential debate being organised by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) as a means of shielding the intellectual laziness and inability of the former military dictator to constructively engage contemporary national issues in a live television and radio debate from Nigerians and the international audience.

Jonathan who spoke through the Director of Media and Publicity of his Campaign Organisation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, stated that the APC knows that General Buhari will flunk it if he is subjected to the rigours of debate on national issues relating to governance and development.

Jonathan’s Campaign body said it was aware that the APC had already expressed its concerns, when approached by an international news channel for a debate, about the intellectual acumen of General Buhari, and had assured the news channel that it was only comfortable with its vice presidential candidate, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, who has capacity to feature brilliantly on the programme.

“We have just read a report in the media credited to the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation that the party would not allow its candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari, to participate in the radio and television presidential debate organised by the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON).

“The APC accused the organisers of the debate of unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme against the corporate political interest of the party and its candidates.

“Whilst we will not bother ourselves with the many reasons adduced by the APC, we wish to state that we see the APC decision as an attempt to shield its presidential candidate from displaying his intellectual laziness and inability to constructively engage contemporary national issues in a live television and radio debate.

“We had envisaged that the APC would be reluctant to expose General Buhari to the rigours of a live television debate because the opposition party knows that its candidate will flunk it.

“If the APC truly believes that it is ‘a party of progressive intellectuals’, as it claims it should allow General Buhari to prove that at the debate.

“Should the APC fail to participate in the debate, it would also show the disdain both the party and its candidate have for the Nigerian people, denying them the opportunity to make informed choices on the basis of what each candidate will articulate as propositions on issues that will be raised.

“We are convinced that General Buhari does not have what it takes to sustain a coherent argument on germane issues of governance and development.

“We challenge General Buhari to a debate on any national and international medium of mass communication and our candidate, President Goodluck Jonathan will be ready to participate.

“On the other hand, President Jonathan’s running mate, Vice President Namadi Sambo, is also ready to participate in the debate and any other debate.

“Our presidential candidate and his running mate will not raise flimsy and escapist excuses such as “unhidden bias” and the like, since we believe that they are well-rounded intellectuals who have been prepared by their experience in office to answer any question under the sun on the governance of our nation.”, Jonathan Campaign group noted.

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Boko Haram: Arrested General Ransome-Kuti, Other Officers May Be Court Martialed Over Baga Attack

Nigerian military authorities have come down heavily on suspected senior military officers sabotaging counter-terrorism operations in the country as over 10 senior officers, including a Brigadier-General, have been arrested and are currently telling the military hierarchy what they know about a recent attack carried out by the Islamic insurgent group, Boko Haram.

The officers may be charged before a military tribunal as soon as investigation into their complicity or otherwise is completed.

According to the Director of Defence Information, Major-General Chris Olukolade, the investigation of senior army officers follows alleged shirking their responsibilities during the attack by the militants on Baga.

Those arrested so far include Brigadier-General Enitan Ransome-Kuti, his Chief of Staff Lt. Colonel G.A Suru, the Commanding Officer of 134 and 174 battalions, Lt. Colonel Haruna and one Major aliyu.

The two Nigerian Army battalions are under the Multi-National Task Joint Task Force (MNJTF) in Baga, attacked by the insurgents.

Speaking on the arrest, General Olukolade said that the arrested officers were being investigated because at the time of the attack on the multinational headquarters in Baga, Brigadier-General Ransome-Kuti and his men were fully in charge of the military formation.

He said it was disappointing that the attack on Baga was not repelled by both battalions, despite having the necessary weapons to carry out the necessary operations.

On January 3, 2015, suspected members of Boko Haram attacked the base of the Multinational Task Force in Baga, Borno State, dislodging the soldiers there.

Reports say the troops were warned to be on alert following intelligence reports that terrorists would strike between January 22 and January 25.

Eyewitnesses, Channels Tv reports, said that the attack started around 5am when residents started hearing gunshots as the insurgents tried to gain entrance into the MNJTF premises.

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FG Reduces Fuel Price to N87 Per Litre

The Federal Government of Nigeria has announced the reduction of the fuel price of petrol from N97 per litre to N87 per litre.

The Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, said at a press conference at the presidential villa, Abuja, that the new price regime would take effect immediately.

Mrs. Alison-Madueke said the N10 reduction in fuel price was necessitated by the reduction in crude oil prices in the international market.

The Trade Union Congress [TUC] had earlier on January 5 asked the government  to take advantage of the falling oil prices to reduce retail prices of petroleum products.

The TUC had argued that the best time to review the retail pump price of petrol was now, in line with the argument put forward by government in 2012 when the price was adjusted from N70 per litre to N97.

Details later

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#NigeriaDecides 2015: US Top Think-tank, Brookings, Tips Jonathan to Win, say APC is a Fragile Anti-Jonathan Setup

Brookings, the World’s most influential think-tank based in the United States, have projected a President Jonathan victory over the opposition candidate’s General Buhari in the 2015 Elections which it suggests would be keenly contested.
President-Obama-Delivers-Speech-Economy-Brookings
The analysis, context and rationale of the think-tank’s projections is contained in the Brookings publication titled: Foresight Africa – Top Priorities for the continent (January 2015).

“Though the election is expected to be very competitive, the odds still favor President Jonathan.’

According to Brookings, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is a fragile anti-jonathan establishment with a sole purpose to return power to the north.
goodluck-jonathan
“The party is, however, a fragile one that seems united only in its quest to wrest the presidency from Jonathan or to have power “returned” to the north”

“The APC gets much of its strength from tap- ping into anti-Jonathan sentiments in the Muslim north and grievances among the Yoruba who feel that the Jonathan administration has ignored them in key political appointments.”

The Report also indicated that the APC’s strategy is hinged on a combination of popular votes from the North West, North East and “the battleground SouthWest” but also hinted at the possibility of Bola Ahmed Tinubu not delivering the region contrary to speculations.

“What remains to be seen, however, is whether Bola Tinubu—a former governor of Lagos State who played a pivotal role in the formation of the APC and is considered to be the party’s strongest mobilizer in the southwest—will be very enthusiastic in delivering the battleground southwest to the APC during the elections.”

“Tinubu indicated his interest in being the party’s vice presidential candidate but being a Muslim like Buhari, the party’s strategists felt that a Muslim-Muslim ticket might offend Christians and cement the PDP’s labeling of the APC as an Islamic party.”

On President Jonathan’s performance: “despite Boko Haram—the country is thriving: The economy continues to grow and—with the re- basing of its GDP—became the largest economy in Africa and the 26th largest in the world. Jonathan’s supporters also point to his success in containing the Ebola virus, which earned him commendations from countries and institutions around the world.”

The Brookings Report also identified factors such as incumbency and numerical control of States where PDP has 21 States and APC only 14 as giving PDP an edge.

“The greatest strength of the ruling PDP is its “power of incumbency,” and all the institutional support that goes with it. Not only does it have federal resources to use as patronage, it also controls key institutions”

The report advised that all efforts should be deployed to ensure a free, fair and transparent elections and to avoid a meltdown as post-election violence seems very likely.

“Post-election violence is therefore likely in the north if the APC loses while renewed militancy in the restive Niger Delta is likely if Jonathan does.” the report noted.

(THEWILL)

#NigeriaDecides: Buhari is Clueless About How To Revive Economy, Can’t Remember His Phone Number, Says Jonathan

So Clueless? Can you imagine?

Pa Buhari can’t remember his phone number –Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan on Friday during a rally in Enugu said that the All Progressives Congress candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd), cannot remember his own mobile phone number.

Jonathan, whose unscripted address was mostly a response to previous statements made by Buhari, accused the APC presidential candidate of deceiving Nigerians by promising to revive the economy without explaining how he would achieve the feat.

The President wondered how Buhari would develop the country’s economy, a feat he could not achieve while he was in office as head of state between 1983 and 1985.

“Is it now that Buhari cannot even remember his own phone number that he can change the economy of the country.” Jonathan asked.

The Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate said that although he did not like to “go personal during campaigns,” “sometimes circumstances demand that certain things must be said.”

Jonathan said that Buhari belonged to the medieval age, adding that he (the APC candidate) intended to run the Federal Government as a medieval king.

He said, “We cannot run the government as if we are in the medieval age; we cannot run a government where somebody said he would throw people into jail.

“You are not a medieval king – a medieval king can throw you into jail but we have to follow the rule of law because we cannot go back to the old days.”

Jonathan, however, read the speech made by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (rtd.) after overthrowing Buhari’s regime through a military coup on August 27, 1985 to justify his claim that the APC candidate does not keep his promises.

Babangida, in the portions of the address read by Jonathan, justified Buhari’s overthrow by pointing out that the latter did not live up to the promises he made to Nigerians when he ousted a democratically elected civilian government headed by Alhaji Shehu Shagari in a military coup.

Noting that Buhari “deceived Nigerians” from 1983 to 1985, Jonathan quoted Babangida as saying, “The initial objectives of Buhari’s intervention were betrayed as there was a general deterioration of standard of living in the country.”

The PDP candidate also pointed out that Babangida accused Buhari of being “too rigid in his attitude to national issues” and “became alienated from the people” in the course of his stay in power.

He, therefore, challenged Buhari to tell Nigerians how he intends to revive the economy.

Jonathan said, “They are telling young Nigerians that they are going to change the economy but they have not told us how they want to manage the economy more than us.

“If they say they want to change agriculture, they should tell us the weak links in the agriculture value chain and what they want to do about it.

“I said in Lagos that I want to work with young people, not to deceive people.

“I am not going to run the government based on my habits, I am going to run the government according to global best practices.”

Jonathan also insisted that he was committed to the campaign against corruption.

“There is no government that has fought corruption more than we do,” he said, noting that some previous administrations pretended to be fighting corruption while oppressing their enemies.

He recalled that Buhari jailed some prominent Igbo politicians while in office as head of state, including former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme and former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo.

Stressing that Buhari jailed politicians on trumped up charges, Jonathan said, “You can no longer carry people and put them in prison for 301 years.”

The President equally accused Buhari of having a wrong idea of corruption.

According to him, Buhari believes that every wealthy Nigerian is corrupt.

He said, “If a Nigerian businessman has a private jet, then you are corrupt but if a South African has a private jet then you commend him.

“If you have a good house, then you are corrupt, if you have a good car then you are corrupt – that is his definition of corruption.”

Jonathan accused his opponent of making spurious claims against him.

The President said, “They are saying that government is corrupt but they are not telling us what they are going to do to stop corruption. Let them go back to their consultants to coach them, then I will listen to them.

“They should tell us how they are going to manage the economy better than we do.

“They are saying we stole foreign reserves, nobody can steal foreign reserves – spurious allegations.”

He also reiterated his claim that Buhari did not equip the military while he was the head of state.

Jonathan said that he had done more than his predecessors to shore up the country’s defence.

“For 30 years, we had only one frigate, now we have four additional frigates,” he said.

In the same vein, he pointed out that Buhari did not find any woman worthy enough for appointment when he was the military head of state.

The President asked Nigerians to assess him and Buhari by looking at how they performed during their respective periods in office.

He said, “They have deceived us before and they want to deceive us again.

“Go and find out whether these people are deceiving you or are telling you the truth.

“People are assessing me because I have run this country for some years – they have run this country for two years.

“They came with promises but immediately they came in, what they did was to jail Jim Nwobodo for 201 years.”

PUNCH

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Ihejirika Sues Australian Negotiator, Davies, Over Allegation of Boko Haram Sponsorship

A former Chief of Army Staff, Azubuike Ihejirika, has instituted a suit at the Abuja High Court against the Australian hostage negotiator, Stephen Davies, who accused him of sponsoring Boko Haram insurgency in the North East Nigeria.
Australian-Negotiator-Stephen-Davis-1
In the suit filed by his team of lawyers, Nnoruka Udechukwu, C.U. Ilegbune, and Ben Anechebe, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, Ihejirika is demanding N100 billion as aggravated damages for defamation.

Davies had in August accused the retired general, a former governor of Borno State, Ali Modu Sheriff, an unnamed senior official of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, as well as a man based in Cairo, Egypt, of being among the top sponsors of the Islamic insurgents.

The former army chief has denied the allegation.

Ihejirika, who retired military service in January, said that as a result of the allegation, “he has suffered ‎grievous wrong and he has been exposed to scandal, odium, ridicule, humiliation and his character, credit and reputation brought into disrepute, both in Nigeria and abroad”.

His lawyers have applied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enable them serve Mr. Davis, who lives in Perth, Australia, with the court’s processes after securing an order of court to serve the process abroad.

Nigeria and Australia are members of the Commonwealth of Nations and a special procedure has to be followed when serving court processes on defendant residing in a country that is a member of the group other than the country where the writ is issued.

Ihejirika, apart from the N100 billion damages, is also asking for an order of perpetual injunction restraining Mr. Davis or his agents from further making comments that are defamatory about him.

He is also seeking an order for the Australian to immediately publish a full and unreserved retraction and apology in the front page of THISDAY Newspaper for making a false malicious and libelous publication.

Ihejirika said that he served the military meritoriously before retiring and that he had a successful and ‎unblemished career in the army.

Ihejirika said, “On or about the 28th day of August 2014, the Defendant granted a Multimedia and Television interview broadcast to AriseTv‎, which aired in Nigeria, particularly in Abuja, and subsequently published by numerous newspapers and media houses; wherein the defendant when asked during the AriseNews segment of the interview to name the sponsors of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, falsely and maliciously spoke of the plaintiff in the following words, to wit:

“’There is the former Chief of Army Staff, retired January, or actually sacked by the President he is another sponsor. I could give you the names if you like but I have no fear that these were very confident and it is in fact Boko Haram senior commanders who have been naming them.’”

The retired general stated that the spoken words and publication in their ordinary meaning were ‎understood by reasonable members of the society who listened/watched ‎ the said AriseNews broadcast in Abuja to mean that he sponsored Boko Haram, a terrorist sect to wage war, insurrection or insurgency against Nigeria.

Ihejirika said the publication suggested that he was sacked by President Goodluck Jonathan even though he retired and had not committed any offence.

He also said those who listened to the broadcast had the belief that he did not conduct himself in accordance with the oath of allegiance and service as a soldier and senior office in the army.

The former army chief, in the affidavit he deposed to, said he had been exposed to scandal, odium, ridicule, humiliation while his character, credit and reputation had been brought into disrepute, both in Nigeria and abroad

Obama Immigration Action Unconstitutional, Judge Declares

President Barack Obama’s new plan to ease the threat of deportation for 4.7 million undocumented immigrants violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge found on Tuesday, handing down the first legal ruling against the plan.

*President Barack Obama
*President Barack Obama

The ruling, according to a report by Reuters, has no immediate impact, with the government saying there was no reason for Judge Arthur Schwab of the Western District of Pennsylvania to address the issue in the case, which concerns 42-year-old Honduran immigrant Elionardo Juarez-Escobar.

Schwab is the first judge to rule on the legality of the plan Obama announced on Nov. 20.

The executive action by the Democratic president is opposed by Republicans and is already subject to other legal challenges.

Schwab ruled that the executive action violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of separation of powers and the separate “take care clause,” which requires the president to faithfully execute laws passed by Congress.

Schwab says he ruled on the executive action issue because he concluded that Juarez-Escobar could be eligible for relief under the executive action.

Government lawyers told Schwab that Juarez-Escobar, who has pleaded guilty to re-entering the country, was not eligible because Obama’s order does not affect criminal proceedings.
(Reuters)

France Owns Military Hardware Aboard Chad-bound Russian Plane Detained in Nigeria – Ambassador

The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Jacques Champagne de Labriolle, has issued a statement about the Chad-bound aircraft detained by Nigerian authorities at the Aminu Kano Airport in Kano.
Grounded-Chad-bound-plane
In the statement, the ambassador admitted his country chartered the Russian aircraft to help it convey some military hardware from Bangui (Central African Republic) to Ndjamena (Niger).

He, however, said there were no arms and ammunition aboard the plane, contrary to earlier reports on the matter.

The embassy said: “A Russian commercial plane carrying two light Gazelle helicopters belonging to the French Army has unexpectedly landed in Kano on Saturday December 6th, early in the afternoon.

The embassy explained that “On 6 December, the French armed forces had chartered a flight on the Russian commercial company “224 Flight Unit”, to ship 2 light helicopters from Bangui to Ndjamena. The shipment is organized as the size of the French military intervention in CAR is being reduced, as was earlier announced by the French Authorities.

“The cargo airplane, an Antonov 124, had a regular flight plan from Bangui to Ndjamena ; the flight was covered by a diplomatic clearance given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The freight consisted of 2 ‘’Gazelle’’ helicopters (a 4 seater light liaison helicopter) with spare-parts and maintenance items. 2 French military non-commissioned officers escorted the equipment as passengers.

“As the Antonov was approaching Ndjamena, the air traffic conditions were too dense to authorize the landing of the aircraft ; and the Antonov had to divert to an alternate international airport. The closest airport facility being Kano, the Russian crew decided to fly there, to refuel, and to take off again to reach Ndjamena Airport.

“Due to the nationality of the aircraft, and the nature of the cargo, local airport Nigerian authorities in Kano have decided to check the flight plan, the clearance and the cargo manifest before authorizing the plane to leave. Official information has been supplied by the French Embassy in Nigeria.

“The Nigerian federal and airport authorities, being satisfied with the documents and the genuine character of the flight, have announced that the plane will be authorized to pursue its flight to Ndjamena.”

Contrary to some press reports, that former Governor of Borno State, Ali Modu-Sheriff was secretly negotiating for the release of the weapons in the grounded plane, there was absolutely no weapon, and no ammunition on board the aircraft.

The use of chartered flights of various nationalities for military cargo transport is a standard international practice : it is used by many nations, and is coherent with commercial competition to reduce the cost of such transport operations. The use of Russian companies to transport French military equipment is common practice.

As for the move of the helicopters between CAR and Chad, it is part of the French effort to support regional cooperation against terrorism, as agreed by the Heads of State of Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon during the security Summit held in Paris in May, 2014.”

2015: Full Text of President Goodluck Jonathan’s Declaration Speech

PRESIDENT-GOODLUCK-JONATHAN-ADDRESSING-HIS-SUPPORTERS-DURING-THE-DECLARATION
Below is the full text of president Jonathan’s declaration speech today Nov. 11 at the Eagle’s Square

GEJ_Declaration
Dear Compatriots:

1. Four years ago, precisely September 18, 2010; I stood in this Eagle Square, to offer myself for election as the President of our beloved country on the platform of our great party; the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

2. Seven months after that declaration, you elected me to lead this country with overwhelming support from all parts of our Nation. I remain grateful for the trust you reposed in me to lead our Nation through uncommon challenges in our march of progress as a united and democratic country.

3. Over the years, the Almighty God has made it possible for me to develop a bond with you and I am grateful for your support and understanding in the difficult periods we have journeyed through.

4. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our stewardship has not been without challenges. We have had to deal with the wave of insurgency that has swept through some parts of our dear country. Only yesterday, Government Science Secondary School in YobeState was bombed by insurgents, killing our promising young children who were seeking education to build the country and support their parents. Many Nigerians have lost their lives and property to these mindless killings. Let me crave the indulgence of all present here to stand up to observe a minutes silence in honour of these young lads wholost their lives. Clearly, this has cast a dark cloud on our Nation but we will surely win the war against terror. A number of young men and women have been kidnapped by these criminal elements including our daughters from Chibok. We will free our daughters and defeat terrorism.

5. We are equipping the armed forces and deploying special forces to engage the terrorist and end this senseless war. We must protect our country. We must save our people. I will do everything humanly possible to end this criminal violence in our Nation.

6. To ensure the long term stability and development of the affected areas, government has launched three programmes: The Presidential Initiative for the North East, the Victim Support Fund and the Safe School Initiative. The Presidential Initiative for the Northeastis focused on improving infrastructure and economic growth in the region. The Safe School Initiative is centred on creating a safe environment to encourage our children in the communities to acquire education. The Victim Support Fund, a partnership with the Private Sector, has raised about 60 billion Naira, which will help to empower and rehabilitate victims of terror. I promise the victims of these dastardly acts that we will continue to stand with you.

7. I am grateful to all Nigerians for standing with me.

8. Let me also thank the leaders and elders of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party, for the opportunity you have given to me to serve our country, Nigeria.

9. I am overwhelmed by the trust, confidence and support of the various organs of our party, the Board of Trustees, the National Caucus, the National Executive Committee, the National Working Committee, the PDP Governors Forum, members of the PDPCaucuses of the National Assembly, and others.

10. This day affords me the opportunity to continue the conversation of development we started together.

11. Infrastructure has been a major focus area of my administrationand so, we pursued the power sector reform to this point of irreversible progress. Nigeria has undertaken a most transparent and corruption free bidding process, attracting global commendation. The on-going 450MW Azura Power Plant in Edo State is a testimony to the success of this transformation.
12. We have also resumed development of our Hydro-Power potential, with the construction of the 700MW Zungeru Hydro-Power Plant, while construction work on the 3,050MW Mambilla Hydro-Power Plant is about to take off.

13. Our power generation and distribution companies have now been privatized. We are firmly on the road to guaranteed regular power supply in the months ahead. This our bold move, is paying off!

14. We are committed to environmental protection and conservation and reducing vulnerability to climate change. In this regard, we have embarked on a number of projects across the country. Of particular note is the AfricanGreat Green Wall Programmed, where we have released about 16 billionnaira for implementation. The project will create a green belt across 11 states from Kebbi to Borno.

15. In the past three and half years, the water sector has witnessed unprecedented improvement. Access to potable water is now 67%, up from 58% in 2010, while sanitation coverage is 41%, from 32% within the same period.

16. Major developments in water include the completion of 37 Dams and rehabilitation of 10, with several others on-going construction. The flagship Kashimbila Multipurpose Dam which is being built to contain flood from Lake Nyos, is now at 90% completion. We have also completed about 5,000 rural and semi urban water schemes.

17. We are reforming the National Urban Water supply programmes in 12 states, with 385 formal and informal irrigation projects, covering a total land area of 118000 ha, cultivated mostly by small holder farmers. This has yielded over 3 million metric tons of assorted grains and vegetables, with a market value of about 45billion naira.

18. Before the advent of this administration, the Railway system was practically dead. Today, we have revived the rail sector. The narrow gauge line from Lagos to Kano has been rehabilitated with improved coaches providing regular services. The rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Maidugurirail line is progressing with the Port Harcourt-Gombe segment as well as the branch line from Kafanchan to Kaduna expected to be completed and fully operational by December 2014.

19. Already, work on the Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge rail line, is progressing. The tracks of the rail line will be completed by December this year 2014. Upon completion of the project in the first quarter of 2015, itwill be possible for Nigerians to live in Kaduna and work in Abuja. The Itape-Ajaokuta-Wari standard gauge line has attained an advanced stage, with the track completely laid. We hope to commence full operation before the end of 2015.

20. Other segments of the new standard gauge speed train network are planned with contract already awarded for the Lagos –Ibadan Segment. There will be more of such modern and faster rail connections in the coming years. Already, discussions are now at advanced stage, for the Coastal rail line that will traverse through 10 states, from Lagos through the South-Southand South-East, all the way to Calabar.

21. My administration has successfully completed the dredging of the lower River Niger from Baro in Niger State to Warriin in Delta State. The cheering news is that over 6.7 million passengers and over 1.6 million tonnes of cargo have been moved through this channel in less than three years.

22. I am happy to also report that our ports now operate 24 hour service, which has led to the reduction of clearing time and improved efficiency.

23. When I assumed office in 2010, out of the 35,000km of federal roads nationwide, only about 5,000km were motorable. Today, that number has increased to about 25,000km. We expect to complete the remaining 10,000kmin three years while initiating new ones.

24. I made a commitment to build two new major bridges across the River Niger and River Benue. Today, the new bridge over the River Benue, connecting Loko in Nassarawa State to Oweto in Benue State has reached an advance stage of completion, while work has commenced on the Second Niger Bridge.

25. Beyond these, my administration has concluded plans to re-commence the construction of Bodo-Bonny Road with three major bridges on the alignment that will link the Island of Bonny with Rivers mainland.

26. Preliminary works have started on my administration’s planned re-construction and expansion of the MurtalaMuhammed International Airport Road in Lagos to a world class entry point into our country. Only a few months ago, work started on the dualization of Kano-Katsina Road. While many Nigerians are celebrating the marked improvements on our roads, I want to assure that it will get even better as we move forward.

27. In the pursuit of an integrated transportation system, we embarked on the construction of five new Airport Terminal Buildings and Air-field facilities. We are alsore-constructing existing ones.The re-construction upon completion, will lead to improved passenger processing, increased cargo handling capacity and enhancedAir-field facilities that meet international standard and improves safety. These efforts have been met with global acknowledgement including the attainment and retention of the FAA Category One status.

28. In housing, we signed the National Housing Policy to kick-start the framework for providing more affordable homes for our people. We have also expanded the National Housing Fund to accommodate more Nigerians. We have started a revolution in the housing sector with the start of theNigerianMortgage and Refinanced Company(NMRC) a new initiative of my administration, that will enable more citizens in the lower income bracket to become first time home owners.

29. Our partners such as the World Bank group are supporting this with US300million dollars interest free credit, while my administration will back it with over 100billion naira in bonds. We are already processing 66,000 mortgage applications for our young people. We have amended the PENCOM Act to enable thepension funds invest inhousing sector bonds. This will create a boom in the housing sector.

30. In the Federal Capital Territory, we are rapidly building a befitting National Capital by expanding and providing new infrastructure, developing ten new districts and Satellite Towns to cater for the ever increasing population. In no distant future, you will be able to arrive at the NnamdiAzikiwe International Airport and proceed to the city using the Abuja Light Rail. In addition to providing durable health, educational and transportation services, we are also collaborating with Organized Labour to build functional, affordable and social housing in Abuja.

31. Other critical capital developments that are being packaged by this Administration include the development of the Ultra-Modern World Trade Centre, the Abuja Town Centre, the Jabi Lake Comprehensive Centre, the Centenary City and the Land Swap Districts. This private sector driven infrastructural development will positively change the skyline of the city and provide the required office and residential accommodation, shopping and recreation as well as tourism and entertainment facilities of the FCT.

32. In our determination to encourage much greater participation of Nigerians in the oil and gas industry, one of the first actions I took, was the enactmentof the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act. As a result of this law, indigenous Nigerian participation levels, in upstream and downstream activities of the oil and gas industry have increased by over 45%, thereby increasing employment opportunities for our youth.

33. We have also succeeded in eliminating the long queues that previously characterisedour filling stations, through regular and sustained product supply.

34. Gas infrastructure to ensure adequate Gas to Power and Gas to Industry, is being aggressively put in place.Over 450km of gas pipelines have been installed over the last 3years. Another 2,000km is planned over the next 4years. Critical petrochemical andfertilizerfacilities have commenced including thegas industrial park in Delta State, for which I am scheduled to perform the ground-breaking this Friday. This will create millionsof jobs and make Nigeria a regional hub.

35. In addition, as a result of government favourable policies the private sector is investing over 12 billion dollars in the petrochemical sector, over the next 4years. This will surely create millions of jobs for our people.

36. In terms of gas supply, we have grown from less than500million cubic feet per day, 4years ago, to about1.5 billion cubic feet per day currently. Our goal is to attain 4 billion cubic feet per day, over the next 4years.

37. We have changed the face of agriculture. We moved agriculture away from a development Programme to agriculture as a business. My vision is to create wealth for our people through agriculture.

38. We have focused on encouraging the private sector to boost investments in the agricultural sector. As a result, the number of seed companies rose from five to eighty in the past three years. Private sector investment in the agricultural sector expanded by $ US 5.6 billion across the Agricultural value chain.

39. We ended decades of corruption in the fertilizer and seed sectors. We developed a transparent and efficient system of reaching farmers directly with subsidized farm inputs. Before our reforms, fertilizer procurement and distribution took from the needy and gave to the greedy. We restored dignity back to farmers. Today, 14 million farmers, of which 2 million are women, access fertilizers with their mobile phones, through an e-wallet system. Nigeria is the first country in the world to develop an e-wallet system to reach farmers with subsidized farm inputs on their mobile phones. Several African countries are now borrowing this transparent and efficient e-wallet system for their own countries.

40. Our national food production expanded by an additional 21 million metric tons between 2011 and 2014, a record, exceeding our set target of 20 million metric tons set for 2015.The Dangote Group, has committed to invest $US 1 billion in commercial rice production and processing. With all these developments, we are expected to be an exporter of rice in the next five years. This will be a new dawn!

41. The benefits are showing on our food imports. Our food import bill has declined from 1.1 trillion Naira in 2009 to 684 billion Naira by December 2013, even with our increasing population, a reduction of 40%.

42. Nigeria met its Millennium Development Goal One on reducing hunger and extreme poverty, two years ahead of 2015 target set by the United Nations, and was given an award by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

43. To sustain this trend, we are encouraging young graduates through the Nagropreneurs Programme to go into commercial Agriculture. We are also encouraging our students in Post Primary Schools to embrace commercial Agriculture through the National School Agriculture Programme.

44. My dear people, corruption remains a big challenge in our national life. It corrodes our efforts at development and at motivating competence in critical sectors of our national growth. We have eradicated it in the agricultural sector and we will surely eradicate it in other sectors of our economy.

45. Going forward, my focus is to continue to reinforce institutions, systems, and processes to tackle corruption, and also to bring to justice those that perpetrate corruption. Through the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System(IPPIS), we have weeded out 56,000 ghost workers from the Federal Civil Service, saving 162 billion naira.

46. I have directed ICPC to bring the perpetrators of this criminal act to book. Let this be very clear, public officers must live by example, fully accounting for the national trust and resources in their care.

47. In our journey to progress, knowledge is indispensable. Knowledge is power! This is why my administration established 14 new Universities out of which 12 are conventional and two are specializedPolice and Maritime Universities. Under my watch, every state in Nigeria, now has a Federal University.

48. In addition, over 500billion naira have been spent, through the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) and the special NEEDS assessment fund on various projects to increase access and improve the quality of infrastructure at the tertiary level of our education system.

49. To provide equal access and opportunities in education and ensure that no Nigerian child is left behind, we have established and equipped 150 Almajiri Schools across the Northern states and the Out-of-School-Children Programme including Specialized Boys and Girls Schools across the country.

50. Fellow Nigerians, our country was faced with a major National security, humanitarian, and economic threat in the form of the Ebola Virus Disease, which arrived in the country on July 20, 2014, by way of a foreign national, Mr Patrick Sawyer.

51. Realizing the imminent threat, I declared a national emergency, pulling states, local and federal government into action as well as individual Nigerians to combat this disease. Without the quick action of patriotic Nigerians in the First Consultant Hospital, as well as the co-operation of Lagos and Rivers State, where the disease occurred, working with the Federal Ministry of Health and the co-operation of all Nigerians we could not have succeeded in overcoming this deadly disease. Fellow Nigerians we stopped Ebola together.

52. Just as we stopped Ebola, we are on our way to eradicating the Polio Virus in our country. We have reduced the incident of new Polio Virus from 300 in 2010, to 6 today.

53. My brothers and sisters, to encourage entrepreneurship and self-reliance among our teeming graduates, we have developed creative opportunities for enterprise for our young people.

54. Programmes such as YouWIN, the Graduate Internship Scheme, the Nagropreneurs Initiative, the 220 Billion Naira Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fundand the 3 Billion Naira Grant to Nollywoodare empowering our graduates, the creative industry and other young people to start up their own businesses and employ others.

55. We have supported the growth of industry through policy and action. We launched The National industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), and the National Enterprise Development Programme as key drivers to bring about our desires in the industrial sectors and to diversify our economy. Our new National Automobile Policy is transforming Nigeria into a vibrant hub for the automobile industry. Our own Innoson Motors is producing world standard vehicles, and Nissan, Hyundai, and Kia, have set up factories in Nigeria and are employing thousands of our people.

56. Our support for cement production is unprecedented. We have increased our installed capacity from 16.5 million metric tons per annum in 2011 to 39.5 million metric tons per annum in 2014. Nigeria is now exporting cement. We are moving forward!We must produce what we consume and consume what we produce.

57. Our efforts to create an enabling environment for job creation in different sectors of the economy including the MSME sector, agriculture, housing and manufacturing have yielded results. Between the third quarter of 2012, when we started tracking jobs created and the end of 2013, 1.9 million jobs were created. To deepen our success in this area, I have created a Presidential Jobs Creation Board headed by the Vice President with the mandate to create at least two million jobs a year.

58. My brothers and sisters, our economy is heading in the right direction and our efforts are yielding positive results. Our economy continues to grow at the rate of 6 to 7 percent annually, one of the highest in the world. Our country is now the top investment destination and the largest economy in Africa, with a GDP of 80trillion naira (510billion dollars) as well as the 26th largest economy in the world.

59. As part of its efforts to support inclusive growth and economic development in Nigeriathrough the CBN, my administration has created and disbursed the sum of 200billion naira via the Commercial Agric and Credit scheme, 300billion naira Power and Aviation fund, 220billion naira Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Fund, as well as 300 billion naira rail sector refinancing facilities at single digit interest rate. We will continue to deepen the reforms in the financial sector,in order to sustain thegrowth of our economy and uplift our people from poverty to prosperity.

60. Dear Compatriots, I promised as President,that we wouldsanitizeand restoreintegrity in our electoral process, by ensuring that our votes are not only counted, but truly count. We have gone to great length to ensure transparent, free, fair, and credible elections. Elections have been conducted across the country with local and international election observers testifying to their transparency.

61. On the international scene, we have advanced our regional, continental and global objectives. We have strengthened our relationships with our neighbours and in many instances supported them to protect their democracy, security and stability.We are serving for a second time within a period of 4years at the United Nations Security Council.This is unprecedented in our Nation’s history. My brothers and sister, this is a growing attestation of our country’s growing influence.

62. In the first quarter of this year, our country celebrated its centenary. To prepare the nation for the challenges of the next one hundred years, I convened a National Conference where recommendations and resolutions were reached towards a more perfect union. We shall implement the report.

63. Four years ago, I made a commitment to advance the rise and rise of womanhood. Today, I am glad that we have made remarkable progress in this regard, trusting in the potential of our women and reaping from their dedication and ingenuity. I believe that any nation that ignores womanhood cannot achieve its full potential. It is in this regard that I ensured that women were given more opportunities in government, and I have notbeen disappointed.

64. Specifically, I doubled the percentage of women in the cabinet and gave them more challenging assignments.

65. The Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), is now admitting female cadets as regular combatants and it is now possible for a woman to rise through the ranks to the peak in military service,and become a full general.

66. We must continue to sustain the banner of freedom and justice that we have held high in our country. I am proud to say that there are no political prisoners in Nigeria today.No Nigerian has been driven to exile and no one will be, under my watch.

67. It is in furtherance of a peaceful, participatory and inclusive democracy that I signed the Freedom of Information (FOI)Bill into law, to expand the frontiers of our fundamental freedom.

68. Let me re-affirm that under a Jonathan Presidency, your views, no matter how freely expressed, will not send you to prison or into exile.

69. I am convinced that I have kept my pact with Nigerians, and it is now time to look to the future. With your tremendous support, we have collectively done so much in the last three and half years, but to take our country to the next level, there is still more to be done.

70. History has shown that the path of honour for any true leader is not to walk away from his people in moments of challenges. We must stand together in adversity and overcome all threats to our development. We must defend our future, for the sake of our children.

71. So many things have inspired me in the journey to this moment. I want to appreciate ordinary Nigerians, especially young people, for the solidarity shown to me by contributing their meagre resources to enable me arrive at this point.

72. I appreciate the kind gesture of the Cattle Breeders Union, Miyetti Allah, and the Market Women Association, who encouraged me by coming together to contribute to the purchase of my Nomination form.

73. In the same vein, I am touched by the National Association of Widows who also encouraged me with their widow’s mite.

74. This labour of love, from ordinary Nigerians, has increased my appreciation of your solidarity, my trust in our joint destiny, and all we have achieved together these past three and half years.

75. Therefore, after seeking the face of God, in quiet reflection with my family and having listened to the call of our people nationwide to run, I, GoodluckEbeleAzikiweJonathan, have acceptedto re-present myself, on the platform of The Peoples’ Democratic Party, for re-election as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the 2015 general elections.

76. Democracy is a collective action, energized by individual responsibility. Your mandate at this time will inspire in me the strength to complete the good work we have started together.

77. My dear people of Nigeria, we must complete the task of ensuring that we lift the poor out of the depth of want, and place their feet firmly on the ladder of prosperity.

78. In this election season, I appeal to all of you, not to harm, maim or kill; and not to incite violence of any kind. We must never forget our common bond, one people from the womb of one Nigeria. Again I say: My ambition to serve you is not worth the blood of any Nigerian. I remain committed to this principle of non-violence.

79. If you believe that we must build a country that works for all, where the strong lift up the weak, and not trample upon them, where the vote of every citizen determines who governs or represents you, where the democratic space is open to all citizens to fulfil their aspirations, irrespective of the circumstance of birth, your brother, GoodluckEbeleAzikiweJonathan stands ready to continue in service to you.

80. My brothers and sisters, we cannot go back to the old ways! Our railways were allowed to rot in neglect, we have revived and are modernising them.

81. We cannot go back to the old ways! Our road infrastructure collapsed. We are reconstructing, and expandingfederal roads across the country.

82. We cannot go back to the old ways! Our airport terminal buildings were dilapidated and our airspace unsafe. We are fixing this.

83. We cannot go back to the old ways! Our agricultural practices did not benefit our farmers and our people. Fertilizer distribution was a major source of fraud and we were importing food more than our budget can carry. Now we are on our way to self-sufficiency in food production.

84. Do you want to go back to the old ways?

85. We cannot go back to the old ways, where there were long queues at our filling stations due to irregular supply of products and our people were exploited.

86. We cannot go back to the old ways, when women and youths were denied opportunities in government and in responsible positions.

87. Do you want to go back to the old ways?

88. We cannot go back to the old ways!We had skewed distribution of tertiary institutions.Whereas some states had more than onedegree awarding institution, some had none. We have nowmade sure all states have at least one Federal University.

89. We cannot go back to the old ways! Our economy is now the largest in Africa. Once, we were virtuallyimporting everything, now we are exporting several products,including cement.

90. We cannot go back to the old ways!In 2009, average life expectancy was 47 years, by the end of 2013, it was 52 years. Some of our hospitals now perform open heart surgeries, kidney transplants and other challenging operations as we reposition our health service to end decades of medical tourism that drains our scarce resources.

91. We cannot go back to the old ways!Together, in unity, we overcame Ebola, and in the process demonstrated the strength of the Nigerian spirit. And together, united, we must maintain our vigilance.

92. Do you want to go back to the old ways?

93. We cannot go back to the old ways where individual freedoms were trampled upon and citizens were locked up for expressing their views or criticising government.

94. Do you want to go back to the old ways?

95. We cannot go back to the old ways! We must continue to have free and fair elections. We cannot go back to the era where ballot box snatching and stuffing became the norm.Where your votes never counted.

96. Certainly, we cannot!

97. We have to move forward! Only forward!!, my dear people, Forward!!!

98. In moving forward, I see a Nigeria that thirsts for progress with children across the nation, eager for knowledge and safely in schools!

99. I see a Nigeria where all who have taken up arms, would again embrace peace!

100. I see a Nigeria where our women can aspire to any heights, without hindrance!

101. I see a Nigeria where the flames in the Eagles will rekindle, and the Falcons soaring higher in victory!

102. I see a Nigeria where the children of Mustapha, and Christopher, Ade and Ada,Timi and Bunmi, Nnamdi and Namadi, do not go hungry!

103. I see a Nigeria where all, no matter their beliefs, live in peace and harmony!

104. I see a Nigeria where the green passport is accorded a royal reception the world over!

105. I see a Nigeria where one day the next generation will take us to outer space.

106. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, leadership is about staying focused to achieve goals despite challenges. I have been faced with many challenges since coming to office as President. With your support and encouragement, we have stayed the course.

107. We are succeeding, against all odds. For the young Nigerian child, who grew up in the rural area, just like me, we are expanding opportunities and giving them hope. For the market woman, we are expanding opportunities. For our young entrepreneurs, we are expanding opportunities. For the right of our people to vote and for their voices to be heard, we are expanding opportunities. For Nigerians to have the right to free speech, we are expanding opportunities. For the job seekers, against all odds, we are expanding opportunities.

108. While serving our people, I will always ensure the rule of law. I do not intimidate, I expand the democratic space. I give voice to the voiceless and uphold the weak, for the nation belongs to us all. Fellow Nigerians, as we build our democracy, leaders must show temperance at all times. That is a virtue, one which I treasure, and will always uphold.

109. My people, Nigeria is destined for greatness. Today, here at Eagle Square, I say to Nigeria, that working together in love, in strength and in faith, we will build a nation of one people, united in purpose and in action.

110. Fellow Nigerians, it is forward ever! We must put our hopes to work! Together, we will realize our collective destiny.

111. Thank you!!

112. God bless Nigeria!!

I was out when Coroner Invitation was Served – T.B. Joshua

Prophet Temitope Joshua, the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, on Wednesday said he was yet to be “personally served” the witness summons issued by the Lagos State Coroner, Oyetade Komolafe.
TB_Joshua-
Joshua made this known through his counsel, Olalekan Ojo, at the ongoing Coroner’s Inquest into the September 12 collapse of a guest house within the church.

The inquest was set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate the incident, which led to the death of 116 persons.

Komolafe had slated November 5 for Joshua and the contractor, who handled the project, to appear before the court.

But on Wednesday, Ojo informed the court that the bailiffs were unable to effect the proper service on Joshua as required by law.

He said though the bailiffs went to the church premises in Ikotun Egbe area of Lagos, the cleric was not around at the time of their visit.

Ojo said: “I do not want an insinuation to be made that the prophet was served and he did not come to court.
“He has been in touch with many families who lost their loved ones in the incident.

“The bailiffs merely gave the witness summons to one of the evangelists in the church, but the law says they should personally serve the prophet.”

According to Ojo, the contractor has not also been served because the court is yet to get his name and address.

Ojo also declined the coroner’s request that the summons should be served on him on behalf of Joshua.

Following the development, Komolafe agreed to reschedule the appearance of both witnesses, adding that the church should provide the name and address of the contractor.

He said: “The prophet (Joshua) should assist the court to assist him.

“As the chief mourner, we don’t want to inflict more pain on him.

“He should not put himself at variance with the law.”

Testifying earlier, Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, the General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, told the court that 131 persons were rescued alive from the site of the collapsed building.

Oke-Osanyintolu said that LASEMA, working in collaboration with the Synagogue Church members and other rescue agencies, also recovered 80 bodies from the collapsed building.

He, however, said that the crowd of bystanders and sympathisers prevented the agency from gaining quick access to the scene, which could have led to the rescue of more victims.

According to him, the rescue team was severally assaulted by some persons within the crowd and prevented from taking pictures.

Oke-Osanyintolu said: “I will appeal to the general public in Lagos State that we have a structure in place and whenever there is any form of emergency they should call us.

“They should also give us the enabling environment to perform effectively and efficiently.”

The matter was adjourned till November 6 for continuation of hearing.

Court turns down request to stop T.B Joshua from appearing before coroner

The appearance and testimony of the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, before a coroner would not harm him, a Federal High Court in Lagos ruled, Tuesday.
TB Joshua
Temitope Joshua (popularly known as T.B Joshua) is billed to testify on Wednesday at an ongoing coroner’s inquest into the circumstances surrounding the collapse of a guest house in his church.

Over 115 people, mostly foreigners, died when the six storey building belonging to the church collapsed on September 12.

Last week, Olukoya Ogungbeje, a Lagos-basedbased lawyer, had approached the court praying for an order restraining the coroner from conducting further proceedings on the inquest.

The lawyer also sought an interim injunction restraining Mr. Joshua from appearing before the coroner.

But on Tuesday, Ibrahim Buba, the judge, ruled that the interim injunction was not necessary since Mr. Joshua was not personally affected by the inquest.

According to the judge, Mr. Joshua is neither a party to the filed suit nor is he held in detention.

“If Ogungbeje was the party summoned before the coroner, then the issue of a restraining order will arise, but in this situation, how can I restrain the whole world?” Mr. Buba said.

“The applicant has not shown that he will suffer any danger if the restraining order is not granted, and so, I will hear this case on merit on Thursday, November 6, and I will not grant any restraining order. This is the ruling of the court.”

Tuesday’s ruling was the final nail in the coffin following weeks of scheming and strategies by Mr. Joshua’s camp to avoid him testifying before the coroner.

Last Wednesday, an angry Oyetade Komolafe, the coroner, threatened to arrest the church leader if he fails to honour the invitation to appear before him.

“If he doesn’t come, he will be arrested, please advise him,” Mr. Komolafe had told the church’s counsel at the inquest.

“The sheriff said he has served him (a witness summons) and I have the evidence of that. If he cannot come on that day, he should tell us why he cannot come.”

The magistrate was responding to an earlier suggestion by Lateef Fagbemi, the church’s counsel, that only people who would be of relevance to the court ought to be invited.

“I have gone through all the depositions filed, no mention has been made of Joshua,” Mr. Fagbemi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, had said.

“I will suggest that it is those who can be of assistance from the SCOAN that will be invited.”

The next day, the inquest began with Mr. Komolafe walking, Nelson Okedinachi, who is in the team that filed the suit at the federal high court, out of the room for seeking to inform the coroner of the suit they had filed.

Afterwards, the coroner took time to clarify to Olalekan Ojo, who had announced his appearance for the Synagogue Church, that he did not summon the church.

“Nobody summoned the Synagogue church. The court summoned T.B Joshua and when the time comes, he will appear,” Mr. Komolafe had told the counsel.

“Because I’ve noticed you always announce your appearance for the Synagogue church.”

Mr. Ogungbeje had joined as defendants in his suit the Lagos State Government, the Attorney General of the state, and Mr. Komolafe (the coroner).

The lawyer had argued that the composition of the Coroner’s inquest was a negation of the principle of natural justice and Section 36 of the Constitution, and as such it was unconstitutional, null and void.

The lawyer had further argued that the Lagos State government, who instituted the inquest, had already indicted Mr. Joshua and his church by claiming that he was not given approval to put additional floors on the collapsed building.

“The Lagos State Building Control Agency even went ahead to seal up the main building of the church,” Mr. Ogungbeje had said.

“The General Manager of the agency even said in the papers and I quote him as follows ‘we have investigated and found that they had no approval for the additional structures. Even the main church which they have added about three floors on was sealed two days ago.’”

(Premium Times)

Jonathan Commiserates With Zambia Over President Sata’s Death

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has received with sadness, news of the passing away of President Michael Sata of Zambia in a London Hospital yesterday.
Zambia_Michael_Sata
On behalf of the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria, President Jonathan extends sincere condolences to the government and people of Zambia on the death of President Sata who has led his country since 2011.

President Jonathan’s deepest sympathies are with the people of Zambia and President Sata’s family as they mourn their leader, patriarch, nationalist and patriot who will always be remembered for his uncompromising stand against neo-colonialism and any semblance of renewed imperialism in Zambia and Africa as a whole.

As they mourn President Sata and prepare to lay him to rest, President Jonathan urges the brotherly people of Zambia to commit themselves fully to a peaceful and orderly succession in keeping with the principles of democracy and the country’s constitution.

He prays that God Almighty will comfort the people of Zambia and grant them a worthy successor to President Sata who will keep the country on an even keel and ensure that it continues to make steady progress for the benefit of its people.

Reuben Abati
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)

Nigeria Releases Names of 2013, 2014 National Honours Award Recipients as Police, Teacher, Taxi Driver, Make List

The Federal government has released the list of 2013 and 2014 National Honours Award recipients. The Nigerian Times gathered that over 80% of the awardees came from the public sector as either public officers or political appointees.
President-Goodluck-Jonathan
The list includes a policeman, Sergeant Jafaru Wadzani; a teacher, Dr. Nathaniel Chid Nwaneri; traffic warden, CPL Solomon Dauda; civil servant, Aliyu Omar; public servant, Salihu Sintalma Abubakar; and a taxi driver, Mr. Imeh usuah, a 66-year-old driver who returned N18m forgotten in his car to the owner.

Less than 15% of the recipients are actually from the private sector including the tradition rulers and business men whose individual contributions were considered for the awards.

No one was listed for the highest award of Grand Commander of the Niger (GCON) while the Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) category goes to mostly retired and current service chiefs, heads of service and traditional rulers.

The title of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) has some former governors and Chief Judges of various states as beneficiaries.

Those to be awarded Commanders of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are Chief of Defence Staff – Air Marshal Alex Badeh, Chief of Army staff – Maj. Gen. Kenneth Minimah, Chief of Naval Staff – Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin, Chief of Air Staff – Air Vice Marshal Adesola Amosu, Acting Inspector General Of Police – Sulaiman Abba, Fmr. Supreme Court Judge – Justice Bolarinwa Babalakin, Hon. Justice Abubakar Wali, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, Hon. Justice Christopher Chukwuma, Hon. Justice Muhammad Coomassie, Hon. Justice Afolabi, Hon. Justice Olufunlola Adekeye.

Others are National Security Adviser – Sambo Dasuki, Former Head of Service of the federation- Bukar Goni Aji, Head Of Service Of The Federation – Mr. Danladi Kifasi, Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ayo Oke, Traditional Ruler- Ademefun Kiladejo, Outstanding Public Servant- Chief Philip Asiodu, Chief of Staff to the President- Brig. Gen. Jones Arogbofa (Rtd), Hrh Alayeluwa Oba (Dr.) Jimoh Oyewumi, Former Minister/President Of M.A.N- Kolawole Babalola, Entrepreneur- Oludolapo Akinkugbe, Emmanuel Iwuanynwu, Jimoh Ibrahim Folorunsho.

Those to be awarded with the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) include former governor of Kogi State-Ibrahim Idris, Chief Judge of Ogun State – Justice Olatokunbo Olopade, Chief Judge of Ebonyi State- Justice Nweke Nwanko, Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State – Justice Isua Bassey, Chief Judge of Kogi State – Justice Nasiru Ajanah, Chief Judge of Gombe State – Justice Yalah Heman, Chief Judge of Beyelsa State – Justice Kate Abiri.

Others are Grand Khadi of Sokoto State – Abdulkadir Tambuwal, Justice of the Court of Appeal-Justice Amina Augie, Hon. Justice Abubakar Jega Abdul-Kadir, Dr. Peter Odili, Engr. Muhammed Gana, Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, Fredrick Obateru Akinruntan.

Nigerian Troops Capture High-ranking Boko Haram Leader

Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DH) has disclosed that military operations in volatile North Eastern Nigeria has led to the arrested a top member of the Boko Haram Islamic sect in Konduga, a community in Borno State.
Killed Boko Haram Leader
According to the DH, the high-ranking leader of the sect was captured on Wednesday during a battle that led to the death of over 60 insurgents.
Boko Haram weapon seized
The Nigerian forces involved in the operation had successfully flushed out members of Boko Haram sect from the community during the operation, which lasted more than 12 hours.

Three Hilux vehicles, one armoured personnel carrier and a cache of arms and ammunition were also seized by the Nigerian troops during the battle.

Nigerian military authorities revealed that the seriously-wounded, high-ranking terrorists’ leader is being treated in a military medical facility after he was captured in operations at Konduga, Borno State.

Jonathan Pledges to Implement National Conference Report

President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday thumped his chest for organising a successful national dialogue, saying he meant well for the country and promised to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference, which officially closed Thursday.
Confab-report
The president made the pledge Thursday at the National Judicial Institute, NJI, ‎during the closing ceremony of the conference, where he also received the 21-volume report from the conference chairman, Idris Kutigi.

Mr. Jonathan also said the successful conclusion of the conference have proved cynics, who never gave the conference a chance, wrong.

He said some of the recommendations of the conference will be considered by the National Council of State, while the remaining ones will be sent to the National Assembly, the President said while formally receiving the 10,000 pages, conference report, with 600 resolutions.

Jonathan, however, took a swipe on the conference detractors, whom he described as prophet of doom who have been put to shame.

He also pledged that the report would be considered by the council of State before it’s passed to the National Assembly.

U.S. Could Use Ground Troops to Save Iraqi Refugees

A senior White House official said on Wednesday that the United States would consider using American ground troops to assist Iraqis in rescuing Yazidi refugees if recommended by military advisers assessing the situation.
US Troops
Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Martha’s Vineyard that President Obama would probably receive recommendations in the next several days about how to mount a rescue operation to help the refugees, who are stranded on a mountaintop surrounded by Sunni militants. He said those recommendations could include the use of American ground troops.

But he drew a distinction between the use of American forces to help a humanitarian mission and the use of troops in a battle against the militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, something he said the president had rejected before and continued to oppose.

“What he’s ruled out is reintroducing U.S. forces into combat on the ground in Iraq,” Mr. Rhodes said. He added, using an alternative name for the militant group, that the deployment of ground troops to assist a rescue was “different than reintroducing U.S. forces in a combat role to take the fight to ISIL.”

He acknowledged that any ground troops in Iraq would face dangers, even if they were there to help the refugees find a safe way off the mountain. He said that like American forces anywhere, the troops would have the ability to defend themselves if they came under fire.

But Mr. Rhodes said the White House would not make a decision on how to carry out a rescue until the president heard back from an assessment team that the Pentagon sent into Iraq on Tuesday. That team, which includes about 130 personnel, will report back within several days, Mr. Rhodes said.

But he added that something would have to be done to help get the refugees off the mountain because “we don’t believe it’s sustainable to have permanent airdrops” of humanitarian aid.

(NYTimes)