Military Arrests Suspected Bomber

 

After efforts made to conceal the attempt by some hoodlums to bomb the two brigade military headquarters in the oil rich city of Port Harcourt on the eve of last Christmas, the commander of the two brigades, Brigadier General Tukur Buratai had confirmed that the suspected hoodlums have been arrested.

 

Investigation has also revealed that the suspects have a link to the Boko Haram group, a notorious Islamic sect that had claimed responsibility to the series of bombings and killings in the northern part of Nigeria.

The suspects also targeted to bomb the Residential Area of the Shell petroleum development company, a major oil exploration company, located at the Port Harcourt Aba Expressway and the Bongaivilla Hotel in the New GRA in Port Harcourt.

On the suspects were found locally made explosive devices capable of causing heavy damage, and are undergoing interrogation preparatory to appear in court for prosecution. The officers also recovered six vehicles and two boats from the hoodlums, arrested thirty-six kidnappers and destroyed one hundred and eight illegal refining sites.

Addressing a media parley of reporters, Brigadier General Tukur Buratai said the feat was achieved with the collaborative effort officers and men of Sector Two of the Joint Task Force Operation Pulo Shield and the State Security Service.

He said they would continue to offer its constitutional civil assistance to the government in ensuring a conducive and peaceful atmosphere for business to thrive, and the civil population discharge their various duties without the fear of molestation

 

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Nigerians Show low Enthusiasm As Voting Commences

In Nigeria, the general elections have eventually taken off. This is after the two times postponement it suffered, first being on the 2nd April and the second being on the 4th April. And though the enthusiasm of electorates as shown last week was absent on this Saturday 9th April 2011, the about 73.5 million registered Nigerians are indeed willing to vote candidates of their choice for the national assembly. But the day had been heralded with a bump blast at the INEC office in Suleja, 20 km (12 miles) from the nation’s capital Abuja. And the police had confirmed about 12 persons killed and 27 injured.

In all the elections that will be organised, what will be seen is more of a battle for President Goodluck Jonathan of the People Democratic Party. He is battling to maintain a leading majority of the all votes that will be cast. And as a first step, he participated in the election as he cast his vote for the candidates of his choice at Etueke, his country home at 1.45A.M, moment after he was accredited.

This first phase of the election is for the national Assembly where about 109 senators and360 House of Representatives would be elected. And 54 parties are contesting different positions. Regrettably, the election will not be holding in 15 senatorial district and 48 Federal constituencies across the country. And the INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega had explained why the election will not hold in those area listing logistic problem and duplication of electoral materials in the areas as the major challenges. And only this morning, though the Media Director, Mr. Kayode Idowu, to the INEC Chairman Professor Jega would not confirm it,  it said that all political parties in Ekiti State have decided that the election in that state be shifted to a later date.

On all the roads, towns and cities, there is a full complement of the security personnel. They are out there to maintain a tight security controls. They also mounted road blocks. And the nations’ borders were officially closed effective Friday noon with flights grounded. All these are done to check movement in those places. And in Rivers State, helicopters hovered around to cheek security breaches. The governor of that state, Chibuike Amaechi also voted in his home town, Ubima at 2.20 P.M.

And the polling procedure began at about 0800 local time with voter’s accreditation to avoid irregularities when the real voting commences at 1200. The general apathy on the part of the electorates was a shadow cast on their minds occasioned by the botched last Saturday election. There was high demonstration of enthusiasm by Nigerians. This slow start was noticeable in parts of Abia , Imo, Rivers and Bayelsa and Anambra states. Largely, accreditation started late in most of these centres.

In fact the number of electorates accredited is lower than the number of willing and registered ones. In Ebuku of Abia North some youths tried to make trouble with electoral officers as was experienced in the parts of Sagana street axis in Port Harcourt, ward 6 in Okrika. This challenge was also seen in parts of Eleme where most electorates hardly knew how and where to thumb print.  In Twon Brass, there was fighting with one died, though unconfirmed. In the north-eastern state of Borno, gunmen shot dead four people at a police station where election officials were preparing voting materials.

There were other category of electorates who work for Five star Hotel like Novotel and Company like Intel Services were asked to go to work and denied from voting. This is against the willingness of these people. And reacting to the situation, the Trade Union Congress Chairman in Rivers State, Mr. Chika Onuebu said the act of those companies was against labour law and the constitution. He insisted that they may be forced to make a written protest and seek ways to redress the situation.

Nigeria In Jega Claws

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It was a drama and an ugly one to see members of the National Youth Service Corps recruited for the national elections made to sleep on open floor at the Obio/Akpor Council secretariat. The Corp members had seen names of none corps members on the list and had protested. So a new one had to be drawn and late into the night.

So the corps members, desperate waited to know where they were posted. This compelled them to be so exposed to the vagaries of the wheather.

 Professor Attahiru Jega looked physically shaken at 1245hr on Saturday, 2nd April when he walked into the conference hall. It was to address stakeholders and the press, more importantly. The rumour on the postponemnet of the national general elections would be put to rest. It had suffered a hinge. And so it was and Jegga called the situation and an EMERGENCY.

Professor Attahiru Jega said the vendor to who it had commissioned to produce the electorial materials, especially the sensitive ones including  result sheets to parts of the country had failed to be early. And the  commission had no choice than take the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the National Assembly elections billed for that day.

 The Chairman deeply regretted this situation and apologised to Nigerians for the hardship this may have created, and reiterated that the commission is fully committed to conducting free, fair and credible elections for Nigerians.

INEC Voters Registration

Beyond expectation, the crowd kept pouring out. But as the voters registration exercise ended after the seven days extension period, willing and eligible voters only found that they had been denied registration. Some of them did all that was necessary including sleeping out in the night at the registration centres. Yet they were not lucky to be registered by INEC officers. This was despite determination shown to discharge their civic responsibilities.

Maybe it was a trust in President Goodluck Jonathan avowed posture that gave them that encouragement. He had promised to make every vote count in the April general election. Fear of the authority propelled a large number of them to register too. Some local government council chairmen including community chiefs and leaders had vowed to banish or expend other kinds of punishments on any indigene who refused to return home to register.

Some state governments directed its civil servants and workers in Parastatals to submit photocopies of voter’s cards at the office of the Director of Finance at each of the Ministries. This suggested it would be used to qualify who should be paid his/her salary in the coming months in Rivers State, particularly. And voter’s card is also a pre-condition to access government provided social services both in Rivers and Imo States. But in Lagos, the government said it would not use the voter’s card as a prerequisite to pay salaries.

It was surprising that Mr. Chris Oruge, labour chairman of Rivers state waited until workers had complied with the directive and submitted their cards. Then he reacted condemning any act to use the voter’s card as condition for salary payment. He said the labour would resist it.

 INEC greatest ordeal during the registration exercise was the breakdown of equipment, slow operation of the DCM, the lack of or inadequate supply of a back-up memory pack to enable quick transfer of information away from the system.

There was also the lack of other materials like printing papers, lamination cards and lack of regular stand-by electricity. And the quick urge among INEC officers to make money off the electorate because those who provided electricity wanted a return. Each electorate at such centres were made to pay at least fifty naira to be served. INEC authority was quick to accuse the ad hoc officers of NYSC stock for fraudulent practices in Zamfara State.

But the NYSC Director had defended the Youth Corps members. He said that members of the community were the real culprits. An immediate investigation was undertaken that led to the arrest of the culprits. He said the youth corps’ members were well behaved servicing their father land. It did show that INEC lacked the capacity to find solution to match all the promises it made to Nigerians. And it was never able to make it easy for all willing electorates to register.

Now, it was obvious that they would be disenfranchised as voters. This quick speak has become a regular feature of INEC. On January 13, just two days to the commencement of the exercise which started on January 15, the INEC chairman, Alhaji Attahiru Jega told newsmen that the commission was fully prepared to undertake the exercise. He assured it would distribute Data Capture Machines to all the 120, 000 polling centres across the country.

But that was not to be because on the first day of the exercise, despite that the DDC machines were in short supply, most of them were in bad condition and could not function properly. And the slow pace of operation of some of them frustrated the exercise. That made Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi, who registered on the first day of the exercise to call for an extension of day to allow more Nigerians to register. His outcry was echoed with a call on INEC to immediately rectify all identified faults.

INEC swung into action and as Alhaji Jega told members of the National Assembly, he was on top of the situation. But those problems never abated. It remained till the end of the exercise. In fact more erupted. It was obvious that most officials engaged for the exercise were ill experienced. And really INEC trained officers including some undergraduates, immigration officers and youth corps members.

And up till when the exercise ended none of these categories of officers knew that their lives were contracted in an assurance policy. And they may never know how to claim it. Indeed some of them were attacked. An unconfirmed number of people were killed. Some desperate armed men attacked INEC Ad hoc officers either in a shoot-out and to intimidate them personally.

In Ebonyi and Edo states armed youths attacked officers and shot those attached to Ndiagwu Amagu centre in Ikwo local govt in Ebonyi state to leave a bullet penetration from the back side of Mr. Alobu Benedict’s into his stomach, Mr. Uche Nwajo and Clement Igboji also sustained injuries. A youth corps member was said to be killed in Jos. But INEC boss had debunked though the allegation but affirmed that in Yobe state, an immigration officer working as registration area centre officer was killed when he was locked up in a room with generating set put on. And in Kebbi state another guard died.

These added to other inconveniences of poor welfare, with holding the allowances of ad hoc staff; 30 thousand naira without justifiable reason. That made them to threaten to withdraw their services on January 25, 2011. And many people including the leadership of Action Congress of Nigeria had doubted the capacity of INEC to detect multiple registration, which was rampant and the reason why INEC officers were attacked.

The doubt hinged on the fact that if the multiple registrations were not done on the same machine, the install server in INEC cannot detect it. That leaves much to worry about as many had registered in multiple to create room for rigging during the April general election. But the Director of Silver Bird communications, Mr. Ben Bruce had urged INEC to institute continuous voters’ registration centres across the country to allow people to walk in and get registered.

However, the Director of Registration in INEC Alhaji Ibrahin Biu said over 70 million Nigerians had been registered. He said the new amendment to the new electoral Act that empowers INEC to continue with voters’ registration until one month before the April election. He applauded the work they had done saying that it was ready to move to the next phase of displaying the voters’ registers for objections.

2010 Eld-el-Kabir

Muslims were seen today running to the public worship centre to pray. The prayers started exactly 9. A.M. It last just twenty minutes. Most Muslims did not meet the prayers. And a number of them were not patient to listen to the sermon. And all of them, with brisk foot left the worship centre.

Observed on the tenth day of the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar, Eld-el-Kabir is the time to slaughter the ram as recorded in the Quran when Allah instructed Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Ishmael but later provided a ram instead because of the faith demonstrated by Abraham.

Eid-el-Kabir, in these contemporary times, is no longer observed to make sacrifice per se but to enforce a life of purity on the faithful who are expected to converge at the designated place of Eid prayers fasting to join with others in the public worship centre.

A faithful Muslim would lose nothing if he was unable to attend the public worship or to acquire a ram for himself but must participate in Eld-el-Kabir according to his ability to enjoy the fellowship of sharing.

Abubakar Mohammed said the period has spurred him to greater commitment to Prophet Mohammed injunction.

Others who expressed thanks to Allah for life to see another Eld-el-Kabir noted that the lesson of the festival centre on faith, purity, peaceful co-existence and love as commended b Almighty Allah.

Flooding Menace Attacks JAMB Office

The Joint Admission and Matriculation Board JAMB, now known as Unified Matriculation Examination office in Rivers State, at 9 Ozuzu close in D’line, Port Harcourt was submerged by flood. The rains of Thursday, 29 April 2010 attacked the premises raising water from the ground, from the bounding Nta-wogba creek and from the sky.

By Friday, there was no safe place in all the offices for the staff to sit to work and attend to the influx of parents and candidates. But while the staff bemoaned their fate the milling candidates did not feel with them. Missing scores, wrongly entered scores and subjects or other inquiries on the just released results from the recently conducted examination was more important to them.

By the afternoon, the flood in the premises had receded but the office rooms were still filled with water despite the hours of pumping by the pumping machine. The respite enjoyed in the compound availed the staff the space to create a temporary table to attend to the clients.

The zonal coordinator, Ann Momoh directed the staff to provide service to members of the public, just what could be provided. She said the flooding was a perennial experience that plague the old colonial building that house the office. The headquarters of JAMB had been notified to the extent that it could provide fund to repairs of the roof and not to build a new structure.

She insisted that the host state’s government had an obligation to build a new JAMB building. Some of the candidates and parents just wanted their problems solved than border themselves with a perennial problem that JAMB authority had not found sufficient clout to tackle.

The special adviser to the state governor on special projects, Okey Amadi dismissed allegation held by the JAMB authority that the newly constructed Ozuzu close road and its drains channeled water into the JAMB premises. He however sympathized with JAMB and assured of making a report to the state government of founding a way to solving the problem.

Police Officers Arrested for Traffic Offense

Miffed by the flagrant disobedience to traffic laws especially by security personnel in the state the Rivers State  Government has impounded  another Police van, five days after a similar action took place within the state’s capital.

Right Honourable  Chibuike Amaechi reiterated his administration’s commitment  to ensure that the roads are safe for motorists said he would enforce good driving habit among motorist and make them obey traffic rules and regulations. He said the full weight of the law will be brought down on any offender                                             

The impounded police van, a  Toyota Hilux van attached to a Port Harcourt based company was caught driving against traffic along the trans—amadi/slaughter road.

Also impound were a tanker, a Toyota Carina Saloon Car as well as a Toyota Camry with registration numbers XT-586 PHC, CX-331 KTU AND DZ-984 PHC.

The governor ordered the arrest of the offenders and expressed disappointment over the attitude of Police officers and motorists in Port Harcourt who always violate traffic regulations. He directed that all the impounded vehicles be handed over to the nearest Police station for prosecution.