Friday, 31 October 2008
The Nigerian Government under the leadership of Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua, who was declared President following an election which local and international monitors tagged fraudulent, is presently armtwisting another United States Of America(USA)based Nigerian news Blogger, Mr. Emmanuel Emeke Asiwe. Mr. Asiwe is the Publisher/Editor-In-Chief of Huhuonline.com.
Mr. Asiwe who was arrested recently on arrival at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and flown to Abuja is being interrogated, according to information available to chidi opara reports, "on issues of national security". "Issues of national security" have recently become an excuse with which the Nigerian establishment uses to harass journalists, especially the online segment.
A network member of chidi opara reports in Abuja, reported that the State Security Service(SSS) in their current operations method, have nothing against the online publisher "to warrant even an arrest".
The method now, according to a Senior security contact is to arrest a target, accuse him/her of being a security risk, seize his/her travel documents, threaten to arraign him/her in court for sedition and subsequently ask him/her to apologies to the President and make a commitment not to publisher further "subversive materials" against the government. The second phase, according to our information, is to release the target and his/her travel papers to a prominent Nigerian resident in Nigeria and use the person to constantly pressure the target not to be critical of government policies. "Nothing suggests that the man will not go through these processes" our security contact volunteered.
Mr. Asiwe's Huhuonline.com is a rightwing news blog. chidi opara reports however, learnt that the clampdown on news media ordered by the Nigerian President made no exception to ideological leaning. Presidency hawks, we learnt have been able to convince Mr. Yar'Adua that news blogs like Huhuonline.com are perching dangerously on the ideological fence with the likelyhood of falling to the leftwing side of the divide.
Mr. Asiwe is the second news blogger so far taken into custody without charges by the Nigerian government in october(2008).
Some men suspected to be security agents were recently making enquiries at our Publisher's hometown regarding his location.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 11:02
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Renewed Clampdown On News Media In Nigeria, Prelude To Supreme Court Validation Of President's Election.
The Supreme court of Nigeria, which have concluded hearing but suspended ruling indefinitely on an appeal brought to it by rtd. General Muhammad Buhari and Mr. Atiku Abubarkar, presidential candidates of All Nigeria Peoples Party(ANPP) and Action Congress(AC) respectively in the 2007 presidential election, seeking to upturn the ruling of the presidential election petition tribunal, which upheld the declaration of Mr. Umaru Yar'Adua as President by the Independent National Electoral Commission(INEC), is set to validate the President's election.
Our investigation revealed that the decision of the Judges to validate the widely disputed election was not based on the fact that the President won the election or on any other solid legal grounds, but was mainly based on a blackmail tactic employed by the Presidency.
Presidency insiders have now confirmed to chidi opara reports that the office of the National Security Adviser(NSA), recently conducted a discreet probe of the Supreme court's financial allocations and expenditures for this year(2008). The probe was said to have unearthed, according to one presidency insider, "facts that are capable of rubbishing the images of the presiding judges". The probe file we learnt, have been handed over to the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) for custody.
We learnt further that the Judges concerned are aware of the existence of the file and its content, and are ready to "co-operate". In the words of another Presidency insider, "we have already won the case".
The major problem now, according to yet another Presidency insider is the news media, especially the online news publications whose investigative powess have been giving the Presidency nightmares. It was reasoned by the President's think tank that the main problem will be the ever discerning and critical Nigerian news media, especially the Internet sub-section, who in their usual ways are expected to highlight any travesty of justice. To solve this problem, think tank members we learnt, agreed to advise the President to adopt a "no nonsense" approach to matters concerning the news media, so as to send the appropriate signals to "those troublesome journalists". "Infact, as soon as you people are sufficiently tamed, the Supreme court will give the ruling, which is in our favour", one Presidency insider revealed to our reporter.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 03:20
Sunday, 26 October 2008
Some hours after chidi opara reports published a report revealing the real reason why the Nigerian news blogger, Mr. Jonathan Elendu was arrested, the State Security Service(SSS), came out to announce that he was in their custody and a day after, offered him a freedom proposal. The SSS late on friday, 24th october 2008, announced officially that the detained news blogger was initially detained on issues concerning national security, which has been narrowed down to "sedition", thereby confirming our report, titled "Real Reason Why Nigerian Online News Publisher Was Arrested" which was published at about 0800hrs.(local time) on same friday and in which we revealed that the news blogger was arrested in connection with materials he was suspected to have obtained which could embarrass the government if published. Prior to our report, the news was that Mr. Elendu was arrested on suspicion of working for another Nigerian news blog.
Latest inside information available to us has it that the accuracy of our report unsettled top security leadership in Abuja, prompting the SSS announcement and the freedom offer. We have also been informed that presently, there is nothing concrete against Mr. Elendu to warrant prosecution, yet the Nigerian government intends to hang on to the sedition allegation, while looking for substantial evidences to arraign him in court. "There is a very strong suspicion that he has materials that can embarrass the government if published", one of our SSS contacts insisted. The nature and volume of these "materials", we learnt, is not known to the government. "Whatever happens, we are bent on finding out and retrieving whatever he must have gathered", our contact boasted.
chidi opara reports now know that by about noon on saturday, 25th october, 2008, Mr. Elendu, who is now being detained at an Economic And Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) guest house at the Asokoro area of Abuja, was given a written freedom proposal, which amongst other things include (1) that he would reveal and turn over to the interrogating team, all materials capable of embarrassing the government in his custody. (2)Severance of any professional relationships with any local and/or foreign news media. (3)A committment to use his news blog to advance government viewpoints and (4) a private apology to the Nigerian President. We leant that on receipt of the proposal, Mr. Elendu asked for time to study it. "It is likely that he will be arraigned if he fails to embrace this freedom proposal" our contact further volunteered.
Meanwhile, a top female journalist of Igbo origin, who is known to be close to the Presidency and two other men based in USA, whose identities we have not been able to unravel so far are presently doing the Abuja power circuits, lobbying for the release of the detained Nigerian news blogger.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 05:40
Friday, 24 October 2008
Contrary to reports in a section of the Nigerian news media that Mr. Jonathan ELendu, the Nigerian born, United States Of America(USA) based publisher of a popular online news publication, Elendu Reports, who was arrested recently at the Nnamdi Azikiwe international airport Abuja by operatives of the State Security Service(SSS), was arrested on suspicion of working for another popular Nigerian online news publication, Sahara Reporters, chidi opara reports have unravelled the real reason why the online news publisher was arrested.
Aside from being a publisher and news reporter, Mr. Elendu is also a Public Relations(PR) consultant with bias in political image making. A contact close to him told us that "Jonathan is well connected within the Nigerian political establishment, especially amongst younger politicians". We were also informed that "he, infact makes his money mainly from writing and producing PR documentary films for these politicians" by another contact.
Checks by chidi opara reports revealed that one of Mr. Elendu's firms was recently contracted by the government of Rivers State to produce a PR documentary film to commomerate the first year anniversary of governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. We learnt that in the course of research for materials for the film, it was suspected that Mr. Elendu may have also gathered informational materials that can be used against strategically placed government officials and their friends both in and outside Nigeria, hence the need to arrest him and find out what he actually knows. "We are suspecting that he may have gathered information about who and who are doing oil bunkering in the Niger delta for instance" a highly placed SSS contact in Abuja informed chidi opara reports. "When we got report of this development", our SSS contact continued, "we made efforts to get him but couldn't, so we kept his movements under survillance". Reminded that Mr. Elendu was arrested on suspicion of working for Sahara Reporters, our contact revealed further, "our OPS men just said that to divert attention from the real issue". The online news publisher is said to be "co-operating" and is being well treated. "If he fails to co-operate, we will hand him over to the appropriate agency for prosecution". chidi opara reports have not been able so far to unravel the mode of this co-operation.
Mr. Jonathan Elendu arguably pioneered online news publishing in Nigeria a few years ago when he teamed up with another Nigerian born, USA based civil rights activist, Mr. Omoyele Sowore to establish Elendureports.com. Mr. Sowore later resigned to establish Saharareporters.com, citing irreconcialable professional differences.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 01:41
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Blood oil, a term recently promoted by the Nigerian President as a variant of the infamous blood diamond still thrives in Nigeria, despite contrary claims by security agencies.
Like blood diamond which has been fuelling large scale armed conflicts in some West African countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone, blood oil has been identified as the main sustaining factor of the Niger Delta armed conflict, which has metamorphosed over the years from minor to major armed struggle.
When this minor conflict degenerated into a major one, the then Nigerian President, rtd. general Olusegun Obasanjo inaugurated an adhoc security agency named Joint Taskforce On Security(JTF), comprising the Army. Navy, Airforce, Police and State Security Service. Its mandate was and still is to manage the security situation in the oil rich region.
The inauguration of JTF which many thought would atleast minimized the conflict, rather maximized it. According to findings by chidi opara reports, JTF leadership rather than strategizing to stop all forms of crude oil thefts as a first step towards stopping the conflict, organizes its own rackets and in some cases, collaborate with the militants in these rackets.
A chidi opara reports' contact in the creeks revealed to us that "from time to time, JTF arrests barges which they show to you journalists, but they wont show you the big vessels that illegally load atleast four thousand metric tons of crude oil each, on the high sea, almost on daily basis, settles JTF and disappear". "Although the vessel owners", the contact continued, "also pay the militants and we, the kelebes". Kelebe is an alias for informers.
Checks also revealed that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) key officials are also neck deep into crude oil theft. The big vessels used for the rackets are not registered with the Corporation as required by law, yet they get loaded with forcados thick crude oil by NNPC engineers, pay seven naira per barrel to JTF as security fees and sail. NNPC topshots usually collect their shares of these rackets in advance through offshore bank accounts.
Procurement of arms and ammunitions used by the militants to protect their territories is one area of collaboration between the JTF, the militants and the illegal crude oil bunkering syndicates. Militants according to checks make their fortunes by collecting protection fees from crude oil bearing vessels passing through their territories. A substantial part of these fees are paid with arms and ammunitions. We gathered that the JTF security fees used to be five naira per barrel of oil loaded, but was recently increased to seven naira to accomodate movements of arms and ammunitions.
In the words of a JTF officer, "nobody kills a cash cow". The Niger Delta conflict have indeed become a cash cow for the JTF, the militants and the big time crude oil thieves.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 05:00
Friday, 17 October 2008
The reshuffle of the President Umaru Yar'Adua cabinet which has been on the card for some time, may not take place now, except if the political intrigues, arm twisting and horse trading, thrown up by the creation of the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs are resolved.
The President in a move, according to Presidency officials, targeted at finding a lasting solution to the problems of the long neglected oil rich region had created a Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs. The creation of the Ministry elicited varied reactions from observers, while some hailed the move as a step in the right direction, others described it as capable of creating more problems, while a section of observers approached the issue cautiously. The Movement For The Emancipation Of Niger Delta(MEND) had in an online news release, advised caution in celebrating the creation of the Ministry.
chidi opara reports learnt that as soon as the Ministry was created, various interest groups moved into Abuja to lobby for slots in the potentially "lucrative" Ministry. The Ministry like others will likely have two Ministers, one senior, the other junior. The concentration of the lobbyists, according to knowledgeable contacts in Abuja is on the senior Ministerial slot.
The first set of lobbyists were ex-governors James Ibori, Peter Odili, Donald Duke and Dieyepriye Alamesigha. We can authoritatively report that Ibori and Alamesigha wanted the position for themselves, but have not been able to independently confirm whether Odili and Duke wanted the position for themselves or for their political godsons/daughters.
Other groups lobbying for these Ministerial slots are influential ethnic leaders from the Niger Delta region, as well as influential youth leaders from the oil bearing zone.
very rich business men and women from other zones in the country, whose main interests are in oil and gas are also said to be lobbying to nominate Niger deltans whom they can use to advance their business interests.
The activities of these lobbyists, according to presidency contacts is what is delaying the cabinet reshuffle, contrary to news media reports. "Mr. President cannot afford to offend these powerful interests, so he is still consulting" a Presidency contact whispered to chidi opara reports.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 03:55
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
The global financial squeeze which have already adversely affected world class finance giants like American Insurance Group(AIG), lehman Brothers Holdings Incorporated, Merriyll Lynch and others is having its effects on the already weak base of the Nigerian economy.
This financial slide was triggered off in the United States Of America(USA) by a meltdown on the mortgage industry. At present, the USA government have doled out over seventy billion dollars to save its major finance institutions from bankcruptcy.
The squeeze is also noticeable in other renowned global financial centres like London, where the FTSE 100 Index suffered a record slide recently, Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul and Shanghai, where Indices also recorded serious slides.
The first casuality in Nigeria is the price of bonny light crude oil which is equivalent of the north sea brent crude oil, which dropped to slightly above eighty-six dollars per barrel. Even though this price is well above the benchmark on which the 2008 budget proposal was anchored, federal government officials however, fear that further slumps will affect the size of the excess crude oil account with which the government finances recurrent budget deficits. Oil and gas are the mainstay of the Nigerian economy.
At the Nigerian Stock Exchange(NSE), share prices have continued to fall, resulting into huge losses for investors, officials of NSE have been intervening to save the market and by extension, the economy. Brainstorming sessions, chidi opara reports learnt are still on to work out new ways to contain the situation.
In the private sector, major Nigerian banks, who in the bid to globalize their operations, partnered with big ofshore Finance Institutions have had their partners withdrawing Investments in anticipation of a complete shutdown of the country's economy. One of the consequences of this, chidi opara reports was authoritatively informed, is that industry giants who usually depend on finances from these outlets to stay in business, will have to either downsize or shutdown operations with the resultant consequences to the economy of the Nation.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 02:52
Friday, 10 October 2008
The Nigerian ruling class have recently made a desperate move to stifle freedom of information which they see as inimical to their survival. This class is largely seen as a group that survives mainly on not so transparent state patronages.
this recent move was made through an amendment proposal to the Freedom Of Information(FOI) bill routed through the Nigerian upper legislative chamber, the Senate. The life of the FOI which was first sent to the national Assembly in 1999 with the aim of enhancing access to information have been a very chequered one. The current President of the Senate is a very rich retired general and a former military governor and minister.
The amendment proposal which is seen in informed circles as an attempt to stifle freedom of information proposes that any seeker of information will first apply to a state or federal court to prove that the information will not compromise national security if disclosed. Even at that, a public official, according to the amendment proposal clause which chidi opara reports sighted, can refuse to disclose such information if he/she thinks that it will compromise national security if made public.
The FOI bill had been passed into law by the legislative regime preceeding the current one but was vetoed by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo who was installed into power for the second time in 1999 by the retired military generals segment of the Nigerian ruling class in the heat of nationwide agitations for civilian democratic rule, to protect the interest of this class, who are believed to be plundering the commonwealth of the Nation since independence.
The FOI bill has however, been listed severally for discussions in this dispensation. It was sent to the relevant committee twice last year(2007).President Umaru Yar'Adua, son of a former Minister, younger sibling of a former military Vice-president and a prince of the Katsina royal house, who was installed as President by Olusegun Obasanjo in an election tagged as flawed by local and foreign election monitors is believed to be behind the current travail of the FOI bill.
Chidi opara reports gathered that influential segments of the Nigerian ruling class view the bill in its original format as having the potential to enhance the already huge influence of the critical Nigerian news media, especially the internet sub-sector if passed into law. The Nigerian ruling class is seen at home and abroad as very corrupt, resulting largely in the country being listed as the 125th most corrupt country in the world.
In the light of the snail speed court processes in Nigeria, bringing in the courts into the process of accessing official information have been seen by critical observers as a way of making the process cumbersome, to discourage seekers of information. It is also believed that custodians of official information, majority of whom are career civil servants will always act according to the promptings of political office holders, who are usually installed into these offices to protect class interests.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 04:25
Tuesday, 7 October 2008
The political warfare which have been fought on many fronts since the Rivers State governor, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was declared the duely elected governor of the oil rich state by the Supreme court of Nigeria last year(2007) have shifted to the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) and the news media.
Ever since the Supreme court gave the controversial verdict which many observers described as a judicial coup, the political configuration in the state have been divided into two major camps. While the governor leads one camp based in Portharcourt, a former governor of the state, Dr. Peter Odili, known to be the incumbent governor's political godfather is leading the other camp based in Abuja.
What sparked off the current battle was an alleged move by the Abuja group to use the EFCC against the portharcourt group and a news report published by some newspapers and a popular news website, alleging that one of the close aides of the Governor, who is currently undergoing interrogation at EFCC had opened an account with a fictitious name in one of the banks in portharcourt, through which money belonging to the state government is allegedly being transfered into the governor's private purse. The report continued that when the account was discovered by the EFCC, a notice was given to the bank for its freezing. The report further alleged that the governor's aide moved quickly to convert it to a government account after withdrawing a hefty sum.
Investigations in Portharcourt by chidi opara reports revealed that when the news broke, the Portharcourt based group who are already trying to make in roads into EFCC wih the aim of having its own contacts therein, concluded that this is another weapon of its opponents. It therefore intensified efforts to penetrate the anti-corruption commission. We learnt that the Portharcourt group have in the meantime drafted its own news media attackers into the new battle grounds. An equally popular news website which the governor's group patonizes have already published what observers believed was a hatchet job.
Rivers state is reputed to be a major oil and gas producing state in Nigeria. This position also confers on it the position of the richest state in the country. A cross section of analysts who have been following keenly, the political bullfighting in the state, whom chidi opara reports spoke to, posited that there are no altrustic motives behind these fights. "They are only aiming at the commonwealth of the people", a lecturer in the Faculty of Humanites at the University of Portharcourt, who did not want his name published told one of our reporters yesterday(6th october,2008)at the University's senior staff club.
chidi opara reports can now report that both camps have literally invaded security and news media circuits with hefty cash to recruit influencial security and news media topshots to be used in a forthcoming political battle that appears to have the colour of a battle royale.
As the drumbeat of this battle continues to sound, the words of a female civil servant whom our reporter met at the Rivers State secreatariat complex, continues to echo. "Everybody seems to have forgotten us the common people" she complained.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 05:29
Saturday, 4 October 2008
Apart from economic problems, the other major problem facing the Nigerian Nation is security, especially in the oil hub, Niger Delta region, where a group of disgruntled young men and women, armed with sophisticated destructive weapons wreck havoc almost on daily basis on oil and gas facilities and kidnap both expatriates and Nigerians for ransom. Oil and gas are the bedrocks of the Nation's economy.
Aside from the Niger delta security problem, there is also the serious twin issues of armed robbery and assasinations. This year(2008), have already recorded a considerable number of violent robberies and assasinations which have projected Nigeria to offshore investors as unsafe for investment.
The equally serious issue of cultism, especially in the Nation's institutions of learning cannot be overlooked. Virtually all the secondary and tertiary institutions of learning in Nigeria have atleast five deadly cult groups operating therein. Members of these cult groups provide ready manpower base for the recruiters of armed robbers, militants and assasins. The security implications of these developments which have considerably stretched the resources of Nigerian security apparatuses over the years are obvious.
The need to arrest this situation and thereby engender adequate security in Nigeria, prompted a corporate German citizen and friend of Nigeria, BA Enterprises, through its Nigerian arm, Bodyguard Academy(BA)Consultancy(Nigeria)Limited, in co-operation with the Nigeria-German Business Association(NGBA) to organize a two-day security conference and workshop it tagged "1st Nigerian-German Security Conference, Abuja 2008" to be held on 24th and 25th october, 2008 at Bolingo hotel and tower.
The Managing Director/CEO of the organizing firm, Mr. Thorsten .M. Moeller in an online interaction with chidi opara reports, said that the firm have lined up resource persons as speakers. One of the speakers will be the Chief operating officer of NGBA, Mr. Jaiye Doherty who will discuss opportunities of business develpoment between Nigeria and Germany.
Other speakers include; Brice De Ron, with more than ten years experience in planning, development and production of custom made security/tracking solutions. Peter Kozany, with more than six years experience in developing and building armoured vehicles. Dirk Grube, with more than eleven years experience as close protection officer for government and private personnels in hostile environments. Stanoje Bimbasic, with more than five years experience in operative risk and fraud management, especially in banking and Thorsten .M. Moeller, with more than ten years experience in military reconnaisance and training.
The conference and workshop according to the organizers, will help in further strengthening the cordial relationship between Nigeria and Germany, especially in the area of business development.
Posted by PublicInformationProjects at 03:45