Friday, 29 June 2012

Amnesty International: A Call for Urgent Action Against Nigerian Forced Eviction of thousands

Save THOUSANDS of poor people in Rivers State from Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi's forced eviction

UA: 184/12 Index: AFR 44/032/2012 Nigeria Date: 29 June 2012


THOUSANDS at risk of forced eviction

Thousands of people are at risk of forced eviction in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt. The security forces began demolishing their homes on 27 June: nearly 300 homes have been demolished and hundreds of people have been made homeless.

... An estimated 30,000 people will be forcibly evicted and their houses demolished by the Rivers State government if the present demolitions continue. The state Joint Task Force (JTF), made up of police and soldiers, is leading the demolition of Abonnema Wharf waterfront in Port Harcourt. The residents received no written or verbal notice and were offered no alternative housing. Compensation payments are being made, but many property owners have not received them. Tenants do not receive any compensation. Hundreds of people will be left homeless if the demolitions continue. According to the Rivers State government Commissioner of Urban Development, state governor Rotimi Amaechi ordered the JTF to demolish the houses "for security reasons".

The Rivers State government have not followed due process. They did not tell the community the reasons for the demolitions, but the Commissioner of Urban Development told Amnesty International that they were carried out “to protect residents”. The authorities told Amnesty International that there had been shootouts between rival gangs operating in the area in June, and the demolitions were intended to prevent more gang fighting. The demolitions are taking place despite the government telling landlords and property owners in a meeting on 17 May that their houses would not be demolished until they had received full compensation and enough time to relocate.

However, on 27 June, hundreds of people were left homeless and according to eyewitnesses many were forced to sleep either on the streets, or with friends and relatives in the remaining buildings; the JTF carried out mass arrests of residents before and during the demolitions. Scores of them have already been released. Local NGOs in Port Harcourt believe the demolition will continue.

Please write immediately in English or your own language:

n Urging the authorities to provide temporary housing immediately to the people of Port Harcourt whose homes have been destroyed and who are currently homeless as well as emergency relief, including access to food, shelter, water, sanitation and health care services;

n Calling on them to stop all forced evictions in Abonnema Wharf, and ensure that all those already evicted receive adequate alternative housing and compensation for all losses and suffering;

n Urging them to ensure all necessary safeguards are in place to prevent further forced evictions, and ensure that any evictions comply with national law, as well as regional and international human rights standards;

n Calling on them to order a full and independent investigation, and review the role of the JTF in assisting the demolitions, ensuring that police and soldiers are not ordered to assist in illegal evictions.


Governor of Rivers State

Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi

Office of the Governor

Government House

Port Harcourt

Rivers State


Salutation: Your Excellency

Federal Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development

Ms Ama Pepple


Abuja, Nigeria

Salutation: Dear Minister

And copies to:

The Executive Secretary

National Human Rights Commission

Professor Bem Angwe

National Secretariat

No.19, Aguiyi Ironsi Street


P.M.B. 444, Garki

Abuja, Nigeria

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

Name Address 1 Address 2 Address 3 Fax Fax number Email Email address Salutation Salutation

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.

HUNDREDS at risk of forced eviction

ADditional Information

Port Harcourt, capital of Rivers State, is in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta. In July 2008, the state governor announced plans to demolish all waterfront settlements in the city as part of a programme of "urban renewal". The waterfront settlements, about 40 in all, are built on reclaimed land along the city’s shoreline, and are home to an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 people.

Abonnema Wharf has an estimated population of over 30,000 people. It is close to oil companies' petroleum tank storage areas. It is also home to people forced to leave the neighbouring Njemanze community, which was demolished in 2009. Many of the residents work for government institutions and agencies. However, the state governor told a press conference in Port Harcourt on 28 October 2011 that 80% of the population of waterfront communities such as Abonnema Wharf were criminals. He has since threatened demolition several times. In November 2011, a Rivers State High Court issued an injunction against the Rivers State Government, ruling that they should not carry out demolitions and evictions in Abonnema Wharf. The state government started paying compensation in June to landlords in the community, but not tenants.They convened a meeting on 17 May to inform people of the compensation process and the planned demolition. They had held similar consultation sessions in October 2011 and March 2012.

The demolition of Abonnema Wharf is being led by security officers from the Joint Task Force (JTF), who are federal agents but also under the direct command of the state governor. It follows several nights of shootouts in the community between rival gangs and security forces. The authorities claimed that the gangs were unhappy with the government’s demolition plans for the community and were threatening some property owners who had collected payments in compensation for their properties. The authorities told Amnesty International that the demolitions were intended to serve as a deterrent to future gang activities in the community and its surroundings.

The state governor has also repeatedly said that “the demolition exercise [will] sanitize and check criminal activities” in the city. Thousands of people have already been forcibly evicted from their homes, and over 200,000 more are at risk from the waterfront settlements.

Nigeria is obliged under a range of human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to refrain from and prevent forced evictions. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has emphasized that evictions may be carried out only as a last resort, once all feasible alternatives have been explored and only after appropriate procedural and legal safeguards are in place. These include genuine consultation with the people affected, adequate and reasonable notice, adequate alternative housing and compensation for all losses, safeguards on how evictions are carried out, and access to legal remedies and procedures, including access to legal aid where necessary. Governments are required to ensure that no one is rendered homeless or vulnerable to other human rights violations as a consequence of an eviction. These requirements apply to all evictions, regardless of the tenure status of residents.

Chapter 2 of Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, Section 16 (2) (d) directs the state to ensure that suitable, adequate shelter is provided for all citizens. However, as with other provisions on social and economic rights, this falls within the Constitution’s “directive principles”. As such, it is not justiciable and therefore remains unenforceable in Nigeria’s courts.

Name: Thousands of people living in Port Harcourt

Gender m/f: Both

UA: 184/12 Index: AFR 44/032/2012 Issue Date: 29 June 2012

Monday, 25 June 2012

Goodluck Jonathan a Performance Evaluation of a Joke of a #PresidentialMediachat by Tokdam Dam

I decided to mark the Presidential media chart against some standard criteria for interviews for Jobs and performance evaluation for some organisation. i am however too ashamed to publish the result of the the performance of our dear President. you can do it yourself. here are some of the key criteria: and a few fearful/worrisome responses:

1.In identifying key areas of the economy in which specific progress has been made.

" we are handing the economy in a professional way" , "“I am not in charge of Security, I am not in Charge of Economy, there are people responsible for that”

2.relating answers to questions in key areas;

at 19:55 on Electricity: ”When we were campaiging, we didn’t know that BH will overtake the priorities of government,” in other words , i don tire seff this kind thing seff.
at 20:07 on Agriculture: The president said his government are revolutionizing agriculture in Nigeria.”We are giving cotton seeds free in the North” what about the south, east, and west ? far as possible record candidates’ responses to questions , did he give direct relevant answers or dance around the questions ? 

20:20 The president says they are managing the economy professionally, “It is not Jonathan that is managing it,” he said, so who did we elect to manage the economy ? 

20:52 Crude Oil Tefth: ”The stealing of crude oil is a Nigerian phenomenon,” the president said. He adds that it has gone cancerous. “We will stop it, but it is like allowing a cancerous cell to grow into a major tumor.” i don't get it, am i daft ?????
20:27 Relationship with National Assembly: ”I have a good relationship with the National assembly,” “Whenever I travel, I go with atleast two members of the National Assembly,” the president reveals. lol, sorry i didn't mean to laugh.

4.objective and consistency :
ON ASSET DECLARATION: “Asset Declaration is voluntary, I don’t give a damn what any one feel about it", how do you fight corruption when you cant tell what people have stolen, one of the rules of public service is that you declare your asset.
On visit to troubled part of the country President Jonathan said he has not visited Borno state, the center of Boko Haram attacks, because the airport there was not functional at the time he planned to visit. “And we did not want to land somewhere and fly in to Maiduguri with a helicopter for obvious reasons.” He promises to visit the state and other states in Nigeria. watin do road, so the roads are so bad you cannot drive to see the people who voted into government. you must fly eh!. 1
9:19 The Brazil Trip: The president said if he hadn’t travelled to Brazil while Kaduna was boiling, it would have sent out a very wrong message to the world, and bolster the sect. so the citizens in shamble and disarray means nothing to the president, he was elected to attend to the international community. if a father runs out of the house when it is on fire with the kids in the house just to attend village meeting so that villagers wont think there is a problem in the house, that is really smart move...
"Hearing noise in the parliament does not mean that Mr. President and the National Assembly are fighting" this is ops! off point.
“I am not in charge of Security, I am not in Charge of Economy, there are people responsible for that”
" I told my friends that Nigerians will abuse me till the end of 2012 because they will not see any meaningful development, but they will change and praise me by 2013 because they will begin to see result" sounding very defeated and i don't really care-ish, but this all you can tell us of your administration sir.

"Nigeria is not broke; if we are broke, you wouldn't see investors clamoring to come to Nigeria" investors moving to Ghana is more like it, its good to dream dreams, how many investors are clamouring to come to Nigeria? naming them would have made more sense.
"Most of the top universities in the world are named after people...Harvard and others. The change was made in line with Nigerian laws especially the ones relating to naming and change of name of an institution" yes and OXFORD, YALE, MIT:Massachusetts Institute of Technology ,Yale University,Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, University of Nottingham, named after Mr Oxford, Mr Massachusetts, Mr Cambridge, Mr Nottingham, Mr Imperial, and Mr Yale University.

5. level of participation of audience : out of 160 million Nigerians, the few calls that came through the telephone operator, Governor of Benue state Mr. Suswan; as we heard, many only got to introduce themselves before they were cut off. so less than 0.0001% heard a chance to ask real questions. that is really sad and unfair because if the president continue to hide behind the advice of the wicked people around him he will end up as the worst impression of a president.

Remarks: the candidate(President) performed very poorly and appear fearful, we need to pray for him to find the courage to do the right thing by resigning. it appears somebody (maybe in Brazil) told the President to fire those handling security and talk to Nigerians, he did well to fire the persons he needed to, but as per talking to Nigerians; sincerely we are more fearful for our country after the media chart, the president kept referring to an imaginary person who is suppose to be responsible for the management of the economy, he didn't do anything to assure the citizens of the need to be hopeful, he did very well to increase our fears and worry. he appeared frightful and tired of it all.
conclusion : will you employ candidate to manage the economy of Nigeria ? NEVER, but sadly he is in meant to be the president. but he is not in control what he said, there are people in charge of the economy and security, its not Jonathan, init ?
OK, so moving forward, the next media chart should be more truthful and candidate should prepare to answer questions, enough of the drama.

Video: With Major Crisis in Nigeria: Unilag Students are IDIOTS protesting Change of Name

A White girl Takes on UNILAG Students

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Little Lagos in London. Come and join the discussion at Theatre Local Peckham-London

Little Lagos in London. Come and join the discussion at Theatre Local

As part of Theatre Local 2012 we have programmed a series of FREE panel discussions to take place in the Bussey Building in Peckham during the summer. We thought you might be interested in the first of these discussions Little Lagos in London.

Little Lagos in London

Thursday 21 June, 6.15pm

Join our host BBC journalist Nkem Fijian and an invited panel of writers, academics, actors and activists as they discuss the London Nigerian community.

Panel includes

Bola Agbaje, Playwright (Belong)

Kayode Ogundamisi, journalist, Convener of the Nigeria Liberty Forum, UK

Dr Osita Okagbue, Professor at Goldsmiths University
Ade Solanke, Playwright and Academic

Alice Ukoko, Women of Africa, Human Rights campaigner

FREE! No need to book, just turn up at Theatre Local, The Bussey Building/CLF Art Cafe, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST and join in the debate.

The Bussey Building is opposite Peckham Rye Station
Running time approx 40 minutes

For more deatils on the other talks at Theatre Local visit our website here

Come and see British-Nigerian, Bola Agbaje's new play
Belong at Theatre Local
Until 23 June

Pay-what-you-like on the door on day of performance

Election lost, speeches made and controversy stirred, Kayode - a British MP and self-made man - is hiding. Escaping the political heat in London he flees to Nigeria. But once there, he gets caught up in a whole new power game.

Former Peckham resident, Bola Agbaje's satirical new play questions our notion of home.

**** 'funny, honest and bitingly dark' Times
Indhu Rubasingham directs the 7-strong cast Noma Dumezweni, Jocelyn Jee Esien, Lucian Msamati, Pamela Nomvete, Itoya Osagiede, Richard Pepple and Ashley Zhangazha.

Belong is a Royal Court and Tiata Fahodzi co-production.

Watch the Trailer
Pay-what-you-like on the door on day of performance
Tickets in advance £10 (£8 concs)
BOOK ONLINE | 020 7565 5000

Theatre Local, The Bussey Building/CLF Art Cafe, 133 Rye Lane, SE15 4ST.
The Bussey Building is opposite Peckham Rye Station

Friday, 15 June 2012

GEJ planted cocaine in my house to implicate Timipre Sylva. Richie Tommy Claims

Flash! 'Bag filled with cocaine' found during EFCC house search on Richie Tommy. Brother in-law to former Bayelsa State governor
Timipre Sylva. Family claim the EFCC planted the drugs to implicate Richie Tommy.

Former Bayelsa State governor
Timipre Sylva.

15 June 2012



In an apparent plot targeted at former Bayelsa State governor, Chief
Timipre Sylva, men of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
(EFCC) stormed the Abuja residence of his brother-in-law, Mr. Richie
Imoh Tommy, early Friday morning.

They conducted a thorough search of the house, and when they found
nothing incriminating, they produced a bag which they said contained

On that basis, Mr. Tommy was arrested and has been denied access to his lawyers.

Mr. Tommy completely denies ownership of the said bag, and wonders why
even without a test or investigation, EFCC would claim to have found
cocaine in his house. Besides, it remains curious how EFCC suddenly
became a drug-busting organ.

Mr. Tommy believes that the EFCC assault on his residence and the
allegation of a cocaine-laden bag is another desperate mission
targeted at his in-law, the former Bayelsa State governor, by agents
of President Goodluck Jonathan.

Personal Assistant to Mr. Richie Tommy

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Obituary: Death of Fuel Subsidy Probe Report. Written by Pius Adesanmi

With heaviness of heart and gratitude to God for a life short lived, we, members of the National Order of Cabalocrats and Sacred Cows of Nigeria, announce the call to glory of our loving Father, Uncle, Husband, Brother, etc, Chief Fuel Subsidy Probe Report, whose sad demise occurred recently in a fatal video accident. 

Although the enemies have done their worst as your death, clearly, is no ordinary eye, we, your family, friends, and political associates, are comforted by our certainty that you have gone to rest in the bosom of the Lord and in the celestial company of other faithfully departed probe reports like the power sector probe report, the Siemens probe report, the Halliburton probe report, and the pension fund probe report . 

We are further comforted by the fact that you will certainly be joined in heaven by the SEC probe report and the Malabu oil probe report as soon as both reports are ready. We love you but God knows better. Sleep well till we meet to part no more.

Survived by:

Aso Rock (Aged Father)
PDP National Secretariat (Grand Uncle)
National Assembly (Uncle)

(2)Beneficiaries from demise:
Chief Femi Otedola
Oil cartel members too numerous to mention

(3) Soul-for-dollar politicians:
Honourable Farouk Lawan
Honourable Boniface Emenalo

Funeral arrangements as announced by the family.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Faroukdollargate! Leadership of Nigerian House of Reps Must Resign Now! Public Interest Lawyers



Prior to the public release of the House of Representatives’ Ad hoc Committee’s Report on the ‘Oil Subsidy Scam’, the Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL) received information from impeccable sources detailing how the Chair of the Ad hoc committee, Farouk Lawan solicited bribe and received bribe running into the sum of five hundred thousand United States dollars from the oil tycoon, Femi Otedola. And in a sting operation reminiscent of that in which the British undercover reporter, the fake Sheikh, had become legendary, Otedola played out the archetypal Sheikh and Farouk Lawan got caught pants down. And as Otedola has since claimed, and as the Public Interest Lawyers League’s sources have consistently claimed, the bribe transaction was caught on camera.

Beyond the fact of Farouk Lawan being the fall guy, at least in the eyes of the Nigerian public so far, there is something sinister about the way the network of corruption works in the House of Representatives. Farouk Lawan is merely the face, disgraced by the outcome of his own perfidious adventure, of an orchestrated network of members who work the committee system to intimidate and harass sections of our polity for bribes. The committee system feeds into the culture of settlement and patronage promoted by the leadership of the House. No one becomes chairman, or vice chairman and, or a member of a juicy committee if that individual has no capacity to deliver the perfidious. To deliver means to make monetary returns to the Speaker. 


The information available to PILL suggests that the Speaker, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal was informed of the activities of the Ad hoc committee chair, Farouk Lawan, a week before the report was released. This fact is today of public knowledge. It is also in the public domain that Aminu Tambuwal confronted Farouk Lawan with the video clip of his criminal misdemeanour. Lawan is reported to have owned up, partly to a certain sum and not the bribe sums in full. However, further revelations have forced Lawan’s hands and he has since accepted receiving the sum of five hundred thousand dollars from Femi Otedola. The questions that arise are:

1. Why didn’t the Honourable Speaker call in the Law Enforcement Agencies knowing that a prima facie case of solicitation, bribe giving and receiving had taken place?

2. Why didn’t the Speaker disband the Ad hoc Committee or asked Farouk Lawan and Boniface Emenalo to step aside?

3. Why didn’t the Speaker initiate a process within the House to discipline the members so fingered?
4. Why didn’t Speaker intimate Nigerians of the shenanigans that had taken place in the House?

The Speaker did nothing. Farouk Lawan was the Speaker’s principal pick to head the Ad hoc committee, and the Speaker’s decision was either borne out of a warped commitment to our country or he misjudged his men. Public Interest Lawyers League thinks it is neither. He protected his men. 


Farouk Lawan, like his other colleague, Herman Hembe, began shopping for bribe the moment the Ad hoc committee commenced its work. And he busied himself reaching out to oil marketers using his frontman, Jerry Alagboso.

The Public Interest Lawyers League (PILL) is aware that at 1:20am of the morning of 18th April 2012, Farouk Lawan personally turned up at the Abuja home of the former Minister of Interior, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho for collection of bribe that sadly didn’t materialise because Captain Iheanacho insisted that his company, Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, had done no wrong. Subsequent perfidious bribe solicitations were arranged by the frontman, Jerry Alagboso, House member from Imo state, at his Apo Legislative Quarters’ home in Abuja. And his home became the first place of contact for those who sort to reach out Farouk Lawan and Boniface Emenalo. And Boniface Emenalo was sadly the bribe collector for the syndicate.

In the light of the above, therefore, the Public Interest Lawyers League makes the following demands:

a. That Jerry Alagboso, Farouk Lawan, Boniface Emenalo and other members of the ad hoc committee should be arrested immediately by the police and investigation should commence without delay into the proceedings of the committee to determine the extent of culpability of its individual members;

b. That Captain Iheanacho and Femi Otedola should be arrested and questioned by the police to 

determine the extent of their criminal complicity in the bribe saga;

c. That the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Honourable Aminu Tambuwal should immediately resign his position to allow for proper investigation into the activities of some committees of the House.

d. That the report of the ad hoc committee on oil subsidy scam be suspended until the extent of the individual culpability of members of the committee is established.

Abdul Mahmud

Kelvin Okoro
(General Secretary)

Niamey 4! #June 12 Nigerian Boys who changed rule of the game by hijacking a plane. Written By Wale Adeoye

In the heat of the June 12 election annulment in 1993, four Nigerian teenagers hijacked a Nigerian Airways airbus A310. The plane was diverted to the Republic of Niger. Sixteen years after, in an encounter with Deputy Editor Adewale Adeoye, the now adult musketeers recount their experiences and the pains from the nine harrowing years they spent in the arid prison of Niamey.
          Richard Ajibola Ogunderu Kabir Adenuga, Benneth Oluwadaisi & Kenny Rasaq-Lawal

Midday penultimate Friday, he sat on a couch, puffing away smoke from his St Morris cigar. His eyes were piercing, sharp and inquisitive. He wore what looked like a permanent frown on his brow. By noon each day, his friends say butts of half the packet of cigarette would have been thrashed into the small tray, perched on his table. He spoke with some sense of political accuracy, but would answer each question after about three minutes of starring into your eyes and then banging his head downwards. He has no specific job for now, except that he still dreams, that one day, he would become a pilot and fly some of the best planes in the world, that is, if his ambition to rule Nigeria through democratic means, no longer tops the list of his scale of preference. He once made attempts to be a pilot, after his release from nine and half years of incarceration, but his requests were not granted by a German aviation school in Frankfurt. Looking at him, Richard Ogunderu, the subject was certainly younger in 1993 when he led a group of co-teens to hijack a Nigerian airways bus A310 scheduled to fly from Lagos to Abuja. He probably was equally thinner, less radical and less ideological than he seems now. 16 years ago, he had jumped from political oblivion to seize newspaper headlines, though in a less fascinating tilt, including prominent mention by the New York Times and other top western media.
The name Richard Ajibola Ogunderu may be strange to some people, but not to so many that would remember the astonishing actions of four daring gang that hijacked the Nigerian airbus A310 on Monday, October 25, 1993. Many observers see the plane hijack as the first of its kind in Nigerian history. Ogunderu, and his co-plotters, Kabir Adenuga, Benneth Oluwadaisi and Kenny Rasaq-Lawal took the daring action on that afternoon when Chief Ernest Shonekan and his fidihe (interim) government was battling almost fruitlessly to salvage the floundering image of a nation then in turmoil. The group joined the passengers in Lagos, their pony bags hung on their shoulders as they filed through the queue to board the plane from the local airport in Lagos. As the plane settled to cruise at about 30,000 feet above sea level and the pilot announced that passengers could loosen their belts, the boys blinked to each other on their seats, beckoning on the ringleader to strike. He did and the other hijackers, all in their teens, followed. They did not only seize the plane, they also held in awe all the bewildered passengers, some of who were business people or top government officials flying to Abuja, the seat of power. The boys cited the need to enthrone democracy and actualize the annulled June 12 election as the reason for what appeared a desperate action, quite strange to their social milieu.
`Ladies and gentlemen, this plane has been taken over by the Movement for the Advancement of Democracy, remain calm, we will not harm you. You will be told where the plane will land you’ a gritty voice, not as sonorous as that of a pilot, echoed through the small speakers. Panic. Fear. Uncertainties. The airhostesses, Ogunderu recalled, were almost stone dead, having been gripped by fear. They must not move else they would `be dead.’ A passenger who was in the toilet was said to have remained indoor until one of the hijackers came to pull him out.
Ogunderu said the action of the four boys, now men, was `meaningfully desperate.’ He said he and his peers were frustrated by the annulment of the election and the fact that the country appeared almost heading for a civil war and that his group had to take the action to `send jitters down the spine of those in power.’ Hear him: `we wanted change. Our action confirmed that when a system is inhuman, it could produce the extreme in all of us. A system that cares not, a system that does not listen to our cries and our woes, a system that wants to exterminate us does not deserve a day of existence,’ Ogunderu told The Nation last week. He said the four young men that led the hijack sent `shock waves’ to the consciousness of the regime so that they would realize that `Nigerians were not everlasting dummies.’ The group’s action was under the aegis of Movement for Democracy in Nigeria, MAD. Kabir also said the action was taken `to show the resentment against annulment of the June 12 election.’
He said he was worried that after 16 years, the system continues to trample underfoot the lives, rights and privileges of the ordinary Nigerian citizen. The group claimed June 12 motivated them. But there are cobwebs of puzzles: who sponsored the action and how was the operation carried out? How were the boys recruited? Asked if the group was afraid when the gendarmes stormed the plane, he said `No.’ how did the group of four meets and how were they recruited? That is not for discussion for now, he said, but he admitted that the four had been part of the MAD campaign against military rule which began in 1992.
Before the action, MAD’s leader, Mallam Jerry Yusuff said to be an indigene of Kwara state, had been in the forefront of the campaign against military rule. In the hey days of General Ibrahim Babangida’s rule in 1992, MAD made some appearances at the National Theater, through seminars, in the campaign against military reign, but the group did not carry out the hijack until the interim government of Chief Ernest Shonekan had been installed late in 1993. Leader of MAD, Jerry Yusuff after the hijack, said the action was to `terrorize the few people who have terrorized us politically and economically, to recover the money stolen from us.’ Yusuff is a product of universities that focus on hard-line Islamic studies. He was born in Ofa, Kwara state in 1952. He lived in Germany between 1973 and 1977 and was thought to have learnt German. He was a businessman who specialized in selling cocoa. When his boys seized the plane, they gave 72 hours to the government to meet their demands or else they would set the plane on fire.
They however allowed 34 passengers to go, leaving the remaining 159 among whom were top Nigerian government officials. The Niger Interior ministry listed a Chinese, Rong Viren as one of those released. Niger also said the plane had wanted to refuel in Chad but was refused landing. On the day of the kidnap, the local and international media were amazed that such a thing could take place in Nigeria, considered an aviation safe haven. The four took over the plane as soon as it took off from Lagos. Ogunderu was the one that led the assault. He recalled: `I walked into the cockpit and seized the process, and then the others followed me. Two of us stood in the plane to intimidate the passengers. We took over the plane and asked the pilot to head for another country.’ Though Ogunderu did not say it, but an independent source hinted that originally the plane was to be diverted to Germany but that Niamey became a choice when it became obvious that the aviation fuel would not sustain the plane for any longer distance. Ogunderu said the plane landed in Niamey in less than two hours and that as it grounded to a halt, he could see, from the louvers hundreds of armed gendarmes waiting at the airport.
The hijackers had issued prepared statements, which they distributed in the plane calling on the Nigerian government to actualize the June 12 election and swear-in, the winner, Chief M.K.O Abiola. Negotiations began with the hijackers after some few days of lull and indecision by the local authority, which was unawares of the hijackers military capacity, or whether they had explosives that could blow up the plane. The Nigerien authorities offered to release the hijackers provided that they would not harm the passengers, but while that was on going, Richard revealed, high level security meetings were in top gear with the chief aim of storming the plane and freeing the passengers, and if possible, kill the hijackers. Asked if he was afraid when the gendarmes stormed the plane, Ogunderu said `we were on a mission, we wanted to show the evil regime that young people were prepared to go the extra length to free Nigerians from the yoke of military dictatorship. ‘ He said further: `we were not afraid, at that moment, death meant nothing to us. They stormed the place and we were alarmed, we didn’t shoot, we tried to perfect our safety and the safety of the passengers’ he said. Apparently, the negotiation the Nigerien government was having with them was bait, aimed at buying time and psyching up the level of sophistication of the four teenagers that apparently had no experience in hijack and some of who had not even seen a plane until they took that action. Richard admitted he was on top of the group of four boys who hijacked the Nigerian Plane in 1993 under the banner of MAD. He was the one who briefed the boys of what each was to do and what role was to be carried out by each. In Niger, Ogunderu and his boys asked for more fuel to enable the plane fly to Frankfurt, but the Nigerien authority declined request.
The four, on landing in Niamey, held on to the plane for some days, trailed by bait negotiations until the gendarmes stormed the plane to rescue the passengers. `We were shot at. Some people died’, he recalled. However, few days latter, hundreds of armed gendarmes stormed the plane in the night, when the hijackers were thought to be asleep. `They thought we were asleep, so they came under the cover of the night and fired several shots. They bombarded the plane. I think one person died’ Ogunderu recalled. The four with their arms cramped on their back, were handcuffed and taken to captivity. He said that the four were taken to a prison in a community with day temperature in the range of 55 degree centigrade. `We were poorly fed. We could neither speak Hausa nor French and nobody spoke English to us,’ Lawal had said. With the arrival of the hijackers in a tiny country of lowly political tempo, a worried President of Niger, Mohamane Ousmane made a broadcast assuring his countrymen that he was on top of the situation. Soon, undercover security operatives began move to track down the brain box of the hijack. This led to the November 14 1993 abduction of the MAD leader, Mallam Jerry Yusuff. The adduction took place three days after the late dictator; General Sanni Abacha took over power. Yusuff was kidnapped from the street of Ilorin and taken to Niger, but the episode was kept under wraps by the governments of Niger and Nigeria. Yusuff said security operatives told him that he was being taking to Abuja but never knew until the plane landed in Niamey. On his secret abduction, the cat was let out of the bag only when officials of the local human rights group, Association Nigerienne Por La Defense Des Droits Dehomme, visited President Ousmane on behalf of the hijackers. In the discussion the President had with them, he unconsciously revealed what was hitherto a state secret when the rights group asked him about the fate of the four hijackers. The President asked them which of the hijackers they were pressing to be released.
The then President then mentioned that Yusuff had been brought into the country, which gave the human rights body the advantage to publicize the abduction of the MAD leader. However, the trial judge who presided over the case of Yusuff, Justice Abdourahmane Gayakoye held that Yusuff should be discharged since he did not commit the offence in Niger Republic; however the then public prosecutor, Mr. Matty El Hadj Moussa appealed the matter. The legal fray did not lead to the release of Yusuff until several years later. Last week, Richard, said when he carried out the action, he had only then left his secondary school in Ondo State. He told The Nation that he was the one that led the cell within the MAD, which felt the `best’ way was to turn the table against military rule and the surrogate government of Shonekan, even if it entailed using anarchical methods. `We were fired by the need to actualize June 12 through any means possible. We wanted to demonstrate rare courage that we could save Nigeria from the shackles of repression by giving a sense of courage to Nigerians.’ Recalling that day with nostalgia, Richard said “we could all have been killed.’ The hijacked also revealed the inadequacies of Nigerian airport security. The security officials had no prior knowledge of the action. There was no tip off.
The pilot himself was probably not trained enough to realize his abductors were holding a toy gun. For instance, in Lagos where the plane took off, Richard and the three others were part of the `innocent passengers’ that boarded the plane from Lagos to Abuja. Mid-sky, Richard said he was the one that stood up from his fastened belt and headed for the cockpit where the pilot and the co-pilot were holed up. He told The Nation he brought out a `gun.’ Richard now admitted, perhaps for the first time since the incident, that it was a toy gun he held that day. After his visit to the cockpit, he said the panicky pilot was compelled to divert the plane from Lagos to Niger Republic, in what arguably was seen as Nigeria’s first plane hijack episode.
He said further: `we wanted freedom, freedom to choose our leaders. We were pushed to the extreme and we reacted in an extreme manner’ he told The Nation. Richard recalled the pains, hunger, deprivation, penury, and threats of death, loneliness and the excruciating heat during the nine harrowing years in Niamey. There was no connection with their relations, no contact with loved ones, from morning till night, for nine years, they had to endure relating with hostile and strange people whose culture were totally different from theirs. On many occasions, death starred at them and the future was almost at an infinite peril, according to them. He and his colleagues were kept for nine years and four months in the arid prison of Niamey that was after several legal fireworks to seek their freedom had failed.
If there is anything the group of four gained, it was probably the ability to speak French, fluently. Richard, who on returning to Nigeria has been trying to enter the University without success, said he `remains a graduate having spent nine years and four months learning how to speak French.’ He however said he is still frustrated `by the lack of job and the inability of the Nigerian government to provide the essentials of life for her citizens including the four.’ On their return to Nigeria, no one or group gave them succor, except their relations, they were left to fend for their future, the prime of which was almost wasted. There was no post trauma treatment or rehabilitation. But while in Ndjamena prison, Kabir had improved his skill for drawing on canvass, sketching personalities and painting. Kenny kept his fashion design prowess alive throughout the gruesome nine years. Kabir and Kenny have now returned to Niger Republic where their knowledge of French and their profession earns them a fair living. Richard on return to Nigeria, attended the Alliance Francaise where he `brushed up his French language course with a diploma degree. But he still needs a salary-earning job.
Richard’s father, Yemi said there were lessons to be learnt from the action of the four boys. First, he said that with the growing wave of kidnappings across the country, it shows that `Nigeria is not working and our children, out of desperation are taking desperate actions, sometimes deadly, to survive what he described as a `stifling socio-political situation.’ He said the current leadership in Nigeria needs to respond to the fundamentals that make young people to want to risk death in the quest for survival saying that the action of the plane hijackers was a `desperate action in response to desperate oppressors in the country.’
However, there are suspicions as to the motif of the kidnap and the covert intrigues behind the action. Was it carried out with the prompting of the Nigerian security operatives under the direct supervision of General Sanni Abacha who was then the Minister of Defense under Shonekan? Was it a plot to create an illusion of insecurity so as to justify the taking over of Shonekan’s government using the innocent teens as unconscious cannon folders and puns in the wicked machination within the intra political struggle among the ruling elite? One: One information at least leaked to the Nigerien media that on the day of the kidnap, another Nigerian plane was earlier, abruptly brought by the Nigerian government to Niamey Airport. Two: a source said the hijackers’ manifesto read that Abacha should take over from Shonekan, this last point on the hijackers manifesto was said to have been stripped with ink when the original list of demands was printed out for the public.
In security parlance, if Abacha used them, there was no way the boys would know, they might have acted with the belief that they were activists defending democratic principles, without understanding the complex power game that underlined their actions,’ one security operative who sought anonymity told The Nation. But Richard’s father, who was equally arrested and detained by the then military government of Abacha said the boys’ actions were voluntary and that they could not have been sponsored by the military so as to aid Abacha’s emergence. He believes their action was born out of frustration against the military government and the growing resentment against the annulment of June 12 election.’ He said though the involvement of his son in the hijack caught him unawares, but that his son had always been known to `defend and promote basic human rights and the freedom of mankind’ right from his youth. He said no military regime could use his son for parochial interests. He said his son’s glowing records as a young boy `who cherishes die-hard rebellion against military rule”, would not at the same time be a pun in the intricate politics of power. Richard said he was partly motivated by Abiola’s reputation as a generous person, saying that he was `proud to have risked his life to see freedom and democracy installed in Nigeria.’
He said `when I was growing up, I see the looting of public treasury, the wickedness of leaders, the I-don’t-care attitude and the rigging of popular elections across the country even today. I knew in my mind that this would lead to chaos and breakdown of law and order as we see today’ saying that economic and political frustrations `tempts the revolutionary flavor in all of us.’ For now, Richard and Lawal have since settled for a new life in Nigeria, after they came in quietly to the country from Niger, the day after they walked into freedom after barely a decade of incarceration. According to them, they continue to try hard, to put the past in the trash bin of history. The only regrets, according to one of them is that the `evil that Nigerians fought against several years back continues to luck around the country’s image.’ He said `its unfortunate that our leaders continue to oppress us, the worst being that we cannot even chose our representatives in the face of fraudulent elections and the daring posture of the perpetrators of crime.’ All however said they would not see the hijacking of plane as the solution anymore and that `they will in fact campaign against’ such or related action.
Richard himself said one good thing about the current socio-political milieu is that “Democracy has brought hope; it has given us an opportunity to reshape our destiny, though we are yet to practice according to the rule.’ Now that his ambition to be a pilot seems headed for the rocks, what other ambition has he? Ogunderu said `he wants to be the President of Nigeria.’ What will be his priority if he, some day, occupies Aso Rock, he said he will `provide the essentials of life; water, housing, energy and food.’ He is of the opinion that the `rage in the land’ and the `growing desperation of young and old people could be put behind’ if there is food on the table of Nigerians. He said: `A system where people cannot afford common vegetables and even gari cannot guarantee peace for the citizenry.’ He said if he becomes the President, he would `curb crime by engaging young people in compulsory education and agriculture. ‘ Lately, he has been involved in the campaign for the restructuring of the country, having worked as a social worker with the Pro National Conference Organizations, PRONACO when the group was canvassing for the restructuring of Nigeria for self-determination.
But for now, Ogunderu’s new wish of becoming the President of Nigeria remains a dream, just a dream, and nothing more.

Monday, 4 June 2012



The Dana Air family is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of the passengers and crew of Flight 9J-922 of Sunday, June 3, 2012. The aircraft, with Registration Number 5N-RAM, departed Abuja for Lagos with 146 passengers onboard. 1 Dana Air Flight Engineer, 2 Pilots and 4 Cabin Crew were also aboard the flight.
We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the deceased, and we are doing everything we can to assist them in this extremely difficult time. A 24hr Call Centre service has been initiated and we have also set up an information center at MMA2 to look after their needs and keep them as quickly informed as possible. Contact Numbers: 01-2809888 and 07003593262.
An investigation into the cause of the accident got under way immediately, under the guidance of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), who are being assisted by investigators from the U.S. National Safety Transportation Board (NTSB). Dana Air is cooperating fully and assisting the investigation in every possible way.
In accordance with international protocol governing aviation accident investigations, all information about the investigation will come from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. Dana Air will however provide information relating to the flight itself and updates on steps being taken.
Once again, we at Dana Air extend our profoundest condolences.
Jacky Hathiramani
Chief Executive Officer

Government should not wait for a plane crash to be responsive. Reuben Abati 2005.

The Millionaire gods Of Lisa
President Jonathan Should take the advice of his spokesperson. Reuben Abati

Monday, November 14, 2005 - By Reuben Abati

For the avoidance of doubt, Lisa is the village in Ogun State where an ill-fated Bellview aircraft crashed on October 22, resulting in the death of all the 117 persons on board. This tragic incident affected the entire country, as it brought out the humanity within us, but one aspect of it that deserves further exploration is the reaction of the people of Lisa to the tragedy and their circumstances since the accident occurred. I had pointed out on an earlier occasion that the accident gave the people of this hitherto unknown community an opportunity to bring their plight to the attention of government and to proclaim their seeming neglect over the years by the authorities. Before the accident the people of Lisa were untouched by the processes of social advancement in the shape of access to modern facilities and a good quality of life.

It took a plane crash in their backyard for government to start constructing a road through their community. Electricity is also being provided; and the village has been linked to the telecom network. The point about the neglect of rural Nigeria where incidentally, the majority of Nigerians live is apposite and cannot be overstated. But what should now be considered is the humanity of the people and the leaders of Lisa village. What is being reproduced in that village is a typical Nigerian story, a strong indication of how poverty has robbed the people of basic human values, driven them to desperation, cynicism and cruelty. One sad fact of our lives is that the average Nigerian is forever looking for profit, always looking for an opportunity to cheat the system. When he is in that mood, he suspends his own humanity or beliefs; he is motivated by a burning desire for momentary gain. He comes across as an unreasonable person; something in him or her suddenly changes, he is transported to a temple of human desire where all that matters is greed.

It is true that this descent to the animal level is a given illustration of the duality of the human nature, and the complexity of man. But here in Nigeria, especially in the context of the recent event, it says something far more fundamental about the fault lines in our land in relation to the human index. The lesson is that we still have to do a lot about values in our society, about the moral question and the building of a sense of citizenship and community. In making these declarations, I am reminded of the interesting example of the Pastor of a church who had gone to his daughter's school to ask that the teachers should help to make sure that the daughter passed her school cert exams. The pastor sounded as if he would not mind if this would require helping the poor girl to cheat in the exams. When the pastor was reminded that the school was a Christian School and would not encourage such practice, the man of God flared up: "Please keep Christianity out of this. We are talking about my daughter here, please!". The thoroughly scandalised listeners had to remind the church Pastor that he, a man of God should not talk like that. When Nigerians want anything at all, they place values in a state of suspended animation.

And so as persons trooped to Lisa village, weeping, helpless and worried, the people of that community saw in other people's grief, their own opportunity to make profit. Cab drivers and motorcyclists plying the route increased their fares. Young men in the village and the neighbourhood became pick-pockets. They moved near the mourners and removed their cell phones and wallets. They besieged the crash site and began to remove whatever valuables survived that dramatic destruction of lives and property. If they saw a severed hand lying on the ground and it happened to still have a wrist-watch on it, they picked up the hand and removed the wrist-watch. If they saw a cell phone or SIM card that had been thrown out of the plane as it nose-dived into mother-earth, they took that too and thanked their stars. The Ogun state Commissioner of Police AIG Tunji Alapinni has confirmed that the villagers swooped on the site of the crash and made great fortunes looting and grabbing before the rest of the country got to know the location of the missing aircraft. Some families who lost their dear ones in that incident have said that they are convinced that the people of Lisa removed human corpses from the scene of the crash. Their fear is that those mangled bodies may have been sold to ritualists. Sadly, we live in a country where people trade in virtually anything including human body parts.

But perhaps the more shocking development was the declaration by the village head of Lisa, Chief Sadiku Odugbemi, that his community will need a sum of N2 million to appease the gods to prevent the outbreak of an epidemic in the village, and to exorcise the ghosts of the victims of the crash who are reportedly disturbing the villagers. There have been reports of strange noises at night. Chief Odugbemi's request for N2 million attracted great attention. He has since issued a statement denying that he ever made such a request. But the Baale is lying. He made the case for a N2 million ritual grant at a press conference.

He also granted an interview to the Sunday Champion (October 30, p. 20) in which he was quoted as having said inter alia that: ", the government should provide a big cow and some reasonable amount of money for us in order to appease the gods of the land so that calamities and untimely deaths will not occur in the vicinity again. You see, this is very crucial, because we cannot run away from our tradition, the gods should be appeased because they are angry. The enormous corpses buried in our village can cause epidemics if we failed to appease the gods. Do you know how much the government is spending to appease Osun goddess every year? Here in the village we need to appease the gods of Oro and the big masquerade to protect the village from imminent epidemic". In these words, the village head had exposed the widespread nature of ignorance and superstition in our land. What is the connection between gods and the threat of an epidemic?

The village head was not asking for government assistance to provide necessary medical care for his people nor was he concerned about the protection of the environment, rather he was asking for N2 million to buy cows for the money-guzzling gods of his ancestors. He made this request out of the unmistaken conviction that Nigerian leaders also worship and support traditional gods, and that the state is too actively involved in religion. The issue however is not about Chief Odugbemi's faith, but his opportunism. He wanted to make millionaires out of the gods of his people! But the truth is that those gods if at all they exist, do not eat beef, nor do they spend money: the real gods of Lisa are the Baale and his cohorts who are seeing an opportunity for quick business in other people's misfortune. The cow that he requested for would end up in the pots of his wives and the wives of other chiefs. The Baale in council would share the two million naira with some amount of money going into the pockets of virtually very important chief including the abore and the apena!

It is important that the authorities refused to succumb to Chief Odugbemi's blackmail. Rather than give him the N2 million that he asked for, the man was arrested by the police and interrogated. Seven elders of Lisa, accused of having looted the property of the victims, were also arrested and detained. A Non-Governmental Organisation, Feed Nigeria Initiative (FENI) has condemned this response as an abuse of human rights. I don't think so. Nothing gives the village head and people of Lisa and the neighbouring villages the right or the powers to behave so badly. If it can be established that they looted the belongings of the victims or that they stole handsets and robbed the mourners, then the police should do its job and whoever is found guilty should be treated according to the relevant laws. The excuse that the people are poor and therefore desperate cannot be a sufficient excuse for any wrong-doing.

It is interesting that following government's reaction, the leaders of Lisa have had to modify their position. They have denied ever asking for two million. They still want to organise a feast for their gods but the money will no longer come from government. Every adult in the village has been asked to contribute a sum of N1, 000 each. This is fine, let the people who will share the cow pay for it. The people are also denying that they ever looted at the site of the crash, more than two weeks after the event, they are now showing concern about the tragedy. It is either the village head has actually been called to order or he has been given some money and advised to speak differently in public.

Without any doubt, the people of Lisa have been greatly affected by the crash that occurred in their village. It has changed their lives, possibly forever. They deserve sympathy and support. In particular, the issues that they have raised about the neglect of their community by successive governments should be addressed. They want potable water in their community, a good road, access to quality health care especially in the face of danger. Many of them saw Nigerian leaders for the first time in their lives. One of them was so excited seeing President Obasanjo in flesh and blood, he had to report his excitement to a newspaper reporter. Bellview Airline has dug boreholes for the people; the government is constructing a road through the village; there is a lot more that can be done. Beyond this episodic focus on Lisa village, the challenge that has been thrown up by the people of Lisa is the need for government to be brought closer to the people at all levels. In the eyes of a growing number of Nigerians, government is an abstraction which holds no meaning for the people.

The people of Lisa also need to be counselled. They had asked government to sponsor the feast that they are planning for their gods because they are aware that every year government spends money on Muslim and Christian pilgrimages to Mecca and Israel. Government constructs churches and mosques, and patronises herbalists and futurologists. Governors grant interviews and boast about the ritualists that assist them to hold on to power. And yet the Nigerian Constitution says the state shall have no religion. Because Nigerian leaders have politicised religion in the country, they are asked to worship all kinds of gods. Certainly, the people of Lisa must have heard about the gods and priests of Okija and how they have enjoyed government patronage and protection. They too want their own gods to get a share of "the national cake".

What they may not know is that the millionaire gods of Lisa are not the ones to be appeased. The real gods that should be appeased are the policy makers in the aviation sector and the field operators who have refused to do what is right; the gods that caused the crash at Lisa village can be found at the airport; they are in the air traffic control tower, in the offices around the place, all those men and women in uniform who play ludo with other lives. These are the gods to be appeased. And doing so would not require any N2 million; cows won't be needed as well. What is required is a "broom" in the hands of President Obasanjo and the courage to sweep all saboteurs out of the aviation industry. This is why there must be a thorough investigation of the Lisa plane crash.