Daily Archives: November 25, 2007

Militants In Gun Duel With the Military Near Gas Plant

Nigerian troops clashed early on Sunday with armed militants in the Niger Delta oil region near a natural gas facility run by Royal Dutch Shell PLC, a military official said.

The latest encounter between troops and militants in rising violence in the troubled region occurred in Soku, in the southern swamps of Rivers state, where Shell runs a natural gas gathering facility, military spokesman Maj. Sagir Musa said. No details were yet available on casualties or the impact of the clash on oil and gas operations, he said.

Facilities run by Shell and other oil multinationals working in Nigeria have come under renewed attack since the leading militant group in the delta region ended a self-imposed cease-fire in September. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, accuses President Umaru Yar’Adua’s government of being behind the arrest of one of its leaders, Henry Okah, on gunrunning charges in Angola.

Attacks by MEND and other armed groups in the oil-rich but impoverished delta in the past two years have cut Nigeria’s oil exports of 2.5 million barrels a day by more than 20 percent and added pressure to global oil prices. More than 200 foreign oil workers have also been kidnapped during the same period, with most of them released unharmed.

Nigeria is Africa’s leading oil exporter and the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports.

 – AP

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Nwude Accuses EFCC, Ribadu Of Fraud!

In what appears like a thief accusing another of dishonesty, embattled convicted financial crimes kingpin, Chief Emmanuel Nwude, has alleged in a petition to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, that the anti-graft commission short-changed him in a plea bargain entered into, over a $120 million suit with a Brazilian businessman in November 2005.

According to the petition dated September 10, 2007, filed by a law firm, Egbene Chambers of Okey Okoye Associates in Lagos, the EFCC altered the original sum of $80 million to $120 million, and compelled the said Chief Nwude to sign, accepting the changes, even as it went ahead to sell off his assets and property in order to meet up the plea sum.

They argued that the anti-graft commission kept the processes of the disposal of the assets secretive, and failed to render accounts of what was realised from the sales to the embattled Nwude, even as it continued to prefer multiple charges against him, ostensibly to subdue any possible query from him.

The seven-page petition, signed by Okey Okoye, a principal counsel in the law chambers, also alleged amongst other things that, at the time Chief Nwude’s assets were being disposed by the EFCC, there were higher offers for some of the property, but the EFCC ignored such offers and went ahead to sell off the assets at ridiculously low prices.

It cited the sale of Russell Centre in Abuja, in which Obat Oil offered to buy at N3.2 billion as against an offer of N3.3 billion from one Chief Uba, stressing that the property was eventually sold at N2.3 billion to the same Obat Oil, less by about N900,000,000 from the original deal.

Chief Nwude’s lawyers also accused the EFCC of deliberately under valuing several other assets of their client, and failing to explain the whereabouts of funds accruing from the sale of share certificates in Union Bank and Nigerian Bottling Company.

The petition, they said, was the fallouts of a power of Attorney executed by Chief Nwude when he was being sentenced to prison, to the effect that he asked the law firm to represent his interest while in prison, in the fulfillment of a court judgement and the settlement agreement entered with representatives of the Brazilian businessman, with the consent of the EFCC.

Falling short of accusing the EFCC operatives of diverting part of their client’s money into private pockets, Egben Chambers claimed that since their client gained freedom in 2006, he has made repeated appeals to the EFCC to furnish him with details of how much was realised from the sale of his property and how much he was entitled to as refunds in case of an excess, to no effect.

Instead of responding to his inquiries, they alleged, the EFCC cooked up fresh charges against their client to the effect that while still in prison custody, he planned to cause arson and mischief, while in another charge, Chief Nwude was accused of failing to disclose all his assets; all of which the petition claimed Chief Nwude denied.

The petitioners prayed the Minister of Justice to compel the EFCC or its agents to stop forthwith any further harassment of their client, Chief Nwude and members of his family, and to respect the terms of agreement in respect of plea bargain.

They also want a thorough auditing of all the processes involved in the disposal of his assets and a reconciliation of what was realised from the management of the said assets and property from 2004, when the matter started to 2006 when he was released from prisons.

In pledging some relevant documents to buttress their case, they also argued that nothing less than an open and thorough investigation of the “reckless mudless under deals,” will assuage their client’s feelings in the spirit of justice and the rule of law.

The petition was copied President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Senate President David Mark, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, the Public Complaints Commission, and the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.

Our correspondent confirmed the receipt of the petition by the office of the Minister of Justice, but whether the minister has acted upon it was not known, as Chief Aondoakaa was said to have travelled overseas over the Siemens scam.

Spokesman of the EFCC, Osita Nwaja told Leadership Sunday that the commission has not yet received the petition and it will be unethical for him to comment on it on phone, maintaining that the petitioners were not courteous enough to copy the EFCC as has been the convention.

Even when our correspondent went to his office with details of the allegations, he abandoned him in the office and travelled to Lagos with some EFCC fieldmen on Thursday, with a promise to get back to him but never did.

 

– Leadership

We Know Hostage Takers – Governor Sylva

The Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Timipre Sylva, on Saturday said his administration knew the hostage takers in the Niger Delta and had been talking with them.

He also said Bayelsa had only militants, who had a cause they were pursuing as a result of the cumulative neglect of the oil rich region.

The governor, who was represented by his deputy, Mr. Peremobowei Ebebi, in his keynote address, said the state was more peaceful than most states in the country.

Sylva said this while declaring open the National Executive Council meeting of the Nigeria Union of Journalists at the NUJ Press Centre, Yenagoa, the state capital.

The event, which was chaired by the former Governor of Bayelsa State, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, represented by Chief Thompson Okorotie, had the Bayelsa Commissioner for Information and Communications, Pastor Ebiowei Sokare and the President of the NUJ, Mr. Ndagene Akwu, in attendance.

He said, ”Let me use this opportunity to correct the reports associating Bayelsa State with hostage taking. Strictly speaking, it is not peculiar to Bayelsa State alone, it happens all over the country.

“Some of you are from states where the incidence of armed robbery is high. (He mentioned Lagos State).

”In Bayelsa State, as far as armed robbery is concerned, we have almost zero situation and even more peaceful than most states in Nigeria, but some reporters have presented it as a very unsafe state. This is most unfair.

“In some states, you cannot even carry a brief case in a broad day. In Bayelsa, you can move around at anytime, even in the night.

“At least, we know the hostage takers and we talk to them, unlike the armed robbers that you don‘t even know, which is even a bigger risk than the hostage-taking situation.”

Sylva said shortly after he assumed office in May 29, that his administration came up with a principle of the “Triple E” approach. This includes engaging the militants in dialogue and re-orienting them; empowering the people, educating and employing the youths, as well as enforcing the law where necessary.

The governor disclosed that he had personally traversed the creeks, talking to the militants, stressing that the situation had ”actually abated.”

He said the problem could not be solved suddenly. It required time, sense of commitment and sincerity.