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22.1.18

Security agents: Islamic State fighters in Nigeria

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Security agents: Islamic State fighters in Nigeria
Security agencies have uncovered Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) fighters in Benue, Kogi and Edo states, it was learnt yesterday.
A source in the Presidency said the group had been operating within some North Central and South-South states, using foreign terrorists.
They are also believed to be recruiting young men into their fold and killing innocent people, thereby creating tension along ethnic, religious and regional fault lines.
It was gathered that “a good number “of the Islamic State terrorists have been arrested not only in the Benue valley but significantly in many towns in Edo State, such as Akoko Edo, Okpella and Benin, the state capital. They have also been found in Okene in central Kogi State.
The source said: “Security service organisations, including the Department of State Service, (DSS) in a report submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari, identified an Islamic State in West Africa network operating within some North Central and South-South areas”
The source said the discovery was made following the arrest of many suspected attackers made up of Fulani herdsmen, government-sponsored militias, militants and other miscreants in Benue State.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the “sensitivity” of the matter, said among those in custody were many who spoke Nigerian languages.
“They mostly speak the French,” the source said, adding: “This is the first time that security officials have confirmed that Islamic State in West Africa members are operating as a unit in Nigeria and the level of their penetration of the country.”
He went on: “It is understood that the cell, which has members in different parts of the country concentrates on recruiting young men to fight for the Islamic State in West Africa by unleashing the cold-blooded murder of innocent citizens.
“There was intelligence that they had planned attacks in the country, before and during Christmas and the New Year festivities. Their bombing targets included fuel depots, foreign missions, the police and military establishments.
“Their network is very wide. But so much was achieved by the DSS, which made a significant number of arrests in the last two months that helped to preempt those attacks. This helped to save Nigeria from the spate of major terrorist attacks witnessed elsewhere that were syndicated by ISIS worldwide.”
The reports submitted to the Presidency, he said, also revealed that security officials now fear an influx of other ISIS members into many parts of the country.
“We are learning more and more about this complex and sophisticated network. This is the main reason why the secret service is not parading those suspects so far arrested. It has become clear to us, by now, that the challenge facing this country is a serious one.”
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity Mallam Garba Shehu confirmed that President Buhari had been receiving “report upon report on the situation in Benue and other states”.
He said although the DSS had recorded a lot of success lately, he had not been briefed on any of the reports.
In Benue State, no fewer than 73 persons were killed by gunmen, who were said to be herdsmen. In Taraba, 55 persons died and 200 homes were torched. Both incidents occurred early this month.

Nigerians Protest In UK Against Fulani Herdsmen (Video)

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Nigerians Protest In UK Against Fulani Herdsme
Nigerians protesting against herdsmen in UK (PHOTO: TUNDE OYEDOYIN/THE GUARDIAN)
 
Nigerians on Monday protested against the killings by the suspected Fulani herdsmen in various parts of Nigeria, especially in Benue state.
 
The protest took place at Trafalgar Square, London. The protest was convened by Mutual Union of Tivs in the United Kingdom (MUTUK) and is being supported by members of the Nigerian community in the United Kingdom.
 
The Guardian learnt that the protesters will proceed to both the Nigerian High Commission and later to 10, Downing Street.
 
Watch video below:
 

Goodluck Jonathan Is Broke, In Debts Over 2015 Election - Ex Diplomat Make Startling Revelations

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Goodluck Jonathan Is Broke, In Debts Over 2015 Election - Ex Diplomat Make Startling Revelations
Goodluck Jonathan
 
A former permanent secretary in the ministry of power says ex-President Goodluck Jonathan is one of the poorest former leaders in Africa and left government broke but fulfilled, contrary to the allegations that he enriched himself while in office.
 While speaking during an interactive session with some journalists over the weekend in Abuja, former Career Diplomat and retired Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Godknows Boladei Igali, has said that former President Goodluck Jonathan, has remained one of the poorest former Nigerian leaders, even in Africa, in recent years.
 
Dr. Igali, who made the startling revelation also said that the immediate past Nigerian President was currently struggling to settle some of his 2015 election liabilities.
 
He said that despite the allegations of corruption leveled against some of the officials and associates of Jonathan during his tenure as Nigeria’s president, he left his exalted position as a fulfilled man but insolvent, as compared to most of his retired predecessors.
 
“I am glad that some of you journalists are privileged to know where he (Jonathan) lives and where he has his private office in this country.
 
“Thank God some of you guys know the he has an office and where he lives in Maitama. Which former president of Nigeria lives in that kind of place? I do not think President Jonathan can be considered a very rich man.
 
“President Jonathan’s parlour in his Maitama house can not accommodate more than ten persons.
 
“Look at his dinning table, it is like any other house in Maitama. The only way you will know that a former president of this country is living there is the presence of security men and which he is entitled to as a former president.
 
“You must realise that none of those corruption allegations has been personally linked to him. Jonathan is not a rich man, take it from me. He may be comfortable but not rich. But l know that his pension as a former president is enough to take care of him.
 
“Indeed Jonathan is still struggling to pay some election liabilities from 2015 until today.
 
“Despite all the stories of flying billions, Jonathan borrowed money to prosecute some aspects of his election and he is struggling in different ways to meet up.”
 
Igali described Jonathan as a “modest” man whose lifestyle and background were humble.
 
He expressed regret that Jonathan’s administration is being discredited but said he was confident that “history would vindicate” the former president.
 
“There’s a lot of untruths that is being said about him, but l believe history will be very fair to him. He is a very simple man. His background and lifestyle are very simple. He is not jingoistic,” he said.
 
“As a former president when Jonathan needs an aircraft, the federal government will give him particularly if he is going on an important official assignment. But if it is his private trip, he has to fend for himself.
 
“Jonathan cannot afford to charter an aircraft. What l am saying is not a lie, but people can believe what they like.”

Diezani in trouble again over withdrawal of $1.3billion from NNPC accounts

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Diezani
There seems to be no end to the alleged mind-boggling financial misappropriation in the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
In the centre of it all is, according to records unearthed by investigators, former Minister of Petroleum Resources Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives have just uncovered the withdrawal of $1.3billion from the accounts of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), ostensibly to fight kidnapping and other security threats in the Niger Delta.
The withdrawal was neither authorised by the National Assembly nor the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, is also believed to be unaware of the deductions from the NNPC accounts.
The ex-Minister only relied on a memo from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan without recourse to the board of the NNPC.
A former Group Executive Director, Finance and Accounts of NNPC, Mr. Bernard Otti, has been quizzed by  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) detectives.
Otti is said to have also made available to the EFCC some documents, including approvals to withdraw the $1.3billion by Mrs Alison-Madueke.
In two other instances, Jonathan wrote on two other requests mandating the former minister to take part of the cash from either NNPC Security Vote Account or from the “Gas Fund”.
According to sources, EFCC operatives were almost closing up the probe of the ex-Minister when the withdrawal of the $1.3billion was uncovered.
About $1.4billion was requested by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) via three memos, for “Intervention for Urgent National Security Projects.”
About $1.3billion was released from NNPC accounts but it was unclear what became of the $100million balance as at press time.
ONSA had requested for $1.4billion between March 27, 2014 and May 5, 2014 when approval was given and cash backed.
About three memos were sent to ex-President Jonathan on March 27, 2014, 31st March 2014 and May 5, 2014.
In the first memo, of March 27th, 2014, the former National Security Adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki, requested for $1billion to fight kidnapping, crude oil theft and petroleum pipeline vandalism.
The memo to Jonathan, which was titled “Request for intervention for urgent National Security Projects”, said: “Your Excellency, apart from the insurgency in the Northeast, the country is also contending with some other security challenges, such as crude oil theft, sea piracy, kidnapping as well as petroleum pipeline vandalism.
“These challenges have greatly affected revenue profile of the nation and our international image.
“Our gas pipeline network has also come under serious threat as the scourge of vandalism has spread to the gas sector. Apart from the volatility of gas and its potential for collateral damage, especially environmental degradation, shortage of gas will constitute a serious setback to Government’s power generation efforts.
“Additionally, Mr. President had promised during the 30th meeting of NEPAD Heads of State and Governments Orientation Committee that the Trans-Saharan Pipeline Project from Nigeria to Algeria will be completed in 2015. The security of the Nigerian end of this pipeline network is critical to the success and smooth running of this gas project.
“Further to Mr. President’s support so far in our fight against terrorism, there is urgent need to raise our intelligence gathering efforts to more strategic levels.
“It is therefore pertinent that a holistic approach is applied to solving these challenges highlighted above. To ameliorate the above mentioned challenges, some reputable companies have been identified to provide the following:
(a)     An integrated maritime domain awareness platform that can be integrated into enforcement platform of the Navy and other agencies to help check crude oil theft, sea piracy and kidnapping as well as Offshore pipeline vandalism.
(b)     An Onshore petroleum and gas pipeline surveillance and monitoring solution.
(c)     Unmanned aerial platforms for strategic intelligence gathering.
(d)     Mobile radars for aerial coverage by the Nigerian Air Force
(5) In view of the foregoing, Mr. President is kindly requested to approve the provision of $1billion intervention funds to enable the urgent provision of the above-mentioned services. Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest esteem.”
Commenting on the ONSA memo, ex-President Jonathan on March 31, 2014 approved the release of $1billion. He said: “HMPR, NSA, Paragraph approved.”
A follow-up memo on March 31, 2014 to Mrs. Alison-Madueke and the ex-NSA conveyed the approval.
The memo, signed by a former Senior Special Assistant (Admin) Matt Aikhionbare, said: “RE: Request for intervention projects for urgent National Security Projects.” Reference: (A) Letter NSA/SH/600/A dated 27th March 2014 on the above subject matter. I am directed to forward Reference A to you and to convey to you Mr. President’s approval of Paragraph (5). Humbly submitted for your further action sir.”
In spite of the initial approval, ONSA on April 9, 2014, via a memo NSA/SH/600/A asked for a fresh $200million.
The second memo said: “Your Excellency, please refer to your letter PRES/88-3/MPR/716/149/NSA/ 634 of 31st March 2014 on the above subject. During our review of the process, we realised  a few gaps in the assessment of the protection of the gas pipelines, which will likely render the entire protection plan incomplete as the inland gas network was not considered.
“In view of this, I crave the indulgence of Mr. President to please approve an additional $200million only to enable a thorough security of the pipelines. Please, accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest esteem.”
Following the receipt of a second memo, the ex-President wrote: “Approved. Honourable Minister of Petroleum Resources to release funds from the “Gas Fund”.
In  a third memo of May 5,2014(NSA/SH/ 600/A), the ex-NSA applied for additional $250million to be sourced from the account of the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS), which is a subsidiary of NNPC.
The memo states: “Your Excellency, in our efforts to continue building capacity for our counter-terrorism efforts, it is pertinent we appropriately and  speedily respond to challenges thrown up by the insurgents. This is in addition to several proactive measures already in place by government through the security forces. In view of the above, there is need for urgent intervention in the following areas:
(a)     Provision of at least 15,000 ballistic vests and helmets to be issued to all troops in the operations
(b)     Provision of 15 mobile scanners to cover entrances to Abuja and strategic cities in the North.
(c)     Purchase of urgently needed ammunition for the Nigerian Air Force.
(d)     Purchase of ammunition for the Nigeria Police
(e)     Purchase of Night Vision Goggles for both the Army and the Air Force.
“To achieve the above-listed objectives, it is estimated that the sum of $250million only will be required. The money could be released from the security funds held by the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS).
“In view of the above, Mr. President is kindly requested to direct the release of $250million only for the above-mentioned subject. Please accept the assurances of my highest esteem.”
In his response, the ex-President directed as follows: “Please, release US$200m only from NNPC Security Vote.”
A highly-placed source in EFCC, who spoke in confidence, said: “Investigation so far confirmed the withdrawal of the $1.3billion from some accounts of the NNPC abroad. But there are sufficient clues of suspected  money laundering by the ex-Ministers of Petroleum Resources and some government agencies who used ONSA as a platform.
“There is no evidence of projects executed with the cash. Instead, some of the cash were wired into a few banks by these individuals.
“We have also grilled a former Group Executive Director, Finance and Accounts of NNPC, Mr. Bernard Otti who has cooperated with our investigators by making necessary documents available. We will keep you posted on this case.”

Donald Trump’s government shutdown is about racism

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Donald Trump’s government shutdown is about racism
US President Donald Trump / Lee Jin-man / AFP
Lost in the shitstorm over “shithole” was another equally damning example of President Donald Trump’s blatant racism and sexism. It was an outward display of a mindset that in many ways has paved the way for the government shutdown we’re facing now.
Last week, NBC News reported that last fall, the president of the United States asked a career intelligence analyst “Where are you from?” She responded, “New York,” and that should have ended the conversation. It didn’t.
He asked again, and she responded, “Manhattan.”
For those who have initiated a similar conversation, if you ask twice and you don’t get the answer you are fishing for ― just drop it. Take a hint. We don’t want to go there with you.
Trump, clearly oblivious to this social cue, follows up and asks where “your people” are from.
Finally relenting, the analyst answered that her parents are Korean. At this point, Trump, through his ignorance, has robbed this woman of all the hard work, intellect and skill she has invested into her profession by placing some artificial value on her (and her family’s) ethnicity.
Where she or her parents are from has zero bearing on her job or value. It’s one thing if someone volunteers information about their culture, background, family and upbringing. But until they do, it’s none of your business and should have no role in how you judge, evaluate and view them as professionals or human beings.
Taking it even further, Trump somehow manages to combine sexism with racism by asking why the “pretty Korean lady” wasn’t negotiating with North Korea. The insane thing about this statement is that I’m 100 percent certain that in Trump’s mind, he was paying her a compliment.
What he did was demean and insult a woman who was simply trying to do her job.
Trump owes this “pretty Korean lady” an apology for his ignorant, racist and sexist comments. I don’t think Trump realizes or cares about the consequences that his tone, tenor and words have had in the lives of people who don’t look like him.
Pretty much my entire life, I’ve been asked (primarily by white people) the question that I imagine every “Asian-looking” person cringes at inside: “Where are you from?”
In most cases, I’m certain that the person asking this is not consciously discriminatory, but rather is just completely ignorant of how annoying this question is to people who look like me. Like the career intelligence analyst attempted to do with Trump, I answered the question by saying “New York” or “California” ― where I had spent my childhood and formative years. Inevitably comes the dreaded follow-up: “No, I mean what is your background? Chinese or Japanese?”
The puzzled looks I would receive when I responded: “German and Italian” were priceless but also revealing. I simply did not fit into their preordained stereotypical worldviews.
My name is Kurt (German) Bardella (Italian), and I am adopted.
For most of you out there who ask this question of people who look or sound “different,” you’re probably just genuinely curious and mean no harm. You’re just trying to start conversation.
But the case of Trump and the career intelligence professional reveals something much more offensive. It was a glimpse into the racially charged worldview that Trump subscribes to, a worldview that has infected the Republican Party and now led us to a government shutdown.
It’s the same worldview that led to his vulgarly demeaning the lives of would-be immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and nations in Africa. It’s the same worldview that has him obsessed with building a border wall to keep “bad hombres” out of the United States. And it’s the same worldview that drove him to end DACA.
Trump and his Republican enablers are so fixated on enacting these outwardly racist policies that they are willing to preside over a government shutdown to get them.
The shutdown showdown unfolding right now is about much more than government funding. It is about two different portraits representing the American identity. The Trump-GOP viewpoint sees our country as one that is, first and foremost, Caucasian. The Democratic perspective sees a diverse nation of many cultures, backgrounds, languages and customs.
That’s what we are fighting about. It may be more politically expedient for Democrats to back down, but with our national identity hanging in the balance, this is the time to take a stand.
*Kurt Bardella was born in Seoul, South Korea, and adopted by two Americans from Rochester, New York, when he was three months old. He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia.
This piece is part of HuffPost’s brand-new Opinion section.

Fulani Herdsmen Set Falae's Five-Hectare Oil Palm Plantation Ablaze

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Fulani Herdsmen Set Falae's Five-Hectare Oil Palm Plantation Ablaze
Chief Olu Falae
 
Some people suspected to be Fulani herdsmen on Sunday reportedly attacked the farm of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae and set it on fire.
 
It was gathered that the criminals did not steal anything on the farm but burnt it down. The oil palm plantation is located at Ilado Village in Akure North Local Government Area of Ondo State.
 
Confirming the report, Falae’s Personal Assistant, Captain Moshood Raji, (rtd) said, “At about 6pm, I got a message from one of the police officers attached to the farm that the farm has been burnt down by some hoodlums.

“There was no worker on the farm when the incident occurred because it was a Sunday.

“We are on our way to the farm now to know the extent of the damage.

“We have informed the Commissioner of Police. About five hectares of the land were affected.
 
“The oil palm plantation was affected as well as some parts of the yam and cassava plantations.”
 
When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Mr. Femi Joseph, said he was not aware of the incident.

“I am not aware of it as at now. The matter has not got to my table as I’m talking to you,” Joseph said.
 
Reacting, Chief Falae said the herdsmen were deliberately attacking his farm for no reason, describing the act as malicious and wicked.
 
He said, “I don’t know why the herdsmen were attacking my farm; they did it last year, they did the same year before the last.

“That is how they burn it every year so that fresh grass can come out for their cattle to eat.

“They attack my oil palm cultivation; the mature oil palm trees that have been bearing fruits to make palm oil have been burnt down.

“This is a wicked act and malicious damage. This goes beyond what their cattle want to eat.

“Cattle don’t eat oil palm. This is a malicious attack.”
 
It would be recalled that Falae was kidnapped in September 2015 by the herdsmen but was released three days later following the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari who ordered the then Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomom Arase (rtd) to secure his release.

Nigerian Institute Develops Herbal Drugs For Ebola, Malaria

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Nigerian Institute Develops Herbal Drugs For Ebola, Malaria
File photo: An Ebola patient being attended to
 
A report by Premium Times has shown that the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, NIPRD, has successfully researched and developed six traditional herbal products for the treatment of Ebola, malaria and other diseases.
 
This was disclosed in a press statement signed by the Special Assistant, Communication and Strategy to the Minister of Health, Kazeem Akintunde, on Sunday.
 
The statement quoted the Director General of the agency, Karniyus Gamaniel, in his retirement speech and presentation of achievements of the institute as saying the institute developed and completed Phase I study of a fixed dose combination drug for the treatment of Ebola.
 
Mr. Gamaniel, who spent eight years in office (2009 to 2017) said the institute among other drugs developed an anti-malaria drug for treatment of uncomplicated malaria which is safe for use by pregnant women.
 
Among other drugs developed during his tenure, according to the statement include an immunostimulant which can be used to manage HIV in Nigeria, a drug for treatment of fungal skin infection, NIPRD Oil which could be used as a nasal decongestant, insect repellent, air freshener and an anti-inflammatory agent.
 
He however stated that a side effect of the oil when excessively used is irritation.

“The institute has also developed ‘NIPRISAN’ for the management of sickle cell anaemia,” he added.
 
Mr. Gamaniel assured Nigerians of the core competence of the institute in the development of phytomedicines from indigenous plants and products, clinical trials, among others.

“We are a quality assured institute and we are currently concluding plans to carry out commercial production and distribution of these products,” he added.

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in his remarks, promised to source for N100 million for the institute to enable them set up a unit that would be devoted to traditional herbal products’ research.
 
Mr. Adewole said the establishment of the unit would enable the experts devote more attention to carrying out research on traditional herbal products.
 
The minister also added that another N10 million would be provided for the institute to carry out extensive research on how to turn the Neem tree into a money-spinning commodity for the benefit of the nation.
 
Mr. Adewole said that extensive research should be carried out on traditional herbal products, some of which have been found to have cure for different ailments.
 
He said that the Neem tree had been turned to a money spinner in India adding that there was no reason why Nigeria could not do same.
 
”We need to carry out detailed research into Neem tree as it has become a money-spinner for the Indian government. Its flower, roots, seed have all become useful material in the production of several products including soap, and I see no reason why we can’t take advantage of such a product in Nigeria,” he said.
 
NIPRD was established by the Federal Government in 1987. It was approved as an parastatal under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology.
 
It primary objective is to develop drugs, biological products and pharmaceutical raw materials from indigenous resources towards the growth and development of the country.
 
The institute was later moved to the Federal Ministry of Health in 2001.

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