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Nigeria Masterweb News Report
    Other Developments Continued-5

    Oil gangs threaten Nigerian unity
         A gang boss fighting for Ijaw self-determination in the Niger Delta could threaten the world's energy balance and the existence of the Nigerian state itself. Until recently, Al-Haji Asari Dokubo was just a powerful local gang leader and businessman. But now he is responsible for a conflict that has spiralled into a global problem. The conflict centres on Tombia, a small town in Africa devastated by war. First the rival militias came, then the helicopter gunships. Now the town is deserted, dominated by the burnt-out shells of homes and churches. This is not Sierra Leone, Liberia or Sudan - this is Nigeria, the African superpower whose troops act as peacekeepers throughout the continent. But here in the Niger Delta, the heartland of Africa's biggest economy, the peace is fragile and bitter. At the root of the conflict is oil.
         Without work, the youth face a choice between dollar-a-day farming or joining the groups and gangs who steal oil at the pipeline, a process known as "bunkering". And it was the rival bunkering gangs who first turned Tombia into a battlefield - but the Nigerian army finished the job. And the man responsible is Al-Haji Asari Dokubo, a gang leader who grew rich from his role in the illegal oil economy. A report for the oil company Shell explains the role of the armed gangs at local level in the elections of 2003: "With the return of democracy... these groups became even more prominent as local politicians and parties supplied youth groups with money, weapons and political/legal immunity... in the run up to elections. "Once elections were over, these rewards were not forthcoming. Rather than returning weapons, these groups engage themselves in a range of criminal activities." (Peace and Security in the Niger Delta, WAC Global Services, December 2003)
         In September, faced with rising disruption from gang violence, the Nigerian army intervened. Up to 500 were killed in the September conflict, according to Amnesty International. But the crackdown did not work. Asari survived and called for a national uprising in the Delta - not just of the Ijaw people, but by all the peoples of the region. And his rhetoric - to reclaim the oil and gas, kick the energy companies out, and call a sovereign national conference - is resonating powerfully amid the poverty of the Delta. Asari had just 2,000 men under arms - but the political impact of his call was so great it was the factor that finally tipped the oil price above $50. Within weeks, Nigeria's president had to send his personal plane to bring Asari to Abuja and negotiate a ceasefire. But the ceasefire solves nothing. Bunkering is still going on under the noses of the Nigerian navy, ripping off up to 10% of the country's oil production.
         "The rise of Asari is an opportunity for others similarly inclined: they are saying if I pick up arms I get a jet to take me to Abuija - I will be respected. The atmosphere the government has provided is for people to pick up the Kalashnikov." So the peace is fragile. When Asari arrived in Tombia to meet his local commanders, there was a shouting match. They accused him of taking money from Abuja and "eating it". If the Delta conflict spirals out of control, it could destroy Nigeria's unity and disrupt the global balance of oil supply. That is the doomsday scenario - and completely avoidable according to experts in conflict resolution. -Culled from BBC Online Issue of Monday, November 15, 2004
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    Dokubo explodes, preaches rebellion against Nigeria
         AZUABIE, Nigeria - With sweat-drenched gym pants and T-shirt clinging to his bearlike body, one of the newer threats to world oil markets stood in the heart of this Nigerian slum, preaching rebellion to a receptive crowd. "Why should you be suffering when there is so much money on this land?" asked Alhaji Mujahid Asari Dokubo, 40, warlord of the moment in Nigeria's violence-racked oil patch. "This government is made up of thieves and liars and wicked people," he said in slow, precise English. "You are the weapon that God has lifted up against them." Many people stay poor while a few take the wealth pumped from beneath, the warlord called Asari told the gathering. Pollution fouls the water, air and soil, he said, because neither the oil companies nor Nigeria's rulers wish it otherwise. It's time to change things, Asari said, with bloodshed, if necessary. -Culled from azcentral.com - Friday, December 17, 2004 News
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    Dokubo dares Obasanjo on arms surrender deadline
         A sharp disagreement between President Olusegun Obasanjo and the leader of the Niger Delta Peoples Volunteer Force (NDPVF), a militia group, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, over the December 31 deadline for surrender of all illegal arms has come into the open. At a stakeholders meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, convened at the instance of the President on November 30, Obasanjo gave armed cults and militia groups up to December ending to surrender all arms and ammunition in their possession or be prepared for the worse. But, in a seeming dramatic twist, Dokubo-Asari claimed that President Obasanjo cannot intimidate or threaten him with the December ending deadline as according to him, what took place in Port Harcourt on November 30, was not a stakeholders meeting at all.
         Asari said during an interview that “There was no meeting. I don’t know what they called stakeholders meeting. The president came and insulted the people. President Obasanjo in his characteristic manner came and insulted the people. So, whatever threat he must have made, that is his business. Nobody can intimidate me, and nobody can threaten me”. Continuing, he claimed: “I don’t have any arms in my possession. When the volunteers agree to disarm, they will disarm. If they don’t agree, there is nothing anybody can do about it. Even President Obasanjo cannot do anything about it. We will see at the end of January, 2005 whether Obasanjo would be able to carry out his plans against our people as he did at Odi and other places.” -Culled from Daily Independent Online of Friday, December 24, 2004 News
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    Jihad: Army, SSS, Police on Alert
         The jihad threat issued by some emirs and Islamic clerics on March 29 may have triggered a security alert as the Federal Government during the week put the police, State Security Service and the Nigerian Army on red alert, to forestall the breakdown of law and order. A senior security source said the Federal Government had taken precautionary measures “in case these fundamentalists make any attempt at carrying out their threat.” Such security measures, according to Saturday Punch investigation, include the deployment of armoured tanks in strategic positions around the Federal Capital Territory during the week.
         Besides, Saturday Punch gathered that both the police and the State Security Service have been directed to maintain extra vigilance and report any “unusual gathering or meetings that they feel may constitute a security risk to appropriate quarters without any delay.” When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the FCT Police Command, Mr. Ativie Ehiomele (DSP), said the command was “putting in place extra security measures to make sure that there is no breach of security. We are aware of the threat.” He would, however, not disclose the measures. The Force Public Relations Officer, Mr. Emmanuel Ighodalo (SP), declined a response when Saturday Punch reached him because “it is not ripe to comment on such issue now.” Director of Defence Information, Brig-Gen. Ganiyu Adewale, said on telephone that the deployment of the tanks and soldiers was a routine exercise, which was not connected to the jihad threat. The defence spokesman added that it was the duty of the police to curb civil unrest, noting that the army would only come in if the police were overwhelmed.
         Meanwhile, the Presidency on Thursday dismissed the threat as a “non-issue,” saying that it did not represent the views of the position of the generality of Nigerian Moslems. It also condemned a separate threat by the leader of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria, Alhaji Datti Ahmed, that Moslems will blow up the Nigerian Army. In an interview with Saturday Punch, President Obasanjo’s Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, said, “Our position is that one of the most dangerous things that anybody can do is to bring religion into volatile issues of state matters. And this is not the sort of thing we expect any responsible person to do. The president and the government have been fair to all and will continue to be fair to all and where concession has had to be made, the president has done so. And the most important thing is that we should see ourselves as Nigerians before being Christians or Muslims.” The presidential aide said Ahmed was just making a noise because the overwhelming majority of Moslems in the country were law-abiding “just as their Christian brothers and sisters. They are law-abiding and peace-loving people, who love their God. That is why we cannot be intimidated or threatened.” -Culled from Punch Online of Saturday, April 09, 2005

    Nigeria 'll Fail in 15 Years -US Intelligence
         The United States National Intelligence Council in a document entitled "Map-ping Sub-Saharan Africa's Future" has predicted "outright collapse of Nigeria" as a nation-state within the next 15 years. In a swift response, President Olusegun Obasanjo described the prediction as "glib(ly) talk" arising from "dubious or diabolical benchmarks." On page 17 of the report under the heading "Downside Risks," the US Intelligence claimed that "while currently Nigeria's leaders are locked in a bad marriage that all dislike but dare not leave, there are possibilities that could disrupt the precarious equilibrium in Abuja.
         "The most important would be a junior officer coup that could destabilize the country to the extent that open warfare breaks out in many places in a sustained manner. If Nigeria were to become a failed state, it could drag down a large part of the West Africa region. "Even state failure in small countries such as Liberia has the effect of destabilising entire neighbourhoods. If millions were to flee a collapsed Nigeria, the surrounding countries, up to and including Ghana, would be destabilised. Further, a failed Nigeria probably could not be reconstituted for many years - if ever - and not without massive international assistance.” -Culled from ThisDay Issue of Wednesday, May 25, 2005
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    Resource control or we bring down Nigeria –Asari-Dokubo
         The stake in the resource control debacle heightened at the weekend with a vow by the leader and commander of the Ijaw militant group, the Niger-Delta Peoples Volunteer Force, Alhaji Mujadid Asari-Dokubo, that his group is now resolved to "bring down the country" unless the South-south zone was allowed 100 per cent control of its resources.
         Asari-Dokubo’s threat came just as uncertainty now surrounds the return of South-south delegates to the National Political Reforms Conference. -Culled from Sun Online Issue of Sunday, June 19, 2005
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    Nigerian rebels raise flag, separatism mounts

    Dokubo Asari -- the chief speaker and leader of the militant Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, an ethnic Ijaw rebel group -- brandished the red, blue and green tricolour of his proposed Niger Delta Republic. "This is the flag of the Ijaw nation. We expect every Ijaw man to fly this flag; in his house, in his car, everywhere. We must tear down the Nigerian flag wherever it flies," he declared, to enthusiastic applause.
         Nigeria's bid to appease the separatist forces threatening to tear her apart plunged into crisis on Monday when leaders from the oil-rich Niger Delta stormed out of a political reform conference. Delegates from other regions met briefly but agreed to suspend the talks indefinitely after failing to reach agreement on how to share Nigeria's oil wealth and on whether to extend presidential terms in office to six years. President Olusegun Obasanjo had called the conference in order to seek a new way to share power and wealth between Nigeria's diverse regions and thus to strengthen the loose bonds binding together Africa's most populous country. More than 20,000 Nigerians have been killed in violent unrest since the country's return to civilian rule in 1999 and various ethnic and religious interest groups have been lobbying for more regional autonomy. Perhaps the biggest threat to Nigeria's stability comes from the Niger Delta -- home to the multi-billion dollar oil industry which accounts for 80 percent of government revenue -- where armed militants have demanded independence.
         The conference was supposed to counter such forces by drawing up a new power sharing formula, but the delegates from the delta walked out in fury. "We came to the conference believing it to be an opportunity to design a new federal paradigm and to construct a viable democracy from the wreckage of a militarised feudal aristocracy," delegate Mike Akhigbe told reporters in Abuja. "Regrettably, that hope is forlorn. We are going home," Akhigbe, a spokesman for the Niger Delta delegates, added. The talks had hit a brick wall over the issue of who will command of the delta's rich oil and gas supplies, which are currently owned and exploited by the federal government despite demands for local "resource control". The delta representatives had called for the six oil-producing states to be given control over their resources, although they later said they were prepared to accept a simple increase in the amount of oil revenue accorded them. But after late night talks with Obasanjo's government over the weekend they concluded that they would not be able to win their minimum demands. The prospect that Nigeria, a land of 130-million people which has suffered six coups and a civil war in only 45-years of independence, could be face further turmoil will horrify those who see it as key to Africa's development.
         And any sign that unrest could disrupt the country's oil exports of 2.5 million barrels per day would send world crude prices skywards at a time when they are already nudging historic highs. In March, the US Central Intelligence Agency published a report warning that Nigeria could face "outright collapse" within 15 years and said: "Nigeria's leaders are locked in a bad marriage that all dislike but dare not leave." The deadlock in the reform drive may drive more Nigerians to support a growing alliance of radical factions bent on dissolving the union of Nigerian ethnic groups imposed on them in 1914 during British colonial rule. A coalition of these groups held a 5,000-strong rally in the oil-city of Port Harcourt to press their demands on Saturday.
         Dokubo Asari -- the chief speaker and leader of the militant Niger Delta People's Volunteer Force, an ethnic Ijaw rebel group -- brandished the red, blue and green tricolour of his proposed Niger Delta Republic. "This is the flag of the Ijaw nation. We expect every Ijaw man to fly this flag; in his house, in his car, everywhere. We must tear down the Nigerian flag wherever it flies," he declared, to enthusiastic applause. Asari was joined on the podium by 13 leaders from similar separatist groups from across Nigeria; former enemies in Nigeria's multiple ethnic conflicts, now united in their desire to see its centralised government brought low. The separatist groups want to convene a so-called "Sovereign National Conference" which would decide whether to split Nigeria up into independent nations based on major ethnic groups or simply to increase regional autonomy.
         Rasak Oladosu, a member of the ethnic Yoruba secessionist O'odua Youth Movement, said: "It's got to be determined on what terms we live together. You can't force the people to live together if they don't want to live together." -Culled from Agence France-Presse Issue of Monday, July 11, 2005
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    Dokubo calls for Nigeria break-up, questioned

    Nigerian secret police, State Security Service (SSS) question oil delta warlord
         A warlord from Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta said on Friday he had been questioned by the secret police about his campaign for the break-up of Nigeria and whether he intended to blow up oil installations. Mujahid Dokubo-Asari said he told the State Security Service (SSS) he had no plans to attack oil infrastructure for now but he would continue to call for the "dismemberment" of Africa's most populous country and biggest oil producer.
         "I have not issued any threat to oil installations," Asari told Reuters by telephone. "They said they had heard reports that I was also campaigning for the dismemberment of Nigeria. I told them yes, I've been doing that publicly and overtly so it's not a new thing...I told them I cannot stop," he said.
         The two-hour interrogation on Thursday in the capital Abuja came as tension was high in the southern delta following an unsuccessful attempt by regional leaders to wrest a greater share of oil revenues from the central government. The issue is an emotive one in the delta, where most people are poor and feel cheated of the wealth being extracted from their lands. Most of the oil money leaves the region in the form of profits for foreign oil companies or revenue for the central government, which has a record of corruption and mismanagement.
         Resentment over the perceived injustice has fuelled conflict between communities and oil companies, as well as sabotage, kidnappings of oil workers and ethnic violence. Asari, who routinely calls for a break-up of Nigeria, said he did not know why the SSS had questioned him this time. "It's part of their intimidation because of the popularity our movement is enjoying...The Nigerian state is becoming more and more arrogant in the handling of the issues affecting the people of the Niger Delta," he said. Nigerian newspapers quoted an SSS source as saying the warlord was "advised by appropriate authorities on the implications of his utterances to national security". The SSS could not be reached for comment. The papers said the SSS move was a sign the government was jittery about militancy in the delta after delegates from the region walked out of a political reform conference because it refused to grant them a much bigger share of oil revenue. -Culled from Reuters - South Africa Online Issue of Friday, July 22, 2005
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    Kwande Threatens South-South

    Resource Control: Kwande Threatens South-South
         As the Niger Delta youths threaten disruption of oil production over refusal to grant the region the 50 percent of federally collectible revenue at the close of the National Political Reform Conference, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande has said the North will retaliate by stopping movement of food items to the south.
         Speaking to THISDAY in Jos, Plateau State capital, member of the Elders’ Committee of the conference, Kwande said the issue had been decided by the conference and warned the south south to desist from constantly threatening the country with violence as no section of the country had its monopoly. He said that if not for restraint, the Northern youths had also threatened to stop every food and other agricultural items produced in the North from being moved to the South, adding that a situation where the region which gets most of what revenue from oil the country has was still as king for more was not tolerable.
         Kwande who said that the alliance the South-south plotted with them in the conference was aimed at breaking the ranks of the north so that they could have their way, pointing out that since the deal failed, the farce has been exposed for what it was. "There is no independent section of Nigeria, we are interdependent and if the youths in the South are so violent in their attitude, do you think there are no youths in other parts of the country? We can from the North, disrupt the production of oil through stopping the food that go there," he threatened. Kwande insisted that it was importunate of the South South zone to demand for more resource for themselves when they were taking over 10 percent of what other parts of the country get especially as the money used to fund exploration of oil came from other parts of the country.
         He said that before the oil was found in Nigeria, it was the money from tin ore in Joss and coal from the South East that was used to develop other sectors of the economy even to fund the oil exploration, hence it would be selfish to demand to keep the proceeds. According to Kwande, the stance of the South South was good enough for the country so that other sectors would be developed, adding that if the reliance on oil was de-emphasised, the economic base would be broadened. Counting the cost of in the country, he said that Nigeria lost over one million soldiers trying to protect the oil the South South was now claiming as their sole right. -Culled from ThisDay Issue of Sunday, July 24, 2005
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    Justice or War -Igbo youth

    We want justice now or else....
         Remember the late Peter Ede whose life was cut in its prime by a bullet from a Naval officer on Monday, July 25, 2005 at Oregun junction on Awolowo Road, Ikeja, capital of Lagos state? Since the tragic incident which dealt a heavy blow on the family of the deceased, father of the deceased, Mr Joseph Ede is yet to get out of the shock as he is still wearing a pale look and finds it difficult to carry on with the day’s activities as a result of the death of his first son and bread winner of the family.
         Reactions from different quarters have since begun to trail the killing of the 23-year old man who never bargained for the fate that later befell him as he left WAHUM Group of Companies where he was a factory hand at about 4pm that fateful Monday. The late Peter who was also a part-time student of Business Administration at the Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo , mounted his motorcycle which he also used for commercial purpose inorder to meet up with the responsibilities of taking care of his aged father and two siblings , without the slightest premonition of death. And as he drove past the gate, he bade what eventually turned out to be the final farewell to his other factory colleagues, as barely had he reached radio bus-stop on Awolowo road, where he reportedly hit a mercedez benz which turned out to be that of a Naval officer from behind .The enraged officer who came out of his car was said to have shot Peter, amidst plea, to dead.
         The incident provoked instant chaos that affected all parts of Ikeja as other motorcyclists descended on the naval officer, burnt his vehicle and were at the verge of setting him ablaze when some policemen came to his rescue. Saturday Vanguard gathered that the reactions from different quarters are as a result of perceived long silence from the concerned authority to bring the naval officer, identified as Lieutenant Felix Odulami and attached to Beecroft Apapa, to book.
         However, in a swift reaction, Navy authorities said they had begun a court marshal in respect of the incident to ascertain if the alleged shooting was done intentionally or in self- defense as the Lieutenant was said to have stated initially that he shot in defense when the deceased attempted to rob him. But for the Igbo youths who are presently not satisfied with what they described as a show of disregard for defenseless civilians , as they Accused the Navy authority of trying to defend their own and not putting into consideration the effect of the evil handiwork on the deceased family. They have, however, threatened thunder and brimstone if justice was not done by waging war against the Navy command in the eastern part of the country. The congress with other motorcyclists, last week Thursday, staged a match protest to Government House, Alausa and thereafter proceeded to the Lagos State Police Command to state their grievances and warned of an impending danger if nothing was being done to bring the naval officer to book.
         According to the National president of the congress, Comrade Bright Eze Ocha during a telephone interview with Saturday Vanguard: " Last Thursday, we staged a rally from Charlie Boy’s house to governor Ahmed Bola Tinubu’s office, Alausa and thereafter went to the Lagos state command but did not see the commissioner. We learnt that the Police have released the suspect to the Navy and that the Navy have begun a court marshal. But we must state categorically that we are not satisfied with the way they are going about it. We doubt the sincerity of the court marshaling. How can they be investigating such thing that involves human life and will not call on the girl that was with the deceased on the fateful day? They will at the end of the day come up with their judgement after hearing only from their man. This is not fair, this is injustice!" exclaimed comrade Ocha. He continued, "Take for example, the investigation into the Apo six killing that is going on in Abuja. It is being done openly. This is how a matter that involves human life ought to be treated. It should not be done in the secret". This shows the level of disregard for human life by those that are supposed to protect innocent and defenseless civilians. This is also a shame not only to the Navy but also to the country and government that has no value for human life.
         "But we must warn that if at the end of the day the Navy comes up to say that their man is not guilty, there is going to be war! We are going to sack the Navy command in the South-East. This is no threat. They should be ready for war! And it is going to be a thing the nation is going to regret. Nobody is above the law and as such, everyone should be treated equally, be the person a uniform man or not.The consequences of not allowing this man to be brought to book will force people to take laws into their hands and the end result will not be interesting at all". -Culled from ThisDay Issue of Sunday, July 24, 2005
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    We'll declare Niger-Delta Republic -Insurgents threaten

    By Emma Amaize, Vanguard Regional Editor, South South
         Still smarting from the frustration at the recently concluded National Political Reform Conference, for not achieving 25% derivation, South-South appears set to actualise its threat to control its resources at all costs. To this end, an insurgent group that styles itself, South-South Liberation Movement, has started training youths for guerilla warfare preparatory to declaration of Niger Delta Republic.
         Security alert in next to no time after the London bombings last month, which coincided with the walk-out by delegates from the South-South geo-political zone from the just ended National Political Reforms Conference (NPRC) at Abuja, the Federal Government ordered security agents to keep a weather eye on all militant and belligerent groups in the country, chiefly in the uneasy Niger-Delta region. Among the groups that were placed under strict surveillance were the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, led by Ralph Uwazurike; Alhaji Moujahid Asari-Dokubo’s Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF); Arewa Peoples Congress and the Odua Peoples Congress. To some persons, the shadowing was just the usual government’s fire-brigade reaction to issues of such nature but a security source denied it was a panic-driven measure, saying: "There were sufficient reasons to believe that some private army in the Niger Delta wanted to stir up trouble in the country over the vexed issue of resource control and higher derivation formula.
         Besides the band of soldiers, some high-flying political figures in the South-South zone were placed on the watch list with extra-vigilance measures put in place at the oil installations, borders and airports. About the same period, our Niger-Delta Bureau was tipped off that millions of persons had allegedly been trained and more still undergoing military training in the mangrove forests and swamps of the region, awaiting the last order to go to war for the actualization of the "Republic of Niger Delta". From illusion to reality: The whole thing appeared incredible until few days ago when Sunday Vanguard through a go-between, met with leaders of the South-South Liberation Movement, a Niger-Delta group which is behind the reinvigorated move to proclaim a Republic of Niger Delta. The visit to some operational bases of the group in Delta and Bayelsa states by Sunday Vanguard was on certain conditions. One was that the locations should not be disclosed by the newspaper to anybody. Two, the photographs that were taken must not be given to security agents for any purpose and, three, it is not all that the eye saw that must be reported.
         The group, allegedly led by a retired Warrant Officer of the Nigerian Army who was trained in South- Korea on counter-terrorism had put to paper its intention to declare a "Republic of Niger Delta" to the United Nations. Information at the disposal of Sunday Vanguard indicated that the national coordinator of the Movement, John Adie, who is not a strange face to security agents in the country, has been training in jungle warfare and was once an instructor in the Amphibious Training Wing of the Nigerian Army, Calabar in Cross River State. Copies of their May 20 letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, signed by Adie and 15 others had also been forwarded to the Secretary to the Federal Government, all governors and speakers of the six South-South states, the Oba of Benin, Olu of Warri and other royal fathers in the region, all the foreign embassies within and outside the country, South-South leaders and activists.
         The quartet of the national coordinator, Adie; deputy national coordinator, Prince Agonaemi Evah, Delta State coordinator, Bailbond Perekelegha and national youth president, Goddy Ewerode who met with Sunday Vanguard at an agreed location in Delta State, last week, said they were not terrorists and were not afraid of death either. It was gathered that some contingents trained by the movement had been stationed in neighbouring West African countries and if the Federal Government does not properly handle its proposed plan to increase the pump price of petrol to N80 per litre, the activists might just use it as a catalyst to start their insurgency. Military training camps: Sunday Vanguard discovered that the movement has been working underground in the creeks of Niger Delta for about five years now and has about 150 preparation camps where jobless graduates and undergraduates were allegedly being taught regimentation, weapons handling and jungle warfare. Ex military men from the Niger Delta, especially those that were suddenly retired from the Army, Air force and Navy, were also allegedly learnt to have signed up with the group and are ready to fight for the actualization of resource control. In fact, a collection of retired military pensioners in the South-South who fought on the Nigerian side during the civil war openly declared in Warri, last month that they would join in the emancipation struggle.
         A source said security agencies were not ignorant of the fact that the Niger Delta already has an army ready for war and suicide mission. According to information pieced together, it was an open secret that the militants parade the creeks in the night with sophisticated arms. The training camps are dotted across the six states of the region but the largest concentration is in Bayelsa State. Mr. Adie told Sunday Vanguard that: "this is not a battle our elders can fight for us, so the youths have decided to do the battle by themselves because we know that freedom is not gotten on a platter of gold". Some of the trainees spoken to on the condition of anonymity said they were in camp to train and secure freedom for their people. "I left school to fight to liberate my people because it is stated in the Bible that the kingdom of God suffereth violence and the violent taketh it by force. We are ready to fight for what is rightly given to us by God and to fight the government to standstill. There is no going back", one of them said. In the co-ordinator’s words: "The time of communiqués and dialogue is over, we want to speak the language that the Federal Government understands, hence we decided to marshal ourselves and get what we want by force. After all, sharia people woke up from sleep one day, dreamt up sharia, introduced it and nothing happened. It is really a shame that our so-called governors, because of their loyalty to the PDP, do not want to take the bull by the horns. What stops them from declaring a Republic of South-South or getting resource control by force like sharia people did." -Culled from Vanguard Online Issue of Sunday, July 28, 2005
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    US threatens Nigeria with sanctions

    [ *Obasanjo won’t go for it, says Mbang ]

    By Chinedu Offor (Washington) and Stella Odueme (Lagos)
         Washington proposes to take several punitive measures against Abuja if President Olusegun Obasanjo seeks a third term. Tension is growing between the two countries over Nigeria's future leadership. To cap it, the United States Government is reportedly furious with what State Department officials called "an unwarranted attack on the country with the tacit support of the Nigerian leadership by Presidential Spokesman, Femi Fani Kayode". He recently rebuked Washington over comments by serving and former administration officials who frown at suggestions of a third term bid by Obasanjo.
         Sources confirmed that U.S. government has taken the unusual step of informing members of Congress of a possible leadership problem in Nigeria. The notice to senior lawmakers of both parties also contained an earlier assessment about the possible disintegration of Nigeria. "If the present administration seeks to stay in office longer than its current term, the scenario in the assessment could come sooner than expected" senior government officials said.
         Measures that could be applied against Nigeria include military, economic and diplomatic. The U.S is a major supplier of military hardware to Nigerian forces and the administration assists the country in economic policies, such as the recent debt pardon by the Paris Club. Congressional sources said the U.S supported the debt forgiveness after obtaining assurances from Obasanjo of a smooth hand over to another leader at the expiration of his term. "The deal was to give a new leadership in Nigeria less economic burden to chart a new course for the country, but all bets will be off if Obasanjo amends the Constitution to prolong his term", said officials.
         Reminded that the U.S could be seen to be dabbling in the internal affairs of another nation, one insisted that a leadership crisis in Nigeria could have a "devastating domino effect" on the whole region and would "severely hurt the administration’s goal of encouraging democracy, term limits and good government on the continent". According to sources the U.S. administration decided to pay closer attention to the "persistent rumours" of a plot to extend the term of office in Nigeria after failing to get a clear denial from Abuja.
         Recent reports that 30 governors and several of their state Senate and House of Representatives reportedly signed on for a constitutional amendment for fear of being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) also causes anxiety. "If this story is corroborated, the administration would have no option than to consult with its allies on the need to tell Abuja in clear terms that such an action would not be supported by the international community" American officials said. -Culled from Independent Online Issue of Tuesday 27th December, 2005
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    Danger signals in Nigeria - N, S spit fire

    By Celestine Okafor, Chioma Anyagafu and Emmanuel Arziken, Abuja
         As a body of supposedly elder statesmen, the Senate is ordinarily considered to be a chamber accommodating some of the nation’s most patriotic men and women. To wit, a body of men and women with a long term views of the best interests of the nation. This assumption was, however, at the weekend being rubbished as the third term agenda was formally unmasked at the National Assembly. It was a joint statement by Senators Uche Chukwumerije (PDP, Abia North) and Ben Obi (PDP, Anambra Central), that, indeed, gave credence to the arrival of the third term plot in the Senate. In the statement, the two lawmakers disclosed how the Southern Senators Forum (SSF) was being manipulated for the purpose of sustaining President Olusegun Obasanjo towards a third straight term in office.
         Earlier in December, the Northern Senators Forum (NSF) had at a meeting in Kaduna restated the North’s claim to the presidency in 2007 and had sought the understanding of Southern political leaders. The Northern meeting, according to Saturday Vanguard sources, was actually inspired by some hardline elements within and outside the Senate who sought to use the high profile NSF as a platform to hit back at the presidency and those behind the third term agenda. In their communiquéé at the end of the retreat, the Northern Senators Forum said: “The meeting resolved that we stand by the principle of rotation of the presidency between the North and South. Consequently, the forum once again reiterates its commitment to ensuring the emergence of the president from the North in 2007.” In restating the North’s quest for power shift, the senators equally restated their opposition to the ongoing constitutional amendment process, notably the proposal for a three-term of four years each for the president and governors. Whether as a response to the Northern Senators’ resolution or inspired by the presidency, the leadership of the Southern Senators Forum resolved to have their own meeting the following Thursday, December 8. During that meeting, the lawmakers propounded the rationale on why South should retain the presidency in 2007. The argument was hinged on the fact that the North had held the position of the presidency for about 35 years of the nation’s 45 years of independence.
         The Southern Senators said that shifting the presidency to the North would mean an oscillation as opposed to rotation as generally believed. “What had been advocated from previous statements would amount to oscillation, that is moving from North to South. What we are saying is that we support rotation, and rotation actually is a question of moving from one zone to the next zone and so on and so forth.
         The issues of where the ticket goes to in 2007 has since gone beyond the National Assembly. Only on Monday, prominent Southern politicians and distinguished leaders rose from a one-day meeting of Southern Forum in Enugu with a resolution that they would consider a confederal arrangement if power does not remain in either the South-East or South-South when the chips settle in the coming elections. Similarly, the Northern Forum did not also mince words that the issue of presidential power returning to the North was non negotiable.
         And in apparent reference to these regional meetings and the tough talks emanating from there, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) hurriedly called an emergency meeting where it warned its members from organising, sponsoring and attending such sectional parleys.
         Beyond such warning, how is the nation going to handle the hardline positions of Northern and Southern politicians? What are the implications of such positions? Who is prepared to shift grounds in the interest of justice, equity and fair play? Saturday Vanguard spoke with a wide range of politicians from the two divides on this controversy over who gets power in 2007.
         No blackmail will make us succumb, Northern politicians vow. -Culled from Vanguard Online Issue of Saturday, December 24, 2005
    Click Here For Full Text of Article

    War in Niger Delta
    * Fighting continues after attack on Shell flow-station
    * Security council meets, Obasanjo summons N-Delta govs

         Fighting between soldiers and militants in the Niger Delta continued yesterday( Monday, January 16, 2006 ) following the attack on the Shell Petroleum Development Company operated Benisede flowstation which left 13 military personnel dead and an equal number of civilian casualties. Information from Yenagoa last night indicated that security agencies had arrested a man believed to be the mastermind of last week's kidnap of four oil workers in Bayelsa.
         It was gathered that a high powered security council meeting scheduled by the Presidency for yesterday was rescheduled for today to enable government collate enough data on the situation in the area and take a decision on the next course of action. A resident who fled the scene of the fighting told Vanguard yesterday that fighting continued between soldiers and the militants for the better part of Sunday and the wee hours of yesterday.
         Mr. Johnbull Igoniwari said rapid exchange of gunfire heightened after troop reinforcements came in. "The soldiers are shooting at anything that moves. This problem at Benisede did not start today. The soldiers there have always been very highhanded and our people had previously made our case known to the authorities including Shell. "But nobody listened. I recall a time last year when one of our boys was killed and several people injured, we made our complaint but nobody listened. Shell simply got in army reinforcement to stifle us. The problems have simply become more and more complicated," he said.
         On the current state of affairs in the area, he said young men in Ojobo, the host community of the Benisede flow-station, had since left the area for fear of arrest by the army on suspicion of being part of the attack on the station. "You know whenever such things happen, the army starts arresting younger people indiscriminately under the excuse that they are being held on one suspicion or the other," Igoniwari said. -Culled from Vanguard Online Issue of Tuesday, January 17, 2006
    Click Here For Full Text of Article

    Militants - Blood will flow March 10

    By Yinka Fabowale
         Niger Delta militants on Monday threatened to spill blood and unleash greater carnage on oil firms’ facilities and federal interests if by Friday, the Federal Government fails to meet their conditions.
         Warning the authorities not to test their will, the militants said they would carry out “Operation Black Mamba Strike” at the expiration of the latest deadline, which would include attacking oil facilities and perhaps taking more hostages.
         An earlier ultimatum issued to the government expired Monday. According to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), government would be mistaken if it construed its magnanimity in releasing six of the nine oil workers it snatched on February 18, as a sign of weakness and cowardice.
         The group, in a statement sent to media houses, restated its demands, including a fresh one calling on government to revisit the contentious demand of delegates from the zone to the National Political Reforms Conference. The delegates had requested the endorsement of 25 per cent derivation fund allocation for states in the region. This is to appreciate at a 20 per cent rate for five consecutive years culminating in 50 per cent resource allocation. -Culled Daily Sun Online Issue of Tuesday, March 7, 2006
    Click Here For Full Text of Article

    NY Times Warns of Civil War

    [ *Warns Obasanjo of 3rd term tinkering ]

    By Sun News Publishing
         Tinkering with the constitution to get a third term in office is foolhardy, and may cause another civil war in Nigeria, the highly respected New York Times, stated in an editorial published on Sunday. The hard-hitting editorial, titled ‘In Nigeria, Things Fall Apart,’ was published as President Olusegun Obasanjo gets set to visit the United States later this week, with the newspaper asking President George Bush to tell his guest that “changing his country’s constitution so that he can remain in office is foolhardy.” The New York Times observes that Nigeria is deteriorating fast, saying Obasanjo is partly to blame for enflaming political tensions among the polarized ethnic groups, by trying to change the constitution to allow himself run for a third four-year term.
         The newspaper says the last thing Africa needs is for its most populous country – Nigeria – to be pushed into a civil war, warning that an out-of-control Nigeria “would undermine its already fragile neighbors.” Noting that Obasanjo has helped in the past to bring stability to a volatile region, the New York Times says two terms in power is enough, “and it is incumbent on President Bush to tell Mr Obasanjo that changing his country’s constitution so that he can remain in office is foolhardy. Another four years is not worth a Nigerian civil war.”
         Measures that could be applied against Nigeria include military, economic and diplomatic. The U.S is a major supplier of military hardware to Nigerian forces and the administration assists the country in economic policies, such as the recent debt pardon by the Paris Club. Congressional sources said the U.S supported the debt forgiveness after obtaining assurances from Obasanjo of a smooth hand over to another leader at the expiration of his term. "The deal was to give a new leadership in Nigeria less economic burden to chart a new course for the country, but all bets will be off if Obasanjo amends the Constitution to prolong his term", said officials.
         Reminded that the U.S could be seen to be dabbling in the internal affairs of another nation, one insisted that a leadership crisis in Nigeria could have a "devastating domino effect" on the whole region and would "severely hurt the administration's goal of encouraging democracy, term limits and good government on the continent". According to sources the U.S. administration decided to pay closer attention to the "persistent rumours" of a plot to extend the term of office in Nigeria after failing to get a clear denial from Abuja.
         Recent reports that 30 governors and several of their state Senate and House of Representatives reportedly signed on for a constitutional amendment for fear of being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) also causes anxiety. "If this story is corroborated, the administration would have no option than to consult with its allies on the need to tell Abuja in clear terms that such an action would not be supported by the international community" American officials said. -Culled from Sun Times Online Issue of Monday. March 27, 2005
    Click Here For Full Text of Article
    Click For New York Times Original Article

    Civil War Still Possible -Soyinka

    By Patrick Ugeh, Chuks Akunna, Funso Muraina And Oke Epia
         Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, has warned that the continued agitations of power shift by a section of the country could lead to another civil war and the notion of divine right to rule by any section of Nigeria must cease, saying it is undemocratic. He described charges of treasonable felony for which certain ethnic militia leaders, including Alhaji Mujahid Asari Dokubo of the Niger Delta Volunteer Force (NDVF), Ralph Uwazurike of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), and Gani Adams of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) as spurious and not in tune with democratic tenets.
         Speaking last night at the public presentation of his memoirs, 'You Must Set Forth at Dawn,' Soyinka said the injustices and marginalization that led to the 1967-70 civil war were still rife, a development he said could yet plunge the nation into another civil war. Said Soyinka: "Now, I spoke about civil war. I spoke about our lessons. What should be our lessons from the civil war? What should be our lessons from injustices, from marginalisation. From the killings and claims of the divine right to rule. This is something against which I have always stood. But, however misunderstood it is, any section of the country which believes it has the divine right to rule and expresses that by whatever other name-power shift, power return, et-cetera, et-cetera, they should understand the potential consequences of this kind of position.
         "They should understand that that is kind of mentality that ruled in racially-torn societies like Apartheid South Africa. It is the kind of mentality, which dominates Sudan today, which, in fact, has brought it close to Somalia. This notion of superiority, this notion of divinely given right to dominance has got to cease in this nation. Continued the Nobel laureate: "I am talking about the injustices, the contradictions of society which are still very much with us. It means that we shouldn't underestimate the possibility of another civil war breaking out. And, therefore, we should accept the moral and civil responsibilities of acting in ways, which do not accelerate the tempo of events and which in fact, go towards ensuring that we do not undergo another trauma of a civil war.
         People whose interest in what happens in society is sole self-advancement. They want to dominate the scene, that they alone represent the nation. I think that we should see the whole picture of not just what happens today, but what the picture will look like in a few years," he stated,, stressing, "nobody should be complacent, particularly as we move towards 2007."
         He added: "It is not enough to keep saying, 'Oh! He keeps saying that because he is Yoruba, he is saying that because he is Igbo, or because he is Borno. No! truth is truth. If we live together as an entity, we must cultivate an egalitarian society and understand all the entities because without an understanding of the different parts of the nation, we are a mere geographical _expression, a tinderbox awaiting explosion. Soyinka, at the event which had in attendance the Cross Governor State Governor, Mr. Donald Duke, Ministers Nasir el' Rufai and Oby Ezekwesili, Professor Sola Adeyeye of the House of Representatives, lamented what he said was the prevalence of contempt for the rule of law in Nigeria.
         He remarked: "When we talk about law, nobody is and should be above the law. Law is an agreement. Nobody should be deprived of his right. Some people have been detained over the years without their lawyers knowing where they are kept. It is an abuse of the law. I am talking of Gani Adams, (Ralph) Uwazurike, the (Asari) Dokubos. They are detained for so long and brought out occasionally for hearing and hearing you know, the charges against them do not qualify for incarceration. -Culled from ThisDay Online Issue of Wednesday, September 6, 2006
    Click Here For Full Text of Article

    Nigeria risks collapse -World Bank

    By Emma Ujah with agency reports
         As accusations and counter-accusations rage between President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice President Atiku Abubakar unabated, the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank has added Nigeria to its list of fragile nations that risk breaking up. A report from Singapore, venue of this year’s Annual Meetings of the Breton Woods Institutions, yesterday, said the list now contains 14 new countries. There are now 26 countries on the list.
         “The potential failure of countries including Nigeria and Angola, China's biggest oil supplier this year, threatens to boost energy and commodities prices and slow economic growth,” the report said, citing the crisis in the Niger Delta. Oil has fallen 19 per cent since reaching a record $78.40 on July 14. The group is also concerned that terrorism, drug production and weapon smuggling are spiraling. “Neglecting the fragile states, half of whom are living in extreme poverty, risks a worsening of their misery. That in turn will feed regional and global instability,” said Vinod Thomas, the group’s Director General. The group, which reports to the World Bank’s board of executive directors rather than President Paul Wolfowitz, defines fragile states as low-income nations that score three or less on a scale of one to six measuring economic policies, social equality and public-sector management.
         Angola, the world’s third-largest diamond producer in 2003, is emerging from civil war. Half a million people were killed in battles that began after the African nation gained independence from Portugal in 1975. In the Republic of Congo, which earns more than half its income from oil, about four million people died, mostly from disease and starvation during two civil wars between 1996 and 2002. “There could be large global spillovers if they don’t do well,” Soniya Carvalho, lead author of Engaging with Fragile States: An IEG Review of World Bank Support to Low-Income Countries Under Stress, said in an interview, adding: "They could become hotbeds of terrorist activity because there are large ungoverned areas. The imperative to do something in fragile states is very great.”
         Donors don’t want to spend money in such countries because their governments don’t have the capacity to use the funds effectively to reduce poverty, according to the report. The World Bank, which has lent $4.1 billion to the fragile states in the past two years, and other donors need to boost investment in developing local expertise after conflicts, Carvalho said. In East Timor, donors may have pulled out too quickly, she said.
         Civil unrest erupted in March in East Timor, which is about 500 kilometres north of Australia, after former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri dismissed 600 soldiers for deserting. Clashes between security forces escalated into fighting between armed gangs, killing 37 people and forcing 155,000 people from their homes.
         Timor's share of oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea is about $10 billion, according to the Australian government. Half the population lacks safe drinking water. About 60 out of 1,000 infants die before their first birthday and life expectancy is just over 55, according to a United Nations report in March.
         Other fragile states include the Central African Republic, which has diamond, uranium, gold and oil deposits, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Eritrea , Guinea, Kosovo, the Solomon Islands, Togo, Vanuatu, West Bank and Gaza, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Laos, Liberia, Myanmar, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe. -Culled from Vanguard Online Issue of Friday, September 15, 2006
    Click Here For Full Text of Article

    Nigerian militants vow to wage war •If Dokubo, Uwazurike are not released in 72hrs

    By Ahamefula Ogbu in Port Harcourt
         A coalition of militants under the aegis of “Coalition of Niger Delta Forces” have issued the Federal Government with 72 hours ultimatum to withdraw all military personnel from the Niger Delta, release Alhaji Asari Dokubo and Raphael Uwazurike or they will declare a full blown war on them. At the expiration of the time of the ultimatum, the militants also advised all foreigners to leave the Niger Delta as they could be affected in the conflagration they were going to precipitate. They also pressed for the sack Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Professor Maurice Iwu, who they accused of partisanship and working to favour the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and further warned that they would resort to violence against any governor in the region who attempts to rig elections.
         Other demands they are making is that properties seized from leader of the Niger Delta Vigilante group, Mr. Tom Ateke, be immediately returned to him while INEC should stop disqualifying any Nigerian who wishes to contest elections. “INEC should no longer disqualify any candidate no matter the case, any Nigerian who wants to contest any election should be given the free hand to do so since the major decision of choice of leadership lies with the masses. “Furthermore, we demand an immediate stop of the incessant attacks on Ateke Tom of the Niger Delta vigilante and his properties that were destroyed and ceased by the government should be paid back to him. “Asari Dokubo, and Unwazurike and all other Niger Delta freedom fighter in government custody should be immediately released. “The Federal Government should immediately withdraw its military personnel in the region because this military are intended to be used by the government in power to rig election in the region. “We wish to inform the government this demand are very esteem to this body and if after seventy two hours they are not considered, we advise every foreigners to leave the region for their own interest as their safety could not be guaranteed when we swing into our best actions”, they said.
         The warning which the militants posted to journalists in Port Harcourt threatened to attack any interest or persons bent on derailing the democratic process and pointed at the case of Anambra to justify their call for Iwu’s removal as they alleged that he made every effort to disqualify opponents of Andy Uba to pave way for him to win without a contest.
         Ikiederi Richard, Secretary, Walter Adokie, the Land Army Commander and Priye Alabo who is their Marine Commander who jointly signed the statement alleged that the INEC chairman was only working to protect the interest of those who brought him to office to the detriment of the development of politics in the country. -Culled from ThisDay Online Issue of Monday, April 9, 2007
    Click Here For Full Text of Article

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