Mystery Fire @ Port Harcourt City

In the early hours of Tuesday 17th of December, 2013 in Port Harcourt a market popularly known as ‘Mile 1 market’ was set ablaze by an unknown source. This is one of the biggest markets in the city, it is reported that goods worth millions of naira has been lost in the fire. Although the Rivers State fire service is just about 300meters from the site or about 2minutes drive this changed nothing as the market was taken down to it’s foundation. More details shortly……

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FG Seeks National Policy on Public Safety, Security

The federal government has continued to search for an appropriate national policy on public safety and security in a bid to develop a framework for implementation.
The Minister of Police Affairs, Navy Captain Caleb Olubolade, Monday in Abuja, at the opening of the Stakeholders Consultative Forum on the Development of a National Policy on Public Safety and Security, said the search for a national strategy was based on the urgent need to close the gap in policy and processes that the nonexistence has created over time.
He noted that when this policy is developed, it would evolve “specific roles and responsibility of the individuals, communities, relevant agencies and the various tiers of government in ensuring peace and security in our society based on international best practices.
“Nobody can use politics to disintegrate Nigeria.”
According to the minister, the workshop is one of those planned in search for an “enduring workable and robust national policy on public safety and security that will be a guide and a path towards ensuring the provision of enduring policy on public safety and security in Nigeria.”
Olubolade added that it would provide an overall framework for implementation and delineation of roles of various stakeholders involved in public safety and security.
Professor of Criminology at the University of Abuja, Femi Odekunle, who delivered the lead paper at the forum, said the matter of public safety must be looked at beyond the “legally assigned functions of the Police and other internal security agencies.”
He said the existence of crime in the society over the decades had exposed the country to an unprecedented security risk to itself and the citizens, resulting in invaluable socio economic loss and the serious depletion of the quantum and quality of safety in the country.
Meanwhile, the Ona of Abaji and Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Traditional Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Adamu Yunusa, has called on the federal government to include public safety in the country’s education course outline beginning from primary to tertiary education in order to inculcate it into the character of the Nigerian youths.

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Johnathan seeks Israel’s help to combat terrorism

President Goodluck Jonathan has sought the assistance and cooperation of the State of Israel in the ongoing war against terrorism and insurgency, which is a common threat for both countries.
Jonathan made this call yesterday in Jerusalem, Israel during his meeting with the Israeli President, Shimon Peres, before the signing of a Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA) by the Supervising Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri.
According to him, Nigeria would welcome enhanced cooperation and assistance from Israel on its ongoing efforts to end terrorist attacks and incursions in parts of the country.
He said: “Combating the menace of terrorism is a challenge that we must address in partnership with all peace loving countries and peoples of the world.
“I seek the cooperation of your country to confront the security threat from terrorist groups that my country is now facing.  There is no doubt that Israel has had decades of experience in combating terrorism. Nigeria can benefit tremendously from your experience in this area.”
Speaking further, Jonathan acknowledged the growing economic relations between the two countries, and called for greater collaboration in other sectors.
He added: “My administration will also welcome the greater deployment of Israel’s renowned expertise in furtherance of Nigeria’s agenda for national transformation in areas such as healthcare, agriculture, electric power supply and the management of water resources.
“I also assure you that my administration will continue to encourage the expansion of trade, economic and cultural relations between Nigeria and Israel, and the BASA will undoubtedly boost such an effort.” Responding, Peres said he was delighted and privileged to have had the opportunity of hosting “the first Nigerian President to visit the state of Israel”.
He said: “You are a most distinguished pilgrim. In recent years, our relations have extended to many other spheres, and are steadily growing. The relations between Nigeria and Israel are close and long-standing. They are based upon friendship and the shared values of freedom, democracy and faith. Today, we also face common menaces.
“Nigeria and Israel have been steadfast partners in combating terror groups such as al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and Boko Haram which threaten the regional stability in Western Africa and in the Middle East.
“You have combated the menace of Boko Haram with a steady hand and great courage. The State of Israel too has been fighting terrorism since its establishment. Terrorists all over the world are united in their attempt to destroy hope and unity. Those of us who seek peace and freedom must be united in order to defend our common front.
“Mr. President, you have been a brave leader of a brave country. Marching ahead towards the strengthening of democracy and development. And at the same time, trying to unite your people. The world is watching as Nigeria grows and prospers, achieving its economic and development goals. Your country, Mr. President, is not only a great hope. It is an example and an inspiration for countries around it. A true testament to the strength of the human potential.”
According to the Israeli President: “Israel and Nigeria share the belief that the progress we make in our own countries and societies can benefit our neighbours and regions at large. I know that one of highlights of your trip was the signing of the Bilateral Air Services Agreement between Israel and Nigeria. You are a leader who opens the skies for the horizons of tomorrow. Hand in hand,  let us soar along the runway of progress and freedom towards a brighter future,” President Peres told President Jonathan.
Meanwhile, Jonathan, who met earlier in the day with with the Minister of Defence, Mr. Moshe  Ya’alon, has completed his pilgrimage and will return to the country today after a meeting with the  Palestinian President, Mr. Mahmoud Abbas.
He also met with the Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu who told him that a nuclear armed Iran was a threat to Africa.
According to the Associated Press (AP), Netanyahu said stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons was important to Nigeria, Africa and the world. Israel and the West believe Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons technology. The Jewish state sees a nuclear armed Iran as a threat to its existence, citing Iranian references to Israel’s destruction and its support of militant groups like Lebanon’s Hezbollah. Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
President Jonathan later visited the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem where laid a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance and lit a flame  in honour of the dead.

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Man Kidnaps Own Son, Demands N350,000 Ransom

The Department of State Security Service  (DSS), Lagos State Command, Monday paraded a 48-year-old man, Samson Adebayo, who masterminded the kidnap of his son and demanded a ransom of N350,000.
Adebayo, with the help of his girlfriend, Kehinde Alonge, a hairdresser, had kidnapped nine-year-old Emmanuel from his residence at 2, Solomon Street, Ilu-Nla, Aradagun, Badagry.
Speaking to journalists Monday, DSS Director, Lagos State Command, Mr. Ben Achu-Olayi, said Adebayo had informed the service and the police in order to make his plan convincing about his missing child.
He said: “On October 7, the command received a report from Adebayo Samson who complained that his son was kidnapped on October 3.
“Consequently, the command swung into action with the aim of rescuing the victim and arresting the culprits. Preliminary investigations confirmed the kidnapping incident by Kehinde Alonge who demanded a N350, 000 ransom.
“She demanded that the ransom be paid into a UBA account 2050908899 belonging to one Taiwo Faloye. Meanwhile, we had set up a flag on the account with the cooperation from the bank and were alerted when N230, 000 was remitted.”
He said the female suspect was arrested when she went to cash the money from a UBA branch at Ilesa, Osun State, adding that during interrogation, Alonge had fingered the victim’s father.
He said: “Following Alonge’s indictment, Adebayo confessed and was arrested. He confessed that he planned his son’s kidnap in order to extort money from some of his church members and sympathisers.”
While stressing the commitment of the command in fighting crime in the state, Achu-Olayi warned parents against kidnapping their children for ransom.
He said: “We have noticed that crimes of these nature are usually committed by parents or close relations and we are warning them that we would not tolerate such acts.”
According to him, investigations have been concluded and the suspects will soon be charged to court.

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SECURITY RISK? DHS weighs lifting ban on Libyans training in US

The Department of Homeland Security is quietly considering lifting a long-standing ban on Libyans coming to the U.S. for training in the aviation and nuclear fields, according to an internal document, raising red flags for lawmakers who say Libya is still a security threat.
“Now, more than ever, we have concerns about terrorist activity in that country,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah. “Now the administration wants to normalize — that’s just not acceptable.”
Chaffetz and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., first drew attention to the draft document, which is circulating inside DHS and is not yet final. It comes a little more than a year after the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi in which four Americans were killed. The suspects still have not been brought to justice, it is reported over the past week how several Al Qaeda-tied individuals are linked to the attack.
U.S. forces just this month captured terrorist Abu Anas al-Libi, wanted in connection with the 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, in Tripoli.
“It is shocking that the Obama administration is turning a blind eye to real terrorist threats that exist in Libya today,” Goodlatte said in a written statement. “We still haven’t gotten to the bottom of the Benghazi terrorist attacks and continue to face additional terrorist threats from Libya, yet the Obama administration is preparing to lift a longstanding ban that protects Americans and our interests.”
The DHS document calls for rescinding restrictions first put in place in 1983 that barred Libyan nationals from coming to the U.S. to study or train in aviation maintenance, flight operations or nuclear-related fields. At the time, relations between the U.S. and Libya were breaking down as Muammar Qaddafi came to power. Before the 1983 decision, the Reagan administration in 1981 also invalidated the use of U.S. passports for travel to Libya and banned the import of Libyan oil. Later in the decade, Libyans spearheaded the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and also were involved in the bombing of a French airliner.
In 2011, Qaddafi was killed, and his government was replaced.
A DHS official said on Monday that the department is now “reviewing U.S. policies that have been in place since before the Libyan revolution to see how they might be updated to better align with U.S. interests.”
The official noted that while Libya is subjected to the training restrictions, there are no similar provisions for state sponsors of terrorism including Cuba, Iran and Syria.
Without commenting specifically on the draft proposal, the official said: “The United States supports the aspirations of the Libyan people as they participate in their democratic transition after 42 years of dictatorship. We are committed to working with Libya to build its sovereign institutions and are working closely with the government to bring stability to Libya.”
The official noted that the draft proposal is “deliberative and not final” and had “not been approved by DHS for publication.”
A copy of the document reviewed by sources says that DHS is moving to rescind the restrictions “after consultation with the Department of State and the Department of Defense.”
The document notes that U.S.-Libya relations eroded beginning in the 1970s, leading to the nation being placed on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. It said the prohibition on Libyan nationals was imposed to deal with training “that could potentially have a negative impact on U.S. national security.”
But the document notes that Libya has moved to democratize since the fall of Qaddafi, and “most sanctions” that the United Nations and U.S. imposed have been lifted. It casts the effort to lift the travel restrictions in that light, noting the new Libyan government has “expressed initial interest” in sending students to the U.S. to receive training from the Defense Department to help them rebuild and sustain their own fleet.
“The United States has normalized relations with Libya and is working to establish robust diplomatic, military and economic ties,” the document says.
Chaffetz and Goodlatte, though, warn that the administration could “unilaterally” make these changes, and are urging the department to back down.
Chaffetz said that if necessary, the House could pass legislation barring the change, but he questioned whether the Senate would follow suit. Chaffetz said these changes have “not yet been earned.”

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Military: Kidnapped Americans’ Ship Found as Search for Sailors Continues

Nigeria’s military officials Sunday said they were yet to establish contact on the whereabouts or condition of the two Americans sailing on a United States flagged ship, who were kidnapped by pirates off the Nigerian coast.
According to the US National Broadcasting Company (NBC), the military officials stated that they were still searching for the two Americans as at Friday, who were kidnapped at sea off the coast of Nigeria, which had witnessed the activities of pirates in recent years.
The kidnap of the two Amercans is coming as boat operators and traders in Oron, Akwa Ibom State, decried the increasing rate of piracy activities around the Calabar creeks.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) gathered that the development had led to a hike in water transportation charges as the operators claim to be operating under risks.
But, the Nigerian Navy Spokesman, Kabiru Aliyu, said: “Yes, we are aware that they are missing, but we still do not have any information on the whereabouts of the men. We have deployed search-and-rescue teams, who are currently combing the creeks. We are doing our best to find them.”
Aliyu told the NBC News that the ship had been found, but did not give more details as he said it was “somewhere off Bonny in the Eastern Naval Command Area of Responsibility.”
NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski reported that the constant flow of massive cargo ships in the Gulf of Guinea had become a fertile hunting ground for pirates. 
US officials confirmed to NBC News that two Americans were taken on Wednesday last week in an area plagued by pirates, criminal gangs and active militant groups. The pirates boarded the ship and singled out the Americans, that is, the captain and chief engineer and took them ashore as hostages.
The US State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, told journalist that: “We believe this was an act of piracy. At this point, we do not have information that would indicate this was an act of terrorism. Obviously, our concern at this point is for the safe return of the two US citizens.
“US officials were closely monitoring the situation and seeking more information:”
Speaking also, a former US State Department official, Andrew Shapiro, said on the TODAY show on Friday, that: “This is not a Hollywood movie plot. Piracy and hijackings threaten our economic security and put innocent lives at risk.”
However, Nigerian officials echoed American officials position on the issue, saying they believed that the abductions had been carried out by “criminals” and not politically motivated militants.
Maritime news website gCaptain reported that the captain and chief engineer of oil supply vessel C-Retriever had been abducted.
Equally, C-Retriever’s insurer, Skuld, told NBC News that the ship was “not under the control of pirates.”
A US defence official said the State Department and FBI were leading the American response to the incident. A second defence official said the US Marine Corps had a small training unit in the region but it was not clear if it would get involved.
The State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said on Friday that US officials in Nigeria had been in touch with their local counterparts but that no further information was available.
In an interview with NBC News’ Brian Williams on Thursday, American cargo ship Capt. Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage off the coast of Somalia in April, 2009, said the waters off Nigeria were “worse than even Somalia.”
Nigerian navy special forces patrol the waters during a joint military exercise between Nigerian armed forces, US, Britain, Netherlands and Spain in Lagos in October 18.
US Navy SEAL snipers killed the three Somali pirates and rescued Phillips, who had offered himself as a hostage to save his crew. His high-seas hijacking has been turned into a film starring Tom Hanks. “Captain Phillips” earned more than $52 million during its first two weeks in cinemas.
Meanwhile, the operators and traders told the NAN on Saturday in Oron that attacks on boats and vessels have become a major challenge in their business.
For instance, a boat owner, Ime Etim, told NAN that piracy was affecting water transportation in the areas.
“If pirates attack us, we give them money. Sometimes, they seize our boats or the goods of the traders,” Etim said.
Another boat owner, Taju Balogun, corroborated Etims’ complaint, stating that pirates were not only seizing boats, but sometimes killed passengers in the boats.
Similarly, a fish trader, Mrs Ndi Okon, also told NAN that boat owners have increased their fares because of the activities of the pirates.
“Before now, we paid between N400 and N500 within the Calabar creeks, but now, we pay N1,200 per trip. This is affecting the cost of business,” Okon said.
Sources, however, told NAN that vessels navigating within the Calabar creeks, around 40 nautical miles from the Fairway Bouy, up to the Calabar Port, have been operating in fear.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, said reports of attacks on vessels and boats around the port have increased in recent times, stressing that there were several islands around the passage leading to the port.
These islands, the source said, served as hideouts for militants who carried out illegal operations on the water.
“Problems with the passage is that there are several islands, like Parrot Island and Snake Island, where militants used to hide. Even ordinary boats crossing the islands have increased their fares because of the activities of pirates,” the source said.
The source said Nigerian waters had yet to attain a satisfactory level of security, in spite of measures being taking by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
“Recently, NIMASA arrested some oil tankers and handed them over to the EFCC, but nobody has been prosecuted. NIMASA is struggling, but at the same time, there are people sponsoring these pirates,” the source noted.

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Mrs. Grace Iyayi has been free by abducters

The two elderly wives of a prominent businessman in Edo State, Chief Iyayi Efianayi, have been released by their kidnapper.
The ladies, Mrs. Grace Iyayi and Mrs. Christiana Iyayi, according to impeccable sources, were released after the payment of ransom.
Investigation revealed that both ladies were kept in a jungle at Evbuotubu  village near Benin-City in the first two days of their captivity but were transferred to an uncompleted building in the same village where they spent another seven days while the negotiation for their extrication was ongoing.
It was also gathered that to avert any untoward action against the captives, the police were kept out of the negotiation for their release.
It was gathered that apart from their containment, the two ladies were not beaten or brutalised by their captors.
Grace, 72, and Christiana, 65, were abducted by the kidnappers along Boundary Road near Ogbetuo Avenue junction, GRA, Benin-City.
They were on their way to church in the same car with another lady in the front passenger seat and a driver.
Unknown to them, the two vehicles behind them, a Toyota Sienna wagon and a Toyota Corolla car, were carrying kidnappers who were trailing them.
Immediately they got to Ogbetuo Avenue junction, the Sienna wagon overtook and blocked their car while the Corolla was also used to block the car from behind.
Four armed men alighted from the two vehicles, pointed their guns at the driver and the lady in the front seat and ordered them to open the doors of the car.
The two elderly ladies were pulled out of their cars into the Sienna wagon and they sped away.
The Toyota Corolla, which ostensibly must have been stolen for the operation, was abandoned.

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US spying in Berlin exposed

Berlin – The US may have bugged Angela Merkel’s phone for more than 10 years, according to a news report on Saturday that also said US President Barack Obama told the German leader he would have stopped it happening had he known about it.
Germany’s outrage over reports of bugging of Merkel’s phone by the US National Security Agency (NSA) prompted it to summon the US ambassador this week for the first time in living memory, an unprecedented post-war diplomatic rift.
Der Spiegel said Merkel’s mobile telephone had been listed by the NSA’s Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002 – marked as “GE Chancellor Merkel” – and was still on the list weeks before Obama visited Berlin in June.
In an SCS document cited by the magazine, the agency said it had a “not legally registered spying branch” in the US embassy in Berlin, the exposure of which would lead to “grave damage for the relations of the United States to another government”.
From there, NSA and CIA staff were tapping communication in the Berlin’s government district with high-tech surveillance.

Obama apologised
Quoting a secret document from 2010, Der Spiegel said such branches existed in about 80 locations around the world, including Paris, Madrid, Rome, Prague, Geneva and Frankfurt.
The magazine said it was not clear whether the SCS had recorded conversations or just connection data.
Obama apologised to Merkel when she called him on Wednesday to seek clarification on the issue, Der Spiegel wrote, citing a source in Merkel’s office.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung also said Obama had told Merkel he had not known of the bugging.
Merkel’s spokesperson and the White House declined comment.
“We’re not going to comment on the details of our diplomatic discussions,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council at the White House.
The rift over US surveillance activities first emerged earlier this year after reports that Washington had bugged EU offices and had tapped half a billion phone calls, e-mails and text messages in Germany in a typical month.
But it appeared close to resolution after Merkel’s government said in August – just weeks before a parliamentary election – the US had given sufficient assurances they were upholding German law.
Germany will send intelligence chiefs to Washington next week to seek answers on the allegations around Merkel’s phone.
Obama ordered a review of US surveillance programmes after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents that raised alarm in the US and abroad.

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Arms deal- Thabo Mbeki

Johannesburg – Former president Thabo Mbeki and his former ministers have agreed to being represented by a State attorney at the Seriti Commission of Inquiry, the justice department said on Sunday.

“They have agreed to a State attorney facilitating their collective legal representation through the appointment of advocate [Marumo] Moerane SC who will lead the legal team during the proceedings,” department spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said.
“We trust that the former president and former ministers will be well represented throughout the proceedings.”
The commission, chaired by Judge Willie Seriti, is investigating allegations of corruption in South Africa’s multi-billion rand arms deal.
In August, Mbeki withdrew his legal representation from the commission pending finalisation of assistance from the State.
Mbeki, Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel, former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, former public enterprises minister Alec Erwin and Congress of the People president Mosiuoa Lekota are all set to testify at the commission.
The deal, which was initially estimated to cost R43bn, has dogged South Africa’s politics since it was signed in 1999, after then Pan Africanist Congress MP Patricia de Lille raised allegations of corruption in Parliament.
Zuma himself was once charged with corruption after his financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who had a tender to supply part of the requirements, was found to have facilitated a bribe for him from a French arms company.

The charges against Zuma were later dropped.

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Ex-Governor Sylva’s aid abducted

The political crisis in Bayelsa State took a worrisome dimension when an aide to former Governor Timipre Sylva of the state, Tonye Okio, was Saturay morning abducted by unknown gunmen from his Abuja residence.
Okio is a leader of the New Peoples Democratic Party in the state and one of the most ardent critics of President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Seriake Dickson’s administration.
Following his abduction, the Bayelsa Democratic front (BDF), a Yenagoa based group, yesterday linked his incident to his critical views on political issues in the state.
The group, in a statement signed by its President-General, Promise Okpoebi, said “until evidence is adduced contrary, we strongly suspect that Sir Okio’s abduction is linked to his current political convictions, including his open membership of the New PDP in Bayelsa State.”
The group said the fact that Okio’s phones and that of his sister who was leaving with him at the time of abduction were seized was a pointer to the fact that the action may have political undertones.
BDF lamented that all efforts to establish communication with Okio and his abductors had proved abortive.
“But we know it as a matter of fact that since leaving office along with former Governor Timipre Sylva, Okio has remained a fiercely loyal aide of his principal. He has also been a known social media critic of the Goodluck Jonathan syndicate and their puppet administration in Yenagoa.
“Until evidence is adduced to the contrary, we strongly suspect that Sir Okio’s abduction is linked to his current political convictions, including his open membership of the New PDP in Bayelsa State.”
The group therefore demanded for the immediate and unconditional release of the politician.

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