Thursday, 26 March 2009

The Punch condemns reporter’s detention

The management of The Punch newspapers has condemned the detention by the Police of its Chief Correspondent in Abuja, Mr. Olusola Fabiyi.
The correspondent was said to have gone to the Police headquarters, Abuja, to confirm a story when he was seized by personnel over his refusal to disclose the source of a story ran by the paper last Monday.

The paper had in the story quoted a statement by the Action Congress (AC), alleging that a prominent governor in the North-Central zone was co-ordinating the plot by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to kill former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

Fabiyi, who was said to have insisted that the source was the party’s press release, The Punch management said, has been moved to Area 10 by the police, who also seized his telephone.

The company said it seriously "condemned the detention of an innocent journalist on a baseless excuse".

Source; the Nation Newspaper


1. PTDF: Court decides Obasanjo’s fate tomorrow

An Abuja High Court is set to resolve questions raised in a suit filed by two lawyers seeking the trial of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Barely a week after he expressed his readiness to face trial for any abuse of office, Obasanjo will tomorrow know his fate over the alleged mismanagement of over N1.2billion belonging to the Petroleum Technology Development Fund(PTDF).

A judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Anwuli Chikere, yesterday fixed judgment for tomorrow in a suit seeking the trial of the ex-president over the PTDF fund.

Although Obasanjo is said to be out of the country, his lawyer had been notified of the judgment by the court.

2. Governors petition Yar’Adua, IG over plot to kill Tinubu

The six governors in the North-Central zone of the country have petitioned President Umaru Yar‘Adua and the Inspector- General of Police, Mr. Mike Okiro, over the allegation by the Action Congress that one of them was behind the alleged plot to assassinate a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

The governors, in the two-page petition signed on Wednesday by five of them, are demanding an investigation into the allegation.

The governors, who wrote the petition are the Chairman of North-Central Governors‘ Forum, Mr. Jonah Jang (Plateau); Mr. Gabriel Suswam (Benue); Alhaji Ibrahim Idris (Kogi); Dr. Bukola Saraki (Kwara); Alhaji Aliyu Doma (Nassarawa); and Dr. Babangida Aliyu (Niger).

According to the governors, Okiro’s investigation in the matter was imperative as the ”allegation is not only serious but weighty and should not be handled with levity.”

3. 19 Political Parties Agree on Mega Party

The expected formation of a mega political party is gradually taking shape with a coalition of 19 political parties' agreeing to come

The parties include, faction of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), led by General Muhammadu Buhari, Action Congress (AC), Progressive Action Congress (PAC) and Tunji Braithwaite led Nigeria Action Party (NAP), Olu Falae led Democratic Peoples Alliance (DPA).

Others are, Peoples Mandate Party (PMP), Alliance for Democracy (AD), Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Labour Party, Progressive Action Congress (PAC) and Peoples Progressive Alliance (PPA) among others.

The final decision will be taking in Lagos on April 7, where the name, logo and manifesto would be unfolded.

4. Gunmen Kill 8 Policemen in Delta CP’s Convoy

Eight policemen attached to the convoy of the Delta State Commissioner of Police, Mr Jacob Oshiomogor, were killed yesterday during an exchange of gunfire with armed robbers.

Mr Oshiomogho, however, escaped death by the whiskers. The attack took place at Ekpon, Igueben Local Government Council of Edo State, near Agbor, in Delta State.

Initially, the whereabouts of the Police chief could not be ascertained, but the Force Public Relations Officer, an ACP (ACP), Emmanuel Ojukwu, who confirmed the incident in Abuja, said Oshiomogho was alive and safe.

He, however, could not confirm the number of casualties.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

‘Abducted’ National Life Abuja Bureau Chief surfaces in Bayelsa

The Abuja Bureau Chief of National Life newspaper, Mr. Akin Orimolade, who was snatched in Abuja on Tuesday by security operatives from Bayelsa State, yesterday surfaced in a Magistrate’s Court on the outskirts of Yenagoa.
He was brought to the court in Biogbolo, a few kilometres to Yenagoa, the state capital, by plain-clothes security men in a blue Mercedes Benz 190 car.

Orimolade, clad in a white long sleeves shirt and blue striped trousers, was received on arrival at about 11.25 a.m by his colleagues in the state.

He protested to Governor Timipre Sylva’s Special Adviser on Legal Matters Dennis Otiotio, who was in the court premises, that he "was abducted from Abuja".

But Otiotio said the security agents acted in accordance with a court order.

"It should have been done in a more decent way," Orimolade insisted, adding that he was lured to come and pick up an advertisement material for his paper by someone who claimed to be working for Silver Bird Cinema.

Surrounded by his colleagues, Orimolade said he was invited to City Plaza, Abuja where the transaction was to take place and was arrested there by some armed security personnel.

"I was arrested at City Plaza, Abuja. They brought tear gas, and bundled me into a car. Even in the bus, they held me as if I was about to abscond," he said.

Contrary to government’s claim that the security operatives acted on the orders of a Magistrate’s Court, Orimolade said: "We didn’t appear in any Magistrate’s Court".

He threatened to report Otiotio to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

Orimolade said the security operatives locked him up with armed robbers in a police cell.

"They locked me up with armed robbers," he said.

Otiotio, who was with other members of the governor’s legal team, had a heated argument with the reporters.

He defended government’s action, claiming that Orimolade reported what was not true about the governor.

Orimolade’s trial could not, however, take place. He was taken away to an unknown destination by the security operatives.

Shedding light on why Orimolade’s arraignment could not hold, Otiotio said it was due to the absence of his lawyer, Femi Falana, and two other suspects still at large.

He said the government is ready to forgo the case if certain steps are taken.

Otiotio, who refused to name the magistrate that ordered Orimolade’s arrest, said neither the government nor the police could order the reporter’s release.

He said only the magistrate has the powers to order the release of Orimolade.

He said the offence against him is bailable, but bail can only be granted after he appeared in court.

"The magistrate ordered his arrest. The offence is bailable. The arraignment could not take place because his lawyer called to say he had transport problems, we should wait till the lawyer comes before he should be charged. We felt we should give respect as a senior colleague," Otiotio said, adding: "The arraignment will go on tomorrow (today) and the charges will be read in the court".

He went on: "He was charged with two others. Since they were not present, it could not go on. We don’t want to suffer him and that is why we want to severe the charges and charge him separately. When the other accused persons are arrested, they will be charged.

"The offence was jointly committed by them but to avoid being kept in court for long, his charges will be severed and he will be charged separately."

Otiotio expressed government’s preparedness to forgive the accused on some conditions.

According to him, the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ) has intervened.

Otiotio said Orimolade was still in the custody of security operatives.

Police spokesman Iniobong Ibokette could not confirm the reporter’s whereabouts.

The Abuja Council of the NUJ has condemned the state government for Orimolade’s plight.

In a statement it issued yesterday by its Chairman, Mr. Timothy Elerewe, reads in part: "We strongly condemn the resort to brigandage in settling purely legal disputes. We also are not fooled by the belated step to frame charges against Mr. Akin Orimolade in a Yenagoa Magistrate’s Court which is outside the province of the ‘locus inquo’ of distant geographical jurisdiction.

"Governor Godwin Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State last year did it with impunity when he caused the police to kidnap Mr. Sam Asowata of the Fresh Facts newspaper from Abuja over alleged unpalatable story. Now, it is Governor Sylva. This is condemnable and we urge all democratic institution and civil society groups to condemn it.

Orimolade was arrested by policemen from Bayelsa in connection with a story in the January 31 edition of National Life where Sylva was said to have been involved in a brawl with a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at an Abuja hotel.

courtesy- the Nation Newspaper