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No Right To Force The Legalization Of Same-Sex Union By Hannatu Musawa.


 

Hannatu Musawa
Columnist:

Hannatu Musawa

The signing of the Same-sex Prohibition Act by President Jonathan on January 7 2014, elicited negative reactions from Western countries such as the US, member countries of the European Union and Canada. They have consistently mounted pressure on the federal government over the president’s signing of the Same-Sex Prohibition Act 2014, claiming that the law is a violation of the fundamental human rights of Nigerians with same sex orientation.

Notably, the law does not only criminalize same-sex marriage, it also makes public displays of affection and even socializing in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex community illegal. The US ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle threatened that his country would scale down its support for HIV/AIDS and anti-malaria programs in response to government’s position on the gay rights issue. The Vanguard also reported that they learnt the US is committing “substantial” resources to fund the emergence of gay clubs and advocacy groups in Nigeria. The Canadian government canceled a planned state visit by President Jonathan scheduled for next month. The Canadian government’s action is believed to be that country’s reaction to the president’s assenting to the bill, which has so far enjoyed popular support in Nigeria.

Since 2011, certain Western countries have been considering and implementing laws that limit or prohibit general budget support to countries that restrict the rights of homosexuals. Regardless of this, many African countries have continued to refuse pressure to legalize homosexual practices. Many African leaders feel that gay rights are against Africa’s culture and religious value systems and believe that they have the sovereign right to reject what is seen as an imposition by Western nations that attempts to affect national sentiments via aid. While I vehemently disagree with the laws that impose the death penalty on those who come out as homosexuals, the reality is that same sex acts are illegal in about 38 African countries and actual enforcement varies widely and punishment ranges from prison sentences to the Draconian sentence of the death penalty.

In Mauritania, Sudan and Nigeria, homosexuality is a serious punishable crime. In Uganda, Tanzania and Sierra Leone, offenders can receive life imprisonment for homosexual acts. South Africa’s constitution is the most liberal towards gays and lesbians within the continent, with a constitution that guarantees gay and lesbian rights and legal same sex marriage. However, even there, gay rights have been described as an “exclusive privilege of the whites and well-heeled, a small but high-profile subset.”

The raucousness from Western nations that has been accompanying the banning of same sex unions in some parts of Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia has risen to a crescendo. And in their bid to ram the freedom of same sex unions down the throat of more traditional and conservative nations, the west has discarded high-minded rhetoric for bullying tactics dressed in the guise of human rights mantras. The result? Hypocrisy has taken center stage as the preferred response of the west in their bid to redefine the limits of marriage, privacy and religious freedom in some African, Eastern European and Asian countries.

The hypocrisy of the west regarding their stance on the banning of same sex unions is most apparent when considered next to the position taken on polygamy under western laws. In most western nations, the practice of polygamy is not only frowned upon but has been criminalized. The hypocrisy and bully politics of the west in regards to the banning of same sex unions occurs when Western countries pass laws that limits the boundaries of marriage, privacy and religious freedom in line with their value system while they employ strategies and tactics to intimidate, harass, undermine, threaten and abuse other countries for doing the same.

In the case of Reynolds vs. United States, the American courts declined accepting polygamy as a legitimate religious practice, dismissing it as “almost exclusively a feature of the life of Asiatic and African people.” While that particular case is very old, in later decisions, American courts have declared polygamy to be “a blot on our civilization” and compared it to human sacrifice and “a return to barbarism.”

In all the countries that have banned homosexual unions, traditions and religion defines the issue and because most countries have varying values of which they adhere to and are guided by, none should have a right to impose their value system on another. Not only is the practice of polygamy one of the common threads between Christians, Jews and Muslims, studies have found polygamy present in 78% of the world’s cultures. In the same way that countries that accept polygamy have no right to force western nations to legalize polygamy, western nations have no right to impose same sex unions on the countries that ban it.

As a sovereign nation, Nigeria has a right to ban same sex unions in the same way the west has banned polygamy. Indeed the anti-gay legislation is a reaffirmation of core Nigerian values, as the Nigerian society is, to a great extent, based on respect for traditions and religion. The leadership in Nigeria has taken a position on a practice that is alien to its culture and its religious and traditional institutions. The public relations officer of the northern Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) stated that Christians and their counterparts in other religions have unanimously expressed gratitude to the president and National Assembly for passing the Anti Same-Sex Marriage law, despite opposition from Europe and the US. Similarly, the Muslim Students Society of Nigeria (MSSN), Lagos State, commended the president for signing the bill into law. The group applauded the president for standing his ground, despite pressure to reject the anti-gay bill by some international organizations and foreign countries.

In line with traditions that don’t prohibit same sex unions, neither of the two dominant religions of the world supports homosexuality. In the scriptures, marriage is a sacred contract between a man and a woman that cannot be redefined and it is the cornerstone of family life. In the Bible, passages in the book of Leviticus prohibit homosexuality. Chapter 18:22 states, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” Similarly, chapter 20:13 also states, “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Jews and Christians have historically interpreted these two verses as the clear prohibition of homosexual acts. Furthermore, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah has historically been interpreted as condemning homosexual acts.

In Islam, the traditional schools of Islamic law based on Qur’anic verses and hadith consider homosexual acts a punishable crime and a sin. The Qur’an cites the story of the “people of Lot” (also known as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah), destroyed by the wrath of God, because they engaged in “lustful” carnal acts between men. The Qur’an contains seven references to the people of Lot; 7:80-84, 11:77-83, 21:74, 22:43, 26:165-175, 27:56-59 and 29:27-33, and their destruction by Allah is associated explicitly with their sexual practices.

In 2012, the Nigerian parliament approved a bill banning same sex marriage despite threats from the US and UK that they would consider withholding aid if the country didn’t recognize gay rights. Curiously though in the US, 17 states out of 50 (less than half) have endorsed same-sex practices and others reject its legality. This means that even in the US, not all its citizens are in support of same-sex practices.

Nigeria and the countries that have banned same sex unions have cultures that are clear and intact and they have a right to rededicate themselves to their traditional values. Same-sex marriage is inconsistent with Nigerian values of procreation and the belief in the continuity of family and clan. And in that vein, Nigeria has a right to fashion its laws in accordance with its values and traditions.

It increasingly seems that the Western countries’ mandate is to coerce African states to institutionalize behavior systems that they frown upon or deem illegal. There is the urgent need for these African states and the Nigerian leadership not to be dependent on foreign assistance for governance. Nigeria and the continent should use its net worth to dismantle the entrenched dependence syndrome and to also say no, no matter how many times they are accused of not adhering to the value system of the West. Aid given with strings attached is not worth it. Nigeria should not lose its moral and spiritual integrity for the sake of aid.

Just like with polygamists in Western countries, a day of social acceptance is unlikely to come for homosexuals in Nigeria and most African and Asian countries. It is unlikely that any law will be passed in Nigeria where the act of same sex marriage will be legalized. No matter, the rights of every nation to infuse its value system into its laws should not be based on the views of other nations, but on each nations individual principle.

Despite one’s view on the subject matter, there is no doubt that Nigeria has a right to enact laws that are reflective of its traditions and religious values and norms. No country has a right to dictate another countries laws that defines the boundaries of marriage, privacy and religious freedom. Thus, just as Nigeria has no right to harass America, Canada or any other nation to enforce and adopt polygamy and other traditional practices into their statutes, these nations also have no right to harass Nigeria to adopt laws that legalize homosexuality. The more the West continues to malign Nigeria for passing laws that prohibit certain modern western value systems, while they hold onto laws that disallow traditional practices acceptable in Nigeria, their hue and cry over human rights becomes a little more than hype and they become much more than hypocrites. May each country be free to preserve the value systems they wish to be defined by and adopt the laws of which they wish to be governed.

Article Written by Hannatu Musawa

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Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

Nigeria’s Retrogressive Anti-Gay Law By Abiodun Ladepo.


By Abiodun Ladepo

This past Wednesday, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan elevated crassness and primitiveness to the highest level imaginable by signing into law a bill banning homosexuality in Nigeria.  I deliberately crafted the previous sentence so unambiguously.  He did not just ban homosexual marriage; he banned homosexuality as a whole!  Perhaps if the law had only stopped at “persons who enter into a same-sex marriage contract or civil union commit an offence and are each liable on conviction to a term of 14 years in prison,” one might not feel so much outrage.  But it went on to state that “any person who registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies and organizations or directly or indirectly makes public show of same-sex amorous relationship in Nigeria commits an offence and shall each be liable on conviction to a term of 10 years in prison”!  In essence, only heterosexuals are allowed to hold hands in public, sit on each other’s lap, hump each other while dancing in clubs or kiss publicly.  What, in the name of God, just happened to Nigeria?

Let me state upfront that I am a Straight (heterosexual) guy who is happily married to a beautiful woman.  So, this write-up is not about me or my sexual preference.  It is about Nigeria’s lack of originality and lack of creative instincts.  We the people, along with our leaders, fail to do the deep thinking, the due diligence, in many respects that will take our country farther and more quickly than we have hitherto done.  Lethargy is irredeemably ingrained in our psyche.  Otherwise, how does being openly gay draw our country back?  We already have thousands of gay people in our midst!  How does their gayness prevent those of us who are not gay from going about our businesses?

This law assumes that the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community just arrived in Nigeria yesterday.  No, the LGBT has been with us since, at least, when I was a young boy over 50 years ago.  I recall growing up in (yes) Zaria, Kaduna State, of all places, and going to watch evening dances of members of the LGBT.  We used to call them “Dandaudu.”  We, the kids, used to marvel at their public display of amorous acts.  This was in the early 60s.  They were not hidden behind the walls of any clubs in the middle of the night; they danced in open spaces and in early evenings.  I have also personally witnessed “Dandaudus” doing their dances in Bukuru, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri in the 70s.  And if you lived in the hostel during your secondary school years, don’t tell me that you did not catch a few of your guy friends “doing it.”  I have heard from some of my secondary school female friends of the sexual trysts that went on in their hostel.  Let’s not even talk about what happens in the dorms of our universities.  So, why are we just now finding out that their presence in our midst is anathema and antithetical to our moral fiber?

Reuben Abati, that formerly celebrated anti-bad government champion, who is now a turncoat and who I now detest with so much passion, defended the law with the pedestrian argument that since 90 percent of Nigerians were opposed to same-sex marriage, “…the law is in line with our cultural and religious beliefs.”   Ninety percent?  First, how did we come up with that percentage?  When did we poll the country to ascertain that 90 percent of our people oppose same-sex marriage?  And even if they do, what right does the majority have to trample on the basic right of the minority – the fundamental human right to freedom of association?  What right does the majority have to deprive the minority of having sex with whomever it wants as long as it is consensual?  The worst that the Nigerian government should have been able to do should have been the denial of official recognition of such a union. But to criminalize it is akin to despotism, especially in a democratic dispensation.

And by the way, since when has this government or any past Nigerian government taken a decision in favor of an issue perceived to have received the support of the majority of Nigerians?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the removal or Stella Oduah as Aviation minister, Diezani Madueke as Petroleum minister and Reuben Abati as adviser?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the banning of government officials, especially the President, from seeking medical attention abroad until our medical facilities and personnel are of the same standard as those they use when they go abroad?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the supply of 24/7 uninterrupted electricity to all corners of Nigeria?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support the revamping, rejuvenating and reinvigorating of the EFCC so it can better fight corruption?  Don’t 90 percent of our people support a massive overhaul of our educational infrastructures from elementary all the way to university systems?  Don’t 90 percent of our people oppose the blocking of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway by mega-churches and mega-mosques?  Have our lawmakers crafted any laws that criminalize the failure by government to do the things mentioned above?  No.  But these nosey people are eager to get into the bedrooms of Nigerians.

I find this homophobic inclination that is so rampant in our country as yet another example of religious zealotry and self-righteousness that have been the bane of our society.  Everybody is stampeding and trampling each other today in their quest to out-do one another as they condemn homosexuality.  But we will find out one day – tomorrow maybe –  just as we have found out in Europe and America that even family members of influential government officials can be (and are indeed) gay!  In fact, we will soon find out that membership in the LGBT community cuts across all spectra of our society – from the ranks of elected politicians, to traditional rulers, military officers, police officers, teachers, technocrats, pastors, imams, babalawos, traders and what not.  And what are we going to do when we find out that one of these influential people whom we had thought was heterosexual was indeed bisexual?  Would we throw OBJ or IBB or GEJ or Mama Iyabo or Dame Patience or any of their children into 14 years of prison terms if any of them turns out to be gay? What would we do when we discover that Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye or his wife, Folu do engage in homosexual acts (with other partners, of course)?  What about Sheik Muhammad Yahaya Sanni and his many wives?  Are we going to give them immunity against prosecution?

This is why I stated earlier that our leaders did not subject this law to a rigorous and intellectual discuss before allowing their emotion, religion and communal bandwagon mentality to overtake their sense of reason.  Before the bill was adopted by the Senate in 2011, a few Nigerian members of the LGBT community, supported by some civil rights activists, appeared before the Senate to argue against enacting such a law.  The lawmakers and religious zealots in the chambers of the Senate booed and heckled these gay folks till they cried and left in disgrace.  Among the booing and heckling crowd were men who maintain two, three, four or more wives – wives who are subjugated, mentally and are physically abused.  Among this crowd were women who cheat on their husbands with their pastors and imams to the extent of making babies out-of-wedlock while their husbands thought the babies were theirs.  These people, in my opinion, lack the moral right to tell a gay man or woman whom to love and whom to cavort with in public.

Believe me, gays are the least of Nigeria’s problems.  Graft in high places, greed in high places, hired assassination, kidnapping, murder, armed robbery, neglect of rural areas, neglect of urban areas, lack of functioning basic amenities like electricity, water, hospitals, education, transportation, youth unemployment – all take precedence over what my neighbor is doing in his/her bedroom.  I am ashamed that my leaders do not see this.

And I get it. I get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  Even if I wonder how truly religious we are when we watch our religious leaders steal from the religious houses and sexually abuse the laity; even if I sometimes wonder why our religious leaders live in obscene opulence while they watch their followers wallow in abject poverty, I still get the fact that Nigeria is a deeply religious country.  It is the reason why an issue such as gay rights should have been thoroughly debated intellectually.  I hope the passing of this primitive and retrogressive law begins the rigorous discussion of how we allow members of the LGBT to bask in their rightful sense of belonging.  We should lead Namibia, Botswana, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, South Sudan, Cameroon, Togo, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leon, Guinea, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia out of the comity of nations still wedded to the archaic tradition of segregating their own people on the basis of sexual preferences.

We should join South Africa, Zaire, Congo, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali (yes, Chad, Niger and Mali), Burkina Faso, Benin Republic, Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau in the comity of nations that embrace the diversity of their people’s sexual preferences and have legislated to protect the rights of their LGBT people.

By Abiodun Ladepo

Los Angeles, California, USA

Oluyole2@yahoo.com

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

South Sudan Crisis: A Lesson For Rabid Seccesionists By Raheem Oluwafunminiyi.


By Raheem Oluwafunminiyi

The month of July, 2011 marked a turning point in the history of South Sudan. Not only did it eventually come out of over two and half decades of a bloody civil war in Sudan after intense struggle with its northern neighbour, but also succeeded in becoming the newest independent state in Africa. Like the hopes many African states had in the 60s and 70s of gaining independence from colonial rule, so was that of South Sudan. The hope that self-rule was going to mark the beginning of good things to come for the periphery countries and its teeming population quickly ignited series of nationalist movements and bred leaders who not only sabotaged the continued efforts of the colonial overlords to keep holding forth their respective colonies but put willful pressures on colonial structures which led firstly to decolonisation and ultimately independence.

It was hoped and believed that at the turn of independence, self-rule would transform the continent into one filled with socio-economic development, credible democracy and a total commitment to the uplift of the people. This however failed to yield any meaningful result. Hopes of a brighter tomorrow were soon shattered as gloom set in. The Congo became the first casualty while more than half of all African countries which had newly gained their independence went either into a civil war or found itself overthrown by blood thirsty and gun wielding military men. Africa since then had known no peace. It was in the light of this, amidst the decade long sufferings South Sudan had faced over time that it was thought a separate country was needed to be carved out to give the people a new lease of life and breathe of fresh air. Anyone who had lived in Sudan in the last two to three decades and knew well the historical evolution of that part of the former Sudan would agree that its people had suffered a great deal in the hands of its northern neighbours, such that the only solution to a lasting peace was to grant that part of the country swift independence. However, no one would have envisaged that two years into South Sudan’s independence; it would fall into crisis which appears to threaten its very foundation.

As a landlocked country, South Sudan is among the world’s most impoverished country with less than one per cent of its population having access to electricity. Despite being the third-largest oil exporter in sub-Saharan Africa after Nigeria and Angola, the new nation is not only awash with guns after a long battle with Khartoum, but has been grappling with corruption and lawlessness since independence. The current crisis in South Sudan is perceived to have both ethnic and political dimensions. The current president, Salva Kiir is from the Dinka ethnic group, the country’s largest, while his main rival and former Vice President, Riek Machar belongs to the Nuer ethnic group, the country’s second largest. This ethnic rivalry forms part of the current crisis bedeviling the country with each group systematically killing one another in their respective places of domicile. The political angle to the crisis which has seen tensions rise between Kiir and Machar since July of this year stems from the latter’s intention to win the leadership of the ruling party ahead of presidential elections in 2015. This quickly led to his sacking by Kiir and his cabinet. The political tension soon snowballed when Kiir accused Machar of attempting a coup on the 15th of December, a situation which saw the arrest of opposition figures and former cabinet members.

Apart from the fact that the crisis have left hundreds dead, with figures quoting about 500, the number of people displaced as a result of the crisis has tripled to about 81,000 with the number increasing by the day. Also, the United Nations has asked for another 5,500 troops from other UN missions in Arica to complement the 7,000 already deployed across the country. It is saddening that the African continent has failed to learn from history and have therefore consumed by its lack of it. When other countries of the world are seeking ways to better the lot of its people and move their country towards growth and development, African countries wallow in ethnic and political rivalry. It is disheartening to find a country that had come out of a long period of turmoil engaging in the same crisis that gave them life support. It is only hoped things will return to normalcy soon.

With the entire crisis bedeviling many African states today, no country has been able to hold its head up high than the Nigerian state in terms of managing conflicts and civil disobedience in all guises. Since the 1967 civil war, Nigeria has been in a state of precipice. There have been over a very long time talks about Nigeria’s disintegration. The most saddening part of it came from the United States which noted, like a prophet of doom, that Nigeria would seize to exist by 2015. Locally, a lot of rabble-rousing and threatening voices have sprang up, especially in the Niger-Delta region where predictions of a possible breakup of Nigeria would take place if their ‘son’ is denied a second term in office. The country is not new to such threats of disintegration. For those who are historically conscious, both the Northern and Western regions had at some point called for secession. It would only take the audacity of the late Ojukwu to make good such threats which of course failed in its entirety to solve the Nigerian Question. This open call of secession or outright appeal for disintegration has continued unabated and the loud tones could still be heard across the country. With the current political imbroglio brewing among the political elites, it remains to be seen what 2015 will look like.

The Nigeria state is gradually failing if the face-off between a former president and the incumbent is anything to go by. The face-off comes at a time when many Nigerians are deeply worried at the direction the country is going. The industrial strike embarked by most government owned institutions, the massive looting of the treasury, the harrowing insecurity problem, unemployment among others show gloomy signs that all is not well with the country. In fact, the country today faces an unprecedented socio-political and economic cancer which threatens its very foundation. However, despite these seeming problems, this writer believes secession or threats of disintegration are not the decisive solution we need both as a people and country. The event in South Sudan and elsewhere should serve as a lesson for those who think dividing Nigeria on either religious or ethnic lines would solve all the problems we face as a people. We are a people with so much anger and are wont to unleash it at the slightest provocation. Our nature is very unpredictable and unstable such that we do not have a collective consciousness that drives nationalism, patriotism and love for even thy neighbour. The fact that our thinking has been streamlined over time to pursue personal aggrandisement makes nonsense of whatever lesson the Good Samaritan story portrays. Our inability to pursue what binds us together and see the demerits of what divides us is perhaps the major reason we have failed to move forward and therefore, lost faith in the country. However, in as much as the country does not hold much to be desired and its leaders failing outright to fulfill their own part of the social contract, we must not crave as a people for disintegration or break-up of the country.

There is no denying the fact that a growing division, not among the different ethnic groupings within the country this time around, exist within ethnic groups of the same historical consciousness. The Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa-Fulani, Ijaw among others, have shown within themselves and overtime that they cannot put their house in order. The Yoruba for example, may have achieved some level of socio-political development over the years but when it comes to pursuing a common goal, you find them fanning the embers of discord with each sub-group claiming some unknown rights and privileges. The Igbo on the other hand have failed to realise that they hold so much hope for the betterment and uplift of the country, yet they revel in personal fame and wealth which to them is the hallmark of a fulfilled Igbo man. Until the Igbo take away their parochialism and embrace unity as a viable weapon for political mobilisation, they may never rise beyond the cocoon they have been placed by some elements within the country.

Despite the predictions that Nigeria will seize to exist in 2015, the country appears stronger than what many believe. In fact, Nigeria is better off being Nigeria than becoming a hopeless disintegrated entity which in the long run may end up being another Somalia. For those who believe a divided Nigeria is the very best option for the survival of the various ethnic groupings in the country should have a rethink. An Arewa, Biafra, Oduduwa or Ijaw state portends grave dangers for the people within such state structures. The history of power struggles, power grabs, ethnic tensions and lack of cohesion African states and its people are known for would once again creep into a divided Nigeria, tearing it further apart. It is the belief of this writer that no matter what Nigeria faces as a country today, it forms part of our developmental process for no nation great today was built in a day. Simply put, our fragile agglomeration suits us better than a divided one!

As the crisis in South Sudan continues, the lesson we must learn therefore is that disunity breeds nothing but further bloodshed. Those who call for division do not understand the pains and horror of war and think it is going to take a smooth transmission. Events in South Sudan paint this sad picture of a path we must not be willing to follow. The political elites must realise that the Nigerian state may not be able to hold itself for long if the massive disconnect between the ruler and ruled continues. It is therefore imperative that a workable solution is engineered in order to remove the pangs of mutual distrust that have remained part of us since the days of amalgamation. Those who fail to learn from history are condemned by it. South Sudan is a reminder and example of this apt truth.

Raheem Oluwafunminiyi wrote via creativitysells@gmail.com
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

Pope Denounces Discrimination, Violence Against Christians.


Image: Pope Denounces Discrimination, Violence Against Christians

VATICAN CITYPope Francis on Thursday denounced discrimination against Christians, including in countries where religious freedom is in theory guaranteed by law.

He delivered his traditional noon prayer and address to thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square on the day the Roman Catholic Church commemorates St. Stephen, its first martyr.

The 77-year-old Argentine pope asked the crowd for a moment of silent prayer for “Christians who are unjustly accused and are subjected to every type of violence.”

Francis, celebrating his first Christmas season as pope, said “limitations and discrimination” against Christians was taking place not only in countries that do not grant full religious freedom but also where “on paper, freedom and human rights are protected.”

“This injustice should be denounced and eliminated,” he said.

Francis: A Pope for Our Time, The Definitive Biography 

Francis did not name any countries but the Vatican has long urged Saudi Arabia, the site of Islam’s holiest places, to lift a ban on Christians worshiping in public.This year there have been a number of incidents of intolerance and attacks against minority Christians in Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Sudan, Nigeria, and other countries where their rights are guaranteed by law.

Francis, departing from his prepared text, said he was sure that Christians suffering from either discrimination or violence were “more numerous today than in he early times of the Church.”

In the past, the Vatican has also expressed concern over what former Pope Benedict called “sophisticated forms of hostility” against Christians in rich countries, such as restricting use of religious symbols in public places.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

UN Sending Thousands of Peacekeeping Troops to South Sudan.


The United Nations Security Council voted to bolster the UN’s peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and help end the worsening conflict that has created at least one mass grave and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.

The council unanimously approved U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s request to add up to 5,500 soldiers and 423 police officers to the force of 7,900 uniformed personnel already authorized for the U.N. mission in South Sudan.

“Political dialogue is the only solution to this crisis,” Ban told the council after the vote. “Now is the time for South Sudan’s leaders to show their people and the world that they are committed to peace.”

The world’s newest country, founded in 2011, South Sudan is at risk of breaking apart because of fighting that erupted on Dec. 15 between supporters of President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and his deposed vice president, Riek Machar of the rival Nuer group.

At least 500 people have been killed, with some 100,000 internally displaced and about 45,000 civilians seeking protection at U.N. camps in the country.

Troops and police from five other U.N. peacekeeping missions — in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, and the Abyei and Darfur areas of Sudan — will be transferred to South Sudan, says the council’s resolution, which also authorizes Ban to generate “complementary force and asset.”

Ban on Monday recommended sending three attack helicopters, three utility helicopters and one Lockheed Martin Corp. C-130 Hercules transport plane.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil rose for the fourth time in five days as the conflict in South Sudan forced a partial shutdown of its oil production facilities. South Sudan exports about 220,000 barrels a day of crude, pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd., and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp.

The Obama administration has stepped up preparations for a possible evacuation of U.S. personnel from South Sudan by positioning about 150 Marines in nearby Djibouti,  Benjamin Benson, a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command, said in an email Tuesday.

U.S. envoy Donald Booth met Monday with Kiir in the capital, Juba. The president expressed a willingness to begin talks with Machar “without preconditions, as soon as his counterpart was willing,” Booth said.

“The United States emphasizes the urgency of the situation and stands ready to support these efforts,” Booth said on a conference call.

Fighting broke out in South Sudan when gunmen attacked the presidential palace in Juba.

Machar, who is being hunted by government security forces, has demanded that Kiir step down for failing to unite the nation. Kiir fired Machar and the rest of his cabinet in July.

The two sides have agreed to an offer by neighboring Kenya to host peace talks, Kenyan Foreign Ministry Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said Monday in Nairobi.

Rebel forces loyal to Machar said they have captured crude-producing Unity state as the government evacuated some oil workers and plans a partial shutdown of facilities.

Fighters led by General James Kong Chol seized Bentiu, the Unity state’s capital, and other parts of the northern region on Saturday, and have aligned themselves with Machar, Chol said in a phone interview Sunday.

It was the second state to fall to anti-government forces since Kiir’s administration lost control of Bor, the capital of Jonglei province, to a group headed by Gen. Peter Gatdet Yak last Wednesday. Chol and Yak previously headed government forces in the two states.

“We’re controlling the area of Unity state,” Chol said from Bentiu. “My government planned to kill me, and I have nowhere to go. I decided to join Riek Machar.”

The U.N. discovered a mass grave in Bentiu amid reports of at least two others in  Juba, Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in an emailed statement Tuesday.

A U.N. official who visited the Bentiu site reported at least 75 bodies, Pillay’s spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell said in an email Tuesday, adding that the U.N. is working to verify reports of two other graves in Juba.

Pillay also expressed serious concern over reports that several hundred civilians were arrested during house-to-house searches and from various hotels in Juba. There also were reports that hundreds of members of the South Sudan National Police Service were ordered to be disarmed and arrested at police stations across Juba, according to the U.N. statement.

South Sudan’s oil-producing Upper Nile state is also facing tensions after gunmen attacked government forces in Nasir county, Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the national army, said by phone Sunday. He said he had no further information.

Kiir said yesterday he agreed to a request by the six-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development to help mediate an end to the crisis.

“We’re ready for any dialogue, but Dr. Machar must come to the table without any preconditions,” he told lawmakers in Juba. “Through dialogue I think we can resolve this misunderstanding very quickly.”

South Sudan seceded from neighboring Sudan in July 2011 and took three-quarters of the formerly united country’s oil output. The landlocked country’s oil provides more than 95 percent of government revenue.

South Sudan has sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil reserves after Nigeria and Angola, according to BP Plc data. Its low-sulfur crude is prized by Japanese buyers as a cleaner-burning fuel for power generation.

ONGC repatriated its 11 employees, and the company’s joint venture has shut down oilfields in South Sudan that were producing about 40,000 barrels per day, Finance Director S.P. Garg said in a phone interview.

Chol said there is “no interruption to oil” production in the country. “Oil is still flowing,” he said.

Petroleum Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said on Sunday that the evacuation of oil workers from the country was temporary and oil output from Upper Nile was flowing normally.

U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer estimated the country will need $1.1 billion of humanitarian aid in 2014 because 62,000 people were displaced in the past week’s violence.

Four U.S. service members suffered gunshot wounds on Saturday while on flights to evacuate Americans from Bor. The United Nations had previously sent helicopters to evacuate staff from South Sudan, and one was hit and forced to land on Friday, The Associated Press reported.

About 380 U.S. officials and private citizens have been evacuated to Nairobi and other locations, along with about 300 others, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an emailed statement Sunday.

President Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress on Sunday saying he “may take further action to support the security of U.S. citizens, personnel, and property, including our embassy” in South Sudan.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

US, UN to Send Troops to South Sudan.


The U.S. and the United Nations are preparing to make more peacekeeping troops available for the growing conflict in South Sudan, as President Salva Kiir opened the door to talks with his deposed vice president.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked the Security Council for 5,500 soldiers to add to the peacekeeping mission of 7,000 already there. The U.S. is positioning troops in the Horn of Africa region to assist in any additional evacuations in South Sudan, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said yesterday.

At an emergency meeting yesterday in New York, all 15 members of the U.N. Security Council showed a “positive reaction”to Ban’s request for the troops, plus 423 police personnel, said Gerard Araud, French Ambassador to the United Nations and president of the council this month. The council may authorize the boost today, he said.

The military maneuvering underscored what Ban called the “mounting urgency”in South Sudan, where fighting that began Dec. 15 has killed at least 500 people. About 100,000 have been internally displaced and about 45,000 are seeking protection in and around at UN camps in the country, Araud said.

U.S. special envoy Donald Booth, who met yesterday with Kiir in the capital, Juba, said the president expressed a willingness to begin talks with former Vice President Riek Machar “without preconditions, as soon as his counterpart was willing.”

“The United States emphasizes the urgency of the situation and stands ready to support these efforts as necessary,” Booth told reporters on a conference call.

Rebel Leaders

Fighting broke out in South Sudan when gunmen attacked the presidential palace in Juba. The violence has been largely along ethnic lines, with Machar’s Nuer group pitted against the Dinka people of Kiir.

Machar, who is being hunted by government security forces, has demanded that Kiir step down for failing to unite the nation. Kiir fired Machar and the rest of his cabinet in July. The two sides agreed to an offer by neighboring Kenya to host peace talks, Kenyan Foreign Ministry Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho told reporters yesterday in Nairobi.

Booth said he also met with 11 members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement who are detained in Juba. He said they expressed a readiness “to play a constructive role in ending the crisis through peaceful political dialogue and national reconciliation.”

Rebel forces loyal to Machar said they captured crude-producing Unity state as the government evacuated some oil workers and plans a partial shutdown of facilities.

Oil-Area Tensions

Fighters led by General James Kong Chol seized Bentiu, the state capital, and other parts of the northern region on Dec. 21 and have aligned themselves with Machar, Chol said in a phone interview Dec. 22. It was the second state to fall to anti-government forces after Kiir’s administration lost control of Bor, the capital of Jonglei province, to a group headed by General Peter Gatdet Yak on Dec. 18. Chol and Yak previously headed government forces in the two states.

“We’re controlling the area of Unity state,” Chol said from Bentiu. “My government planned to kill me and I have nowhere to go. I decided to join Riek Machar.”

South Sudan’s oil-producing Upper Nile state is also facing tensions after gunmen attacked government forces in Nasir county, Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the national army, said by phone Dec. 22. He said he had no further information.

Kiir said yesterday he agreed to a request by the six- nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development to help mediate an end to the crisis.

Japanese Bullets

“We’re ready for any dialogue, but Dr. Machar must come to the table without any preconditions,” he told lawmakers in Juba. “Through dialogue I think we can resolve this misunderstanding very quickly.”

South Sudan seceded from neighboring Sudan in July 2011 and took three-quarters of the formerly united country’s oil output. The landlocked country exports all its crude, about 220,000 barrels a day, through pipelines across Sudan. The oil provides more than 95 percent of government revenue.

South Sudan has sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil reserves after Nigeria and Angola, according to BP Plc data. Its low- sulfur crude is prized by Japanese buyers as a cleaner-burning fuel for power generation. Japan will supply 10,000 bullets for UN peacekeepers in South Sudan, marking the first exemption under the Asian nation’s self-imposed curbs on arms exports, Kyodo News reported, without citing anyone.

South Sudan’s crude is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp.

‘No Interruption’

ONGC repatriated its 11 employees and the company’s joint venture has shut down oilfields in South Sudan that were producing about 40,000 barrels per day, Finance Director S.P. Garg said in a phone interview.

Chol said there is “no interruption to oil”production in the country. “Oil is still flowing,”he said.

Petroleum Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said on Dec. 22 the evacuation of oil workers from the country is temporary and oil output from Upper Nile is flowing normally.

UN Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer estimated the country will need $1.1 billion of humanitarian aid in 2014 after 62,000 people were displaced in the past week’s violence.

Four U.S. service members suffered gunshot wounds on Dec. 21 while on flights to evacuate Americans from Bor. The UN had previously sent helicopters to evacuate staff from South Sudan, and one was hit and forced to land on Dec. 20, according to the Associated Press.

Evacuation Requests

The U.S. military is positioning forces to respond to any requests from the State Department to evacuate personnel, said Warren, the Pentagon spokesman. He offered no details on troop numbers or whether any U.S. troops were entering South Sudan.

Three of the four U.S. troops injured earlier were stable enough to be taken to the military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, he said. The fourth will continue to receive care from U.S. forces in Nairobi, he said.

About 380 U.S. officials and private citizens have been evacuated to Nairobi and other locations, along with about 300 others, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an emailed statement Dec. 22.

President Barack Obama sent a letter to Congress Dec. 22 saying he “may take further action to support the security of U.S. citizens, personnel, and property, including our embassy” in South Sudan.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

US Military Aircraft Hit in South Sudan, 4 Americans Wounded.


KAMPALA, Uganda  — Gunfire hit three U.S. military aircraft trying to evacuate American citizens in a remote region of South Sudan that on Saturday became a battle ground between the country’s military and renegade troops, officials said. Four U.S. service members were wounded in the attack in the same region where gunfire downed a U.N. helicopter the day before.

The U.S. military aircraft were about to land in Bor, the capital of the state of Jonglei and scene of some of the nation’s worst violence over the last week, when they were hit. The military said the four wounded troops were in stable condition.
The U.S. military said three CV-22 Ospreys — the kind of aircraft that can fly like a helicopter and plane — were “participating in a mission to evacuate American citizens in Bor.” A South Sudan official said violence against civilians there has resulted in bodies “sprinkled all over town.”

“After receiving fire from the ground while approaching the site, the aircraft diverted to an airfield outside the country and aborted the mission,” the military’s Africa Command said in a statement.

The military initially said three service members were injured in the incident.

The Associated Press citing unnamed sources reported that the aircraft were heading to Bor, the capital of the state of Jonglei and scene of some of the nation’s worst violence over the last week. One of the wounded service members was reported to be in critical condition.

The Associated Press reported that after the aircraft took incoming fire, they turned around and headed to Kampala, Uganda. From there the service members flew on to Nairobi, Kenya for medical treatment.

Both officials demanded anonymity to share information not yet made public. Both officials work in East Africa and are in a position to know the information, the news service said.

The U.S. aircraft were hit one day after small arms fire downed a U.N. helicopter in the same state.

Rob McKee, operations manager for Warrior Security, a South Sudan security company, said the U.N. helicopter made an emergency landing while trying to evacuate personnel from a base in Yuai, Jonglei state. A second official who insisted on anonymity because the information hasn’t been released said the helicopter was abandoned and remains unable to fly. No injuries were reported.

About 45 U.S. troops have been deployed to South Sudan to protect American personnel and the embassy. Fighting in South Sudan has claimed as many as 500 lives and a rebel force linked to deposed Vice President Riek Machar captured Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, earlier this week.

The conflict threatens to drag the world’s newest country into an ethnic civil war just two years after it won independence from Sudan with strong support from successive U.S. administrations.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting that pits loyalists of President Salva Kiir, of the Dinka ethnic group, against those of Machar, a Nuer who was sacked in July and is accused by the government of trying to seize power.
Fighting that spread from the capital, Juba, has now reached vital oilfields and the government said a senior army commander had defected to Machar in the oil-producing Unity State.
After meetings with African mediators on Friday, Kiir’s government said on its Twitter feed that it was willing to hold talks with any rebel group. The United States is also sending an envoy to help with talks.
South Sudan’s foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, told Reuters the African mediators had now been given the go-ahead to meet with Kiir’s rivals, including Machar and his allies. They were due to make contact on Saturday.
United Nations staff said hundreds of people have been killed across the country the size of France this week and 35,000 civilians are sheltering at their bases.
Information Minister Michael Makuei told Reuters that an army divisional commander in Unity State, John Koang, had defected and joined Machar, who had named him the governor of the state.
The United Nations said on Friday at least 11 people from the ethnic Dinka group had been killed during an attack by thousands of armed youths from another ethnic group on a U.N. peacekeeping base in Jonglei state. Two Indian peacekeepers died.

© 2013 NewsmaxWorld. All rights reserved.
By Newsmax Wires

Report Claims 30,000 Eritreans Kidnapped in 6 Years.


Asmara, Eritrea.
Asmara, Eritrea. (Carsten ten Brink/Flickr/Creative Commons)

A report presented to the European Parliament shows that around 30,000 Eritreans have been kidnapped since 2007 and taken to the Sinai while ransom payments are demanded.

The report, conducted by an Eritrean human rights activist and professors from a Dutch University, says that a total of around $600 million (€468m) was extorted from families. During its launch in London on Dec. 4, it was confirmed that Christians were among the thousands kidnapped.

Eritrea is ranked 10th on the 2013 World Watch List, which ranks the 50 countries in which Christians are most under pressure for their faith. According to Eritrea’s Evangelical Alliance, approximately 1,200 Christians are now incarcerated in Eritrea.

After 366 refugees died in early October off the coast of Lampedusa in Italy, where they had been attempting to find refuge, Father Mussie Zerai, Chairman of the Habeshia Agency, which works on behalf of these migrants, told World Watch Monitor the majority of those involved in the shipwreck were Christians.

“I look at the list of the survivors and 90 percent is Christian,” he said. “They are coming from Eritrea and Ethiopia. The situation is very bad because politically in Eritrea there is a dictator and they live without any type of freedom or democracy. Many Christians are persecuted because of their faith. It’s not easy for them to live in Eritrea at this moment.”

The report says that Eritrea’s Border Surveillance Unit (BSU) and Sudanese Security officials are among the “actors” collaborating with the gangs that hold people hostage in Sinai.

The Eritrean military was also blamed for abducting young people and forcing them to join the National Youth Service, while the Eritrean government came under fire for its inability to protect its citizens.

However, speaking to BBC’s Focus on Africa, Eritrean Ambassador to the U.K., Tesfamicael Gerahtu, denied the allegations, citing a conspiracy between Eritrean asylum seekers and the West. He said the Eritrean government was doing its best to deal with the criminals.

One case which highlights the human trafficking journey from Eritrea to Egypt was movingly presented at the report’s launch.

Dawit, a British citizen from Eritrea, said that his sister, a single mother, was kidnapped on her way to work on July 12.

He said that when she did not come home after work, her eldest daughter went to her office, but found no sign of her and was told by locals that the business had not opened that day.

The next day, Dawit received a call from his mother in Eritrea telling him that she had received a call from someone in Sudan saying that his sister had been kidnapped and demanding $10,000 for her release.

Dawit told the gathering that he had no money at the time and that his mother didn’t want her son in London to call the kidnappers in case they increased the ransom upon realizing that a family member lived and worked in the U.K.

Dawit said that he was unable to raise the sufficient funds, whereupon his sister was tortured. He said that his mother received phone calls, during which his sister was raped and her mother was forced to sister to her screams. With her mother still on the phone, the kidnappers also electrocuted her and threatened to kill her unless the ransom could be paid.

Eventually, Dawit was able to raise the money by selling his car and borrowing money. The ransom was then paid, but the kidnappers failed to release his sister despite their promises to do so.

Dawit’s sister was eventually said to have been released to the Egyptian authorities, but he has since heard no word from her. He says that his sister’s ordeal shows that the Eritrea government cannot protect its citizens.

Dawit’s efforts to get the U.K. government’s help in securing his sister failed. However, Stop Sinai Torture activists reported that they have since held meetings with the U.K.’s National Crime Agency (NCA) and there is a strong move to gather evidence and to prosecute the perpetrators.

Selam Kidane, a human rights activist, said that the average amount demanded by kidnappers has increased over the years from $5000 in 2009 to $30,000 today. Kidane said that even those who were released were severely traumatized.

The report claims that those released in Egypt and Israel were generally opposed to returning home, but were forced to return and, in Egypt, were ordered to pay a repatriation fee.

Meanwhile, the report claims those released in Libya are often detained, tortured, raped and forced to work for free.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Bishop: Sudan’s Christians Are ‘On the Cross’ Daily.


Bishop Macram Gassis
Bishop Macram Gassis says Christians and others in the Nubas are still suffering at the hands of the Islamist regime. (CBN News)

Twenty-two years of war between North and South Sudan ended when southerners gained independence in July 2011.

But fighting in disputed areas of Sudan has continued as Khartoum attempts to control and Islamize non-Arabs by waging jihad on regions like Sudan’s Nuba Mountains.

A prominent Sudanese bishop is in Washington this week asking Americans to help alleviate the suffering.

Macram Gassis, bishop of Sudan’s El-Obeid Diocese, said Christians and others in the Nubas are still suffering at the hands of the Islamist regime.

“They are on the cross in a special way because bombing is daily, the Khartoum government has sealed all the entrances into the Nuba Mountains,” Gassis explained. “So, there is no food, no medicine, no fuel, no nothing.”

Not far from the Nuba Mountains, near the border between Sudan and South Sudan, is the disputed region of Abiye. During recent referendum, the people of Abiye voted to join South Sudan, something Sudan has rejected in the past.

“Khartoum is finding it difficult to give up Abiye because Abiye is floating on oil,” Gassis said.

The people of Abiye belong to the Dinka tribe, the dominant tribe of South Sudan. Many of them are Christians.

But the people of the Nubas and Abiye aren’t the only groups under attack. Christians still residing in Khartoum and elsewhere in the north are experiencing persecution.

“Southerners are not looked at favorably,” Gassis said. “They tell them, ‘You are foreigners, you are unwanted here, why don’t you go back to your country?’ There is pressure not to get any more missionary personnel form the outside. We don’t have the possibilities of building churches now anymore in northern Sudan.”

Bishop Gassis is asking Americans to pray for the Sudanese people–especially those in the Nubas, Khartoum, and Abiye.

He also urged Christians to take action.

“Prayers without action are dead prayers,” Gassis insisted.

Click here to learn more about Bishop Gassis and his work in Sudan.

IBB presidency or Nigeria dies.


Babangida-03

The Arab world desperately wants Nigeria dead or under their firm control. In June 2010, Gadhafi announced in Libya that Nigeria should split into several countries or at least on religious basis of Islam versus Christians or North versus South.

If this failed, the Arabs want a Somali or Sudan situation in Nigeria, preferring the Somali scenario if they cannot control Nigeria because as they claim, Nigeria is too large. What they mean by too large is that Nigerian influence in Africa is creating a clog in their efforts at Arabizing all of Africa.

The arrow head of the Arab world’s Arabization policy in Africa is Gadhafi who after forcibly annexing the Auzon Strip from Chad, sponsored destabilization in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Mali, Cote d’ Ivoire, Niger, etc in pursuance of the Arabization of Africa policy, laced with inordinate imperial personal ambition.

In 1998, his strategy got a fillip with the founding of his community of Sahel-Savannah States (CEN – SAD) which he was hoping to use to control the envisaged African Union (AU.) The CEN – SAD, at the moment, ropes in 25 African states from West, East, and Central Africa, and includes Senegal, Cote d’Ivore, Chad, Sudan, Somalia, Comoro Islands etc. Most of these unsuspecting African countries were stable until they joined CEN – SAD.

Nigeria refused to join CEN-SAD so the Arabs used jihadist President Babangida to smuggle Nigeria into the full membership of the Organization of Islamic countries (OIC). Nigeria is not an Islamic country, if anything she is circular by her constitutional provisions but Nigeria remains a member of the OIC even now and becomes active in it when a Northern President is in power. On 9 May, 1997, in flagrant defiance of a UN embargo on flights in and out of Libya, Col. Gadhafi invaded Nigeria with his planes carrying 1,000 members of his rag-tag army, plus 500 journalists. They strategically occupied the Kano airport and his other reception facilities, with the connivance of his Nigerian Muslim dictator host. The purpose was to launch a jihad in supposedly religiously secular Nigeria, or at least precipitate a serious schism between the predominantly Moslem north of the country and the Christian and animist south. Nigeria proved too sophisticated to be so cheaply destabilized so Gadhafi settled for an accommodation to come to the aid of Abacha who was ready to plunge Nigeria into chaos at the time to become President for life in the mould of President Nassir of Egypt. The deal was finally sealed during Abacha’s overnight strategizing meeting with Gadhafi in Chad just before Abacha died mysteriously in office frolicking with Arab prostitutes.

With Nigeria returning to the semblance of civilian leadership in 1999, the Arab world decided to use ‘Sharia’ to dismember Nigeria. Pakistan, Libya and Saudi Arabia, to name a few countries, pumped substantial funds into Zamfara, the first of Nigeria’s Sharia states, to start the process of Islamizing, (or at least to trigger mayhem and civil war) in Nigeria as in the Sudan. There have been a series of skirmishes since then in the guise of Islamic fundamentalists such as the Boko Haram gangs or imported jihadists from the neighbouring countries of Niger and Chad, sacking whole Nigerian villages at night or burning down police stations and killing law enforcement officers in broad day light.

By the time Iran was ready, after some quick negotiations, to smuggle 13 container loads of war arsenals into Nigeria, including rockets and rocket launchers, Nigeria’s sick President Yar’Adua was already brain dead in a Saudi hospital as guest of the Saudi monarch. Saudi Arabia connived with the family of Yar’dua and the leadership of the Nigerian army at the time, a General of Northern Nigerian stock, to smuggle Yar’Adua back into Nigeria like a thief in the night. The Nigerian security system was severely breached and troops were moved from the North to secure strategic locations at the nation’s capital Abuja, including the seat of power, for the clandestine incidence. In the morning, they ransacked the Acting President’s office to intimidate him and tried to stage a coup by laying in wait for the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, to occupy the President’s seat so as to be arrested by them for usurping the seat of the President who had returned in the night to the country. The Iranian cargo of death was already on its way to Nigeria and would have come in handy at the time but for the patience and security astuteness of the Acting President Jonathan.

Yar’Adua’s body finally gave way in May 2010 so the wife could no longer continue her puppet master public display of padding and propping-up the dummy president to the applause of some two-for-a-kobo prostitute religious leaders. President Jonathan sacked ministers supporting Yar’Adua’s wife’s intrigues in government and that led to the immediate exposure and detention of the arms cache at the Apapa ports in June 2010. The head of Customs was Yar’Adua’s wife’s family member so proper documentation procedure was breached as there was no form ‘M’ and other compulsory documents required for all importations. The grossly improper and inadequate shipment document used for the deadly cargo, with the cooperation of the Iranian Embassy in Nigeria to facilitate quick diplomatic clearance, claimed that the cargo contained building materials.

An Iranian, Sheikh Ali Abbas Othman Hassan, with home in Abuja, and appearing to use his cleric suit as cover for terrorist activities in Nigeria, has been fingered and detained as a principal suspect for the importation of the cargo of death. Two other Iranian fronts behind the importation, Mr. Azini Agajany and Mr. Sayeed Akbar Tahmaesebi, are at the time of this report hiding in the Iranian embassy in Lagos. For damage control measures and to distract the Nigerian Security Agencies, Iran’s Secret Agency hoax-leaked to Israeli Security that the arms were heading for Gaza. Israel bought the idea due to her morbid fear of Iran, and inspired the insinuation in the Nigerian Security circles, that the cargo could be en-route to Israel. That is because Israel was unaware of the Arab world’s diabolical designs for and track record in Nigeria and Africa. Nigeria is not so close an ally of Israel that Israel would turn a blind eye to the shipment of huge illegal arms from Nigeria that does not produce arms. The consignment was being cleared here and illegally too, to use it to facilitate a jihad in Africa’s most populous and influential country, Nigeria, and Iran’s government is culpable.

Due to security scare, President Jonathan could not fly out as scheduled, to attend the UN General Assembly meeting in late September, 2010, until he reshuffled the military hierarchy and accepted or sacked his security adviser, Gen. Gusau, an IBB nurtured errand boy, standing as proxy candidate for the do-or-Nigeria die IBB presidency in 2011.

Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, (IBB), the jihadists former dictator-President of Nigeria and his cohorts have vowed to prevent Goodluck Jonathan from completing the two terms he won with his leader, President Yar’Adua, on the pretence of defending rotational Presidency that re-cycles rogues and largely illiterate leaders bereft of leadership ideas. The rogues recruited AIT, a popular Television station strapped desperately for funds, to fight their cause for them. There is the allegation that the Abuja bomb blast on the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence was an attempt to make Nigeria look insecure and a failed state in the eyes of the rest of the world.

The truth, however, is that the North has never given Nigeria good leaders. The North has always foisted on Nigeria bad leaders who are either stealing Nigeria dry in office or too sick to govern. After fifty years of failed leadership produced mainly by the North: Gowon, Shagari, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha, Atiku, Yar’Adua, Nigeria urgently needs a breather from the crooked, dim and spent mob that over the period, collectively and systematically brought Nigeria down to her knees, destroyed our hopes, and turned our prospects as a people into painful despair. I do not think the North is short of quality materials. After all, while the South gave us Awo and Zik, the North produced leaders in the mold of the Sarduana and Murtala Muhammad. So why are characters like Babangida, Buhari, Atiku still fronting for the North now that Nigeria has reached the edge of the grave the Northern leaders dug for her? Does the North so desperately want Nigeria to die?

All that Babangida has to show for his over eight years in power in Nigeria, is private colossal wealth, and the edification of corruption in our body politics. The book, The Sink, by Jeffrey Robinson, an American writer, says it all about Babangida. “Of the $120 billion siphoned out of the Nigerian treasury into offshore accounts by dishonest politicians, $20 billion is allegedly traceable to IBB directly as president from 1985 to 1993.” The Wolfsberg Principles, an initiative of 11 banks and institutions across the world to fight serious international financial crimes, traced another $3 billion of our stolen money to Babangida’s accounts abroad, and $4.3 billion to Abacha’s. The World Bank and other international sources of information allege that his total loot from the Nigerian treasury is over $35 billion. Now he is threatening to use a fraction of that money to return to power and a figure of N400 billion has been mentioned by his cronies as his campaign chest.

The Gulf war oil windfall is Babangida’s often-referenced loot. Abacha set up a panel headed by the highly respected economist, Pius Okigbo, in October, 1994, to reorganize the CBN. Okigbo’s panel discovered that $12.2 billion of the $12.4 billion accruable from the Gulf War excess crude oil sales was frittered away or unaccounted for, through nebulous or phantom projects that could not be traced. Only $206 million was left in the account. According to Okigbo, “disbursements were clandestinely undertaken while the country was openly reeling with crushing external debt overhead. These represent, no matter the initial justification for creating the account, a gross abuse of public trust. “

John Fashanu, in a private investigation published in African Confidential early in Obasanjo’s current regime, discovered an alleged $6 billion debt buy-back scam by IBB between 1988 and 1993. Another $14.4 billion disappeared into off shore accounts as currency stabilization and debt buy-back scheme that actually cost $2.5 billion. One of the front-companies used, Growth Management, based in London, bought the debt for 10 cents per dollar and resold to the government at 45 cents to steal 35 cents per dollar. Fashanu was trying to recover about $17 billion for the Nigerian government only for the CBN to say they had no records of the deals. The records are out there abroad but cleaned out at home to conceal the (theft) deals.

Babangida was ruthless in the way he amassed his colossal wealth. First is the illegal self-allocation of free oil, sold on the spot market. Then he initiated the corrupt culture of maintaining a huge monthly security vote virtually as personal pocket money. Rather than repair our refineries, let alone to work at maximum capacity, IBB built private refineries in Cote d’Ivoire and the Republic of Benin, where he took our crude to refine and sell back to us as fuel.

Luscious contracts for the construction of Abuja were awarded to front-companies of his and his cronies, including Julius Berger and Arab Contractors that between them virtually single-handedly handled the construction of the new Federal Capital. The security danger of foreign companies solely constructing a country’s capital and having access to its structural secrets, including possible Presidential underground escape routes and military arsenal volts, is mind boggling to say the least, but that is an issue for another day.

Although Babangida used mostly fictitious names for his numerous accounts abroad, EFCC could zero in on some of the accounts by following up on the dusts raised early in 2003 over the financing of his GLOBACOM. Documents on the loan supposed to have been granted on 9 February, 2001, were dated 28 August, 2006. The original ‘loan’ letter has not been presented. Apparently, Paribas Bank, based in Paris, was managing a slush fund from which investments in excess of US$400 million was made to buy into Alcatel (Globacom’s technical partners), Bouygues Telecoms, Peugeot and Total finaelf.

Alcatel and Parabel National of France were worried at the time that their invoices for the telecom project were being inflated to launder funds by the supposed private owners of the sources of funds and that private cheques were being issued to finance the staggering project without recourse to borrowing from banks. They suspected illegal laundering of funds and threatened to withdraw collaboration on the project while alerting Interpol to investigate the sources of the private cheques being issued to finance the project. IBB could not participate in Obasanjo’s 2003, inauguration ceremonies, because he was allegedly out of the country sorting out the Interpol queries on the Alcatel’s slush account alert, at the time. Even now, the telecoms’ financing details through Siemens etc, could be investigated by the EFCC tracing ghost cheques to issuing private sources of funds and their local and international banks to unravel possible laundering of funds.

There is this strong allegation among the rank and file of the armed forces, and members of the defense correspondence of our newspapers attached to the seat of power, that Babangida arranged, in the last couple of weeks before leaving office, for several armoured vehicle loads of newly printed naira notes to be delivered daily to his new Minna palatial abode obviously with the connivance of Abacha, perhaps as his mentor’s retirement benefit. Abacha and Babangida had several serious financial problems with Abiola but one of them takes the cake. It was over some foreign war booty amounting to US$215m. It is alleged that Babangida had asked Abiola to help launder it when Babangida was in office but Abiola was not interested.

Babangida allegedly side-stepped Abiola and eventually prevailed upon a member of Abiola’s family in the custom of family friendship, to rescue the situation. Then the person suddenly died. It is further alleged that Abiola was asked to return the money and he truthfully and honestly said he knew nothing about it and even if there was such a thing, he had no authority over the matter. Then he was asked to pressurize the children of the deceased to play ball. Abiola refused, arguing that he had no legal or moral right to do so. The kids of the deceased wanted Abiola released but Abiola was too principled to succumb to blackmail so the powers that be decided early after his arrest, that he would die in detention for declaring himself president.

Perhaps you would want to join me to play the prude accountant, generous with figures. Let’s pretend that Babangida was a General throughout his service years in the Nigerian army. Again let’s assume he spent 30 years in the army and was paid N100,000 monthly (actually, salaries of Generals were less than N10,000 a month until recently) and he saved every kobo of his salary. He would be worth about N35,000,000 plus interest in the bank today. But Babangida’s 50 bedroom palatial abode in Minna is alleged to be conservatively worth billions of naira and he does not owe any bank on it. The largest, most prestigious housing estate in Alexandra, Egypt’s leading holiday resort town, is alleged to belong to Babangida. Even Egyptians cannot afford his rent, which is alleged to be in dollars. All his tenants are rich foreigners and the staff of multi-national companies operating in Alexandra. The estate is alleged to have its own airport, which Babangida uses when he visits in his private jet.

Babangida is alleged to own several other housing estates around the world, including houses on Bishop Avenue in London. He uses his London houses, it is alleged, as guest houses or gifts for people on his compromise list. He is considered generous with gifts of cars with their boots stuffed with naira notes when he wants some jobs done.

In the area of managing the national economy, Babangida bestowed his adroitness and moral degeneracy. His economy was dominated by male-wives, particularly in the banking and oil sectors. Women often brag about the efficacy of ‘bottom’ power. Feminine men sometimes flaunt it too as their passport to economic liberation. Between them and the suddenly very lucrative 419 business of the time, industry was complete. IBB’s chiefs, allegedly colluded with 419 criminals to create the over-night semi-illiterate money-bags without class or shame, (including the 150 members of the National Assembly, that in 2005 sent IBB a birthday card), and who together now form the bulk of his supporters and campaigners, to return him to power. Babangida (sapped) or totally wiped the middle class out of existence with the destruction of the naira, which he did by fiat in 1985, when he down graded the naira exchange rate from about N2 to N18 to the dollar. By the time he was forced out of office in 1993, the naira was exchanging at N60 to the dollar. Society was reduced to two social classes of either the very poor or the rich rogues. Babangida should be heading for Kirikiri not Aso Rock because the fight against corruption is a sham otherwise.

Shagari’s regime (1979-1983), incurred Buhari’s wrath when it decided to investigate the US$2.8 billion that disappeared from the Midland Bank, London account of the Nigerian National Petroleum Cooperation, (NNPC), during General Obasanjo’s era as military head of state that preceded Shagari’s. Dr. Olusola Saraki, Turaki of Ilorin, was the majority party leader of the Senate at the time and he headed the Senate Committee set up to trace the stolen money after some three years of clamour for such an investigation by members of the civil society. The money was traced to the Midland Bank London branch fixed account of Buhari, Obasanjo’s appointee as military head of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company. The Committee’s report was presented to the Senate during the tail end of Shagari’s regime in 1983, so the House decided to deal with the matter soon after the 1983 general elections.

The attempt at civilian-to-civilian transition provided the fillip for mayhem at the time. The elections were marred by massive rigging because incumbent political office holders were refusing to slacken their stranglehold on Nigeria Plc., mortgaged as the leaders private property. On the 31st December, 1983, Buhari struck under the cover of the political commotion that trailed the presidential election results. Buhari generally had no agenda for leadership but vendetta against those he called critics and rabble-rousers. Buhari did not see any moral wrong in his conversion of our oil money into his personal use. Rather he railed at the press and what he described as the self-righteous sections of the country for making a big deal out of the issue. He locked up without trial, politicians and critics including Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, notorious for clamouring for the exposure of the oil money rogue. Satire saved my neck at the time. Vera Ifudu, who was an NTA reporter then, was sacked through his prodding as military ruler, for reporting what Dr. Olusola Saraki had told her in an interview about how the missing money was traced to Buhari’s account at a Midland Bank London branch. Vera eventually won her case of wrongful dismissal in court against the NTA and was financially compensated.

Abacha rehabilitated Buhari with the chairmanship of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) before he (Abacha) died in 1998. When Obasanjo returned to power in May 1999 as civilian president, he found that over 2.5 billion naira had not been properly accounted for in the PTF and that there was not much on the ground to show for the colossal expenditure the agency was claiming. On the day Obasanjo announced the scrapping of the PTF, a non-staff brother-in-law of the boss, allegedly serving as his conduit on some PTF projects, died suddenly from what appeared to be heart failure. Haruna Adamu, who was appointed by Obasanjo to investigate the PTF before finally consigning it to the dung heap, allegedly quickly pocketed one hundred million naira of PTF’s money before operating table could be set up for him, thus forcing Obasanjo to hurriedly close the place down without further investigations. Buhari has been trying desperately since to return to power, perhaps to get a chance to shred the PTF documents?

The accusation in 1999/2000 that the president’s deputy, Atiku Abubakar, privatized Nigeria Incorporated to himself was not investigated because Obasanjo’s third term ambition was not strong at the time. Atiku denied ownership of African Petroleum (AP), which in the end turned out to be a bobby trap, laced with huge hidden debt, and was re-acquired by the government through the NNPC. However, Atiku was seen as a product of the Nigerian corrupt system. He retired as a boss of the Customs several years ago, an agency of government that reeks with corruption. There were some spats over contracts for the communications garget for the 8th All African Games in 2003, in Abuja, and the issue of bunkering crookedness, and illegal rents collected on crude oil lifting, which Obasanjo largely scuttled in the heat of his tenure elongation project in March 2006.

In August 2005, and early 2006, we heard of US security operatives raiding Atiku’s home in Washington, USA, over allegation of involvement with Mr. William Jefferson, a member of the US Congress, in a US $500,000 bribe over a telecommunications deal in Nigeria. Jefferson was alleged to have said that he needed to give the $500,000 to Atiku, to help secure Nigeria’s adoption of Internet technology from the USA based iGate Inc. In mid May 2006, the FBI claimed in a US court to have found marked US $90,000, of US $100,000 bribe money, collected from a business partner for Atiku, concealed in a freezer in the office of Mr. Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson who at the time was claiming to have been duped by some Nigerians, had, in fact, collected $6.5 million from one Otumba Oyewole Fasawe, the Nigerian behind the Netlink Digital Television (NDTV) private business that Jefferson was contracted to supply with technology and failed. Jefferson had with great difficulty, and after a lot of pressure, managed to refund only $1.7 million of the $6.5 million he had received, at the time he was screaming foul-play against his crooked Nigerian partners he swindled. Mr. Vernon Jackson, Jefferson’s agent on the NDTV scam, was jailed in the USA in September 2006, for seven years over the deal. William Jefferson himself was jailed in 2009 in the USA over the scam.

The Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PDTF), under the supervision of Vice President Atiku, had apparently been used to finance the NDTV business and some Globacom debts. On May 31, 2006, the US government, in reaction to public speculation in Nigeria, denied having cleared Atiku of involvement in the NDTV fraud. Early in June 2006, Atiku was again alleged in a US court, where further hearing was continuing, to have been involved in the bribery scandal. In mid July 2006, the EFCC went to a bank and collected statements on Atiku’s current accounts.

On Thursday 7th September 2006, the Senate President read in the Nigerian Senate, a letter from President Obasanjo accompanying some documentary evidence, alleging conspiracy, fraudulent conversion of funds, corrupt practices, and money laundering, against the Vice President. The submission, which was for the information of the Upper House, claimed that the President, acting on information received from the USA government, set up an administrative panel to investigate the allegations against Vice President Atiku.

The report of the panel, along with the findings of the EFCC, claimed that the Vice President utilized for private purposes, funds put in a fixed deposit account for the Petroleum Development Trust Fund (PDTF), a department of government under his care. In essence, the Vice President was acting as money lender with government money for personal profit. US$10 million of the US$125 million fund was clearly used as collateral in support of a loan of N1.2 billion granted to Otumba Oyewole Fasawe by the Trans International bank in Lagos.

The financial gain made by the Vice President from Fasawe over the loan was paid into Atiku’s Campaign Organization account with Bank PHB. Umar Pariya, Atiku’s aide, acted as the go between on the transaction. The balance of US$115m of the PDTF money was transferred in April 2003, for reasons unconnected to PDTF activities, to Equatorial Trust Bank belonging to Dr. Mike Adenuga, the Vice president’s friend and Chairman of Globacom. The fund’s transfer, like the US$10 million withdrawn from it earlier, was done without the required recourse to the Federal Executive Council (FEC). Argument by the Vice President that the US$115m was put in Adenuga’s bank eight months after Globacom’s operating license was paid for or that no money was lost, does not alter the fact that the fund was moved without FEC’s awareness and for purposes unrelated to PDTF projects, including possible attempt to cushion Globacom over an urgent business deal or external debt repayment pressures for personal profit.

The Vice president’s defense at the time sounded like: “I am guilty but I shared my illicit gains with the President and my party, the PDP.” The Vice President, now politically dead, alleged that the President’s profits from the messy deals included N3 billion directly; their joint billions of Naira campaign fund; N100 million made to the president’s IBAD construction company; N11 million given to his Bell Comprehensive High School to buy buses; N200 million used to clear some of the president’s debts; N100 million contributed to his campaign fund; ugly arms deal scams; funds given to his African Leadership Forum and to buy cars for women (married or not), he was ensnaring to his bed etc; N500 million made available to the campaign chest of the PDP….

On Tuesday October 3, 2006, Chief Dan Etete, a Petroleum Resources Minister in General Abacha’s regime, opened a can of worms on the Vice President’s ugly oil deals, and how INTELS, (a company in which the VP had substantial interest and shared ownership with two Italians, Messrs Gabriel Volpi, and Angello Perruzi, and a Switzerland based lawyer called Lugano), sold a piece of land on the water front in Port-Harcourt to Shell for US$100m. The VP, using INTELS, and (Pecos Nigeria Limited, a business front of Otunba Oyewole Fasawe), blackmailed and pounced on 50% of Malabo’s oil bloc 245. Then with the connivance, treachery and crookedness of Shell, the Anglo Dutch Oil giant, stole the entire bloc 245 from Malabo at US$210m profit to the Vice president and his business cronies. Using similar tricks, the VP’s INTELS and Associates cornered 20% stake in oil bloc 247 belonging to another party.

The VP’s defense was that Etete should not be taken seriously because he was in exile after “supervising the collapse of Nigeria’s refineries…. and that Etete stole over US $5bn from the public treasury and allocated the oil bloc in question to himself when he was Minister of Petroleum Resources.” That during the scam in question and since, the Petroleum Ministry has been under the firm grip of the President, “all by himself, these last seven and half years. Every Nigerian is literate to the fact that all enquiries on oil and related matters go to the president’s desk….. When the big masquerade behind Etete is courageous enough to come out, the Vice president will respond.” What this means in essence is that others not mentioned in Etete’s report profited along with the VP from his oil projects’ looting business.

NAIWU OSAHON Hon. Khu Mkuu (Leader) World Pan-African Movement); Ameer Spiritual (Spiritual Prince) of the African race; MSc. (Salford); Dip.M.S; G.I.P.M; Dip.I.A (Liv.); D. Inst. M; G. Inst. M; G.I.W.M; A.M.N.I.M. Poet, Author of the magnum opus: ‘The end of knowledge’. One of the world’s leading authors of children’s books; Awarded; key to the city of Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Honourary Councilmanship, Memphis City Council; Honourary Citizenship, County of Shelby; Honourary Commissionership, County of Shelby, Tennessee; and a silver shield trophy by Morehouse College, USA, for activities to unite and uplift the African race.

Source: Radio Biafra.

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