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Posts tagged ‘Bayelsa State’

A Government From Boko Haram By Emeka Asinugo.


By Emeka Asinugo

When, some months back, President Jonathan of Nigeria said that Boko Haram had penetrated his government and federal government agencies, he knew exactly what he was saying. He was right. In a way, the prolonged and mindless Boko Haram killings in the eastern parts of Northern Nigeria seem to be playing out that time-tested song by Jimmy Cliff titled ‘the harder they come, the harder they fall.’ The harder Boko Haram attacks come on the villages of Northern Nigeria, the harder Nigerian citizens of northern extract fall. The destructive presence of Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria can only be compared with the merciless mission of the Janjaweed militia of Darfur.

What Nigerians need to know, at this point in time, is whether these attacks still have religious or political undertones or whether they have turned out to become pure brigandage. For, in these Northern villages which Boko Haram attacks with measured frequency, the people’s cattle, their foodstuff and even their beautiful young daughters are catered away by force, by unknown gunmen, to unknown destinations where, no doubt, the young damsels are subjected to sexual abuse. If this is not brigandage, what could possibly be? Come to think of it! What have foodstuff, cattle and pretty girls got to do with people who claim they want to establish a pure Islamic state, even in a country that embraces a secular and not religious constitution?

Some scholars have, as it were, posited that Boko Haram sect believes some members of a contaminated school of Muslim thought, in tandem with a highly corrupt cabal of Northern politicians, have succeeded in high jacking political dispensation in the Northern part of Nigeria. That is why they are determined to wrestle power from them. They want to see the North return to fundamental Islamic teaching and tradition.

It all sounds good and well.

But if that is their desire, why then are they are killing their own people? Why are they are spilling the blood of their own young and innocent children? Why are they are destroying their own innocent women? Why are they mowing down their own innocent men? What have those being killed got to do with the aspirations of Boko Haram? People no longer have homes in the villages Boko Haram has sacked. They are refugees in their own country, driven away from their homesteads by a mindless sect that claims to be working for their interest.

Boko Haram is the vampire that has kept sucking the blood of Northern Nigeria’s future generations. The sect members have continued to cut down on their own Northern population. They have continued to limit their voting power by reducing their own number. So, someone should tell me: what sort of government can possibly emerge from the rubbles of such recklessness?

Just think about it. This is a wake-up call. How can Boko Haram, if ever they succeed in becoming a government of their own people, dry the tears from the eyes of thousands of women they prematurely turned into widows, and the many more children they turned into orphans? How can they say ‘sorry’ to all those families they threw into grief or left in agony after they mowed down their breadwinner? With what face will they meet their subjects after the battle is fought and won?

If all this is part of the alleged plan to make governance difficult for President Jonathan, then honestly, people from that part of the country should have their heads examined. I am sorry: I am not being rude, but I am almost convinced that this group of rascals cannot possibly stand the ground against a united Northern elders’ forum which endorses government as a democratic dispensation and not a cabal of the rich and mighty shoving it down the throats of the weak and vulnerable.

Boko Haram has caused so much pain to so many families across the nation. They have killed the Yoruba. They have killed the Hausa and the Fulani. They have killed Christians. They have killed Muslims. They have killed students. They have killed people in the marketplace. They have killed people during events. They just don’t care who they kill. They go for vulnerable people in strategic places.

Now, assuming that tomorrow a Muslim northerner becomes President of Nigeria, will these mindless killings stop?

Maybe it will be good for Nigerians to know. It is obvious that any government emanating straight from the ashes of Boko Haram’s killings will either be an autocracy or another Taliban type of government which will enforce strict Islamic Laws that tend to deny women of their human rights – a government that will dry the women’s tears with fire, and not with handkerchiefs. Will a Northern President be able to placate the Boko Haram sect and bring their nefarious activities under control? In other words, can a Northern President heal the wounds inflicted by Boko Haram on so many families in the North and in the South?

Nigerians should learn from the history of their country – both ancient and contemporary history. When two-time Head of State, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, was in power, Niger Delta people were agitating so much about being marginalized in the scheme of things in the country. The bulk of the oil which sustained the economy of the nation was coming from their land. And they were being neglected. Basic infrastructure was obsolete and in some cases, non-existent. No good roads. No clean drinking water. No affordable medical care. No standard schools. Electricity supply was epileptic. There was general poverty in the land. The oil companies which were exploring oil from the Delta Region were said to have turned a blind eye to all the suffering the people of the region were passing through. They were not doing much to alleviate the level of poverty that was eating deep into the communities that made up the Delta Region. In the midst of the excruciating poverty that was ravaging the region, their top officers and chief executives preferred to live in palatial mansions in the big cities wining and dining with Governors, walking tall on the corridors of power.

Overwhelmed by their circumstances, the people of the Delta Region began to make trouble. They kidnapped oil workers. They kidnapped indigenes. They kidnapped foreigners. They kidnapped members of the families of public office holders. They vandalized oil pipelines and oil installations. They stole crude oil and refined them in makeshift refineries within the creeks, far away from government’s scrutiny.

It was all telling on Chief Obasanjo as Head of State because he is a man who loves his country but who, from experience, knew how difficult it was to please every Nigerian at the same time from the Presidential Villa. Obasanjo thought out a plan.

He was convinced that a President coming from the Delta Region would be in a better position to sort out Delta people and bring relief to the country. So, he sponsored the late Musa Yar ‘Adua as President and Jonathan as Vice President under the auspices of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, which at the time was largest and the ruling party.

Jonathan had become Governor of Bayelsa State after his predecessor, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, had been indicted for money laundering by a London court and was impeached by Bayelsa House of Assembly on that account. The elder brother of Governor Musa Yar ‘Adua, Major General Shehu Yar’ Adua, had been a successful businessman, soldier, and politician. His father was a former Minister for Lagos during the First Republic. Shehu trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, England and participated in the Nigerian Civil War. He was Vice President of Nigeria when Olusegun Obasanjo was military Head of State from 1976 until 1979.

In 1995, the older Yar ‘Adua was sentenced to life in prison by a military tribunal after he called on the military government of General Sani Abacha and his Provisional Ruling Council to re-establish civilian rule. Obasanjo was also imprisoned at the same time. Unfortunately, Shehu Yar ‘Adua died in prison two years later, on 8 December 1997. When eventually Obasanjo was released from prison, he wanted to see justice done to the family of the Yar’Aduas. So, he sponsored Umaru Musa Yar ‘Adua, the younger brother of his late prison mate, Shehu, to be elected as President of Nigeria in 2007 while Goodluck Jonathan was Vice President.

Everybody knew that Musa Yar ‘Adua was a sick man. Twice, during his tenure as governor, he had gone for medical treatment abroad, which kept him away from work for several months at a time. But because he was loved, not only by his people from Northern Nigeria, but by almost every other Nigerian both from the East and the West, he didn’t have any problem getting back into his office on return.

Whether by accident or by design, the pressure of work killed Musa Yar ‘Adua after three and half years as President. Jonathan succeeded him in office.

But since Jonathan, a son of Delta Region, became President, the troubles in Delta State have not ended. No. Rather, they have escalated. The level of impunity has gone up. Members of the families of government officials are no longer safe. Even members of the family of the President himself are not safe. Recently, the step-father of President Jonathan was kidnapped right from his village home, and the kidnappers are asking for a ransom amount of N500 million (£2 million).

That level of impunity!

So, assuming that by tomorrow, Boko Haram succeeds in “wrestling power from the democratically elected government that is in control in the North”, what sort of government will they be able to form? Will the fact that a Northerner has become President stop the agitation of Boko Haram? Just as having a Delta President could not stop the Delta rebellion, so a Northern President may not be able to twist the arms of Boko Haram insurgency.

In that case, will it not be an indication to Eastern and Western Nigerians that it is time for them to decide for themselves if they still want this do-or-die leadership style of their militant northern brothers or to go their separate ways because things have fallen apart and the centre can no longer hold? If that is what Nigerians need to know – and react to – this is the time to speak up, the National Conference, the opportunity.

 

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

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Dear Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala II By Sonala Olumhense.


Columnist:

Sonala Olumhense

I thank you for acknowledging my article published last week.  I trouble you with this follow-up only because of the dangerous debris left behind by your Special Adviser, Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu.

First, on the “Abacha loot” recovery, let it be clear that my advocacy concerning Nigeria’s “recovered” funds is neither new, nor limited to your story.

In “Whatever Happened to the Abacha Loot?” (June 22, 2008), I wrote, “The national interest would be well served by a transparent picture of what has actually happened…The indications are that some of the funds recovered from the man and his family may have been re-stolen, or misused.”

In terms of numbers, my case is that Nigeria seems to have recovered between $2 and $3b from Abacha.  You say $500 million.

I know that the realistic number is mine because that is what the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, reported in 2006.

In a statement in London in November of that year, Mr. Ribadu stated that “Abacha “took over $6 billion from Nigeria,” and that $2 billion had been recovered during his term of office.  He repeated that figure that same month during the 12th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Guatemala.  In Dakar at the 2nd Annual High Level Dialogue on Governance and Democracy in Africa, just three months ago, Mr. Ribadu repeated the claim that Nigeria recovered $2 billion.  Nobody has ever challenged him.

It is also significant, Madam, that one year before Ribadu went on record about the $2 billion recovery for the first time, you said the same thing.  The event was a press conference in September 2005 in Switzerland.  Up till that point, Nigeria had recovered “about $2 billion total of assets,” you said.

Nonetheless, the $2 billion recovered in the Abacha hunt that was referred to by Mr. Ribadu and your good self in 2005 and 2006 is without prejudice to the $700 million that former Finance Minister Michael Ani said in November 1998 had been recovered from Abacha.  Ani described $1.3bn in illegal withdrawals discovered to have been made by Ismaila Gwarzo, the National Security Adviser for Abacha.

To Gwarzo belongs one of the sadder chapters of the loot recovery story. At the end of 1998, Abdussalam Abubakar said the government had recovered $1 billion from the Abacha family and another $250 million from Gwarzo.  When Obasanjo became president, at least $500 million more was recovered from Gwarzo in 2000.

The foregoing might explain why you said in a speech after you left the Obasanjo government, “General Abacha looted about $3-5 billion from the Nigerian treasury in truckloads of cash in foreign currencies, in traveler’s checks and other means.”

My point is: much more than $500 million was recovered from Abacha, some of them before, and some of them in-between your tenures as Minister of Finance.

Perhaps you refer only to $500m because the specific subject of your September 2005 Switzerland press conference was $458 million, which you said Nigeria had recovered.

That $500m is supported somewhat by an account of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the World Bank, which said at the launch of the Stolen Asset Recovery in September 2007 that Nigeria had recovered a total of $505.5 million from the Swiss government.   On that occasion, at which you were present, it was also stated that up to $800m had been recovered from Abacha domestically.

Before all that, in November 2003, you personally announced that Nigeria had recovered $149 million from the Island of Jersey.  In case you may have forgotten, you clarified that the $149 million was not part of a $618 million trip you had just made to Switzerland at that time.

Nonetheless, in December 2006, La Declaration de Berne, a Swiss humanitarian body, alleged that Switzerland had repatriated $700 million to Nigeria, but alleged irregularities in Nigeria’s use of the money, claiming $200 million was unaccounted for.

That $700m figure seems to be in harmony with the statement made by Dr. Hans-Rudolf Hodel, the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria at a press conference three months ago, during which he gave that figure as what his country returned to Nigeria.

Similarly, on 10 March 2008, the EFCC and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) announced at a joint press conference they had recovered “over N600 billion” in five years.

That sum seems somewhat conservative, but a lot more than $500 million of it came from Abacha.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • In May 2000, Luxembourg confirmed it had found and frozen $630 million in eight bank accounts in a private bank, in the names of the Abachas, awaiting Nigeria’s claim.
  • In August 2000, Nigeria asked Liechtenstein to help recover 100m British pounds.
  • In October 2001, a British High Court asked the government ahead to help Nigeria trace over $1bn in Abacha loot.
  • In May 2002, President Obasanjo struck a deal with the Abachas under which the government was to recover about $1.2 billion.
  • In February 2010, the British Government announced in Abuja it would repatriate 43 million pounds recovered from the offshore accounts of various Nigerian officials.

Some of these happened when you were not in the government, I know, but we are not talking about your personal life.  The point is that as a people, we cannot move forward unless there is true and full transparency.  Where is all the money?  Can you tell us?

Your over-reaching spokesman illustrates my point.  “On the NNPC oil accounts issue…Dr Okonjo-Iweala has called for an independent forensic audit to establish the facts of any unaccounted for money and ensure that all every Naira that is owed the treasury is returned to the Federation Account…the fundamental problem of determining the facts as a basis for action must still be tackled. Is there room for more action on corruption? Of course the answer can only be yes. But action is needed to achieve change. Talk is cheap, action is crucial.”

Exactly, Madame Minister, let us have a forensic independent audit.  But may I propose three productive caveats to your government?  The audit must be international; cover the NNPC and the recovered funds; and date from 1999.   This is the only scenario that can guarantee that the full story will be told.

Let me illustrate the depth of our depravity with a graphic example made by Ribadu in 2009 to the US House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.  “Mr. D.S.P. Alamieyeseigha, governor of oil rich Bayelsa State. He had four properties in London valued at about £10 million, plus another property in Cape Town valued at $1.2 million. £1 million cash was found in his bedroom at his apartment in London. £2 million was restrained at the Royal Bank of Scotland in London and over $240 million in Nigeria. This is in addition to bank accounts traced to Cyprus, Denmark, USA and the Bahamas.”

This is the kleptocracy in which Nigerian leaders have stolen over $380bn since independence, as the same Ribadu told the BBC in 2006.  Yet, that Alamieyeseigha, like others, has been pardoned by your government.  This is why we will never get real answers by putting your “independent” audit in the hands of a pre-programmed Abuja panel.

Finally, you bristle at my reference to the issue of the recurrent budget.  You say I have no moral authority to comment on the matter.

So let us talk about moral authority.

Following your negotiations of Nigeria’s foreign with the Paris Club in 2006, Audu Ogbeh, a former Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairman, publicly said that one “top member” of your government had walked away with a personal fee of N60 billion.  I had expected that President Obasanjo or you would be outraged, and challenge the allegation, but nobody ever has.  I would have defended my father’s name.

I repeat my support of your campaign finance proposal, in principle.  But a cafeteria approach to reform never works, and your forensic audit is bound to be eaten alive in the all-purpose impunity and kleptocracy that currently masquerades as governance.  The answer is banging on the front door.

Source: SAHARA REPORTERS.

MEND claims Bayelsa attack on ex-militant leader.


 

mend

The Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, yesterday said its fighters attacked two police gunboats at Peremabiri, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.The gunboats were escorting a former militant leader, Mr. Eris Paul, aka Ogunboss.According to MEND, all ex-militant leaders who used their positions to acquire “ill-gotten property” had been marked for their wrath.“They are now persona non grata in the creeks, and their lives and ill-gotten property have become legitimate targets for destruction.”A statement by Gbomo Jomo, said the attack that occurred on Saturday was carried out in a style reminiscent of the maiden operation of its campaign, Hurricane Exodus, that killed 15 policemen in the state on April, 2013.MEND said Ogunboss and other ex-militant leaders “now hiding in the cities, sold their birthright for contracts and political appointments to the detriment of a just cause.“Our action was predicated on the words of our hero, the great Madiba, Nelson Mandela, who said, ‘No self-respecting freedom fighter would take orders from a government he is fighting against or jettison a long-time ally in the interest of pleasing an antagonist.”The group also said it was not yet freedom for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation which recently announced the completion of repairs on the Escravos-Lagos gas pipeline which MEND said it attacked by Hurricane Exodus.It advised Nigerians not to expect improvement in power supply through gas pipelines until the issues that led to militancy in the Niger Delta had been addressed.MEND added that it learnt from a reliable source in the National Hospital, Abuja, that the ‘last paragraph’ that concluded the psychiatric evaluation report on Mr. Charles Okah was doctored.
By Wale Odunsi

Source: Radio Biafra.

Two Missing As Ex-Militant Figure “Ogun Boss” Attacks Bayelsa Community In Police Gunboats.


 

By SaharaReporters, New York

There was pandemonium in Peremabiri, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa, in the early hours of Saturday as youths from the area resisted a gunboat attack launched by ex-militant leader Monday Paul aka “Ogun Boss”.

Casualty figures remained unknown, but sources in the community said two persons were missing.

SaharaReporters learnt that the ex-militant leader got the Bayelsa Police Commissioner to release three police gunboats as well as police escorts for the operation.

The police command recently lost 11 policemen who were part of 50 policemen deployed to provide cover to an ex-militant.

A source in the community told SaharaReporters by telephone on Saturday morning that the police gunboat approached the coastal community about midnight and commenced shooting to scare residents.

The source stated that the youths of the community quickly mobilized and resisted the three gunboats which fired at the community from the creeks for more than 30 minutes.

The source said that the unarmed youths hauled stones at the boats until the gunfire attracted a naval patrol team assigned to protect a Shell flow station in the community.

The intervention of the naval team reportedly led to the arrest of the attacking gunboats and their occupants who were handed over to security agents in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa capital.

A source accused the ex-militant of seeking to foist his men as the leaders of Peremabiri community and to undermine the community’s current leadership with whom he had been having a running battle.

The police in Yenagoa refused to comment on the police commissioner’s  alleged deployment of policemen and three gunboats for “illegal operation.”

Nigeria fines Shell N800 billion for Bonga oil spill – Official.


 

oil spill in Bonga

The oil spill in Bonga occurred in December 2011.
The National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA,  has   imposed a $5 billion dollars (about N800 billion) fine on Shell  Petroleum and Development Company, SPDC, for the 2011 Bonga oil spill  incident.
The Director-General, Peter Idabor, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Tuesday.
Mr. Idabor also said that the agency had started studying the Post-Impact Assessment Report on Bonga oil spill.
“Compensation really derives after you have done a post-impact  assessment,” he said. “After you have done evaluation of the place and  mapped out places affected by the spill, then you can now say this
one  take three naira; this one take N100; it is different from fine.”Bonga oil spill2
The official added that “So, just last week, they formally announced  to us that the post-impact assessment report is ready; which we are  studying now.
“The House of Representatives has asked NOSDRA as the lead agency in  oil spill, to contact other stakeholders including the communities, to  see how we can study the report.
“We will then recommend compensation based on the report of the post-impact assessment.’’
He said that NOSDRA faulted SPDC for not providing immediate relief  to the affected communities, whose livelihoods were affected by the  disaster.
The director-general said that the fine would serve as a deterrent to  other firms that would treat activities which deplete the environment  with levity.
“The kind of impunity Shell and its allies have demonstrated so far  in the Niger Delta area in the past should be addressed if the future  and people of Nigeria and the environment are to be protected,” he said.
He said that the oil spill, which occurred in December 2011 and  spread over 100 nautical miles from the ocean, deprived fishermen in the  affected areas of Bayelsa and Delta of their means of livelihood.
“They could not go there to fish; nets that they normally put in  water ways were stained and people lost their means of livelihood.
“Even the fishes themselves, because of the chemical, migrated from the crude oil.
“The overall impact was for that chemical to have entered the  Atlantic Ocean; it must have killed millions of fish and other living  organisms,” he said.
Mr. Idabor said that the spill which did not result from sabotage or vandalism would take a long time to get cleared.
A separate government agency, the Nigerian Maritime Administration  and Safety Agency, NIMASA, had also asked Shell to pay $6.5 billion  (about N1 trillion) as compensation to the victims of the spill.
It is not yet clear if Shell would pay the levies or would challenged the directives in court.
Meanwhile, Barrisua Deezim, an Ogoni in Rivers, has urged NOSDRA to  extend its efforts and to respond to other communities in the Niger  Delta region affected by oil exploration activities.
Mr. Deezim also called on security authorities to intensify efforts to check the activities of illegal refineries in the area.
Oil spill in the Niger Delta region is mostly caused by oil bunkering,’’ he said.
(NAN)
Premium Times

Source: Radio Biafra.

Jonathan is Incompetent; we are sorry for making him President Ex-Governor Sylva Begs.


 

Timiprey Silva

The immediate past Governor of Bayelsa State, Timiprey Silva, on Monday  in Yola, Adamawa State capital, tendered an unreserved apology to all  Nigerians for giving them a wrong leader from the Niger Delta.Ex-Governor Sylva recalled that in 2011 he was in Adamawa State with  elders of Niger Delta to plead with the North to vote for their son,  Goodluck Jonathan, as President. He said that action was a big mistake.
“The country is not performing, the ship is sinking due to poor leadership,” he said and urged all Nigerians to drop petty sentiments and vote massively for APC and flush out PDP in 2015.Silva, who spoke at a grand rally organised by  opposition All Progressives Congress said he was tendering the apology  on behalf of elders of the Niger Delta region.He said the Niger Delta region is now regretting for bringing an  incompetent leader who has infected the nation with poverty, corruption  and religious sentiments to divide brothers and sisters.
Also speaking at the rallyNational Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said: “the hour has  come for well wishers to save the ship of the nation from wreck under  the leadership of the PDP.”Tinubu assured that APC will revamp the nation and give Nigerians true  dividends of democracy as is being witnessed in all the states that the  APC is controlling today.He said the coming back of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar into the  APC is a giant stride that will move Nigerian democracy forward.

Source: Radio Biafra.

President Jonathan divides Ohanaeze over 2015.


 

President-jonathan-05

The purported 2015 presidential ambition of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has divided the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

Special Adviser to the President on Inter-party Affairs Senator Ben Ndi Obi, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu and Senator Edwin Onwudiwe said Jonathan had done well and deserved another term.

But Ohanaeze Ndigbo President, Chief Enwo Igariwey, said Igbo had not made any statement on the issue, adding that the body would declare its stand at the appropriate time.

Eleven states formed what they called Oriental Peoples Movement (OPM), founded by Andy Campbell Onyeaqanam.

 

The states are Anambra, Abia, Abuja, Enugu, Ebonyi, Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa-Ibom, Cross-River and Imo.

At the official launch of the Anambra State chapter yesterday, Onwudiwe, the chairman of the occasion, said the idea was to protect Ndigbo interest.

He said Jonathan should be given opportunity to translate Nigeria, adding that it was too late for Ndigbo to work against the Southsouth presidency. ”We should support Jonathan next year so that Southsouth will support us when our time comes. We will lose it if we create a vacuum now,” Onwudiwe added.

Obi said the President was being unjustly criticised by the opposition, adding that he was focused and determined to develop the country.

Said he: “Jonathan has done well in the last three years. But there are still grounds to be covered. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is a huge movement. We are grounded in the ethics of democracy.

“We are waiting for Jonathan, having assured that Nigerians will enjoy more democracy dividends in 2014. Ndigbo were major contributors to his 2011 success story at the polls.

“Ohanaeze met with him last December 9, during which issues concerning Ndigbo were discussed and the people said they were satisfied with his explanations.”

Igariwey said yesterday that individuals were entitled to their opinions, adding that no decision had been made on next year’s presidential election.

Iwuanyanwu, a member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, said Jonathan’s stay in office was “to allow the labours of our hero’s past not to be in vain”, adding that that was why every ethnic group should support his 2015 project.

He said: “Jonathan represents that unity as preached by our past heroes. The reward for hard work is more work. Therefore, I hail the initiators of this project called, ‘Think presidency, think Jonathan'”.

Source: Radio Biafra.

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