BBC News, et al.

GUARDIAN  -  Tuesday, April 2, 2002.

Britain begins mourning for Queen Mother

From Tunde Oyedoyin (London) with Agency reports

THREE days after the death of Queen Mother, the United Kingdom yesterday began formal mourning for the royal matriarch, who died in her sleep at the age of 101 on Saturday.

As preparations continue this week for her funeral slated for April 9, gun salutes will be fired throughout the country on Monday next week.

Earlier on Sunday, a private royal grief and a modest display of public sorrow was held as part of activities marking the death of a woman feared by her foes including the likes of dreaded Adolf Hitler of Germany, who branded her "Britain's most dangerous woman."

Queen Elizabeth, her elder and surviving daughter, made her first public appearance on Sunday since her mother's death. Dressed in black, the 75-year old monarch, led her family in prayers at the coffin of the Queen Mother in Windsor's Royal Chapel of All Saints.

Her coffin will be moved the short distance from Windsor to St. James' Palace in central London tomorrow.

On Friday, it will be taken to Westminster Hall, part of the Houses of Parliament, where it will lie in state until the day before the funeral at Westminster Abbey across the road.

The coffin will then travel back by road for a private burial later that day at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, where the Queen Mother will lie beside her beloved husband, King George VI, who died in 1952 at the age of 56.

Though dominating British media, her death has not led to the same public outpouring of grief that followed the sudden death in 1997 of Princess Diana, when thousands flocked to her London home, laying a sea of flowers.

The nation almost ground to a halt for the funeral of the former wife of Prince Charles, Queen Elizebeth's son and heir.

The Queen Mother's death came just seven weeks after that of her younger daughter, 71-year-old Princess Margaret, whose ashes will be placed alongside her parents.

Seen by many as the most popular member of the House of Windsor, the Queen Mother was feted as the plucky little woman who stood up to the Nazis by staying in London with her husband during the German blitzkrieg bombing of the British capital in 1940. Adolf Hitler branded her Britain's most dangerous woman.

The doughty "Queen Mum" kept the royal family together through seven tempestuous decades - from the 1936 abdication crisis that propelled her shy husband onto the throne vacated by his wayward elder brother, King Edward VIII, to Prince Charles's bitter divorce from Diana in 1996.

Across Britain, flags on public buildings will fly at half staff until April 9, the end of the national period of mourning for a woman widely seen as representing the "best of British."

Artillery salutes will be fired at noon (1000 GMT) on Monday. Parliament is being recalled tomorrow so members can pay respects to the nation's favourite grandmother.

Minute's silence were held at Easter Monday soccer matches while at race meetings jockeys would wear black armbands in special tribute to a woman who had a passion for horses.

Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, the Queen Mother's official London residence, are providing a focus for restrained public mourning.

Flowers were laid at the gates of Buckingham Palace and teddy bears stuffed through the bars. One scrawled tribute said: "Our nation lost its grandmother today."

Under a grey sky at the weekend, Britons caught their first glimpse of the coffin. Draped in her personal standard and topped with pink flowers, it was carried through a corridor of golden daffodils to the small Windsor chapel.

Behind the coffin walked members of the Queen Mother's staff. One carried a potted jasmine given as an Easter present to the Queen Mother by her favoured grandson, Prince Charles.

Charles, who is said to be "absolutely devastated by the death of his grandmother, and his two teenage sons flew back from a skiing holiday in the Swiss resort of Klosters.

In a break with custom, the Queen allowed the three to fly on the same plane, something usually avoided by the royal family for security reasons.

After the song service at the chapel where the coffin had been placed, Charles and his sons left Windsor for their Highgrove home, affording the heir to the throne some time to mourn his grandmother. The two were particularly close.

Prince Charles yesterday paid an emotional and highly personal tribute to his "magical grandmother," praising the Queen Mother for her strength, grace, sense of duty and mischievous spirit.

For the heir to the throne, the death on Saturday of the matriarch of the British monarchy, as well as his personal mentor, was a major blow.

Wearing a dark blue suit and black tie, the 53-year-old Charles made a public television address during which he looked sad and shook his head frequently, and at one point appeared to struggle to keep his voice steady.

"For me she meant everything, and I had dreaded this moment... somehow I never thought it would come," he said.

"She seemed gloriously untoppable. And ever since I was a child I adored her. She was quite simply the most magical grandmother you could possibly have and I was utterly devoted to her," Charles added from his Highgrove home in southern England.

He recalled her sense of humour and remembered her decades of service to the British people.

"She understood the British character, and her heart belonged to this ancient old land and its equally indomitable and humorous inhabitants, whom she served with panache, style and unswerving dignity for very nearly 80 years," he remarked.

The Queen Mother gave Charles a lifetime of loyal support. She taught him to fish and gave him a taste for classical music.

He said her death would leave "an irreversible chasm in countless lives.

"But thank God we're all the richer for the sheer joy of her presence and everything she stood for."

Throughout her life, the Queen Mother never gave interviews to journalists but she was in touch with ordinary folks. She is known to be indefatigable and during Princess Margaret's funeral on February 15, she made an unexpected appearance against the advise of both the Queen and her doctors. Even when she had ill-health, she never gave up working.



GUARDIAN  -  Tuesday, April 2, 2002.

Britain plans N25b health reforms in Nigeria

From Segun Ayeoyenikan, Abuja

THROUGH a non-governmental organisation, Change Agent Programme (CAP), the British government is putting in well over N24 billion (about $172 million) to health sector reforms and governance in Nigeria for this year and beyond.

The health adviser in Nigeria to the British Department for International Development (DFID), Dr. Liz Tayler, who disclosed this in Abuja at the weekend, said that the fund "forms part of the new phase of programmes of assistance to Nigeria for which U.K. government has announced an approved budget."

The CAP, which was formally launched in Abuja at the weekend, is for reform in the health sector, immunisation and good governance in the country.

The group's Director in Nigeria, Professor Tayo Lambo, who retired at the World Health Organisation (WHO), said at the news briefing held jointly by CAP and DFID that "the basic assumption of this initiative was that substantial change in the present health service was needed, and that this change could only be achieved through Nigerians, who can take a lead in the change process."

Again, he said: "Most of health expenditures in Nigeria currently is not from public funds but they are paid directly by patients for drugs and other services, and therefore they have a right to expect values for their money."

CAP's aim is to provide support and encouragement to 24 selected individuals working in the health sector generally, and 24 working specifically in the field of immunisation.

These selected individuals will be able to experience other countries' efforts to improve their health services.

The countries which participants will visit include South Africa, Ghana, and Uganda.

On their return to Nigeria, they will apply what they have learnt to the Nigerian situation and identify improvements they would like to initiate.

At the two-day workshop, which followed the news briefing held at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers, Abuja, the formal launching of CAP and the first stakeholders meeting was convened.

Technical participants, who also presented papers included Tayler, National Coordinator, National Programme on Immunisation (NPI), Dr. Dere Awosika; Director, Ghanaian Health Service, Dr. Frank Nyonator and a Health Consultant from South Africa, Nicholas Crisp

Also in attendance were Senator Dalhatu Sarki Tafida and Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Health, Dr. Willie Ogbeide among others.

Six states: Benue, Jigawa, Ekiti, Enugu, Lagos and Abuja have been designated for the commencement of the pilot scheme for CAP.


Star-Telegram  -  Posted on Mon, Apr. 01, 2002

5 Abilene students killed in car wreck -

Star-Telegram Staff Writer

WEATHERFORD - Five Abilene Christian University students from Nigeria were killed when their Isuzu Rodeo veered off Interstate 20 and slammed onto a c oncrete embankment near Weatherford on Sunday, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

Their names were being withheld until their families can be notified, said Cindy Choate, a Mineral Wells-based DPS dispatcher.

The reason the sport utility vehicle went off the road was under investigation Sunday night.

The 1994 Rodeo was headed west and about to go over a highway bridge when it left the road, flew across the creek that runs under the bridge, and crashed onto the embankment 30 feet below, Choate said.

"It landed on its top when it hit," she said. All died at the crash site, she said. Two men in the front seat were wearing seat belts, and three women in the back were not, she said.

"The way the vehicle hit, it probably would not have made a difference," Choate said.

The vehicle was little more than a pile of twisted red metal and wheels. It was almost flattened and bore little resemblance to a vehicle.

The bodies were taken to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office in Fort Worth, Choate said.

The tragedy stunned the university, Abilene Christian Provost Dwayne VanRheenen said.

"These were some of the best and brightest, and they always had a desire to study in America," VanRheenen said. "This is a great loss for our school."

Almost 200 people attended an impromptu service Sunday night in a campus chapel. Some students sobbed and hugged each other as university officials talked about the victims, and prayers were offered for their families and friends.

Four of the students were freshmen, and one was a sophomore, said Wendy Kilmer, a university spokeswoman. The students appeared to be taking advantage of a three-day Easter weekend that began Friday, but it was not known where they had traveled, Kilmer said.

"We have no idea what they were doing at the time," Kilmer said.

A time of prayer and mourning for the victims was planned for today at the university's daily chapel assembly.

The university was working Sunday to reach the students' relatives, said Kevin Kehl, associate director of Abilene Christian's Center for International and Intercultural Education. The task was complicated by distance, time differences and difficult international telephone connections, he said.

The university has about 4,700 students, including about 27 Nigerian students, Kehl said. Even though the names have not been released, it was likely that by Sunday afternoon, other Nigerian students knew which students died in the accident, he said.

"They are probably aware of who traveled with who, and they are able to put things together," Kehl said. "I know there is some confusion and some mourning at this time. We are assembling a team of counselors and are providing any kind of support services needed."

Kehl said he knew the students personally and was acquainted with their immediate families, including their parents. He said he spoke with one of the students a few days ago.

"We spoke about his family," Kehl said. "We had spoken about his brother and something about his school, and some of the issues facing international students and specifically Nigerian students."

Kehl described the students as religious. Some wanted to go home to Nigeria after graduating, and others wanted to stay.

Kehl said the two young men were involved in intramural sports.

"They'd try to get a game anytime they could," Kehl said. "They were good athletes, good soccer players."

The deaths will leave a noticeable void in the university community, he said.

"I feel a great deal of loss," Kehl said. "I don't really know what to say. My concern is for the other Nigerian students here."

Jason Mida, president of the university Students' Association, was in California on Sunday on a student association trip, but said in a telephone interview that he was saddened by the news. He did not know the names of any of the students, he said.

"We're pretty flustered right now," Mida said. "We're all a little shaken up because No. 1, that this has happened, and No. 2, we don't know anything. Our main focus is to get back to Abilene so we can be there and provide some support.

"Regardless of who they might be, it's a great loss for the city of Abilene and for the Church of Christ-affiliated schools."

This report contains material from The Associated Press.


[MSNBC] – April 2, 2002

Abilene college mourns five students killed in crash  -  AP

ABILENE, Apr. 1 - The roommate of two of five Abilene Christian University students killed in a wreck says he's having a hard time believing his friends won't return from Easter break.

Sunday Amani, 26, a computer science major, says he keeps hoping Kolawole "Kola" Sami, 18, and Olutomi "Tomi" Aruwajoye, 17, will walk out of their rooms of their campus apartment and ask him to play soccer or help cook dinner.

"I seem to hear their voices," Amani, of Lagos, Nigeria, said Monday.

The university identified the other victims as Iyadunni "Dunni" Bakare, 18, a biology major; Abimbola "Abola" Orija, 19, a management major; and Toluwalope "Tolu" Olorunsola, 18, who had not declared a major. All were from Lagos, Nigeria.

The two men and three women died instantly Sunday about 6:35 a.m. when their sport utility vehicle veered off Interstate 20, then landed on its roof on a concrete embankment about 30 feet below, authorities said.

Sami, the driver, probably fell asleep, said Department of Public Safety Trooper Jeremy Smith. Weather likely was not a factor in the crash near Weatherford, about 110 miles east of Abilene, Smith said.

The school had been closed since Friday for Easter break, and the group was visiting friends across the state. The students left Houston late Saturday and drove all night, apparently trying to return to Abilene for Sunday morning church.

The deaths have shaken up this closeknit campus, especially the 230 international students from 60 countries. Abilene Christian, founded in 1906 and affiliated with the Church of Christ, has 4,700 students.

"This tragedy reminds us ... the words of Scripture that life is like a vapor that appears for a time, then vanishes away," university Provost Dwayne D. VanRheenen said Monday during the daily chapel service.

He urged students to find comfort in their faith, believing that death is not the end. During the service, students sang hymns and read from Psalms. Many wiped away tears.

A campus memorial service for the victims was being planned for Thursday.

Amani said he shared a closeness with his roommates, despite the age difference. He also knew the three women well.

Aruwajoye was described as gentle, kind and easy going, who loved playing soccer but also was serious about his studies.

Sami was majoring in industrial technology in hopes of taking over his father's business in Nigeria someday.

"It's a very hard reality for me," Amani said. "These guys are just getting to know life. They were full of hopes and expectations. All of a sudden, things are shattered."

Bakare was a loving, vivacious person who always smiled, friends said. Her father owns a pest-control company in Lagos, said Kevin Kehl, associate director of the university's Center for International and Intercultural Education.

Orija was soft-spoken and respectful, and she'd been trying to get her brother to transfer to ACU, Kehl said. She had developed a friendship with the provost's wife, who often took her and some other Nigerian students shopping.

Olorunsola, known for her kindness, went to the county jail last month as part of an outreach program for her Bible class. Just last week she volunteered to return because she enjoyed visiting the inmates, professors said.

News of the wreck spawned hundreds of sympathetic e-mails and calls from across the world, school officials said.

Chido Nwangwu, Houston-based publisher of, did not know the victims.

"It's extremely saddening to our community of Nigerians and Africans, and as Christians also, that the promise of those young and dedicated lives were wasted on a very glorious day of redemption, a day of Easter," he said.


Eve Raps Lagos to a Stand Still
Concert - Dateline: 09/05/2002 02:06:49

The delectable queen of American rap, Eve, was at her best last weekend during the Econet sponsored COJA 8th All African Games Music Fiesta, which took place at the Ikoyi Polo Club, Lagos.

Appearing on stage at about 1:00 a.m., Eve was the first to perform in a concert, which ought to have commenced seven hours earlier. She began with "Ladies", which according to her, is a track dedicated to ladies 'who's got men'. She continued with "This City", "Love Is Blind", "Wet", and "Who's That Girl?"to send the mammoth crowd wild with excitement.

Two tracks that took the crowd to the highest crescendo were "Love Is Blind" and " Who 's That Girl ? ' They threw their hands high up in the air with excitement, waving their hands, singing, and dancing at the same time to Eve's scintillating raps.

DJ Jimmy Jatt, who has already become an institution in Disc Jockeying, was readily available to supply music mixed with scratches from his Jukebox at interludes. Each time he blared out music from his turntable, the whole place was turned into a party scene and the atmosphere became upbeat. At a time many started wondering if it would not be appropriate to leave Jimmy Jatt to continue with his scratches and mixes, but the contract with live artistes performances still needed to be honoured, so DJ Jimmy Jatt's party had to be cut short to allow the artistes who had been billed to perform take over the stage.

Tony Tetuila then came in after the musical interlude by DJ Jimmy Jatt. He rendered such hit tracks as "It's Morning Time", "Omode Meta", and "My Car" with frenzy, the crowd responded "Owo repete" (lots of money), when Tony sang "You don hit my car..." As always, Tetuila was a thriller on stage.

K-Ci and JoJo, the duo of American R & B masters were the third to perform to the capacity-filled Polo turf of Ikoyi Club at the Lagos venue of the COJA 8th All African Games Music Fiesta. The duo, no doubt, stole the hearts of the audience away as the atmosphere of the venue became enveloped with love when they rendered their soul-soothing hit tracks. "Last Night ", "Wait Until Tonight " Play On ", "Thinking About you", and "Me & You" were amongst the eleven songs delivered during the event. An adaptation of Steve Wonder's "Man many wishes" sent the crowd into the widest ecstasy of the early morning as they sang and danced along.

Just like during the Star Mega Jam last December, Ras Kimono, who performed after the duo was saddled with the responsibility of maintaining the high tempo created by K-Ci and JoJo. Much as he tried to impress the crowd, it was a tall challenge for him. Idris

Abdulkarim and Sunny Nneji also performed in that order after Ras Kimono. They also tried the best they could to impress the audience. But then there was nothing like te imported stars. Probably for the fans, they knew their local stars too well that they took them for granted.

COJA 8th All African Games Music Fiesta was put together by Allianz Nigeria Limited and sponsored by Econet Wireless Nigeria. According to Lionel Naude, Chief Marketing Development Officer, Econet Wireless, the show was organized to create massive awareness campaign for the up coming event to be held in Nigeria next year


REUTERS  -  Nigerian naira holds steady against dollar

LAGOS, May 10 (Reuters) - The Nigerian naira remained steady against the dollar in the week to Friday at both the official and parallel markets as banks were reluctant to deal after the central bank's recent sanctions against some institutions for suspect dealings, dealers said.

The dollar traded at 116.30 naira in the official market and 135 naira at the parallel market, unchanged from last week.

Wole Popoola of National Bank Ltd said banks were now more cautious about their forex dealings after 21 banks were sanctioned by the central bank for illegal transactions.

"The sanctions on some banks have kept the demand (for dollars) on the official market stable, " he said.

The planned introduction in July of additional inspections on imports by the Nigerian Customs Service also helped curb demand for the U.S. unit on the parallel market, he added.

Dealers said dollar sales worth $12.6 million by oil major Chevron Nigeria Ltd had also helped buoy the local currency.

"Sales of about $12.6 million by Chevron increased the supply side and helped stabilise rates in the market during the week," Wole Popoola said.

Parallel market operators blamed slower economic activity for the lower demand for dollars.

========+++++++++++===========     --    Okoya's Party Mania  --  Tempo (Lagos)

May 9, 2002
Posted to the web May 8, 2002

At 62, Razak Akanni Okoya is showing no signs of slowing down. On every front, Okoya's ascent remains steep and at a high velocity.

Eleganza Industries, the umbrella of his business empire of six companies, keep the money rolling in.

In turn, the money - tonnes of it - has ensured that Okoya remains visible, influential and attractive. Attractive? Yes. And this finds an eloquent testimony in a string of wives, the latest of which is Folashade, a dishy undergraduate of the University of Lagos.

But more than his business success, parties - grand, almost garish - are what have kept Okoya regularly in the headlines.

As a matter of fact, Hollywood - America's capital of jaw-dropping parties, with its cast of immodestly opulent fun lovers - must be missing a genuine candidate.

Such is the magnitude of Okoya's parties, each of which remains a major topic of discussion until he throws another one to dislodge it. It is only another of his parties that can banish one earlier thrown by him. No one else's. It is not just the scale of the parties that amazes the public. So does the frequency.

This year alone, the Okoya household has thrown half a dozen parties and, no one who attended any of these left the venue the same: they were stupefied.

On 19 January, Okoya's daughter, Biola Okoya-Johnson, turned 36. The birthday presented a chance for the businessman to roll out the drums. Invitations went out to the celebrant's friends to converge at her father's seaside estate on Ikoyi Crescent, off Osborne Road. Those who attended knew they were in a top-tier party.

Little thatched huts were constructed to provide idyllic, almost natural backdrop. Fire works exploded ceaselessly like it was a rock concert. There was also a boat regatta to entertain guests soaked in the music of Seun Anikulapo-Kuti and Dede Mabiaku.

A week earlier, Okoya's last child, Oladimeji, had turned one on 12 January. Sure cause for a party. There was, however, a bigger cause for celebration. Okoya and his youngest son are birthday mates. A two-in-one affair beckoned.

One Okoya party is usually like ten parties rolled into one.

Two on the same day simply knocked the public out. Celebrity journals ran out of adjectives. Wacky, wild, etc. They just could not adequately capture the magnitude of the party.

It was not too difficult to know why. It wasn't like the other Okoya parties (one never is a repeat of the other anyway). The scenes from it could easily have been taken from a movie on the life of a hedonistic tycoon.

Celebrating with Okoya was an A-list cast featuring top politicians, businessmen and his friends from other walks of life. There, Okoya stunned the public, ditching the cumbersome Agbada for a sleeveless shirt atop a pair of shorts and a black bowler hat.

His dressing at that party set the tone. His youngest wife, Folashade, wore a lace-up, strapless leather dress. Okoya, obviously, was feeling like a spring chicken. Whatever Folashade's dress revealed was tame in comparison to what many of the Okoya girls wore.

They were simply cleavage-happy. The party itself was a two phase thing. The police band entertained guests in the afternoon while Afrobeat star, Femi Anikulapo-Kuti, entertained guests from sundown to sun up.

More than the characteristic munificence of his party tables, the dressing of Okoya's daughters at his birthday attracted a wide range of comments. Many watchers wondered why a father, who is also a Moslem, would be comfortable with the body-baring dressing of his daughters.

But that is the party mood, which, perhaps, apart from money, gives Okoya the greatest buzz. Those who attend the Okoya parties usually lose - literally - their minds to the unbelievable grandeur. But they get something in return.

They go home with all kinds of gifts. At Oladimeji's birthday, guest went away with wall clocks with Okoya's photograph printed on them.

Weeks after the double birthday bash, another party was thrown. Tunde Okoya, one of his sons, got married on 3 February. Again, the venue was his father's estate. This time, music was supplied by one of the best in the business, Juju maestro, King Sunny Ade (KSA). KSA had a hard time dealing with the bails of N500 notes Okoya was pasting on his forehead.

The tycoon was ably assisted by other members of his clan, who almost drowned the juju star in a flood of naira notes.

Then came April and another party was due. This time, it was Bolaji, another of Okoya's sons who was planning his marriage. Bolaji is said to have had two children from a previous liaison. The engagement began with a grand party on 25 April, at the Muson Centre, Onikan.

Two days later (last Saturday), Lagosians were treated to another of Okoya's specials. The venue was not the usual one. It moved to Ajah, the location of Okoya's new multi-million naira estate.

Everything about the wedding reeked of money. The shopping for the weeding was done abroad. The bridal gown and accessories were said to have cost about N500,000. The same also applied to the dress worn by those in the bridal train. Bolaji's suit was said to have cost about N200.000.

The wedding cake gulped N300.000. About N200.000 was expended on security.

But the opulence of the Okoya's really came to play with the way they provided food for all their guests.

Although Nigeria Foods Catering Services, headed by one Mrs. Fadipe got N1m for providing food, Astoria Foods, another catering outfit, got N1.5m.

The same amount was charged by Pieces Catering Services.

Oranges, pineapples and apples were all squeezed fresh for guests by Winnies Fresh Juice, which charged N120.000.

Drinks were in abundance, soft drinks, choice wines, bottled and canned beers were in abundance. The expensive **** domed canopies used for the wedding had red carpet aisles between them. King Sunny Ade returned to the bandstand for an appearance fee of N500.000 and a lot more through the hands of the 'sprayers'. Okoya's wives wore identical lace materials said to have been imported from Switzerland.

Bolaji and his wife, Pipolola, stood out despite being in a sea of opulence.

Their wedding was a pluralistic one, held in both Christian and Islamic ways.

The nuptial started with a Christian service conducted by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG). The Nikkai ceremony was conducted immediately after the Christian worship. This, sources claim, was at the insistence of the groom's father who, as a Moslem, did not want to play second fiddle at his son's wedding. The third leg of the wedding followed. It was the court session, but unlike any other such weddings, it was the mountain that came to meet Mohammed, as the registry of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, was shifted temporarily to the Okoya estate.

For now, this is the last of Okoya parties. A sequel, sources say, will soon follow as the industrialist has started handing out invitations and aso oke for a party to celebrate his marriage to Folashade, his 24-year-old wife. A sequel to that shouldn't take too long in coming.


Saturday, May 11, 2002

Nigeria sharia court sentences man to die for rape

LAGOS, May 10 (Reuters) - A sharia court in northern Nigeria has sentenced a 50-year old man to be stoned to death after he admitted raping a nine-year old girl, officials said on Friday.

They said Sarimu Mohammed, married with two children, was convicted on Wednesday by a lower sharia court in Birnuwa, a town in the northwestern Jigawa state.

He has 30 days to appeal. Should the death sentence be upheld, he would be the second person to be executed since the strict sharia law was introduced in parts of Africa's most populous country two years ago.

"Mohammed was convicted after admitting at three different court sessions that he raped the minor," a Jigawa state government official told Reuters by phone.

"The judge explained the penalty rape attracts under sharia, yet he (Mohammed) admitted committing the offence."

Presiding judge Isa Gantsa ruled that Mohammed should also pay a fine of 10,000 naira ($86) as compensation for the victim and receive 100 lashes for deflowering her, the official said.

Mohammed is the first rape convict since 2000, when more than a dozen states in predominantly Islamic northern Nigeria adopted the Muslim penal code.

Last January, Sani Rodi was hanged in northwestern Katsina state for multiple murder in the first sharia execution. An appeal by a woman sentenced to death for adultery in the same state is pending.

The adoption of sharia has polarised the volatile West African country, whose population of over 110 million is divided almost evenly between Muslims and Christians.

More than 3,000 people have died in religious riots over the past two years in traditionally secular Nigeria.



Nigeriaworld News Headline

From the Bar, a dinner for the famous
Nigerian Lawyers in New York hold

first annual dinner and merit award



By Laolu Akande
New York, NY, USA

ayo Ogunlesi was the highlight of the first Annual dinner of the Nigerian Lawyers Association held in New York last Saturday evening May 4th.

And that was not because Ogunlesi himself is a Harvard trained lawyer or because this was the son of that legendary teacher Joel Ogunlesi, who for a long time was leader of the Nigerian Union of Teachers, NUT. Actually one of Pa. Joel Ogunlesi's students was also in attendance at the dinner. That was Nigeria's Ambassador to the United States, influential and notable Professor Jubril Aminu, who delivered a keynote address after the dinner.

February 20, Bayo Ogunlesi was named the head of global investment banking at Credit Suisse First Boston, one of America's top 6 Wall Street investment institutions. Ogunlesi, who also happens to have worked briefly with the Shagari administration as adviser and also working in same capacity with the current civilian administration, became a toast of the US media including the New York Times when he was named to that exalted position in the world of investment.

Ogunlesi's resume is simply outstanding. He graduated first class from Oxford University and later received his J.D. in law from Harvard and then an MBA from the same university. At the CSFB, he is a member of the firm's Executive Board and Operating Committee, and has been involved in transactions pertaining to oil and natural gas, petrochemicals, power generation, airlines, mining, natural resources and infrastructure all across the globe. He also taught at the Harvard Law School and at Yale and was once in 1981 a clerk with the US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

At the dinner, the story was told of once while Ogunlesi was clerking to Justice Marshall and time came to deliberate over a case, which the US Supreme Court Justice brought before his team of clerks. Everyone took one position and Ogunlesi alone took the opposing view. Even Justice Marshall opposed Ogunlesi. But Ogunlesi did not back down. However when it was time for Justice Marshall to read his opinion in the open court, to the surprise of all, what he read was Ogunlesi's version of the debate.

And so it was no herculean task for the members of the Nigerian Lawyers Association, NLA to recognize such a Nigerian who has brought immense honor to a nation that is regularly vilified in the US press. The lawyers awarded their NLA merit award to the Nigerian "star", who is by far the rave of the moment now in the US especially among the African/Black community.

" This is the first award I received since I got the CSFB job, and very much deliberately so," Ogunlesi began once he received the plaque from the leaders of the NLA. He said it was important that Nigerians here in the US should have examples to counter "much of what we read in the media about our country which is unknown to many of us."

To the thunderous applause of the audience, Ogunlesi said he can trace his success to the "terrific education" he got back in Nigeria, as he turned around asking, "there must be some people here who went to King's College, Lagos?" Certainly, as Professor Ibrahim A. Gambari, one of the prominent guests at the dinner, proudly identified himself later as a product of King's College as well. And it was as if the night was meant for KC products when the MC described Gambari, who is the UN Under Secretary General and Special Adviser for Africa, as the "number 2 man in world, after Kofi Annan." Gambari who came with his wife, promptly thanked the MC and explained that describing him as "number 2 man in the world" was such a thoughtful thing but flatly inaccurate!

Back to Ogunlesi: "A belief in oneself was one thing we got from our education and it stood me well in my career. If you believe in yourself, there is almost nothing you cannot achieve." Then he recalled the tremendous outpouring of support he has received since he was named to the top Wall Street job from all over the world including from President Olusegun Obasanjo. "People I don't know send me emails, and call me," he said with a tinge of satisfaction. He then went on to say he shared the award with "all Nigerians around the globe…Everything I do, I carry Nigeria with me and will do my best never to let Nigeria down"

Ogunlesi's international clout would perhaps have been incomplete if not for his beautiful wife who hails from Ghana. He paid tribute to his wife who also graced the occasion, telling the audience, which parked the Grand Ballroom of Crowne Plaza Hotel in New York, how his 2 sons age 16 and 12 have had to decide who to support whenever Nigeria and Ghana square up in a soccer match. "Well, now that Nigeria qualified for the World Cup it won't be difficult for them to support Nigeria," he said jokingly to an uproar of laughter among his listeners.

In delivering his speech, Professor Jubril Aminu was fair enough to insist that people should be served dinner first before he would read the speech. As he explained later in his speech, this was because "I know that there is nothing more oppressive than making an after dinner speech like having to listen to it."

Aminu waxed real whimsical in his speech surprising some that had expected the controversial politician to be all stiffened up. Listen to him talking about lawyers and the term 'bar': "The attorney is very versatile as soon as he or she is called to Bar, although I do not know exactly what "Bar" stands for, whether for cocktails or for a high jump."

He said "lawyers, through Constitution crafting and through making laws, have advanced their own profession to the position of power and authority in any country with the rule of law. Most of the leaders in modern democratic countries, like the United States of America, study law. In addition, Chief Justices and Attorneys General are powerful in every country. The lawyers have beaten even the political scientists in the game of politics and I am told that Washington DC has the highest attorney per capita status in the world."

But the ambassador who is a doctor had a consolation for his profession. "All we can do now is to wait for this power and glory to take its toll on the health of the lawyers, then we have our turn."

The president of the NLA Ms. Beatrice A. Hamza had said in her own welcome address that the lawyers association, which was formed in 1999 is made up of Nigerian lawyers and aims to "serve the needs of the Nigerian legal community as well as the Nigerian community as a whole in their understanding and access to the law" The association, she adds also supports Nigerian lawyers seeking to sit for the bar exam in the US and those trying to find their feet.

According to her the NLA "also keenly follows events in Nigeria and does not hesitate to speak out when the situation warrants." She gave an example: "when the NLA met with the late attorney general of Nigeria, Chief Bola Ige when he was in New York in November 2001, the NLA presented a letter voicing its concerns regarding certain human right violations in Nigeria."

And Hamza also recalled that the "NLA was the first professional body to make a public statement condemning the assassination" of Chief Bola Ige and also demanding for justice in the matter. She promised that a portion of the proceeds from the dinner served at $100 a plate would be "donated to victims of the blasts that occurred at an army depot in Ikeja, Lagos."

The blaring of a variety of Nigeria music oozing out from the DJ signaled the end of the formal part of the dinner and the beginning of a dance party to which the lawyers and several of their guests, including diplomats, judges, politicians, journalists, all loosened up, and gladly partook.

Dignitaries at the dinner included Ambassador and Nigeria's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Segun Apata, Consul General Taofiq Oseni, Information Attaches at the Nigerian Consulate Mrs. Odirri and Nura Ishaq, Chief Jumoke Ogunkeyede, Mr. Dan Salami, himself an attorney who said the opening prayer, among others.


P.M. News (Lagos)   --  Robbers Rape Minister's Wife

May 7, 2002
Posted to the web May 8, 2002

Philipson Abah & Gabriel Orok

Four dare-devil armed men recently invaded the Lagos home of a junior minister in the federal government and carted away a huge amount of money including expensive jewellries. His wife, it was gathered was also raped.

The minister (names) withheld was not in Lagos when the incident occurred.

Sources told P.M.News that the minister's wife was on the fateful day seized by the robbers at the gate of their residence located at Isheri-Berger while coming home from a party. From the gate, she was led into the apartment where the aides were held at gun point by one of the robbers while the others, with the assistance of the woman held hostage ransacked the house. The robbers removed all valuables which include some foreign currencies.

After they had removed the minister's belongings the leader of the gang was said to have raped the woman despite her pleadings.

The robbers who were said to have spent about 50 minutes in the house left unchallenged.

Criminals Give New Police Boss Sleepless Nights

Meanwhile, the newly appointed Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Mr. Young Arebamen, is currently having sleepless nights over the rise in criminal activities in the state.

P.M.News investigations revealed that since the Edo State-born, commissioner of police assumed duty last Thursday, he has been having sleepless nights because of the daily activities of men of the underworld in the state.

Crime statistics revealed that since Arebamen took over from Mr. Mike Okiro, who was recently promoted from commissioner to Deputy Inspector General of Police, about five policemen have been killed while over seven have been wounded.

Statistics also revealed that about 10 exotic vehicles were snatched within the period, while ten people were kidnapped, with two assassinated. In response to this disturbing development, the police chief has been holding marathon security meetings with his men to map out fresh strategies to contain the operations of bandits in the state.

At his maiden press conference, Arebamen promised to implement the eight-point programme of the Inspector General of Police, Tafa Balogun to the letter. The programmes include crime fighting and anti corruption crusade in the force.


ThisDay News  --   Dateline: 10/05/2002 02:58:20

Police Arrest Army Captain, 12 others for Robbery
Adeyeye Joseph and Yemi Akinsuyi

An Army Captain (name withheld) and 12 others were among the robbery gang arrested by the police in Lagos, Tuesday, for gun running and robbery.

Arrested with the Captain were two female members of the gang.

Police sources told THISDAY that the Army Captain who claimed to be attached to Bonny Camp, Lagos, could be the leader of an armed robbery gang responsible for some robberies in Lagos and its environs.

The army captain as a result of information supplied by some suspects already in the police custody was arrested at about 12 p.m. on Tuesday, at Maryland, Lagos. One of the female suspects arrested along with the robbers, is a trader at a point close to the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters, Ikeja.

She is believed to have provided logistic reports on the movement of the police to the gang.

Sources also said that the police discovered that the suspected Captain has been responsible for providing tactics and training for the members of the gang. And was said to have returned from peacekeeping mission recently.

At the time of the arrest, 10 sophisticated guns and several rounds of ammunition were recovered from the Army Captain.

The weapons which were discovered in a Ghana Must Go bag, included, 5 Sub Machine Guns (SMGs), 1 Pump Action rifle, 1 Ak-47, K2 Assault rifle and 2 G3 rifles.

Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Young Araebamen, confirmed the arrest of the Army Captain, and added that the police is currently liaising with the army authorities at Bonny Camp to confirm his identity.

Meanwhile, Operation Fire for Fire policemen in Lagos, same day pursued an armed robbery gang from the Ketu area yesterday. Police sources told THISDAY that the robbers were all dressed army uniforms.

The gang of five were operating struck at the disused toll gate on Lagos Ibadan Expressway when the operation fire for fire men swooped on them.

The robbers who operated in a Toyota Saloon car. reportedly fled towards Ibadan on sighting the police.


Daily Champion (Lagos)


May 1, 2002

Councillorship Aspirant Nabbed for Robbery
Posted to the web May 1, 2002

Val Okara

A COUNCILLORSHIP aspirant in Akwa Ibom (names withheld) and four others have been arrested by detectives from Zone II (comprising Lagos and Ogun states) for allegedly robbing a bank of over N11 million. Police said the robbery took place on March 9, this year at a popular bank in Lagos.

Parading the suspects on Monday, new Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) of the zone, Mr. Adedayo Adeoye, alleged that the suspects stormed the bank at 4.00 a.m. According to him, the gang broke into the bank premises after overpowering the security guards on duty.

He said the bandits gained access to the strongroom having drilled a hole on the wall before carting away over N11 million. When detectives visited the scene, some broken pieces of a vehicle trafficator lights suspected to have been left behind during the operation were recovered with some inscriptions which led to the arrest of one of the suspects (names withheld) in Enugu.

During interrogation, one of the suspects led detectives to Ogudu, Lagos, where a man said to be the leader of the gang was also arrested, who allegedly confessed participation in the robbery.


P.M. News (Lagos)

May 3, 2002

DSP Sleeps With Cousin's Wife
Posted to the web May 3, 2002

Bamidele Ogunwusi

A Deputy Superintendent of Police attached to Surulere Police Division is currently enmeshed in a sex scandal with his cousin's wife.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun, has already been briefed about the development and has reportedly ordered investigation into the matter. The Inspector General of Police, P.M.News gathered, intervened in the matter following the unenthusiastic attitude the Area 'C' Commander and the state Commissioner of Police have adopted towards the matter.

Trouble, according to sources, started when the wife of the junior officer, identified as Mr. Ayodele of the Lagos State Police Command confessed to a native doctor that she had several rounds of sex with her husband's brother at Ibadan.

Her confession was the aftermath of the family's loss of their 5-year old child. Spiritual consultations by a native doctor, was said to have linked the child's death to the adulterous act of the woman. Under pressure, she reportedly confessed to having had sexual intercourse with her husband's brother, DSP Michael Onifagba of Surulere Police Station.

The woman, who was identified as Mrs. Nike Ayodele, told policemen that she had sex with her husband's brother at Ibadan several times.

"I decided to confess because of the oath I took with my husband when we got married. In the oath, we sucked blood and agreed that whoever has sexual intercourse outside the marriage would die or our children would die at the age of five", she said.

Following a petition over threat of life sent to the Inspector General of Police by the junior officer, the case is now being investigated at the state CID.

"He wants to use his privileged position to suppress me after violating my wife. I will not forgive him", Ayodele remarked.


PM News (Lagos)   -  April 2, 2002

More Trouble for Lagos Criminals: Police Arrest 208
Posted to the web April 2, 2002

Gabriel Orok & Soji Oyeranmi   -   Lagos

There appears to a be no let up in the current ouslaught launched by the new police administration against criminals in Lagos State as not less than 208 men of the underworld were arrested during the Easter period at various locations.

New police Inspector-General, Mr. Tafa Balogun, had on assumption of office promised hell for robbers in the state, saying they will have no place to hide.

Three weeks ago, 60 of the criminals were arrested by crack detectives at different black spots in the state.

P.M.News investigations revealed that about 120 suspected criminals were picked up at Oworonshoki, Bariga, Ajegunle, Orile Iganmu, Maroko, Isale Eko, Ajangbadi, Okokomaiko and Ikotun.

The raids were jointly launched by a combined team of crack detectives from Lagos State Police Command, Zone 2 Command, Federal Anti-robbery Squad and the newly launched crime squad, Fire-for-Fire.

"Our fresh strategy is to attack their enclaves at the planning stage and nip their activities in the bud. The raids will be sustained for as long as possible until the hoodlums are forced to find a decent means of livelihood", a top police chieftain stated.

P.M.News investigations also revealed that armed bandits who raided Inter-continental Bank in Lagos Island recently have been arrested by detectives from Zone 2 Police Command. Some of the robbers were arrested in Lagos while the others were arrested in Calabar and Enugu. Police report also confirmed that another 58 criminals were arrested by men of Operation Fire-for-Fire in conjunction with policemen from the Lagos police command.

The criminals were picked up at Agege, Ilupeju, Oshodi, Ikotun and Ikeja. They were later arraigned at an Ikeja Magistrate Court charged with criminal offence punishable under Section 417 (b) of the Criminal Code Cap 31 Vol. II Laws of Lagos State.

Commenting on the ouslaughts, Lagos State Police Command spokesman, Victor Chilaka, said Lagos robbers are in trouble. He assured that in no distant future, Lagosians will not only be sleeping with their two eyes closed but also with their doors widely opened.

Also arrested in the current wave of mass arrest of criminals (including Area Boys) in the state is the father of the most wanted Lagos robber, Oseni, popularly called Baba Ibeji at Bariga.

The man, according to police sources, had been the brain behind his son's robbery exploits because of his prowess in juju and was also the custodian of the various arms used by his son and members of his gang. Many members of Oseni's family are said to be in hiding for fear of being arrested.

During the raid on Oseni father's hideout and black spots in Bariga about 30 other suspected criminals were arrested. They are currently being detained at the state Crime Investigations Department.

It would be recalled that Oseni was recently killed after he sustained injuries during the raid on his hideout by the police.


BBC NEWS   -  Monday, 1 April, 2002, 20:19 GMT 21:19 UK

Nigeria goes mad for mobiles

By the BBC's Dan Isaacs -   Lagos

No need to trail across town to reach customers 

Africa's most populous nation, Nigeria, is in the grip of mobile phone fever.

Investors have long recognized the growth potential for mobile phones on a continent where existing landline networks are limited.

But nowhere is the potential greater than in Nigeria. The state-owned telecoms company, Nitel, has only 400,000 lines for a population of 120 million - one of the lowest connectivity rates in the world.

Since two private companies with GSM licences started operating in Nigeria last year, sales of mobile phones have soared.

Pent-up demand

Econet, from Zimbabwe, and MTN, from South Africa, have provided 600,000 lines since they began operation in August 2001- already substantially more than all of the landlines in the country.

MTN's boss in Nigeria, Adrian Wood, says its the fastest take-off of any country, and that the target is more than 10 million users within 5 years.

Mobile phones are particularly welcome in Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, a bustling city with the

unenviable reputation of having the worst traffic jams in the world.

More than 12 million people live here, and sometimes it seems as if all of them are on the move at the same time.

Until last year, a trader who wanted urgently to talk to a supplier across this seething mass of a city had to get there herself.

Now communications are much easier for those who can afford a mobile phone.


"Everybody wants one," says Ladi Akeredolu-Ale, a local television journalist. "I suppose the only thing standing in the way of most people is the cost."

"You see people in public transportation, private vehicles, restaurants, water closets," he adds. "They're talking 24 hours a day."

"You see people in public transportation, private vehicles, restaurants, water closets," he adds. "They're talking 24 hours a day."

The two competing phone companies are desperately trying to keep up with demand.

It's not just the wealthy and fashion conscious that have taken up the challenge.

On the hunt for a mobile user in a busy Lagos market, I found Mabel Ogunleye, selling crates of soft drinks and dealing with a customer on the phone.

"It has really enlarged my business," Mabel says.

Out of control

Clearly, starved of effective communication for so long, Nigerians can take the mobile phone craze too far.

"I have a colleague who has 4 phones and a personal assistant who has no job other than to carry those phones from place to place to answer all of them," says journalist Ladi Akeredolu-Ale.

And some unwanted callers sometimes get the brush-off, Nigerian style.

"Hi this is Ladi," Akeredolu-Ale says into his phone. “I'm not available right now. I'm out partying, so why don't you just leave your number and when I get over my hangover I'll give you a call.”


Bin Laden’s ‘deputy’ captured

UNITED States authorities are holding a man captured in Pakistan who is believed to be a senior member of the al-Qaeda terror network, an official has said.

The man is thought to be Abu Zubaydah, a key deputy of Osama Bin Laden, the man suspected to have masterminded the 11 September attacks in America.

"It appears that he is Abu Zubaydah but we’re not 100 per cent certain of that at this point," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The individual is now in US custody," senior Pakistani Interior Ministry official Brigadier Javed Iqbal Cheema said.

The official said the man was shot several times by Pakistani security officers as he tried to escape one of the raids.

He has been receiving medical treatment, but his current condition is unclear.

If the man is Abu Zubaydah as the US authorities believe, he would be the highest ranking member of al-Qaeda to fall into American hands since 11 September.

Investigators used "a variety of means" to confirm the man was Zubaydah, including showing photos to some of his past associates, a US official said.

Zubaydah - also known as Zayn al-Abidin Muhammad Husain and Abd Al-Hadi Al-Wahab - serves as Bin Laden’s senior field commander.

He is thought to have been born in Saudi Arabia, but has strong connections with Jordan and Palestinian groups.

Abu Zubaydah has been sentenced to death in Jordan, and is believed to have links to many of al-Qaeda’s anti-US operations.

When Bin Laden and his inner circle called for an attack, it was Zubaydah who would contact the cells in the field to conduct them, the US authorities said.

US officials say he organised several attacks on US interests, including the millennium plots to blow up Los Angeles International Airport and a hotel in Jordan frequented by American tourists.

Zubaydah is also alleged to have worked in Pakistan recruiting and vetting al-Qaeda volunteers, arranging their training and assigning them to terrorist cells.


Thisday News   -  Dateline: 27/05/2002 04:42:46

Robbers Raid Lagos Airport, Kill 3 Policemen, One Other

·  Airline operators, FAAN to meet on security measures
By Ndubuisi Francis

For the third time in two months, the domestic wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja, Lagos yesterday played host to a four-man armed robbery gang which killed four people, including three policemen and injured three others. The robbers also reportedly carted away an unspecified amount of money belonging to one of the airlines.

The armed robbery operation coincided with the arrival of Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim to the VIP Lounge of the Airport enroute Abuja.

The robbers, who, after their operation left the entire airport community dumbfounded, were said to have arrived the car park in three different Mercedes Benz V-boot cars at different parts of the park and the adjoining roads at about waiting for about one hour before they struck.

The policemen who had escorted a light blue Peugeot 504 station wagon with registration number-- Lagos BK 441 MUS belonging to one of the banks which had reportedly come to carry money made from weekend sales by one of the airlines were seated in the car at the car park oblivious of the presence of the robbers.

According to eyewitnesses, when the robbers sighted the money being dropped into the boot of the Peugeot car one of them walked straight to the car where the unsuspecting policemen were seated and shot three of them with what was described as a machine gun.

The driver of the vehicle who was dressed in a blue local fabric also identified as a staff of the bank which could not be ascertained at press time was also shot dead while another policeman as well as a lady staff of the bank were also injured .

Soon after the policemen were killed, the robbers were said to have made for the boot of the Peugeot car where the money was loaded in a bag popularly known as Ghana-Must-Go and transferred it into the boot of one of the three Mercedes Benz cars they came with.

The bag reportedly fell off from the boot of the Mercedes Benz as they were driving off and one of the robbers was said to have jumped down with unencumbered confidence and carried the bag back into the car before they made good their escape unchallenged while shooting sporadically into the air.

The robbery threw the entire domestic wing of the airport, particularly the GAT, into confusion as people, including air travelers, ran for safety.
At about 5.p.m, a team of policemen from the nearby Beesam police station arrived the scene where their colleagues were killed in a truck.
One of the killed policemen, a Sergeant who was seated in-between his two colleagues whose ranks could not be ascertained had his skull shattered while the other one had his neck completeley ripped open. The third had almost one part of his head blown off.
On arrival, the team of policemen who were led by an officer in mufti examined the remains of their murdered colleagues before they drove off with the corpses at about 5,50p.m.

THISDAY later gathered that the airline affected by the robbery was Bellview and that the amount lost to the robbers was about one million naira.
Albarka Air Services was said to have transferred its money to the bank about 10 minutes before the Bellview team fell into the hands of the robbers.
Sources told THISDAY that the robbers were apparently acting on insider information, having come at a time when they knew the airlines usually move their money to the banks.    Addressing newsmen shortly after the robbery, the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Alhaji Ibrahim Mamman, said it has become necessary for the Federal Government to allow FAAN security team at airports to carry arms.   He noted that FAAN had made cases for the arming of securitymen at airports, adding that the robbery might make the Federal Government see the need for this.   He stated that after the April 7 robbery at the Lagos Airport which left two bureaux de change operators dead, FAAN met with airline operators at the instance of the latter and it was agreed that airlines should use more secure parts of the airport to transfer their moneys to the bank, adding that the airlines had not applied for the use of these facilities.
He regretted that the robbers escaped unmolested due to the absence of communication facilities that could have made it possible for FAAN securitymen to communicate with the police.   
Armed robbers had, after a successful operation at Ajao Estate sometime in March this year killed a police officer near the Beesam Police Station, and escaped. The incident coincidentally took place with the arrival of the new Inspector General, Tafa Balogun to the airport, his first visit after his appointment. 
Barely three weeks later, precisely April 7, robbers also stormed the mosque at the domestic wing of the Lagos Airport, killing two bureaux de change operators. All the attacks, including that of yesterday happened on a Sunday.
Meanwhile, FAAN and airline operators have scheduled an emergency meeting to tackle the security situation at the airport.


GUARDIAN  -  Tuesday, April 30, 2002.

U.S. plans $4m military aid for Nigeria

From Laolu Akande (New York) and Madu Onuorah (Abuja)

PRESIDENT George W. Bush of the United States is preparing an "emergency military" aid package to the tune of $4 million for Nigeria, The Guardian has learnt. Military sources, however, say the offer is unsolicited.

President Bush, in an April 18 memorandum to his Secretary of State Colin Powel, said an "unforeseen emergency" currently exists in Nigeria which therefore necessitated the package.

There was no specific explanation on what the emergency situation could be and no U.S. public officer was as yet willing to expatiate. But the American President is expected by law to explain the circumstances to his country's Congress, which seems to be the only way such emergencies could be known.

It is also not certain whether such information would be made public even after the U.S. President had explained the circumstances to the Congress.

However, sources say the "unforeseen emergency" may not be unconnected with the forthcoming general elections, and the recent explosions that rocked the military cantonment in Lagos.

A White House press statement which confirmed the package is titled: "Determination to Authorise the Furnishing of Emergency Military Assistance to the Government of Nigeria."

It reads: "Pursuant to the authority vested in me by section 506(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, 22 U.S.C. 2318(a)(1) (the "Act"), I hereby determine that:

Commenting, Chicago-based businessman and APP chieftain, Chief Harry Akande told The Guardian that he would advocate that the United States government, "also enter into not only a military pact with Nigeria, but also a health pact, an agriculture pact, an education pact... pacts like that, because these are areas where the average Nigerian can really benefit from largesse of such assistance."

But an activist and lecturer at Howard University, Washington, DC Professor Mobolaji Aluko queried: "How come everybody but ordinary Nigerians knows about this unforeseen military emergency in Nigeria?

He added: "Or, if you and I do not know, do our National Assembly members know? Inquiring minds want to know. At least, Dubya - that is the nickname of the U.S President - is reporting to his own Congress."

But a top military source claimed he was not aware of any such aid.

He said: "I believe if such aid is coming to any of the services, we ought to be aware of it. As of now I am not aware of it. I do not have details of anything pertaining to that. Is it part of the MPRI (Military Professional Resources Incorporated)? Is it for the modernisation of the bomb disposal units or for training slots for Nigerian officers in the United States? Nobody knows for now."

He added: "I believe when it is presented formally, we will get all the details you need. Do we need such an aid? I bet we do. We can do with even more of such. If they are giving us the money, I think it is good news for us. We can do with any extra cash to really professionalise our military, reactivate our platforms and retrain our military on modern military-civil relations."