December 31, 2008

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony Jet to Puerto Rico

So much for Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony's big Valentine's Day demise. (Or so we're being led to believe...)

In the face of reports that the duo have been fighting and are headed for a split, E! News has learned exclusively that J.Lo and her hubby are spending a few days together in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Two days ago, Lopez and Anthony met up with friends and family for dinner at Marmalade, a trendy, upscale restaurant in the old-town section of San Juan.

"Jennifer and Marc looked very happy, so it is hard for me to believe the rumors that their marriage is in trouble," the eatery's general manager, Trace Donaldson, tells E! News. "They were laughing and seemed to be having a great time."

The couple were joined by a group that included Lopez's sister, Lynda.

On Monday, the Out of Sight star's rep denied to E! a New York Daily News report that had the seemingly cozy couple planning to announce their breakup right after Anthony's Feb. 14 show at Madison Square Garden.

"There is no merit to the article," the rep said.

Lopez was spotted Dec. 26 boarding a private flight straight to Puerto Rico out of Van Nuys Airport.

DMX Cuts a Deal on Dog, Drug, Theft Charges

Perhaps DMX has seen the error of his ways and is looking to make a fresh start in 2009.

Just in time to make New Year's resolutions, the oft-arrested rapper has cut a deal in his pending animal cruelty, drug possession and identity theft cases in order to avoid being prosecuted for more than a dozen crimes.

Instead, DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Phoenix court to one count apiece of animal cruelty, theft, marijuana possession and possession of a narcotic, the last three of which are felonies.

Sentencing has been set for Jan. 30 in Maricopa County Superior Court. Additional charges will be dismissed at that time but DMX is facing at least 90 days in jail, according to prosecutors.

"I am pleased that this defendant will be held accountable for both his drug and animal cruelty offenses," said County Attorney Andrew Thomas.

The Great Depression artist had previously pleaded not guilty to mistreating a pack of pit bulls at his Cave Creek, Ariz., home over the past year. He had also maintained that he was innocent of possessing a significant amount of pot and drug paraphernalia, which authorities claimed to have discovered during two raids on the rapper's property in connection with the animal-cruelty allegations.

DMX had also been accused of trying to avoid paying a $7,500 hospital bill in April by giving a false name and contact info to officials at a Scottsdale clinic. He was subsequently busted on suspicion of identity theft in July.

An attorney for the Cradle 2 the Grave star, who also had a coke- and pot-related run-in with the law in Florida in June, said earlier this month that his client had checked into rehab.

Personalities that shaped the politics of 2008

The outgoing year definitely has its fair share of dramatic political developments of note. Some personalities made this happened and their actions and inactions constitute part of the developments that shaped 2008.

President Umaru Yar’Adua

President Umaru Yar’Adua, by virtue of his position as the number on citizen in the country, remained a major focus in the outgoing year. His high level of political tolerance was exhibited earlier in February when the ruling Peoples Democratic Party was shopping for its national chairman. Yar’Adua was expected by the leadership of the party to back one of the candidates or manipulate the process to get his most favoured candidates elected as PDP chairman. This followed what was believed to be the meddlesomeness of his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, in the affairs of the party. But, Yar’Adua disappointed those who expected this continue when he said he had no candidate other than the one that would emerge from the laid down process.

But the health condition of the President became an issue soon after, when he had to jet out of the country for about 11 days on medical grounds. There were some anxieties when his return date was postponed on two occasions.

The country also witnessed a greater level of anxiety over the President’s health when, in August, he went for the lesser Hajj, but had to stay back for medical attention, leading to his absence from the seat of power for 17 days.

His return from the trip and the escalation in the criticism of his administration led to certain changes in the polity. First, the President sacked the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, and replaced him with Alhaji Yayale Ahmed. Also, the President re-designated the position of Chief of Staff to the President as Principal Secretary. He also commenced the process of a reshuffle in the cabinet.

The cabinet change took so long a time before it was eventually effected last month with the sack of 20 ministers. It took another five weeks before new ones were appointed to fill the vacant position.

The December 12 decision of the Supreme Court which upheld Yar’Adua’s election had also, for weeks, put the President in the middle of the storm.

As the year ends, there are speculations that the President might go for a major holiday, a development which is already raising some concern.

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo

For former President Olusegun Obasanjo, 2008 proved to be a year that confirmed the truism of transience of power. Obasanjo, who handed over power to Yar’Adua as the third executive President of the country, had thought he would carry on as a chaperon or sort to the President, but he was quickly checkmated early in the year, when his chairmanship of the party’s Board of Trustees was denounced my many leaders of the party. As a matter of fact, the re engineering process in the party, also saw to the recommendation that the clause which was inserted into the PDP constitution in 2006 and which ceded the BOT chairmanship to him, be revisited.

The recommendation, by the Dr. Alex Ekwueme-led reconciliation committee was also endorsed by the National Executive Committee of the party.

Even though Obasanjo still retains the BOT chairmanship, it is apparent that he is doing so because of the fact that no meeting of the board has been conveyed.

Even out of government, Obasanjo continued to be the issue (either for good or bad) in some quarters. The House of Representatives probe of the power sector which indicted some of his men, were seen as a probe of his eight years administration.

His face off with the governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, also provided a major excitement in the politics of the state. Even, despite the fact that Obasanjo’s name is not being mentioned in connection with the attempts to make his loyalists such as former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and his Aviation counterpart, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, account for their deeds in office, many believe that their trial amounts to a look into what transpired under his supervision.

Nuhu Ribadu

A substantial development in the politics of the outgoing year largely had to do with the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. His travails which only a few days ago led to his dismissal from the Nigerian Police, had started early in the year, when he was removed from the chairmanship position of the anti-graft agency.

For most Nigerians, Ribadu remains a hero, having done a lot as EFCC chairman to get a more positive image for the country in the comity of nations with his yeoman’s job on the anti-graft drive.

But, this year was very remarkable for the ‘Super cob’, as his name remained an household one in the country and made a lot of headlines with the various developments that have direct and indirect bearing on his person, and public office.

Adams Oshiomhole

His emergence as the governor of Edo State through the upholding of his election by the election appeal tribunal was perhaps the eight wonder in the country’s polity this year ending.

It was the first time a non-PDP petition won over a PDP sitting governor and set the record for this dispensation as the first governor to be so validated via the judicial process.

Oshiomhole’s resumption as governor of the state on November 12, changed the power equation not only in the state but in the country. Today, he is presiding over a state whose Assembly is peopled by PDP lawmakers, and whose local governments are manned by chairmen elected on the platform of the PDP.

Remarkably, however, Adams’ inauguration has reduced the number of PDP governors to 27 and increased the Action Congress from one to two governorship seats.

In less than two months after assuming power, his case has remained a reference point in the polity.

Justice Umaru Abdullahi

President of the Court of Appeal, Umaru Abdullahi remained a major issue in the polity. His position as the number one official at the Appeal Court has put him in a position to receive all the blames for all the controversial judgement made in respect of some election cases that reached the appellate court.

Apparently realising the enormity of the expectation on him, Abdullahi decided to take charge of the election petition involving Governor Adams Oshiomhole and ex Governor Oserheimen Osunbor, in view of the sensitive nature of the case.

The ruling which was delivered on November 11, also rekindled the confidence of many Nigerians in the electoral process.

James Ibori

Former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, has been in and out of the court room on sundry charges in the outgoing year, after the EFCC effected his arrest late in 2007.

In spite of his travails, he remains so relevant in the administration of President Umaru Yar’Adua such that PDP insiders have dubbed him as Yar’Adua’s own “Mr. Fix it”.

He is said to be a major influence in many of the Federal Government’s decisions.

Bukola Saraki

As chairman of the Governors’ Forum, Dr. Bukola Saraki, scion of the Olusola Saraki political dynasty and Governor of Kwara State, remained an influential personality in the polity in 2008. He is seen as one of the most privileged worshippers in the inner sanctum of power in Abuja.

His leadership of the Governors Forum has transformed the group from just a mere fellowship of happy-go-lucky chaps, into a powerful bloc.

Whereas the group lost in its bid to install one of its ex-members as the Senate President in 2007, it bounced back in 2008 to determine who got what when and how at the PDP’s national convention. The group also sponsored some former governors as ministers in the new cabinet.

At the home front, Saraki has neutralised all opposition through a combination of deft political strategy and pro-people policies. The only opposition to his administration, is however coming from an unusual quarters. His estranged sister, Oyinkansola Saraki, the governorship candidate of the Peoples Progressive Alliance in the 2007 election, has remained a thorn in his flesh, as she has fought vigorously to sustain her legal battle against the governor’s election.

Dimeji Bankole

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Dimeji Bankole, had his first dose of scandal that has become the hallmark of the lower legislative house, in the outgoing year, when the leadership of the House was enmeshed in N2.3bn car scandal.

It was a trying time for the Speaker as the scandal faced the possibility for his removal like his predecessor. Analysts however believe that Bankole’s displayed mastery of crisis helped greatly in dousing the tension raised by the crisis.

Prior to the crisis, however, the leadership of the House had been praised for its courage at instituting probes of some past activities of government, including the highly celebrated power sector probe, which revealed a lot of scam under the Obasanjo years. The reconstitution of the committees with emphasis on members’ credentials as a sine qua non to their headship of any committee, was also seen as a new and positive dimension in the conduct of the business of the House.

The Speaker has also been mentioned prominently in the crisis rocking the Ogun State chapter of PDP, as he is said to be nursing a governorship ambition.

Lamidi Adedibu:

The death of the strongman of Ibadan politics, Chief Lamidi Adedibu, on June 11, marked a watershed in the politics of the PDP in the South-West and the Ibadan politics in particular. It was an end of the notorious “amala” politics which had held sway in the state for decades.

That Adedibu had been an issue in the politics of the South-West since the onset of the democratic dispensation in 1999 is to say the obvious. But the politics of the “Alaafin of Molete”, was further energised with the inauguration of Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala’s administration in the state in 2007.

Between January and June 2008, when he passed on, Adedibu, had rocked the politics of the state. His notoriety had compelled the police to hierarchy to get an undertaking from him to be of good conduct earlier in the year. This followed the problem he had with the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control led by Prof. Dora Akunyili, among other issues.

He had insisted on witnessing the ruling of the Appeal Court in the petition instituted against Alao-Akala’s election by the All Nigeria People’s Party governorship candidate, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, before going for his overseas treatment. He never made it! His death has thus redefined the politics of Oyo State, with new alignments and claims to leadership on the increase.

Feast in Warri At year’s end, GKS enlivens oil town with message of renewal

For ministers and members of the God’s Kingdom Society (GKS), it was a joyful moment at this year’s celebration of the Christian Feast of Tabernacles held at the International Headquarters of the church, Salem City, Warri, Delta State.
Despite the attack of Thursday, November 21, 2008 on the church by armed robbers which caused the death of four members, the faithful still showed themselves faithful in their cause for the work of God’s kingdom.

They travelled from far and near in large numbers to observe the great feast.
The eight-day event, which generally held either at St. Urhobo Square or The Grand Stand at the Salem City was declared open by the President of GKS, Oseghale Emmanuel Aighalua.
With the general theme, Think of the end and be sober, by Aighalua, the feast was spectacular. The mammoth crowd dressed in diverse traditional colourful attire was delightful to behold. The people not only exhibited cultural variations but promoted tourism in the country.

The occasion, described by the National President, GKS Youth’s Fellowship, Brother Peters Edoja, as one of the best outings since the inauguration of the church also marked the end of the church’s biblical year and the beginning of a new one.

Indeed, the city of Warri stood still for GKS’ Christian Feast of Tabernacles also known as the Feast of Rejoicing. Anyone visiting the town for the first time would easily know that there was a celebration in town as there were banners for direction at different strategic points. There were many people on motorbikes and in cars heading towards Salem City, the feast ground.

Starting from Sunday, December 14, the annual feast kicked off with Christian processions by jubilant feast celebrants to different parts of Warri. A very large balloon with an inscription, GKS Feast of the Tabernacles, was in the air as long as the occasion lasted.

Two subjects were discussed on the first day entitled, The Essence of the Feast of Tabernacles by Brother O.E. Oriaku and Everlasting Peace of God by Brother L. O. Edemhanria.

According to Oriaku, the feast was ordained by God Almighty through His Prophet, Moses, as a memorial of the Israelites’ years of sojourning in the wilderness when they lived in booths. Oriaku said it was an occasion of thanksgiving to God by way of offerings, songs and dances and most importantly, a time for spiritual renewal as the word of God was read and explained to the entire congregation, so that they might do God’s will always.

He explained that the festival is being celebrated anti-typically now that Jesus Christ, the perfect tabernacle of God, is with men, and in keeping with the prophetic command in Zechariah 14:16-19.
In his discourse, Edemhanria highlighted the distressed conditions people all over the world are made to live in at the instance of Satan, the devil, while pointing out that it is only in God Almighty and His son, Jesus Christ, through their established kingdom that all people of goodwill would have a new order of things free from pains, anxieties, poverty, wars, diseases and disasters.
Station Minister, GKS Onitsha branch, Brother T.C. Mazi-Rapu, on the following day spoke on, Are Women Ordained by God to preach the Gospel?

Mazi-Rapu made it clear that from the beginning, God only used men to do His work. He said the references to women as prophetesses in the Holy Bible were owing to wrong translations. He added that women could preach to other women and not in the whole congregation where men were.
In the same vein, Publicity Secretary, GKS, Brother Benedict Hart, spoke on the subject, What Is The Anointing Of The Holy Spirit?

He said that the anointing with literal oil in the time of old foreshadowed the anointing with the Holy Spirit through which God commissioned Jesus Christ for his earthly ministry. Hart explained that the saints were known by God before they were born, adding that they were not taught by men and that their hallmark is the truth which they preach unmixed with lies. “The multitude of those now parading themselves as anointed men and women of God are being presumptuous in as much as they do not have the credentials for apostleship,” he noted.

While lecturing on, Speaking In Tongues, Brother Moses Bazunu, who cited 1Corinthians 13:8 said that, the gift of speaking in tongues or other languages have ceased as people in various parts of the earth could now read the Bible and preach the word of God in their languages, which was not the case at the time of the early church.

He pointed out that what people say today was nothing but meaningless sounds contrary to what happened on the day of Pentecost.
In the first lecture taken on Tuesday, the third day of the event, entitled, What Did Christ Mean When He Said, ‘A Little While And The World Seeth Me No More,’ Station Minister, GKS, Yenegoa, Brother A. Okocha, said that the world would not see Jesus Christ in flesh anymore.

He explained that only the saints would see him because they would be resurrected as spirits and taken to heaven at Christ’s second presence, while others who would be chosen in the last days would know of his coming by revelation and then they would go and educate the world about God and His kingdom.
Station Minister, GKS Abuja, Brother T.M. Ekiseowei, speaking on, The Marks Of The True Church hinted that a true church is not characterized by claims of miracles, speaking in tongues or long period of existence but by the doctrine the church preaches.

He added that churches which believe in doctrines such as trinity, immortality of the soul, hell fire, among others, are not true because such teachings are contrary to the Bible.
In his subject, Walking In Newness Of Life, Senior Executive Minister, Brother Ifeacho, said it was shameful that some professed believers were given to idol worshipping, owing to lack of faith in God.

He condemned homosexuality as offensive to the ears and charged the faithful to show forth virtues which are fruits of the spirit such as love, joy, longsuffering, faith, temperance, among others.
On Thursday, Chairman of GKS Okota, Brother Felix Osifo, spoke on: Honour The Lord With Your Substance.

Drawing from the Lord’s injunction regarding the Feast of Tabernacles that the celebrants should not appear empty before the Lord, Osifo urged everyone to realize that they owe their creator the obligation to serve Him with all they have now that they are alive.

Also exhorting the people on the topic, In Your Patience, Possess Ye Your Souls, Trustee and Member of the GKS Executive Board, Brother Felix Adedokun, said that although the people of God suffer tribulations from time to time at the instance of the devil, if they should persevere with God, things would turn around for them and they would enjoy life and abundant blessing in the end.

General Secretary of GKS, Brother Ekireghwo, spoke on: Give diligence to make your calling and election sure. And the Vice President, GKS, Brother S. Nwaeke, dwelt on: Men ought always to pray and not to faint.

Nwaeke, who prayed for peace to continue in the Niger Delta for the growth of the work of God, spoke vehemently against women wearing men’s clothes just as he warned men against wearing women ornaments.

The event heightened from Friday, the sixth day of celebration. In the morning, GKS women from Nigeria and abroad converged on the St. Urhobo Square for the Christian women assembly. Two sisters, Grace Doku Gin and Funmilayo Alli addressed the sisters.

Also speaking on the occasion, Chairperson GKS Women, Sister Comfort Okandeji (Snr), urged the women to continue with the good work of God knowing fully that God does not forget their righteous work. While the Chairperson, London, Mrs. Victoria Atugba, highlighted how the GKS London fellowship fared.

The evening witnessed a celebration galore tagged, The Christian Music Festival. Men, women, children and even ministers displayed a high sense of appreciation to God with diverse languages and cultures through music, dance and costumes.
The music festival, which lasted for three hours with each group and branch performing for 10 minutes, had many dignitaries in attendance.

As early as 7.00am on Saturday, December 20, women dressed in wine-coloured wrappers and green blouses set out for a procession through the streets of Warri.
Activities came to a climax the following day, Sunday, with men and women dancing round Warri town as instruments of music moved about town in several vehicles were, a spectacle to behold.
Apart from these events, there were also meetings of different organizations, the aged, children and many others.

The President, Aighalua, charged everyone to meditate on the things taught at the feast. He reminded the people that those who keep God’s word will be blessed by Jehovah.
At the end, everyone was spiritually fulfilled. With the balloon deflated, it was the end of the feast and departure time for many who had travelled from within and outside the country to be part of the epoch-making event.

Ekiti lawmakers in free-for-all

A free-for-all broke out in the Ekiti State House of Assembly on Tuesday as some lawmakers moved to forestall the presentation of the state’s 2009 budget by Governor Segun Oni.
Show of shame: Ekiti Lawmakers in a tussle for the state Assembly’s mace... on Tuesday.

Trouble started when the budget was called for discussion and the Action Congress Leader in the Assembly, Mr. Funminiyi Afuye, objected, saying that Section 41 of the Assembly’s Standing Order must be adhered to.

The Section reads, “Any message from the governor shall be read on the floor of the House and the debate on such letter shall be slated for a future date.”

Oni sent the letter to the Assembly on December 24, notifying the lawmakers of his intention to present the budget on Tuesday. But due to the Christmas break, the letter was read by the Speaker, Mr. Tunji Odeyemi, the same day.

Odeyemi, however, overruled Afuye, quoting Order 65, which empowers him to take decisions whenever the Assembly ran into a hitch on any issue.

Before the Speaker asked the Leader of Government Business in the Assembly, Mr. Lai Oke, to usher the governor to the hallowed chambers, some AC lawmakers attempted to seize the mace, the Assembly’s symbol of authority, in order to prevent the presentation of the budget.

The action resulted in a fracas with a non-member of the Assembly, Mr. Bola Olu-Ojo, reportedly throwing caution to the winds by exchanging blows with some of the AC lawmakers. Olu-Ojo is the Peoples Democratic Party chairman in the state.

The PDP lawmakers and loyalists also joined in the shouting match, shoving and fisticuffs.

Our correspondent gathered that the AC lawmakers did not want the budget to be presented to show their displeasure with the Oni-led administration for going ahead to conduct the November 20 council poll in spite of their party’s protest against the perceived improper constitution of the state’s Independent Electoral Commission.

The leadership of the AC had asked the Ekiti High Court in Ado-Ekiti to stop the poll, but the judgment is yet to be delivered, owing to the ongoing judiciary workers‘ strike.

When Oni’s security aides eventually escorted him into the Assembly, some of the lawmakers still gathered around the mace.

The governor was apparently forced to spend less than 10 minutes presenting the 66-page appropriation bill, tagged “Budget of Consolidation.

Oni told journalists after presenting the budget that the lawmakers conducted themselves in the most dishonourable manner.

He said, “They have conducted themselves in the most dishonourable manner and these lawmakers would be known to their people.

“I want to make it very clear that this state belongs to all of us and nobody has a monopoly of anything.

“Let me say to the AC lawmakers that we have presented the budget putting the constitution in mind.

“Let me explain to you that the AC people are frustrated because they did not participate in the local government election but that should not be a licence for a dishonourable behaviour. It is a disgrace.

“The people should see the state beyond the frustration of a clique of people.

“We have presented the Budget of Consolidation. Anybody that is frustrated because of his political failure must know that the state is bigger than anybody.”

The AC leader in the House, Mr. Afuye, said as far as his colleagues were concern Oni had not presented the state’s budget.

He said, “The governor has not presented the 2009 budget to the House. He only came to be cheered by his supporters and PDP leaders. For Mr. Oni to have gone ahead to present the budget at such a rowdy session shows that he has lost self respect and self esteem. It is a continuation of Oni’s administration illegalities.”

The state government intends to spend N24.7bn on recurrent matters and N41bn on capital projects in 2009.

The budget will be financed through statutory allocation of N17.2bn, Value Added Tax of N5bn, internally generated revenue of N10.4bn, internal loan totalling N15bn and Ecological Fund remitance of N2bn.

Ghana delays presidential run-off result till Friday

The electoral commissioner of Ghana has delayed the result of Sunday‘s knife-edge presidential run-off until Friday.

Results in the Ashanti and Volta regions have been disputed and the Tain region, where the poll could not go ahead, will vote on Friday.

Officials said the votes between the opposition‘s John Atta Mills and ruling party‘s Nana Akufo-Addo were so close one result could decide the outcome.

The BBC correspondent in Ghana reported there were fears violence could erupt.

New Patriotic Party candidate, Akufo-Addo, gained the most votes in the first round earlier this month but did not pass the 50 per cent threshold needed for outright victory.

Electoral commission Chairman, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, said opposition National Democratic Congress candidate, Atta Mills had won 50.13 per cent of the vote, while Akufo-Addo had taken 49.87 per cent.

This means just 23,055 votes divide the two candidates, out of a total cast of some nine million.

”Results are so close that the result of the Tain constituency could affect the eventual winner,” Afari-Gyan said.

He said the results covered all 230 constituencies, except Tain in the Brong Ahafo region, which was unable to vote on Sunday due to a shortage of voting materials.

The commissioner, who has been stuck in behind-closed-doors wrangling with both parties in the capital Accra, said they would also use the delay to audit the disputed results.

The electoral commission headquarters was earlier besieged by thousands of NDC supporters demanding their candidate be declared the winner.

Armed police and soldiers backed by water cannon trucks and an armoured personnel carrier kept the protesters behind barricades and at one point fired warning shots.

As tensions rose, party officials handed out ice cream and water to the crowds to calm them down.

Atta Mills had earlier claimed victory, but the NPP said this was premature.

Shops closed early on Tuesday, with businessmen fearing that there could be looting once the result is announced.

The opposition has been disputing results awarded to the governing party from five constituencies in the Ashanti region.

It is understood turnout in one area was recorded at 99 per cent - said by election experts to be unheard of - while there were also complaints dead people, children and foreign nationals had been listed among voters.

The NPP, meanwhile, said there had been widespread intimidation of its election agents in the Volta region and results from these areas would be challenged.

International observers have given the poll a preliminary clean bill of health and urged both candidates to accept the results.

Some 12.5 million people were eligible to vote in the election - the fifth since Ghana‘s return to democracy in 1992.

President John Kufuor is standing down having served two consecutive terms.

In the two previous elections he defeated Atta Mills.

Atta Mills served as vice-president under former leader Jerry Rawlings.

December 19, 2008

MTV News' Man Of The Year: Lil Wayne No one was as successful, controversial, hilarious and, well, bizarre as Weezy was in 2008.

Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. is no longer just your favorite rapper's favorite rapper. In fact, considering the way he's been carrying around a guitar lately, you could be forgiven for wondering if he event wants to be a rapper anymore. But the fact remains that for 12 long months, no one dominated hip-hop like Wayne did. No one sold more records, generated more headlines or appeared on as many tracks. No one flooded the market with as much product, and — in a genre loaded with compelling characters — no one was as mercurial, controversial, hilarious and, well, bizarre as Weezy was.

Not to mention, when you move 1 million copies of an album in one week, it's pretty safe to say you've crossed over to the mainstream. Wayne most definitely was hip-hop in 2008, but he was pop culture too.

So considering all that — and after sifting through a year's worth of headlines, videos and reader comments — we've decided to crown Lil Wayne as MTV News' Man of the Year. From his epic Arizona drug bust in January to selling a million copies of Tha Carter III in June and, finally, nabbing eight Grammy nods in December, '08 has been anything but dull for Wayne ... and that's just skimming the surface. Below, for your perusal, we've compiled his entire 2008 résumé — a list of accomplishments truly befitting our Man of the Year.

But before we dive deeper into Weezy's achievements, a quick word about someone else who had a pretty impressive 2008: President-elect Barack Obama. Sure, you could probably make a fairly convincing argument for him being our Man of the Year — after all, GQ and Time already proclaimed him as such — and you'd probably be right. But for an explanation of why Obama didn't make the cut on our list, head to the Newsroom blog.

1. Lil Wayne

2008 Highlights: Rolled into '08 with the "Hottest MC in the Game" championship belt over his shoulder ... Promised his long-awaited Carter III album would be coming this year and touted the long list of cameos he recorded by dubbing himself "Featuring Lil Wayne" ... Arrested in Arizona when his tour bus is pulled over by border patrol agents who perform the aforementioned bust ... Facing felony drug and weapons charges, he pleads not guilty. The case is still pending ... Attempted to reunite the Hot Boyz at a concert during the NBA All-Star Weekend in New Orleans, but the event was canceled at the last minute due to shootings outside the venue ... Visited his old secondary school, promising Tha Carter would drop "in April" and being asked to the prom by a girl named Julie ... Showed up three hours late for a concert in New Jersey, did not apologize, ended show by donning a bathrobe, shouting "sexual f---ing chocolate has left the building, bi---" ... Discussed his drank of choice, syrup ... "Lollipop," the first single from Carter III, tops the Billboard Hot 100 ... Premiered the now-iconic Carter III cover, featuring a photo of him as a baby, complete with a pinkie ring and digitally added tattoos ... Refused to freak out when the album leaked two weeks early ... "Elated" when Carter III defies industry expectations and sells 1 million copies in a single week, the first album to do so since 50 Cent's The Massacre in 2005 ... Congratulated by 50, Kanye West and a host of others after accomplishing the feat ... Played a "modern-day Robin Hood" in the "Got Money" video ... Performed "A Milli" on the premiere of "FNMTV," smelled like "a mixture of stubbed-out Phillies Blunts and a gallon of cough syrup," proved that he possessed extrasensory perception like "the 'hood Yoda" ... Lost his pants during his performance at the Video Music Awards ... Hopped a plane immediately following the VMAs to make a court date in New York City ... Prepped Dedication 3 mixtape and Tha Carter IV ... Appeared on Fall Out Boy's Folie à Deux ... Appeared on Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak ... Named MVP at the BET Hip-Hop Awards ... Announced plans to reissue Carter III, only with completely different songs ... Shared the stage with Jay-Z but did not actually perform with him ... Described the birth of his son as "nasty, but wonderful" ... Strapped on a guitar to back up Kid Rock at the CMA Awards, only vaguely playing said guitar ... Plotted I Am Music Tour with T-Pain, Gym Class Heroes and Keyshia Cole ... Nominated for eight Grammy Awards, more than any other artist ... "A Milli" is named "Best Song of 2008" in MTV's Bigger Than the Sound column ... "A Milli" is named "Hip-Hop Single of the Year" by our Mixtape Monday family ...Tha Carter III is named one of the "Best Albums of 2008" ... Seriously, he did all of that in 366 days — any doubts he's our Man of the Year?

Anelka eager to help Drogba

Nicolas Anelka has told Chelsea manager Felipe Scolari he is ready to play a supporting role for Didier Drogba in attack.

Anelka bagged the 100th Premier League goal of his career and his 16th of the season in Sunday‘s 1-1 draw with West Ham, but with Drogba fit again the France striker now wants Scolari to give the pair a chance to form a potent partnership.

Scolari, reflecting on his first six months at Chelsea, has revealed he will be using the next fortnight to tinker with his style and that could mean finding a place for both strikers in his 4-3-3 system.

Chelsea has already dropped 14 points at Stamford Bridge this season and its poor home form is threatening to undermine its title ambitions.

Anelka, 29, has enjoyed successful partnerships with Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal and Michael Owen at Liverpool and now wants the opportunity to see if he can make it work with Drogba.

“It was good to play with Bergkamp,” said Anelka. “He is the kind of player that played for you. He can score, but also gave a good ball for you to score, and he liked to do it.

“With Michael Owen it was good, because I played the other way, I used to play in front, then I turned supplier. I was pleased with our partnership and it worked.”

Top 100 people, places, events and things that shaped 2008

Funny how time flies. Isn‘t it just a few months ago that we screamed happy new year? Now, it‘s all of 12 months gone by. Whether we have used them well, or squandered them (like a child does a tip), is a matter our conscience will decide. But, as a special year-end treat, e-Punch reminds you of some of the moments, people, ideas, and elements that made the year what it is. Enjoy!

1. DBANJ: 28 year-old Dapo Oyebanjo finally released his second full length album in 2008. And he not only got blessings from the Oba of Lagos, he had Lagos Governor, Raji Fashola and his predecessor, Bola Tinubu on stage at the launch of Entertainer on July 25. With his characteristic sex themes and libido braggadocio, the charming singer re-enacted his pact with female fans this year. And, to show he‘s still on the right path, he was named best African act at the MTV Africa Music Awards, earning him a stage collabo with former Destiny’s Child singer, Kelly Rowland.

2. 2FACE IDIBIA: Mr. Idibia was the butt of comedians’ jokes this year - no thanks to a string of pregnancies and endless baby mama dramas. But not one to be fazed by what people say, the 33 year-old pop star kept his mind on his business: dropping a chain of singles, performing from Australia to Russia, and playing daddy to his different kids (five, as at the last count). Oh, he performed with Akon, recorded with Sway, R.Kelly, Chaka Demus &Pliers; and got honoured by World music awards in Monaco too… (He released his third solo album, Unstoppable on Wednesday December 17).

3. THE KEYBOARD: whether it’s the piano, organ or the computer input buttons, the keyboard has continued to be one of the most relevant tools in entertainment for countless years. And now, in the age of computer-generated graphics, digital productions and live band performances, the keyboard is coming in handy, as an indispensable tool, as far as home entertainment is concerned.

4. PROTOOLS: Step aside analogue studios. This is the ear of digital productions. Gone are the days when musicians stormed studios with 30-man bands, to produce a record. These days, all you need is a song book, a producer, a console, and a PC loaded with all the production softwares money can buy. Be it reason, protools, fruity loops or any other song making, editing or graphics software, they‘re the reason most of the top directors and producers are still in business. Only God knows what they‘ll do with softwares next year…

5. MUSON: The Musical Society of Nigeria clocked 25 this year. And the series of events to mark the milestone were a testimony to the success of the society‘s goals, as well as the pride of place the MUSON centre occupies, amongst the few event venues around the Lagos metropolis.

6. HHWA: The award for hip hop culture and urbane music entered its third year with pomp. With major sponsorship from MTN, an ambitious motive (change must change, they kept screaming), and a community of artistes hoping the awards would be a stamp of excellence on their works, HHWA reaffirmed its position as Nigeria‘s number one music awards; even scoring another first by giving out a brand new Hyundai Sonata to winner of the Next Rated category.

7. MTV: Three years after coming to Africa, MTV base has inscribed its signature indelibly on the industry’s landscape. In 2008 especially, it took the game several notches higher - inspiring scores of Grade A videos that‘ll make even Hype Williams jealous. The cable channel collaborated with Shell to help budding African talents shoot videos, and gave hitherto hopeless acts an opportunity to be heard via Advance warning. Unfortunately, the MTV Africa Music Awards, which would have capped a year of achievements, performed far below expectations and earned the channel severe knocks from the media and industry insiders.

8. 9ICE: This year, he cat-walked gently into the class of A list acts. Then he sashayed into the millionaires‘ club, and walked down the aisle with the love of his life, Toni Payne. He was named best new act by hip hop world awards, best African act by MOBO awards, and best hip hop act at the MAMAs. He moved from the ‘hood in Bariga, to a Lagos Duplex and bought choice properties around the city. In just 12 months, the singer has moved from an obscure, struggling artiste, to become one of the most wanted entertainers of the year.

9. COBHAMS: The visually-impaired song-writer, producer and singer continued to show us that he is not handicapped. Fresh from producing Asa‘s debut album, Cobhams Asuquo opened his studio in Ikeja, Lagos — opening his doors to hundreds of talents (including Omolara, Darey, Rooftop Mcs) and clinching the Skye Bank and Zain ad deals. Now, he’s set up a full production company, Cobhams Asuquo Music Production, CAMP, and we can‘t even start to imagine what he‘ll dabble into in 2009.

10. OLU MAINTAIN: His former band-mate, Tolu has gotten married and settled for life out of public glare. But Olumide Edward Adegbulu, the Ondo-born singer carrying on the Maintain flag is not about to slow down. Armed with only one major hit (yahoozeey), Mr. Olu has changed his fortune and that of his family. He has recruited fans from Lagos to London and Los Angeles, and even gotten Nigeria’s President Umar Musa Yar’Adua and former US Secretary of State, Collin Powel to rock his sound.

11. ASA: For years, a strong question mark hung over the future of her career, following a bitter dispute with her Nigerian label, Questionmark Records. But in 2007, the songbird flew away and pitched her tent with an independent French label called Naïve records. The result is the eponymously titled album that topped the charts for months, moved amazing units, and established her as one of Africa‘s most promising talents in 2008. A gallery of awards, sold-out concerts all over Nigeria and Europe, and an income that continues to skyrocket, the young musician has so much to show for her hardwork, and now, she may just have commenced work on a new set of materials.

12. NMVA: Nigeria‘s premiere honours event for music videos rolled out the green carpet for its second edition on November 30. And, although a majority of the young pop and hip hop stars were nowhere to be found, top veterans (including Victor Uwaifo, Bisi Olatilo, Patrick Doyle and Bongos Ikwe) added colour to the do…

13. NAETO C: Naeto C’s parents wanted him to study Medicine & Surgery. He ended up studying Biology which he soon dumped for -of all things - music. But, it‘s just a few years down the line and his audacity is already paying off. U know my p, his debut album not only spawned off a string of hits, it endeared him to a new crop of hip hop followers, and showed everyone around him that music can also put good food on the table after all. If you hear young people around you chanting Kini big deal, yes boss! Or using words like P and swagger, now you know who to hold responsible.

14. MI: Just like Naeto Chikwe, Jude Abaga locked down the underground for several months in 2008. With a refreshing style and incredible word bank, the Chocolate city rapper eventually found his way to the mainstream, dropping one of the most anticipated albums of 2008.

15. MODE 9: The year started on a slow note for the master lyricist. And after he parted ways with his label, Questionmark, many thought not much would come forth from his quarters. But Modey rearranged and shocked us all. First, he floated his own imprint Red Eye Records, teamed up with Banky W for a covert diss track, and eventually dropped his new album, Paradigm shift. Now, following the vocal punches at rival Ruggedman, we‘re all talking about Mode 9 again! Gimmick? Well, only time will tell.

16. PASUMA: Last year, he took part in Celebrity Takes 2, and almost won the top prize. This year, Pasuma Wonder appeared on countless collaborations and continued in his quest to take Fuji music to a hitherto reluctant, pop-loving audience. The 40 year-old act has won more converts to the genre than any other in his class, and despite cultivating a new league of fans; he retains a firm hold on the streets.

17. SAHEED OSUPA: One of Fuji’s most remarkable talents got into the headlines for the wrong reasons this year, following lingering superiority battles with Sule Malaika and Pasuma.

18. RHYTHM UNPLUGGED: Flytime promotions’ Cecil Hammond continues to use daring hypes to draw our attention to his annual multi-city concert series. And we‘re not about to start complaining. This year, Unplugged went to Abuja, Port Harcourt and Lagos. And, the ratings are still soaring, making it look it if you‘re an artiste and you‘re not on the gig, you may as well fire your managers…

19. ANNIE MACAULAY: Very dramatic year it was for Miss Annie Uwanna Macaulay. She kicked started her movie career, finally started recording for her TV show (Unwinding with Annie), got pregnant for longtime on-and-off lover, 2face Idibia, lost the pregnancy, and got pregnant again! Now, on December 10, she delivered a baby girl - finally joining the association of 2face Idibia baby mamas.

20. PERO ADENIYI: She grabbed headlines in April, after it was reported she had delivered a set of twins for 2face Idibia in Barbados. The news was later confirmed to be false, and Ms Adeniyi later delivered a boy, her second child for the singer. But she spent the better part of the year feuding with Idibia and his mom, Rose. Only later in the year did reconciliation occur, with the new baby officially named in 2face’s ‘hood, FESTAC Town, Lagos.

21. TONI PAYNE: Blogger, stylist and businesswoman, Toni finally said ‘‘I do‘‘ to her heartthrob this year. The US-based lady exchanged vows with singer, 9ice on Thursday July 17 at a quiet ceremony attended by close friends and colleagues. She immediately stepped up her involvement in his international management, and brokered a summer US tour for her spouse. And on December 4, she delivered the couple‘s first baby at Presbyterian Hospital, Southern California.

22. BELLA NAIJA: if a contest were ever to hold, there‘s no doubt Nigerians all over the world would vote bellanaija their favourite blog. A regular online destination for those keen on keeping up with happenings in fashion, music and movie circles, the blog eventually metamorphosed into a full-blown e-magazine this year. The brain behind it all, 24 year-old Uche Eze also finally revealed her identity, through an interesting interview with Chude Jideonwo.

23. NAYO: Daughter of late “pillar” of sports, Dokun Abidoye, Nayo got fans hooked on her music from Europe to America. And this year, she took the necessary trip back home to reconnect and establish her career. Did Nigerians love her soul sound? Yes. But soon, she was off again, flying from London to the US, as she put pen to paper for a major deal with Starbucks coffee.

24. PROJECT FAME: Endemol partnered Ultima Studios and MTN Xtracool to deliver the first ever Project Fame West Africa. On a continent where raw talent abounds, without the necessary structures to nurture them, the talent hunt was an opportunity for thousands of wannabes within the sub-region to attempt to get their voices heard. And for the TV viewer, it was a whole three months of home entertainment…though still a far cry from its rested continental version, the effort.

25. BBA: For all of 90 days, we followed the third season of Big Brother Africa show; taking sides, monitoring our favourite housemates and voting non-stop. And, thankfully, there was no Richard/Ofunneka scandal to mar this year‘s edition. 21 year-old Angolan, Ricco was announced winner on November 23, winning $100,000. Nigeria‘s Uti Nwachukwu was voted out mid-way into the show (exactly day 42).

26. DAN FOSTER: The American broadcaster washed off his Casanova image when he finally settled down this year. Then he shocked us all when he threw in the towel at Cool FM. He has since been with Inspiration FM, where he continues his morning show, and regular Sunday gospel shows.

27. KENNIS: Nigeria‘s foremost record label showed it still has the magic when it launched a hitherto unknown Kelly Hansome into the mainstream within months. A fresh romance with 2face Idibia is also glaring. And, with Kennis TV shaping up, it‘s looking like there‘s no stopping the 10 year-old company

28. RUGGEDMAN: With the likes of Naeto C, MI and Ikechukwu chasing so closely behind, Ruggedman is not slowing down at all. The rapper has his feet on the pedals, moving on at full speed and knocking obstructions out of his way: e.g. Mode 9, whom he dissed on Banging. And, he still holds the title of ‘best rapper‘, according to hip hop world awards 2008.

29. COOL FM: Things got heated up at the Cool station this year. Key members of staff departed in quick succession, including Olisa Adibua, Dan Foster, Ibrahim Abubakar and Chris Ubosi. Then an attempt to rework the Dan Foster formula, using Keith Lane failed woefully, causing the station‘s management to look inwards and settle for DJ Manny as lead anchor for the Good morning Nigeria show.

30. SWE BAR: Located inside the City Mall, Onikan, Lagos, Swe has transformed from a lunch spot for business executives to a major hang-out for some of showbiz industry‘s finest. So, it‘s not surprising that some of the year‘s major events held at Swe. And, also, where do you go to if you want to enjoy rich, live music from bands such as Godbless‘? It‘s Swe!

31. UNRULIES: When a couple of young, upwardly-mobile people come together to form a loose coalition, it‘s not likely it‘ll take long before we notice. And, true, it didn‘t take long before we realised the Unrulies were in our midst. Made up of BBN alumnus-Ebuka Obi-Uchendu, singer-writer Tosyn Bucknor, Newscaster Lamide Akintobi, On-air personality Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi, Marketing communication executive Noble Igwe, Designer Muiyiwa Oshindero, Journalist Chris Ihidero and few others, the young men and women are building a cause from what started as fun, and they‘re inspiring many in their generation to ‘rewrite the rules‘. Now, they‘re even up for team of the year, at the Future Awards next year.

32. KEKE AND D-ONE: The Primetime partners are stuck like Siamese. And they‘ve become globally known, hosting their famous show and covering events all over the world. But, really, what they‘re most respected for within and outside the entertainment industry is their portrayal of showbiz as a bankable industry, and the remarkable successes they‘ve recorded - for themselves and for talents- in an industry hitherto ignored by government and the corporate sector.

33. DJ T: He was named best director at Hip Hop World Awards and best editor at Nigerian Music Video Awards this year. What more proof do you need that Tokunbo Odubawo is on top of his game? The cinematographer is leading the pack of directors who are providing the redefinition of standards, when the subject is music videos. And does he get paid in full!

34. CLARENCE PETERS: 2008 was Mr. Peters’ year. He shot some of the best videos for the year, got named as best director at NMVA, and signed rappers, Kel and Suspect on his record label.

35. KEL: Step aside Sasha, Bouqui and Weird MC, Kel is the new kid on the block. We received the Lagos-based rapper with open arms when she dropped her debut single Waa wa alright. Now, she‘s worked with Sound Sultan, Ill Bliss and others, convincing us she‘s ready for her own full album

36. DON JAZZY: The president of Mo’ Hits Records is one of Nigeria‘s most gifted producers. Driving his business to the top-three league in less than three years, the young entrepreneur is lighting the way for millions of youths strolling closely behind…

37. TY MIX: Many didn‘t know him until he appeared as judge on Project Fame West Africa. But the Abuja-based producer laced the beats for some of the greatest songs this year. E.g. Kini big deal. He‘s worked with everyone that counts already; and together with Dr Frabs, ID Cabasa and Terry G, the beat-maker is plotting a take-over in 2009

38. THISDAY MUSIC FESTIVAL: The annual music extravaganza organised by Nduka Obaigbena‘s Leaders and Company, stormed four cities this year: Abuja, Lagos, London and Washington. Driven by the mission to canvass for investments for Africa, instead of aids, the tour commanded global attention, and was supported by top international models, artistes and leaders.

39. JOICE IZE IYAMU: The CEO of Rogue Entertainment has since parted ways with 2face Idibia. But she remained relevant all through the year, partnering with international labels — Tantrum Records, and Grafton Entertainment. And, she got plenty thumbs up when she teamed up with Hamzat Subair&Co for ‘Understanding Show business‘, a one-day seminar that held in Lagos.

40. HIP TV: The syndicated TV show, produced by Smooth Promotions, brought a lot of life to TV, when it appeared all hope was lost. 2008 is the year the show got on a dozen more stations, entered the UK, and staged an all-white exclusive gig in London to commemorate its first anniversary.

41. NIGEZIE: From day one, they‘ve told us what they are: Extremely Nigerian. Kwame and his team stayed true to the dream all through the year, providing home-made entertainment for viewers on terrestrial and cable TV.

42. SOUNDCITY: Nigeria‘s number one all-music channel has a firm grip on the pulse of urbane youth culture. And, with a new set of ambassadors, a monthly glossy magazine, and the annual Soundcity Blast Concert, they more than kept us all on our toes all through the year

43. ETCETERA: Just Like Asa, Modele, TY Bello and Nayo, the cool rocker made us heave a sigh of relief when he released his self-titled album. Brilliant to the last beat, the X3M music act made talent fashionable again - and now, he‘s reaping the benefits!

44. ID CABASA: The Coded Tunes head-honcho has mastered the language of the beats. But instead of selfishly keeping it to himself alone, he‘s blessing almost every artiste with it, cooking up beats that produce hits. From Ruggedman to 9ice and Banky W, they‘re all giving him kudos.

45. GODFATHER: If you shot a video in South Africa this year, you most likely would have crossed paths with Godfather. Everyone, from P-square to Faze, Weird MC and the Mo Hits crew, have worked with him at one point or the other. With top of the range film equipments, the South Africa-based director is the other factor luring musicians to Jo‘burg - apart from the beautiful scenery, that is!

46. YINKA AIYEFELE: The Ibadan-based musician had an elongated tour of the US this year; and he was away for so long that his protracted absence fuelled rumours that he had been arrested in America. Of course, it was all lies. He hit back at rumour mongers, returned home to honour engagements and set out again…

47. KWEEN: Ms Onokala had it all coming on so fast. But soon, she was running off to the UK without any explanations. It was only later in August that word leaked out she had taken in, and was hibernating in London, to avoid the prying eyes of the press. Those close to her predicted she would get married to her lover, Dotun before year-end, and return to face her career. But, while we still wait for that, the singer‘s new single, Jowobiko is entering the charts already.

48. AY: The fast-rising comedian eventually tied the knots with his long-time lover, Mabel at a celebrity wedding in Lagos. The entire industry trooped to Kris Okotie’s Household of God Church on November 29, as the couple exchanged vows. Done entirely in an interesting style, the ceremony marked the final ‘arrival’ of AY, who, until recently, was a personal assistant to top comedian, Ali Baba.

49. FACEBOOK: Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg and his guys, the way we now live has changed so rapidly that we can’t remember the way we used to live. All through the year, artistes used the portal to spread new songs, promote upcoming shows, correspond with fans, and circulate videos. And when we say artistes, we mean every artiste still breathing oxygen - including KWAM 1, Pasuma and Tunde Kuboye. If the blackberry is the most revolutionary mobile business tool, then Facebook would be the most revolutionary social networking site.

50. P-SQUARE: Truth be told, the year did not start on a good note for the hardworking twins. After a trailer load of nominations, they went home empty-handed from the Hip Hop World Awards. And their reaction (The brother/manager Jude told a journalist the awards should be called Yoruba hip hop world awards) generated a bitter controversy that split the industry into two. But the months that followed were fruitful for the Anambra-born entertainers. They headlined countless gigs across the continent, earning more fans than any other act in their category; they escaped a couple of car crashes and Peter even survived a domestic accident. Then they were named best group at Channel O Music Video Awards and the MAMAs. Oh, did we also tell you that Peter got a gift from his lover, Lola Omotayo? What? A cute baby boy

Judge throws out Fayose’s application

A Federal High Court in Lagos, on Thursday, threw out the application of the former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, asking the court to stay further proceedings on a money-laundering suit preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Dismissing the ex-governor‘s application, Justice Tijani Abubakar held that the accused was merely filing applications to waste the time of the court, adding that the application lacked merit.

Fayose is being prosecuted by the EFCC on an alleged N1.4bn money laundering and illegal diversion of public funds.

In the instant application, Fayose had urged the court to stay further proceedings in the suit pending the determination of his appeal at the Court of Appeal in Lagos.

Fayose‘s lawyer, Mr. Owoseni Ajayi, had argued that the appeal raised arguable and substantial issues of law.

But the EFCC’s lawyer, Mr Wahab Shittu, opposed the application, adding that the court had earlier struck out an application of similar nature.

In his ruling, Justice Tijani Abubakar held that on the basis of section 40 of the EFCC, which said that proceedings could not be stayed, pending judgment, the accused application must fail.

He said, “The application is devoid of merit and it is hereby refused.”

The judge latter adjourned the matter till February 18, 2009 for trial.

NUJ rejects Akunyili as Information minister

The Nigeria Union of Journalists on Thursday rejected the appointment of Prof. Dora Akunyili as the Minister of Information and Communication.

It said that such an appointment smacked of ill-advice and disdain for the mass media.

In a press statement signed by the National Secretary of the union, Mr. Shu’aibu Usman Leman, in Abuja, the NUJ said that Akunyili’s appointment to the information portfolio was not right.

It said that with Akunyili’s zeal, honesty and commitment to work, she would have been more suitable for the Ministry of Health.

“The NUJ national secretariat, frowns at the recent appointment of Prof. Dora Akunyili as Minister for Information and Communication by President Umaru Yar’Adua.

“The appointment is ill-advised and smacks of the usual disdain with which politicians perceive the media.

“It is noteworthy, the zeal, honesty and commitment “Akunyili brought to bear in the discharge of her assignment as the Director-General of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control, and we thus assumed that a personality like her would be assigned the portfolio of Minister of Health.

“That would have been putting a round peg in a round hole rather than the present situation which is a misnomer.”

The NUJ said that all over the world, governments constituted their cabinets “with a clear vision of what they intend to achieve and assigned portfolios to their appointees based on their fields of specialisation.”

The union added that it was apparent that the Yar’Adua administration did not know how it intended to achieve its goal through the appointments.

Meanwhile, Akunyili has declared that her new assignment was a new beginning in her public service.

At a brief handover ceremony at the ministry‘s Radio House Headquarters, Akunyili said telling lies to the public damaged the reputation of any government.

She promised not to lie in the course of her assignment.

The Minister of Police Affairs, Dr. Ibrahim Lame, said elsewhere internal security remained a crucial agenda for the administration.

Akunyili‘s predecessor, who has been redeployed to the Ministry of Environment, Mr. John Odey, also said though he was not a slave driver, he got some good results.

Akunyili said, “I have enjoyed serving Nigerians through the NAFDAC where I worked with my wonderful and indefatigable team to safeguard the health of the ordinary Nigerian.

“Today is, therefore, a special day for us. It is indeed a new beginning in my public service life. Today, I find myself stirring the ship of this very important ministry as the chief image maker of Nigeria.

“This ministry represents the image and the soul of the nation. Piloting the affairs of this ministry which will be jointly done by the Minister of State and I cannot be successfully carried out without your support.

“My vision is to work assiduously to shore up the good image of Nigeria through responsible communication which entails proper information management. Responsible information management does not mean telling lies. In fact, one thing we must avoid is telling lies to the public.

“When we lie to the public about any situation, they will surely find out and lose confidence in us as the information mouthpiece of the nation and if this happens, no matter how well-intentioned we eventually become, the public would have lost confidence in us, that they will reject whatever programme or policy we introduce, no matter how credible.”

The new Minister of Police Affairs promised to revitalise the force to be more focused in addressing the nation‘s internal security.

He said, “In actual fact, this government sees security as the basis upon which all the other items will have to be built on and without security, there is no way that we can have an environment to operate.”

Also, the new Minister of Labour and Productivity, Prince Adetokunbo Kayode (SAN), has said that his ministry is strategic to the realisation of the seven-point agenda of President Umaru Yar’Adua as well as Vision 2020.

Dupri Still Janet's Boyfriend, But Not Her Baby Daddy

The nonfather has spoken.

Jermaine Dupri has taken to his punctuation-eschewing blog to deny rumors that he and longtime love Janet Jackson have broken up and that the pop diva is pregnant, as she was so labeled by a recent magazine cover.

"As you all know Janet is a very private person the only reason you see her as much as you do on my YouTube vlog is because of me LOL," Dupri wrote (in all caps, incidentally).

"But I hear yall and your questions. So hear [sic] you have it… No she is not pregnant and yes we're still together."

Rumors arose that Miss Jackson was expecting after she was forced to miss nearly a dozen dates on her Rock Witchu tour due to, according to her camp, migraine-induced vertigo. Then the lack of Dupri sightings while Jackson was recuperating further hinted at the possibility of a breakup.

A chain reaction that Dupri is apparently familiar with.

"It baffles me how yall let these blog and magazines control your lives [sic]," he continued.

"That's why I created so when ever hear s--t about me you can come right here and get the truth."

Igbinedion convicted, fined

A former Edo State Governor, Chief Lucky Igbinedion, was on Thursday convicted on a one-count charge of corruption by the Federal High Court, Enugu.

Igbinedion will, however, not go to jail as he was merely fined N3.6m.

The light sentence was the result of a plea-bargain arrangement the former governor entered into with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

But the commission, which arraigned him alongside four companies in which he had interests in, rejected the judgment, saying it would go on appeal.

The EFCC, which had filed a 191-count charge of corruption, money laundering and embezzlement against Igbinedion and the companies made a volte face on Wednesday by dropping the charges. It filed an amended 24-count but arraigned him on just a count.

Igbenedion, who had earlier pleaded not guilty to the 191-count charge, admitted being liable to the one-count charge.

The single charge reads, “That you, Lucky Igbinedion (former governor of Edo State) on or about January 21, 2008, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court neglected to make a declaration of your interest in the account No. 41240113983110 with GTBank in the declaration of Assets Form of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 27(3) of the EFCC Act, 2004.”

The second accused, Kiva Corporation, was convicted on two of the 23 count- charge levelled against it and ordered to pay N500m fine and to forfeit its landed properties.

The properties include a parcel of land at Asokoro, Abuja, a detached building on two plots comprising four- bedroom and two outer houses in GRA, Benin, and a storey building also in Benin, to the Federal Government.

Igbinedion, who came with a few of his aides, paid the fine within minutes after the verdict and was driven away in a white Peugeot 307 marked Nasarawa AG 16 NSW.

During the proceedings, the prosecuting counsel, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, informed the court that the EFCC had withdrawn the charges against the accused and filed amended charges against them.

The former governor thereafter, entered the dock where he pleaded guilty.

Jacobs had told the court that the former governor failed to disclose in his assets declaration form that he had N3, 579, 524.16 in his GTBank account.

He tendered five exhibits, including the certified true copy of the assets declaration form, the statement of account of Kiva Corporation which showed how monies were paid into the GTBank account; and payment vouchers from the Edo State Government House showing how monies were withdrawn and lodged into the account of the company.

The index of payment received from government house showing withdrawals and payments of money to the company was also tendered.

The prosecution urged the court to consider the ingredients under count two and three where payments totaling N30m was made to Kiva Corporation on January 10, 2007 and another sum of N70m paid to the same company on May 17, 2007 by one Pat Eboigbodin, an Edo State Government official.

“These showed that the company retained the proceed of crime and Your Lordship is empowered under section 16 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2004 to convict the accused for the offence,” Jacob said.

It urged the court to take the facts as stated and to convict accordingly.

Igbinedion’s lawyer, Mr. Adetunji Oyeyipo (SAN), did not object.

The former governor was then directed to confirm the ingredients of the facts which he did.

Shortly before Justice Abdullahi Kafarati adjourned to prepare the judgment, Oyeyipo made an allocutus (plea for mitigation of sentence).

He prayed the court to consider the fact that his client voluntarily returned to the country from a foreign trip when he learnt that the EFCC had filed charges against him.

Oyeyipo said, “Your Lordship would observe that on occasions when he was granted leave to travel, he had always returned to face trial.

“Even when he acquired the e-passport, without any prompting, he submitted the passport to the court. The accused was charged with neglecting to make a declaration of assets, but he didn’t willfully refuse or knowingly refuse to disclose his interest in an account.

“The amount in the account as stated by the prosecution is N3, 579, 524.16; this is not an amount he would ordinarily want to hide. My Lord, the account is that of a first offender and this offence is a strict liability offence.

“Taking the circumstances into consideration, the status of the accused before he became Edo State Governor and also as a former governor, we respectfully urge your Lordship to impose the mildest punishment sir, particularly, having regards to section 382 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Act which is applicable in this count.”

In his judgment, Justice Kafarati convicted Igbinedion and Kiva Corporation as charged by virtue of the facts and exhibits presented before him.

Kafarati took cognisance of what he called the demeanor of the accused and the severity of his offence before pronouncing the verdict.

He said, “Having considered the charge against the first accused and since the amount is negligible, he is therefore sentenced to a fine of N3, 579, 524.16, being the amount in the GTBank account he failed to declare.

“He should be remanded in EFCC custody until he pays the fine,” the judge ordered.

Oyeyipo thanked the judge for the ‘wise exercise’ of his power.

But the EFCC later issued a statement in which it said that it was disappointed by the judgment of the court.

It claimed in the statement by its Head, Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Babafemi, that it “would rather go the long way of prosecution than to settle for a plea-bargain verdict that has no bite or will not serve any deterrence purpose.”

The statement reads, “The former governor had sought for a plea-bargain in the course of his prosecution by the EFCC. The outcome of the exercise at the court in Enugu however fell short of our expectation.

“It is believed that the essence of a plea-bargain is not only for suspects to forfeit the proceeds of crime but that such should go with a sentence which will serve as deterrent.

“In view of this development, the Chairman of the EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, has instructed the commission‘s counsel to file an appeal against the verdict immediately.”

Oyeyipo later told journalists that the summary of the charges against his client “either in their original or amended form, bordered on the use of security votes or utilisation of duty tour allowance.”

The Senior Advocate added that the experience of his client in the past 11 months had been humbling and traumatic.

Jacobs, in an interview with our correspondent, said he was neither happy nor sad over the judgment.

He said, “The judge exercised his discretion in sentencing the accused, so there was nothing we could do. I may appeal if directed to do so, but the fact that the accused is convicted is enough.”

December 17, 2008

Arsene Wenger Waves Goodbye To The Big Four The Gunners boss believes the time has almost arrived when the barrier between England's big guns and the

Arsenal slipped out of the Champions League places at the weekend when they failed to claim victory over Middlesbrough - but, thankfully for them, they weren't the only heavyweights who struggled.

The Premier League leaders, Liverpool, scraped a 2-2 draw against Hull City; Manchester United, the defending champs, couldn't even score against Tottenham Hotspur; and Chelsea's home woes continued as they drew 1-1 with West Ham United.

Meanwhile, Aston Villa vaulted into fourth spot by downing Bolton Wanderers, and people are starting to whisper that perhaps Martin O'Neill's men can guard their place until season's end.

Arsene Wenger, who is under real pressure for perhaps the first time in his illustrious North London career, has no doubt that the Villans - and others besides - are on the verge of tearing down the traditional powerhouses.

The French manager told The Sun: “For me the so-called ‘Big Four’ in England is about to change. It won’t last much longer.

“This year in the Premier League there have been changes which are, in reality, good for football values. Manchester United beat Sunderland only in the last minute and drew at Spurs, we were beaten by Stoke and Hull.

“That will continue until March when clubs have earned their safety for next season but won’t be fighting for European qualification. Then these clubs will let things go a little bit.

“But the technical level in our league has increased because players are being bought from all over the world and bringing new talent. The other day, for example, Wigan had Kevin Kilbane, Jason Koumas and Amr Zaki on the bench! This is impressive in my view.”

Some might accuse Wenger of attempting to deflect attention from Arsenal's worrying inconsistency. But when one sees newly promoted Hull holding sixth spot after 16 games, it's hard to rebutt the ex-Monaco gaffer on this issue.

Cecil Braun,

Blackburn Set To Install New Boss By Saturday After the Guv'nor lost his seat yesterday, Rovers are hoping to have a new boss at the helm by the weeke

Blackburn Rovers are presently without a manager after Paul Ince was, unsurprisingly, shown the door on Tuesday.

The former England captain took charge at Ewood Park only this summer, replacing his one-time Manchester United team-mate Mark Hughes.

But with the Lancashire club sitting 19th in the Premier League after 16 games, it seemed inevitable that the ex-Milton Keynes Dons boss would receive his marching orders sooner or later.

Now Rovers are looking for a new gaffer, and chairman John Williams has revealed that Ince's successor could well be sorted in time for this weekend's clash against relegation scrap with Stoke City.

Willians said in the Daily Mail: "Time lines are tight. We will endeavour to have a new manager in place for Saturday's game but there are no guarantees and we must ensure we get the right man."

Graeme Souness, who bossed Blackburn from 2000-2004, is the favourite to take the reins, while Alan Curbishley and Sam Allardyce are also in contention.

Leslie May,

Scolari To Chelsea: Get Me An 'Organiser'! He supposedly has no money to spend this winter, but the Blues boss is still asking for all sorts of new pl

Chelsea might sit second in the Premier League standings, just one point behind leaders Liverpool, but their home form seems to have manager Luiz Felipe Scolari reaching for the alarm bell.

The Blues, once so dominant on the own turf, have now dropped 14 points at Stamford Bridge this term, following their 1-1 draw with West Ham United at the weekend.

There are many thoeries floating about as to why the London giants are struggling at home, especially as they have been unstoppable on the road.

Some believe the presence Nicolas Anelka instead of Didier Drogba up front has changed Chelsea's style, forcing them use the space behind rather than play direct. Thus, when teams park the bus at the Bridge, the hosts tend to struggle - as Scolari understands all too well.

"When we are at home our opponents close up at the back, with lots of men behind the ball," he told the Daily Mail. "It is different when we play away. The home sides play a more open game."

But while most reckon the problem lies in the forward set-up, Big Phil's eyes are fixed firmly on the middle of the park.

"We lack an organiser who can get hold of the ball, get forward and energise our front line," he said. "I just have players who work on the ball."

Some might find the Brazilian's statements a little hard to swallow given he has the likes of Deco, Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole in his squad.

But he said: "Deco, Ballack and Lampard can all shoot but I don't have a player who can dribble.

"There is no point in me weeping or moaning or seeking blame. I have to find a solution - and that is what I will do."

Scolari may have to wait until next summer to solve this particular problem, though, as Chelsea's transfer kitty has been sewn shut this January.

Cecil Braun,

America's Most Wanted Case Closed: Murderer of John Walsh's Son Identified

Finally some closure for John Walsh's family.

Florida police announced Tuesday that they have solved the murder of the America's Most Wanted host's 6-year-old son Adam, who was abducted and killed in 1981.

Authorities said at a news conference that a drifter named Ottis Elwood Toole, who confessed to the crime in 1983 but then recanted before he died in prison in 1996, was responsible. Toole was serving five life sentences for his role in murders committed with serial killer Henry Lee Lucas.

Adam disappeared from a shopping mall in Hollywood, Fla., on July 27, 1981. His severed head was discovered two weeks later in Vero Beach, 120 miles away; his body was never found.

When Toole initially confessed, investigators had no way to positively identify Adam's DNA from the bloodstained carpet found in Toole's Cadillac. When DNA testing was ordered in 1994, they couldn't locate the car. Hollywood police concluded that Toole was the killer, however, after a thorough review of the case records, a police spokesman said today.

Walsh, who helped Congress pass the Missing Children's Act in 1982 and began hosting what is currently Fox's longest-running show in 1988, was at the conference with his wife, Reve, and their three children.

"For 27 years we've been asking, 'Who could take a 6-year-old boy and murder him and decapitate him? Who?' " Walsh said today. "We needed to know. We needed to know. And today we know."

"The not knowing has been torture," he said. "But that journey's over."

Mamma Mia!: Titanic's U.K. Record Run Aground

Meryl Streep has sunk the Titanic in international waters.

The unflagging cheerfulness of ABBA conquered the red-hot chemistry between Leo and Kate this week as Mamma Mia! nudged aside the 11-time Oscar winner as the top-grossing film of all time at the U.K. box office.

The light 'n fluffy musical, en route to earning $571.7 million worldwide, has taken in $107.7 million across the pond after 22 weeks in theaters. Titanic held the record for 10 years after bagging 69 million pounds (about $107.5 million in today's currency) in 1998.

"Mamma Mia! is pure escapism, proving a fun and inexpensive way to forget about the state of the economy for a couple of hours," Universal Pictures International president David Kosse said Tuesday, calling the film a "true phenomenon."

DVD sales also went through the roof, with the jaunty romantic comedy sellling 1.7 million copies its first day out.

But not to worry: Titanic's record of $1.8 billion in global ticket sales will go on... and on.

At Ojude Oba fiesta, Glo paints Ijebu green

From right, The Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona, Gov. Gbenga Daniel and his wife, Yeye Olufunke Daniel at the Ojude Oba festival

Again, December 9 this year would remain a day to remember for the Ijebu all over the world. It was the day millions of Ijebu sons and daughters as well as fun seekers from all over the world trooped to Ijebu Ode for this year’s Ojude Oba festival.

For the fourth year running, Globacom, Africa’s fastest-growing telecommunications giants, added glamour and colour to the event which it has been sponsoring since 2004.

The whole of Ijebu Ode, the capital of the Ijebu nation, was aglow in celebration of an event that has become a unifying factor for all Ijebu sons and daughters at home and in the Diaspora.

This year, like other times, the town was excitingly attired in the company’s trademark lemon green colour as branded parasols, kiosks, and event-specific banners dotted all the nooks and crannies of the ancient town. Even a first time visitor to the town needed little explanation to understand that this was one festival which had become synonymous with Globacom. The company’s sponsorship of the event has, in the minds of many, raised it to an enviable tourists’ delight which attracts people from all walks of life and from other parts of the country.

Since 2004, Globacom has been picking Ojude Oba bills as the festival’s main sponsor.
It has also become an avenue for the company to empower indigent indigenes of Ijebuland by establishing well-equipped commercial telephone call centres for them as well as bringing the products and services of the company closer to the grassroots.

For over a century, Ojude Oba has been celebrated annually on the third day of Eid el Kabir. Now, it is celebrated by Muslims and Christians of Ijebu origin. The festival’s inception dates back to the early 1900s when the first set of Muslim converts thought it fit to visit the then Awujale to express gratitude to him for giving them a free rein in the practice of their new found faith. They also took the opportunity to pray for the monarch’s long life as well as the prosperity of the town.

This year, the tradition remains unchanged. The monarch played host to indigenes of the town who prayed for continued peace in Ijebuland as well the kingdom’s development. After the prayers came the parade of the regberegbes, a unique and age-old institution established to unite the society into age groups, male and female for the purpose of bringing development and progress to the community. There are about 36 groups with an average of, at least, 50 members per group.

Each group wore the latest in parading and dancing in unison to the tunes of traditional music at the background, to pay homage to the king. The entire palace was enveloped in glitz and glamour of phenomenal beauty. There was also a parade of the descendants of the war heroes who gained notable victories for the Ijebu nation during the intra-ethnic Yoruba wars in the pre-colonial days. Each year, the festival avails these classes of people the opportunity to simulate their battle strength and displays.

For Globacom, Ojude Oba allows customers to purchase starter packs comprising Nokia handset and Classic SIM at heavily discounte prices. Products and services were also made available to encourage purchase by intending subscribers.

Officials of the network equally attended to network-related queries, while devices such as handsets and laptops were provided for value-added services to enable access to its wide variety of value-added services. In order to satisfy one of its visions of empowering Nigerians, business centre packages were given to indigent citizens of Ijebuland in the bid to ensure they became self-reliant.

At the fun-filled fiesta, Globacom staged a rendezvous where Fuji crooner, Wasiu Alabi Pasuma, dazzled the crowd with his brand of fuji music. He was supported by a renowned radio presenter cum-comedian, Baba Gboin. DJ Top was on the turntable. There were many gift items and several subscribers who thronged the rendezvous went home with gifts of branded items. The prizes were won by subscribers who competed in dance and mime of popular tunes among other competitions.

The rendezvous, according to Globacom’s Head of Business Solutions, Mr. Folu Aderibigbe, was to further identify with the people, using Ojude Oba as a platform. “The entertainment provided at the rendezvous gave vent to the company’s drive towards ensuring that everyone on the network enjoys tremendously on and off the network,” he stated.

Oba Awujale lauded Globacom’s sponsorship of the festival, saying “the company’s sponsorship of the event has raised it to an enviable tourists’ delight which attracts people from all walks of life and from other parts of the country.”

Globacom’s chairman, Otunba Mike Adenuga, in a speech at the festival, said his company had shown interest in the festival because its socio-cultural value complements
Globacom’s vision to celebrate the unique accomplishments of Nigeria as a nation. “We are confident that our collaboration will add colour to the festival,” said the highly intelligent industrialist.

Nigeria’s economy still strong –Soludo

For the second time in two months, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has re-assured that the nation’s economy remains stable, just as it shall introduce a banking strengthening strategy next month, monitoring the operational performance of all commercial banks in the country.

The apex bank Governor, Professor Chukwuma Soludo, who gave the assurance in Abuja on Tuesday, said the nation’s economy shall continue to remain stable, because government had responded early and positively to all possible economic defects as bad indicators capable of having adverse effects on the country’s economy, arising from the World current economic recession.

Responding to the Senate invitation on the current state of the economy, Soludo declared that CBN’s investigators would monitor the monetary activities of the banks, to enable it measure their exposure to the capital market and undertake all necessary economic growth programmes to keep the banks strong.

He stressed that as a way of dancing out of a self-imposed economic gloom, there was the need to allow the current pricing portfolio appreciate at its own level against foreign currency, saying that any short or long term economic policy, running contrary to the gradual economic recovery, may be dangerous in the short and long run.

According to the CBN governor, the current economic policy, ensuing in the low exchange rate of the naira against international currency, was deliberate and carefully implemented to ensure an internal and external reserve balance for the economy.

He explained that the economics of the currency exchange rate was such that in a world where a nation was faced by the challenge of a balance of payment, especially at the external front as adjudged by the country’s experience in the latter part of the year, declining oil prices, which accounted for 95 per cent of the foreign exchange, the economy should be allowed to appreciate gradually.

“ Every country that experiences that, you have two options: you either allow the prices to adjust by way of exchange rate or quantities would adjust. The quantity that will adjust would either mean that you cut down on domestic consumption, domestic investment and government spending in order to retain pressure on the external sector or you allow the price to do the readjusting,” he said.

Soludo disclosed that it was normal that the exchange rate should respond to several factors, including the current naira flexible exchange rate regime, as it were in most economies of the world, adding that the situation had always been determined by the demand and supply mechanism in the market.

He stressed that for an increasing supply of foreign exchange, the exchange rate would appreciate but when there was a declining supply and the demand in the economy, the exchange rate would depreciate.
The CBN governor warned that on no account should the nation embark on expending the foreign reserve despite the falling oil price, arguing that any attempt to do this or introduce any short medium fiscal policy similar to the then Structural Adjustment Programme, may end up in unemployment and low local production.

He disclosed that Algeria with the largest foreign exchange reserve in Africa with about 130 billion dollars, Malaysia, Thailand, Brazil, India, Russia Philippines and South Africa were diversifying their economies just like Nigeria in their attempt to avoid financial crisis.

“Nigeria happens to be one of such countries. Nigeria is not having a financial crisis but the global financial crisis impact on the Nigeria’s economy is through the declining oil price and therefore the declining squeeze affects the reserve.”, he observed.

Soludo re-iterated his confidence in the nation’s buoyant economy, saying that it went through a decline in 1981 when there was a high external debt relative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the then government huge expenditure which was not the case presently.

“Now we don’t have it but then we had a fragile financial banking system that most of the banks owned by the government lacked depth, just too fragile. Today we have a stronger banking sector that grants credit that was larger than the federal government’s expenditure as at last September,” he said.

Terror scare: 6 foreigners, 3 Nigerians arrested in Abuja

The Nigeria Police Force on Tuesday announced, at the end of the monthly conference of the Inspector General of Police with top officers, the arrest of six foreign nationals in a particular mosque in Kuje, Abuja, believed to be on a terrorist mission in the country.

The Commissioner, Federal Capital Territory Police Command, Mr. John Haruna, disclosed that the suspected terrorists were picked up alongside three Nigerian partners, who were to lead them to four major mosques in the FCT for massive recruitment and training, Haruna added that intelligence reports gathered after the arrest of the gang revealed that Nigeria was among three other countries listed by the ‘Al-Qaeda ’ [a world terrorist body] for attack.

The FCT commissioner added that of the six arrested foreign terrorist suspects, four were with Zambian passports, while two carried Indian passports and the three Nigerian trainees, all looking rich, and well-fed and speaking Arabic fluently with good education, were moving from one mosque to another, using unpopular mosques to carry out their recruitment.

Mr Haruna also revealed that many of the suspected terrorists were already undergoing training in different parts of the country, stressing that the gang was already amassing arms and ammunition in some states of the federation with a view to striking at any given opportunity.

He further told the gathering that already he had beefed up security in the FCT, particularly at the foreign embassies and all high commission offices in Abuja. The FCT police boss also called on other state police commissioners and security agencies in the country to wake up to the challenge to avoid reoccurrence of what happened in the Western world and beyond, disclosing that investigations revealed that Zambia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, among others, were known as terrorists haven.
According to police commissioner, “ In recent times the fear of terrorism has increased even more than fear of crime.

“The unfortunate incident that happened in Jos connoting religious differences even amongst us, hightened that concern especially for those of us in the FCT. We had security reports that there were going to be retaliatory attacks in Nassarawa, FCT, Niger, compelling those of us in the zone to embark on not only massive patrol, but to continue intelligence gathering.

“Last week, there were certain movement of people out of Abuja as sort of exodus, as a result of this and in the course of our patrol, we had an intelligence report we had sleepless night. And one night, we heard reports of this particular number of people in a particular mosque in Kuje Abuja, I sent my officers there, including the area commander, who now arrested six foreigners, all of them well fed, very rich, who have been hibernating from one mosque to the other and never sleep in any hotel. According to them, they have been in this country since November 25, 2008. Four of them have Zambian passports while two had Indian passports and all communicated fluently in Arabic and have themselves to be of a particular brotherhood, which is not popular in this country.

“Upon interrogation, we were able to identify three of their Nigerian cohorts who are equally intakes. We discovered that they never stayed in any particular mosque for more than three days and they are not patronizing the normal mosque activities that we know and they equally used unpopular mosques that are virtually known by their members.

“At about the same time, there was this report that was circulated to the office of Secretary to the Federal Government through the office of the Inspector General of Police, which I happen to read, that from Tanzanian conveying to other countries in Africa that a notorious terrorist gang which took part in the bombing of Zanasala were over 250 people were killed that had also been seen between the border of Zambia and Tanzania.”

“The arrests of these people who look like Arabs and claim to be Zambians make our suspicion that they are Al-Qaeda connected. They were interrogated continuously and as highly educated who had no other thing to do as to go from one country to the other, to achieve their goals. They also said they have been to several other countries, including Pakistan and Afghanistan which we all know as centres for training of terrorists (that is Al-Qaeda).

“The IG has personally interviewed them and briefed the President who ordered their transfer to more secured places. All of them got to Nigeria on invitation and that unless their passports were expertly faked; our embassies in India and Zambia gave them valid visas to come. Before their arrival, those that invited them have cleared our securities at the airport, including Police, State Security Service, SSS, and other security agencies at the airport.”

“There might be more of them, they may go unnoticed unless we go out to locate them and we surely believe that what they want to do is to sow that spirit of discord and probably arrange financing in due course, not necessarily immediately because, seeing these people will portray what am trying to say”, Mr. Haruna revealed.

Deputy Inspector General of Police Administration, Mr. Ogbonaya O. Onovo who presided over the session on behalf of the IGP at the conference said the report was part of new intelligence security gathering strategy of the Force, calling on Nigerians to be security conscious at all times as well as report any suspicious movement to the police or any other security agencies in the country.