Thursday, 26 April 2012

Why wasn't it Africa that found Charles Taylor guilty?

Liberia's inability to judge its people has led to an international court convicting its former president of aiding war crimes.

MDG : Charles Taylor at ICC in The Hague
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor waits for the start of the judgment hearing of his trial. Photograph: Peter Dejong/AFP/Getty Images
For far too long, dictators and warlords who have inflicted extensive atrocities on the African people have gone unpunished. This is true when one looks at the scale of crimes against humanity committed across the continent in the recent past in places such as Sudan, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

But this record of impunity is changing, thanks to the long arm of international justice. Increasingly, Africans suspected of committing crimes against humanity are under investigation by the international criminal court and a few have already been charged and are awaiting trial. International intervention has far-reaching implications on the continent, especially regarding governance and reform of judicial systems.

On Thursday Charles Taylor, warlord turned president of Liberia, was convicted of aiding and abetting war crimes by the Sierra Leone special court in The Hague. The court was established in 2002 to try those who bore the greatest responsibility for crimes against humanity during the prolonged conflict in Sierra Leone. Taylor was convicted in connection with offences including murder, rape, sexual slavery and using child soldiers. It was alleged that Taylor was responsible for these crimes through his support of rebels fighting in Sierra Leone. The prosecutor alleged that Taylor was personally responsible for these crimes because he was involved in the planning, instigating and commissioning but the court found him not guilty of direct personal responsibility for the atrocities carried out by rebels.

Taylor's conviction is significant. First, the successful conviction of a man whose accession to the top public job in Liberia had been achieved through a savage and vicious war in which his troops engaged in an orgy of violence that resulted not only in the abuse of the human rights of many Liberians, but also in the massacre of many of them, augurs well for the development of a peaceful and just dispensation in the country.

Second, Taylor's conviction reinforces the fact that no one, even those elites who serve in the government, including the executive and members of the judiciary and legislature, is above the law – the law is supreme.

Third, that justice had to come from international courts does not reflect well on Africans and Liberia in particular. The process exposes the failure by Liberians to provide themselves with a legal and judiciary system capable of effectively administering justice. Taylor committed his crimes in Liberia and he should have been brought to justice by his own people in domestic courts. However, this was not possible given the country's failure to provide a system capable of dealing fully and effectively with Taylor's subversion of justice.

Fourth, Taylor's successful prosecution informs future Liberian, and indeed African, dictators and tyrants that they cannot escape justice by hedging their bets on a dysfunctional domestic legal system. Where national systems are incapable of adequately and effectively prosecuting leaders who engage in wanton violations of human rights, citizens can look to the international criminal court for justice.

With the Taylor affair concluded, Liberians must now insist on and devote their efforts to providing themselves with institutional arrangements that promote democracy, stability, human rights, sustainable development and social justice. Specifically, the country must provide itself with a constitution that guarantees the just rule of law – under such a system, no one, even imperial presidents and military men with their own armies, is above the law. Hopefully, a new and fully reconstituted legal system, one obtained through a bottom-up, participatory and inclusive institutional reform process, would allow Liberians to bring anyone who violates the law, including even those who are politically well connected, to justice.

Finally, the verdict and the process should be a wakeup call to Africans. The successful conviction for such crimes is a glaring example of the failure of Africans to govern themselves effectively. That the international criminal court has to be used to deal with issues that we as Africans should be able to deal with is a demonstration of our collective failure. That we have to rush to The Hague for others to solve our problems is probably the best example of abuse of our political independence. If anything, Africans must focus on building strong institutions to deal with human rights violations ourselves, else we should not claim to be independent and instead should let others define and enforce the rules.

• Mwangi Kimenyi is senior fellow and director, and John Mbaku is non-resident senior fellow, Africa Growth Initiative, the Brookings Institution

Culled from

EXCLUSIVE: Boko Haram speaks: Why we attacked THISDAY

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image The sect says more media houses might be attacked
The extremist sect, while claiming responsibility for Thursday's attacks, says more bombings are coming the way of the media
The Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, says it attacked THISDAY Thursday to send a strong message to the media that it would no longer condone reports misrepresenting it in the press, or blaming it for acts it knows nothing about.
Abul Qaqa, spokesperson for the sect told Premium Times, in an exclusive interview, that his organisation was fed up with the deliberate misinformation being peddled about it in the Nigerian and foreign media.
“We have repeatedly cautioned reporters and media houses to be professional and objective in their reports. This is a war between us and the Government of Nigeria; unfortunately the media have not been objective and fair in their report of the ongoing war, they chose to take side,” Mr. Qaqa said.
He identified three instances where he claimed his group was deliberately misrepresented by the media. The first, according to him, was the rumour of his capture by the Nigerian intelligence agencies.
“Some reporters are aware that I am Abul Qaqa, they know my voice through our long interactions and they also know the role of Abu Darda who heads the enlightenment committee and sometimes facilitates interviews; yet they (media) go by the unsubstantiated view of government that Abul Qaqa is in custody and I am the new spokesman or number two,” he said.
Premium Times had continuously reported that Abul Qaqa was not arrested contrary to reports and that it was Abu Darda, another member, that was arrested.
The second misrepresentation, according to Mr. Qaqa, was the reporting on the kidnappings of foreigners in the Northern part of Nigeria.
“Another issue was the recent kidnappings in the north; we were clear with our position as a group during a teleconference with reporters but we were shocked the next day when newspaper headlines added a lot of things which I never said during that interview.”
The third example, Mr. Abul Qaqa said, is the mistranslation of the video the group posted recently.
 “Another example is the recent video posted on YouTube by our Imam; I challenge every Nigerian to watch that video again. There is no place our imam either said he will crush President Jonathan or issued an ultimatum to the government in Nigeria; but nearly all papers carried very wrong and mischievous headlines.”
When asked why THISDAY appeared specifically chosen for the attack, Mr. Qaqa said THISDAY’s “sins” are more grievous.
 “It is not only THISDAY that has been engaged in negative media campaign, fictional stories and constantly promoting fake stories by the JTF to give an impression that they are making headway against us yet there is no time the media investigated further as an objective and responsible bystander in this war.
“But the sins of THISDAY are more,” he said.
“They once insulted the Prophet Mohammed in 2001 and we have not forgotten. They recently said our Imam executed me which is false. Here I am speaking to you, I am alive and healthy.”
Expect more media attacks
The group’s spokesman further warned of more attacks on the media.
“We have just started this new campaign against the media and we will not stop here, we will hit the media hard since they have refused to listen to our plea for them to be fair in their reportage,” he said.
Mr. Abul Qaqa also said his group  would give further information on biases by the media.
“In the coming days we will give details and instances where the media have not been fair to us and why we are going to attack them as well.”
Media should be neutral
“The media in Nigeria are not a problem to us if they will do their job professionally without taking sides,” Mr. Abul Qaqa said.
“But each time we say something, it is either changed or downplayed. But when our enemy says something even without logical proof, it is blown out of proportion.”
"We have repeated asked some reporters to retract some stories or even give us the right of reply but none of these requests were given to us."


26/04/2012 14:56:00 NAN 3 persons have been confirmed dead in the media house attack in Kaduna Three persons, including a motorcyclist, have died in Kaduna, following a bomb attack along Kontagora Road by Ahmadu Bello Way in the city. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the incident occurred around 11.20 a.m. from a car in front of the building where ThisDay, The SUN, and The Moment Newspapers have their offices. The police confirmed the incident but declined further comments on casualties. The spokesperson of the Kaduna State Police Command, Aminu Lawal, told reporters at the scene of the incident that the police is still compiling the number of casualties as investigation have commenced. NAN correspondents, reports however, that the body of the motorcyclist was seen at the spot, while an eye-witness, who resides in the area said that he lost two of his younger brothers. Similarly, those injured by the explosion have been evacuated to Rakiya Memorial Hospital for treatment. The suspected bomber, who tried to escape after successfully driving into the compound housing the newspapers has reportedly been apprehended and handed over to the police by some residents of the area. The Kaduna Bureau Chief of the SUN, Ismail Omipidan, told newsmen that but for the quick intervention of residents, the building would have been blown off. He said that following the intervention, the suspected bomber removed the explosive from the car, a 1997 Honda model, and threw it out on the road where it exploded. NAN reports that in spite of warnings by security agencies against rushing to scene of such incidents, hundreds of people thronged the area to have a glimpse of the incident.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Unbeknownst – You’re Always “Quoting” Shakespeare. (Happy Birthday Billy!)

What would happen if we all spoke the way Shakespeare wrote? Would we fall in love more deeply and seek revenge more swiftly? Today just might be the day to find out.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel officially named this 448th birthday of Shakespeare, April 23, 2012, “Talk Like Shakespeare Day” (it’s not the first time) in conjunction with Chicago’s Shakespeare Theater, reminding us of The Bard’s contribution of more than 1,700 words and phrases to the English language, “including but not limited to ‘lackluster,’ ‘eyeball’ and brevity is the soul of wit.’”
How does one begin apeing The Bard himself? Fear thee not! There are a handy set of guidelines for Talk Like Shakespeare day that go as follows (more detailed instructions here):
Instead of you, say thou or thee (and instead of y’all,
say ye).
Rhymed couplets are all the rage.
Men are Sirrah, ladies are Mistress, and your friends are all called Cousin.
Instead of cursing, try calling your tormenters jackanapes or canker-blossoms or poisonous bunch-back’d toads.
Don’t waste time saying “it,” just use the letter “t” (’tis,t’will, I’ll do’t).
Verse for lovers, prose for ruffians, songs for clowns.
When in doubt, add the letters “eth” to the end of verbs (he runneth, he trippeth, he falleth).
To add weight to your opinions, try starting them withmethinks, mayhaps, in sooth or wherefore.
When wooing ladies: try comparing her to a summer’s day. If that fails, say “Get thee to a nunnery!”
When wooing lads: try dressing up like a man. If that fails, throw him in the Tower, banish his friends and claim the throne.
A number of comedians have filmed videos for the occasion, to show you how it’s done if you still need a little guidance (vote for your favorite here).
The idea is catching on well outside of Chicago. According to Broadway World, celebrations have been planned as far away as Armenia, where a movement is underway for the inclusion of “Shakespearean” as an official language option on Facebook, alongside “Pirate.”
If you cannot understand my argument, and declare ‘It’s Greek to me’,
you are quoting Shakespeare;
if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning,
you are quoting Shakespeare;
if you recall your salad days,
you are quoting Shakespeare;
if you act more in sorrow than in anger,
if your wish is father to the thought,
if your lost property has vanished into thin air,
you are quoting Shakespeare;
if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy,
if you have played fast and loose,
if you have been tongue-tied,
a tower of strength,
hoodwinked or in a pickle,
if you have knitted your brows,
made a virtue of necessity,
insisted on fair play,
slept not one wink,
stood on ceremony,
danced attendance (on your lord and master),
laughed yourself into stitches,
had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing,
if you have seen better days or lived in a fool’s paradise —
why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare;
if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage,
if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it,
if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood,
if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play,
if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason,
then — to give the devil his due — if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare;
even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing,
if you wish I was dead as a doornail,
if you think I am an eyesore,
a laughing stock,
the devil incarnate,
a stony-hearted villain,
bloody-minded or a blinking idiot,
then — by Jove!
O Lord!
Tut, tut!
For goodness’ sake!
What the dickens!
But me no buts —
it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.

Source – Huffington Post

Absence of witness stalls El-Rufai’s trial

image Nasir El-Rufai
EFCC fails to present key witness in the on-going trial of former FCT minister, Nasir El-rufai
The trial of former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Nasir El-Rufai, for abuse of public office and illegal conversion of land was again stalled following the absence of a prosecution witness.
Mr. El-Rufai was charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside Altine Jibrin, the former Director-General of the Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) and its former General Manager, Ismail Iro.
The EFCC is charging the trio with abuse of public office and illegal conversion of a land meant for the construction of transmitting/injection sub-stations of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) at Plot 1201 of Asokoro District.
In the charges, the former minister was accused of allocating 10 plots of land to his wives and associate in sheer disregard of the law guiding land allocation.
The offences are punishable under Section 26 of the ICPC Act 2000.
The EFCC claimed that Messrs. El-rufai, Jibrin and Iro committed the offence between 2003 and 2007.
At the resumed hearing of the case on Wednesday, EFCC Counsel, Abdulkarim Adeye, told the court that the key witness, Sunday Idowu, was not in court.
Mr. Adeye, who held brief for the lead counsel, Adebayo Adelodun (SAN), regretted the absence of Mr. Idowu in the court, which he said was due to ill health.
He told the court that he received a letter from the EFCC, which said that Mr. Idowu is ill and had been given an excuse from duty.
The EFCC counsel prayed the court to grant a short adjournment to enable Mr. Idowu, a key witness in the trial, to get better so he could continue with his testimony.
At the last sitting, Mr. Idowu , an inspector of police, who was formerly with the EFCC, testified, telling the court that investigations he carried out revealed that Mr. El-rufai did not declare all his assets to the Code of Conduct Bureau.
Regarding the revoked Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) plot in Maitama, Mr. Idowu said it was meant for a post office, but he did not know the terms of allocation to NIPOST, and could not say if NIPOST was in breach of those terms.
He denied knowing that NIPOST had leased the land to Rosehill, a private firm. 
He however affirmed that he read the statement of Mr. El-Rufai; but when told that the first accused disclosed NIPOST's lease to Rosehill in that statement, Mr. Idowu said he could not remember everything about the case. When asked why the Rosehill lease was not investigated, Mr. Idowu said NIPOST did not disclose it.

Mr. Idowu, who said he had served in the police for 24 years, further testified that he did not know that Rosehill requested the first accused to transfer the NIPOST allocation to them, but he conceded that the FCT minister had the right to allocate and revoke plots of land.
The EFCC counsel had told the court that if granted an adjournment, the prosecution would make sure that it presented all witnesses by the next adjourned date.
In response, Counsel to the three accused persons, Kanu Agabi (SAN), did not object to the prayer of the prosecution for an adjournment.
Mr. Agabi, however, urged the court to take judicial notice that since the trial started in October 2010, adjournments had been at the instance of the prosecution.
He said this was not the first time the case would be suffering at the instance of the prosecution.
In granting the adjournment, Justice Abubakar Umar ordered the EFCC to produce all its witnesses by Wednesday, May 23.
“If by May 23, your witness, Mr. Idowu, is not in court for cross examination, you should be able to unfailingly present your other witnesses,” Justice Umar said.
Spokesperson for Mr. El-Rufai, Muyiwa Adekeye, said in a statement after Wednesday's hearing that Mr. El Rufai still maintained his stand that the trial was just an attempt by the government to persecute him.
“When he returned to the country on 1 May 2010, El-Rufai announced that fighting the case was his priority. He was arraigned at the Federal High Court, Abuja, but the court quashed the charges, agreeing with his argument that he was being arraigned in a wrong court under a wrong law,” Mr. Adekeye said

Monday, 23 April 2012

I will act on Reps’ fuel subsidy report – Jonathan

I will act on Reps’ fuel subsidy report – Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan
PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan on Sunday promised Nigerians that he would act on the House of Representatives panel report on the management of the fuel subsidy.
Jonathan, speaking through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, said “he would act in the best interest of Nigerians”.

“Nigerians can be rest assured that President Goodluck Jonathan will act in the best interest of Nigerians in this matter. After the report is properly laid before the Federal Government, President Jonathan will not condone any wrongdoing and he will act in the best interest of all Nigerians,” Abati said in a telephone interview with The PUNCH.

Last week, a committee of the House submitted a report that says that subsidy fund totaling N1.7bn was illegally paid to some government agencies and oil marketers.

The report identifies the agencies as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the Petroleum Pricing Regulations Agency. The report also lists the Office of the Accountant- General of the Federation and 72 oil marketing firms as authorising and receiving the illegal payments, respectively.
Nigerians have called for the prosecution and possible jailing of the alleged culprits.

However, Abati noted that the House committee’s recommendations could not stand as the resolution of the whole House until a decision had been taken on them. The House will begin debate on the report on Tuesday (tomorrow).

Asked if President Jonathan would sanction the ministers who control the agencies involved, Abati said, It was premature to dwell on the matter.
Abati said, “It is premature to take a decision because the House has not even completed its own process.  The committee set up by the House upon completion of its assignment will present its report at a plenary session, the House will deliberate on the report and take a position and then communicate the position to the executive arm of government.
“It is only then that the executive arm of government can begin to react. The executive will study the recommendation from the House, articulate its position and take a decision.
 “The ad hoc committee report does not amount to the position of the House.  Let the House complete its own work. The executive cannot jump the gun.”

The report, which was submitted to the House last Tuesday, had elicited public outrage, following revelation about the shoddy management of public finance.

According to the report, the NNPC is to refund N310.4bn it fraudulently claimed and another N285bn for fuel imports above the PPPRA level. It is also to refund another N108.6bn the corporation paid itself. 
Also, the report says that N127.8bn, split in tranches of N999 million, was paid 128 times to “unknown entities” within 24 hours on January 12th and 13th in 2009 by a “particular Accountant General.”

A total of 15 purported fuel importers collected $337,842,663 in 2010 without importing any fuel, while another 18 firms, which failed to honour the House panel summons, were asked to refund N41.9bn.
The report states, “It is believed that these companies deliberately refused to appear because they have something to hide. The relevant anti-corruption agencies should ensure full recovery.”

On the N127.8bn, Saturday PUNCH had reported exclusively that the Accountant-General of the Federation, Mr. J. O Otunla, said the PPPRA made the controversial payment, as it owned and operated the account into which the said amount was paid.

Otunla who spoke through the spokesman for his office, Mr. Hassan Dodo, said, “The Account is owned and operated by the PPPRA. The OAGF did not issue cheques or any other payment instruments to any oil marketers.

“This Office, therefore, suggests that the House could demand from the CBN the details and the organisation that issued the payments instrument.
“This will confirm that they were issued by the PPPRA and not the OAGF.”

Other recommendations of the House panel include the prosecution of all members of “staff of the PPPRA and the Department of Petroleum Resources involved in the processing of applications by importers, and verification, confirmation and payment for imported products by importers and the NNPC.”
According to the committee’s report, all the refunds are to be made within three months.

Apparently, acting on the report, the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, last Friday, sacked the auditing firms of Akintola Williams and Company and Adekanola and Company.

The two firms certified the documents and claims of the marketers before payments were made.



I have long been an advocate of subsidy removal. For me, the most compelling argument in favour of deregulation was that it would allow more players into the industry thus enabling the forces of competition, demand and supply to give people more options, better service and eventually force down the price. As far as I was concerned the other points such as elimination of corruption and freeing up funds for massive infrastructural development were secondary because they could easily be done with subsidy still in place.

Events of the last few days have however given me cause to have a major rethink. The first occurred at a filling station in Jos on boxing  day. There I noticed that most people that came to buy fuel were buying for between N600 and N1000 and I knew that was all they could afford. With the removal of subsidy, one can only imagine what these people would do because N1000 will barely fetch you 7 litres!

Then there’s the cleaner in my office who earns N10,000 a month. Prior to subsidy removal, she used to spend N200 a day on transport, which comes down to N5,000 monthly; now she spends N400 a day or N8,000 a month on transport alone!

The vehemence with which government has insisted on subsidy removal despite popular opposition shows that the president is beginning to steel his spine. Some even say he has transformed from weak to wicked. This is because there are simply too many Nigerians that cannot afford this increase and the FGs insistence comes across as callous; people were already struggling to eke out a living and literally cannot afford the new fuel price.

Whatever the advantages of subsidy removal, doing it now is most inauspicious and highly insensitive to the long suffering Nigerian masses. A more humane approach would have been to scale down the 72% recurrent expenditure in the budget (it favours only about 1% of the population anyway) and channel the resources towards rebuilding our refineries.

Government can also help in going after the corrupt cartel in the private sector, NNPC and PPPRA. I’m sure there would be a few billions to recover from there as well.
Leave the masses alone. They are going through enough hell as it is.   


In the light of the recent revelations of the Fuel Subsidy Probe Panel Report, I have decided to publish a few things I wrote during the FSR strikes to remind us of why we took to the streets in the first place and to spur us into ensuring that the ceaseless hemorrhaging of our collective wealth is finally halted.

The Federal Government of Nigeria claims that removal of fuel subsidy is a short term sacrifice that will yield eternal benefits. They appear to plead with Nigerians for understanding while their actions scream "our mind is made and you can go to hell!".
But if subsidy removal will make this country better in about 3 years, should we not all be willing to suffer some short time inconvenience for long time reward? Absolutely not!

Nigerians have sacrificed enough already: daily we sacrifice our lives on the pothole littered roads that span the length and breathe of the country. We sacrifice our patience knowing that every year monies are appropriated for roads maintenance.
We sacrifice our livelihood, when we are paid meagre salaries and resort to begging to make ends meet.
We sacrifice our dreams: we take our children to schools with no desks nor books knowing they will learn nothing and amount to nothing in the end.
We sacrifice our future at clinics with no facilities nor doctors; your health care centres have become departure lounges
We sacrifice our time on the line, under extreme conditions to vote for you knowing that our condition will only worsen when you come into power.
We sacrifice our voices: you rule over us with arrogance, maintaining a lavish lifestyle, rubbing your opulence in our faces.
We sacrifice our rights: we are harassed and beaten by police on the streets, forced to pay bribes we don't have, jailed for crimes we did not commit.
We sacrifice our all everyday. We have nothing left to give!
So today we declare that its now your turn to sacrifice for us!

Sunday, 22 April 2012


I have always been fascinated by greek mythology. As a child, I read stories like Homer's Odyssey and  was transported with an almost 3D/HD imagination clarity to a world of fantasy and wonder. I also remember watching movie classics like Clash of the Titans which have left indelible prints in my head. It will  therefore come as no surprise to see that I have incorporated the name Chronos into blog.
Chronos, was the greek god of time-indeed he was the personification of time. Thus it was believed by the greeks that the hand of Chronos was in every aspect of their lives.


Like the Chronos of the ancient greeks, I shall be writing on issues that cover just about any subject matter and from any part of the world. Just as there is no limit to human thought or imagination, angaichronos will not be limited by time or space.We will talk politics, governance, sports, faith, fashion, family and any other thing that would appear in our timeline.
It promises to be an exciting ride. Welcome to my Time.