Army officers have arrested some traders alleged to be suppliers of arms to Boko Haram.

The three suspected gun runners of Igbo origin, who were heading to the North from Imo State, were intercepted in Nsukka, Enugu State, by officers and men of the Nigerian Army while traveling in a bus.

Items recovered from them include 40 AK47 magazines, 4 boxes of AK47 live ammunition, 100 pieces of live cartridges, one pair of Mobile Police uniform and charms concealed in a cap.

One of the army officers who spoke to reporters under anonymity disclosed that a police corporal serving in Imo State Police Command was also involved in the arms running.

He said: “When we asked the occupants of the vehicle to come down, we discovered a police corporal in uniform among them. The corporal on getting down pretended to be pressed; he later ran away.

Source: Abuja Voice

Ukraine’s prime minister has tendered his resignation, berating parliament for failing to pass legislation to take control over the country’s increasingly precarious energy situation and to increase army financing.

Earlier on Thursday two parties quit a parliamentary coalition, a move that opened the way for a new election to clear what a politician called “Moscow agents” from the chamber, a decision welcomed by the president, Petro Poroshenko.

The resignation of the prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, could leave a hole at the heart of decision-making when Ukraine is struggling to fund a war with pro-Russia rebels in its east and dealing with the aftermath of a plane crash that killed 298 people.

The usually mild-mannered Yatseniuk bellowed at politicians who had failed to pass a law to allow a liberalisation of control over Ukraine’s pipeline system.

He said Ukraine’s politicians were at risk of losing the hearts and minds of the thousands who protested for months in the “Maidan” protests in favour of joining Europe and against a pro-Moscow president.

“History will not forgive us,” he told parliament.

“Millions of people made this revolution. We did not take the European choice but the ‘heavenly hundred’ and thousands of other Ukrainians did,” he said, referring to those killed, mainly by sniper fire, during the protests.

Yatseniuk, who has been central to talks with the European Union and the United States, cannot leave office immediately, political analysts said, because he is obliged to oversee his duties before a new prime minister and government are installed.

But his impassioned speech underlined the frustration of many in Ukraine that change in the higher echelons of power was taking too much time.

The mood has also sunk in Kiev since the downing of a Malaysian airliner in rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine last week, even though Ukrainian forces are making headway in the military campaign against the separatists.

Poroshenko welcomed the decision by the nationalist party Svoboda and the Udar (Punch) party of the former boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko to withdraw from the majority coalition in parliament.

“Society wants a full reset of state authorities,” Poroshenko said in a statement, adding that the move showed that those who decided to quit the coalition were following the will of the people.

Politicians and political activists have complained that while Ukraine has a new president, it has yet to elect a new parliament since the toppling of Viktor Yanukovych in February, and accuse his supporters of hampering its work.

Yatseniuk said that by blocking legislation, such as a bill to exert tighter control over the energy sector in the face of dwindling natural gas supplies from Russia, the parliament was putting Ukraine’s future at risk.

By not tackling budget spending, it was also putting the lives of Ukraine’s soldiers at risk, he said.

“Our government now has no answer to the question: how are we to pay wages, how are we tomorrow morning going to send fuel for armoured vehicles, how will we pay those families who have lost soldiers, to look after the army?” he asked parliament.

“Those people who are sitting there under fire, can we just think of them?”

Source: Reuters

The Lagos state Ministry of Health has said that the city’s first case of the deadly Ebola virus may have been recorded. It announced today that a man is being tested for the virus.

The man whose identity remains undisclosed is a Liberian national in his 40s.

Lagos, a megacity of about 21 million people, is Nigeria’s commercial capital. If the virus is allowed into the city, the effects could be disastrous.

Ebola has killed 632 people across Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since an outbreak began in February, straining a string of weak health systems despite international help.

This would be the first recorded case of one of the world’s deadliest diseases in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous nation, with 170 million people and some of Africa’s least adequate health infrastructure.

Algeria’s national airline, Air Algerie, says it has lost contact with one of its planes flying from Burkina Faso to Algiers across the Sahara.

Contact was lost about 50 minutes after take-off from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, it said. The plane was last seen at 01:55 GMT.

Air Algerie said 50 French citizens were among the 110 passengers and six crew on board Flight AH 5017.

The pilot had contacted Niger’s control tower in Niamey to change course because of a storm, correspondents say.

France’s civil aviation body said crisis centres had been set up at airports in Paris and Marseille.

“In keeping with procedures, Air Algerie has launched its emergency plan,” Air Algerie officials, quoted by APS news agency (in French), said.

Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal reportedly told Algerian radio: “The plane disappeared at Gao (in Mali), 500km from the Algerian border.”

UN troops in Mali say they understand the plane came down between Gao and Tessalit, the BBC’s Alex Duval Smith in the Malian capital Bamako reports.

Brigadier General Koko Essien, who is leading the UN troops, told the BBC that the area leading up to the Algerian border was vast and sparsely populated.

He added that weather in the area had been bad overnight.

Armed groups are also said to be active in the area. However, at the moment the most probable scenario looks like a plane that came down in bad weather, our correspondent adds.

In a statement (in Spanish), Swiftair said that the aircraft was an MD83 and that they were unable to establish contact with it.

An Algerian official had previously told Reuters that the plane was an Airbus A320.

An unnamed Air Algerie company source, speaking to AFP news agency, said: “The plane was not far from the Algerian frontier when the crew was asked to make a detour because of poor visibility and to prevent the risk of collision with another aircraft on the Algiers-Bamako route.”

“Contact was lost after the change of course.”

Flight AH 5017 flies the Ouagadougou-Algiers route four times a week, AFP reported.

French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier told reporters that it was likely there were also many French nationals on board the plane.

Source: BBC

It has been reported that several people were killed on Wednesday following a gun battle between security operatives and suspected sea pirates in Bayelsa state.

Officials of the marine components of the Bayelsa State Police Command and soldiers attached to the Joint Military Task Force, code named Operation Pulo Shield, engaged the suspects in fierce gun fight at about 2:00am in an oil rig operated by Lone Star Drilling Company in Gbarain and Ogbeinbiri communities of Southern Ijaw.

The state police commissioner, Hillary Okpara, and JTF spokesperson, Lt.Col.Anka Abdullahi, confirmed the incident.

The force spokesperson said the incident occurred when the suspects who were about five in number tried to take over a flow station in Ogboinbiri.

Okpara said some of the workers at the oil servicing company sustained bullet wounds, and that some of the suspects were killed in the gun fight but could not ascertain the number of casualties.

One of the security operatives who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “Their main target was to remove the weapons attached to a gunboat used for protecting the rig. They wanted to steal the guns in the boat,” he said, noting, however, that the policemen were at alert and immediately replied the bandits with a volley of bullets and sustained the shooting until they repelled the attack.

“All l can tell you is that some of the pirates must have been hit by the police bullets. They were in the river and it is believed that those who were hit must have fallen into the river. It is expected that their bodies would float after two days.

“The pirates had come with the intention to remove the weapons, very sophisticated ones, on the gunboat. They came with a generator and an electric filing tool which they intended to use to remove the weapons if they had succeded in their operation. Unfortunately, they were repelled by the policemen guarding the rig.”

It was further gathered that the hoodlums regrouped and later stormed the facility in a reprisal attack but were over powered by the policemen who eventually chased them out of the area.

Barely 72 hours after the Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Hon. Chukwuma Nwazunku, was impeached, the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Samuel Nwali, has been kidnapped.

He was kidnapped Thursday morning by unknown gunmen at his residence at Watchman street in Abakaliki, the state capital.

The whereabouts of the lawmaker is yet unknown.

Nwali who represents Ikwo South state constituency is believed to be a strong supporter of the Speaker-elect, Hon. Helen Nwobasi.

The incident was confirmed by Eni Uduma Chima, a member representing Afikpo South East.

Meanwhile, a source who pleaded anonymity said Nwali’s kidnap may not be unconnected with the crisis rocking the Ebonyi state house of assembly over the impeachment of the speaker, Mr Chukwuma Nwazunku, who was removed on Monday, July 21, 2014 for alleged gross misconduct, incompetence and corruption.

On Tuesday, a day after Chukwuma was impeached, Nnenna Nwene, a member of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly, was reportedly attacked by supporters of the impeached Speaker.

Take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of poor Willy Obiano, waking up in the safety of the Government House in Awka, to the sounds of men-o’-the-night marauding around in his house. This, all because the men-in-black on duty had helped themselves to some mind-bending substances, and then proceeded to piss the night away.

At least Uncle Willy will have some peace knowing that this set of guards will be away from guard duties for a while. In the case of Uncle Muhammadu, his own guards have been taken to the afterlife, and not necessarily because they slept. An explosive device did the job while Uncle Muhammadu rolled through Kaduna. A few minutes before, a device of similar purposes almost took out the leader of Sufists in Nigeria. Sheikh Dahiru Bauchi. In some quarters, the Prez was lampooned for thanking God that neither man died. I beg to take a different view.

Unlike Uncle Willy’s men-in-black, God was not sleeping on duty. Just stop for a moment and imagine, what would have happened had these two powerful men in the northern establishment been dispatched on the same day. God rest the dead.

Bits and Bobs

*Foreign noisemakers are again telling us that they expect us to be among the World’s Top 20 within two presidencies. And this without light.

*But maybe we are already there as another set of foreign noisemakers have thrown their hands up in the air to say that Nigerians are not as poor as they imagined.

*Since we are not that poor, I wonder why it is still so hard for me to get a reasonable loan from my bank.
*Sadly, the people who are in a position to do something about that can only throw up their hands in despair.

*While buoyed by the new cash floating around, men-o’-the-night have written letters to some Nigerians, asking them to advise their guards to fall asleep.

Right of Reply
Ebele Irabor wrote,

And you know what depresses me further?
A lot of those young girls will probably be pregnant by now. Scared for life, with the extra trauma of raising children conceived under such traumatic circumstances.
How cruel can we humans be to one another?

Please follow me on Twitter @Chxta

Staff of the Ministry of Finance yesterday barred the Minister and other senior staff of the ministry from entering their offices.The protesting workers were demanding for improvements in their benefits.

The workers of the ministry were joined by their colleagues from the budget office of the federation, an affiliate of the ministry, to protest what they described as their poor welfare conditions.

The protest, which started gathering momentum about 10:00 am when the minister was away attending the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, saw staffers leaving their duty posts and going to the protest venue.

They barricaded the gate of the ministry, preventing visitors from going in or out of the premises for about five hours that the protest lasted.

None of the leaders of the protest was willing to speak with the media or agreed to state in concrete terms, the basis for the protest.
The only reason they kept singing was that staff welfare has been relegated to the background by authorities of the ministry.

Some of the staffers who spoke to our reporter on the condition of anonymity accused the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Anastasia Nwoabia, of denying them their benefits.
They said: “We have been experiencing difficulties in getting some of our allowances, such as overtime and training allowances and even benefit that should be given to us during festive periods.”

When the Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala returned from the FEC meeting, however, the protesters started cheering and chanting at her: “Mama oyoyo,” forcing her to alight from the car and dance with them before heading to the ministry’s auditorium for a meeting.

Speaking to the press later, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said: “This is a family matter and we will resolve it internally”

The meeting between the protesters and the minister was still ongoing as at the time of this report while the ministry’s doors were opened for normal activities to thrive. In a statement from the minister through her spokesman, Mr Paul Nwabuikwu, she said the staff union embarked on a protest against the Permanent Secretary, Mrs Anastasia Daniel-Nwaobia on issues bordering on their welfare, training and related issues.

The finance Minister at the meeting gave an update on challenges in the environment including revenue shortfalls which have made prudence in the management of government business critical if priorities are to be met.
She explained that resources are front loaded to security and other key priorities and there is therefore need to manage the implications of doing so.

Responding to complaints by staff about challenges in their working environment such as breakdown of the lift and ACs, bad smells caused by structural problems in the building and so on, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala asked the Permanent Secretary to submit a report on progress in dealing with these issues in 2 weeks.

On scarcity of working materials, the minister, while acknowledging that staff should and must get the requisite equipment and materials they need to do their jobs stressed that waste and hoarding of stationery, toners, printers must be discouraged. She instructed that the materials be made available but there should be clear and necessary controls applied.

On training which was a particularly contentious issue, the minister declared that there should be no favouritism and that equity must guide decision making in this area.

A crew member who was declared missing and believed to have died after the crash of the Nigerian Air Force Mi-35 Helicopter on Wednesday in Borno has made his way back to the Defence Headquarters in Abuja.

According to a statement by the Defence Headquarters, the crew member resurfaced at the military Headquarters in Maiduguri on Wednesday having trekked through the bushes after the crash.

“The Engineer crew member of the crashed Nigerian Air Force Mi-35 Helicopter earlier declared missing has been found alive. The crew member who was declared missing when his body could not be located in the vicinity of the crash resurfaced at the military Headquarters in Maiduguri today (Wednesday), having trekked through the bushes after the crash,” Defense Headquarters said.

The statement also disclosed the identity of the crew as Flight Lieutenant NM Halilu, Co-Pilot and Warrant Officer Augustine Nwanonenyi.

It added that the aircraft technician survived the crash and Flight Lieutenant Onyeka Nwakile was the only one lost in the crash.

The statement further said the family of the officer has been duly informed while the two survivors are in stable condition but receiving medical attention.

Defence Headquarters said search and rescue operation on the incident had been concluded while investigations into the crash continued.