Monday, April 30, 2012

Explosion rocks police convoy in Taraba, kills 15

Just a day after the shocking devastation in a Bayero University Catholic mass where not less than 25 people died, another bomb explosion, this time targeted at a police convoy, has killed at least 15 while injuring several others.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in the town of Jalingo but Islamist sect Boko Haram, which wants to carve an Islamic state out of Nigeria, has been blamed for many such previous attacks.
A string of bombings and shootings in the last five days has dampened hopes that arrests and killings of Boko Haram members by the military in recent weeks had stemmed its ability to carry out large-scale attacks in Africa's largest oil producer.

Jalingo is the capital of Taraba state, which borders Cameroon and had previously been spared the insurgency plaguing Nigeria's north.
"At least 11 people were killed and 22 people injured near police state headquarters Jalingo at 0830 a.m when the police commissioner was on his way to office," said Ahmed Bello, a local Nigeria Red Cross official.
He said the blast happened between the state government finance office and the police headquarters.
Abubakar Moyoyo, a Jalingo businessman, told Reuters by phone he had seen 11 dead bodies at the scene.
The police commissioner, Mamman Sule, said his team were investigating whether he was the target of the attack. He confirmed three deaths and said the windscreen of his car had been shattered by the blast.   Continued...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Boko Haram hits university catholic mass, kills 25

Gunmen attacked a Catholic Mass on Bayero University campus Sunday, using small explosives to draw worshippers out before shooting those who fled, killing at least 25 people.
The attackers targeted an old section of the university campus where religious groups use a theatre to hold worship services, Kano state police spokesman Ibrahim Idris said. The assault left many others seriously wounded, Idris said.
"By the time we responded, they entered (their) motorcycles and disappeared into the neighbourhood," the commissioner said.
"I counted at least 15 dead bodies. I think they were being taken to the Amino Kano teaching hospital," a witness who did not wish to be identified told Reuters. He said he saw many more people being treated for injuries.
A security source said at least 20 people were dead and a source at the hospital said by telephone he had seen 10-15 dead bodies brought in with gunshot wounds and dozens more wounded were being treated.
Bayero University spokesman, Mustapha Zahradeen, said two university professors had been killed in the attacks.
No group immediately claimed responsibility. However, Idris said the attackers used small explosives packed inside of aluminum soda cans for the assault, a method previously used by a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram.

Friday, April 27, 2012

It's an attack on journalism, free speech - ThisDay

Scene after the blast
ThisDay issued a statement last night on the attacks. The statement, signed by Managing Director Eniola Bello, entitled: “Simultaneous attack on ThisDay Abuja, Kaduna offices…an attack on journalism and free speech”,  reads: “At about 11:05 am today, a suicide bomber drove an SUV into the premises of our Abuja office, rammed his vehicle into the building housing our printing presses, igniting a massive explosion and fuelling speculations it was a suicide bomber. About the same time, our Abuja office was under siege, the building housing our office, along with two other newspapers’ in Kaduna, came under another bomb attack.
“In Abuja, we can confirm the death of our security man, by name Christopher Sadiq. Three passers-by and the suicide bomber also died. Eight of our staff, who sustained injuries, are receiving treatment at the National Hospital. The roof of the building was blown off, the power generator burnt, the printing plant damaged.
Damaged portions of ThisDay printing press
“We regard the coordinated bombings as an attack on journalism and free speech. However, we want to assure our readers and advertisers that we remain committed to the fundamental principles on which the newspaper is founded: democracy, free enterprise and social justice.
We will not be deterred in our pursuit of truth and reason. No amount of threat or intimidation will weaken our resolve.
“While thanking all the government agencies, particularly Fire Service, VIO and FRSC, that rallied to put the situation under control and restore normalcy, we urge the security agencies to thoroughly investigate the obviously co-ordinated attacks and fish out the masterminds.”

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Explosions rock This Day offices in Abuja, Kaduna

A loud explosion rocked an area Abuja on Thursday followed by smoke and ambulances headed in the direction of the blast, with injuries reported.
Reports have it that the bomb blast in Abuja Thisday office in Jabi was carried out by a suicide bomber who drove into the media house before detonating the bomb hence  blowing away the building ‘s roof.
But Mr Yushau Shuaib  a National Emergency Management Agency spokesman said the blast “occurred inside the premises of a national newspaper,” adding that “a preliminary investigation seems to indicate that the explosive device was planted somewhere within the premises, not likely a case of suicide bombing.”
An AFP correspondent heard the blast and saw ambulances heading towards a district where a bus station and newspaper office are located.
Policemen examine the engine of the jeep used for the attack - AFP
A police spokesman said “we heard something like that happened, but we don’t have the details yet.”  A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency said “it’s true there was an explosion at Jabi (district).”
“NEMA officials are on the ground,” said Yushau Shuaib. “They are trying to move those injured to the hospitals, but we don’t have any information on casualties yet.”
The explosion in Abuja occurred around 11:30 a.m. Thursday at the offices of ThisDay. An Associated Press reporter who heard the explosion said it was very large. Police and paramilitary forces have already surrounded the office.
Witnesses said another explosion struck the newspaper's offices in the city of Kaduna.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nigeria richer, its people poorer

Poverty in Nigeria is rising with almost 100 million people living on less than $1 a day, yet the country's economy is said to be growing at more than 7% annually.  What a mismatch.
The percentage of Nigerians living in absolute poverty - those who can afford only the bare essentials of food, shelter and clothing - rose to 60.9 percent in 2010, compared with 54.7 percent in 2004, according to a Reuters report.
Chief (Thief) James Ibori
Even Nigeria's Statistician General, Yemi Kale, is perplexed by the situation.  "It remains a paradox ... that despite the fact that the Nigerian economy is growing, the proportion of Nigerians living in poverty is increasing every year," he told journalists in Abuja recently.
But are we surprised that the situation is so with leaders like James Ibori all over the states in Nigeria. The former Delta state governor is just one out of many.
Okey Ndibe, a journalist and professor, puts it rightly in one of his latest articles when he stated that "to look at what Ibori stole from his impoverished, pauperized people is to be bewildered. But why allow oneself to be obsessed with that fact? To dwell on Ibori alone is to risk forgetting that Nigeria is overrun by festering legions, mutants of the Ibori idea.
Even as the English judge pronounces his sentence on the former governor of Delta State, these clones of Ibori are hard at work. They are doing the exact things that catapulted their fellow into the dock in the UK, and they are doing them often with more fervor."
Chief (Thief) Bode George
I bet you Ibori will be given a grand reception by PDP when its jail term expires.  The committee for his Reception/Thanksgiving Service may even have been put in place. Remember Bode George and razzmatazz that greeted his release from Kirikiri.  Today he boasts that he will lead PDP to wrestle Western Nigeria out of the hand of ACN. Should people like George still be in our politics today? But alas he is a of PDP kingmaker.
Who will save Nigeria, a country that boasts it wants to be a leader in science and technology, yet what half of our 109 senators get in a year is more that the national budget for science and technology.
I have been invited to a conference holding tomorrow at Harvard University with the theme 'The Future of Nigeria'.  I wonder what the speakers will say.  With rising poverty in the midst of plenty, Boko Haram, and public servants who loot with effrontery as is the case with the ongoing Pension Fund scandal, I guess there is plenty to talk about and certainly plenty to do.  I sure will be there to hear Ambassador Adefuye, Walter Carrington and others.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Strange cake: Is the Swedish minister racist?

By guess blogger: Funmi Macaulay
Swedish culture minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth has come under fire since the photos and youtube video of her cutting a cake designed in the shape of a naked black woman in Stockholm to mark World Art Day went viral.
Liljeroth was pictured laughing and joking as she cut the macabre cake designed by Afro-Swedish artist Makode Aj Linde.  The treat featured a black woman’s naked torso with the artist’s own head, painted black, at the top.  Once cut open, the cake sponge was red, depicting blood.
The firestorm has come from many quarters, but the most vocal critics are members of  the Afro-Swedish community.  The National Afro-Swedish Association branded the event a ‘racist spectacle’.
 “In our view, this simply adds to the mockery of racism in Sweden.  According to the Moderna Museet (the art centre where the event was staged), the 'cake party' was meant to problematize female circumcision but how that is accomplished through a cake representing a racist caricature of a black woman complete with 'black face' is unclear.”
Jallow Momodou, a spokesman for the association, and national co-ordinator for the European Network Against Racism in Sweden, in an article published yesterday in The Guardian of UK, insists that “racism and racist depictions against black people are common in Sweden.”
To buttress his stand, he points to certain incidence in the past, including one in October 2010 where a white Swedish man went on a rampage in Malmö, shooting more than 20 people of colour and killing one.  “The killer was officially considered to be a lone wolf with psychological problems rather than a terrorist with racist motives, and he has still not been prosecuted,” he noted.
Momodou who narrated his experience with racial profiling as a black Swede, is calling for the minister’s resignation.  Another spokesperson of the National Afro-Swedish Association, Kitimbwa Sabuni, has also called for Liljeroth’s resignation.  It is the association’s position on the matter.  “Taking part in a racist manifestations masquerading as art is clearly crosses the line and can only be interpreted as the Minister of Culture supports the Moderna Museet’s racist prank,” Sabuni wrote.
The ongoing controversy re-echoes the age long debate about artistic licence.  It is often said that artists should not be held to the same moral standards as the rest of us.  The artist who made the cake has said he was using performance art to portray the horror of female genital mutilation (FGM), a practice that is still common in parts of Africa.  
I have watched the video and I must say I am not comfortable with it.  It offends my sensibility as a woman and oversimplifies the issue.  

I find it difficult to fix how the portrayal I saw in that video will help stop the problem it claims to be raising awareness of.  It celebrated the act rather than condemn it.  That those who gathered to show concern about a practice that clearly dehumanises womanhood, should entertain themselves with an art illustrating that, is itself condemnable.
My uneasiness is more with the artist than the minister.  His work is such an ugly grotesque representation of a human being.  Very appalling, sickening, deeply disturbing and shameful. Do you need to stage rape explicitly to an audience to win their sympathy against it?  I won’t deem Liljeroth a racist for what has happened.  
It is praiseworthy that she has acknowledged that. “While the symbolism in the piece is despicable, it is unfortunate and highly regrettable that the presentation has been interpreted as an expression of racism by some.  It is perfectly obvious that my role as minister differs from that of the artist. 
Provocation cannot and should not be an expression for those who have the trust and responsibility of Government representative. I therefore feel it is my responsibility to clarify that I am sincerely sorry if anyone has misinterpreted my participation and I welcome talks with the African Swedish National Association on how we can counter intolerance, racism and discrimination,” she noted in a statement today.  
Artist should balance their artistic licence with considerations about the freedom and dignity of others.  There is something unseemly when our artistic liberty translates to deliberate mistreatment of others.  You can be helping my cause by dehumanising me.

Funmi Macaulay is a New York-based African American.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Doctors battle to save baby with 6 legs

Doctors in Pakistan are fighting to save the life of a baby boy who was born with six legs because of a rare genetic condition, hospital officials said.
The infant was born to the wife of an X-ray technician a week ago, Karachi National Institute of Child Health director Jamal Raza said.  
"It is not one baby actually. They are two, one of them is premature," he said.
A doctor at the institute, who did not wish to be named, said the extra limbs were the result of a genetic disease which would affect only one in a million or more babies.
"The doctors are examining the infant to plan for necessary treatment to save the baby's life and ensure he lives a normal life," a statement from the provincial health department said.

Imran Shaikh, the baby's father, who lives in Sukkur, around 450 kilometres north of Karachi, said he was grateful his son was being treated.  "We are a poor family. I am thankful to the government for helping us treating my baby," he said.

Fear of al-Qaeda, 'Boko Haram' grounds aircraft

A Delta Air Lines flight bound for the United States made an emergency landing Monday in Dublin because a passenger left a cell phone plugged into a socket in one of the aircraft's restrooms, police and aviation authorities said.
Dublin Airport officials later cleared the Boeing 767-300 traveling from Istanbul, Turkey, to continue its journey to New York's John F. Kennedy Airport after determining that the suspected bomb was just an unattended mobile phone and charger.
Irish Aviation Authority spokeswoman Lilian Cassin said the pilot requested an emergency landing, the aircraft landed without incident and was diverted to an isolated corner of the runway.
Ireland's national police force, the Garda Siochana, said officers boarded the plane, spoke to the pilot about the nature of the suspected bomb, and asked any passenger missing their phone to come forward.
It was determined that the passenger had decided to charge the phone using the restroom's socket for shavers and left it there, wrapped up in its charging cord, and another passenger using the restroom reported it might be a bomb.
Police said nobody was hurt or arrested because of Monday's security alert, and the Dublin Airport Authority said no other flights were affected.
Delta spokesman Anthony Black said the aircraft had 208 passengers and 11 crew members. He said the aircraft was refueled to continue its journey later Monday.

Laptop wifi may damage sperm, study suggests

Men, might want to consider keeping that laptop off your lap.  A new study in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that when exposing sperm taken from 29 men to electromagnetic radiation from laptop WiFi for four hours, the sperm had DNA damage and decreased motility.
Reuters reports that about 25 percent of the sperm had stopped moving after the four-hour laptop radiation exposure, while just 14 percent of the sperm had stopped moving when kept away from a computer. Nine percent of the radiation-exposed sperm had DNA damage, which was three times the damage of the non-radiation exposed sperm.
The researchers, from Nascentis Medicina Reproductiva in Argentina and the Eastern Virginia Medical School, wrote in the study that they "speculate that keeping a laptop connected wirelessly to the internet on the lap near the testes may result in decreased male fertility. Further in vitro and in vivo studies are needed to prove this contention."
However, it's important to note that the finding was only seen in semen samples taken from a man's body -- and not in a real-life setting, Reuters reported.
"This is not real-life biology, this is a completely artificial setting," Dr. Robert Oates, president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology, told Reuters. "It is scientifically interesting, but to me it doesn't have any human biological relevance."
In addition, Oates told Reuters that there's no scientific evidence from studies that pregnancy success is linked at all with the use of laptops.

And aside from sperm production, the heat emitted from laptops could also lead to a condition coined "toasted skin syndrome," which can lead to skin discoloration and even skin damage that could possibly put you at risk of skin cancer, CBS News reported. 
Dr. Kimberley Salkey, an assistant dermatology professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School, told CBS News that skin burned by a laptop looks, under a microscope, similar to that of skin that has been damaged over a long period of time by the sun.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Why Boko Haram scares me

Boko Haram is an extremely dangerous plague in this country – extremely dangerous. I have been wondering if Dr. Goodluck Jonathan knew that Boko Haram was not just a religious problem. At the surface, it looks like it, because they have been bombing churches and so on. But it also comes with a serious political and geo-political consequence. I don’t pray it ever happens that the South would start responding with reprisal attacks. Then Nigeria would have had it.
Niyi Osundare
I have never seen a country that has won a religious war, because religion is so passionate and so irrational. So you can’t win it by rational argumentation or by reasoned reconciliation or whatever. No, it is really a fight to the finish. That is what bothers me here. 
And this takes me back to the way I felt after that election last year. Mr. Buhari took the North, Mr. Jonathan took the South, and there was some kind of line, which was like a diaphragm, a horizontal line, dividing the country into almost two equal parts . When I looked at that map, what I saw was the Sudan. And I tell you, this is frightening.
This was how Sudan began. Gafar el-Nimeiry and others did all they did when John Garang was there. They did all they could to suppress him. And all kinds of rebel groups sprang up until eventually, July last year, a new country was born and Sudan was divided into two: the North-South, Muslim- Christain dichotomy. It is extremely dangerious for this country.
Does Dr. Jonathan still remember the election that brought him to power? Does he realise how rickety the structure of the country over which he presides is? He has cajoled his security people, he has threatened them, he has done all kinds of things – go get the Boko Haram. But they cannot get them because they are so grassroots. You don’t know them when you see them. Now a state of emergency was declared recently; exactly two days later, Adamawa was bombed. An arrested Boko Haram leader walked away under the very watch of a top-ranking police officer. Talk of defiance and ridicule of Jonathan’s security arrangement!
Boko Haram scares me, I must tell you, because of its social and political dimensions. I am also looking at it from the point of view of the under-privileged.
When people talk about poverty in this country, we think that poverty is something you see in the South and that the people in the North, they are not so poor, after all they have produced more heads of state than any other part of the country. That is a lie. The poor places in the North are far, far poorer than the poor places in the South.
There are so many poor children in the North that do not go to school – the Almajiris and so on. They are not receiving the right kind of education. They get into the hands of extremist clerics who sell all kinds of ideas to them, and indoctrinate them at a very young age. By the time they are in their teenage years, their minds are already formed. This is the group of people that form the core of Boko Haram.
Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekarau
So what we are seeing in Boko Haram, will be a good study for a sociologist, a political scientist and a psychologist. I don’t see it just as a religious issue. It is a multi-dimensional kind of issue. If these young men had enough to eat, were put in good schools, and they were well educated, they had hope; if they lived in a just and egalitarian country, it is not likely they would sell themselves so easily to the kind of fatalism that is causing the kind of mayhem that Boko Haram is unleashing on the people of this country.
There is a certain kind of anger in the way they are carrying out their bombings. This really bothers me. It is a fire that will be extremely difficult to put out. And with the so many fires that Jonathan has set for himself in this country, he might not even have time to face Boko Haram squarely. How do you talk about national unity in the present situation? I would like Jonathan to see the connection between this escalation in Boko Haram activities and the flawed election that brought him to power last year.

Excerpts from Osundare's interview with The News magazine

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Boko Haram's youtube message to President Jonathan

“You Jonathan cannot stop us like you boasted, instead we will devour you in the three months like you are boasting. If death is your worldly gain, for us, it is eternal victory to die working for Allah. Our joy is to die in Jihad for Allah against infidels like you…"

“We are also aware of some Muslims using our name to make money, we will say nothing but let them continue, and they will meet Allah in the last day.

“We are not doing physical human service, but Allah’s work and it is clear your aim is killing us. Let me tell you with Allah we will triumph over you and your men in hundreds. We are not boasting rather keeping quiet and working for Allah.

“Allah that finishes Pharaoh and others wicked rulers that you are not even up to them, will finish you and end your government. We are not afraid because we are not doing man work but Allah’s work. And we will see who will carry the day.”

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter bomb blasts kill at least 50 in Kaduna

At least 50 people were killed when explosives concealed in two cars went off near a church during Easter Sunday services in the northern Nigerian city of Kaduna, eye-witnesses said.
The explosions, a stark reminder of Christmas Day attacks that left dozens of people dead in Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, hit the city of Kaduna, a major cultural and economic centre in the north.
Motorcycle taxi drivers and passers-by caught much of the blast.  Shehu Sani, the President of Civil Rights Congress based in Kaduna, said two explosions took place at the Assemblies of God's Church near the centre of the city with a large Christian population and known as a major cultural and economic centre in Nigeria's north.
"There were two explosions and the casualty figure may go up because some injuries were really critical," he said on phone.
As news of the attack spread, security forces boosted patrols in key areas, including in the capital Abuja, where soldiers were sent to reinforce police posted near churches, an AFP correspondent reported.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
At least one car said to be driven by a suicide bomber was involved in the Kaduna attack, but a rescue official speaking on condition of anonymity said two vehicles packed with explosives detonated.
Officials were still counting the number of wounded, he added.  "Bombs concealed in two cars went off just opposite this church," said one of rescue officials.
A police officer at the scene said a man believed to be a suicide bomber driving a car was stopped at a checkpoint near the church and turned back, but drove to a nearby area close to a hotel and detonated the bomb.
Other cars in the area were damaged, but it was unclear if they were also carrying explosives, he said.
A spokesman for the national emergency management agency said most of the victims appeared to be motorcyle taxi drivers.
Police said the explosion was a bomb, but did not comment further.
"We have a bomb explosion. We are trying to sort things out," police spokesman Aminu Lawal told AFP.
Residents reported seeing dead and injured being taken away. An AFP correspondent said he saw 10 bodies, while one resident said he counted at least 10 wounded.
"From my balcony, I could see policemen loading the dead and the injured into waiting vans," another resident said.
One resident said the explosion was strong enough to shake his house and cause his ceiling to cave in. He ran to the site, which had already been cordoned off, but he said he could see damage to the Assemblies of God Church as well as cars.
Islamist group Boko Haram carried out a series of attacks on churches and other locations on Christmas day, the bloodiest at a church outside Abuja, where 44 people died.
Authorities as well as foreign embassies had warned of the possibility of an attack on Easter Sunday.
Boko Haram's increasingly bloody insurgency has left more than 1,000 people dead since mid-2009. Police and soldiers have often been the victims of such attacks, though Christians have regularly been targeted as well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Nigerian among victims of California shooting

The police in California, United States, yesterday identified a Nigerian, Doris Chibuko, an indigene of Enugu state, as one of the victims of the Oakland shooting that killed seven students of a Christian university in the city of Oakland.
Chibuko, 40, and a mother of three, worked as a lawyer in Nigeria before migrating to the United States in 2002 after marrying a fellow Nigerian,  who is based in the state of California.
"She was a very happy person, very caring, very loving," said husband of the diseased, a technician at AT&T.
"She liked to spend time with her family. Right now I'm just trying to grieve."
Doris met her husband whose name was given as Efanye Chibuko while at the university and they got married in 2002. That same year, the couple immigrated to the United States, where they had three children, who are now ages 3, 5, and 8.
Doris, who worked part time at Villa Fairmont Mental Health Rehabilitation Centre in San Leandro, was two months away from graduating with a degree in nursing before the gunman killed her and six others in Oikos University  in what has been described as one of the worst school shooting incidents in California.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Celebrity activism goes high-tech

From viral videos and tweets to George Clooney’s satellite network, celebrities are becoming more tech savvy in their activism.
According to Dominic Basulto, blogger for Washington Post, while celebrity activism is a notably fickle endeavor, it’s clear that new Web-based tools are leading to radically new types of initiatives to bring about political change. Look no further than the hyper-viral Kony 2012 campaign, which raised awareness around the world about Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony.
What made the campaign so powerful was the ability to message 20 major "culturemakers" (i.e. celebrities) to get the word out about Kony, via social media. With a simple tweet, these celebrities were able to recruit thousands of people to the cause and attract the attention of U.S. legislators. After all, it’s one thing when the United Nations comments on Kony, but it’s quite another when Oprah or Kim Kardashian messages a veritable army of followers with the plea: “Stop Kony!!!”

In tech, a quest for more women

When I first met Adriana Gascoigne in 2006, she was managing public relations for an online-video company I had joined (that was not, unfortunately, the soon-to-be-acquired YouTube). She stood out from the crowd because of her overwhelmingly positive energy, multilingual phone conversations, and because she was one of just three women in the 25-person office.
That gender ratio, Gascoigne realized, was a problem — she wasn’t alone in making that observation, but, unlike many, she decided to do something about it. A few months later, Gascoigne launched Girls in Tech, a group that offers networking events, seminars, and mentoring programs that currently reach 10,000 members in 30 chapters across the globe.
Five years after beginning the venture, and one month after opening a chapter in Singapore, her new base of operations, Gascoigne took time to answer a few questions about the persistent issue of gender diversity in tech.
Read more here