Fresh Outta Lagos

In late 2010 I took the opportunity to go to the MTV Africa music awards which were being held in the same Lagos hotel I was living in at the time. Afterwards I made the following remark:

Clearly everyone who was anyone in Lagos’ media industry was attending this event, and they’d all donned their most fashionable clothes for the occasion…this was an event of some importance to the kool kats of Lagos.  At 7,000 Naira ($46) per ticket for the standing area, and 15,000 Naira for the seats, those in attendance were drawn from the lucky few of the city’s 15m (or whatever) inhabitants.  The minimum wage in Nigeria is 18,000 Naira per month.

The highlight of the night was a chap called Chuck D, former front man of Public Enemy, who came on to perform.  Unfortunately, he is 50 and looked like somebody’s dad.  But he turned out a reasonable performance which made sense to seemingly everyone but me right up to and including where he urged everyone in the place to “fight the power”.  There is something highly ironic about an American rapper urging a concert crowd made up entirely of Nigeria’s wealthy elite to fight the power.

I was reminded of this when I heard that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who is worth three million quid – addressed the crowd at Glastonbury, tickets for which cost £238 plus a £5 booking fee. In his speech, Corbyn said (emphasis mine):

Is it right that so many people in our country have no home to live in and only a street to sleep on? Is it right that so many people are frightened of where they live at the moment having seen the horrors of what happened at Grenfell Tower? Is it right that so many people live in such poverty in a society surrounded by such riches?

I want to see a world where there is real opportunity for everybody in our society. That means sharing the wealth out in every part of our country, and looking to global policies that actually share the wealth, not glory in the levels of justice and inequality, where the rich seem to get inexorably richer and the vast majority continually lose out. The desperately poor live on the margins of society which is basically known as the fourth world. Surely we can, as intelligent human beings, do things differently and do things better. And when we’re here today in Glastonbury, we’re doing things differently, we’re doing things better and we’re seeing that inspiration.

The Glastonbury crowd responded to these words with rapturous applause, same as the Nigerian elites did when Chuck D told them to stick it to the man.

I suppose Nigeria and the UK are not the only countries where the wealthy and privileged get together and pretend they’re on the side of the downtrodden masses, but I am nevertheless surprised at how universal such delusions are. At least the Nigerians laid on cheap beer.

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Dodgy Traffic Police

Today’s re-posted blog entry is from November 2011 and concerns corrupt traffic police in Nigeria and Russia.

Today I got pulled over by a dodgy traffic policeman for the first time since I came to Lagos over a year ago. I wasn’t driving (I never do: a pale face behind a wheel may just as well be replaced with a sign saying “Free Money Here” as far as the Lagos traffic police go), and was sat in the back reading.

A scrawny, unshaved, shit of a man with a uniform he’d been potholing in banged on the bonnet of my car at a place where the traffic police have been doing a lot of document checks of late. With Christmas coming up, they are looking to maximise revenue. Here’s how the conversation went.

Policeman: Give me your documents.

(My driver handed the policeman the documents. He looked at some of them, wishing he had learned to read before joining the police.)

Policeman: Hey! You have not signed this one and this one!

Driver: And?

Policeman: Who is the owner of this vehicle?

Me (winding down rear window): Me.

Policeman: You haven’t signed these documents.

Me: Oh.

Policeman: You haven’t signed these documents!

Me: I know. You said.

Policeman: You did not go to the vehicle administration centre.

Me: (silence)

Policeman: I said you did not go to the vehicle adminstration centre.

Me: I know. You said.

Policeman: Then you should answer me.

Me: If you want me to answer you, first you must ask a question.

Policeman: I axed you a question.

Me: No, you made a statement.

Policeman: Did you go to the vehicle adminstration centre?

Me: No.

Policeman: Then who registered your vehicle?

Me: The garage from which I bought it.

Policeman: Do you know it is a criminal offence not to sign a paper?

Me: Okay.

Policeman: You need to drive around the corner and wait for me there.

Me: Fine, but I need my documents back.

Policeman: No, you don’t need them. Drive over there.

Me: Not without my documents.

Policeman: You need to follow me to Ikeja (some place miles and miles away).

Me: Fine. But first I’m calling my company security team.

Policeman: Okay, call who you want.

(I call my company security, who dispatch an intervention team consisting of a high-ranking policeman and a bit of muscle)

Me: Okay, I’ve called my security department. We’re gonna have to wait here until the intervention team arrives.

Policeman: No, you need to come with us now.

Me: Sorry pal, this is the procedure I’m told to follow. Now I can move the car off the road a bit, but I cannot and will not leave the scene until the intervention team arrives.

Policeman: Are you giving me instructions?

Me: No, I’m just telling you what I am doing.

Policeman: Are you resisting arrest?

Me: Nope. Just sitting here in my car, waiting for the intervention team.

Policeman: But you cannot wait here, you will cause an accident.

Me: Okay, we’ll pull off the road just over there. But I’m not going anywhere else until the interven…

Policeman (throwing my documents through the window): Get out of here!

I was as calm as a mill pond in June. My driver (a local) was as calm as St. George’s channel in January with gale warnings in Lundy, Fastnet, and Irish Sea. He kept arguing with the policeman, demanding he be spoken to properly, asking him what our offence was, and generally acting exactly as this illiterate halfwit in a beret which had once cleaned up an oil spill wanted him to. The key to these situations is to show firstly that you couldn’t give a fuck, and secondly that you have all the time in the world.

I learned this in Russia. When I used to get hauled over for speeding, I’d apologise and get the topic onto football ASAP, trying to be as friendly as possible. I once managed to get let off a fine and a confiscated car by doing this when I’d been pulled over for speeding and they found my insurance had expired. But if I’d done nothing wrong and they were finding spelling mistakes in my documents, then they were in for a long wait.

Firstly I’d speak to them in Russian. If they didn’t let me off, I’d wait until they filled out the whole form and handed it to me to sign, at which point I’d ask for a translator. “But you speak Russian!” they’d say. “Yup, but I don’t read it. Sorry. Translator, please.” At this point they’d usually say “Okay, but our translators come from the FSB. You know FSB? Bad guys. If they come out, you are in trouble. Okay, I will call them.” So I’d pull out a book and start reading. I’m not half as thick as I look. I know full well that if an FSB translator is hauled away from his Sunday lunch to attend a call from a road policeman, there had better be a bomb, a body, or Boris Berezovsky waiting for him when he gets there. If he finds a dishevelled, vodka-soaked traffic cop needs a hand shaking down a Brit who has done nothing wrong, I know who’s going to be directing reindeer outside Yakutsk for the rest of his career. I knew this, and so did they. They never made the call for a translator, and after a few minutes of watching me read, they told me to clear off.

There’s a reason for this. Corrupt police, like school bullies and muggers, want an easy fix. The last thing they want is to put in effort, or else they’d have proper jobs doing something productive. The reaction they are hoping to induce is panic followed by a desperate attempt to get out of the situation by paying them off. I don’t know what the rate is, but I’ve heard of people paying $100 and more to escape the clutches of the Lagos traffic police. If they see somebody is not panicked, they will try to bait you into a confrontation. Once you’re in an argument, which with a Nigerian policeman would be described as heated after the first sentence, you’re playing into their hands. Having failed to find an original offence, you’re likely offering them another on a plate. It’s a lot harder to manufacture an incident with somebody who is largely ignoring you and meekly saying “okay, sure” when you accuse them of committing a criminal offence by not signing a paper. That puts the ball back in his court, because he now needs to do something about it. But what he really wants is for you to offer to do something about it by handing over a fistful of cash. By not doing so, you’re making him work for his money and that isn’t what he joined up for at all, oh no.

Also, as one of my colleagues pointed out today when I told him the story, by occupying himself with me – and getting nowhere – he is missing out on lots of other “customers” who are driving by unmolested. I’m taking up the lucrative spot in the road which he uses to shake people down. If he’s not making money out of me, he’s losing out. Not being completely dim, he realises this and lets me go. It was the exact same in Russia. So long as I was sat in the front seat of the patrol car reading a book and waiting for a translator, they couldn’t process anyone else. They have probably been at this game long enough to know how much they can expect per hour and how long they have to extort cash out of somebody before they start cutting into their revenue stream. If you can front it out this long, you’re probably home free.

Of course, this all depends on whether or not you have done something wrong. If you have, you’d better cough up – some now or more later. Hours and hours later, on the other side of town. What’s bad about Lagos, and I never saw this in Russia, is the traffic police and other authorities will simply pull you over and declare you have jumped a red light or made an illegal turn. Complete lies of course, but it’s your word against theirs and – their superiors being in on the racket – you’re never going to win.

So was I in the wrong today? Initially, I thought I was. When I got back to the office, I looked at the documents. One was a receipt from the registration centre, the other was some form I filled in at the garage. Neither am I obliged to carry in my car, much less sign them. I could have thrown them in the bin at any point and been no more an outlaw than before. I don’t know whether this policeman was genuinely ignorant – I’ve seen cleverer looking farmhands in West Wales – or if he was trying it on regardless. I suspect the latter, given he made sure he got rid of me long before the intervention team arrived. Either way, all pretty unpleasant, but compared to some of the stories I hear from my colleagues involving the traffic police (or impersonators), I got off lightly.

*Nigerian police motto. Seriously.

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Of Sub-Letting and Scams

Back when I lived in Lagos I had an English friend who was married to a Nigerian-born British lady. Because of this, they interacted a lot more with the locals than the rest of us expats. We lived in a compound on a private island in accommodation that by any standards, let alone those of Nigeria, would get called luxury (lest you think we were spoiled, one of the issues that plague developing world cities is that there are generally two types of housing: total shitholes and ludicrously expensive luxury apartments).

My friends got chatting to some Nigerian neighbours and discovered that one of their income streams was sub-letting council properties in London to other Nigerians. They’d gone to the UK, got themselves a council house or flat, rented it out to somebody else, then came back to Lagos. When my friends started getting cross at this, the response of their neighbours was along the lines of:

“Why are you mad at us? Why aren’t you mad at the idiots who put this stupid system in place that allows Nigerians to get council houses and rent them out? Frankly, we can’t believe that they let us do this!”

They had a point. One of the worst aspects of the British welfare system isn’t that so many people game it, but that it does not adequately provide for many of the deserving poor either. Yet we’re always being told it’s a funding issue, rather than an organisational one.

I was reminded of this story when I read somebody on Twitter saying that in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, some poor sod is going to have to work out who was actually living there. I don’t know the mix of private and social housing in the block, but you can be sure that sub-letting of council flats was going on. Although disallowed, the practice is widespread, particularly among immigrant communities. Even identifying the dead might be difficult if the person living in a particular flat wasn’t the person whose name is one the lease. No doubt insurance claims will be affected as well, assuming they even had any.

This in turn reminded me of something else, bringing me back to Nigeria again. On the only occasion I flew from Lagos to Port Harcourt, i.e. an internal flight, I was surprised to find my boarding pass – handed to me by a Nigerian who was assigned to “look after me” – had somebody else’s name on it. Apparently middle-men buy up all the plane tickets the moment they’re issued by the airline and re-sell them at a marked-up price. That this is allowed to go on says everything you need to know about Nigeria, but it’s not just a cost issue. It occurred to me as the plane lurched and weaved its way towards Port Harcourt that if it crashed nobody would have any clue who was on it. There was no record of me being a passenger, some chap with a Yoruba name was supposed to be in my seat. People would assume he’s dead, which I’m sure would open up all sorts of opportunities for additional scams.

I’d not be at all surprised if opportunists seize on the Grenfell Tower tragedy to perpetuate various scams, either.

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What are the police for?

Back when I lived in Nigeria it was fun on slow afternoons to browse the news reports online. A lot of them were unintentionally amusing (see here, for example), but some gave an idea as to the regularity with which vigilante mob-justice is seen in the country. It was not uncommon for a newspaper report into some alleged crime to end with words to the effect of:

A mob formed, and the miscreant was beaten to a pulp.

Lest you think I am exaggerating, consider this report:

A police corporal, Olufemi Ajayi, was yesterday set ablaze in Ayete, Ibarapa North Local Government Area of Oyo State, by an irate mob, after he allegedly shot and killed a commercial driver at a checkpoint.

Ajayi, who is attached to Igboora Police Station, allegedly shot the victim, Mr. Emiola Kolade, after a minor argument.

Kolade died in a hospital in Igboora.

An eyewitness, Alhaji Salau Adele, said: “It all started at one of the many illegal checkpoints on Idere-Ayete road, when the corporal flagged down the driver and demanded a bribe. The driver gave him N100, but the policeman said the money was too small and refused to accept it.

“This led to an argument between the two. We heard a gunshot later and the driver was found injured on the ground. The policeman tried to escape, but he was caught.”

It was learnt that the policeman was beaten and set ablaze by the mob.

Let me take a step back from Nigeria for a minute. Back in early November I wrote a post on the matter of Swedish policemen resigning by the lorryload in which I wondered to whom Hillary Clinton would turn to enforce the law in American cities should she be elected (now a redundant question, thankfully). In the comments underneath “Duffy” made the following remark, which hitherto had never occurred to me:

Here’s what many people often seem to forget. Police are there to protect us from criminals. But they are also there to protect the criminals from mob justice.

When I thought about this comment later on, I realised that in the absence of a justice system that is seen to be working, the mob steps in. Then last week I came across this article:

We have often suggested that, if we wish to know what is coming politically, socially, and economically in jurisdictions such as the EU and US, we might have a look at countries like Argentina and Venezuela, as they are in a similar state of near-collapse (for the very same reasons as the EU and US) but are a bit further along in the historical pattern.

Such a bellwether was seen in Argentina recently. Although the event in question is a very minor one, it is an illustration of the social tipping point—the manner in which a government loses control over its people.

Briefly, the events were as follows: Two men on a motorbike cruised a posh neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, seeking opportunities for purse-snatching. The pillion rider dismounted and snatched a purse from a woman. Bystanders saw the act, ran down the thief before he could re-mount the motorbike, and knocked him to the ground. Other onlookers (very possibly fed up with street crime caused by economic hardships) joined in. In a fury, they beat the thief senseless.

A policewoman managed to calm the group and handcuff the thief. Twenty minutes later, police assistance and an ambulance arrived.

Furious neighbours complained bitterly that the police had protected the thief but are generally doing little to protect law-abiding citizens.

It’s not quite Nigeria, but it’s heading in that direction. The entire article is worth reading, particularly its description of the 6-point process which leads to such incidents occurring.

Around the same time we had this comment thread at Mr Worstall’s in relation to the UK:

The State’s “legal protection” benefits the middle classes and prosperous working classes far more than the wealthiest.

In the absence of a State the wealthiest could easily afford to hire whatever protection they needed – they did, after all, do this for centuries and even millennia before “States” started to appear with their “legal protection”.

And:

Police forces are relatively modern. Under Good Queen Bess, for example, if you were wealthy your only chance of getting around London without being set upon by pickpockets and cutpurses was to surround yourself with an armed retinue. State protection came in maybe under Robert Peel but it’s not the wealthy who benefit most from it. The very rich still have bodyguards. The police drink tea in their huge office buildings.

And:

The rich would sort out their own guards if the State left the scene. It’s the low income communities which most benefit from the Rule of Law. Bring in effectively policing to a pit village in Durham and kick out disruptive children from schools and those who want to get on in life have a chance. Take the State away and a local strongman and his gang will take over.

And:

In my experience of a few years living in a village with lots of City fat-cats, they get better policing because they hire private security instead of relying on the public sector police who exist primarily to protect criminals from their victims.

My point in all of this, in case you were wondering, is that for policing to work a critical mass of ordinary, law-abiding people across both the middle classes and working classes must see them as being on their side against the criminals. Not necessarily on their side per se, just on their side against the criminals. It doesn’t really matter what the rich think, they can hire their own security and/or lobby government to have the police look after their interests as first priority. It is the masses that need to be kept on side.

Clearly this has failed in Nigeria. It has failed in Argentina, and the results in either case weren’t pretty. When London descended into rioting in 2011, the police stood by idly as property got trashed and businesses destroyed. When I saw this happening I wondered who the police were actually serving, because it sure as hell wasn’t the ordinary citizen. The comments at Tim Worstall’s, although perhaps not representative of Britain as a whole, suggests there is some disagreement as to whom the police actually serve. If this attitude is reflected in the broader population there could be trouble brewing.

It’s worth keeping this in mind when looking at the United States, too. Over the past few years there has been an increase in rioting: firstly that connected with the shooting of black folk by policemen, later the election of Donald Trump, and more recently people with unpopular opinions speaking at universities. More and more often the police are standing by idly as property gets destroyed and people’s lives put at risk.

If the police in Britain and the USA want to remain relevant, they had better make up their minds whose side they are on and inform the law-abiding masses of their decision, preferably via demonstration rather than empty speeches. The criminals might want to urge them to get on with it, because the mob is probably closer than they think.

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Root Cause Missed

There’s a reason for this:

A software engineer from Lagos, Nigeria, is claiming that he was made to sit a written test by US airport immigration officers because they weren’t convinced he was telling the truth about his skills.

According to social networking site LinkedIn, Celestine Omin, 28, landed in New York’s JFK airport last Sunday after a 24-hour flight from Nigeria.

After being asked a series of questions by a US Customs and Border Protection officer, he was taken into a room for further checks.

The practice of forging credentials and passing yourself as something you are not is rife among Nigerians, more so than among anyone else. Mr Omin might well have been the real deal but far too many of his countrymen are not, hence he’s been hauled aside for extra questioning.

He says he was then given a piece of paper and a pen and told to answer these two questions to prove he is actually a software engineer:

I’ve done exactly that with a Nigerian claiming to be a piping engineer with 15 years’ experience. The results were laughable. I can well believe the Border Protection people didn’t cover themselves in glory in Mr Omin’s case, but the root cause of the problem does not lie in the USA.

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A Follow Up

In attempt to address some of the reoccuring themes in the comments to my previous post, I’ve decided to write a follow-up.

Firstly, I did not write that post for the benefit of only Nigerians.  I don’t write for a particular audience, I write primarily for myself.  Insofar as I have a readership, I have an idea that it consists mainly of people who have known me in the past and a smattering of people who are interested in the oil and gas industry.  Other than that I have no idea who reads this blog, or how many of them there are.  I’ve been blogging for over 10 years, and I’ve never tried to slant a post in order to appease or anger a particular set of people.  I just write what I think, based on what I’ve seen, and present it as my personal opinion, nothing more.

With that in mind, let’s put to bed the idea that I am lecturing Nigerians on the state of affairs in their own country.  I put the article on my blog, and a whole load of Nigerian websites republished it without my permission.  This doesn’t bother me as they did credit me as the source (swiping my photo too on some occasions), but this article was not written with the intention of informing – or misleading – a Nigerian audience.  Some commenters claim I am saying nothing new, and they’d be correct.  I wouldn’t expect any expat to spend a mere 3 years in Lagos and be able to tell a Nigerian anything they didn’t already know about Nigeria.  Like I said, I didn’t write it for Nigerians, I wrote it for myself and anyone else who happens to be reading.  And for those who aren’t Nigerian, there was an awful lot of new stuff in there.

I note that some people have complained that I have not offered any solutions, just a list of problems.  There are two reasons for this.  For a start, I have no idea whatsoever what the solutions would be.  And also, it is hardly the place of an expat assigned for 3 years in Nigeria to start offering solutions to the country’s problems.  That would be arrogance in the extreme.

Secondly, I do appreciate that I only spent time in a very small part of Lagos and barely saw anywhere else in the country.  I cited security reasons to explain why this was the case, and a few commenters seem to think these were exaggerated.  Now I’ll admit, I could have explored more of Lagos than I did.  Our company security protocols were far more strict than those of other organisations, and objectively there were opportunities for me to have got out more.  But let’s be honest here: there is no chance a foreigner can go off exploring Nigeria on his own.  A foreigner driving himself about in mainland Lagos would be putting himself at serious risk of being car-jacked or robbed.  This is no mere paranoia, the statistics support this.  All the Nigerians I knew advised strongly against any expat going to the regional cities on a private trip.  I was invited to a wedding in Owerri and briefly looked at the possibility of going, before quickly abandoning the idea.  For a start, the guy getting married – who was from Owerri – was nervous about making the trip himself!  Returning from Lagos to a regional town is a signal for the local criminals that a “rich” guy is coming.  I know a guy from Warri who never goes back for much the same reasons.  If Nigerians are abandoning their regional cities due to the levels of lawlessness, what chances does a foreign tourist have of showing up and enjoying a weekend away?  Even foreigners travelling in groups would be a target for any number of dodgy officials, corrupt traffic police, area boys, and other criminals.  During my time in Nigeria one of my compatriots, a telecoms engineer, was kidnapped and murdered in the north of Nigeria by Boko Haram or one of its offshoots.  I’m sorry, but anyone who suggests I could have just taken off and explored Nigeria either doesn’t know the place very well or is being disingenuous.

On that note, I am quite prepared to believe what I experienced in Lagos was not representative of the whole country.  Contrary to what some people think, I am not a professor submitting a thesis to accurately describe every aspect of life in Nigeria.  I’m just a bloke who lived there giving my opinion based on what I saw.  However, I don’t believe that anything I’ve written is specific to Lagos and cannot be found across most if not all of Nigeria.  If there is a city, region, or state where everything I have described does not exist, then please feel free to point this out in the comments.  But I’m going to remain pretty skeptical of comments which claim my remarks are not representative but avoid citing any examples.

Thirdly, I am a Brit and British English is my first language, and the language in which this blog is written.  As I said, I don’t write for Nigerians, I write for myself.  The term “lad” in British English is not derogatory, and nor was it used with such an intent in my post.  The term “lads” in this context is a term of endearment used to convey friendship and warmth, and is a common term of reference in the UK.  There are few terms of praise in the British oil and gas business greater than being described as part of “a good bunch of lads”.  I suspect most people know this, but unfortunately one of the traits of a minority of Nigerians – and again, they are far from alone in this – is to seek offence at every opportunity, especially if this allows them to embark on a rant against “racist” British, colonial overlords, etc.  It is pretty tiresome.  The term “lads” is not racist nor derogatory, and those who think otherwise might want to consider that three of my lads were Scotsmen.

Finally, I do appreciate the comments, especially the many positive ones.  I am always glad when my articles reach out to somebody, and I value and greatly appreciate both your readership and the feedback.  Many thanks to all of you who read and commented on my piece.

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The End of an Assignment in Nigeria

Okay, so now I’ve got a post about Melbourne out of the way it’s time for me to say a little something about Nigeria.  With the exception of a week in October when I need to clear out my apartment, I’ve pretty much left Nigeria.  My assignment there officially finished on 31st July, although I will have to return for business trips over the course of the next 3 years because the project I am on in Melbourne is for Nigeria.

Somebody once said that there is much to write about Russia, but when one tries you can never find the words to write the first line.  Nigeria is much the same, and indeed there are many similarities between the two countries.  I have tried to describe Nigeria to people who have never been there, and failed on most occasions.  A colleague of mine stopped telling people back home about the place because he was getting a reputation as somewhat of a bullshitter, even though he didn’t exaggerate anything.  I was at a seminar in Paris some time ago and I was describing the working life in Nigeria to a group of Frenchmen.  One of them quipped that I was exaggerating and that “it couldn’t be that bad”, which prompted another Frenchman, sitting beside me, to nudge me in the ribs and remark “wait until he does his Nigerian assignment”.  He was based in Port Harcourt.

Nigeria has a reputation, and I knew about it before I arrived.  Most of what I’d heard proved to be completely true.  Almost all of it, in fact.  To get a general picture of Nigeria, just read the news, and you’ll not be far wrong.  It isn’t a place like Russia, the US, or France which surprise visitors when they see the contrast between what they’ve imagined (based on exposure to their tourists or foreign policy) and the individuals they encounter.  But beyond the general picture, there are some subtleties worth mentioning.

Continue reading

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Yet More News from Nigeria

Arrested Osun goat dies in custody:

The five goats arrested by the Osun State Waste Management Agency (OWMA) in Osogbo last week were on Tuesday dragged before an Osogbo Magistrate Court along side their owners. Three owners of the goats including Mrs. Aduke Adetona, Mrs. Esther Ibikunle and Adedoyin Adetayo were docked, while the goats were not allowed into the court hall but kept in the premises of the court.

The court presided over by Mrs. A. O. Ajanaku discharged Mrs. Adetayo, who had already lost her goat in the custody of OWMA and ordered other accused persons to pay N2, 500 fine to the coffers of the state government. The court pardoned one of the owners, Mrs. Adedoyin Adetayo whose goat had died, but warned her to comply strictly with the provisions of the state environmental laws and the rules of OWMA.

The court ruled that the accused persons violated article 101, cap 11 of the laws of Osun State, which prohibited birds and other animals from straying into residential areas. The prosecutor, Mr. Femi Ogunbamiwo who is also the Director of Environmental Management and Sanitation in OWMA told the court that the accused persons committed an offence contrary to and punishable under the environmental laws of the state. Mr. Ogunbamiwo told the court that the accused persons committed the offence on January 5, 2013 by allowing animals under their control to stray into public domain in a manner that was injurious to the health of the public.

Counsel to the accused persons, Mr. Jimoh Daramola pleaded with the court to be lenient with his clients and temper justice with mercy, adding that the accused persons would henceforth obey the laws of the state. Article 101, cap 2 of the 2002 Laws of Osun State, which was passed by the state House of Assembly states that: “No bird or animal shall be allowed to stray to any road or public place or urinate or defecate in any public place in the state.”

The Special Adviser to the governor on Environment, Mr. Bola Ilori who spoke with reporters after the court session urged residents to keep their pets in a cage to prevent violation of the state environmental laws and guide against transmission of diseases from animal to man.

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Snippets and Snapshots

Firstly:

The Rivers State police command said a loud blast heard in Port Harcourt earlier today was that of a missile accidentally fired from an airforce jet on routine maintenance at the Airforce mechanic hangar in Port Harcourt.

Commissioner of Police Mohammed Indabawa told Saharareporters that the missile hit an uncompleted building three kilometers from the scene of the accidental discharge. He said no death or injuries were reported.

Panicked residents had reported hearing a deafening explosion in Worji area of Port Harcourt around 7:30 AM.

Then we have this, located just behind our office building and photographed by a colleague who heard a loud crash:

I think they might have a spot of bother returning that the the hire company.  “Hey, I had bit of trouble retracting the boom…”

Meanwhile, they’re erecting a huge tent out the front of our office (insert jokes about clowns and circuses here), which was halfway up when one of the mainstays fell over.  Before and after pictures are below.

 Finally, some scaffolding:

 I’m still alive, somehow.

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Some More News from Nigeria

Sodomy: Man Rapes Friend, Then Begs Him With Bread

The police at Takwa Bay Division, Lekki, Eti Osa Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, have arrested a man known as Denis Oteri, 19, and arraigned him before the Igbosere magistrate’s court on a one count charge of sexually assaulting God’s Love Stephen by having carnal knowledge of him through the anus.

The police stated in suit No. M/5/2012 that the accused was arrested following complaints lodged by Stephen that Denis Oteri lured him into the bush and forcefully had sex with him through the anus.

Narrating his ordeal to the police, Stephen stated: “I met Denis, my senior whom respect very well at the NNPC gate at Takwa Bay and he begged me to help him take a keg of petrol to his house and I obeyed him because I know him.

“As we were going, he told me to follow him inside the bush to check something. Not suspecting anything, I followed him, but I was surprised when he suddenly stopped and barked at me to remove all my clothes or else he would kill me inside the bush.

“Before I could ask what the problem was, he wrestled me to the ground, forcefully removed my clothes, held me down and had sex with me through the anus and release sperm inside my body.

“He thereafter begged me not to tell anybody and gave me a loaf of bread in return which I threw away.

“I decided to report the matter to the police because it is an abomination for a man like me to penetrate into me through the anus and release sperm inside my body and my anus has been aching me after the ungodly incident.”

During interrogation, the accused allegedly confessed to the crime of forcefully having sex with Stephen through the anus inside the bush.

When asked what he derived from having sex with a man like himself, he allegedly told the police that he was deceived by the devil to do it and that he prays to God for forgiveness.

He was charged to court for sexual assault.

Man accused of witchcraft hacked to death by relatives

The killing of a 45-year-old Akwa Ibom man, Mr. Mfon Edung, by people believed to be his relatives over allegation of witchcraft is generating concerns among the family of the slain man.

It was learnt that the father of three, who hailed from Mbokpu Eyoima in Urue Offong/Oruko Local Government Area of the state, was killed on his way to collect his church’s pulpit from Mr. Ini Edung on Friday.

An eyewitness, who preferred anonymity, said the deceased was riding on a motorcycle when he saw some men at Oyoku Ubighi, drinking and eating dog meat at a joint.

The eyewitness explained that the men jumped inside a vehicle immediately they sighted him and chased the deceased.

He said, “We saw Mfon riding on a motorcycle and almost all the men that were drinking left immediately to close him. They followed him and when they got to a desolate area, hit him with their vehicle.

“As he tried to get up and run, people around the area, who thought it was an accident, rushed to the scene to rescue him.

“But no fewer than five persons got out of the vehicle, with axes and cutlasses and hacked the deceased. They shot into the air sporadically to scare the crowd, and took the body away to an unknown destination.”

Also, a bicycle rider, who also craved anonymity, corroborated the eyewitness’ account.

He added that as he was running to the scene to rescue the deceased, he saw some men coming out of a white Volvo car with no number plate.

He said, “When I saw them, I was afraid and quickly retreated. In the process of killing Mfon, I heard one of them say, ‘You use your witchcraft power to kill my mother. I warned you if the woman died, you too would die. And let us see if your witchcraft will be able to save you.’

“I held my breath. When they finished cutting the deceased up, they took the body away, and nobody could trace them anymore.”

The wife of the deceased, Ikwo, said her husband was going to ask Etim how far he had gone with the aluminium pulpit he was making for the church.

She said from what she learnt, when her husband was returning home around 5pm at Mbokpu Oyoima, a vehicle was trailing him but he didn’t notice it.

She said she learnt her husband was killed at a desolate area, opposite a church at Oyoku Ibighi, in Urue Offong/Oruko LGA.

She said her husband had abandoned home to live with friends following repeated threat messages by his relations.

She said, “All along they had been sending threat messages to the extent that a Deacon in a church, summoned my husband and advised him to avoid some of his relations because of the threats.

“My husband had on two occasions been mercilessly beaten by his own people and some cult men in the village. When I reported the matter to the police who came to my husband’s rescue, his relations blamed me and fined me one she-goat and 10 bottles of locally-made gin for insulting them by calling the police.

“They blamed my husband for the sickness of her sister and said if the woman should die, my husband would also be killed. And so, they carried out their threat.”

Ikwo said when she reported the matter to the police in the area, they asked what she expected them to do after the man had been killed.

Reps flay foreign airlines’ treatment of Nigerians

The House of Representatives on Wednesday criticised the operations of foreign airlines in Nigeria, particularly their high fares and alleged maltreatment of Nigerian passengers.

A motion sponsored by Mr. Emmanuel Ekon and 31 others also frowned on the practice of spraying insecticides on Nigerian passengers before take-off.

The House also observed that the crew members of all the foreign airlines were non-Nigerians, despite the huge business benefit they enjoyed in Nigeria.

The House passed a resolution asking the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and other regulatory agencies to ensure a reduction in fares and to “compel international airline operators to improve on their services and adhere to the Nigerian Local Content Law.”

The House noted that ticket for flying from Nigeria to Europe, America and other parts of the world “are the highest when compared with other countries where these airlines operate.”

The House also observed that from available records, “each airline carries a minimum of 300 passengers daily into and out of the country, making Nigeria one of the most lucrative routes in the world.”

Moving the motion, Ekon told the House that in spite of the business advantage of operating in Nigeria, Nigerians paid 23 per cent more on all classes of tickets than travellers in other parts of the world.

To buttress his position, Ekon said while a first class return ticket on the Lagos-Dubai route cost $4,695.5 on Emirates Airline, the airline charged $3,512 on the Dubai-Johannesburg route, which had the same mileage as Nigeria.

Similarly, he stated that Delta Airlines charged $5,874 on a Business Class for Lagos-Atlanta route, but charged $3,689.9 on the Atlanta-Bombay route.

He added, “First Class passengers on Air France pay $8,984 for Lagos-Paris route with 2,919 miles, while the same ticket for Paris-Bombay route with 4,349 miles costs $8,739.

“Even in Ghana, South Africa and other African countries where these airlines operate, the air fares are far lower than in Nigeria.”

The lawmaker expressed concern that aside not having Nigerian crew members on board, most of the airlines did not serve Nigerian dishes on board.

“But, more disturbing is the insulting and dehumanising practice of spraying insecticides on Nigerians.

“This has health implications; this is one of the issues that our regulatory agencies must address,” he said.

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