Friday, August 31, 2012

BUHARI to IBB: Expose me if you have facts.

…OBJ, IBB urged to speak up
… Isyaku Ibrahim, Ezeife, Musa, Falae, others  speak
FORMER Head of State and Presidential Candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in the 2011 general election, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), on Monday threw a direct challenge to three of his successors – Generals Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo as well as President Goodluck Jonathan, accusing them of being responsible for the rot in the oil industry and the spiraling wave of corruption in the country.
The comment drew responses from President Jonathan and Babangida and is panning out as a repeat of a similar face-off between Obasanjo and Babangida exactly a year ago.
Last August, Babangida, who ruled Nigeria between 1985 and 1993, kick-started the fight on the eve of his 70th birthday celebration in Minna, Niger State when he dismissed Obasanjo’s achievements after eight years as President, as low. He said Obasanjo failed to improve the power sector, despite the huge cash available to the government.
Vintage Obasanjo’s reply was swift.  He said Babangida should be “pitied” and not “condemned” or visited with “anger” because he was a fool. His words: “Some of the things he (Babangida) said, unfortunately, were not well thought-out. For instance, he talked about our energy. When I was the military Head of State, I built Jebba Dam; built Shiroro Dam. I prepared the foundation of Egbin plant, which President Shagari completed and commissioned.
That time, the money we were making was not up to the money Babangida was making annually for his eight years and yet we built two dams. But since the building of Egbin power plant, until I came back in 1999, there was no generating plant for almost 20 years and Babangida spent eight years out of that.
Dividends of democracy
“Now, he has the audacity to talk about anybody; I think that is unfortunate. I also read where he said in his time, he gave the dividends of democracy and at the same time he regretted.
“When I read that, well, I said Babangida should be pitied and shown sympathy, rather than anger or condemnation because the old saying says a fool at 40 is a fool forever and I would say a regret at 70 is regret too late. Well, a regret at 70 is regret to the grave.”
Babangida countered and accused Obasanjo of massive failure during his reign. “In my eight years in office, I was able to manage poverty and achieve success while somebody for eight years managed affluence and achieved failure.
“Chief Obasanjo should ponder these incontrovertible facts: The revenues that accrued to former President Olusegun Obasanjo during his eight years are more than those that accrued to the nation from independence till 1999 before he took over. Despite such stupendous wealth of the nation, what is his performance profile? …The history of Chief Obasanjo is an open sore that is irredeemably contrived in several incongruities and contradictions,” he said.
The bitter exchanges were to continue for a while before the Generals sheathed their swords and denied Nigerians of dearly needed details that would have helped to unearth the reasons behind Nigeria’s paradox of poverty amid plenty.
This time, eminent citizens want the battle to be fought to a logical conclusion and have challenged Babangida, Obasanjo and Jonathan, to defend themselves against the allegations.
Incidentally, the quartet, cumulatively, have ruled Nigeria for 23 out of the 52 years the country has existed as an independent nation. While Obasanjo ruled for 11 years, Buhari was in power for approximately two years, Babangida – eight years and Jonathan, two years.
Buhari’s allegation: Pointedly, Buhari said that the corrupt practices in the oil sector during the eras of Babangida, Obasanjo and Jonathan had led to the enslaving of the masses. The first to respond was President Goodluck Jonathan.
Buhari, IBB and OBJ
While declaring open the 52nd Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja, on Monday, President Jonathan said he could not be held responsible for the country’s failings and wondered why former leaders, who had the opportunity of fixing the nation and failed to do so, were now criticizing his young administration.
“Sometimes, even people who have held offices in government criticise me to the extent of personal abuses. Sometimes I ask, were there roads across the country and Jonathan brought flood to wipe out these roads? Or we had power and I brought hurricane to break down the entire infrastructure?
“If they say Boko Haram is because of poverty; were there massive irrigation projects in the North where agriculture can thrive and massive farms, and Jonathan brought drought to wipe out these farms? Under two years, is it possible?” he wondered.
Obasanjo is yet to defend himself on the issue. Rather, speaking at the Nigeria Leadership Initiative, NLI, Guest Speaker Forum in Lagos, on Tuesday, he regretted his inability to fix the power problem, which he attributed to lack of funds in the initial period of his administration, owing to the low price of crude oil in the international market, Nigeria’s depleted foreign reserves and huge debt burden.
He also refused to comment on Nigeria’s leadership at the moment when asked to rate the country’s current leadership.
On his part, IBB, who spoke through his spokesman, Mr. Kassim Afegbua, threatened to expose Buhari’s shady deals in the oil sector when he functioned as Petroleum Minister and later chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), if Buhari did not shut his mouth.
“We are conversant with General Buahri’s so-called holier-than-thou attitude. He is a one-time Minister of Petroleum and we have good records of his tenure as minister. Secondly, he presided over the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), which records we also have. We challenge him to come out with clean hands in those two portfolios. Those, who live in glass houses, do not throw stones. General Buhari should be properly guided,” he said.
Exposing corruption
However, Buhari insisted on his comments and challenged Babangida to expose his shady deals if he had facts.
Reacting to the development, some eminent Nigerians have urged the former leaders to speak up in the interest of the country’s development.
Among those who spoke are Second Republic politicians and elder statesmen, Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim; former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa; former Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife; one-time Minister for Finance and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Olu Falae; and former President of Institute of Chartered Accounts of Nigeria, ICAN, Otunba Lateef Owoyemi.
They should fight it out—Balarabe Musa
Musa said the issue should not be swept under the carpet. “It is a disagreement of former heads of state. Apart from President Jonathan, they are all former heads of state. Let them fight it out themselves. I don’t think anybody should interfere. Let Ibrahim Babangida expose Buhari like he threatened,” he said.
Obasanjo, Babangida, Jonathan must defend themselves — Isyaku Ibrahim
On his part, Isyaku Ibrahim said the manner Buhari made the allegation should compel the former leaders to speak and defend their integrity.
His words: “Babangida should expose Buhari instead of threatening to do so. If Babangida has anything on Buhari, let him say it. Buhari said that the governments of Babangida, Obasanjo and Jonathan are the most corrupt. He said it categorically; he did not issue a threat.
“If Babangida has something on Buhari, he should say it. If your integrity is involved, you come out to fight because Buhari threw the challenge directly,” he stated.
“For me as a politician, if somebody challenges my integrity and I know something about the person, I will say it. The matter is in the public. Let them say whether or not what Buhari said is true. Buhari has challenged them, let them defend themselves. Buhari is going to run for election, if Babangida has something against him, we will like to know.”
Presiednt Jonathan
We want to know how they ruined Nigeria — Ezeife
To Ezeife, General Buhari must come out with facts to substantiate his claims. In a telephone chat with vanguard, he said, “General Buhari must know what he is talking about. Is he saying that Jonathan inherited oil industry destroyed by leaders before him? He must know what he is saying: how they ruled and ruined our great country, Nigeria, ruining the North even more.
“Please, it is not every high level statement that I understand. I don’t know what they know but if Buhari is saying that IBB, Obasanjo and Jonathan destroyed the oil industry, he must surely know what he is talking about. However, let me say they, all together, should tell Nigerians how they ruled and ruined Nigeria and the North.”
Corruption blossomed under Obasanjo —Falae
Reacting to the exchanges, Falae told Vanguard on phone that corruption reached an alarming height during Obasanjo’s administration in 1999.
His words: “The people are former heads of state and to the extent that corruption had been going on for quite sometime in the country, maybe that is why he (Buhari) is holding them accountable. But I don’t know the statistics or information to either agree or disagree with him (Buhari). But there is corruption in the whole country; the country is washed with corruption and nobody can really know where it started from though some government functionaries can. Corruption is the biggest problem we have.
“I cannot attribute it to any particular person but this thing started in earnest since 1999 that was during the Obasanjo administration; that was when the thing really blossomed. In the past, one suspected that a few military leaders were the ones, who had access to the money, but since we returned to civilian rule, thousands of people now got into the act: from the local to state and federal government level. And it has been growing since then. Corruption has grown very fast since 1999.”
They are all culpable — Owoyemi
However, Owoyemi said the former leaders, including Buhari, contributed to the rot in the oil industry.
He said: “Whoever should have done the maintenance of the refineries and did not do it and instead started importing fuel should be blamed for each and every part of the problem.
“Whoever provided funds for people to do turn around maintenance of the petroleum refineries and did not carpet or disgrace the contractors for failing to carryout their jobs, should be blamed for the destruction of the oil industry.
“So, definitely the military as a whole did a lot of havoc with the issue of accountability and transparency in this country; all of them, all the military people, including Buhari.  Their take-over of the government was illegal and they ran the government illegally throughout when they suspended the Constitution of the country especially law and order.
“They, all of them, are guilty. If the politicians had been in charge since 1960 till now, things would have been better.  They should allow the politicians to run the government and things will be better off.
“They were just too ambitious that was why they dabbled into the whole thing and messed everything up and now we are in for it. This is our generation: nobody has money except the corrupt!  It is very unfortunate,” he said.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Nigerian student, Olaolu Femi, face life imprisonment in Ukraine

A young Nigerian student, Olaolu Femi, (pictured above) is 
facing life in prison in Ukraine for attempted murder. 

African Outlook gathered that the Nigerian identified as Olaolu Sunkanmi Femi and one of his friends were physically attacked in front of his apartment by four Ukrainian young men and two women who pulled them to the ground while hurling racist slurs on them.

According to eye witness account, Sunkanmi was said to have managed to get up and defended himself against the assailants with a glass from a broken bottle. 

"It was while he was defending himself that police arrived at the scene and the Nigerian was subsequently arrested and charged with attempted murder of five people" a Nigerian embassy staff who has knowledge of the case told African Outlook, adding that the victim thus became an accused in a case which has become a celebrated case in Ukraine. 

African Outlook gathered that Olasunkanmi has since been remanded in detention by the Ukrainian police who refused to take the case to court citing unavailability of the police to get an interpreter for him.

But the Nigerian students' community in Ukraine under the leadership of Osarumen David-Izevbokun, a Phd student in international relations has been working tirelessly to ensure justice for the Nigerian by organizingprotests as well as drawing the attentions of the human right groups in Ukraine to the plight of Olasunkanmi who has spent almost seven months in jail without trial. 

David-Izevbokun told African Outlook that he alongside other Nigerian students in conjunctions with some members of the Ukrainian human right groups staged a protest on April, 9 outside the Leninsky District Court in Luhanski demanding the release of Olasunkanmi. 

The actions, according to David-Izevbokun has put the Ukraine police on the spot as the case came up for hearing on May 3. "We had a lot of media coverage on the protest " David-Izevbokun said, noting that he was sure the attention given the case may have prompted the May 3 court appearance of the suspect. 

David-Izevbokun who was at the May 3, court hearing told African Outlook that Olasunkanmi appeareddepressed when he showed up in court. 

Many other Nigerian students spoken to by African Outlook however raised concern about the competence of the female lawyer: Ludmila Havrysh handling Olasunkanmi's case. 

The Ukrainian lawyer was reported to have told protesters that her client has not been able to read the file material since it is all written in Ukrainian or Russian which he doesn’t understand and that was why her clienthad remained in jail. 

"We heard she wanted to be paid $10,000 when she had not even been able to secure bail for her client who has been in detention for more than six months" an irate Nigerian told African Outlook wondering whether the lawyer was capable of defending Olasunkanmi. 

Another source also told African Outlook that one of the attackers's family who has a connection with the Ukrainian police may have been the reason why the Nigerian student was being detained without trial. 

"They went to the hospital and documents were secured for infliction of wounds. I learnt that one of the supposed victim (Ukrainian) has a police relative or parent, and so vowed to deal ruthlessly with Olasunkanmi" a Nigerian student quoted one narrator as saying while lamenting that the Nigerian embassy's representative came to visit Olasunkanmi in jail once but did not return again after the first visit. 

But an embassy spokesperson who pleaded anonymity (because he is not authorized to comment on the case) told African Outlook that the Nigerian consulate had not abandoned the Nigerian to his fate "We are in torch with the Ukrainian authority and we have been doing everything to ensure the boy is released unconditionally using diplomatic channel" he said, adding that the Olasunkanmi was being charged for attempted murder, an offense which under Ukrainian law is not bailable. 

"There are ways in which we handle cases like this so that we would not appear to be hostile or criticizing our host countries' laws" the embassy staff said while assuring that he was confident Olasunkanmi would be released soon. 

When asked if the embassy has been able to secure the service of an attorney for the Nigerian student, the embassy staff said: "It is not within our mandate to pay for attorney's fees for any Nigerian in distress, you may check this out with other Nigerian embassies abroad, but we have been working with the Nigerian community leaders here to ensure that we do everything within our means to help Olasunkanmi in time of his need" the staff added hinting that the representative of the embassy was at the May 3 hearing. 

In a related development African Outlook gathered that a 28-year-old Nigerian student of Kharkiv National Radio Electronic University is in intensive care unit with knife injuries to his neck following an attack on him by people believed to be racists. 

Another 19-year-old Nigerian student from the Poltava Agrarian Academy is also lying critically ill in the Ukrainian hospital following knife injury inflicted on him by yet to be identified persons. 

African Outlook gathered that the two Nigerian students were attacked late in the evenings by assailants who fled the scene immediately after the attacks. 

The Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Ukraine are treating both cases as attempted murder motivated by racial intolerance. 

Speaking on the two recent attacks, the Nigerian embassy said they were yet to be briefed on the case.

There's a #FreeOlaolu page on can go there to show support -

RoisKiDGh Talks: Nigerian student, Olaolu Femi, face life imprisonment in Ukraine

IBB Threatens to Expose Buhari’s Corruption

Former President Ibrahim Babangida has threatened to expose the corruption of Former President Mohammed Buhari especially as relates to his tenure as Minister of Petroleum.
Buhari was appointed Minister of Petroleum in 1976 under the Murtala/Obasanjo administration. Not much is known about any scandals that occured during his tenure as Minister, but there are rumors of the mysterious disappearance of US$2.8 Billion from the NNPC account in Midlands Bank in the United Kingdom, during Buhari’s stewardship.
Now that IBB has threatened to expose him, it lends a certain credibility to the rumors indicting Buhari of grand graft.
Babangida who released a statement through his media adviser, Prince Kassim Afegbua said, “On Gen. Buhari, it is not in IBB’s tradition to take up issues with his colleague former President. But for the purpose of record, we are conversant with Gen. Buhari’s so-called holier-than-thou attitude.
“He is a one-time Minister of Petroleum and we have good records of his tenure as minister. Secondly, he also presided over the Petroleum Trust Fund ( PTF) which records we also have. We challenge him to come out with clean hands in those two portfolios he headed. Or, we will help him to expose his. “records of performance during those periods. Those who live in glass houses do not throw stones. Gen. Buhari should be properly guided.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

Corruption: Monarch chased out of palace

Corruption: Monarch chased out of palace

Angry natives of Igburowo community in Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State yesterday chased away their paramount ruler, Oba Pius Akinfesola Adewole, from his palace over alleged gross corruption and indiscipline.
The action was witnessed by a large number of kinsmen, who trooped out to show their disapproval for Adewole’s alleged sins.
The protest, which began at about 6am, involved chiefs and prominent citizens of the community, who expressed their feelings in songs over the alleged misrule of the traditional ruler, which they claimed had brought shame and disrespect to the community.
The villagers had earlier written a protest letter, dated August 3, 2012, which was signed by about 21 of their representatives, representing various interest groups, including high chiefs, female chiefs, otherwise called Opoji in local parlance, as well as male and female natives, members of Igburowo Development Committee (IDC), youth association and the secretary of the Akinbumiti Ruling House.
The letter was addressed to Governor Olusegun Mimiko, Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs as well as the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice.
They demanded that the oba vacates the throne over some atrocities allegedly perpetrated in the community.
According to the letter, the monarch, who is known as the Akamuja of Igburowoland, was accused of forceful acquisition of land belonging to his subjects, frivolous litigation over subjects’ property, non-performance of traditional rites and assault on his chiefs and subjects.
He was also alleged to have connived with an indigene to defraud the community of N3.6 million meant for the payment of electricity bill to the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) Plc.
The indigene, who was allegedly nominated by the monarch as a representative of the community, was accused of diverting the money to his personal use.
He is facing prosecution at a Magistrate Court over the allegation.
Similarly, the monarch was also accused of running an autocratic regime by refusing to constitute the Oba-in-Council, several years after the death of some other high chiefs, called Iwarefas, who traditionally are required to run the township administration with him.
Besides, Adewole was also accused of refusing to convene traditional meeting places where people would gather to discuss communal matters.
The monarch was also accused of shortchanging traditional chiefs by refusing to pay them their full entitlements after he had allegedly collected same from the local government.
The community also accused him of fighting with his chiefs, illegal conversion of the community’s resources to personal use and writing of fictitious petitions and institution of several court cases against his subjects.
The protesters, who barricaded the major roads leading to the community, carried placards bearing inscriptions such as “Enough is Enough, 16 years of no development, no action,” “no, to backwardness,” “Igburowo says no to Akinfesola” “Go, Akinfesola, Go, Igburowo community rejects you Pius Adewole.”
The protesters, who marched from the main market to all the streets, later stormed the palace and ordered him out.
He was manhandled.
However, the quick intervention of Ore Divisional Police Officer (DPO) and his men saved the life of the monarch.
The police had hectic time rescuing the traditional ruler.
He was taken to the Ore Police Station.
Confirming the incident, the state’s Police Public Relations Officer, Adeniran Aremu, said the traditional ruler was in police custody after he was rescued from his subjects who forced him out of the palace.
Aremu said policemen had been drafted to the town to maintain law and order, adding that investigation was ongoing.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Loyalty can be a wonderfully awesome high virtue, but when embraced at the expense of TRUTH, it becomes STUPIDITY in my book. 

One of the numerous obstacles to progress in Nigeria is the NEED for many of our folks to be rather viewed as being loyal to their friends, family, boss, pastor, etc, than be looked upon as one who rocks the boat even when precious TRUTH is at stake.

That's why their friends, family members, etc; would loot and commit several other atrocities against the nation and instead of confronting them and showing them the errors of their ways, they would condone it for fear of being labeled DISLOYAL. 

Such misplaced and ridiculously irresponsible loyalty is even rampantly displayed almost daily amongst seemingly very intelligent Nigerians on Facebook and Twitter with friends loyally supporting friends at the expense of glaring TRUTH.

I for one don't care if you're my beloved mother, sister, best friend, boss, pastor, etc; etc; I will never knowingly stand with you in favor of anything detrimental to the progress of my country or knowingly stand with you against the TRUTH out of loyalty or anything else for that matter. 


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Suspects: How We Tortured, Killed General's Daughter

Cynthia Udoka Osokogu

The gory details of how 24-year-old Cynthia Osokogu, the only daughter of Maj.-Gen. Frank Osokogu (rtd) and his wife, Joy, met her death in Lagos emerged Wednesday as the police paraded two suspects for her murder.
On parade were two undergraduates, Okwuoma Echezona Nwabufo and Ezekiel Odera Ilechukwu Olisa, both maternal cousins, who masterminded Cynthia’s killing in a Lagos hotel room.
The police brought them before journalists at the Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja, to give account of how they lured her from her Nasarawa State base and subsequently killed her.
Unknown to Cynthia, the offer by Nwabufo and Olisa to supply her clothing items for her boutique, ‘Dress Code,’ which prompted her July 22 trip to Lagos, was a decoy for a more sinister plot.
The suspects, who met their victim on a Blackberry Messenger Group and had presented themselves to her as businessmen when they met, were alleged to have tied Cynthia up and sexually molested her, before she was finally murdered in a FESTAC Town hotel.
Their story was cold and bizarre. They told a stunned audience how they hatched the plan to lure Cynthia to Lagos and how they tortured and eventually strangled her to death.
The duo had hatched what they considered a foolproof plot and had executed it with clinical precision. Every detail of the plot was well thought out, right from booking a hotel room, to drugging her and dispossessing her of her valuables.
To facilitate their crime, they injected Rohypnol, a drug used on women which makes them dizzy and wipes out their memory after sex, into a pack of Ribena drink that they gave her.
In his confession, 33-year-old Nwabufo, a 300-level Accounting student of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), and mastermind of the dastardly act, said Cynthia’s death was a mistake as they did not plan to kill her.
According to him, “We first met on the internet and later when she said she wanted to come to Lagos to shop, I invited her and we accidentally killed her in Concilla Hotel. We thought she had plenty of money that I could collect; so, while she was struggling, I tied her with a chain and sellotaped her lips to prevent her from shouting.”
From his confession, even with the sellotape on her lips, they feared she could still shout and so pressed down her throat for some time until she choked to death. He also confessed that they beat her up before she died.
While there were indications that the deceased was raped as the police found some used condoms in the room, Nwabufo denied that she was sexually abused. Rather, he said the condom was used on a sex toy the deceased allegedly brought with her.
However, he could not explain why they would use a condom on the prototype of a male organ, as sex toys do not produce semen.
He said: “The condom that was found in the room was not used on her but was used on the sex toy she had with her. I inserted the condom on the sex toy, and used it on her and later dropped it there. I didn't sleep with her. If the police test the condom forensically, it will vindicate me.”
While blaming the devil for their evil actions, he said they ran because they suddenly realised that they committed a serious sin against the deceased.
Disclosing their modus operandi, he said the drug put inside the Ribena drink was bought by Olisa and was injected into the drink, but it was not strong enough as she still had the strength to struggle.
Further implicating himself, he said: “Although this is my first time in a murder, I have used the drugs like four times before Cynthia but none of the girls died. In other cases, I slept with them and after they took the drink, they would suffer memory loss of everything that happened to them. I have used hotels like Benny, Chelsea, Opera-Mini.”
Narrating his involvement in the incident, Olisa, also a 300-level student of Accounting in Anambra State University, Igbariam Campus, said he was invited by Nwabufo to help him dispossess the deceased of her valuables.
“He said I should buy Ribena and Rohypnol, which I did. I injected about 10 tablets into the drink. In the process of binding the girl, she tried to struggle, and we maltreated and rough handled her and she passed out in the process. But I didn't hit her with anything.
“After we had manhandled her, Nwabufo told me that she had stopped breathing but when I touched her she was still breathing. Then I left the hotel. Later, he called me to say that he had not heard from her for a long time and had not seen her online. I was in school when they came on Sunday and arrested me," he said.
THISDAY gathered that the suspects were arrested when the police obtained the deceased’s call log and successfully contacted Olisa’s girlfriend who then aided in arresting him in Anambra State. Olisa in turn, implicated Nwabufo whose attempt to escape through the ceiling of his home, was aborted by the police.
The items recovered from the suspects include: seven driver's licences (three belonging to Olisa and the others bearing different names to Nwabufo); the deceased’s belongings, including her shoes found in Nwabufo’s house; 17 mobile phones, two Diamond Bank rubber stamps, two syringes, a pack of Ribena, 22 SIM cards, a chain as well as 12 debit and credit cards.
However, the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Manko, debunked insinuations that the police did not conduct a thorough investigation into the incident.
According to him, the only lead they had when the incident occurred was a call from an unknown person who called the receptionist of the hotel to say that they should go and remove the dead body of the ‘bastard’ from the room. This made the hotel management to break into the room where they found Cynthia's body. But they could not identify her as her assailants had taken away all documents or items to assist in her identification.
Manko said the police had to trace the killers through the phone number that called the receptionist, until they got her passport number from the internet. He said armed with that, they went through the Nigerian Immigration Service to establish her identity.
Manko said the police began arrest after watching the Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) footage which showed two young men with the deceased.
He said the police during investigation were able to link the phone number with one of the men found on the CCTV.
He said: “The duo injected Rohypnol drug inside her drink but were disappointed when they searched her for money and did not find much. They struggled with her before she died in the process.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nigeria's Former Oil Bandits Now Collect Government Cash

Nigeria is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars a year to maintain an uneasy calm in the oil-rich delta. But critics say the program has sent young men a different message: that militancy promises more rewards than risks. WSJ's Drew Hinshaw reports. Photo: Getty Images
ABUJA, Nigeria—Alhaji Dokubo-Asari once stalked the mangrove-choked creeks of the Niger Delta, a leaf stuck to his forehead for good luck, as a crew that he ran bled oil from pipelines and sold it to smugglers. "Asari fuel," they called it.
Last year, Nigeria's state oil company began paying him $9 million a year, by Mr. Dokubo-Asari's account, to pay his 4,000 former foot soldiers to protect the pipelines they once attacked.
He shrugs off the unusual turn of events. "I don't see anything wrong with it," said the thickly built former gunman, lounging in a house gown at his home here in Nigeria's capital.
Nigeria is shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars a year to maintain an uneasy calm in the oil-rich delta, where attacks ranging from theft to bombings to kidnappings pummeled oil production three years ago, to as low as 500,000 barrels on some days. Now production is back up to 2.6 million barrels daily of low-sulfur crude of the sort favored by U.S. refineries, which get nearly 9% of their supply here.
The gilded pacification campaign is offered up by the government as a success story. But others say the program, including a 2009 amnesty, has sent young men in Nigeria's turbulent delta a different message: that militancy promises more rewards than risks.

Violence in the Niger Delta

Militants in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta began a campaign of kidnappings and pipeline bombings in the early 2000s, upset over pollution and the region's endemic poverty. After a government-sponsored amnesty program in 2009, violence dropped and production went back up. But oil theft, a lucrative criminal industry, has drawn many militants new and old back into the delta's winding creeks.
While richly remunerated former kingpins profess to have left the oil-theft business, many former militant foot soldiers who are paid less or not at all by the amnesty, and have few job prospects, continue to pursue prosperity by tapping pipelines.
Now, oil theft appears to be on the rise again. Royal Dutch Shell RDSB.LN -1.28%PLC's Nigerian unit estimates that more than 150,000 barrels of oil are stolen from Nigerian pipelines daily. That is one of the lower estimates. In May, theft from one pipeline got so bad that Shell simply shut it down.
"Everybody seems to believe…that the Niger Delta problem is over," said a former government mediator, Dimieari Von Kemedi. "It's just on pause. The challenge is to move from pause to stop."
Meanwhile, Nigeria is facing a separate militancy, in the form of the radical Islamic group Boko Haram, whose guerrilla attacks on churches and police stations in a different part of the country have left hundreds dead. Some legislators have proposed extending amnesty to Boko Haram, as well.
It is an expensive proposition. This year alone, Nigeria will spend about $450 million on its amnesty program, according to the government's 2012 budget, more than what it spends to deliver basic education to children.
Under the arrangement, the government grants living allowances to tens of thousands of former members of the bandit crews and sends them to vocational classes, in sites ranging from Houston to London to Seoul. These costs are on top of millions of dollars paid at the outset to the crews' leaders for handing in their weapons.
For a few, the program has meant spectacular rewards. To improve ties with former delta warlords, the government invited the top "generals," as they call themselves, for extended stays on the uppermost, executive floors of Abuja's Hilton hotel.
The Nigerian state oil company, according to one of its senior officials, is giving $3.8 million a year apiece to two former rebel leaders, Gen. Ebikabowei "Boyloaf" Victor Ben and Gen. Ateke Tom, to have their men guard delta pipelines they used to attack. Another general, Government "Tompolo" Ekpumopolo, maintains a $22.9 million-a-year contract to do the same, the official said.
A liaison to Mr. Tom declined to comment on the contracts. Mr. Ekpumopolo didn't return phone calls and messages. Mr. Ben, when reached for comment, asked, "How much money is involved in this interview?" and then hung up.
Later, he sent an enigmatic text: "Very wel dn im nt dispose bt cnsider 100%al u wnt ,we need investors in niger delta absolute peace is guarante."
Ex-militant Alhaji Dokubo-Asari, who was granted bail in 2007, supported Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012.
For President Goodluck Jonathan, a Niger Delta native, such lavish expenditures have become a political liability. Despite a growing economy, his country of 167 million struggles to finance even the basics, starting with power plants, roads and sewers. A blossoming middle class in Nigeria's cities has put further strain on public infrastructure.
Yet because four-fifths of government revenue flows from the oil fields, aides to the president defend the high cost of peace by saying the treasury would face an even worse drain if a full-blown militancy in the delta flared up again. "If it's too huge, what are the alternatives?" said Oronto Douglas, a senior adviser to Mr. Jonathan.
"For you to address the whole issue of poverty and development, you need some kind of peace," added Mutiu Sunmonu, managing director for Shell's Nigerian unit. "That is what I think the amnesty program has offered."
Enticed by the program, the militants emerged a couple of years ago from the oil-soaked swamps of the delta. Some of the leaders took up residence in the executive floors of Abuja's Hilton and through much of 2010 and early 2011 spent weeks or months enjoying the Executive Lounge's complimentary supply of Hennessey V.S.O.P. cognac, priced at $51 a shot on the room-service menu. Over a buffet of fiery Nigerian dishes—gumbos, Jollof rice pilafs, goat stews—they rubbed shoulders with the country's leading politicians and influence peddlers, who often live in the floor's $700-a-night art-deco rooms.
"These are young men who came out of the creeks and were given the opportunity to hang out with the crème de la crème, wearing gold watches and drinking from gold-rimmed teacups," said Tony Uranta, a member of the government's Niger Delta Technical Committee advisory group and a frequent Hilton executive-floor guest. "It's a natural thing."
Most have since moved out of the hotel. "It's too high-profile," said an aide to one ex-warlord, Mr. Tom.
AFP/Getty Images
A man stirred the Niger Delta's polluted water.
Meanwhile, thousands of former militant foot soldiers have been given job training, a feature of the program that officials call its most indisputable success. The question is how many will be able to make use of this training. In Nigeria, the government estimates, there are 67 million other people waiting to be employed.
Kempare Ebipade says he spent six years guarding creekside armories as an oil militant, in the course of which he took two bullets to the thigh. In 2009 he accepted amnesty and was sent to the U.S. for two weeks at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta. He displayed a booklet of Dr. King's speeches from which he said he sometimes reads to villagers.
Mr. Ebipade is a skilled welder now, trained in the craft by the amnesty program. But the father of four struggles to imagine how he will find clients for a welding workshop he has set up, or how he will continue to afford his apartment's rent of $1,100 a year.
The government has vigorously pushed oil companies to hire locals. Mr. Ebipade says that out of the former militant army of 10,000 he belonged to, he has heard of only five that landed jobs with oil companies.
Shell's Mr. Sunmonu warned against the idea "that every trained ex-militant is going to get a paid employment, because if you just look at the number, it's probably huge. So we therefore must broaden our solutions to focus more on self-employment: small enterprises, medium enterprises."
The Niger Delta has seen promising economic progress. Construction on a regional highway is under way.
Nigeria's overall economy is projected to grow at a brisk 7.1% this year. But much of the growth is in cities far from the delta, and a population boom reduces the degree to which the growth helps with the unemployment problem.
In the delta, years-old electric towers punctuate village skylines, but many don't carry electricity, having never been connected to the overtaxed power grid. Children travel to scattered schools aboard canoes, navigating creeks coated by the rainbow stains of oil slicks. A United Nations office has estimated it would take 30 years to clean the waters, which once sustained fisheries.
Amid this landscape, oil-related crime lures locals like Atu Thompson, father of 18 and self-described oil thief, who says he and others see few other ways to provide. "You can take me to amnesty, give me a good contract—but others are still there," Mr. Thompson says.
AFP/Getty Images
Another ex-oil militant, Ateke Tom, turned in weapons as he accepted an amnesty in 2009.
Mr. Dokubo-Asari, 48 years old, used to be prominent among them. While not all of his account of life in the mangrove swamps could be verified, he long was one of Nigeria's best-known oil marauders.
About 25 years ago, Mr. Dokubo-Asari left overcrowded university classrooms, he says, to study guerrilla warfare in the Libya led by Col. Moammar Gadhafi. He says he was given $100,000 to stir up trouble back in Nigeria, an oil competitor to Libya.
Fomenting conflict proved easy in the restive Niger Delta he returned to in the early 1990s. From a local governor, Mr. Dokubo-Asari says, he procured weapons and money to build a militia that ultimately was several thousand strong. For years, as he tells it, they broke open pipelines, filling canisters with crude oil and refining some of it through timeworn techniques used by locals to boil palm-tree sap into wine.
The government struggled to lure him out of the mangroves. Mr. Dokubo-Asari responded to one amnesty offer that he considered meager by announcing a death threat against petroleum workers. Shell evacuated hundreds of expatriates and oil derricks briefly slowed to a stop. The next day, oil prices hit $50 a barrel for the first time.
Nigeria's government offered Mr. Dokubo-Asari a truce and $1,000 apiece, he says, for his AK-47 rifles, numbering 3,182. He says he took the deal and used the profits to purchase more weapons and return to the swamp.
There, he recounts he was finally arrested and coerced into another round of negotiations. Fearing assassination, he fled to Cotonou, Benin, where he says he founded a school for Niger Delta children. He showed a video of him teaching kids kung fu at the school.
New warlords quickly took Mr. Dokubo-Asari's place. Marauding under noms de guerre like Gen. Shoot-at-Sight, Gen. Africa and Gen. Young Shall Grow, they formed a loose confederation of gunmen calling itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, and crippled enough oil infrastructure to bring Nigeria's production on some days to a near-halt.
Makeshift refineries run by oil bandits, such as this one near Port Harcourt, worsen the Niger Delta's pollution.
That was when Nigeria announced the 2009 amnesty. In televised ceremonies, guerrillas dropped off rifles, machine guns, tear-gas canisters, dynamite bundles, rocket launchers, antiaircraft guns, gunboats and grenades to be sold to the government, which also offered the nonviolence training courses and nine-month vocational classes.
Theft fell sharply. Yet now, just as Nigeria's state oil company has begun institutionalizing pipeline-watch jobs for some ex-militants, theft has blossomed again. "It's quite an escalation. If nothing is done, it will continue to increase because more and more people will just come to feel that this is a gold field," said Shell's Mr. Sunmonu. "We're not going to give up on this and run away from it. We believe it can be stopped."
Maclean Imomotimi left an overpacked university four years ago, the muscular 30-year-old says, to rob barges in the Niger Delta swamps. Now, befitting his new career, he is known as Gen. Imomotimi.
He says he accepted the government's amnesty offer in 2011 on the expectation he would be feted, his hotel bills and bar tabs paid; instead, he was disappointed to receive a living allowance of just 65,000 naira ($413) a month.
So Gen. Imomotimi has returned to the waterways, this time, he says, not to rob barges but to steal oil.
"I take amnesty's money—what [little] they give me—I take it and I buy other guns," he says. "There's much, much more money in the creeks."
Write to Drew Hinshaw at
A version of this article appeared August 22, 2012, on page A1 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Nigeria's Former Oil Bandits Now Collect Government Cash.