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GSM ROGUES: MTN, GLO, AIRTEL AND ETISALAT

In ESSAY on February 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm

THE GREAT GAMBLERS

How telecom operators swindle unwary Nigerians of several billions of Naira via promo sham.

Bayo Akinloye

The incessant short messages (sms) sent to subscribers’ phones are too promising to ignore. The game-show prize-money is so stupendous to jettison. Thus, ubiquitous media glitz spun by various telecoms firms through wild sales promos, tempting game (gambling) shows, and misleading sms solicitations has continued to catch in its webs unwary and greedy subscribers.

As early as 4:00am almost every weekend, Saturday or Sunday, scores of youths and a mix of adults troop to Murhi International Plaza, in Ikeja, Lagos, to put down their names in a register, as audience-participants in a game-show. At about 7:30am, the about hundred early birds are given a tag each, by personnel Ultima Ventures – producers of the show -, as pass to enter the game auditorium. With keen eyes and palpitating hearts each one in the audience sits, hopeful of sitting on the ‘hot seat’. Welcome to the most popular TV quiz-show in Nigeria: MTN’s Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. To participate in the studio-play, a subscriber sends an SMS with his name and phone number to 132 and a question is sent to him. Then, the subscriber sends back an answer through SMS. SMS charges are: N 200. If the subscriber is successful he will be notified through a confirmatory message inviting him to participate in the studio programme. Usually, 120 subscribers are invited to the studio from which eight will be short-listed for the ‘hot seat’. The remaining 112 people will form the in-studio audience. The eight short-listed subscribers take turns on the hot seat. Questions are asked and as the participant gets the right answer to each question, he wins prize money. The biggest prize is N10million. The remaining 112 people invited to the studio are left to contest for the twenty N20, 000 slots.

The audience participation part of the show, called fastest fingers, illustrates this. The winner of this segment gets N20, 000. Well, almost. To get the N20, 000, however, National Standard investigations revealed that the winner must present an MTN SIM certificate (to prove he is a genuine subscriber), a photocopy of his identity card, passport photograph and his birth certificate. The winner is also required to buy recharge card up to the value of N1, 000. Two weeks after the show has been aired, and then the winner will be contacted on further steps to collect his cash prize. This magazine also found out that rather than MTN Nigeria, the bank form issued to its game-show beneficiaries has Ultima Ventures, producers of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, as account holder.

Little wonder it was a shocking and disappointing experience for 21-year-old Sola Emmanuel, a student, and one of the fastest fingers winners, when he went to the bank to withdraw his N20, 000 cash prize. “When I got to the bank to get my cash reward I was surprised when told that 5% withholding tax, 5% Lagos state gambling tax and other bank charges would be deducted from my N20, 000. This is baffling. If it is a game show or promo why would they be deducting 5% gambling tax? I felt cheated and used as a puppet in a gambling show,” Sola narrated. At the end of the day, Emmanuel left the bank with the sum of N17, 895 instead of the N20, 000 he won. But there is more to the show than meets the eye.

Each week, MTN Nigeria rakes in N1.665 billion, N6.660 billion each month and N79.920 billion each year. This is based on the conservative estimate that at least a quarter (8,325,000) of MTN’s 33.3 million subscribers send an sms each (costing N200) to participate in the TV game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. With the home-play version, using the same estimate, the firm makes N39.960 billion each year. With the combined figures (excluding proceeds from other promos), MTN Nigeria grosses at least N119, 880, 000, 000 in a year. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

Adegoke, an elderly man, had a nasty experience with Globacom Bid2Win promo. Lured by lucre and the unrelenting text messages that bombarded his cell phone, he expended N420, 000 in the hopeless bid to become a millionaire. “I got frequent sms from GLO, encouraging me to continue playing. They said I was near to winning N1 million. So I continued playing till it dawned on me that it was all trick. I had already spent over N420, 000,” Adegoke said. As proof of his extensive elusive investment in Globacom Bid2Win, he made a public display of the many GLO recharge cards he had purchased to participate in the GSM company gambling game referred to as a promo. Zain and Etisalat are also involved in what has become sleazy, corporate gambling.

Then enters GLO. With a subscriber base hitting more 25 million as at June last year, Wale Adenuga’s telecom giant is also eating deep into the insufferable skin of its customers. Take for instance its text-to-win promo. In that promo alone, Globacom grosses N30, 000, 000, 000 on the approximation that only a quarter of its more than 25 million subscribers play in the gamble a la promo. Thus, every month, GLO pockets at least N2.5 billion. That is discounting the fact that the GSM firm has other gambling gimmicks from which more money are effortlessly raked in. Not to be over-looked also are one-off subscribers – who get on the network just to participate in any of the promos. If all these are factored in what will be revealed would be a staggering sum.

But, there is no letting up in the telecoms industry as all the firms hold sway in a field that appears devoid of a regulator. New-comer Etisalat, Nigeria’s fifth GSM operator is feeding on the promo fever too. Since its arrival, Etisalat has stormed the industry with mouth-watering offers such as, Exactly June 17 last year, the GSM firm claimed to have hit a subscriber base of 1 million. To qualify for the express ticket to the grand finale in the critically acclaimed 9jillions one million dollar game show, customers who had spent up to a thousand naira within the month just needed to text the state they live and their full name to the short code 5123. Multiple entries are allowed. With an estimated figure of 250, 000 subscribers participating each month, with at least double entries for six months, Etisalat would have netted N1.5 billion. You can go on and on multiplying that amount by number of greedy fingers the Nigerian population can proudly produce.

“Confidential information!” the text message from Zain Nigeria said. “Text WIN to 222 now and you fit win N2 million cash from Zain. Costs N100/sms,” the text pitched. Another came in a hurried, secretive fashion, begging: “Abeg, your name don come out to win N2 million. Make you no tell anybody. Just text WIN to 222.” Welcome to Zain Nigeria – the most erratic, in terms of management, GSM operator in the country. As many times it had changed name, it had also changed management. But, that is a story for another day. That is Zain’s Wake up To Be a Millionaire.  The above-quoted text messages are apparent testimony of the mad dash by Zain to defraud Nigerians of their hard-earned money, by hook or by crook. Not satisfied with its six-week Zain Naira Rain promo, Zain in its current text-to-win N2 million is mind-boggling. Zain Nigeria executives will be smiling and patting their rotund bellies as at least N500 million naira is realised in a week based on the rough estimate that 5 million of its over 20 million subscribers forfeit N100 weekly.

Typically, though there has been talk of sanctions, there is no regulatory agency wielding the big stick on the telecoms companies defrauding their subscribers in the name of promos and game shows. But the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, was quick to absolve itself of any complicity in the defrauding promotions being done by the GSM firms. “Our business at NCC is to regulate service provision and not sales promotions but the NCC, CPC, Lottery Commission, will meet to look into who regulates what. Operators should have a code that can allow a consumer not to receive unsolicited SMS,” said Ernest Ndukwe, erstwhile executive secretary of NCC.

Unlike the lukewarm response of NCC to the raging issue of wanton gambling by the GSM operators, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, NLRC, expressed certain degree of concern at the 55th edition of Telecom Consumer Parliament, where subscribers have opportunity to air their complaints. “Our concern is that you do not tell customers that you are rewarding them when you are ripping them off by engaging them in a game of chance. You do not expect customers to load their phones to reward them. Operators should not tell customers they are rewarding them when they are doing sales. You do not have to tell a consumer to load certain amount of money with certain code to qualify for a particular scheme. What many service providers are doing is a game of chance. They lure customers through unsolicited text messages to enter into sales promotion. If any operator engages in lottery in the name of sales promotions, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission will get interested. We are more concerned when a reward scheme becomes lottery in the name of promo,” said Barrister Osa Uwadiae, the Assistant Director, Enforcement & Compliance of National Lottery Regulatory Commission. Great sound bite that was.

Section 7(c) of the National Lottery Act says, “[the commission shall] promote transparency, propriety and integrity in the operation of national lottery;” and (d) maintains that the commission shall “ensure the protection of interests of players, stakeholders and the public in the national lottery.” And section 17 adds, “…the operation of the business of a national lottery or any lottery, by whatever name called, shall be subject to a license granted by the president upon recommendation by the commission and compliance with the provisions of this Act or any regulations made pursuant thereto.” The questions are: did the presidency grant these GSM operators the licence to engage in lottery in the guise of promos? Is the National Lottery Regulatory Commission ensuring the protection of interests of subscribers? Is the commission promoting transparency, propriety and integrity by feigning ignorance of the ‘gambling in disguise promos’?

While it is instructive to note that the National Lottery Regulatory Commission, NLRC, by its enabling Act (2005) is empowered to authorize and supervise promos, many subscribers have found it perplexing that it has not come to their aid. According to the telecoms industry observers, the National Lottery Regulatory Commission cannot feign ignorance that the ripping off of GSM subscribers has been going on for a long time before now. In 2009, the Consumer Advocacy Forum of Nigeria CAFON and the National Telecom Subscribers of Nigeria (NATCOMS) raised an alarm over frauds called promotions by Nigeria’s GSM firms. According to CAFON, “what many companies do is lottery not promo as they rip off Nigerians because they know that many Nigerians do not know their rights”. The Forum accused regulatory bodies of ‘having been bought over by the companies as they look the other way when subscribers complain’.

This is no doubt a matter of urgent public concern, as it is worrying that GSM companies, employing deceits and sometimes outright lies, are fast becoming gambling institutions treating their customers with impunity. Even more disquieting is the fact that the concerned authority has yet to call for refund to all swindled subscribers. Maybe, as always, the GSM consumers are being taken for a ride and the hand of the law is too short to protect and make restitutions for them.

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Adjective of Our Adverbial Past

In ANYTHING on April 5, 2011 at 12:09 pm

before-before
the signpost of our dim and distant past
the adjective of our adverbial past tense
exhumed in the communion of  our unrestrained cerebration

before-before
long-long time ago
when fowls were fouled
in the cesspit of our collective cauldron
no bird flu, bird flight
could deny our munching laughters

before-before
before we ‘gree
we were unity of disharmony
like a provocative preposition
in obstruction of a seemingly simple sentence

before-before
long before the four of them were to be immortals
aha, when a cyber-idol becomes too proud
it’s shown from which entrance it should exit

before-before
when it was midnight to past tense
the intrusive, obstructive future tense
interrupted the glee of our gang
who didn’t know
afternoon wasn’t only asking for the morning’s head?

before-before
despair was the middle name of tomorrow
since hope was dashed in ’93
now with umbrella over our hungry heads
brooms in our handicapped hands
rotten corns in our abject baskets
are you telling us there’s a present past
in this past participle of pains?

before-before
we spoke in simple grammar
now we speak in the future tense
of proverbial obscurity

before-before
time and tide wait for no one
right now
with the right click
pressing the vital button here or there
we can pause time in its arrogant stride

before-before
we used to be mates
but in the divisiveness of time
we’re separated
one from the other…

FACES OF THE FUTURE

In ESSAY on February 7, 2011 at 9:48 am

PEOPLE (NIGERIANS) WHO WILL SHAPE YEAR 2011

Like Janus the characters that will likely dominate the theatre stage of 2011 have something about their past and their future set

OBASANJO: He was well known for supporting and facilitating many illegal executive actions and ignoring judgements against himself and his government including judgements delivered by the Supreme Court. Examples included the illegal withholding of funds due to Lagos State Local Governments for more than 2 years after the Supreme Court ordered its immediate release. He also supported the illegal impeachment of several corrupted state governors which the Supreme Court also reversed. The National Judicial Council demonstrated its independence by dismissing several judges who connived with the executive to undermine the constitution during his reign.

He was not able to trickle down reforms and development effective to states and local government level, even in the states controlled by his party. The states and local governments are still riddled with corrupt officials. Also, he failed to solve police and security issues in the country. He also didn’t provide uninterrupted power supply for Nigerians.

IBB: General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida CFR DSS mni (born August 17, 1941), popularly known as IBB, was a Nigerian Army officer and military ruler of Nigeria. He ruled Nigeria from his coup against Muhammadu Buhari on August 27, 1985 until his departure from office in August 27, 1993 after his annulment of elections held on June 12 that year. Babangida was the Chief of Army Staff and a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) under the administration of Major General Muhammadu Buhari. Babangida would later overthrow Buhari’s regime on 27 August 1985 in a bloodless military coup that relied on mid-level officers that Babangida silently and strategically positioned over the years.[citation needed]

He came into power in a military coup promising to bring to an end the human rights abuses perpetuated by Buhari’s government, and to hand over power to a civilian government by 1990.[citation needed].Eventually,he perpetuated one of the worst human right abuses and lots of unresolved political assassinations. In 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo established the Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission headed by Justice Chukwudifu Oputa to investigate human rights abuses during Nigeria’s decades of military rule. However, Babangida repeatedly defied summons to appear before the panel to answer allegations of humans rights abuses and questioned both the legality of the commission and its power to summon him. His right not to testify was upheld in 2001 by Nigeria’s court of appeal which ruled that the panel did not have the power to summon former rulers of the country.[3]

The Oputa Panel Report would conclude that “On General Ibrahim Babangida, we are of the view that there is evidence to suggest that he and the two security chiefs, Brigadier General Halilu Akilu and Col. A. K. Togun are accountable for the death of Dele Giwa by letter bomb. We recommend that this case be re-opened for further investigation in the public interest.[

 

HENRY OKAH / GBOMO JOMO: Former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, Henry Okah has said he fears more unrest in the Niger Delta after next year’s election.

Okah,  who is standing trial in South Africa for alleged terrorism spoke to The Associated Press by phone, Thursday from jail, where he is awaiting trial on charges he was behind October 1 bombings in Abuja.Okah denies involvement in the bombings, saying he is not a member of the militant group Nigerian government holds responsible for the October 1 attack and for unrest in the delta. But Okah said he supports anyone “fighting for justice in the region.”

Nigerian politicians are known for arming militants to intimidate voters in the lead-up to elections. Okah said once the vote is over, weapons distributed during the campaign would be used in increased violence.

While both Okah and Jonathan are Ijaw, the dominant ethnic group in the Niger Delta, Okah said the  President lacks the vision to manage the grievances of different parts of Nigeria.

But Abuja denied his claim on Monday.

“Okah is talking nonsense, all he’s looking for is an avenue to sell his weapons,” Presidential spokesman Ima Niboro told Bloomberg.

“Even as Vice President, (Jonathan) was the one driving the amnesty process under (the late President Umaru) Yar’Adua.”

Okah, who is resident in South Africa, was arrested in Angola in 2007 on suspicion of gun-running.

He was later deported to Nigeria, where he was put on trial on 62 charges, including capital offences of treason and terrorism.

He was freed in July last year under the amnesty programme and returned to South Africa. Henry Okah, former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), warned from his prison cell in Johannesburg at the weekend that the insurgency in the Niger Delta will continue until the region controls its oil wealth.

Okah faces terrorism charges in South Africa over the bombings in Abuja on October 1.

He called on “thousands of people who are willing to fight to continue to fight. I’m encouraging the people of the Niger delta to fight for their land.

“There are thousands of people who are willing to fight and they’ll continue to fight,” Okah told Bloomberg.

Reacting to the offensive the Joint Task Force (JTF) launched in Ayakoromor in Delta State last week, he said: “The military is only carrying out punitive actions against communities. The Nigerian army should be prepared to fight forever unless the real issues in the delta are addressed.”

 

 

GUSAU: Lieutenant General (retired) Aliyu Mohammed Gusau is a former Nigerian army officer who was appointed National Security Advisor by President Goodluck Jonathan on 8 March 2010. He held the same position during most of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidency. Before that he was in military Intelligence, and was briefly Army Chief. Aliyu Mohammed was born on 18 May 1943 in Gusau, Zamfara State.[2] The army added his birthplace to his name, making “Aliyu Mohammed Gusau”, to distinguish him from another General Aliyu Mohammed. Although Aliyu does not himself use “Gusau” in his name, it has been widely adopted by the media.[ With wide influence in both civilian and military circles, Aliyu played a central role in ensuring that the transition to democracy in May 1999 went smoothly.[6] Aliyu was the National Security Advisor in the crucial period when former political office holders in the armed forces were retired in June 1999, helping Obasanjo assume control of the armed forces as a civilian President. He remained National Security Advisor during most of Obasanjo’s presidency.[4] He left office to compete in the 2006 People’s Democratic Party (PDP) primaries for presidential candidate, coming third. The winner, Umaru Yar’Adua, went on to be elected President.[7]

On 8 March 2010, Acting President Goodluck Jonathan announced that he was removing Major-General Sarki Mukhtar as National Security Adviser and replacing him with Aliyu.[8] A few days later, Aliyu met with the service chiefs in Abuja to discuss the Jos crisis and the security situation in the country. There were rumors that a review of senior army and police assignments could be underway.[9] Speaking at a seminar in April 2010, Aliyu said the legal system seemed to promote crime and the law enforcement agencies appeared overwhelmed. He also said that efforts to fight corruption were perceived as selective and ineffective, and some of the agencies had credibility problems since their leaders had been accursed of corruption.[10]

In April 2010 it was announced that Aliyu would seek nomination to be a candidate in the 2011 Presidential elections.

 

BOLA AHMED TINUBU: Clearly, Tinubu is not a saint. But the parameters for selecting the LEADERSHIP Person Of The Year do not specify sainthood as a key requirement. By this choice, however, we acknowledge the capacity of focused individuals to change their society for the better. For providing clear, pragmatic leadership during a period of self-doubt by a citizenry under a political siege; by patiently deploying the instrumentality of law to achieve what many thought were lost causes; for becoming the arrowhead of a waning opposition vanguard and effectively checkmating a creeping totalitarianism, Tinubu is the LEADERSHIP Person Of The Year 2010. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was born in Lagos, on March 29, 1952. His political career began in 1992 when he was elected to the Nigerian Senate, representing the Lagos West constituency in the short-lived Third Republic. After the results of the June 12, 1993, presidential election were annulled, Tinubu became a founding member of the pro-democracy National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which mobilized support for the restoration of democracy and recognition of the June 12 results. He went into exile in 1994 and returned to the country in 1998 after the death of military dictator Sani Abacha, which ushered in a transition to civilian rule.

In the run-up to the 1999 elections, Bola Tinubu was a protégé of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) leaders Abraham Adesanya and Ayo Adebanjo. He won the AD primaries for the Lagos State gubernatorial elections in competition with Funso Williams and Dr. Wahab Dosunmu, a former minister of works and housing. In April 1999, he stood for the governorship election on the AD ticket and won.

 

PEOPLE THAT WILL SHAPE EVENTS IN 2011

  1. 1. President Goodluck Jonathan

If the WikiLeaks report on President Jonathan’s discussion with erstwhile United States ambassador were a sufficient gauge, it would seem the University don turned politician didn’t bargain for the intrigues that accompany the highest office in the world’s most populous black nation.

 

However, luck entrusted on him the mantle of leadership when late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua died in Aso Rock on May 5, 2010. Months on the saddle, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan rode on the wave of popular goodwill to retain his office, a capital many believe is fast running out. Not with allegations of bribery and incompetent leadership. Worse still, the most vociferous voices have emanated from his party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, as segments within the North believe that his party zoning arrangement for elective offices among the geo-political zones in the country precludes him from contesting for election. With Jonathan’s hat fully in the ring and a determined opposition, he will surely be crucial in 2011.

 

  1. Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

Call him the living nightmare of Nigerian Bank CEO’s and you will not be wrong. Sanusi Lamido is different things to different people, but what is never in doubt is that he is not a man who likes to be contradicted. In one full swoop, he shot former bank CEO’s with egos the size of cathedrals, down from their lofty skyscraper offices to maximum security prisons.

Sanusi, 49, was appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria by late President Umaru Yar’Adua on June 1, 2009, in the middle of a global financial crises. By August Sanusi has started stoking the fires of our own crises. He bailed 5 banks he believed were in crises with 400 Billion of public money, dismissed their executives and began a series of reforms many believe are prompted by vendetta or messianic complex. To prove he does not shy away from controversy, he recently accused the National Assembly of frittering away 25 per cent of the nation’s budget, an allegation that is still gathering storm. In 2011 we are sure to find the CBN Boss firing from all cylinders.

  1. 3. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari

It seems it doesn’t matter how often he wears his new trademark white Babaringa, the “General” would always follow the General. And so also his reputation as a former brutal dictator. While he enjoys the uncompromising devotion of the talakawas, the elites it seems view him with cordial disdain. And the talakawas often don’t get to choose the President. So it seems he remains the next best option – even then he must matter to an extent to enjoy such renown.

 

Born December 17, 1942, General Buhari was the military ruler of Nigeria from December 31, 1983 – August 27, 1985, and an unsuccessful candidate for president in the 2003 and 2007 presidential elections under the platform of the ANPP. The General who hails from Katsina State of the Fulani stock, is reputed to hate corruption, a fact many believed was strengthened in his days as PTDF Boss. In an election year, especially where the umpire is believed to have moral character and with a party, the CPC that is in talks with major opposition parties to field him as their Presidential standard bearer, it is not impossible that the General may just be awarded his command.

 

 

  1. 4. Professor. Attahiru Jega

When the story of Nigerian “academic activists” is told, one man whose name is sure to enjoy more than a passing reference is Attahiru Jega. A professor of political science and vice chancellor of Nigeria’s Bayero University, Kano, was drafted from the cold comfort of the Ivory towers to the murky waters of Nigerian Politics to add tissue to the political theories he’s spend a lifetime teaching.

A former consultant to INEC, former national president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, between 1988 and 1994, during which, his predecessor in office, Maurice Iwu, was the union’s vice president, also a member of the Justice Uwais Electoral Reform Group, whose report has been widely acclaimed as the required panacea for the nation’s electoral woes… Mr Jega’s qualification are absolutely not in doubt. His appointment it would be recalled for the first time in the nation’s chequered political history was applauded by both the ruling and opposition parties.

Come 2011, this 53 year old, academic from Jega in Kebbi State will be the cynosure of all eyes as he attempts to give Nigeria free and fair elections.

 

  1. 5. Pastor Tunde Bakare

Tunde Bakare is a Nigerian Pentecostal pastor. He has received national and international attention for his televangelism, which has sometimes been critical of the Nigerian government. As the Convener of the Save Nigeria Group, a group gradually morphing into a thorn in the flesh of corrupt government officials, it is easy to see why in 2011 the group will assume more political relevance.

 

  1. 6. Atiku Abubakar

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (Turakin Adamawa), GCON (born 25 November 1946) was the Vice-President of Nigeria from 1999 to 2007. He is a Muslim native of Adamawa State, and was an influential member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) until 2006 when he switched affiliation to the Action Congress party. The former Vice President made a controversial return to the PDP in 2009, a return that has won him more foes than allies. However as the election approaches, Atiku has grown in relevance especially after he was presented as the Northern Consensus candidate and promises to be a formidable opposition to the ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan.

  1. 7. Hafiz A. Ringim

Appointed in September this year when the menace of kidnapping was almost threatening the corporate existence of South Eastern Nigeria, Mr Ringim comes to the saddle with the huge task of superintending 2011 elections. If the political intrigues and smear campaigns already embarked upon by politicians is a good indication – as its often is – then Mr Ringim has his work cut out for him. Not only would he oversee elections that are prosecuted with the rhetoric of war, he’d would have the added task of not only saving the people from the politicians but also saving the politicians from themselves.

  1. 8. Samson Siasia

Perhaps no other Nigerian coach has endeared himself to the hearts of the millions of football loving Nigerians than this Bayelsa born tactician, Samson Siasia. A member of the most achieved national team the Super Eagles set of 1994, Nigeria’s coach to two successful junior world cups where he finished second, Samson rode on the back of popular support to clinch the highly lucrative job of Super Eagles gaffer on November 4, 2010, months after the Swedish tactician Lars Lagerback took Nigeria to a disastrous world cup

Samson Siasia, 43, goes ahead into the new year with so much promise and expectation as Nigeria seeks to qualify for the next African Cup of Nations.

 

  1. 9. Aloysius Katsina-Alu

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mr Aloysius Katsina-Alu assumed office amid a controversy he had no hand in either its creation or execution. He was sworn in as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on Wednesday 30 December 2009 by his predecessor as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Idris Legbo Kutigi. There was some controversy over the ceremony, since in all previous ceremonies the Oath of Office was administered by the President of Nigeria. However, President Umaru Yar’Adua was unavailable on account of ill health since November 2009, and had failed to hand over to his Vice President Goodluck Jonathan.

His reputation like a pendulum have swung from right to left between lawyers who see him as tough and others who say the nation should expect a more vibrant judiciary under him. Born in 28 August 1941 and of the Ushongo in what is now Benue State, Katsina-Alu has been a member of the court since 1998 and will have to prove his mettle when the elections petitions start flooding the hallowed chambers of the Supreme Court in 2011.

 

PARISHIONERS PAY N1,000 TO SEE PASTOR OYAKHILOME PREACH ON NEW YEAR’S EVE

In Uncategorized on January 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm

CHRIST EMBASSY: Worshippers Pay N1,000 To Enter Oyakhilome’s Church

Christ Embassy Church in Lagos, South-West Nigeria, is being turned into show business as members were made to part with N1, 000 each as gate fee before they  could enter their church to attend the New Year’s Eve service, P.M.NEWS can reveal. P.M.NEWS confirmed that only members who could afford the N1, 000 gate fee were allowed into the premises of Christ Embassy Headquarters at Oregun, Lagos,  where self-styled cleric and business man, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, preached on 31 December 2010.

Indigent members who could not afford the N1, 000 tickets, were denied access and sent back by security men at the gate, it was learnt. The church, a source said, realised about N25 million from about 25, 000 members who bought the tickets. It was gathered that the church informed its members that it decided to impose a gate fee to control the huge crowd that always besiege the church on the New  Year’s Eve church service.

“Pastor said that to control the crowd and only allow genuine members who could do anything to be in church, it was good to pay a gate fee. Last year for  instance, even senior pastors in the church could not secure a seat in the church on New Year’s Eve service,” our source said. The ticket, bought by our correspondent, was still on sale today, five days after the New Year’s church service took place.

A copy of the ticket has the following information printed on it: “one service…different locations worldwide impact! Time: 7 pm, Venue: Loveworld Convocation  Arena, N1,000, December 31st New Year’s Eve Service With Pastor Chris.” There is also a bold picture of Oyakhilome wearing one of his flashy suits. On the background there is a huge crowd in adulation of the man who once boasted  that he will never be broke in life.

At the back of the ticket is a bold inscription : “ This ticket admists one person.” The development, described as scandalous by those who got a glimpse of it, is unprecedented in the history of Christianity in Nigeria. In the medieval period, similar scandals led to the break-away of Martin Luther from the Catholic church. This led to the formation of the Protestant  movement.

At that time, Catholic priests were collecting money, known as indulgences, from worshippers before they could confess their sins. These indulgences had become big business in much the same way pledge drives have become big business in Nigeria. The development outraged Luther and others who kicked against it, quit the church and founded the protestant movement.

The latest scandal in Oyakhilome’s church comes only weeks after he appeared before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to answer questions  on money laundering allegations. According to TheNews magazine edition of 13 December 2010, the alleged laundering of $35 million by Christ Embassy was traced by the Economic and Financial  Crimes Commission with the help of foreign partners.

The magazine reported that Oyakhilome and money have had a bitter-sweet relationship. While money has brought  him a lush lifestyle: an eye-popping auto  collection, a movie-star wardrobe of  stylish suits and choice properties that include a stunning church auditorium, it  has also brought him an arm-long  list of scandals.

By Simon Ateba

Culled from PM News.

120 YEARS IN JAIL: NEMESIS CATCHES UP WITH FRAUDSTER

In ANYTHING on November 3, 2010 at 1:55 pm

Fraudster Bags 120 Years Jail Term

The long arm of the law has caught up with a 48 year old man, Olusoji Abiodun Ilori as he was convicted and sentenced to a cumulative 120 years jail term by a High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State for offences bordering on fraud, forgery and obtaining money by false pretence.

Arraigned on a 40-count charge, Ilori bagged three years jail term for each of the 40 counts. However, he is to spend only three years in prison as the jail terms is to run concurrently. Delivering judgment, Justice M. Abimbola of the High Court of Oyo State, Ibadan, stated that the jail sentence was to serve as a deterrent to the convict and others who may be nursing the idea of engaging in fraudulent activities.

He also stated that it is his hope that the three years in prison would serve as a reformatory period for the convict. Ilori’s road to jail began when he was arraigned on September 17, 2009, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. He has since then been in jail as he was refused bail by the court because of the enormity of the offence. He was arrested in March 2009 at the Dugbe Post Office, Ibadan while posting over 200 scam letters containing forged United Kingdom documents meant to be delivered to unsuspecting victims.

He also had 213 letters purportedly signed by one Mr. Benson Nwosu of Fidelity Registrar, which Fidelity Bank Plc has since confirmed to be fake as the bank stated that it has no subsidiary company with the name Fidelity Registrar. “The 213 letters purportedly signed by Mr. Benson Nwosu of Fidelity Registrar were forged as we do not have any employee by such name. The blank letter headed paper was also forged,. the logo and lettering imitated our regular letter heads while they listed our Board of Directors underneath it, but we disown the document as it was forged and did not originate from us”, Fidelity Bank Plc had stated.

Ilori in his advance fee fraud venture also had 212 letters purportedly signed by one Neil Freeman, Centre Manager, Inland Revenue Centre for Non-Residents, Fitzroy House, Nottingham, United Kingdom. However EFCC through its collaboration with Serious Organised Crime Agency, SOCA, UK, discovered that though the address is correct, the content was false. “Whilst the address is correct, the Inland Revenue was replaced by HMRC several years ago and therefore the forms are false as they are dated March 2009. The return envelope is addressed to a mail box with no connection to HMRC”, a letter from SOCA had stated.

All the disowned documents were forged by Ilori with a view to extract information and dupe unsuspecting members of the public. All of them were however used as evidence and exhibits against the accused person before Justice Abimbola who condemned the attitude of some Nigerians who are desperate to make money at all cost and by any means possible, thereby bastardising the image of Nigeria. He said the misadventure of Ilori and other scammers was capable of scaring away foreign investors and businessmen from the country.

Count one of the charges reads: Forgery contrary to section 467 of the Criminal Code, Cap 38 Laws of Oyo State of Nigeria, 2000. Olusoji Abiodun Ilori on or about the 25 day of March 2009 at Dugbe Post Office, Ibadan within the Ibadan judicial division with intent to defraud, forged a letter dated 18th March 2009 purportedly written by Neil Freeman, Centre manager, Inland Revenue Centre for Non-Residents, Fitzroy House, P. O. Box 46 Nottingham NG21BD to Mr. Samuel H. Mokwunyer and Mrs Bridget A. Cinwuzor of Suite 3A, Princess Court, 27 Ahmed Onibudo, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria.

Count two of the charges reads: Forgery contrary to section 467 of the Criminal Code, Cap 38 Laws of Oyo State of Nigeria, 2000. Olusoji Abiodun Ilori on or about the 25 day of March 2009 at Dugbe Post Office, Ibadan within the Ibadan judicial division with intent to defraud, forged a letter dated 18th March 2009 purportedly written by Neil Freeman, Centre manager, Inland Revenue Centre for Non-Residents, Fitzroy House, P. O. Box 46 Nottingham NG21BD to Professor A. G. Falade, P. O. Box 29840 Secretariat Post Office, Ibadan, Nigeria.

The convict has since Monday October 11 when the judgement was delivered, been taken back to Agodi prisons Ibadan.

 

Femi Babafemi Head, Media & Publicity

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