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Sunday November 3, 2013

Saturday Mirror

Oduah: Pressure on Senate panel not to compromise …as unions prepare for showdown OLUSEGUN KOIKI


embers of the Senate Committee probing the fraud allegations against Aviation Minister, Ms. Stella Oduah, have come underpressure not to compromise in its investigations of the purchase of two armoured cars at N255 million. Sources close to the committee disclosed yesterday that various interest groups ranging from the aviation sector to the human rights community have written to the Senate, warning of the dangers in allowing undue influences that could extricate the minister in lieu of

possible indictment. “Some of the groups’ members have even been making physical representation, asking for justice on the matter,” disclosed a source, which preferred anonymity. However, yesterday, the National Union of Air Transport Employees, NUATE, joined the fray, declaring that the industry unions are already preparing for a showdown with the embattled minister or any agency found culpable in the ongoing financial fraud rocking the country’s aviation industry. NUATE, however, said that it would not take any action until those panels saddled with the responsi-

bility of investigating the cars fraud involving Oduah came out with their reports. Speaking on the phone with our correspondent over the weekend, the Secretary General, NUATE, Comrade Abdulkareem Motajo, said once the panels submitted their reports to the appropriate authorities and a party is found wanting, the unions would unleash all their “arsenals” on the culprit. Besides, he said that the unions would no longer tolerate a situation where their members are owed several months or years of allowances due to them by any of the agencies under the pretence of “inadequate funds. He said that with the

several disclosures in different quarters on the acquisition of two BMW760 armoured cars to the minister at the rate of N255 million and also to the Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Mr. George Uriesi, it was clear that there are enough funds in the coffers of the agencies to cater for the welfare of their members. “I don’t want to conclude that the minister is fraudulent; all these are the information that we are hearing, but we are preparing our arsenals for a fight. Whenever the whole thing is clear that there were corrupt practices in any of the agencies with facts, then,

we are going to ask for and ensure the right allowances are paid to our members without any further delay. His words: “But we don’t want to pre-empt the outcome of the investigative panels; we are a very responsible organisation and know the law. We want to abide by the laws and we will do the right thing at the right time. We will fight the management. They will not tell us there is no money. We will tell them we know the money is there and we will fight for our members without any excuses.” Motajo vowed that the unions would protect the interest of their members, saying that rather than castigate the whistle blower, the various chief executive officers who saw the graft and refused to expose it to the public should be sanctioned by the government. He added that instead of threatening the whistle blower, such a person if known should be given a national award for exposing the rots in the system.

“Should any management or even the Federal Government attempt to penalise anyone over this matter, the unions will not take kindly with the body and I will give you the reason. The law of the land says even if you enter somewhere illegally, where crime is being committed and you see the crime and report such to the appropriate authorities, the issue of your illegal entrance or what have you does no longer come up. A lot of the revelations have been disclosed so far by the joint national assembly committee; that tells us that a lot have been happening in the sector. “All the things that the Director-General and all the Managing Directors have been exposing at the National Assembly, are they blowing any whistle? This is the reality of things. If those information are found out to be correct, the helmsmen responsible should be penalised for not bringing out those facts until they were blown open and investigation comes to them.

Boko Haram kills bridegroom, 30 others in Borno INUSA NDAHI MAIDUGURI

B Voters queuing to cast their votes at Ede Oballa Ward of Nsukka Local Government Area, during the Local Government elections in Enugu, yesterday. PHOTO: NAN

30 worshippers die in Anambra church stampede NWABUEZE OKONKWO\ ONITSHA


ragedy struck at Uke, in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State as no fewer than 30 worshippers lost their lives in a stampede that erupted in a night vigil which took place at the Holy Ghost Adoration Catholic Prayer Ministry, Uke. The stampede which occured at about 2 a.m. as a result of an explosion, left scores of others worshippers in a state of coma. According to the source, the incident occured shortly after Governor Peter Obi, accompanied by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Chief Willie

Obiano visited the Adoration ground and addressed the congregation where he promised to sponsor 20 persons to pilgrimage in Israel. Confirming the incident, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, DIG in charge of ‘C’ Department, Mr. Kachi Udorji who visited the scene yesterday, told newsmen at the Police Area Command Headquarters, Onitsha that only 28 persons died on the spot during the stampede. Udorji, accompanied by the the DIG incharge of Operations, Philemon Leha and AIG Ballah Nasarawa, Anambra Commissioner of Police, said he had visited the adoration ground and later to Crown Hospital at NkporUno where some of the corpses were deposited and the in-

jured are being hospitalized. He expressed rude shock over the incident and said investigations will continue to unravel the cause of the incident. One of the worshippers, Emeka Ilodiuba, who lost his wife to the incident, told newsmen amidst tears that they had come out of the prayer ground on their way through the crowded place to where they parked their vehicle when suddenly, there was shouting everywhere and people started scampering for safety when his wife fell down and never survived the stampede. “I m from Nnokwa in Idemili South council area of Anambra state, I came to Ebube Muonso with my wife, when the prayer ended

around 5.30 am, we stood up to find our way home, then the governor and his entourage had left but when we got to the entrance, there was unprecedented crowd trying to find their way out of the prayer ground, the crowd surged forward and that was when my wife fell down and people fell on top of her till she died”. He also revealed that Governor Obi had shortly left when the incident occurred and maintained that the presence of Obi and Obiano at the prayer ground had nothing to do with the incident and called on the security agencies to thoroughly investigate the major cause of the stampede that claimed the lives of the innocent worshipers.

arely a week after some suspected Boko Haram terrorists launched an attack on a security post along Bama- Banki- Firgi road in which they went away with some security patrol vehicles after setting the entire place ablaze, another group of terrorists suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents blocked a convoy of a bridegroom with his invited guests to a wedding in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa state, killing over 30, including the groom. Our correspondent gathered from a reliable source that the groom, his friends and family associates from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital went to the wedding Fatiha in Michika town, where the wedding was performed successfully; but luck run out of them as they were ambushed by a group of suspected terrorists killing over 30 of them. Bama- Banki –Firgi federal highway along the junction is about 40 kilometres away from Cameroon Republic, 100 kilometres to Maiduguri and 26 kilometres to Gwoza Local Government area of Borno

State, which is one of the mountainous areas suspected to be an enclave of terrorists who fled from the Sambisa Forests during the offensive military raids after the declaration of state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa on May 14, this year. A motorist who did not want his name mentioned told our correspondent that, “ I drove from AdamawaMichika - Bama- Maiduguri road with my passengers, but I have to thank God because when we reached a place along the Firgi area, we saw a lot of dead bodies killed by gunshots and some were even slaughtered beside the road. In fact, my passengers advised me that we should make a u-turn to Michika, but I summoned courage and told them that God is in our control.” Another security source and a Hospital source in one of the federal hospitals in Maiduguri said, “ We have received over 30 dead bodies of people suspected to be those coming from a wedding Fatiha where most of them wore wedding uniform (Anko, in Hausa) on Saturday evening,

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